Count It All Joy

May 6, 2016

James 1:2-7, “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.
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.”

I remember about 14 years ago, I was sitting on my couch in my kitchen in the first house that Clay and I built. The kids were babies. Ben wasn’t even a thought. And I was a struggling working mom who could never make up her mind…should I work, should I stay home? Am I living in your will for my life, Lord? It was a constant struggle in my heart because I wanted so badly to be in God’s will. The Lord brought me to this scripture that morning and when I read the words “tossed by the wind” and “he will (not) receive anything from the Lord,” God truly settled my heart. I remember that it was like I could feel a steadiness. He reassured me that I was in His will and I should walk in confidence and allow Him to use me where I was.

The Lord has brought me back to that scripture so many times over the years. But today, He showed me the verse just before that….Count it all joy when you meet trials because they produce steadfastness which makes you complete. I can tell you this morning that I completely know what this means. I have read the scriptures so many times in which different men of God encourage us that trials are good for the development of our faith and I would say that I knew that was true. I didn’t really know until now. Now, it makes sense. Now, it’s like the words are popping off the page and I can’t put my Bible down because every time I turn the page, I’m like, “Yes! I get it! Amen!”

The world could never understand how, in our darkest moment, in our deepest trial, in our total despair, God is making us glad. He is giving us joy. He has given us an opportunity like no other. An opportunity to repent. To see our wrong. To be completely stripped of pride. To come face to face with ourselves and know that only by the power of Jesus Christ will we ever live and overcome. I would absolutely be a basket case right now if it were not for the Holy Spirit living in me.

This morning, Clay and I were laying in bed praying, repenting, thanking God for what He is doing. Accepting what He’s given us. Really, we were even thanking Him for choosing us. We believe this is a calling. He has anointed us and prepared us to do this. I don’t think Facebook would let me type as much as I could tell you about how the Lord has been reminding us of the path of our lives and how He has done everything to lead us to this moment. Anyway, we were praying. Clay started to pray and he said these words,

“Lord, thank you that I now know what it means to have a foretaste of glory divine. You’ve given me that today.”

I almost collapsed. But, I was already laying down. wink emoticon Isn’t that amazing. Can you imagine saying that? People want to know why Clay isn’t angry. Why isn’t he screaming at God like Job did from his ashes. Why aren’t we running frantically all over the world trying to find a cure? Because the peace of God passes all understanding. We are at complete peace. We were reading Job this morning and in 14:5, is says,

“You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live and we are not given a minute longer.”

We both just stopped and meditated on that thought for several minutes. Notice that is says MONTHS. Why doesn’t it say years? It says MONTHS. Because that’s what I needed to hear from God today to encourage my soul. His Word is alive. It is Jesus. He speaks to us through it.

I will close with this.

Hebrews 10:35-39

“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For,
Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay;
but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”

Clay and I have known the Lord all our lives. He has been faithful for 45 years. How could we throw away our confidence now? How could we think He is not with us now? Would he just suddenly leave? No! We count it joy that He is closer now than ever before, helping us in our infirmity and living through us to accomplish so much more than we could ever do on our own. We will NOT turn back. We will love Him, no matter what. We will praise Him, no matter what.

If you read this post and you have even one single thought to yourself that Clay and I are “strong” or “inspiring” or whatever word you might choose. Please know this. Clay and I are broken, prideful, selfish, sinful, disgusting people, if left to ourselves. There is nothing good in us. Nothing. The testimony is that God is helping us crucify our flesh everyday and enabling us to allow the Holy Spirit to live through us. We’ve prayed for this for years and now we are living it. And, it is worth it. It is all worth it. To know Jesus more and for our lives to make a difference in the world. If you want the Lord to do this work in your heart, read Ephesians 3:14-21. I’m not going to give it to you. You have to go search it out yourself. Pray this scripture. Bow your knee. Ask God to grant you an empowered spirit. He will do it. And, I promise, you will be glad.

We love you, all. We can’t express how loved we feel and how surrounded we are. It gives us strength to carry on. Keep sending us stories and testimonies. It is amazing to see how God is bringing revival, which is what we prayed for. Amen.

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