We just began Beth Moore's study on the life and book of James, which I am PUMPED about because it just so happens to be my favorite book in the Bible.
Here's a little background on James....
James was the half brother of Jesus and the oldest of his siblings. He was an unbeliever and even mocked Jesus until he saw Jesus' Resurrection, at which time the Lord revealed Jesus' power and who he was. He then led the rest of his family to the Lord and led fervent prayer in the Upper Room....
James' nickname was "camel knees" because he spend so much time in prayer after coming to understand who Jesus was. Prayer is the foundation of spiritual maturity, and James understood that. His writings were written to the "church" in reference to spiritual maturity during trials and temptaions.
Many scholars believe that James was the first book of the New Testament to be written, which means God actually broke his 400 years of silence between the OT and NT to speak to James. (The New Testament is not in chronological order, as many presume.)
And WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW about TRIALS!!
The Bible does not give us instructions for "IF" we go through trials....it says "WHEN" you go through trials. There is not a question of whether or not we will face trials. We will. It's a matter of when, are we prepared for them, and how we will respond to them.
Most of us are either coming out of a trial, going through one right now, or will face one in the future. One of the most important things to understand is that trials are NOT a result of punishment for our sins.
We do not have control over trials (like we do how we respond to temptation). We do not experience trials because we succumbed to sin and are facing consequences.... God allows trials to bring life (even if it doesn't feel like it at the time), to teach us faith and perseverance, to lead us into a more mature walk, and to test our faith. Trials include things like illness, deaths, persecution, rebellious children, financial crisis, accidents, etc. Most of us can look back on various trials we've come through and say all that we learned through that. Most of us learned some new characteristic about the Lord as he brought us through that trial.
**Testing of our faith: to prove our faith, develop perseverance
This is why we can rejoice! God is wanting to develop something new in us....not punish us like we normally see trials.
**Perseverance: hanging on to the Lord no matter the length of the season of trial
This leads to discipline in our walk. Learning to fully trust him and pray fervently, without ceasing.
**Maturity: learning to trust the Lord and be content in all circumstances and situations
If we are going to walk by faith, our faith has to grow. This happens during trials. Develops our character and integrity.
In trials, we can choose to respond one of two ways:
1. JOY: peace, contentment, long-suffering, self-control (fruit of the Spirit)
2. ANGUISH: guilt, confusion, fear, anger, rage, bitterness, blame (flesh)
Verses to remember concerning trials:
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" - James 1:2-4
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." -1 Peter 4:12-13
"And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you."- 1 Peter 5:10
"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him."- James 1:12
"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." -Romans 12:12
Make up your mind now HOW you are going to respond to trials before you are in one. They are coming....we are ALL going to experience trials at some point. We have a choice how we are going to respond to them and our perspective concerning them. It is SO much easier to say all of this when you're NOT in the midst of a trial, no doubt. However, this teaching has helped me resolve in my heart how I want to respond to trials in my life. I know it's still easier said than done, but I also know that I can't do anything in my own power- I will HAVE to trust in the Lord to help me through. What better time to let our lights shine for others than maintain joy in the midst of a trial!?! (Notice I didn't say happiness....two totally different things.)