James 1:2-4 New Living Translation (NLT)
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
Greetings All For HIM Warrior Vessels and Brothers and Sisters in Christ! The “Emancipated Inmate” here reporting in to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and all He is doing in the lives of the Born Again believers behind bars.
I’d like to share about the need for the knowledge of God’s joy in our lives. Not every born-again believer out there is aware of the truth about God’s precious promises concerning joy (Psalm 35:9) and the peace of the Lord that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:7)
Due to the lack of this life-activating knowledge I see many of our Brothers and Sisters walking around with a look of despair, depression and defeat in their eyes. This lack of knowledge will keep us from knowing who we are in Christ and the power we have over these assaults from the enemy. However the revelation of the power of God that resides within you will ensure Victory!
I’m quite sure you know somebody close to you who is experiencing these very things? It may be your spouse at visitation, a loved one, your neighbor or someone you workout with, play dominoes, chess or scrabble with. It could be your cellie or even closer to home – you may be the one experiencing these symptoms as the results of attack from the enemy.
You may have tried to speak to these individuals or someone may have tried to speak to you with words of encouragement and the response may have been similar to this:
- But you don’t understand what I’m going through!
- You don’t know how much time I’ve got
- I have been unjustly convicted – I didn’t do it!
- I don’t have any money on my books…
- My wife (fiancé or girlfriend) hasn’t written me in…
- I got a “Dear John” letter
- I have been a faithful believer – attending church,available and I still got a set-off (or a serve all)!
- Bible studies, prayer circles and self-help courses
Many believers may go on to tell you
- that’s why I look this way
- I have a right to feel this way
- I can’t help it, I’m trying to shake it off but I can’t If we are agreeing with the enemy that we should be miserable or that we can’t help it we truly will be defeated until we learn the truth and activate it in our lives. How do we do that?Count it all joy! This is not my remedy but rather God’s perfect plan to strengthen, mature and perfect us through these tribulations in our lives. He says count it all joy when we are confronted with these seemingly impossible to endure situations. Let’s review our core scripture:
James 1:2-4 King James Version (KJV)
2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Verse 2 Revelation – Recognize that these hardships and tests of your character are something to celebrate!
Verse 3 Revelation – God grows us through adversity or it could be said “We grow through what we go through”
Count it all joy when everything is falling apart? Are you serious?
This is us showing our faith in our loving Father, trusting that He has a master plan for the well-being of His Children (you and me). This trust is our patience in action that God uses to perfect us. Let’s see how God’s precious promise in Romans 8:28 is activated by our faith.
Romans 8:28 King James Version (KJV)
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Those that love God are those that will trust Him and His perfect plan for their lives. I hear some of you, “I do love God”. Good, then trust Him and have faith His promises are true and for our perfection just like He says they are!
It is easy to discern someone that is in need of God’s knowledge on this subject:
Matthew 7:16-17a King James Version (KJV)
16 “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit;”
Now if a born again Child of God should be recognized by his or her “fruit”, what is this fruit we are talking about?
Galatians 5:22-23 New King James Version (NKJV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Since we are to “count it all joy” let’s start with the second attribute listed in the fruit of the Spirit, JOY.
My beautiful wife, Genie, shared with me one day when I was letting the weight of the world sag my shoulders about stirring up the joy of the Lord inside myself. How? By counting all the wonderful things that God has done and is doing in our lives.
1 Samuel 30:6 King James Version (KJV) 6 And David was greatly distressed… but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.
Now anytime I find the devil trying to get a foothold of depression, anger, worry or stress in my life I just sit down and start bringing to mind every good thing God is doing and God’s joy begins to spread across my face. I am stirring up the fruit of the Spirit that is already inside me – JOY!
Another outward sign of our trust in God and the fruit of the Holy Spirit being active in our life is, Temperance or SELF-CONTROL.
We are to exercise self-control and get ahold of our thoughts, emotions and actions. Do not allow moaning or complaining to pass our lips, but words of thanksgiving in joy and praise to our God! There is life and death in our mouths. Speak Life!
2 Corinthians 10:5 King James Version (KJV) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
One of the worst postures of defeat is laying around in our bunks/beds all day. It just screams, “I give up, you win devil.” Guess what? When you give in to him, he has.
There is no way we can learn about God’s Purpose for us today or build the Kingdom of God laying in our bunks/beds defeated and bound by the shackles of despair.
Get into HIS Word daily, it gives us strength for the journey. Remember we have a job to do each and every day to further the Kingdom of Heaven.
The next attribute of our active ripe Fruit of the Spirit is FAITH!
Keeping our focus on Jesus Christ, stirring up the JOY of the Lord, exercising PATIENCE and SELF-CONTROL we are show-casing our FAITH in God!
Our Fruit is ripe for the picking for others to become encouraged so that they too can walk in Victory! Here we go, building up the Kingdom of Heaven, in our most holy faith through the love of God!
Jude 1:20-21 King James Version (KJV) 20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, 21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
When we become aware of the power of the Word of God and activate it in our lives, it will always lead us to a life of PEACE in Jesus Christ! Now I am not saying that bearing the Fruit of the Holy Spirit will make all of our problems magically disappear. However the Holy Spirit is our comforter and gives us peace in the midst of our trials and tribulations.
John 14:26-27 King James Version (KJV) 26 “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
This is the part that those who have not yet been set free by Salvation in Jesus Christ cannot fully comprehend. PEACE in the middle of trouble!
There truly is JOY and PEACE in the knowledge that God is perfecting us through these trials and there is nothing to worry about. It is a peace beyond all worldly understanding that will be manifested in us along with joy.
Philippians 4:4-7 King James Version (KJV)
4 Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Verse 4 Revelation – Stir up your joy in the Lord – remember all that God has already done in your life!
Verse 5 Revelation – Let your gentleness, goodness, kindness and self-control be known to everyone you come in contact with, God is with you always!
Verse 6 & 7 Revelation – Don’t worry or fear by humbly speaking to God, His peace (beyond human comprehension) will envelope you through the love of Christ Jesus.
Last but not least the attribute of the Spirit listed as LOVE.
Let me share what LOVE has to do with the fact that you just got a set-off from parole and you won’t be going home to your family this year (or any other major set-back in your life).
1 John 4:18 King James Version (KJV)
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
We are children of the most High King! Children of God have nothing to fear! Our future is set in Everlasting Life with Jesus and a life more abundant right now!
John 10:10b King James Version (KJV)
10 … “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
Let us never forget our identity in Christ! We are blessed and highly favored of the Lord! No matter the situation we may be going through at this moment, remember God is growing us and maturing us to bear healthy ripe fruit of His Righteousness. God uses EVERYTHING in our lives to strengthen us. (Romans 8:28)
He uses “Dear John letters”, parole set-offs and serve all notices, guards yelling in your face, even that cellie that you’re having so many problems with, infirmities, our own prayers seeming to go un-answered – EVERYTHING if we allow HIM to be active in our lives!
Zechariah 4:6b (KJV) 6 … Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.
Not by our own wishful thinking, or pushing through with our own might, not asking God to simply take away all of our trouble so that we live our lives on easy street. That would be asking God, “Please don’t grow me, let me stay right where I am in ignorance.” We should always be hungry to mature in the knowledge and grace of Christ Jesus.
The difference between believers in Jesus Christ and the world is that Holy Spirit lives in us! God has given us His Power!
1 Corinthians 3:16 (KJV) Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
Allow the Holy Spirit to be active in your life today so that you too can –
Count It All JOY!
Your Brother-in Christ,
Donnie W. Ojemann