Our Journey Online with Dr. James MacDonald Devotionals

Walk in the Word ministries provokes Christians to think and act on their faith

The Supernatural Connection Between Trials and Joy

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. –James 1:2-4

Think about the statement made by James, the half-brother of Jesus: “For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” Did you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness? James is saying that his readers had been taught the concept of growth through difficulty. But did they really grasp it—and do we?

The principle James is applying isn’t automatic or intuitive. Like the first century followers of Jesus, we have to be taught that hardships are what God uses to develop our endurance. Unless we’ve been told how God works, our response to “trials of various kinds” is likely to be anything but “joy.”

So if James’ readers already knew what he was telling them, why did he feel the need to say it again? First, because he realized, like any good teacher, that knowing and doing are two separate steps. Knowing what God can do with trials isn’t the same thing as doing life with that knowledge. Second, he was reminding them of their privilege to respond to God’s work through testing by choosing joy.

We all know there are other choices before us when hard times come. We can get angry with God for His role in allowing the trial. We can get discouraged because we were expecting an easier life with Christ. We can even develop a persistent bad attitude in a trial that doesn’t allow others to see our hope in Him in the middle of what God is doing.

Joyis a much better choice! Not joy for the “trials of various kinds,” but joy over what those trials will accomplish in deepening our faith. Every choice above is a certain kind of “endurance,” but endurance without joy is not a pretty sight. Choosing to be angry, discouraged, and to push others away isn’t the kind of endurance God wants to develop in us. 

Rather, He calls us to "press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14). He longs for us to persevere—joyfully!

The way we might say that today is, keep on. Instead of giving up, our objective is to keep on! Keeping on means doing the things you have committed to doing, whether you feel like it or not—don't give up. The biblical words for keeping on are endurance, perseverance, andsteadfastness. Nothing is more essential to success in the Christian life than to keep at it and keep your eyes on the goal of God's glory. This is a character trait you have to develop. Faith gets you started; joyful steadfastness keeps you going.

Fortunately, God is even more interested in growing your endurance than you are! Almost everything He allows in your life has the purpose of developing perseverance. That’s why, as James 1:3 says, God tests your faith. Not so your faith will fail, but to produce in you a joyful by-product called steadfastness, "that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

Journal

·         How would you describe your current ability to match how you are living with what you know about God’s uses of trials?

·         Where do others notice your joy?

Prayer

Lord, forgive me for struggling with endurance while missing the ingredient of joy too often in my life. Forgive me for times when I’ve put on a game face of keeping on with an attitude that made others wonder what was the point! Teach me again to “count it all joy,” because I know that joy improves the possibility of endurance! Thank You for Nehemiah’s great reminder, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (8:10)—I can’t endure in my strength, but in Your strength I can endure with joy! In Jesus’ name, amen.

Always True: 5 Great and Precious Promises of God
Always True: 5 Great and Precious Promises of God 

5 CD Series Set - $35.00

What if you believed—truly believed with all confidence that God is with you? How would today go for you if you knew without a doubt that God is in control? What would be different in your life if you were sure God is watching and good? What would you risk if you were certain God is victorious? 

Just how would believing God’s promises change your life?  

Ask the greatest Christian you’ll ever meet if they hold on to God’s promises and they’ll all say yes. Believing that God will do what He promises leads to a great life. The greatest Christian you’ll every meet knows, treasures, and is resting in the promises of God. They cling to these assurances that God gives His people so they can walk by faith while they wait for Him to work.

So what exactly does God promise?  In this topical study of what will always be true, Pastor James MacDonald will explore five great and precious promises that God keeps. Enter into this study with anticipation and faith that the God who makes these promises is faithful and true... always true.

About Our Journey Online with Dr. James MacDonald

Learn all about Christianity at Christianity.com with rich, theological articles, video, and audio focused on the life of Jesus Christ, Bible Study, the Christian church, and Christian living for families. Grow in your faith and walk with Christ as you read about the history of Christianity, salvation, evangelism and discipleship. Use free daily devotionals from your favorite pastors, authors, and speakers as a way to spend daily quiet time with God. Discover how devotions can help you make postive changes in your life toward living out the promises of God. Christianity.com also offers free online Bible study tools with over 30 translations and a library of commentaries, concordances, lexicons, and more for you to highlight, take notes in, and bookmark for studying the Word!

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