James 1:2-4 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Count it all…when you meet various trials. The past month has been a blur. With the holiday rush, the virus that plagued our family, preparations for our grandson, interrupted schedules, crazy weather (snowing in Florida…seriously), unexpected dental procedure and all the other details of life mixed in – it was wonderful waking up feeling good with nothing pressing on the agenda. Hiding in the refuge of my study, I am overwhelmed with gratitude today. We are in the midst of our annual January fast. Though it has been a strenuous and exhausting turning of years, I am no less motivated for more. God is good! He has been good to us in so many ways. More than I could express in this little blog without blowing it up to a full blown book.
Reading James 1 today, these words are stuck in my mind. “Count it all.” So many times this passage is interpreted as a “suck it up, buttercup” kind of thing. Laughing in the face of adversity is not a natural response. In fact, it is not an honest response. I believe that God is inviting us to experience true joy not in a superficial sense. It is to take an account of our life. If Romans 8:28 is absolutely true, and it has to be or the all of God’s Word becomes invalid, then every detail of my life has the potential to produce something good. If not, God is a liar. This passage specifically says, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good…” This statement does not require much interpretation as it is straightforward and to the point. Every detail in our life, good and bad, has godly potential.
Goodness brings joy. When something good happens, we smile. It makes us happy. We are satisfied with the results. If every detail of our life will turn out for the good, then in each moment there is joy to be discovered. So in order to “count it all joy”, our life must align itself with God’s Word, His Purpose and His Plan so that the potential of good in each moment will produce the joy within it. To align our life with God’s Word means we must be accountable. To consider every detail even those that seem small and insignificant in comparison to God’s Word. His Word reveals the promise, potential and plan for a good life of abundance, success, prosperity and fulfillment. It’s all in there. It is all in me. The two must simply agree and be reconciled.
2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
In Amos 3:3, the Lord is speaking to His People through the prophet asking, “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?” Any who is in Christ has the true potential to become a new creation. Staying the same is not possible in the midst of change. Transformation is a reformation that cannot continue in the midst of unchangeability. Salvation is complete in the person of Jesus Christ our Savior. Transformation is the direct result of Jesus Christ becoming the Lord of our life. We cannot yoke our life to Him without giving up our way to fully accept His Way of life. This is not a religious mandate but an opportunity to engage in a full-blown relationship with the Living God that gives us full access to His Kingdom and every benefit that He ordained for us.
We must reconcile ourselves to Jesus Christ. Reconciliation is an accounting term. It means to make one account consistent with another (especially allowing for transactions begun but not yet completed). It means to bring to agreement and harmony. Our life in Christ is a work in progress. There are “transactions” complete, in process and yet to come. All these things must be considered to reconcile our life with Christ. To live in harmony with Jesus Christ produces harmony that allows anointing to flow that the oil through Aaron’s beard. (Psalm 133)
God’s Grace is sufficient. It is enough to cover our sin. Grace gives us the opportunity to live in right standing with God the Father through Jesus the Son. Alignment that produces prosperity in life comes from a relationship with Jesus. It is our personal responsibility to enlist the aid of the Holy Spirit and align our heart and mind with the Word of God. Jesus is the Word who came in the flesh. You cannot know Him or follow Him without the Word because He is the Word. It is very easy to misconstrue spiritual alignment as a religious act rather than a relationship. To know the difference is to know the common denominator which is love. My motivation in Christ must always be love. I love God. I love Jesus. I love others. This is the first step of spiritual alignment and reconciliation to Christ.
Hebrews 4:12-13 (ESV) For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.
The Word of God tells us the benefits and blessings that the Lord has in store for us. It details the Kingdom and all the benefits available to those who choose to seek after it. The only weapon that the enemy can use against us is a lie. Ignorance allow lies to seem truthful and logical. Faith relies on the logic found in the Word of God and reinforced by the Spirit of God. Psalm 103 warns the believer – “oh my soul, and forget not all my benefits…” When we do not know God’s Word – we do not know His Will. When we do not know what He will do – doubt turns to disbelief limiting our life.
We must not every forget that we are accountable to God. Even with the dispensation of grace given to God’s Children, we are still accountable to Him. (Romans 14:11-12) Every knee will bow before Jesus one day. God sees us from the inside out. He knows us. He knows things about us that we do not even know. He sees the potential of His Creation not the mess that we have made of it. He says, “It’s all good. Keep going. I have a plan.”
James 1:5-8 (ESV) If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
My prayer is that the Lord will give me wisdom and discernment. The kind that comes from the Word and pierces the hardest parts of my heart to water the seeds of faith hidden within me. As I strive to seek God wholeheartedly, it will require accountability including reconciliation to Christ in every area of my life. I cannot forget the blessings and benefits that His Goodness has already promised me even when it is not evident in my natural life it must be the prosperity of my soul that makes me steadfast.
When steadfastness is full effect, we begin to experience God’s Perfection in the full consummation of His Plan and Purpose for our life. We begin to experience Heaven on earth. His Goodness reserved for the Land of the Living permeates our everyday life. It is then that our life becomes complete in Christ and we lack no good thing. To be steadfast, fixed in direction, steadily directed, firm in faith, firm in purpose, unwavering, adherently, firmly established, and firmly fixed in place until the Word of God comes to pass just like He said it would. That’s where I want to be. So today I will count it all…
I challenge you as this Word has challenge myself today. Consider every area of your life. Examine your heart. Get into God’s Word. Reconcile ever area of your existence to God’s Word and His Will for you. In the areas that do not line up, seek to align them. Pray. Make some changes. Spread your faith around generously over those areas. Allow God to mold and shape your life into the masterpiece that He promised. Seek the help of the Holy Spirit. You have a purpose. The plan contains a future and hope. Every detail has good hidden inside of it. Full accountability requires reconciliation. Spend some time with your First Love. Let Him show you how much He loves you all over again.
James 1:12 (ESV)Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.