Welcome back to online bible study as we continue our group discussion of James, Mercy Triumphs by Beth Moore. We’ve just finished reading week two in our workbooks. As we decorate our homes and prepare for the Christmas season, it was interesting to begin our week with a lesson on Joy. Many of us associate the word “joy” with the holidays yet we often neglect it during the remainder of year. Beth brings a powerful testimony about joy in audio session three as she shares how joy and anguish coexist in the same experience. The Holman Bible Dictionary defines joy as “the happy state that results from knowing and serving God. ” You can read the full definition of joy if you click here.
In this week’s bible study we are reminded by Jesus’ own brother to consider it pure joy to face trials and a testing of your faith. (James 1:2-3 ) As I read this verse over and over during the week, I went through a tidal wave of emotion. How can it be joy to see a two-year-old girl battle leukemia? Where is the joy is knowing your daughter was raped and lost her innocence? What joy is there in getting fired and and struggling to pay the bills? How dare James suggest there is joy in anguish! As I continued to read I learned the testing of your faith brings God into your situation. In the midst of the anguish and unbearable pain stands a man with nail-scared hands. In the midst of anger, fear, doubt, worry and depression is the light of a Savior. Jesus stands in the center of all this…and in Him…we know joy.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV
Through perseverance and endurance, our faith is matured. Non-believers sometimes ask “If your God is so great, why does He allow His people to suffer?’ We know that in suffering God’s children are refined like gold and shaped by the potter’s own hand. Believers come out of trials with a story to share and they witnesses to others. They don’t sit in the darkness of worry and have a pity party; they cry out to a God they love and ask for help, comfort and protection. They call upon the Holy Spirit to intercede on their behalf. They trust God with the outcome and they stand by faith, not shaken. He is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. Psalm 62:6 NIV
Being Christian does not guarantee we will no longer face temptation, sin or trials. There are numerous examples in scripture of those who faced hardship. What matters is how you react to your trials- with unbelief or with faith.
“Even if the mountains walk away
and the hills fall to pieces,
My love won’t walk away from you,
my covenant commitment of peace won’t fall apart.”
The God who has compassion on you says so. Isaiah 54:10Message
Maybe its time we rethink our understanding of the word “joy” and reflect on the joy of carrying our cross, just as Jesus did. Perseverance matures us into joy.
At the end of our study Beth challenged us to look back at the last four quarters of our life and acknowledge the gifts. If you enjoyed this exercise, I highly recommend the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp or get to know Marie Wikle who’s life mission is Spreading Joy.
Update: After posting this on Monday, my family was delivered another fiery trial on Tuesday. God brought me to my knees in prayer and in tears, as I pleaded and begged him not to inflict another trial in my family. Through prayer He answered me and I was convicted of the reason for the trial. I was not offered comfort, rather I was reminded “Jesus did not want to be a carpenter. He did it for me.” Jesus went through fiery trials and he showed us how to act (pray and trust God’s will). Page after page in the bible we see Jesus demonstrate perseverance. To be Christ-like is to keep your faith… even in the heat of the fire. When we come out of the fire we are refined of impurities.
There are some special prayer needs from members participating in this bible study. Please take some time this week and pray for them. If you have a prayer request for our prayer wall, please click here.
Beth Moore Quotes
- Faith receives more than it asks. Doubt loses more than it disbelieved.
- It is virtually impossible to remember God and forget the poor.
- Jesus alone can change us from the core.
- Loving God with everything in us is the key to a healthy heart.
- Never be duped into believing that the flesh gives and heaven takes away.
- Pride takes credit. Glory gives credit.
For Next Week
- Read Week Three in the workbook
- Listen to the Session Four Audio or the Session Four Video (optional)
- Check-in with your small group leader
Group Discussion- Answer one question or as many as you like
- Without listing the hardship, share one of the 5-year ramifications you wrote on page 46.
- List one of the four areas where you need wisdom from God. (page 49 )
- Give an example of a divided heart.
- Share a favorite moment from this week’s lesson.