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20 December 2007

Returning to Disgorged Matter

James 1:2-3 (NKJV) says, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience." It does not say, "My brethren, count it all joy when you put yourself through various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience."

I have witnessed an awful lot of situations lately in which my friends and the staff at my church fellowship have been plunged into terrible trials; ones that are not of their own making. These are the kinds of things that I believe James was speaking about. The very foundations of their beliefs are being tested through circumstances beyond their control, and I have seen how they are relying on God, believing that He is in control in spite of the pain and struggle. It's an honor to be able to speak to the Father for and with these friends.

However, I am not speaking to those genuine tests of faith today. I speak of the circumstances that we, ourselves, create. I have unfortunately seen that I get myself into precarious situations because of my own foolishness, and sometimes mentally morph those things into "trials of faith."

If I don't brush my teeth, I get cavities. This causes pain and costs money. Therefore, when my family is in a tight spot financially because of a humongous dentist's bill, I can certainly pray for a miraculous infusion of money, but I need to understand that the little practical issue of failing to brush after a tub of ice cream or two (or a hundred) has actually caused this major situation. When I take that into account, I have a tough time looking at this kind of thing as the testing of my faith.

This can be applied at any number of levels and in a multitude of situations. Do we sometimes just do dumb stuff and then, as we suffer the repercussions, tell ourselves that Satan is really running us through the ringer?

Thankfully, though, I have seen that God excels at bailing me out of my own stupidity. If I learn from my mistakes, I believe He is pleased in the end. I have wanted to use Proverbs 26:11 for a long, long time, so here goes: "As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness."

Yes, I believe that spiritual warfare is real! Yes, I believe that demonic persecution happens! We should also be aware, though, that indulgence in our own sinful nature is sometimes to blame for our circumstances. "Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away." [emphasis mine] (James 1:14, NLT)


Preston N said...

If I may make a suggestion I would recommend a book (actually two books) that truly opened my eyes to this exact issues. Greg Boyd several years ago wrote two books on spiritual warfare and how this harmonizes with our worldview. The first book is called "Satan & The Problem of Evil" and the other is "God at War". Basically both books use the book of Job as a starting point.

To keep it short, I'll just say this. The difference between temptation and a trail is this. A trail God wants to see you pass, in temptation Satan wants you to fail. If you understand this principle then reading Job will make a big difference and you will realize Every Action has Consequences.....

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