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Janet's Corner

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Lesson 3: Real Faith Allows Trials To Bring About Maturity

October 13, 2004

We are looking at the truth about trials in James Chapter One.

As we look down the road considering God’s purposes in a trial, we can count it all joy – not the trial itself, but the value of those trials in our lives.

God uses trials for our spiritual maturity, causing us to endure. We live under that trial so we become mature and become sound in our faith – lacking nothing. What an incredible truth! The very things we would like to escape, grow us up in our faith. Have you experienced this?

Through the Word we see God challenge us to make one of two choices:

      1.  We endure the trial by remaining in a trial in a way that honors God. That endurance will produce maturity and soundness of faith.

      2.  We don’t endure the trial. There will be a lack of maturity and a lack of soundness in our faith. Often this immaturity ends in bitterness and temptation to evil.

In light of that, we need to look more intently, more purposefully into God’s Word to see how we are to endure trials. I believe it would be helpful to cross reference these verses in James with other verses in the Scriptures. When God teaches a principle, it will be reinforced or clarified in other verses either through explanation or example. The truth about trials is not just taught in James.

Turn to Romans 5:3-5 and look at the similarities here taught by Paul, the apostle.

1.  We are to rejoice in our sufferings - those outside pressures or afflictions or difficult situations over which we have no control. Both Paul and James knew this is the attitude with which they had to walk through their trials.

2.  Paul goes on to say that trials produce perseverance. As we live under the trial, holding up under pressure. Do you always feel this way – like you are holding up under pressure? No? Well there is a reason. God produces that quality in our lives as we go through the trials. This endurance has been called the "staying power of life". That power to stay in the trial so it can do its work in our lives. Another aspect of staying power is that it supports or strengthens or keeps things in place, like the old stays on a shirt collar. Endurance – it is the staying power of our faith.

3.  Perseverance produces character. Isn’t that what we long for – a character (Christ-likeness, becoming more like Him) that will honor our God and his ways?

4.  As this character is produced through our trials, it strengthens hope. Hope is that confident expectation that our faith is real and we have a sure hope of eternal life. It is a vital part of our lives, allowing us to rest on all God has promised us in Christ. Trials bring conviction of this hope. This hope does not disappoint us – we have been given the Holy Spirit to seal that hope in our hearts. It is God’s very love for us poured into our hearts that gives us surety of our hope. The hope of eternal life is our future hope. This hope will not short change us, because God’s love is our current possession. God’s love is our current possession that seals this hope in our hearts. God keeps drawing us by His love. We realize this as we endure the trials He allows in our lives.

Jeremiah 29:11 says: "I have plans for you," declares the Lord, "to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope." (NIV) That passage goes on to say in the next verses that when we seek Him with all our hearts, we will find him. Verse 14 says, "I will be found by you,"declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity".

What are you thinking in the midst of a trial? Of God’s plans for you? Of the future and hope He has for you? Or are you consumed by the trial – your time, your thinking, your days, your energy? God wants to renew our minds even today, so when the trials come, we think differently. We can’t change our feelings about the trials, but we can change our thinking and what we believe is true about trials.

Don’t you often feel when you are pressured from the outside in a trial, that you are held captive. God wants to take us out of that captivity as we trust in Him, considering it all joy as we look with expectation for his plans to bring us spiritual maturity and blessing. He wants to bring us to the place where we can experience the fullness of His presence and provision. Even through our trials - those outside pressures that will happen in your life. Trials build character and hope in us causing us to be mature and sound in our faith. Jesus came to bring good news to the afflicted, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners. He wants to free us to be mature and sound in our faith!

Let’s look at I Peter 1:3-9 and see what Peter says about trials.

He begins by saying in Christ we have three things.

1.  A living hope based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ!

2.  An inheritance

3.  A shield of God’s protection.

And as the NLT says., "So be truly glad! There is a wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while."Again, what is true about trials? Trials are:

1.  Necessary, but temporary. Listen to the NLT, "These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure". Just like gold is put in the fire and comes out purer, so our faith becomes purer and stronger through the trials of our lives. Your faith is more precious to God than gold which will perish. He longs to prove it genuine, to make it pure and strong.

2.  What will this pure, strong faith result in? Praise, glory and honor to you - when Jesus is revealed to the whole world. God will be revealed to you in the trial – his faithfulness, his strength, his mercy, his help, his grace. You may see him in a new way as the LORD your healer or provider, the ever-present one, your shield, your light. But when we see Him face to face there is going to be a party. One with lots of praise and honor and glory for you because of what God’s done - because of your choices to press onto maturity and not stay where you were!

Peter goes on to say... though you haven’t seen him you love Him and believe in Him which results in an inexpressible joy – you can’t describe the joy inside of you – as you receive the goal of your faith, the salvation of your soul. He is making you mature and sound, complete body soul and spirit. It’s a process which brings you to a place where you will be holy and blameless when He appears,

Are there times that through your trails that you have an inexpressible joy as your faith was proven genuine?

Throughout your Christian life, God will teach you principles of living in His kingdom by his ways. God will allow the testing of your faith to prove them true in you.

An example from my own life:

Just before my 48 year old sister went to her eternal home, the LORD was teaching me that He was the Rock on which I could stand no matter what happened. The Scriptures burned in my heart and hand during those times of grief. I clung to that which I knew was true:Psalm 73:26 "My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (NAS)Psalm 62:2 "He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be greatly shaken." (NAS)

Eventually I could sing Psalm 59:16

1.  "I shall sing of Thy strength" - I had no strength to face such a trial – who does? God did.

2.  "I joyfully sing of His loving kindness" –His mercy and grace were and are evident even today concerning that situation.

3.  "You have been my stronghold" – He hold us up under pressure.

He is a refuge in our distress

Have you been distressed by any trials lately? Do you need a refuge?

Are you weak and you need strength?

Put your faith in God – trust Him.

He is at work in you to bring you to maturity and soundness of faith. Will you let Him work?