Monday, January 20, 2020

The Joy of the Lord

Mountain climbing is a sport that some enjoy, while others do not. The truth is, if you are born again you will climb some mountains before your departure from this life. How one climbs a mountain is directly related to the amount of faith they have in the Word of God, that is Jesus (The Word became flesh, John 1:12). James tells us, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." (James 1:2-3) To most believers this scripture is very familiar. However, did you know that although this letter was written to the church, it is directed to those who have not taken the time to developed there faith. Let's be honest, no one wants to experience trials but it is inevitable that they will come. The question that each believe must consider is, "Do you really have joy in the midst of a trial?"

Joy is a wonderful thing and is often mistaken for happiness. Happiness is a product of what one experiences based on their surroundings, that is, things that are expressed through the senses or put another way, the experiencing of material things. Joy however, is a product of the recreated spirit that is imparted by the Holy Spirit and has nothing to do with ones senses. (Galatians 5:22) By definition I believe this is the main reason why most believers struggle when a trial comes. They let their flesh (senses) have control over their circumstances (surroundings) and become unhappy. But this expresses the very point. Happiness is based on our surroundings. However, change the surroundings in a negative way and unhappiness becomes the outcome.

Notice also that James uses the term "Various Trials." In other words, there will be different types of trials that believers will experience. However, if a believer is going through the same trial again and again, it is due to their failure of letting go of the sense realm and looking to the LORD.  The apostle Paul puts it this way, "...I  have learned the secret of contentment in every situation..." (Philippians 4:12) In other words, Paul learned the secret of being independent of his circumstances. How was he able to do this? "For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need." (Philippians 4:13) The failure of most believers is not a lack of faith per se, but trying to live the Christian life through the sense realm which actually erodes one's faith. When believers look to the circumstances instead of Christ they can expect to be unhappy and miss the very reason for the trial. Trials are to mature the believer's faith so they can be perfectly sound in spirit, soul and body. "...that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." (James 1:3)

Jesus said, "For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says." (Mark 11:23) I know that many have come to believe that Jesus was using this as an analogy of speaking to the mountains (difficult life situations) and they will leave (move). However, the difficulties of life are the trials that James tells us to count it all a joy because trials mature the believer by increasing their faith. Also, in context as to why Jesus would make such a statement (He had cursed a fig tree that did not have fruit) He is literally stating a fact of how the God kind of faith (Mark 11:22) can move a literal mountain. Jesus who was present during creation. (John 1:3) spoke and the mountains were. So, faith in the one who created everything seen and unseen can move a literal mountain. I certainly do not know any believers who need to move a literal mountain out of the way, but faith can do just that.

Jesus faced the most difficult life situation that a person could possibly face as He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, "Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, "Sit here while I go and pray over there." And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me." He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done." (Matthew 26:36-43)

Jesus knew the will of God. He was not praying a prayer to change the situation (a difficulty of life) but a prayer of consecration and dedication. Notice what He says at the end of His pray, "not as I will, but as you will." He was making Himself available to the Father to do the Father's will no matter how difficult this life situation may have been. Let's face it, this was definitely an ominous life situation. Look at what the writer of Hebrews states, "...looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame..." (Hebrews 12:2) As hard as this may be to believe, in this most horrific trial of life, Jesus had joy fulfilling the will of the Father. He had to endure the agony and shame of the cross in His physical body as well as endure an even greater agony of having all sickness and sin of every person placed upon His spirit. (Isaiah 53:4-6, 9) During Jesus' entire life on earth as the Son of Man He never focused on the situations of this life, but the solutions provided by the Father, the Father's will being done. Believers are to "...look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" not the difficulties of life and then they will experience joy in the midst of a trial.

Having the kind of faith to move a mountain takes time to build. Trials are one of the ways that builds a believers faith. To experience joy in the midst of a trial is not something that one conjures up, it is already a part of the recreated spirit. With that said, we must understand that it comes down to whether or not we walk in the flesh (senses) and fulfill the works of the flesh or walk in the Spirit, standing on God's Word letting love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control have place over our senses. Like everything else, it comes down to a matter of choice. We can believe with our heart (spirit) and have joy in the midst of a trial or continue to let the flesh (senses) rule our lives. It is just that simple.

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