by Norm Miller
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials” James 1.2.
Isn’t that how we secretly react to this verse?
Who counts it all joy to stare down cancer, deal with a recalcitrant teen, or work for an over-bearing boss? I’m not sure who truly does, but I know who should – all God’s children. The context of the verse says a joyous reaction to troubles tests our faith, produces endurance and brings us — God’s children — to maturity in Christ.
The verse is as interesting as it is challenging. The word translated consider is a verb meaning — do it now and once for all; so, there’s no room to decide when we’ll be joyful or which trials we’ll endure joyfully. Just make up your mind now to be joyful always, come what may, rain or shine.
The word encounter means, literally, to fall into, just as the man who fell among the thieves in Luke 10.30. As the thieves sought to rob the man, so do trials and tribulations attempt to steal the joy we have determined to express in the face of such theft.
The word translated various has a connection to the Old Testament word that describes Joseph’s many-colored coat. Have you ever thought of trials as being multi-colored? Well, have you ever been blue with sadness? Ever been green with envy? So mad you saw purple? What about the yellow trials of cowardice when trying to witness for Christ? The black of guilty sin?
“What can wash away my sin? / Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
Now there’s a color that was spilt in the trial, endured the trial and conquered the trial. And it is still powerful today, the red blood of Jesus Christ, which cleanses us from sin and brings joy.
Text: Eph. 4:6,13
And as I entered into it I thought of my own life as a student. When I went to Baylor University I was seventeen years of age and a young minister. When I went to the university every afternoon I took my Bible and I visited those slums between the school and the Brazos River. All up and down that Brazos River were slums. I would knock at the door, knock at the door, and I would introduce myself with a Bible in my hand. And I would say my name and that I am a Christian. “Are you Christians here?” And if they said “Yes,” I would say, “May I come in and pray with you and read the Bible with you?” If they would say, “No. We’re not Christians here,” I would say, “May I come in and show you how to be saved, how to go to heaven and how to have Jesus in your heart and home?” I did that the years I was at Baylor every afternoon in those slums from house to house. Continue reading
Submitted by Dr. Brad Whitt, pastor
Abilene Baptist ChurchAugusta, Ga
Yesterday, I went to preach knowing that I didn’t feel well. I’d been fighting a cold for several days, but knew that it was definitely getting worse. I was starting to cough more and grow weak. (I made note of it from the pulpit and explained that I wouldn’t be shaking any hands that morning because I didn’t want to take a chance on making anybody sick.)
I preached the first service and my iPad had a “hiccup” about half way through the message. Thankfully, our A/V guys had put a paper copy of my message in the pulpit like I had asked them one time nearly two years ago.
There were a few folks who came to pray at the altar, but no other decisions. I rested during the Sunday School hour, but was definitely feeling worse. I started preaching the second hour, and I could tell that my voice was getting even more hoarse. Oh, and my iPad crashed again. But, when the invitation was extended, three people prayed to trust Christ and three more came to join the church. His strength was definitely made perfect through my weakness.