Ron Dozier, our Pastor Of Missions & Community Impact, delivered Week 3 of The Path Of Most Resistance yesterday.
Based on James 1:2-5, his message was called Some Really Odd Joy and landed at this bottom line:
There is treasure in your trial, so trust.
Ron’s wordsmithing comes through both in written and in spoken form, and I am confident the message will mean as much to you as it did to me.
I have been on this renewed health kick since the new year with a goal of optimum health and body transformation particularly in certain areas. In order to accomplish this goal I have enlisted the help of certain people who play a key role in the achievement of my goal. They help to motivate and push me from where I am to where I need to be. It is like the other morning two friends and I from GS met up at Springfield elementary school in Ft. Mill at 5:00 am (Picture) so we could exercise and jog. I was thinking we would jog about a mile. They decided we would jog 2.5 miles. Suddenly the difficulty associated with the distance I was getting ready to travel distracted me from thoughts of good health. That difficulty distracted me from the opportunity of discovery. I must admit as we started to run my mind focused more on the pain than the gain and more on the duration than my development. Yet that is exactly what difficulty can do. An unexpected job loss, an unwelcome diagnosis, a relationship that has turned to rejection. By themselves, these things are hard to swallow but what makes it doubly hard is the fact that it is not something that is the consequence of sin. If you tell me okay I am suffering the consequences of my actions, well I may not like it but I can deal with it. I can deal with God disciplining me that is fair. What we consider unfair or say we do not deserve is God developing me.
So James who is the half-brother of Jesus, leader in that first church in Jerusalem. Paul in Galatians 2:9 referred to James as one of the pillars of the church. Jesus also appeared to James after his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7) and tradition says that he was referred to as “Camel knees,” because his knees became hardened through the repeated kneeling to God in prayer. He wrote to encourage early believers mainly Jews who were being scattered among the nations because of persecution. The Romans were rejecting them because they were Jews. The Jews rejected them because they were Christians and because they were scattered away from their resources they had to trust the resources that God would provide. Therefore, they also had this layer of poverty. So when James says to them these words in James 1:2 let us look at it
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds,
James knew that encountering trials is a certainty. What???!!!! James your request does not match my experience. You are saying my outlook when encountering trials should be joyful. Usually outcome determines my insight. So I can look back and say it was through my struggle that that I discovered strength. Someone here can say it was through my adversity that I discovered God’s sufficiency. Someone else here can say what I lost caused me pain yet somewhere in my loss let me share with you what I found. Therefore, the test begins to shape a testimony. So whenever the trials come and they will, though painful and difficult do not let the trial distract you from this significant discovery.
“There is treasure in your trial, so trust!”
We were in Dallas for only a year, Sanya was pregnant with Cassidi and I was just getting my feet under me in fulltime ministry. The Pastor who was my good friend invited us over for dinner to unveil his plans to leave the church and start a new church just miles away with the hundreds of people who had joined since his arrival. I remember leaving his house that night looking over a Sanya and saying the Lord is telling me we cannot go with him. She looked at me and said Ron I was thinking the exact same thing. I called my Pastor and friend later that week to inform him that God was telling me I could not go with him. He said Ron I am the one who brought you here, when I leave next Sunday, they are going to fire you. The Lord kept telling me Ron trust me. My in-laws called us to say you can always come back to Philadelphia. Well he resigned and the next Tuesday the church had an emergency board meeting, Guess what the second thing on the agenda was, yes my position. I sat in the room as two trustees shared why I need to be let go, the Lord kept saying trust and silence. My head was spinning but I felt a peace from God. Then two deacons who had been serving regularly with me got and said. This man ever since we hired him has done everything we asked him to do. We are reaching people with the gospel and he has decided to stay even though the person that brought him here is leaving. I watched as the fifty people in the room voted, it was unanimous that I stay. Over the course of the next year, the trials continued as colleagues in ministry and everyone who left with my former Pastor treated me like some sort of traitor. Some at the church where I stayed treated me like why are you still here. I tried my best not to allow their attitude toward me hinder my ministry towards them.
As difficult as that season was God developed my trust in Him that has helped me persevere because there was treasure in my trial I just had to trust. I/we must trust that God has deposited something in your trial.
James says you know this if you have experienced a trial. Take a look at James 1:3
because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
“because you know that …” Although trials may be multiple and many they have one thing in common. Trials serve as a tool to test and develop our faith in God.
There are some who conclude I do not need testing or developing just give me the license or position right now. Reminds me of some people who use to go the boxing gym and look like world champions hitting the bags or just shadow boxing. Then when it came to sparring and listening to what the coach was saying all that flew out the window when there was somebody punching at them.
The testing of our faith produces perseverance which is the ability to abide under the pressure and pain produced by the trial because our faith in God begins to give us strength to display God’s presence in us. The ability to withstand the pressure is proof of possession.
There is treasure in your trial so trust. Perseverance is achieved through a process not in an instant. Most of the time we want to have our hand on the timer. Not so says James, look at verse 4.
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
“Let perseverance finish its work …”
We mostly have our eye on the duration; God has an eye on our development.
One of my favorite exercise classes is called “Spin.” For 60 minutes, we ride a stationary bike led by a spin instructor. On each bike, a little red button right below the handlebars is called the resistance button. When we are told to push down on the red button all of a sudden, the wheels become harder to pedal. Now I can decide not to change the resistance but I will not get the benefit of the work to build my stamina. James says let perseverance finish its work so that you become mature and complete not lacking anything.
There is treasure in your trial so trust.
What if I have questions related to my trial who should I ask. Look at James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
James says if you lack wisdom ask whom?
My daughter Cassidi is preparing to take her road test, which requires her to drive with an Adult licensed driver in the car. Whenever she drives, either my wife or I sit in the front. The person in the front seat is the one who establishes with Cassidi as you drive make sure you listen to me. See there may be other voices in the car that try to tell you what to do, so of them two in particular do not even have a license. I know what I am trying to teach you or work on today. Therefore, if you have questions concerning what is going on ask me. James says, if you have questions seeking wisdom for your trial ask God! God is the one who understands what He wants you to discover about Him that will strengthen and mature you. James says God will give generously and will not fault you for asking.
God wants you to discover the treasure in your trial, so trust!
What I have discovered through various trials is I can trust God.
It was through many storms that I have discovered His amazing peace. Someone here can say like me it was through multiple struggles that I have discovered His strength. Someone else can say even though I have been pierced with sorrow, my tears serve as a testimony of His joy that is holding the reins of my life. Yes, trials may bring the winds of uncertainty yet in Christ, I have stability.
They use to sing a song in church when I was coming up that said Jesus is a rock in a weary land. Through multiple trials, I have discovered that treasure, so I am learning to trust.
Your difficulty can lead to discovery, take a listen to the treasure that Lori Vaccaro, the new Executive Director of On Eagles Wings discovered through multiple trials, take a listen.
The treasure that you have or will discover through your trial can serve as a powerful ointment on the life of others.