Thursday, January 10, 2008

Blog Message, Part 4, CRASH TEST

(our series is based on a study of the book of James by Rick Warren)
3 WAYS TO HANDLE THE WRECKS IN YOUR LIFE

THE FIRST WAY IS TO REJOICE (James 1)

"Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials ..." v. 1. Don't misunderstand what he's saying. He's not saying "Fake it. Put on a plastic smile, pretend, like we have a tendency to do so often" God never asks you to deny reality. He is not trying to pump you up with false hope and He's certainly not talking about masochism. "Good! I get to suffer! I just love to suffer! I feel so spiritual when I feel bad!" He's not having a martyr complex. We don't rejoice for the problem, we rejoice in the problem. We don't thank God for the situation. Why would I thank God for evil? But I thank God in the situation. One of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible is I Thessalonians 5:18 "In everything give thanks for this is the will of God concerning you in Christ Jesus." If you want to know God's will for your life it's simple. "In everything give thanks." It does not say, "For everything give thanks." Why should I thank God for giving me leukemia? "Thank You for that accident.... Thank You for that war.... Thank You that I just lost my mother." No! What kind of God do you think He is?

It says "In everything give thanks." Why? It means we can thank God because we know that He can even take the bad in our lives and turn it around and bring good out of it. I don't care where your problems come from. You may have caused them yourself. The devil may have caused them. They may be a problem that society has brought on you. But the source of your problems doesn’t really matter. God can use them all for your growth and His glory.

What makes a difference? Your attitude. It says "Consider it pure joy..." The word "consider" means a deliberate look at. It means to evaluate, to make up your mind once and for all. While I'm living in the present, I look to the forward benefit of this problem. Consideration is a choice. Although I cannot control the circumstances that happen to me in life, I can control how I will respond to them.

Victor Frankl, the Jewish psychologist who spent time in the Nazi concentration camp in Germany said, "They stripped me naked. They took everything -- my wedding ring, watch. I stood there naked and all of a sudden realized at that moment that although they could take everything away from me -- my wife, my family, my possessions -- they could not take away my freedom to choose how I was going to respond." You choose to rejoice in the situation.
Psalm 34:1 "I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth." Even when I don't feel like it, even when things aren't going right. Problems do not automatically produce blessings. For some people, problems destroy them. You'll either be bitter or better. The difference between bitter and better is the letter "i". I make the difference -- my attitude. It's how you choose to respond. Choose to rejoice, that's what I'm doing today!