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I am now in week four of a five week study of Living So That, by Wendy Blight, with Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies, and our Verse of the Week is James 1:2-4.

Week 4

Honestly, when I started looking at this verse I began to move past the first few words to rest on JOY as the first word to examine, then I felt God pull me back to “Consider” ~ such a simple word, but with such impact!

~ “CONSIDER“: “to think about (something or someone) carefully especially in order to make a CHOICEto think of especially with regard to taking some ACTION ~ Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

The Greek word translated as “consider” is hégeomai is also translated as: leader, chief, governor, ruler, esteemed. It “refers to coming first in priority such as: “the leading thought” in one’s mind”.

We are not simply called to think about the JOY that can be found in our lives…we are to have this JOY as the FIRST thought on our minds. JOY is meant to rule, govern, command priority over ALL other thoughts that we might have. JOY is the thought that should lead ALL other thoughts that we might have. ALL other thoughts are to pale in comparison to JOY. WOW!!!!! I KNOW I am not always giving JOY it’s rightful place in my heart and mind.

When we look at the dictionary definition through the eyes of the Greek, we can see that this might not always be natural for us to do. We are sinners who are distracted by all that is going on around us. We are weak, and our thoughts and attitudes are all too easily influenced. We have to make a CHOICE to turn our thoughts to the JOY that can be found in The Lord. We make that choice to turn our thoughts to JOY, and then we take ACTION to KEEP JOY as the leader over our thoughts, and let JOY determine the next choice that we make ~ in word and deed.

So what is this JOY we are meant to consider?

~ “JOY“: the EMOTION evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of POSSESSING what one DESIRES…a SOURCE or cause of delight” ~ Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Joy is not only an emotion that is brought on by an experience. It is not the same as just feeling happy. It is a deep-rooted emotion. When I look at this simple dictionary definition I think ~ I should have JOY because I POSSESS what I DESIRE ~ because what I DESIRE should, above ALL things, be my relationship with The Lord. THAT should then be my SOURCE of delight!

The Greek word “chara” is translated as JOY and means: “the awareness (of God’s) gracefavorjoy” It is the RECOGNITION of God’s GRACE!

Above ALL things…above ALL thoughts…above ALL circumstance driven emotions ~ God calls me to CHOOSE to have the RECOGNITION of His GRACE as the thought that governs, rules, leads all my words and actions, and to take great DELIGHT in the truth that ~ no matter what trials I am experiencing – His GRACE abounds.

What kind of TRIALS is James referring to?

~ “TRIALS“: “a test of faith, patience, or stamina through subjection to suffering or temptation” Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Trials is translated from the Greek word “peirasmos“, and, as Wendy Blight describes in Chapter 4, Part One of Living So That, this can be arising from the desires or from outward circumstances”. It can mean TRIALS, TEMPTATIONS, TESTINGS and they can be birthed from our inherent sinful nature, or through no cause of our own, but allowed by God for His purpose.

No matter how, or why, the trials that we face have arisen; no matter how tired we are, or whether or not we feel our stamina and patience waning ~ BELIEVE that God’s GRACE will abound, and keep that as the first thought on your mind, and in your heart. 

What is is that these trials in our life TEST?

~ FAITH“allegiance [loyalty] to duty or a person..belief and trust in and loyalty to God” Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Pistisis the Greek translated word used in this verse, and can mean, “faith, belief, trust, confidence; fidelity, faithfulness”. 

What is TESTED? Our loyalty TO, belief IN, and TRUST in our Almighty God. What is TESTED? Our confidence in our Heavenly Father, who created all the heavens and the earth, who knows the number of stars in the sky and calls them by name (Psalm 147:4), and the number hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7). What is TESTED? Our belief in the promises of Scripture.

FAITH is not something we can manufacture, or develop by our own doing. FAITH is GIVEN to us by God. It is a GIFT (1 Corinthians 12:9), and it comes from hearing the Word of God! (Romans 10:17) We need to plant our roots in the Word of God, in order to have FAITH and develop our PERSEVERANCE SO THAT we might be made mature and complete in our relationship with The Lord. We need to KNOW who God is, in order to develop an unwavering loyalty to, belief in, and trust in; no matter what trial we are facing.

I think it is safe to say that we have all at one time, or another, had our FAITH tested. The next time your FAITH in God is tested (remember that it is WHEN not IF) ~ will you see it as an opportunity to develop your PERSEVERANCE and deepen your relationship with your Heavenly Father?

~ PERSEVERANCE: I love this! “the quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult” Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Perseverance is a quality that we can develop, and that quality gives us the ability to continue!

The Greek word hupomoné is the word we translate as PERSEVERANCE. WOW!!! Soak up this description from Strongs concerning the use of hupomonéin James 1:3: PERSEVERANCE is the characteristic of a man who is unswerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings”. How I LONG for that to be me. I want to be SO strong in my FAITH that I can remain 100% completely, and fully, grounded and unnerved by the trials and tribulations of life! 

I just love what Wendy Blight writes in Chapter Four, Part One of Living So That concerning this word.

“This is not a passive acceptance of our circumstances. It is a courageous persevering to reach what is promised on the other side.”

Wendy also points out that we can only develop PERSEVERANCE by experiencing trials. We can learn ABOUT it in books, and by listening to the experiences of others, but until our own PERSEVERANCE is actually tested, we won’t become mature and complete in our FAITH.

I long to keep the JOY of the knowledge of who Christ is, the HOPE of eternity, and the abundant provision of His GRACE at the forefront of my mind. Throughout all the times of testing that my FAITH encounters, I want to strive to remain unmoved and unshaken, and focused on the PURPOSE of my trial ~ bringing glory to God, and revealing His power and majesty to the world.

MATURE“: having reached a final or desired state” Merriam-Webster Dictionary. While I don’t think I will ever be (or really want to be!) mature in the sense of being ‘grown-up’…I do long for a mature FAITH!!! 

The Greek word teleios is used here and means: brought to its end, finished; lacking nothing necessary to completeness; perfect”. The HELPS Word-Study also highlights the fact that, in order to reach this state of MATURE FAITH we must go through a process. It doesn’t just happen! We have to apply ourselves to fulfilling this process ~ which will mean PERSEVERING through TRIALS. It is THROUGH those TRIALS that our FAITH develops; our trust, confidence, reliance, and hope in God develops and reaches a wonderful level of MATURITY. 

Through each TRIAL we face in life; God is preparing us SO THAT we can endure further, possibly even greater TRIALS. 

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. Luke 16:10 (NLT)

We need to hold onto the promises of Scripture and be in prayer, communion with God, SO THAT we can build our knowledge of, and trust in, the Sovereign Lord, who will accomplish His purpose. We need to become MATURE in our FAITH SO THAT we can see the eternal purpose of our TRIALS and take JOY in the truth that God can, and will, be glorified! A MATURE FAITH leaves no doubt in our minds, it trust perfects, and is unwavered; not tossed about in the waves of the storm.

COMPLETE“: not lacking anything: not limited in any way: not requiring more work: entirely done or completed…highly proficient”

Holoklérosin Greek refers to the subject as being “complete in all its parts…entire…whole” ~ our FAITH is made whole, it is perfected, through the TRIALS in our life that we face.

Friends, I know how difficult trial can be, I know we would all rather live our lives without the painful trials that we have to endure ~ but how amazing it is to think of the wonderful work that God can accomplish through our times of trial and testing. When we face trials we need to focus on the opportunity to experience the amazing GRACE of God first-hand. We are given the opportunity to develop our FAITH SO THAT we can know God on a deeper and more powerful level. If we look at trials in this way, if we look at them with PURPOSE, if we look them as an OPPORTUNITY…we can, not only feel JOY, and develop FAITH…but we can also GLORIFY our God in Heaven by proclaiming the reason for our JOY and HOPE in the midst of pain.

“Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.” 1 Peter 3:15 (NLT)

“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and PERFECTOR of FAITH. For the JOY set before him he ENDURED the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 (NIV, emphasis mine)

Join in week 5 of the Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Study of Living So That, by Wendy Blight here.