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PROBLEMS PRODUCE PROFITS

Life is not for sissies! It surely has its pain, hurtful experiences, sadness, misunderstandings, adversities, losses, confusion, physical, emotional, mental and social dilemmas. Did I miss anything? No wonder some are seriously tempted to give up, give in or give out because of the pressure of trying to cope with problems that seem to be reocurring. Some persistently ask this question: How can I be positive under pressure? As followers of Jesus, we know it takes much more than Norman Vincent Peale's The Power Of Positive Thinking. Rather, it takes the Power of Positive FAITH!

The Apostle James, brother of our Lord Jesus, addressed this in his epistle. "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials (problems) 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. 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." (James 1:2-6) This is God's word to His people who face reoccurring problems and pressures.

There are at least four "Facts of Life" we need to know. James said "Count it pure joy. . .because you KNOW. . . ." It begins with an attitude developed by understanding. Right thinking promotes right action. Spiritual understanding based on God's Word, the Bible, and prayer molds and shapes our attitudes to help us handle our problems and pressures God's way. If we don't handle them God's way, we are left to handle them our way, a disaster in the making. First, problems are INEVITABLE. There is no vaccine that prevents problems in life. James said: . . .WHEN you meet trials (problems). . . ." He did not say "if" or "by chance" you meet trials. He said "WHEN". Second, problems are UNPREDICTABLE. Many of them arise when we are unprepared or when we least anticipate them. Again, James said ". . .whenever you face trials or problems. . . ." The Greek (original language of the New Testament) word used is "peripipto" which means to fall into unexpectedly. Third, problems are VARIABLE. James said". . .trials of many kinds. . . ." Problems or trials are multicolored and multifaceted, as we humans are. We are all different and what may be a problem to me may be a "piece of cake" to you! But whatever the problems are in our lives, they are usually complicated, complex and tough to us. And fourth, trials or problems are PURPOSEFUL for the follower of Jesus. "Realize that they come. . .to produce in you the quality of endurance." (James 1:3 - J.B. Phillips Translation) Problems Do Produce Profits!

I believe James explains three purposes of problems. (James 1:3-4) First, problems purify my faith. "You know that the testing of your faith. . . ." Thus, for us to have purity of faith, we must understand that testing is necessary rather than an option. Peter added: ". . .that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it be tested with fire, might be found unto praise and honor at the appearing of Jesus Christ." (I Peter 1:7 - King James Version) Second, problems fortify my patience. ". . .the testing of your faith develops perseverance." This means we stay put or placed under pressure. It is to keep steady in spite of difficulties, opposition, discouragement or adversity, rather than losing our balance. Third, problems sanctify my character. ". . .so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything!" God's number one purpose in our life is to make us more like Jesus Christ, especially regarding our character! He is more interested and purposeful in our character than in our comfort or convenience! (See Romans 5:3-5; 8:28-29 for further clarification and meaning) "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good. . . ." (Romans 8:28)

Too many Christians are quick to quote this verse without seeing God's purpose for making all things work out for our good, which is given in Romans 8:29. His purpose is to conform us "to the image of his Son. . . ." We should NEVER quote Romans 8:28 without joining it to Romans 8:29! Romans 8:28 tells us WHAT and Romans 8:29 tells us WHY.

James tells us clearly how to handle our problems or trials when we are faced with them. First, we are to REJOICE! "Consider it pure joy. . .whenever you face trials. .. . ." (James 1:1) This is a unique, extra-ordinary response to problems. Most of us are prone to react humanly, considering problems to be intruders, destroyers of our happiness and comfort and detriments to our progress or growth. For the followers of Jesus, to view problems or trials in that way is a warped view of Scripture and God's way of handling our problems. Remember, it's your choice to rejoice! Second, we make a REQUEST! "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ASK God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given him." (James 1:5) It truly takes God's wisdom for our hearts and minds to embrace problems or trials as friends of His Gace to us! Third, when faced with problems, we RELAX! "But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt. . . ." (James 1:6) When we relax in trust and confidence, we challenge all normalcy! It just isn't normal to relax when faced with problems and pressure, but it is Biblical!

James concludes this section of his letter by giving us THE RESULT of handling problems God's way! Here is The RESULT: the CROWN OF LIFE." "Blessed is the man who remains steadfast (unmovable) 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." (James 1:12) Wow, standing steadfast in the test is linked to loving God! How are we doing in that?

Later in his letter, James said: "Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful." (James 5:11) And the Apostle Paul added: "No temptation (trial, problem) has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear (up under). But when you are tempted , he will also provide a way out (through it) so that you can stand up under it." (I Corinthians 10:13) Be encouraged by this truth! Remember, Problems Do Produce Profits!


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God has blessed me with a long and fruitful ministry! I have over 40 years in pastoral ministry, retreat speaking, Evangelism, teaching and Christian Radio broadcasting.

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