Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, James 1:2 NIV
The cicadas were louder than normal this morning on the front lawn, so I let that be the background “music” for the today’s audio.
I was playing rock, scissors, paper with my grandson the other day. He added a fourth option, fire, in which you made the motion of lava flowing to the top and sprinkling your fingers to the outside like the ashes flowing away. The problem was he was unsure if this beat everything else or did something beat fire. I had lots of fun, but I stayed confused as to how to win, which may be the point. We had a great time making the fire noises.
When it comes to trials of various kinds it feels a little bit like the rules keep changing. The pattern that you used last time to overcome the situation doesn’t seem to work this time. The trial requires some type of different approach.
When troubles come your way, they find their source in three areas. The end game of all the attacks are trying to defeat, isolate, render you ineffective or sideline you with fear.
Source of Troubles
- Your own sinfulness. Adam and Eve are the best example of the effects of sinning, choosing to violate God’s ways. When they ate of the fruit that He had told them not to do, they became afraid, tried to cover up their wrongful choice and went into hiding. That’s what personal sin does to each of us, fear, deceit and limitation.
- The world. Because Adam had authority over the earth, when he sinned the earth became cursed. In this fallen world, bad things happen to all people – floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, and earthquakes to name a few. Paul wrote in Romans that the earth is groaning to be set free once again. Disease, cancer, and pandemics reveal our inability to control the evils in this world with our own strength. With God things all things are possible.
- Spiritual forces of darkness. In Ephesians 6, Paul presents a model of spiritual forces in hierarchical layers of rulers, authorities, powers in the dark world and heavenly realms. All of these are under the feet and authority of Jesus. When we stand next to Him, we are living in that same authority. We don’t walk or live in fear of these spiritual forces, but neither do we act like they don’t exist. They are relentless in spreading their webs of mayhem, fear and death.
How to address each of these areas of conflict
- Personal sin requires confession and repentance. You can’t negotiate an “i’ll be better next time.” You must kneel your heart to walk through the eye of the needle of brokenness that God is always right, and I choose wrong.
- The World. Receive peace and joy by faith. Bad things happen to good and bad people. Death still comes to the saints of God. But there is JOY in the journey for those who are the children of God. Joy is received by faith and lives even in the worst of times. This is not a giddy laughter that may be inappropriate for the circumstance. It is a strength that holds the peace of God in place when you need it the most.
- Spiritual warfare. Stand strong in God’s armor. Ephesians 6 says that we face the battle with God’s armor upon us. Don’t go near it without the weapons of your faith. You also DON”t have to go looking for it. Jesus addressed demonac when He encountered it. God will lead you what to pray and how to pray when you need to engage in spiritual battles.
I understand that I just gave the fly over answers to each of these circumstances. God allows us to mature layer by layer or from glory to glory. Don’t try to make this more complicated. The Holy Spirit will help you know to use your rock, scissors or paper to overcome the difficulties. You need to follow the steps of becoming humble and asking for His help. He is a good Father and wants to give you all good things.
Faith is the key. We receive God’s joy by faith, not by earning it, nor by being good enough. Today, right now, you can receive God’s peace and joy by faith. Ask Him to let the joy of the Lord be your strength. In the passagae in James, he quickly moves to the issue of faith after talking about various trials. We grow in faith as we practice placing our trust in Him.
On this Fear Not Friday, Let the joy of the Lord be your strength when you encounter the various trials of your day. May you learn to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. May you return and do the things when you first fell in love with Jesus.
Blessings Love y’all