VIDEO Be Careful!

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. James 1:2-3

Christians are often told, “Be careful what you pray for!” If we pray for patience, we will likely encounter interruptions, delays, and distractions. If we pray for generosity, we will likely meet with people or situations that could benefit from our resources. And if we pray for perseverance, we will likely experience trials and tribulations. In other words, character traits are only developed by situations which test those traits in our life.

When James wrote his letter to believers who had been scattered abroad, he told them that the testing of their faith would produce patience (or perseverance, in some translations). And that patience has a goal: our spiritual and emotional maturity. Immature people become discouraged easily. Therefore, we need experiences which will teach us not to become discouraged and will make us more mature. Another way of saying “maturity” is Christlikeness. God uses everything in life—especially the hard things—to conform us to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-29).

If you experience troubles or trials today, look for how you might grow more mature by exercising patience and perseverance. And be careful how you pray!

We persevere through faith and never apart from it. Sinclair Ferguson

Hard Times and Wisdom – James 1:1-8

The Love of God

Great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Psalm 57:10

In 1917, Frederick Lehman, a California businessman beset by financial setbacks, wrote the lyrics to the hymn, “The Love of God.” His inspiration led him quickly to pen the first two stanzas, but he got stuck on the third. He recalled a poem that had been discovered years earlier, written on the walls of a prison. A prisoner had scratched it there into the stone, expressing a deep awareness of God’s love. The poem happened to be in the same meter as Lehman’s hymn. He made it his third stanza.  

There are times when we face difficult setbacks as did Lehman and the poet in the prison cell. In times of despair, we do well to echo the psalmist David’s words and “take refuge in the shadow of [God’s] wings” (Psalm 57:1). It’s okay to “cry out to God” with our troubles (v. 2), to speak to Him of our current ordeal and the fears we have when “in the midst of lions” (v. 4). We’re soon reminded of the reality of God’s provision in times past, and join David who says, “I will sing and make music. . . . I will awaken the dawn” (vv. 7–8).

“The love of God is greater far,” this hymn proclaims, adding “it goes beyond the highest star.” It’s precisely in our time of greatest need when we’re to embrace how great God’s love really is—indeed “reaching to the heavens” (v. 10).

By:  Kenneth Petersen

Reflect & Pray

What are the difficulties you face today? How has God provided for you in times past?

Loving God, I am facing difficult matters, but I am reminded of Your love for me and Your provision throughout my life. Thank You

Lessons From My Grandfather

God will provide all that is needed for you to do His will Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Every society depends on its elders to pass down those things that help preserve its history and moral center. For this reason, parents and grandparents have the awesome responsibility of passing down biblical truths and principles. 

When I was 17, I decided to visit my granddad. I had an entire week to spend at his home, and all I wanted to do was listen to him. One of the most impactful things he said to me was, “Charles, obey God. If He tells you to run through a brick wall, head for the wall. And when you get there, God will make a hole for you.” 

He shared that his youthful passion had been to preach, but this dream was blocked by his lack of education. With no schooling, he didn’t see how he could ever be a pastor. But he did learn to preach—by crying out to God for help and reading his Bible. 

From that humble beginning, he started to minister, and as the Lord opened opportunities, my grandfather eventually established numerous churches. He taught me that when we really want to do God’s will, our heavenly Father will move heaven and earth to show us the way. 

The Definition of Faith

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

The marvelous “faith chapter,” Hebrews 11, is an amazing chapter. Here, faith is defined not as some intangible wishfulness but as “substance” and “evidence.” Let us look closely.

First of all, faith must have a legitimate object, nothing less than the mighty Creator by whom “the worlds were framed” (v. 3) out of nothing but His omnipotent Word.

Beyond this, faith is further defined not by what it is but by what it does! The man of faith comes to God by “a more excellent sacrifice,” like that of Abel (v. 4), typifying the sacrifice of Christ. Faith will, like Enoch, live to please God (v. 5), and will, like Noah, prepare an Ark (i.e., do whatever necessary out of obedience to God) “to the saving of his house” (v. 7).

True faith will, like Abraham, go out as God leads, “not knowing whither he went,” even “dwelling in tabernacles” (literally “tents”) (vv. 8-9) if need be, as he looks for that city with sure “foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (v. 10). Such faith will even, like Abraham, offer up to God the greatest love and joy of his life, knowing that God will keep His Word (vv. 17-19).

Like Moses, the man of genuine faith will choose rather “to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (v. 25). Faith is even willing to be “stoned…sawn asunder…slain with the sword,” if need be, for the promises of God (vv. 37, 39).

We are saved by grace through faith, not of works (Ephesians 2:8-9), but since we are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Ephesians 2:10), our faith should motivate us to action. “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). HMM

Doctrine without Love

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.1 John 3:18

The blight of the Pharisee’s heart in olden times was doctrine without love. With the teachings of the Pharisees Christ had little quarrel, but with the pharisaic spirit He carried on unceasing warfare to the end.

It was religion that put Christ on the cross, religion without the indwelling Spirit….An unblessed soul filled with the letter of truth may actually be worse off than a pagan kneeling before a fetish.

We are safe only when the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, only when our intellects are indwelt by the loving Fire that came at Pentecost. For the Holy Spirit is not a luxury, not something added now and again to produce a deluxe type of Christian once in a generation.

No, He is for every child of God a vital necessity, and that He fill and indwell His people is more than a languid hope. It is rather an inescapable imperative. POM106

They that walk in the King’s holy way must have pure hearts, gentle tongues, loving ways, happy faces and restful lives. SAN048

Faith Is Not Demandingness

Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.Hebrews 11:1

I am frequently asked: “Doesn’t what you say about demandingness destroy the faith we ought to have when we approach God in prayer? Isn’t powerful praying the ability to insist on God giving us the things we know we ought to be receiving?”

There is a world of difference between “praying in faith” and demandingness. When we “pray in faith,” we have the assurance in our hearts that God wants to bring about a certain purpose for His own glory, whereupon faith reaches into heaven and pulls down the answer through fervent, believing prayer. Demandingness is another thing entirely—it insists on getting the answers that are in accord with its own desires rather than God’s purposes. It is an attempt to bring God in line with our will rather than bringing our wills in line with His will.

Dr. Francis Schaeffer, when advised that he was suffering from a terminal illness, became assured that his work on earth was finished and that soon he would leave this world and go to his heavenly home. Thousands of people prayed for his healing, and when he himself was asked why he did not claim the Bible’s promises concerning health and wholeness, he replied: “When I am in the presence of God, it seems uniquely unbecoming to demand anything.”

Some have interpreted these words as a lack of faith, but I think I understand what he meant. It is one thing to plead and pray with passion for something very personal; it is another to demand that the will of the Almighty be one with our own.


Father, I see that the line between demandingness and faith is so fine that I can easily cross from one to the other without knowing it. Tune my spirit so that I will always be able to discern the difference between these two things. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Ps 143:1-10; Mt 12:50; Jms 4:1-15

What was the desire of the psalmist?

How does James put it?

God Is Still Faithful

He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.1 Thessalonians 5:24

God never calls us to do anything without faithfully keeping His word and enabling us to do it. We are not always faithful to do what God tells us, but He remains faithful and stands by His word to fulfill what He has promised (Isa. 46:11).

When the children of Israel reached the Red Sea, they might have concluded that God had abandoned His promise to them. The sea was barring their advance, and the murderous Egyptian army was racing to overtake them! Yet God proved then, as He has ever since, that He is absolutely faithful to every word He speaks to His children.

God may have spoken to you about something in particular—a ministry in your church, the way to raise your children, or what you should do in your job. You have obeyed Him, but now you face a Red Sea experience. It seems that what you thought God wanted to accomplish is not happening. Perhaps your ministry has not been well received, or your children are rebelling, or those at your workplace are criticizing your actions. Trust in the character of God. It is His nature to be faithful. The testimony of His people throughout the ages is expressed by the psalmist, who declared: “I have been young, and now I am old; / Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, / Nor his descendants begging bread” (Ps. 37:25).

Regardless of how bleak your present circumstances are, do not lose hope. No one has ever experienced unfaithfulness on God’s part! Allow time for God to reveal His faithfulness to you. Someday you will reflect on what God has done and praise Him for His absolute faithfulness to you.