Are you being tested? God has a promise!

God blesses someone who perseveres under trial. Blessed means “fortunate,” and speaks of an inner quality of joy, a contentment in God not affected by outward circumstances. In fact the New Testament often uses this word to describe those who as far as outward circumstances are concerned appear not to be fortunate at all such as the poor, the hungry, the persecuted, or the martyrs. This blessing is a joy that the world can not take from us. It is joy that resides in the depths of your heart. Joy is a matter of choice. You can allow yourself to be miserable in life or you can choose to face the challenges of life with joy. Our joy flows from a personal connection with the Savior of the World. Nothing can ever take that away from you. 

The happiness of believers flows out of faithfully following Jesus. It comes after one has following Him through the good and the bad of life. Inner blessedness is the result of faithfully following Jesus even through the trials and tribulations of life.

And trials will come to the Christian who lives a SPIRITUAL LIFE. A young Christian who worked for a rich man was always telling his master that satan was after him and that he had a constant battle with him, but that he always won over satan. The master made fun of him, telling him that satan never bothered him. How was it, that the devil should bother the boy relentlessly? He would ask. The poor young Christian could not answer him. One day however, they went hunting together. The master shot at some wild ducks. Some he killed and some he just wounded. “Run”, the master said, “and catch the wounded ones first before they run away.” The young Christian came back laughing. He had the answer to the big question. “You know sir,” he said, “why satan does not tempt you? Because, you are dead to God, just like those ducks. He goes after the live ones, ones like me.”Point: temptation is something the Christian has to fight with as long as we are here. If you are not being tempted there is a good chance you’re doing what the devil wants already, so he has no need to bother you. James proclaims that the man is blessed who steadfastly endures [preservers] (hypo-meneo) trials or temptations [(peirasmon), same Greek word,] and has stood the test (dokimos genomenos). The word persevere comes from two Greek words. The first means “to remain” and the second means “under.” To persevere means, “to remain under.” The connotation is “one who remains under trials” and doesn’t crack. The idea here is faithfulness. Perseverance is standing steadfastly in the midst of trial, facing it in the faith of Jesus Christ. God wants to bring us to the place where we patiently wait upon Him to do His work in us. He wants to develop within us the patient assurance that He is at work, and He does His deepest and best work in our trials.

A BLACKSMITH understood the value of trails better than most. About eight years after he had given his heart to God, he was approached by an observant unbeliever with the question: “why is it you have so much trouble? I have been watching you. Since you joined the church and began to ‘walk square’ and seem to love everybody, you have had twice as many trials and difficulties as you had before. I thought that when a man gave himself to God his troubles were over. Isn’t that what the parsons tell us?” With a thoughtful but glowing face, the blacksmith replied: “Do you see this piece of iron? It is for the springs of a carriage. I have been ‘tempering’ [to soften hardened steel or iron by giving it more resiliency] it for some time. It gains elasticity through adding or absorbing carbon. I do this by heating it red-hot, and then plunge it into a tub of ice-cold water. This hot to cold process must be done many times. If I find it taking ‘temper,’ I heat and hammer it unmercifully. In trying to get the right piece of iron I found several that were too brittle. So I threw them in the scrap-pile. Those scraps are worth very little. This carriage spring is very valuable.” He paused, and his listener nodded. The blacksmith continued: “God saves us for something more than to have a good time- that’s the way I see it. We have the good time all right, for God’s smile means heaven. But He wants us for service just as I want this piece of iron. And He has put the ‘temper’ of Christ in us by testing us with trial. Ever since I understood this I have been saying to Him. “Test me in any way you choose Lord; only don’t throw me in the scrap pile.” What is in mind here is not the mere experience of trial; that does not necessarily bring blessedness to an individual. Indeed some come out of their difficulties not softened, or tempered but hardened or brittle, and their test does not become a boon to them. The blessing is the courageous endurance of trial so that we might better serve God. “Blessed is the man who remains firm under temptation.” I heard this story buy, until recently I didn’t fully understand its meaning.

God samples the worth of our faith through the trials of life. If we preserve in faithfulness to Him and His word it proves our faith is authentic, genuine and more precious than gold. Trials bring blessing because they prove our faith is genuine. God blesses our faith when we trust Him through the trial.God uses trials for the expressed purpose of building our faith and character. Character must be tested to be proven genuine. There is no place for wimps in the development of faith for faith development calls for stamina and courage.

The outcome our endurance and trueness forge in the fire of trials is worthy of great reward. The life that has brought such glory to God will not be forgotten in heaven. He or she will be rewarded with the crown of life. The crown of life is to be interpreted as the crown which consists in life, that is the crown of life (Rev. 2:10). The life is promised to those who love Him. It is the enabling to take hold of life and live it as God would have you. It is being able to enjoy God’s abundant life daily, no matter the outward circumstances. Not only is it full and free spiritual life here and now, it is a reward in heaven also. The greatest reward for those who faithfully endure is a reward that will endure. In the Greek world crowns (head wreaths, chaplets, circlets) were given to athletes victorious in the games (1 Cor. 9:25) and to citizens who distinguished themselves in service. Hence the crown in Greek thought was either a prize of victory or a badge of honor. [ The Old Testaments speaks of the crown as the mark of royalty (Ps. 21:3) and as a festal ornament (Prov. 1:9).] Whereas the athletes have human competitors, the Christian’s adversaries are the powers of darkness trying to drive him off course and keeping him from finish the contest. In the present passage the crown is a gift of God symbolizing divine approval of a life tested by trial. The crown is the reward of the Christian’s effort, what against the powers of evil is no less agonistic than the athlete’s against his fellow competitors, it just that the contest last longer. (Other crowns: imperishable crown, 1Cor. 9:25; of exaltation, 1 Thess. 2:19; of Righteousness, 2 Tim. 4:8; of glory,1 Pet. 5:4). Difficulties can get you down. But if you will remain faithful to God your difficulties will give you strength of character so that you will walk confidently with God prepared for whatever life has in store for you. The way to God’s winner’s circle is by loving Him and staying faithful even under pressure. 

Enduring temptation means that we must bear up under it, not get mad at God when troubles come and things don’t seem fair. We must remain faithful and not stumble if God takes His time in bringing us through it all.Enduring temptation means that we take the troubles of life and bravely face them, continuing to trust in the Lord. We should bear them patiently and with integrity because we know that it’s all in God’s hands and will somehow work out something good in our lives. We need to remember that temptations are nothing more than tokens of God’s love and confidence in us. He allows them to come to strengthen us and to help us draw closer to Him.And what is waiting for us when we have endured to the end, when we have faced that great leveler? We shall receive the Crown of Life!

James 2-12 were written to give us encouragement to face the afflictions and trials of life. Encouragement to be patient endurance, encouragement to believe that trials can be turned to our good, encouragement to prayer, encouragement to joyfully accept our lot in life and encouragement to look hopefully to the future.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break, 
In blessings on your head. 
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face. -William Cowper

Sunday morning, May 5, preached in St. Ann’s, was asked not to come back anymore. 
Sunday p.m., May 5, preached at St. John’s, deacons said, “Get out and stay out.” 
Sunday a.m., May 12, preached at St. Jude’s, can’t go back there either. 
Sunday p.m., May 12, preached at St. George’s, kicked out again. 
Sunday a.m., May 19, preached at St. somebody else’s, deacons called special meeting and said I couldn’t return. 
Sunday p.m., May 19, preached on the street, kicked off the street. 
Sunday a.m., May 26, preached in meadow, chased out of meadow as a bull was turned loose during the services. 
Sunday a.m., June 2, preached out at the edge of town, kicked off the highway. 
Sunday p.m., June 2, afternoon service, preached in a pasture, 10,000 people came to hear me.

Who was this persistent man? No other than John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement. We must make the choice to persist through all circumstances, so we can be the kind of people Jesus wants us to be. We must persist through the difficult times of life to discover the rewards that Jesus has waiting for us. The greatest blessing of God flows into lives that stay the course, stay in the race and cross the finish line. When one day you stand before the throne of God I pray you will there receive the crown of life. Our call to each one sharing our service this day is to receive the life that is offered in Jesus Christ. Come, confessing His Name. Come to openly identify with Him. Come, standing openly with Him in baptism as He commands. Come to place your life in the fellowship. Come, & angels attend you in the way.

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