THROUGH FRUSTRATION AND PAIN WE GROW AND BECOME STRONG IN FAITH

James 1:2 – Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

This scripture is hard for many to receive because it appears to be a negative statement. It is not our human desire to encounter different kinds of trials, but James says to “count it all joy”! We are to count “trials” as joy, because if we endure them, they will produce maturity in us. The word “perfect” here means “mature,” so James instructs us “to let endurance have its perfect result.” The translators put the word “its” in italics for emphasis. It takes endurance to go through problems. Many times, we want to just give up. The Holy Spirit is always with us as He supplies the grace and the vision for us to see and endure our trials until the end. Then, and only then, will we see the fruit of our enduring trials as we hang in there.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). What a great promise to each believer. When we are in the midst of a trial, it is wisdom that we need the most. The Holy Spirit is God’s agent to give us the “wisdom of God.” His promise is that we will receive a generous portion from Him, and we do not have to be ashamed to ask for it. Verse 6 says that the asking must be in faith without any doubting. Of course, when one is in the midst of a trial, doubt is lurking and ready to defeat us. It is a battle to continue in faith.  That is why James uses the word “endure.” Asking God is the beginning of faith, but not the end. Jesus said to “ask” in Matthew 6. The literal translation is to “ask and keep on asking.” Thus, we need to endure, to keep on asking and expecting God’s help. He will give you wisdom to know what to do. The result will be growth.

Identify whatever trial you may be presently having and ask God to give you wisdom through His Holy Spirit to endure those trials. Keep asking until the victory appears and you will rejoice in the growth you will experience in your life.

HOW ARE YOU BUILDING, ON SAND OR ON A ROCK?

Matthew 7:24 Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.

Building is an ethical issue. God is a builder, from the time He spun off universes to building a church that the gates of hell will not prevail against! If we find ourselves going through life without purpose or productivity, the Bible considers it to be unethical. The Book of Proverbs speaks of two kinds of men, those that are building on solid ground and those that are carelessly drifting along, whose lives are headed for destruction. Jesus teaches it is in the hearing and acting on His words that one receives wisdom. Too many of God’s people go week after week hearing God’s Word, but not applying what was taught. We must chose to act upon what is biblically taught. By not acting upon God’s Word one is being unethical. In effect, one is building on sand and this will prove to be unwise and devastating. One example is found in Christian marriages that are in trouble. Many go for counseling, but they do not act upon the word given to them. Thus, nothing changes and many times the marriage relationship becomes worse.

The Holy Spirit is waiting for believers to act upon the Word of God. As we act upon the word given, He, the Holy Spirit, goes into action to help us understand and apply God’s Word. The net result becomes wisdom to build a life which becomes more and more Christ centered. In our lessons, beginning in Matthew 5, we read of Jesus speaking of those who will be blessed through their action. We learn of being salt and light in the world. We learn of a righteousness that exceeded that of the religious leaders. We also learn in Matthew 5 of the correct relationships that begin in the heart as well as the outward actions that follow. We learn how our forgiving others releases God to forgive us. We also have learned the correct response concerning money, anxiety, and seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness, with the promise that everything else will be added to us. Finally, we learned that the way we judge others is in turn the same way we will be judged. Furthermore, we should ask and expect to receive the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is bringing forth a good tree that produces good fruit.

Let the Sermon on the Mount become a well-known portion of Scripture. Allow the Holy Spirit to build into your life these principles in an ever-deepening way. These chapters reveal the Laws of the kingdom of God which guide the new man born of God’s Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, pray daily for the Father to give to you His plans for building and ask the Holy Spirit to empower you in the application.

UPON WHAT FOUNDATION ARE YOU BUILDING?

Matthew 7:24 – Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.

A rock represents a solid foundation, which does not move easily. Jesus teaches truths that are the foundation of the kingdom He came to establish in the earth. Note, Jesus says that the one who “hears and acts” upon His words is wise. There are many of God’s people who hear the Word of God regularly, but do not act on the Word consistently. What good is a solid foundation if we do not build upon it? The truths contained in the Sermon on the Mount are the Foundation on which the Holy Spirit builds us into Christ and His kingdom. The Holy Spirit soon was to be given to all those putting their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. He brings to the believer power to transform his natural life into a Christ-like life. The foundation laid by Jesus on the Mount becomes the expected foundation of practice for each one trusting in the Lord. Power to live out the life which Jesus is teaching in this magnificent sermon is realized through a daily fellowship with the Holy Spirit and the word of God He reveals to us.

“So faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Hearing God’s Word produces one level of faith which includes an expectation. Another type of hearing is when the Lord makes a scripture alive to us personally. Both types of hearing God’s Word require the Holy Spirit’s leading. He creates an expectation in our spirit and soul. Faith begins to develop, first in our spirit man, and then in our thinking. As one hears a personal word from the Lord, faith demands an action, not just a mental assent. In order to obey the Sermon on the Mount, it requires faith, which produces power to live a kingdom life and testify to others what it is like to live under the government of King Jesus.

In summary, hear and act on the Words of our Lord. Ask the Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ name, to help you walk in the faith of expectation and the faith of acting on the words of Christ.

MANY WILL SAY TO ME ON THAT DAY, LORD, LORD

Matthew 7:21 – Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.

Many associate the kingdom of God with Israel. Some actually teach that Jesus failed to establish the kingdom on earth because of Israel’s rejection of Jesus as their Messiah. This is a wrong understanding of God’s kingdom. The kingdom is in the Holy Spirit. Many in Jesus’ day called Him Lord, but never submitted to him as Lord. It is not simply in the words, but in the actions. In Matthew 7:21, Jesus is speaking about the future judgment day. In that day, there will be an accounting for things said and done. On that day, Jesus says there will be those who will declare what they have done in His name, but Jesus will tell them to be gone because He never knew them. He calls them “workers of iniquity” (Matthew 7:23 KJV). The word iniquity means “lawless” as translated in the NASB. This means they did a lot of things in Jesus’ name, but not by His authority.

Today, much is done in the name of the Lord, but not all is done as a directive from Him. In my own life, I have both done things that He directed through the Holy Spirit and I have done those things that turned out to be by my own directive in His name. When He revealed to me my error, I quickly repented. It is so important to wait on the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to direct and lead us. Only what the Spirit does will last and be accepted by the Lord Jesus Christ. Often, our human pride causes us to think, “I am doing this for Jesus.” Maybe we are, but if He did not direct us, it is just a good idea at best. It is good to question our motives; it is good to receive approval from godly authority and let the Lord confirm our decisions as we wait upon Him for direction. As the old adage says, “haste makes waste.” The Lord is never in a hurry.

Invite the Holy Spirit to be in control of all your plans. Know that as you wait upon the Lord, He will bring it to pass. “Wait for the Lord, and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it” (Psalm 37:34).

EVERY GOOD TREE BEARS GOOD FRUIT

Matthew 7:16 – You will know them by their fruits. The context of Jesus’ teaching is “be aware of false prophets, who come in sheep’s clothing.” They look and sound good on the outside, but inwardly are “ravenous wolves.” We are to be fruit-checkers. If a person...