By Toni Ford
Have you ever wondered what Jesus’ life was like while growing up as a child? I often think about this and wonder if Jesus had siblings – how many brothers and sisters and what they thought of Jesus. In Matthew 13; 55-56 we see that Jesus did have both brothers and sisters. One of those brothers was named James, who is believed to have written the Book of James. By “brother,” we actually mean half-brother, because Joseph was not our Lord’s father since Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit of God. Interesting enough, James and the other brothers did not believe in Jesus during His earthly ministry but only after the Lord’s ascension, Acts 1:14 tells us the Lord’s brethren were in the Upper Room praying with the disciples. So, what effected the changed from unbelief to faith? First Corinthians 15:7 says, “Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles.” Jesus had appeared to James after His resurrection, and this convinced James that Jesus truly was the Savior, and James, in turn, shared this knowledge about Jesus to the other brothers.
As the half-brother to Jesus, James had the honor and privilege of watching Jesus grow up, thus he saw firsthand how Jesus encountered the numerous trials and temptations He was faced with during his childhood, during His three years of ministry, and even leading to His death and resurrection. It is no wonder that the very first topic James writes about is how to turn trials into triumphs! James had watched Jesus turn defeat into victory and trials into triumphs. In the first chapter of James, he shares four key imperatives we must obey in order to have this same victory.
A joyful attitude. James 1:2 says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” As someone once said, “Outlook determines outcome, and attitude determines action.” Jesus told us in the Book of John that Christians would have various trials and tribulations, and so when we face the trials of life, we must evaluate them in the light of what God is doing in us and not what He is doing against us. This is why we can have joy, because we live for God to develop us, grow us, and mature us to become more like Him. If we value comfort more than character, then our trials will upset us. If we live only for the present and forget the future, then we most likely will become bitter. So, when trials come, remember to give thanks to the Lord, knowing that He is working on your behalf!
An understanding mind. James 1:3 says, “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” As believers, we understand that our faith will always be tested in this life here on earth. Why? God wants to bring out the best in us. Trials work for the believer, not against the believer. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good.” God wants to produce patience, endurance and the ability to keep going when things get tough.
A surrendered heart. James 1:4 says, “So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” God’s goal for us is maturity and in order to mature, we must be surrender to our own desires and rebelliousness and let God build our character. God builds our character before He calls us to service. He must work in us before He can work through us. Look back at the lives of Abraham and Moses and note all the years the Lord spent working in their lives before He could give them the promised son and promise land. There are so many promises and blessings on the other side of these trials and temptations we face, but before we can ever receive them, we must first surrender.
A believing heart. James 1:5-6 says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettles as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.” When we go through trials and need Jesus’ help, James reminds us that we need to ask for wisdom and then believe that He will answer us. Why do we ask for wisdom as opposed to strength, grace, or even deliverance? The reason is that we need wisdom so that we don’t miss the opportunities God is giving us to mature and become more like Him. Wisdom will also help us see through the current circumstances, the physical, and will help us instead see into the spiritual, the bigger picture of what God is doing in our lives.
Dear Lord, today we choose to thank You for the trials we are going through at this time, and we choose to surrender to You and trust You during this season. We know You are doing a work in us, and so we say thank You and ask You for the wisdom needed to press in and not give up! Thank you for loving us, for never giving up and for always working on our behalf.
If you would like me to join you in prayer please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to pray for you!