Ever Trusting, Resting

Friday, February 17, 2017, 11:46 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, I am Resting, Resting.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read James 1 (ESV).

Various Trials (vv. 1-4, 12)

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:

Greetings.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing…

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Life has its ups and downs. Both the godly and the ungodly go through difficult times. We have hardships, troubles, persecutions, setbacks, and life’s complications and its changes, which we all face to some degree or another, and from time to time. We may go through financial hardships, or the loss of a loved one, or marital (spousal) unfaithfulness, or abuse, or we may go through the pain of a physical malady or of a natural disaster or war. As long as we live in these flesh bodies, and on this earth, we will know pain and sorrow, as well as we can know joy and peace.

For the Christian, there is the additional trial of suffering persecution for the sake of our faith in Jesus Christ, for our testimonies for him and for his gospel of salvation from sin, as well as for our stand on the Word of Truth. We will experience suffering, too, for holding fast to such values as holiness, truth and righteousness. Especially if we are ones who are speaking the truth of the Word and who are calling people to repentance, faith, obedience and holiness, we will face much opposition. We will be hated and treated with disdain because there will be people who won’t want to hear the truth, because they want to continue in their sinful lifestyles, and they don’t want to change, and they don’t want anyone telling them that they need to change, either.

Our natural inclination when we go through pain and suffering is to want the pain and suffering removed. Yet, we are to be joyful when we suffer for the sake of the name of Jesus, for the testing of our faith is for a purpose. It is to produce steadfastness (persistence and determination) in us. So, we need to yield to our Lord and rest in his love, and trust in his grace and in his sovereignty over our lives, and believe him to work it all out for our good and for the good of all who love him and who have been called according to his purpose. We don’t know what all God is doing through these trials, not only in our lives, but in the lives of others whose lives we touch. In other words, we should not fear trials or what humans may do to us, but we just need to keep trusting Jesus and following him wherever he leads us and do what he says. And, we need to believe that he will carry us through it all.

A Double-Minded Man (vv. 5-8)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

A double-minded person is one whose mind about things keeps continually changing as he or she goes back and forth on what they believe and on what they know is right to do or to not do. They may ask God for wisdom to know what to do and when the Lord does give counsel and guidance, they may immediately (or not) appear to be in agreement, but then will soon after shift directions, i.e. they will make a U-turn and leave God behind in the dust. They are likely to be driven by emotions, instinct, and human nature rather than by God and by the Word of Truth. They are easily swayed by various opinions, especially if the opinions give them the liberty to continue in their sin. These types of people may also end up being persecutors of those who do stand on the truth. They may appear to be going the right (or the same) direction, and then shift gears, and they may, thus, betray and/or abuse the Christian who is trying to help them to go straight.

No Variation (vv. 9-11, 16-18)

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

In context, I believe the “lowly brother” is symbolic of believers in Jesus who are being humbled and persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. God will exalt them in due time, yet they should display the joy of the Lord in these difficult times, and they should be at peace in God, trusting in his sovereignty over their lives, not letting the persecution wear them down or to make them afraid. On the other hand, the ones who see themselves as having attained their own success, even at the expense of others, will be humbled by God. They should accept God’s humbling of them, so that they may be counted among those sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, if they don’t repent of their sins, and submit to God’s will for their lives, they will die in their sins, and all their worldly plans will come to nothing.

One of the beautiful characteristic traits of God is that he is not like us. He does not change like humans do. What he says he sticks to it. He doesn’t waver back and forth like humans. We can count on him. If we are his, we can be assured that he will never leave us or forsake us. He will never abandon us. He doesn’t play games like people do. He is completely honest with us. He told us we would have days like this, and they have come, and he told us that they were for our good, and that good would come out of them. And, he told us we need to trust him, believe him, and rest in him.

He has singled us out, and called us to be his own people. He has called us to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, i.e. to be his holy people. Through our trials he is purifying us and he is sanctifying us, and from our lives he will bring forth fruit – a harvest of his righteousness.

Hearers and Doers (vv. 19-25)

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

God has given us his Word, both the written word, and his Son, Jesus Christ. He has given us his Holy Spirit to indwell us and to teach us his Word and to remind us of all that Christ taught his disciples. His Word is written in our hearts. And, through the Lord and his Spirit, and through the written word God speaks to our hearts. He teaches us concerning the way in which we should go, and he warns us against evil, wickedness and continuing in sin. He gave us many instructions on how to forsake sin and how to follow him in obedience – all in the power and working of the Spirit within us, as we cooperate fully with the Spirit’s work, i.e. as we yield our lives over to God.

Especially for those of us who have the written word, and have had it all our lives, and who have known the Lord many years, and have had his Word living in our hearts, we are without excuse if we do not do what it says. Yet, many people who know the Word, who have read the Word, and who have been taught the Word since infancy, still do not do what it says. They are still walking according to the flesh, and not according to the Spirit. They are still following after the lusts of the flesh and are living to please self instead of God. It isn’t that they don’t know the truth. They are just not willing to do what it says, and so they claim ignorance. God convicts their hearts, and they know what to do, and yet they willfully forget. They are self-deceived.

But, God wants us not to be hearers only, but to be doers of the Word. And, this is not optional. It is not just a suggestion, and we can take it or leave it. If we don’t do what the Word says, i.e. if we refuse to put it into practice in our daily lives, then we don’t really know God nor do we love him. It is what the Bible says. We are just spinning our wheels going nowhere, like someone driving round and round in a cul-de-sac. We are heading nowhere, and so we go nowhere. If that describes your life, then God is calling you to let him change you.

Jesus, I am Resting, Resting / Jean Sophia Pigott

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.

O, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
O, how marvelous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Belovèd,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.

Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets, supplies its every need,
Compasseth me round with blessings:
Thine is love indeed!

Ever lift Thy face upon me
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting ‘neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory,
Sunshine of my Father’s face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting,
Fill me with Thy grace.

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.

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