Friday, 21 July 2017

Criteria for Renewal ~ Ganeida

In a very roundabout way we have been looking @ revival. One reason for this is that there is a 3 part process & we tend to use the single word *revival* when we actually mean one of three things ~ or perhaps all three.  Those three things are:

·      RENEWAL: When God touches the heart of a single individual
·      REVIVAL: When God touches a community of believers
·      AWAKENING: When the wider society is impacted

While we want to see all three things happen our big picture vision is for awakening ~ to see our wider community impacted for Christ.

I have spent a good deal of time going over different aspects of our call to live the Christian life to ensure we understand the basics & there are 2 main reasons for this.  The first is so that we understand how we need to position ourselves with Christ, what our part is, & that which belongs to the Holy Spirit.  The second reason is something we see far too often in the modern church. People get saved yet there are no mature Christians available to disciple them.  So the nature of revival is to not only see a move of God in our churches but also to see Christians maturing & able to disciple others.  This is how the early church grew. Remember we said the early Christians used 3 methods to establish new believers in the Faith:
·      Sound teaching
·      Righteous example
·      The Transforming work of the Holy Spirit.

And there were 3 distinguishing marks of the faithful
·      Separation from the world [John 15:18`19]
·      Unconditional love [John 13:34~35]
·      Obedient trust [John 14:1, 21]

This is why we have taken the time to establish an understanding of the fundamentals of the Faith: the nature of sin, the need for repentance, the nature of salvation & the work of the Holy Spirit.

You see we need to prepare ourselves to be used of the Holy Spirit. Matthew Henry once said:
"When God intends great mercy for His people, the first thing He does is to set them a praying."

We see this with the greatest revival in the bible recorded in Jonah. Jonah, as we have seen, was a most reluctant prophet of God’s grace & mercy. Before God could speak through him He had to bring Jonah to a point where he was obediently willing to be used & the first thing Jonah did was pray! He had to repent of his past actions ~ & that took some doing!  He was a most reluctant messenger!

You can contrast this revival with the one that occurs in the New Testament @ Pentecost.  You see a very similar process in place ~ & a very interesting process it is.

Firstly Jesus instructs His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until He sends His Holy Spirit.  That must have been interesting!  Think about it.  James & John, the sons of Thunder were there & we know they had been conniving for the top place of honour @ Jesus side [Matthew 20:20]: I can’t imagine that made them very popular with the other disciples.  Peter was there ~ & we know he had a bombastic & abrasive personality.  Matthew, the tax collector was there ~ a man who knew how to sit on a fence & walk both sides of a road. Nathaniel ~ a true Israelite, in whom there is no deceit [John 1:47]…

I can’t think of a more diverse group of people but they were all together in the one place & the KJV renders it as being *in one accord.* Now that is an interesting translation because it highlights something significant.  There were things that needed to be straightened out amongst these men.  There needed to be forgiveness, grace, mercy because they were very, very different types of men; very ambitious men; proud men; volatile men. As they waited in that upper room they were called to prayer & their prayer brought them into unity.

 They didn’t unify themselves but they did position themselves in a way that allowed God to work. For that to happen they had to forgive each other.  I don’t imagine Peter found it easy to forgive James & John for trying to steal a march on being first in the kingdom.  I don’t imagine John found Peter’s betrayal [especially after all his boasting] easy to forgive when he himself had stood @ the foot of the cross & watched Jesus die. Nothing grieves the Holy Spirit more than to have believers @ each other’s throats so it was imperative they forgive. I imagine that as they worshiped the one they all believed in the resentments fell away ~ as they do~ And as these men obediently humbled themselves they were brought into *one accord* & that accord released the Holy Spirit.

The process for revival has never changed.  It is recorded in 2 Chronicles7:14~16…if my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves & pray & seek my face & turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven & will forgive their sins & restore their land.  My eyes will be open & my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.  For I have chosen this temple & set it apart to be holy~ a place where my name will be honoured forever.

We must be humble for God resists the proud.  Prayer prepares the way.  Repentance aligns us with God’s will.

The difference between Jonah & the disciples is in the operation of the Holy Spirit.  Jonah only knew the Holy Spirit as *the anointing upon* when he was ministering in his role as prophet but the disciples had a whole new relationship with God & thus a whole new relationship with His Spirit. They received *the anointing within.* We, both individually & corporately are the new temple which God has chosen & set apart to be holy.  Therefore we are called to walk in holiness.


  
The plain definition of holiness [hagios]is different, set apart. Thus the 3 distinguishing marks by the early church

·      Separation from the world
·      Unconditional love
·      Obedient trust

We are not meant to look like the world, talk like the world, act like the world.  We are to be different & to be different we are called to be like Christ. Our concerns & interests should be those things that concern & interest Christ.  Our obedience is to Christ, not the world.  Our love is the love that the Holy Spirit sheds abroad in our hearts.

Peter puts it like this: for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God's very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

Possession [peripoiēsis], which some translations render, peculiar people, can mean a specialty: something rare & wonderful; a treasure.


We are not meant to be part of the common run, but something that stands out, rare, unique, beautiful.

Christianity has changed so much since the first century that we have lost sight of what God intended His church to look like.  We have remade the church in our own image arguing that we need to be *like the world to win the world*, that we need to be *seeker friendly*, that we can have the world & Christ both.  Nothing could be further from the Truth. There can be no compromise with the world or the things of the world.

 Holiness has always been radical.  The world has never liked it.  True holiness is confronting.  It puts the lie to tolerance, acceptance, compromise. It crucifies our flesh. It strips away sin. It reveals our weakness.

For most Christians holiness remains an unattainable ideal because they haven’t been taught to shun the things of the world. It’s not easy.  Even if we monitor what we watch on t.v or listen to on the radio we have no control over the adds. Clothing is dictated by the fashion industry & the fashion industry has determined what is acceptable, modest, fashionable, rather than the word of God. Our topics of conversation are dictated by the world: gossip, sport, politics.

Most of us don’t have a persecution complex.  We don’t want to be ridiculed for our beliefs, look out of place, or be considered odd.  In fact it is such a fundamental desire to not stand out that God issued warning after warning to the Israelites:

"When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, be very careful not to imitate the detestable customs of the nations living there. For example, never sacrifice your son or daughter as a burnt offering. And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Deuteronomy 18:9~11.But they did them anyway.

God is very serious about the call to holiness.  Now we can be saved, washed, redeemed, Holy Spirit filled yet still not be walking in holiness but if we are serious about revival then we have to be serious about holiness.  Look again at the 2nd part of that verse in Peter: As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

It is not our tolerance, our compromise, our acceptance, our understanding that shows others God.  It is our holiness. A whole other way of being.  That is what the word of God says about it.  The world says other things but the world’s way has been tried & found wanting. The church has tried the world’s way & there has been an ever increasing decline in numbers & church attendance for decades. It is past time to repent & return to doing things God’s way.
Finally, the Holy Spirit works both individually & corporately so my walk in holiness is not going to look exactly like anybody else’s. Nor will yours. However there should also be commonalities: an ongoing separation from anything that compromises our walk with God; our love for the brethren & our obedience to Christ. It is Christ who draws all men unto himself so as we lift Him up by drawing closer to  Him …Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1





Saturday, 15 July 2017

Help in our Infirmities ~ Ganeida

We have touched on how much we need the help of the Holy Spirit as we have discussed our Spiritual walk & aligning ourselves with the will of God in order that He might bring revival: personal, national, global.

Today I want to look more closely @ how that actually happens.  Please turn to Romans 8:26 ~ 27 which says: And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.  And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

The first word I would like us to study is astheneia.  It is translated variously as weakness or infirmities. The Greek is a generic term that is inclusive of all types of sickness & disease. It includes nosos [a terminal condition for which there is no natural cure] Matthew 4:23, malakia [refering to a crippling disease of the muscles or nerves also Matthew 4:23] kakōs [to be mentally unwell, plagued by evil spirits, prone to bad thinking, or criminally wicked Matthew 9:12], mastix to be plagued or tortured by recurring pain or illness & arroustos ~ people who were so sick they were critically ill, even comatose [Matthew 14:14].

Understand that without the Holy Spirit operating in us we are literally sick: weak, diseased, crippled, mentally unwell, tortured ~ even comatose. We do not want to be that sort of a Christian.  That sort of a Christian is weak & ineffective.

Nor do we want to be the sort of Christian who knows the word but does not operate in the power of the Holy Spirit. We are word people, faith people.  We know that 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. Hebrews 4:12

What we need to understand is that there were 2 different sorts of swords used in Jesus day. There were practice swords.  These were huge, 2 handed swords used in practice.  They were specifically designed to build strength & muscle but were absolutely useless in warfare.  In the same way knowing the word, using the word believing the word builds up our strength & muscle but when we are embroiled in the battle we use our fighting sword, a short, two bladed sword basically used for stabbing.

Now we understand that both edges of this sword are sharp.  One edge is the Word of God.  The other edge is us agreeing with the word of God.  We say what God says.  We confess what God confesses. This is our weapon of warfare.

However there is a missing element in all this, good as it is. The missing element is the Holy Spirit.

This is how it works.  We are jogging along nicely with our life & everything is pretty honky~dory.  Suddenly there is an eruption & we find ourselves facing a huge mountain ~ but hey! We’ve trained to deal with the mountains in our lives. We know we’re supposed to *speak to our mountain* ~ & so we land on all the bible promises that address our condition.

Financial crisis: Deutronomy 28:8 The LORD will command the blessing upon you in your barns and in all that you put your hand to, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God gives you. Or Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Sickness? Exodus 23:25 Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you…

We know to pray the Word, speak the Word, believe the Word ~ & our mountain sits there.  It’s huge.  It’s ugly. And it doesn’t budge! We’re believing for our healing, our financial situation, our prodigals but our healing doesn’t happen, our finances remain in the red & our children are still apostate.

So we bind our mountain because we know the Word & the word says: I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven. And we loose. We may even get others to agree in prayer with us  and when that doesn’t work & our mountain still continues to sit there we fast & we use the name of Jesus & we confess the word, we pray & fast & bind & loose & still that mountain doesn’t budge!

Remember we said last week the key to so much of our being overcomers is to be *in Christ* for He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.

If we reference our opening scripture we learn: we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. Or we do not know how to pray as we ought… You see when we are in a battle we aren’t meant to be wielding our great 2 handed practice sword because that is not how it is meant to be used.  We will exhaust ourselves & do no good.  No!  For the battle we need our short stabbing sword.

Now those of you who studied the Christian’s armour learnt that each piece of equipment served a specific purpose. If you remember your history you know that a Roman soldier did not, as so many pagan cultures did, engage in single combat that was often fought without a shield. He fought from behind his shield & his shield was large enough to protect his whole body.  When he locked his shield with others they created an impenetrable wall.  Paul tells us that our shield is faith & we know faith comes by hearing & hearing by the word of God. That is our big practice sword.  We build our faith through the word of God.  Then when we are engaged in battle we fight from behind our shield of faith.

So why doesn’t our mountain move?  Because we need the Holy Spirit’s help. He converts the word into our short stabbing sword. The Holy Spirit helps us…when? In our infirmities! This is why we discussed the various types of sickness included in the word *infirmities* first. Whatever we are battling, however big our mountain, we are helpless in our own strength but the Holy Spirit is there to help us.

Now the Greek word translated help is synantilambanomai…Not only is this the first time this word is ever used, Paul invented it to describe Holy Spirit help. Syn refers to partnership, co~operation.  We are to partner with the Holy Spirit & co~operate with Him. Anti is against in its simplist construct but it implies something or someone that is a menace to society, dangerous & the lambanomai means to grab hold of someone, to aid.

When something or someone comes against us & we are caught in a battle & cry out for the Holy Spirit’s help he partners with us.  He is furious on our behalf because we bear His seal, the protection of Jesus blood & the love of the Father & so he rushes to help us.
  He intercedes for us ~hyperentynchanō.
In defining the word *intercession* Rick Renner explains there are 3 implicit meanings:
·      To fall into a ditch with someone
·      To share emotions & frustrations
·      Supplication/rescue
This is what the Holy Spirit does for us. He’s not perched on the ledge of our dilemma offering unwarranted advice.  He gets right in beside us sharing our emotions & frustrations, supplicating on our behalf & rescuing us.  And here’s the awesome thing.  He shares His emotions with us.  The Holy Spirit will always point us to Jesus the author & finisher of our faith.  He will always bolster our confidence in the one who rescued us.  He will remind us that we are to be joyful because of all that has been done for us & because we are so loved of God & we can continue to praise Him because God is good always.
Now, if we have been in our ditch for a while, if we have been battling our mountain in our own strength, it is going to take a while before the Holy Spirit makes a difference.  We need to learn to be quick to cry out for help.
The next really awesome thing is that the Holy Spirit knows exactly what to pray, how to pray it & what is needed.  He is very specific.  See if you are praying for people, if you are praying for a mountain to be moved, you need to be stabbing with your fighting sword to kill.  You don’t want to be inflicting superficial wounds. Is the sickness unto death or is it recurring?  Is it mental or nerves? Is it caused by satanic attack, genetics or a spiritual illness?  In the natural we cannot know any of these things but the Holy Spirit does & He will pray the specific will of God into the circumstance.
Perry Stone talks about the secret weapon in Ephesians 6.  It is not mentioned as a weapon by name but every Roman soldier carried 2 lances: a short one & a long one. I don’t want to side~track but  Ephesians 6:18 says Pray in the Spirit @ all times
When we allow God’s Spirit to pray through us we can know we are praying out the perfect will of the Father.  It will be specific.  It will target the right area & it will be effective. 
Lastly you don’t have to be smart to qualify for the Holy Spirit’s help.  1 Corinthians 1:27~28 tells us that God chose morons, the base [literally those considered so ugly they are not publicly presentable], social rejects & the foolish to confound the world.  When we have the supernatural help of the Holy Spirit He wars on our behalf, He wars beside us, & He guides us into the victory parade with Christ.
I am indebted to Rick Renner for a deeper 
understanding of the Greek &
Perry Stone for insights into the armour.

 





Saturday, 8 July 2017

Wrestling Satan ~ Ganeida.

As you read through your bible it can be hard to discern some things.  We are told to refrain from some things.  We are told to do other things. We are warned about yet other things then told to do impossible things.  Living the Christ life is, in fact, very simple, but it is not simple until we grasp one simple fact: we can do nothing in our own strength.

Everyone say In Christ. This is the key to everything.  One of our favourite verses is based on 1 John 4:4.  I know you all know it so say it with me:  He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world!

What I want to show you today is how that is true & why you can truly say that the Christ in you is greater than anything satan throws at you.

We are going to start by looking at just 3 verses from Ephesians 6.  I am not going to study the armour because we have looked at that in depth elsewhere.  I do want you to understand the warfare satan is engaged in against you so you understand how important it is to understand Christ in you.

 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armour so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

The KJV renders fighting as wrestling & that is perhaps the translation most of us know best: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood… However it is translated most of us are going to miss what this verse is saying because we don’t know our history & we don’t understand the Greek.

In English our idea of wresting is the fake stuff we see on t.v or perhaps the sumo wrestling of Japan but whatever idea is in our minds we view it as a sport with rules, a scoring system, a contest of strength & cunning with the winner determined by a points system. That is NOT how the Greeks viewed it.

The word translated wrestle or fight or struggle is palēRemember I don’t need you to remember the Greek.  I need you to remember the meaning. Every Greek reader would have immediately understood this as a reference to the palaestra. This was where elite athletes trained in the sports of wrestling, boxing & pankration, a combination of wrestling & boxing. In each of these sports there were almost no rules, no time limits, no space limits & the fight continued until one was defeated due to submission, knockout or death. Death was not uncommon & was not considered murder. They were called the *heavy* sports because the men who took part were big, brawny men trained to never show weakness & who were capable of snapping an opponent’s fingers, breaking their back, grabbing & twisting genitals ~ doing whatever it took to win.  Enduring whatever it took to win.

This is our enemy.  He does not fight fair.  He does not play by any rules.  He is brutal, vindictive, vicious & he will not give up until one of you is dead, submitted or knocked out. Our goal is to keep him submitted or knocked out.

Now that might seem a little overwhelming ~ especially if, like me, you are a rather small woman & adverse to brutal warfare but Paul has already told us how we win in verse 10: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Endynamoō means to be empowered, to be invigorated. We do this *in the Lord*. Remember John 15:5 Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

When we are *in the Lord* the armour Paul describes already covers us. If I have understood the Greek grammar histēmi [stand] is a completed action so that we are able to resist [anthistēmi]. We cannot stand unless we are *in the Lord.*


The next thing I want to address is our understanding of who Christ is. We have a problem because our art & our English bibles have given us a picture of Christ that is weak, timid, even effeminate ~ just think all those Catholic icons where they depict Jesus with long hair & an almost girlish face. This is not the picture we should have.

The picture we should have is the one from the Garden of Gesthemene. Again the Greek will give us greater understanding.

Jesus has gone to pray & afterwards Judas arrives with, according to Matthew, Mark & Luke, a crowd.  John invariably gives us more detail & he says it was a speira. A speira was a Roman cohort of between 300 & 600 soldiers. I guess you could call it a crowd.

Jesus steps forward & asks who they are looking for. They are looking for Jesus of Nazareth.  Now when Jesus answers we get in English:  I am he ~ because that makes grammatical sense but the Greek reads: egō eimi ~ I AM. And John 18:6 tells us that the crowd drew back & fell to the ground.

Just stop & imagine the scene for a moment. Jesus has been praying ~ in agony, to the point his sweat was bloody. He has agonised before the Father over what is to come & then, there He is, in the midst of it.  It is happening all around Him. We know that an angel was sent to strengthen Him, that He had the Spirit without measure & He utters that great cry of God: I AM.

Never ever let someone tell you Jesus never claimed to be God.  He did.  Unmistakably. And He was understood to make it. Three times in John’s passage He utters: egō eimi.

There is enough power in that utterance to lay out 300 to 600 men.  Flat on their backs.  Prostrate. Can you see it? It must have been chaos.  Dark.  They would have dropped some of their swords; the torches; struggled to stand under the power of the Holy Spirit in that place. In that moment Peter seizes his opportunity, grabs a sword & goes for the High Priest’s servant with the intent to kill him.  That is what the Greek implies.  He wasn’t after a stray ear.  He was intent on removing a whole head! They had had days & weeks of the religious elite laying traps for them all over Jerusalem & Peter lost his cool.

The only one with their self possession intact is Jesus & He steps forward & says: Permit me…this thing… which is not what your English bible says but is, in essence, what Jesus is saying because He lays hands on Malchus & heals him.  It is, a pretty violent laying on of hands.  There is so much power exploding in that garden that no~one there could have done what they came to do except for one thing: No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded. [John 10:18]

You want to know how much power was in that Garden?  And do you know how I know?
Mark 14:51. And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him:

It’s all in the details.

What young man?  Seriously.  Who goes out on a Passover night basically draped in a sheet? Under a full moon? No~one.  Let’s be real here.  The garden was at least ½ an hours brisk walk outside the city, uphill, surrounded by graveyards. No~one, but no~one, was just going to wander by & certainly not in an undressed state. It’s not like there were houses close by.  It’s not like he could have spotted what was happening & wandered out to see what was going on. The very reason Jesus chose the place was for its seclusion.  Logistically the geography prohibits it.

But when we study the Greek we discover something very interesting. The young man was sindōn periballō.  Literally he had a linen cloth thrown about his nakedness. Sindōn was the expensive linen cloth rich people used to bury their dead. We know the Jews buried their dead naked; we know there were graveyards nearby. When Jesus uttered egō eimi, He released resurrection power & at least one newly dead young man rose from the grave…an oddity…so obviously out of place they tried to seize him but he escaped, leaving his cloth behind & escaping completely naked. Wow.

Jesus drives His point home in Matthew’s gospel:
Are you not aware that I can call on My Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? [Matthew 26: 53] That’s 72,000 plus angels! Jesus army trumped Rome’s!

Jesus was not some helpless namby~pamby meekly going to His death because He was too weak & powerless to fight.  If He hadn’t submitted they could never have taken Him ~ & we could never have been redeemed.

So when satan has you in the arena & he’s using everything in his power to take you out, to break you, rob you, destroy you, kill you how do you deal with him?

You remember that He who is in you in greater than he who is in the world!

If you belong to Christ then He has sealed you with His Holy Spirit & that Spirit  is the exact same Spirit that is in Christ & all Christ’s power & authority resides in you along with His Spirit.

Now we have been supplied with everything we need for victory.  All the armour Paul talks about in Ephesians 6 is available to us but we must be in Christ.  We are in Christ when we practice Shema~ to hear & obey. Now people try & tie this neatly up in knots because most people like rules: Do this, don’t do that.  But that is not how it works.  We are to *walk by the Spirit*. [Galatians 5:16]

The bottom line is that it is all about relationship.  It is about knowing & loving Jesus so much we can’t bear to wrong Him in any way.  We can’t bear to disappoint Him or disobey Him & as we come to know Him more & more, better & better Jesus promises If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. [Revelation 3:20] Interestingly the following verse He speaks about the victorious.

Now I can instruct you, but only you can take the time to get to really know Jesus.  That takes time ~ your time.  It takes commitment.  It takes patience as you learn & make mistakes & offend the Spirit & repent & try again.  I can’t do any of that for you.  Each of us has to develop our own relationship with Jesus but remember this:  Trials & tribulations WILL come.  The enemy of our souls WILL attack. Only then will you be found standing in that *evil day* declaring:  He who is in me is greater than He who is in the world ~ because you will know that it is true!



 




Saturday, 1 July 2017

Don't let the devil take you out. ~ Ganeida

This is last week’s sermon.  It was never preached as the Lord wished to do something else last week.  To be clear before we start:  I am not a Greek scholar; I do not expect anyone to remember the Greek; the Greek is there to show that there is a solid basis in scripture for what we are teaching.

What I want to teach on today is how the devil manages to take out most believers without them even realising it. I am hugely indebted to Rick Renner for the Greek basis of this teaching.  It highlights how important it is to not just read the word of God but to study it so that we understand what it is really saying rather than what we think it is saying based on our understanding of how the scriptures have been translated. This is part of our ongoing study on Revival & integral to our understanding of standing in faith to believe for what has been promised.

We will be taking our instruction from James, the ½ brother of our Lord Jesus.  Writing to Jewish Christians James addresses certain doctrinal errors amongst these early believers.

James 1:2 begins: Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 

The first thing I would like you to note is the little word *when*. When troubles of any kind comes… not if they come but when they come. As Jesus Himself informed us In this world you will have trouble. [John 16:33]

Christianity is not a * get out of jail free* pass to a trouble free existence.  However when we understand how the spiritual powers & principalities of this world work we are equipped with the tools we need to be overcomers.  So we understand that at different times of our lives we will face various trials & tribulations: big ones, little ones, earthshattering ones, ones that threaten to overwhelm us, ones that threaten to undermine our faith.  What we do when that happens determines how we will come out of what we face.

The word translated various can mean many coloured [poikilos] ~ so the meaning is for all the various troubles that can occur to us during our lifetime.  Whatever it is, James is telling us, here is the way to deal with it.  Firstly he uses the word peirasmos for trial. This can mean either a test or a proof. The easiest way to understand this is that the devil tests us but we can use it to prove the reality of our faith.

We understand this from the second part of this verse: For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. Know is ginōskō which according to Mounce determines *whether the action be inceptive or complete and settled* In other words do you believe what you have been taught & can you put it into action?  Is it something you are just learning or is it something you have tried & found to work? In order to determine if something works we have to endure. 

This is true of our entire spiritual walk with the Lord.  Does God heal?  Scripture says He does so you have to endure until healing occurs.  One thing’s for sure; if you give up you won’t be healed!  If you say, well God only heals sometimes or God doesn’t choose to heal me, then guess what?  You won’t be healed! If you don’t believe God blesses financially you won’t see financial blessing in your life.  If you have prayed for wisdom you must believe you have it before you will see it manifested in your life.

So you see James is saying just knowing something with your mind isn’t much help to you.  Your mind can be changed by your circumstances but the Greek means unending: know that you know that you know that you know…forever.  It is something ongoing & not subject to change.

He says right at the beginning to count it all joy…He doesn’t say enjoy all your trials & tribulations.  Rather he says add it up. See what it equals.  What do you get?  Trouble plus trouble = double trouble! No! The testing of your faith produces endurance.  More than that, it slams the devil.  It puts him firmly in his place as a defeated foe. It is taking a stand & declaring who you actually believe.  Do you believe the Father of Lies whose chief job is to rob, kill & destroy or do you believe you are victorious in Jesus Christ because He paid the price for your life on the cross?

When Jesus died on the cross He took all our pain, all our sickness, all our punishment, all our sin ~ everything.  Every last bit.

Now I am going to say something here that I learnt from studying literature because I have heard way too many Christians get muddled up & attribute things to God that God does not attribute to Himself because they believe the person who is saying them. Like Jonah last week.  Jonah is an unreliable witness so not everything he says can be believed.  His understanding of God, who He is & how He acts was skewed by his wrong thinking.

So when I look at James I must ask, how reliable a witness is he?  In other words, can he be believed? 

James was part of Jesus’ family that declared him mad.  Mark 3:21 When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. "He's out of his mind," they said. James didn’t become a believer until after Jesus’ resurrection. Yet having once become a believer he is stalwart. He doesn’t budge from his firm convictions.  He has been an eyewitness to the life, death & resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. I therefore consider him to be a reliable witness.  So when he says something is so, it is so.

James says the man who remains steadfast when tested is blessed. [1:12] By verse 13 James has something very interesting to say:  And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else.

Now the word James uses for tempted is peirazō & it means to devastate, to crush, to destroy. Jesus came to give us life ~ James has assured us we will receive that life as the genuineness of our faith is proven.[1:12]  Who is it that seeks to devastate, crush & destroy?

Be very clear.  It is never God who seeks to destroy us.  James is even more adamant.  He says that God doesn’t even permit it as from a distance. Our understanding here is based on 2 little Greek words.  

The 1st is apo.  James is saying, Don’t say God has allowed this to happen ~ as from a distance.  He doesn’t allow bad things indirectly [apo] or directly [hypo]. If that were so the whole point of the cross would be invalidated. In the strongest possible terms James is saying: You’re to stop saying what you’re saying!  How dare you accuse God of such things?! Don’t even think it!

We have a good God ~ & a bad devil.  Don’t get them mixed up.

Now the thing I want you to understand, & that James wanted his readers to understand, is how very much satan hates this sort of thinking.  He hates Christians who really understand who they are in Christ, Christians who can’t be moved positionally, Christians who know that they know that they know ~ because however hard & long he fights he knows he cannot win.  We say he is a defeated foe but we prove it when he tests our faith!  If he can move us, if he can get us to deny the goodness of God, if he can move us into doubt & unbelief, he wins!  Sadly all too often that happens.  We don’t receive our healing immediately so we doubt God’s goodness.  We doubt His ability to heal.  We doubt he cares about little old us.

The thing is when we move into a position of faith by saying that we are going to walk in divine health or prosperity or any other spiritual promise it triggers a spiritual attack.  The last thing satan wants is for our faith to grow because our prayers have been answered.  Instead he wants to sow discord & unbelief & doubt because that keeps us weak & helpless & no real threat to him!  It makes unbelievers think we are weak & useless because there is no proof in our lives of what we say we believe.

Now we can know a teaching but it doesn’t become very real to us until we receive illumination through the Holy Spirit & then practise it by faith.  I will give you some examples from my own walk in faith. 

I struggled with why God doesn’t appear to heal some people.  Why this one but not that one?  Is that person in sin? Does God play favourites?  Scripture say he doesn’t play favourites.  He is completely impartial.  

Then I heard Todd White, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, say: Scripture says God is a Healing God so it doesn’t matter what I see with my eyes or experience in the flesh.  It doesn’t change the fact that God heals.  I’m a word person so that grounded me.  God says He heals.  I believe what He says even if I can’t see it, even if I’m not experiencing it.  God still heals.  He is the God that healeth me.[Exodus 15:26]

Now I grew up during the years when prosperity teaching first became big & I grew up in a denomination that didn’t think much of this teaching so I wasn’t big on asking God for prosperity.  To me it seemed greedy, selfish, avaricious…just plain nasty.
So when this subject came up in bible college I was pretty sceptical. I had heard the Give & it shall be given unto you… until I was tired of it.  I was embarrassed by the avariciousness I detected in certain preachers & I didn’t want to be like that.  I don’t think God likes that either.  However my understanding was off.

Why should we want to be blessed financially?  So that we can be a blessing to others!  Once I understood this, given illumination by the Holy Spirit, I determined to walk by faith for my financial needs ~ & guess what happened?  Yep.  Satan attacked!  Just because my head & my spirit understood didn’t mean my flesh was in agreement.  I had to endure while satan attacked our finances.  I found it nerve~wracking. But he is a defeated foe ~ & God is good!

God is good all the time.  God is good when satan is testing our faith to see if we actually believe what we say we believe.  God is good when satan tries to destroy us.  God is good when satan attempts to crush us.  He is good when we encounter various trials & temptations.

We can take great assurance from Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. As psalm 30 says:weeping may endure for an evening but joy cometh in the morning. 

So whatever trials are in your life predetermine that Jesus came that you might have life & have it abundantly. Claim it.  Speak it.  Believe it.  Do not let satan steal the life Jesus bought you with his lies.