“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises.” James 5:13 NIV
Dissecting the Scripture
When we suffer hardships, we are afflicted by our circumstances. Affliction is broad and covers all trials, circumstances, and situations. The answer to affliction is prayer.
Biblically, happiness is the state of joy, the absence of anxiety and fear that tears at your soul. Singing praise is a form of thanking God. Praise is appropriate when you are happy, not fearful, anxious or depressed. Praise is a state of joy, not earthy joy, but joy in your soul. Praise is also appropriate when you are struggling. In those moments it is important to become laser focused on something that is working in your life no matter how small or transitory. When you praise God for that small thing, He offers a place of calmness and peace.
Prayer and praise are forms of connection to peace. We find peace when we are connected to our Lord. God’s ears are always inclined to our cries, our shouts of praise, and joy. Our relationship with Him can overcome the afflictions of this world if we pray. We must focus on Him and not our circumstances to allow His peace to enter our souls, where we can rest in the comfort of His arms.
“pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 https://bible.com/bible/59/1th.5.17-18.ESV
Our Lord is all truth and the truth is, God loves us and is in the center of our prayers and our praise. He is at the center of our life. Once we accept His place in our lives and we accept being dependent upon Him, our life begins to change and we begin to pray and praise as part of who we are, children of God. Praise God for being our father.
To quote John McArthur (biblereasons.com): “The more you focus on yourself, the more distracted you will be from the proper path. The more you know Him and commune with Him, the more the Spirit will make you like Him. The more you are like Him, the better you will understand His utter sufficiency for all of life’s difficulties.”
The only way we can reach God is through prayer, praise and worship. And, when we do so, we find God in the center of our lives orchestrating our path according to His will and His way. The path will not be smooth, but more like a dirt road with crooks, crannies, pot holes and mounds. However, with GOD at the center we can continue to move forward. Prayer and praise are the resources we need to strengthen our relationship with the Lord and rely on His truth that will set us free.
Image: KCIS 630 Radio, Google Images; Biblestudytools.com
Do you live according to the Word? What do those around you see?
~ Lisa Blair
I am sharing a video from Grace for Purpose. It is a great reminder about the path we must travel. As we travel the path, do we exhibit a Christ-like character in all that we do? Will the witnesses report that we faced challenges but throughout it all reflected a Christ-like character?
The witnesses are those in heaven who observe us during our life on earth.
You never lose your God given spiritual gifts, talents and skills, herein referred to as your power. You may lock it away, deny it, or place it into hibernation, but you never lose your power. It is embedded in your destiny, your power is composed of the skills talents, and abilities needed for you to mature to be the person God designed you to be to advance His work.
Ephesians 2:10 reads, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
1 Peter 44:10-11 reinforces that, “God has given each of you a gift from His great variety of spiritual gifts”, other scriptures identify the many gifts that we use during the course of our lives. [See How does God distribute spiritual gifts on gotquestionss.org]
Romans 12:2, encourages us to see and live life differently. ”Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
There are times in our lives when difficulties arise and we question whether we are capable of correcting the path. It seems pretty clear, but this wrought with free will. The answer is yes and no. Yes because the Holy Spirit directs us in how to best utilize the characteristics of Christ we acquired when we received salvation through our belief that Jesus (part of the Trinity) is our Lord and Savior. Meaning we relinquish selfish motives in favor of being led by the Holy Spirit, who can direct our path. No, because we attempt to put ourselves first, do it on our own, ignoring the voice or nudging of the Spirit.
In an earlier post, I stated that we are not supposed to be paralyzed by life’s challenges. I now want to share that we possess the power/skills/talents to move forward. If we take time to inventory our skills and talents and pray to the Lord for guidance. He will lead us forward. His path may not lead down the expected path, but the arrival to the destination will certainty be more satisfying and more purposefully. When struggling we must always remember that we were created to perform God’s work. We were created with the innate skill sets needed. Skill sets that mature as we mature in the Word and dedicate our lives to God’s purpose for us.
1 Corinthians 2:12 reinforces that the (Holy) Spirit indwells within us: “Now, we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”
Wow, are you saying that we have power?‘s that it’s not simply a carnal quest to make it to the top? Yes, like with all things, we possess free will. We can develop God’s gifts, skills, and talents to move in our own direction and climb up the ladder of success, climbing over others and working to separate ourselves from co-workers, or we can use those skills to become stronger in our careers placing the focus on God embodying by the characteristics of Christ in all that we do.
Hebrews 13:20-22, Weymouth New Testament: “Now may God who gives peace, and brought Jesus, our Lord, up again from among the dead—even Him who, by virtue of the blood of the eternal Covenant, is the great Shepherd of the sheep— fully equip you with every grace that you may need for the doing of His will, producing in us that which will truly please Him through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory to the Ages of the Ages! Amen.”
When we become Christians, we have been set apart from others. We no longer strive for absolute power as our pre-Christian selves did. Carnal power no longer motivates us to push through, destroy others, and fail families. We have been called according to His power.
Paul wrote in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for the good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His power.”
When we existed in our carnal state, we struggled for absolute power and in the process we often found that it destroys absolutely, it alters who you are is a fax year every thought it focuses on greed intolerance, hate, impatience, jealousy, and envy. In our carnal state we lived in alien territory by ourselves.
Once we put on our Christlike self all of the above our self righteousness begins to fade away. While our goals may be to become a CEO or an administrator or doctor or lawyer or an astronaut, the way in which we attain them changes. How we use our careers impacts us and consequently others differently.
Colossians 3:9-10 instructs – ”Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”
In closing, we were born with different levels of skills, and talents, we possess a trove of them. It is up to us how we use that power. We can choose to use them as they were designed – for the benefit of others, or for the benefits of self. We never lose the power, we may have to dig deep within and bring it back to the surface but it is there for the taking it is our gift from God. It is part of the DNA our Lord has placed in us long long before we were considered by our parents. He knew us long before we chose Him as our Lord and Savior. He knew us before we knew ourselves, and according to His wisdom and plans gave us all the talents and skills needed in this life. He gave us the power to choose how we use them.
The thing with Christianity is that it does not eliminate troubling times, it helps you process through them. Passing the test simply means that you do not give up your hope or your faith when in the midst of uncomfortable situations and circumstances in this life.
The old phrase, “hang in there” means just that, do not give up, do not give in, no matter what life looks in the face of the prevailing circumstances.
HOPE - FAITH VICTORY
A year and a half ago a friend of mine was faced with a life-threatening disease and passed away a few weeks ago. Watching him in his final days was a grand testimony of faith. His hope and faith was not about his life in the here-and-now, it was nestled in the Lord. His love for the Lord did not falter. His hope and faith focused on the promise of everlasting life.
It is my hope that we can all demonstrate such faith, not just during our trials but everyday.
￼Many of us, like Paul in the scripture, feel we have a pure heart and do not understand some of the circumstances that exist in our lives because we are assuming a perfect heart cannot result in negative circumstances. The truth is, we have sinned so frequently we no longer consider them, or ever considered them, sins, acts if wrongdoing.
-~ Lisa Blair
None of us are pure at heart. Through the knowledgement of our sinful, or if you prefer – our carnal nature, we possess the ability to justify our wrongs and redress them as right. This is why this scripture is important, because before we can improve, we must learn what is faulty and needs to be eliminated. In asking God to show us what He finds offensive identifies that we can correct what is wrong and be led to an everlasting light life.
In the case of this scripture Paul who has been through a lot, still thinks that he has a pure heart and cannot figure out why so many people were out to destroy him. So, in the scripture he’s appealing to God with an attitude of having a perfect heart, asking God to show him what is in him that has upset so many people because it certainly is not true.
However, the only pure at heart is Jesus who took our sins and died for them. This is why we need to do internal searching on a daily basis and ask for God’s help to identify those things that we seem to be blind to, and operate under every day.
I am certain that Paul was truly shocked and disturbed when the Lord showed him his cardinal experiences in life. We cannot and should not be shocked because we know our carnal experiences, we know those things we do that are wrong and maybe reprehensible, we know the things that we do and don’t tell anyone thus living in the shadows, we know the difference between right and wrong and choose often wrong over right because it provides greater immediate satisfaction.
I encourage everyone to read the scripture and begin asking yourself frequently, or daily, what are the things that should be peeled from our, yes our offensive, personality and behavior to help us become obedient to God.’s Word.