Nov 25, 2014

A Little Note for you....

We have a winner from our SHINE Girl Give-away...

It is MeLissa Allen!

My daughter drew the name, and we are so happy that you will receive this wonderful book by Renee Robinson! Yay!!

Please send me your address, and your book will be on the way! What a perfect way to start off this Christmas season! Congratulations!


Dear SHINE girls,

Okay, so let's get down to business about our reading plan.

I am taking the month of December off to rest, renew, restore, and enjoy every second with my family.

Of course, I encourage you to stay in God's Word, especially in the midst of the busyness of the upcoming holidays. Check out the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Good, good stuff.

I will be in much prayer over the direction of SHINE girls for the upcoming year. My prayer is that the Lord will guide and lead as the New Year comes upon us. I never want to move an inch without clear direction from the Lord. So, I am excited to see where He leads this ministry. Would you please be praying along with me?

Also, I must take this opportunity to thank you for the constant encouragement, love, support, and prayers for me and this incredible gift of a ministry. My eyes brim over with tears as I reflect upon the last 3 years with all of you. Just when I need it the most, I will hear from one of you. The Lord uses your encouragement and prayers  to spur me on another day. Truly, you are loved and adored beyond words.

So, as I celebrate Thanksgiving this week, I reflect on one of the biggest blessings in my life....all of YOU. You truly bless my heart.  Even though many of you I have never met face to face, I consider you one of my best friends. Trekking through this life, studying God's Word together, hand in hand, rooted in Jesus Christ. What is better than that?

I pray you feel the Father's Grace, Love, Mercy, Peace, Renewal, Joy, and Restoration this week. As you celebrate Thanksgiving, may the Lord Jesus blanket you with His Presence.

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! 
Give thanks to him; bless his name!" 
Psalm 100:4


thankful for the gift of you,


jill


Nov 24, 2014

Seeking Christmas SHINE girl give-away......

November Reading Plan: The book of James
November Memory Verse: James 3:10
Prayer Requests go here. 
New to SHINE? Go here. 


Good morning, SHINE girls!

Guess what?! We have ANOTHER SHINE girl give-away! If you are not following us on Instagram, today we gave away a GORGEOUS cross bracelet that my mother-in-love donated! If you are not following us on Instagram, Go! Follow! :)

Here is the AWESOME prize that we have to give away today!

My beautiful and talented friend, Renee Robinson, has published an incredible Christmas book. I read it last year, and plan to read it every Christmas with my family.

Seeking Christmas
by: Renee Robinson 


Here is an excerpt from Amazon of what this wonderful book is about:

Do you wonder if the commercialization or hectic pace of the Christmas season is making it
harder each year to celebrate what really matters? Do you wonder if the real message of Christmas is getting lost in the shuffle between parties, gift exchanges, and pageants? Seeking Christmas is a series of family devotions and guided, hands-on activities that give your family meaningful traditions, rich experiences, and treasured memories.

Renee's writing is inspiring to say the least. Hop on over to her website and browse some of her posts. You will absolutely be hooked on her writing. She's gifted with much wisdom.

**To win Renee's book, please leave us a comment telling us one of your favorite Christmas traditions. Please make sure to leave your name. :) Renee will mail the winner a copy of her 
book! 

**If you have trouble posting a comment, you can email me at shinegirlsshine@gmail.com and leave me your comment. I will post on the blog for you. :)

In the meantime, be blessed by a post she wrote recently about how we can serve others this Christmas. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy!

18 Ways Your Family Can Serve Others This Christmas
by: Renee Robinson

I want my kids to understand that Christmas is about more than the gifts. At the same time, I want them to see the gift inside of them they can offer to others. We can practice generosity and service all year long, but Christmas provides a unique opportunity to model a giving heart.
The Christmas season seems to blow in like a blizzard and bury us with piles of to-do’s. The key for me is to plan ahead just a little. To determine before life gets too hectic what our family will do.
Serving can be so fun when done together as a family. It’s an easy way to create new traditions that bond your family while giving to those in need. Here is a list of ways your family can serve others at Christmas.
  1. Have a hot chocolate stand and donate the proceeds to your favorite charity. – My kids love having lemonade stands. In the summer, they will host a stand and donate to Blood Water Mission to provide clean water for Africans. I’m amazed at the generosity of the people who stop when they know they are giving to a good cause. People will pay $5 for a cup of lemonade. So how about hot chocolate at Christmas? The kids have fun making signs and setting up the stand. They work hard and keep none of the money but know their efforts have the potential to save lives.
  2. Pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child- This is one of our favorite traditions. Each of our boys likes to pack their own shoebox. Many Chick-fil-A locations even have a day to drop off boxes in exchange for a free sandwich coupon.
  3. Purchase a gift for Angel Tree Prison Fellowship -Many children have lost a parent to prison. This is a way to provide a gift to a child whose parent is unable to give them a gift.
  4. Visit a nursing home- One year we visited the nursing home and just walked around visiting the residents while they ate lunch. This was very uncomfortable for me but totally comfortable for my husband. He didn’t hesitate to hug people he didn’t know, and I couldn’t believe how open and receptive the residents were. They loved seeing our boys. Andrew was about 2 at the time, and he easily hugged the necks of strangers and they hugged him right back. Other times we have purchased small gifts such as slipper socks and warm hats to hand out to the residents.
  5. Adopt a family- Many local charities offer ways to adopt a family in poverty that cannot afford to provide gifts at Christmas. This is a wonderful way to lessen what you might spend on your own family and allocate to a family in need. Children can be very involved in this by selecting the gifts, making cards, and wrapping presents.
  6. Host an orphan, or donate to help other families host an orphan2 years ago we hosted an orphan at Christmas and explained to our children that rather than use our money to buy gifts, we were going to bring a child who has no parents into our home, love on him, and model to him what family looks like and show him the love of God. This experience changed our family forever. We have now hosted twice, and God has caused our hearts to desire to care for the fatherless in tangible ways.
  7. Pack military boxes -Brave men and women serve our country so we can enjoy the freedoms and safety we enjoy. They sacrifice their lives for us. For many in the military, they will not be with family like we may be. Sending a little care package is a tiny way to say thank you for all they do for us.
  8. Blankets to homeless – Purchase blankets and visit an area of town where homeless men and women are likely to lay their heads at night in the cold. Pass out blankets. And pray over the blankets you will place in the hands of ones in need.
  9. Ornaments or craft projects to friends and neighbors – This isn’t a project of serving the needy, but is a way to continue to think of others over ourselves. It’s a fun way to love on the ones we love. The craft store has so many inexpensive projects that kids love doing. Pinterest not required! Just grab a few ornaments, paints, and stickers, and let the kids use their own creativity.
  10. Cookies and apple cider to homeless shelters – Take jugs of cider and plates of cookies to a homeless shelter and pass them out. It might be the brightest moment of someone’s week or season when you enter into their world even for just a moment to love on them.
  11. Provide a meal for a hospice patient – This has become a tradition for our family, which we started about 3 years ago. Contact your local hospice and ask if they have a volunteer list for donating a meal. Our hospice offers the option for Thanksgiving or Christmas and the option to provide a cooked or unprepared meal. In the past we have delivered a cooked meal on Christmas Day. Providing a meal is an obvious act of love and one that is so easy to get the kids involved in. It’s a way to remember that while some of us are in seasons of joy, others are in seasons of grief and pain. We can pray over the meal we prepare and pray for the mouths that receive it.
  12. Serve in a soup kitchen (most have age requirements, so this doesn’t work for young children). Our kids have not been old enough to do this yet, but I look forward to the day we can.
  13. Invite someone you don’t know over for dinner and practice hospitality. Is there a neighbor you don’t know very well? A widow nearby that could use the company? Don’t worry about how clean the house is, don’t worry about the decorations. Open the door wide, invite them in, and love on them through kind hospitality.
  14. Deliver treats to community service workers. Drop cookies at the fire stations, police station, teachers lounge, library help desk, garbage men. We are served all day long by many different people. Our kids need to be reminded how hard others work on their behalf. It’s a small thank you.
  15. Choose a gift from the Compassion or Samaritan’s Purse catalogue – The gifts from these catalogues are so inexpensive when you see the life-changing effects they have. Andrew selected a soccer ball as a gift item one year. Our boys take for granted they can go to a store whenever they want and buy a new ball. To realize some children don’t have a simple ball to play with was shocking to them. One of my boys chose the gift item that provides medicine. And one chose clean water.
  16. Random acts of kindness- everyone loves this, especially kids. It’s a fun way to be a secret santa. There are hundreds of random acts of kindness you can find online.
  17. Dedicate a day to the “little” ways that bless big – We often look for the obvious ways to serve, the soup kitchens, the shoebox packing, but we can’t overlook the little ways we can bless big. Make it a game of finding every chance to bless someone by serving them hope, love, peace, or joy. A child that normally fights back when offended by a brother chooses to disengage, he gave the gift of peace to the family. A child that saw an elderly in the produce aisle and offers to push her cart while she picks her produce, offers the gift of love. A child who sees a sad expression and tells a joke, or offers a giant smile, gives the gift of joy. We have the opportunity to serve constantly. While it is important to look for big ways to serve, it’s equally important to practice serving in the less obvious ways.
  18. Day of prayer- choose a day and a charity or need that God places on your heart and spend the day praying. Prayer changes situations more than anything we can ever do. It shouldn’t be overlooked. Prayer is the best act of service we can offer, and this is something we can model no matter the age of our children.
With all of these ideas (and the many I didn’t cover), we can’t forget to discuss with our kids why we are doing what we are doing. We aren’t trying to gain recognition. We aren’t trying to be super christian. We aren’t trying to gain favor. We are giving the gifts of Christmas. We are showing the love of Christ when we allow Him to use us to offer love, hope, peace, and joy to another.
Everything we do is an offering to Him. Every act of service is an act of worship.
One beautiful way to keep this visual in your home is to wrap up these “gifts” as gifts back to the Lord in honor of a season that is a celebration of His birth. This can be done by keeping a stocking for Jesus where you write notes on scraps of paper of all the gifts of Christmas you gave in His honor and fill His stocking. Or you can let the kids wrap up notes or packages addressed to Jesus that tell of the gift given for Him. Christmas morning unwrap these gifts to Jesus in celebration of His birth.
All in remembrance of the gift He gave for us. The gift of a son, born to die for our sins, so that we could have eternal life through Christ. The ultimate Christmas gift.



Nov 21, 2014

It's about Time....

November Reading Plan: The book of James
November Memory Verse: James 3:10
New to SHINE? Go here. 


"Submit yourselves, then, to God" James 4:7

This will be my last post on the book of James. I could write a year's worth of posts on this book, but we will stop here for now. 

The Greek word for the word "submit" is  hupotass√≥. Yeah, try to pronounce that. 

[Side note: The reason many bible studies tell you the Greek word or meaning is because the original New Testament was written in Greek. I did not know this for many years.]

"Submit" or hupotass√≥  means "to place under subject to, to subject, to obey". 

So, James is telling us to place ourselves under God. Not only to be under Him, but to obey Him. 

Sounds like an easy enough thing to do, right?

Well, not exactly. 

The verses preceding this verse tell us this: "Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." James 4:4

Wow, that's some pretty straight forward language. It sounds kind of harsh, doesn't it? However, God knows our hearts the best and He knows that friendship with the world will take us slap out of His Gracious Covering Hands. 

Friendship with the world means putting things of this world, above God. 

A big thing that we can put above God is our time. We seem to have time to do lots of things in our day. We work, we eat, we sleep [even if minimal], we check in on social media, we run errands, we cook, we clean......

However, are we submitting ourselves to God with our time? If we were to look back on the sum of this past week, how much time have we alloted in our days to be with God?

This is not to make us feel guilty. This is to wake us up, and make us aware of what may be taking first place over our relationship with the Lord.

Life is busy. Life is chaotic. However, if we do not have time to be with the Lord, we have too much on our plate. We have things on our plate that He never desired to be on our plates. Meanwhile, we are left tired, haggard, spent, irritated, stretched, stressed....need I say more?

Been there? Me too. 

We all have 24 hours in a day. It's what we do with those hours that either draw us close to God or pull us away from Him. 

There is always going to be "something to do". Always. This will not end until we are called Home to Heaven. The world will pull, beckon, and lure us away from our Father's Arms. You can bet your sweet little pink lip gloss on that.  

Listen, we can be busy as beavers and still make time for God in our thoughts, in our minds, and in our hearts. We can be wiping baby bottoms, cleaning toilets, grading papers, and still have Him first place in our hearts and minds. 

Just because we are not physically curled up in a blanket on our couch with our bibles in our hands praying, does not mean we are not "with Him". 

I remember when Lem and I first started dating. Even when we were not together I was thinking about him all day long. I would go over conversations that we had, laughs that we shared, things that he did that made me melt. He was "always on my mind"--just like Elvis' song says. ;)

When we have God first place, when we are under submission to Him, He is always on our mind. No matter what we are doing, we are thinking of His faithfulness, His goodness, His blessings.

This is what God desires of us. Why? Because this is how He feels about us.  We are His beloved children for Heaven's sake. We are always on His mind. 

"How precious are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You. Psalm 139: 17, 18"

As I go throughout my day I often ask Him to help me make Him my one true desire. I tell Him that He is IT for me, and to please help me to show Him this and honor Him in this way. Several times a day I pray this verse from Isaiah 26:8, Your Name and Renown are the desires of my heart. And if it's not, Lord make it be so!

One of my favorite scriptures is "my times are in Your Hands" Psalm 31:5. I want to not just say this verse, but live it. I want to put my time in His Hands and not steal it back from Him. When I steal time back from Him it leaves me exhausted, frazzled, and worn slap out. 

How about you? Are you struggling with putting your time in His Hands? My prayer today is that we will surrender to Him, submit to Him, and place ourselves under Him. Let's put our time in the safest place it can be, in His Hands. 


submitting, 


jill



Nov 18, 2014

You are Called...

November Reading Plan: The book of James
November Memory VerseJames 3:10
Prayer Requests? Go here.
New to SHINE? Go here. 


The winner of our SHINE Girl Give-away is......

Sharon Gregg!!! 

Please email me at shinegirlsshine at gmail dot com and give me your mailing information! Congratulations, Sharon! Thank you Jess Simons for the awesome devotional as our give-away prize!!

[We will have another give-away very soon...stay tuned!]

"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom." James 3:13


As we read James, we see the call that God is giving us. It's a high calling.

The book of James inspired by God is a call to holiness. A call to excellency. A call to righteousness. A call to faithfulness. A call to a life surrendered to Christ.

Before you shrug and say that it's just too much to expect from a girl living in a fallen world, stay with me for a second.

James lived in the same world we live in. Different time period, but same fallen world none the less. He faced trials just as we do today. Different, but the same.

God would never call us to do something that we were not equipped to do. Because He lives in us, we can do all things through Him. [Philippians 4:13]

God would never call us to a life that would be bad for us or negate His promises to us. Because He lives in us, we know that we have a hope and a future. [Jeremiah 29:11-13]

God's Word unfolds the standards that He has called His people to live. They are not just pretty words, made for "perfect" people. His Words are Truth. His words are Life. His call for us to live a life of excellency, purity, and holiness is attainable by a life surrendered to Him.

His high calling for us is not to chain us up to a bunch of laws, in fact, just the opposite. His high calling for us is to unchain us and set us free. "Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." John 8:32 

The world offers us mediocre standards, at best.

The world's standards are not our standards, sweet friends.  We do not belong to this world, we belong to Him. [John 17:16]

Our standard, our calling, is a life abiding in Him, Jesus Christ. Our lives are not merely a window display for others to see. They are for our Father in Heaven to see. A heart deeply marked with devotion and surrender to Him. The knowing that when not one person sees us or notices us, our Father sees us. And, oh sweet friend, does He see us. A heart given wholly to Him. Not out of duty or law, but out of love.

Let us not get wrapped up in law, instead let us get wrapped up in Christ. Religion tells us to do more, be more, show more....

Jesus tells us to humble ourselves, and surrender to the fullness of Him. Not ourselves. [James 4:10]

He must become greater, we must become less. John 3:30

Jesus doesn't put the pressure of perfection on us. Jesus offers a life of excellency from obedience and surrender to Him. This has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with Him. Aren't we so glad?

When we humble ourselves with less of us, He adorns us with more of Him. Oh to be adorned with Him! Gosh, I want that. More than anything on this Earth.

If you are tired of feeling like you are not doing enough...good. That's a good place to start. We will never "do enough". Jesus finished our "enough" on the cross. Once and for all.

Jesus tells us, "His yoke is easy, and His burden light..." in Matthew 11:30.

What a relief.


less of me, more of You,


jill








Nov 17, 2014

Shut my mouth.....

November Reading Plan: The book of James
November Memory VerseJames 3:10
Prayer Requests? Go here.
New to SHINE? Go here. 


"Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry." James 1:19


I can only imagine how James must have seen the above verse played out over and over throughout his lifetime. Being the brother of Jesus, he would have seen this kind of behavior and must have marveled at the discipline.

Why did Jesus have such a profound effect on the lives around him? Jesus was quick to listen. Jesus was slow to speak. Jesus was slow to become angry.

How many people do you know that have all 3 of these actions mastered? Probably not many.

I know a few that have one or two, but to have all 3 of these characteristics is rare. Very rare.

As women, we want to be heard. We want to spill our hearts out and for others to understand. However, sometimes it is hard to find someone that will actually listen to the entirety, and then be slow to speak after. Often we are interrupted, and given quick advice and then we are expected to get over it and move on.

Isn't that frustrating? I can just imagine talking to Jesus, spilling my heart out to Him as He earnestly listens to every word. Then, when I am finished, He just takes my hand and tells me He understands and that He loves me.

Isn't that what we all really, deep down, want?

Most of my arguments with my sweet and darling better half are over a lack of communication. In other words, I want to talk, and he doesn't want to listen. I get annoyed! I just want him to listen, be quiet, and tell me he loves me. Simple, right?

My darling better half wants to interrupt, tell me how to fix my problem, and get back to ESPN. I love him, but this is the truth.

No wonder the Bible has to instruct us in every day living. We get it wrong, we mess up, and we wonder what went wrong.

Were we quick to listen? Were we slow to speak? Were we slow to become angry?

It's not just my better half that has this problem, I have the same problem. I am often not slow enough to speak, and certainly at times give no pause to anger that arises. Yikes. There goes my mouth again!

I wonder how our relationships would change if we were to really live this verse out with intentionality and purpose. What if we were to do these 3 things in every conversation?

Often we quench what the Holy Spirit has to say when we jump in too quick with advice. Sometimes, we just need to be the listener, and let the Holy Spirit speak to their hearts. He knows what they need to hear the most.

As I type, I think about my children. Sometimes as a mom, I am not a good listener. I am often quick to correct, and quick to get angry over their behavior. Sometimes I just want a quick fix for them and then to move on. However, this is not what this scripture is teaching.

I need to listen to them more. I need to speak less and let them speak more. I need to be slow to anger. Even when I am at my wit's end with them.

Honestly, this post just got away from me for a second. With tears brimming my eyes, this verse is resonating with my mother heart. God's Word always hits with purpose and impact, often taking me by surprise. While I am trying to teach and encourage, He is doing the same with my heart. Constantly teaching me, showing me some tweaks that need to be made, molding my heart. That's what good Father's do. They never stop Fathering us.

Let me let this all sink in. I pray God uses this verse to resonate with your heart as well. Relationships will change when we get this. When we live this.

James saw this first hand through his brother, Jesus, what this looks like lived out.  Oh, and did he see it. He had a front row seat.



shutting my mouth and opening my ears,


jill

Nov 14, 2014

Fun Friday Give-Away....

November Reading Plan: The book of James
November Memory Verse: James 3:10
Prayer Requests? Go here
New to SHINE? Go here. 


It's Friday. Why not a SHINE Girl Give-away?

Your dear and precious SHINE girlfriend, Jessica Simons, has donated this awesome to prize to be given to one of you! Yay!

One Thousand Gifts Devotional
by: Ann Voskamp


I know, I know, I know. You want this book, right? I mean, who doesn't like LOVE Ann Voskamp??

If I am honest, I am a little sad to have to give it away. I have perused through it, and you may have to pry it from my fingers. ;)

This devotional will go hand in pretty hand with our bible reading. Ahhh. A match made in Heaven.

So, here is how you win!

Leave us a comment and tell us something you are thankful for! Make sure to leave your name. I will draw a winner this weekend!

Happy  Fun Friday!

thankful for YOU,


jill

Nov 11, 2014

Peace out....

November Reading Plan: The book of James 
November Memory Verse: James 3:10 
Prayer Requests? Go here.  
New to SHINE? Go here 

"Don't be deceived, my dear brothers." James 1:16

Recently, I found myself confused. I was lacking peace over a decision that I needed to make. I searched God's Word for an answer.

I searched and searched and searched for a very clear-cut definitive answer. Black or white. That's how I like to see things. Just give me a yes or a no. Please.

Nothing could be found regarding this particular situation I was facing. So, I prayed. And prayed, and prayed.

"God is not the Author of confusion, but of Peace" 1 Corinthians 14:33, is the scripture that kept coming to my mind as I prayed.

Okay, God, I hear You.

God was reminding me that His way is the way of Peace. Not confusion.

I thought about it and told him which one gave me less "what if's" and questions. I talked to Him about which outcome made my spirit rest.

"There's your answer, child." I heard clearly in my heart.

The other outcome left too many unsettled questions in my head. It was confusing. I could not make sense of how it would look if I chose that path.

Sometimes we can be deceived. We can seek the wrong counsel and go in a direction that God never invited us to go down.

We can even rationalize it in our heads because it seems to make the most sense. Or it seems to offer a better way. This can be dangerous though.

We must go where the Holy Spirit leads us. Follow Him by following peace. The way of Peace leaves little confusion. Even if you are unsure of why He is taking you in this direction, go anyway, with your peace in tact.

I found this treasure of a scripture last week. I shared it with a few friends, and I want to share it with you as well.

The context is regarding Moses as he led the Israelites to the Promise Land. The Israelites had rejected the Lord, over and over. Moses was tired of it, and so was God.

Moses, begged God to go with them or he would not continue to lead them. Here is what Moses said: "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here." Exodus 3:15

Moses wanted absolutely nothing to do with anything except the Presence of God. He would not walk one step further until he knew that God's Presence would be with him. With all that the Promise Land had to offer, it was nothing compared to God's Presence among them.

We need this kind of dependency on God. Desperately.

Let's begin praying that God will not send us anywhere without His Presence. No matter what kind of delicacy the world throws our way, let's refuse to partake without His Presence being right there with us.

Lest, we are deceived.



going the way of peace,


jill


Nov 6, 2014

Oh Brother.....

November Reading Plan: The book of James
November Memory VerseJames 3:10
Prayer Requests? Go here
New to SHINE? Go here. 


"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face many trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of faith produces perseverance." James 1:2-3


A little background on the book of James for you history nerds like myself:

Author: James, the brother of Jesus
Date written: AD 40-50
Fun Fact: Many believe it was the very first New Testament book to be written.

Can we just stop at the fact that Jesus' brother wrote this book? How unbelievably amazing is this.

James, the brother of Jesus, knew Jesus from day one. That's pretty cool.

Ponder with me for just a second that James knew Jesus intimately. James didn't just know Jesus as the "Son of God", James knew Jesus as his home-boy...his bro'. James and Jesus probably wrestled, played football in the front yard[or something along those lines], and shared many moments together growing up.

James knew Jesus just about as intimately as he possibly could, yet James called himself "a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ" in verse 1.

Jesus' own brother is calling himself a servant of his very own brother. [Did you catch that?] Whoa!

If this doesn't make you drop your jaw, nothing will!

Of all of the people on the planet, James could have easily denied the legitimacy of Christ. He certainly would have been the first one to stand up and say, "Whoa! Jesus is cool and all, but no way is He the Son of God. I mean, come on. He is just a normal guy like me."

However, what makes this book of the Bible so intriguing and awe-inspiring is that James saw first hand the legitimacy of Jesus. James saw with his very own eyes the sin-lessness of his brother, the miracles, the prophecies, and the resurrection of his brother, Jesus.

James was an eye witness if there ever was one! Who better than to teach us about the ways of Christ than the very brother of Jesus?

Let's keep this in mind when we are reading. Let's remember who is telling us this stuff as we soak in our daily reading. James, the brother of our Lord and Savior!

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face many trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of faith produces perseverance." James 1:2-3

And, boy, does James start off with a bang. If anyone knew first hand the hardships of trials, it would have been James. As Jesus' brother, I cannot imagine the persecution he faced. The comparisons. The ridicule. The scrutiny being the brother of Jesus Christ.

However, ironically, James tells us to "consider it pure joy" when faced with trials. Huh?

This almost sounds like an oxymoron.

But, it isn't.

James had lived long enough to see the joy from the trials. Not just his trials, but the trials of those around him. His grieving mother, Mary. The grieving disciples of Jesus. The uprising and uproar of the Jewish people.

James witnessed a whole heck of a lot.

James' faith was tested over and over again. Yet, he considered it pure joy.

He saw with his own brotherly eyes, what pure joy was.

Pure joy to James was perseverance and maturity in his faith. He desperately longed for wisdom and looked for it through the trials. He found wisdom through his perseverance and his faith.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt...." James 1:6

Let's bring this down to real life.

Nobody on Earth wants to hear you tell them to consider it pure joy to be in their current trial. In fact, they may slap you upside the head!

But...

Isn't that what James is telling us?

Here's the thing....

James is telling us there is more to the story. Our human eyes cannot behold the workings of the Holy Spirit acting all around us. Our human eyes cannot see the picture unfolding in Heaven. We only see the hard. The heartache. The sickness. The death. The confusion. The loss. The grief.


"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

Read that scripture one more time.

James is telling us, "Oh, friends! Just you wait and see! This may feel like the hardest, cruelest, most painful thing on Earth...but I tell you, Heaven is producing a work that your eyes will one day get to behold!"

James can say this with full confidence, because he saw the end of His Brother's story. He was privy to seeing the "after" of a trial. Not just a trial, but a death.

Catch your breath and read what 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 assures us:

 "Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.
 O death, where is your victory?
 O death, where is your sting?”


Whatever trial you are facing today, rest assured that He is in it with you. Not only is He in it, He is doing something through it that you will one day see. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but one sweet day. 

"For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God." 2 Corinthians 1:20

"For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9



Can I get an amen,

jill