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"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." Matthew 5:14-15

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." Matthew 13:45-46

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Opportunity for Joy

"Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything. If you need wisdom - if you want to know what God wants you to do - ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking. But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. People like that should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. They can't make up their minds. They waver back and forth in everything they do." James 1:2-5

Yesterday I was talking with my dear friend in Georgia, and she mentioned that she is in the process of memorizing the book of James in the Bible. I remembered that this morning, as I was doing my devotions and decided to take a look at the book of James. I have read it many times through the years, but I thought these first few verses were especially meaningful.

How often do you think, "Boy, I'm glad I'm going through these difficult times, because it gives me an opportunity to experience joy." All right, that probably isn't the first thought on your radar screen. Perhaps it is more along these lines, "Lord, why do you have me going through all of these tough things? Don't you love me and care about me?"

But we see in these verses that God desires to use these hard situations we face, to 'grow' us to be more like Him. As we grow in His likeness, we are able to endure, and in turn develop a strong character. Scripture promises that once we have this strong character, we will be ready for anything. Wow! That definitely gives you a different perspective on trials, doesn't it?

How do we experience this joy? I think it has to be an active choice - just like I mentioned in yesterday's post, about choosing to take every thought captive. God has so many good things that He desires for us to have, but He is just waiting for us to ask Him. He promises to give us wisdom. It says in the verse above that He will gladly give us wisdom. This is something that I eagerly desire - His wisdom.

So in the future (and even now) when I experience difficult times, I pray that God will bring to my mind that this is an opportunity for me to feel and know His joy. I pray that I will continue to grow and endure and develop a godly character. Throughout that time, I desire to be resting in my Daddy's arms, because I know I can trust Him.

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