Oh this week has been quite the journey. It’s funny…. the last bible study I did with my church Metro Calvary Chapel was Beth Moore’s Daniel study. It was such a great learning experience for me and I gained so much knowledge about living in a Babylonian society with a Babylonian mentality as well as what to look for in the end times. But that study wasn’t really about me. As Beth had told us we needed to stop living with the self-centered Babylonian mentality and take some time to just learn. So, I did. However I must say it is awfully nice to get back to hearing the Lord speak to me about things He wants me to change in my personal life. Or how He wants me to grow. I’ve needed that so desperately for some time and He knew just when to offer it. I love my God.
Now that I’ve prefaced, let me “post-preface” my preface (hehe) with a teeny bit of background on me. Just to give you a taste of where I’m coming from. Look, I’m normally a pretty private person and spilling my guts all over the internet would usually make my skin crawl but as I’m trying to go with the Holy Spirits leading, I’ll have to suck it up! The past few years have been hard for Moviestar and I. We both flew in to the atmosphere when we lost our jobs back in 2009 and have since struggled to find where the Lord wanted us to land. The past few months have been better when Moviestar’s job began offering him more work and the job I had became less stressful. Yet we are still waiting on that perfect spot to touch down. You know, that special place that has you hearing, “That’s the one …. This is where I want you.” That being said, there’s been a lot of struggles both financially and emotionally. I won’t give you Moviestar’s side but for me, I’ve found myself depressed more than I care to count. Some of it came from anxiety but most f it came from feeling like God had just deserted us. Of course His word says that He will never leave us (Deut. 31:6) and I believe every ounce of what that book says, so I know the feeling was just that: a feeling. It wasn’t truth. Yet I could not pull myself out of it. I never heard Him speaking to me anymore. Darkness seemed all around without the Holy Spirits leading. And spiritual warfare was ever prevalent. I just didn’t know what to do. I was growing weary and tired. I prayed for relief, but none came. I just about gave up when James fell at my feet.
James starts with this:
“Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-3)
Have you ever heard that (when going through a trial) and thought, “Be joyful?! You’ve got to be kidding me!” Well, that was me for years. I just never understood it. Yes, I get that God is doing a work or helping me to grow with this trial but at this point I just can’t see the forest through the trees so I can’t find any joy. Then on day one of the homework, Beth brought something to my attention. She said that in the NIV, the word used in verse 2 is “Consider”. In no version of the Bible does it say “Feel joy when you face trials”, it simply says to consider it during the trial. The New King James says “Count it all joy”. Whatever version you prefer, james never tells us we should feel joy, just that we should chalk all the trial is offering up to joy. I take this as that joy will come. But on day one I still wasn’t quite getting it. So Beth asked us to write down a trial we are facing. Then to put down 3 different things we could do with what we are going through. Then she said the think about making one of the things “considering it pure joy”. after writing down the very …. very …. stupid things I could do to help me cope with my trial, I wrote “consider it joy”. and honestly, that’s what made me realize my other two ideas were idiotic. They weren’t helpful to me or anyone else and definitely didn’t glorify the name of Jesus. I began to think about considering it all pure joy. I wasn’t joyful …. yet.
By the time day two came around, I had decided to make that set of verses (James 1:2-3) my memory verse. Not only did I want to memorize it but I wanted to read it several times during the day. I wanted to see the words and mediate on them. So, I wrote them down and I keep them with me everywhere I go. But I couldn’t possibly forget verse 4 in this:
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”
Oh, but how I wanted to forget it. I definitely lack. I lack soooo much. Money in my Savings, a house, a career (or life path to follow), children… the list goes on. But I came to realize that wasn’t the kind of “lacking” the Lord is talking about. Yes, God wants us to have certain outward things in this world but what he’s most concerned about is the inside. Like my heart and my head. So, James continues with:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)
So, I don’t think James meant that if you lack the right shoes, you ought to ask God and it will be given to you. However, God is not beyond helping a girl with her wardrobe, let me tell you. But perhaps its the wisdom to know how to find what you may need. Okay, I’m getting off on a strange tangent. Back to the topic at hand. James says we are to be complete, lacking nothing and then he shows us what we should do if we do happen to lack something: we are to ASK. Oh, glory to God for wanting us to ask Him for things!!! Isn’t He just like any Dad? He loves us and wants to give us things, but His face just lights up when we ask Him for them first. You know what that tells Him? That we need Him. And what Daddy doesn’t want to be needed by His kid? But oh…. there’s a small stipulation to this asking:
“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt.” (James 1:6)
Oh boy. That’s the clincher. Faith. Beth does a bit of talking about how we as a Christian society can be so double minded. At least thats how I took it. You know, we are all human sinners but we are “ye of little faith”. We have faith in certain things of God but in others we doubt so much and thats when James tells us not to be double-minded. We can not have faith and doubt at the same time. Beth says its living with one foot in the world and one foot at the cross. But God won’t stand for that. James tells us if we are like this we should not expect for God to give us anything. That’s harsh, yet just. I love Beth’s response to this:
“Look back at verse 7. Isn’t it interesting that the person who doubts, waffles, and wavers ‘should not expect to receive anything from the Lord’? Anything? Wow. That means that doubt not only robs us of the wisdom we requested but other priceless provisions as well.”
I think I’ll try faith, please.
The rest of the week Beth focused on this same topic but with a different twist on it. She asked us about our desires. Not the “desires of our heart” that God wants to give to us, but the evil desires that cause temptation. In verse 13, James confronts us about how we tend to blame God for the trials and temptations in our life. I’ll admit that I’ve done that before. I’ve found myself so angry with my situation and frustrated that God would not make it stop, that I felt justified in blaming Him. Oh how wrong that is. For only in the next verse does James remind us that all good things come from our Father. He loves to give us good gifts and perform generous acts for us.
This is where I;m going to have to stop. I have so much more to say on that last part, but it will have to wait for next week. Or perhaps a separate post because though through the past few years God has striped Moviestar and I of many things in our life, He has just recently begun to give and restore. And I want to see more unfold before I share whats happened with you.
What a week. Praise Jesus.