Consider it Pure Joy…

Hand lettering Count it all Joy, James 1:2. Biblical background. Text from the Bible Old Testament. Christian verse, Vector illustration isolated on white background

I was sitting in the early morning hours reading my Bible. I do this every day no matter what.  Anyhow, I was beginning to read, yet again, the Book of James.  I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have read my Bible in its entirety, and as many times as I have read the Bible, I am certain I have read James much more. This time I got stuck reflecting on the first couple of verses—

  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of 

                    many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces 

                    perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature

                    and complete, not lacking anything. 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.”

As I was reading these verses, I had an epiphany and I thought to myself, the reason some people do not succeed in life is because they have not learned how to look at their challenges as learning and growing experiences. They allow their circumstances to define whether they will live joyful and victorious lives. God wants us to be joyful and content regardless of our circumstances because there will always be a lesson we can learn from them.

Let me explain what I mean.  Every time I have faced something in my personal or professional life, in hindsight, I can see where God was maturing me.  Not only did I learn how to cope with a person or situation, I learned how to rely on Him more and less on myself. When I learned to trust Him and not turn to others (who will only gossip or cause you to doubt yourself) He provided me with the insight I needed to not only survive, but to thrive.  Also, when I turned to Him, He allowed me to see that I was growing in some skillset that I would later leverage in my personal or professional life.

“Consider it pure joy…” means not to worry or get stressed over a situation that you cannot control. It means to rest in the Lord and to be still and allow His work to be done in and through you. It means to trust Him and do so with a joyful heart. If you trust Him, you will probably be a lot more positive and relaxed.

During those times when you become frustrated, short with others, and impatient with the situation, know you won’t remain in that condition for long. Why? The Holy Spirit will remind you that faith tested builds perseverance and perseverance causes you to completely mature in all that you do.  If you don’t know how to face your challenges with joy, ask God. He will give you the answers you need.

Pray First…

i hate waitingI am a high achiever. I am all about achieving one thing and moving on to the next. I get a rush out of being able to check another goal accomplished off my list.  If you are the same, you already know that people like us want things done and they want them done now.  We tend to think that the next thing is waiting to be conquered and we are the ones to conquer.  People like us can be high strung and just can’t sit still. We are BIG Picture people continually developing a strategy for the next thing. Time is money, so don’t we don’t believe in wasting time!

Hold on though!  There is a problem with being like us. We can get easily frustrated; especially if things are moving too slow. When I was young, that meant bad news for those around me. Let’s just say, I wasn’t very patient. Now that I am older, I am a lot better. When frustration sets in, I try not to talk much. Maybe I am this way because of how extreme I behaved in my younger days. Anyway, something happened recently, and I realized just how much I have changed.

If you have read anything I have written in the past, you know that I believe in Jesus. You also know that I think when He said in John 14:16 “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever” that He meant it. I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to “lead and guide us.”  For me, that scripture means He will help when I feel stressed, frustrated, overwhelmed, ticked off,  confused, unsettled or whatever destructive emotion I may experience. God already knows what I need, I just need to give my feelings to Him by releasing them to the Holy Spirit.

prayer-changes-thingsWhen I mention the name, DMV, many of you have the same images come to mind as I do; inefficient, slow, uncaring, paper-pushers, unproductive and the rudest people you can meet!  Maybe that’s why my husband had a problem when he had to deal with them on my behalf.  He was at the DMV all day beginning at 745 that morning. He came home around 3pm. I came home after him, and  when I walked in and said “Hello Darling” and got very little response, I should have guessed something was wrong.  I went to the kitchen to make some food and yelled, “do you want something to eat?” “No,” he replied. I looked and realized I was talking, and he was not talking because he was on the phone.  I sat down at the table and began to eat. When he finally got off the phone, he told me what happened at the DMV. He looked beat! Well, he didn’t get done what I needed. He had all my paperwork and handed it to me and said, “you need to ….”  Well, ok, but I wasn’t happy. After I finished eating, I sat down quietly and began making call after call, from DMV in California to Jaguar USA to Jaguar in Dallas to DMV Headquarters in Sacramento to finally getting the right person that took care of my situation.  Along the way, I heard myself praying and asking the Holy Spirit to keep me calm and patient. He did.  I had finally achieved my goal without blowing up. But it wasn’t over. The next day at the local DMV would be the greatest challenge for the Holy Spirit and me.

Well, he didn’t get done what I needed and deep inside, I was not happy about that. I didn’t say anything though. I saw all my paperwork in his hands and he handed it to me and said, “you need to ….”.  I wasn’t happy. After I finished eating, I sat down quietly and began making call after call, from DMV in California to Jaguar USA to Jaguar in Dallas to DMV Headquarters in Sacramento to finally get the right person on the line who took care of my situation.  Along the way, I heard myself praying and asking the Holy Spirit to keep me calm and patient. He did.  I had finally achieved my goal without blowing up. But it wasn’t over. The next day at the local DMV would be the greatest challenge for the Holy Spirit and me.

I had to get up early to go to a meeting.  I dressed and got out on highway 57 to sit in the morning parking lot of traffic. My goodness, I thought everyone would be on vacation; it is the week before Christmas. At least the traffic was moving. I got to my meeting, we finished up around 1115, and I headed over to DMV without an appointment. I got there, and to my amazement, there were very little people outside (that’s a good sign). I went to the “do not have appointment line” that is usually out the door but was short today. I stood behind a guy that was pleasant, and we talked about our experiences. We were three and four in line! Well, it was his time, I wished him luck, and he did the same. I got to the window, no problem, got my waiting ticket and went to sit down. The entire time I sat there waiting, I prayed “Lord, please make my path straight.” When I was called about an hour later, I walked up to the window, explained my situation, gave the man my papers, he processed them and “BOOM!” I was done! No frustration, no confusion, no annoying conversation.

You may say “so what?” I tell you “so what” I felt from the beginning of the frustration before I got on the phone, if I started with prayer, I would approach the situation with a better attitude. I knew that if I believed and relied on the Holy Spirit to guide me, I would not rush and become impatient. I know that prayer changes things, but more importantly, prayer and the Holy Spirit changes us.

The Power of Positive Faith

power-of-holy-spiritI have always used the phrase “The Power of Positive Faith.” As you know, I write an article monthly in TWJ magazine online and the title of my column is The Power of Positive Faith.

Recently, I was running and that phrase came to me.  I asked myself, what does it really mean?  Faith is supposed to be positive isn’t it?  As I thought more about it, I concluded that yes, faith is supposed to be positive, but so many times I have watched people of faith not act positive at all.  So I ask you the question, why?

Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “Faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see.” So if we say that we believe and if faith is one of the foundational principles of what we believe, why is it that our behaviors can be found lacking?  Why is it that we exhibit doubt, fear, uneasiness, fear, anxiety, fear, stress, fear…? You get the picture?

We have faith, yet, at times, we don’t act like it.  I believe in our humanness, of course we will experience some doubt, fear, uneasiness, anxiety, and stress, but I don’t believe that we are supposed to allow these negatives to reside with us nor control us.  I have faced personal tragedies, financial hardships, marital problems, child problems, work problems,  boss problems, and just about anything you can name. So please don’t think that I have no clue as to what you might be going through.I promise you, I do. I have probably faced way more than you could ever imagine and yet, you might not be able to tell that I have because I refuse to allow life’s challenges to define me or control my future.

standinfaithI am also a woman of faith and have questioned God not just once, but on many occasions. In the end though, I say, “Father, help my doubt. Take away my fear. Help me to stand in the face of uncertainty. Lord help me.”  I am not better than you and I have to constantly remind myself of what the Bible says.

The Bible says that the Holy Spirit will give us Power. Power to stay positive and hopeful in the midst of chaos.

John 14.16-17, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever. He is the Spirit. . . he remains with you and is in you.”

Luke 24.49, “ …I myself will send upon you what my Father has promised. But you must wait…until the power from above comes down upon you.”

You see, there will always be trials. There will always be challenges and difficulties. When I have to go through something, I pray and ask God to help me. Do I get frustrated and maybe a little fearful at times? You bet I do. However, I have learned to quickly remind myself that there is someone living inside of me who has given me the power to face, walk through, and overcome.  When I think of the Power of the Holy Spirit living inside of me, those negatives that would have attached themselves to me and caused me to live defeated are quickly swallowed up with phrases that say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ ‘I will not live in fear because “greater is He who lives in me, than he who is in the world.”

If you need a little encouragement today, read the scriptures I have noted below. I needed them recently. When you say them out loud and remind yourself of what the Bible has to say to you about you and your life, these scriptures will help redirect your thinking and hopefully, you will become intentional in being positive in your faith.

Philippians 4:8-9, “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” 

Proverbs 17:22, A cheerful disposition is good for your health;
gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.”

Philippians 4:6-7, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

Philippians 4:13, “Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”

Jeremiah 29:11, “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”

Matthew 15:11, “It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up.”

I pray that whatever it is that you are going through; whatever you have to face, you will remain positive and faithful. You got to go through it, but you don’t have to go through it alone.