The Man in the Mirror…

 

It can be difficult to look at the man in the mirror… I personally look at myself… and I see the inconsistencies and failings of my life…not at all the man that Christ would want me to be- and I want to look away.

Then, I come to the book of James.  James is encouraging us to look at ourselves and to  grow into maturity as a man- or person of God. James tells us the person in Christ I should and need to be.  Take for James 1:2-3 for example…

2. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3. knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

Count it all joy when you fall into various trials… these are tough words indeed- when we look in the mirror during difficult times in our lives, how do we want to respond?

And now, we are living in a time when trials are going to increase for the Christians of America… even now, our country is debating on who can go into a bathroom- and in many circles, if you provide a biblical response like Genesis 5:2, He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created. You may be mocked…. The time has come that a Christian is ridiculed for standing against Homosexual marriage by proclaiming from Genesis 2:18 that God made man and woman for each other… so trials are here, and they are going to increase the bible tells us.

 

So, how and why should we count it all joy then? This is not joyful anticipation for trials. Instead, it is joy during trials. The joy is based on confidence in the outcome of the trial- God is on the throne and He’s got this. It is the startling realization that trials represent the possibility of growth.

 

 In contrast, most people are happy when they escape trials. But James encourages us to consider it pure joy in the very face of trials. The response he is describing may include a variety of feelings, but it is not simply based on emotions. James is not encouraging believers to pretend to be happy.

Rejoicing goes beyond happiness. Happiness centers on earthly circumstances and how well things are going here. Joy is God-oriented rather than event-oriented because it centers on God and his presence in our experience.

 

We are told that the testing of your faith produces patience… Coal is just coal- unless you put it under pressure… oh, then you have a diamond!

 Patience or endurance is faith stretched out; it involves trusting God for a long duration.

 Patience, endurance or perseverance- it’s the same word in the Greek, is not a passive submission to circumstances—it is a strong and active response to the difficult events of life. It is not a passive endurance, but the quality of standing on your feet, by standing on the word of God- or hitting your knees in prayer as you face the storms. It is not simply the attitude of withstanding trials, but the ability to turn them into glory, to overcome them, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

So, as I look in the mirror, I recognize that I am a lump of coal… but one day, when I am in Jesus arms, I’ll be a diamond! Amen.

 

Counting the Cost…

I am currently studying out and applying to my life, what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, the Christ. Jesus provided clear instruction on what being a disciple looks like, when counting the cost in Luke 9:57-62..

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.”

At first glance this is a difficult section of scripture. But we need to look at it with an eye towards the time and culture of the Middle East 2,100 years ago. Such as in verses 59 & 60- it wasn’t an issue of burying the dead, but rather of returning to collect an inheritance. Jesus is saying that He is  our inheritance we don’t need more than that.

And verses 61 & 62- this wasn’t about saying “good-bye” to family… family is family and of course it’s ok to say farewell for a journey. What this man was requesting was to go back and get his families blessing (approval) before following Christ. Jesus is saying the only blessing we need is His- if we don’t get it from family that’s ok.

That said, being a disciple of Christ is not a momentary commitment, but rather the entirety of our lives and will require sacrifice.

Now we need to turn our eyes away from the Middle East 2,100 years ago, to a future eternity… Paul the Apostle, knew that his various beatings, imprisonments, and ultimately martyrdom were nothing in comparison to spending eternity with Jesus… and he said as much in Philippians 3:8…

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ…

Count the Cost. Jesus is worth far more than anything this world offers. Anything.