When reading the Bible start by having a spiritual diary. In it write two things: What did I read? and ‘what is God saying?’
Try to put it in your own words and not just repeat the Bible words. Then ask yourself ‘what am I going to do differently today because of what He said?’ The Bible isn’t just to be mastered, it’s to be obeyed.
I would like to take you on a journey with me through the book of James, which is a good book to start with if you want to grow spiritually.
I’ll give you my thoughts as I go through the scriptures each week, but I’d advise you to read the book of James and other scriptures that I have referenced and write down your own thoughts as outlined above. This journey may take a few weeks and I would like you to practice any examples I set out along the way.
James 1:2-4 (MSG) Faith Under Pressure
2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colours. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
People very often try to test our faith by saying things like, “why is that you have so many challenges,” “where is this God you serve so diligently.” As Christians, we sometimes question our own faith, we ask ourselves “where is God, why can’t we hear him.”
We must remember that when we entered into the baptism of the Lord and became His people, we also became the devil’s enemy. Jesus was also tempted by the devil after his baptism Matt 3:16-17 Matt 4:1-11 if as a Christian you do not go through trials, you may need to consider if you are living righteously.
As you read the Bible you’ll see that righteous people were constantly tested. Job is one person that springs to mind. Job 1: 8-20 (MSG) When Job discovered that all his children had died, he didn’t curse God, instead he fell on his knees and worshipped and was rewarded for his faith. How many of us go down on our knees during times of trial.
The next time you’re going through a storm, instead of reaching for the phone or cursing out loud or blaming yourself, turn to God first and ask Him to help you through. Then simply wait patiently and listen for His answer. We all want immediate answers, it’s human nature.
Making the right decision can be difficult in the middle of a crisis, so take time to talk to God and wait patiently for the answer. God talks to us in many ways and one of them is through scriptures, so follow the guidelines above.
Our trials are there to test our faith – how strong is your faith? Are you one who says ‘yes’ in church but is never able to keep the faith after you walk out the door? If you’re waiting on an answer from God, keep yourself in prayer.
Very often when we don’t get an immediate answer we stop praying because we think it’s not going to happen.
(This is what the scripture means when it says your faith life will show its true colours under pressure) Think of praying like giving birth to a baby, when you’re told to push (that’s prayer), if you stop the baby won’t come so you have to keep on pushing, you keep on praying until it shows up, thanking the Lord.
The last part of the scripture above, is telling us that we shouldn’t try and get out of problems prematurely. For example, if you’ve got into debt you shouldn’t try to get another loan to pay off the debt, because you will have higher interest rates and risk losing your home.
I believe the scriptures are saying ‘wait’ and continue with the payment plan. Trust in the Lord, by waiting you demonstrate your faith and usually when you wait something better comes along.
Can you remember a time when you needed to make a decision and didn’t, but then doing nothing turned out to be the best move? We need to go through trials and tribulations in order to purify ourselves and to grow spiritually.
1 Peter 1:7 “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honour on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”