God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward, they will receive the crown of life in this world and in heaven that God has promised to those who love him (James 1:12, OGV).
In these last days, the Bible clearly teaches that trials and tribulations will come with increasing frequency and intensity.
We should be prepared!
James indicates that the ultimate reason for trials is that we will receive the crown of life in this world and also in eternity. The Apostle Paul adds …
Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later (Romans 8:18, NLT).
Trials are used by God to purify our faith, enabling us to find peace by eliminating extraneous actions and attitudes. Our perspective in dealing with latter-day trials should be endurance through readiness.
If we consider this life a journey, requiring spiritual conditioning, the following exercises will help when we encounter testing:
Projects that increase faith!
The apostles asked Jesus to, “Increase our faith!”
If faith can increase, it can also decrease. Faith isn’t a static “always ready” reservoir; our souls leak the Spirit and are refilled through our faith.
Have you been in a situation recently where you needed increased faith?
When the apostles asked for help with “increasing faith” Jesus had just taught them to forgive seventy times seven. Most of us need faith in forgiveness, especially with those who constantly offend us.
Faith is increased by specific situations that I call “projects.”
Let’s ask Jesus to increase our faith with our projects. It might be starting to tithe, looking for an opportunity to witness with a co-worker, or taking time during a busy schedule to have morning devotions.
Or selling all that you have for the Kingdom.
We can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. So please don’t lose heart because of my trials (Ephesians 3:12-13, NLT).
Paul entered the presence of Jesus with bold prayers. He didn’t lose courage when he encountered trials. Paul didn’t want the Ephesian church to lose their faith because of his tribulation or their own trials.
Paul prayed boldly and made a habit of speaking loudly (literally) about Jesus.
We must admit, boldness quickly offends our milquetoast culture.
But there is something about proclamation that affirms character and actions. I once talked with an inmate at an Ohio Correctional prison and he told me …
If you proclaim Jesus in here and then don’t walk the talk, others will be all over your hypocrisy. I think about this whenever I am tempted because I don’t want to ruin my witness.
Humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7, NLT).
Humility can be stubborn – when we believe in truth, when we have hope in God, when we know that this world isn’t our ultimate home – we stubbornly resist the temptations and trials that seek to undermine our relationship with Jesus.
We love God so much that we don’t care if our faith seems narrow-minded or offensive.
What do we need to resist today? Take a moment and consider your “resistance campaign” against our common adversary.
That’s it – three ways to prepare for the difficulties ahead:
- Projects of faith
- Bold proclamation
- Stubborn resistance
One final word of encouragement from Jesus for us today …
Yes, I am coming soon! (Revelation 22:20, NLT)