21 Days of Prayer (Day #13)

PRAYER & TRIALS (Hunter Addison)

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:2-8)

All of us are probably going through a trial of some type right now. If you are not, count on one coming your way tomorrow. It is the reality of living in a fallen world. However, James teaches us that God is not absent in our trials. In fact, God is doing something through them. We can see what God is doing through our trials in verses three and four. God is producing patience, endurance in us in order that we may be perfect and complete, that is mature in Christ. Maturing in Christ is the reason why we can count it all joy when we face trials. It’s not because the trial is fun or pleasant. It is because through the trial God is transforming us more and more into the likeness of Christ. The word for count in the text is an imperative, which simply means that it is a command. Therefore, joy in trials is dependent upon our response. We have the option to obey or disobey the command to count it all joy when you fall into various trials. We disobey the command when our joy is found in our circumstances. We obey the command when our joy is found in God and his purposes for our lives, which is transforming us more and more into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29; 1 Thessalonians 4:3). Do we really believe that the greatest joy of our lives is to be more like Christ? To be more patient, kind, loving, gentle, self-controlled, to bridle our tongues, to be slow to speak, quick to listen, to count others more significant than ourselves, to live with our wives in an understanding way, to mature? James is teaching us that we can become victors full of joy in our trials instead of victims full of bitterness, doubt, and discouragement. Trials refine our faith by showing us where we are truly seeking joy, by showing us who/what we are trusting in.

With this understanding of trials in our life, let’s look at another imperative in the text, that is another command. In verse five let him ask is a command. What does this teach us? It shows that if we are to live triumphantly in our trials, we need to ask God for something specific, that is wisdom. Once again, this is a command that has the potential to be disobeyed. Perhaps our disobedience to this command may be the reason why we lack joy in our trials. Disobedience to this command may be the reason why we mature in age but not in Christ. What do we ask God for during our trials? We must be careful here. It is not wrong to ask God for strength, help, and deliverance from trials, just read the Psalms. However, if that is all we are praying for in trials then I think James teaches us that we are missing something very important. James only speaks, in this context, about asking God for wisdom.

Biblical wisdom is not the same thing as what we often think of when we speak of wisdom. We often think of wisdom as knowledge, insight, or perception. We say things like that was a “wise decision” and that statement is typically the same as saying that was a “smart decision.” Often, we link wisdom to intellectual knowledge or insight alone. Biblical wisdom however is focused on the application of a certain type of knowledge to all of life, knowledge of God. Not just intellectual knowledge of God but a personal, relational knowledge of God. This is communicated by the phrase “fear of God”, as it is specifically linked to wisdom in the book of Proverbs. To fear God is to be rightly related to God, to have an inner since of awe toward God and to live obediently to God. In short, it is to take God seriously. Proverbs teaches us that this “fear of God” is the beginning of wisdom. A good definition of biblical wisdom is how to live in God’s world according to God’s Word. This is what James says God desires to give us in response to our prayers during our trials. God wants to show us how we can take our personal knowledge of him and apply it to the situations of our lives. We should think about this as coming to God in our trials saying, “God, I do not want to miss what you want to teach me in this trial.” This prayer is a request, an invitation, for God to get extremely personal with us. It is a request for God to invade the particular details of our lives with conviction and transformative grace in order to mature us into Christ. This is where true joy is found. This is the how we can become victors living triumphantly in the midst of trials.

Trials are like a classroom. God is the teacher. We are the students. The lesson is whatever trial we are facing. The goal of the lesson is maturity into the likeness of Christ. And the way we approach the teacher, is through humble, trusting prayer asking for wisdom. When the bell rings and we walk out of the classroom, we are full of Joy because the teacher delights in showing us how to live in his world according to his Word by answering our prayers for wisdom.

Would you join one another in asking God for wisdom in your trials? “God show me what you want to teach me in this trial.” “God increase my joy by increasing my skill in living a Godly life.”

Finally, James tells us we must believe that God will do this. God will invade our lives with clear answers. When we seek wisdom, we are not mainly seeking knowledge. We are seeking for God to personally show us how to faithfully live in his world according to his Word. God promises to do this “liberally.”

This Transcends Coronavirus Fears

Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors (Psalm 119:24).

In the midst of such uncertainty, distress, fear, anxiety, and sometimes minute-by-minute decision making, where are you finding your enjoyment? From whom are you receiving counsel?

The psalmist gives us the direct answer. Awesome delight as well as omniscient counsel is found in the testimonies of God’s Word.

During these days, you must counsel your own heart as well as the hearts of those around you from the life-giving, eternal, unchanging Word. How prone we are to listen to ourselves, to allow social media and the news to keep us on edge, and to rehearse the doubting lies of the devil.

The Lord Jesus Christ, the Living Word (John 1:1) is the Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6). Since He is the Righteous One (1 John 2:1), He will always give you righteous counsel that will be a delight to your soul (Psalm 19:8; 119:162).

Read the Word, meditate on the Word, memorize the Word, share the Word with your spouse, pray the Word, engage your family with the Word, and delight and counsel your heart in the Word! With so much of what normally fills our daily hours being removed from us, we have time to sit at Jesus’ feet and learn of Him and from Him (Matthew 11:28-30). Take advantage of it!

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.
(Psalm 19:7-11)

All the Questions of Life

Questions

Where do you go when you don’t know what to do?

Who do you call first when you receive devastating news?

When you need wisdom for a major decision, what is your first response?

When your world comes crashing down around your feet, where do you run to hide?

For all of the questions of life, who do you ask or whom do you seek?

Every day of our lives, we are faced with decisions and/or unanswered questions and/or needing a sign post to point us the way and/or a place of shelter from the storm.  For all situations of life, for all the questions of life, and for all the unknowns of life, will you meditate on the following?  I believe you will see the answer in these passages to the questions of life.

Therefore submit to God. . . . Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:7-8, 10)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28)

97Oh, how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies;
For they are ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the ancients,
Because I keep Your precepts.
101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way,
That I may keep Your word.
102 I have not departed from Your judgments,
For You Yourself have taught me.
103 How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.
  (Psalm 119:97-104)

And he (Christ) is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

After meditating on these passages, listen to I Run to Christ

Friday’s Findings

What can you find today?  What will you find today?

The Lord GodBut from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deut. 4:29)  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).

Rich TreasureI rejoice at Your word As one who finds great treasure (Psalm 119:162).

Knowledge of God  If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:4-6).

Wisdom I love those who love me, And those who seek me diligently will find me (Proverbs 8:17).

GoodHe who heeds the word wisely will find good, And whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he (Proverbs 16:20).

Answered Prayer“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened (Matthew 7:7-8).

RestCome to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 28:28-30).

LifeFor whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it (Matthew 16:25).

An Empty TombBut they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly[a] perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments (Luke 24:2-4).

Weakness of my FleshFor I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find (Romans 7:18).

Sufficient GraceLet us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

So, as you go throughout your Friday, what will you find?  What are you looking for? That depends on where you look, the surrender of your heart, and the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.  God is pursuing you today.

 

Here’s something else you will find to be helpful.  Looking so forward to Evangelist Aaron Coffey and the team being with us March 15-20, 2015.  This powerful message was delivered last night at Bob Jones University.  Listen here: January 15, Aaron Coffey.

Shhhhh!

Sometimes, it’s best to say a few words or nothing at all.

Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble (Prov. 21:23).

Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few (Ecclesiastes 5:2).

He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive (Proverbs 17:27-28).

When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent (Proverbs 10:19).

Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him (Proverbs 29:20).

My prayer today: Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3).

A Better Life Now

 
Better to be lowly and have a servant, than to play the great man and lack bread (Proverbs 12:9)

Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it (Proverbs 15:16).

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it (Proverbs 15:17).

Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice (Proverbs 16:8).

Better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver (Proverbs 16:16).

Better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud (Proverbs 16:19).

Better is dry morsel with quiet than a house full feasting with strife (Proverbs 17:1).

Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool (Proverbs 19:1)

Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways (Proverbs 28:6).

Are you living the better life now as you await the best life in Glory or does selfishness, strife, sin, and spoiled kids and adults reign in your home and world?