Pastor’s Letter ~ September 2021

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"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 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, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”  James 1:2-8 (NIV)

“He brings the clouds to punish men, or to water His earth and show His love.” (Job 37:13)  If there were any mentioned in the Bible that have undergone great and difficult trials, it would be Job.  James, the brother of Jesus picks up on this theme of testing. He tells us to “consider it pure joy” whenever we experience them. What??  Joy??  He must be kidding, right?  The clouds God brings into our life could be judgment or they could be mercy depending on our focus.  Either way our focal point should be less about God’s intent rather than our response.  God’s actions are seen in different ways depending on the relationship one has with Him.  For instance, His presence can be soothing for someone and for another may seem unreasonably uncomfortable. God’s blessings can produce an attitude of gratitude for some and for others it will lead to corruption.  This is based on our relationship with Him.  For those who cultivate their connection with our Creator and Sustainer, they will grow through blessings or through hardships.  The perspective we take is derived from our closeness to Jesus.  If anyone knows what a trial is, He certainly knows.  And so in Him we find comfort because He brings to us the very best even in the worst of times.  In most people, hardship reveals their devotion.  Is it genuine?  Is it just shirt sleeve Christianity?  Hardship, if we will allow it to penetrate our relationship with God, will bring us deeper in our faith and trust.  But for others it will drive them away and they will have nothing to do with a God who allows them to suffer.  During this adversity, the middle ground is often taken away.  Either we will embrace God’s love and care despite what is happening around us and come away with a deeper faith or we will walk away with no faith at all and even what little we had will vanish into thin air.  It will reveal our relationship with our Creator.  Adversity only heightens the difference between what is true or what is false.  Genuine faith will grow, and little faith will diminish like a drop of water on a rock.  Trials of all kinds drive people to either hot or cold extremes.  God brings both clouds and sunshine.  He is the Creator of both.  Will the clouds drive you deeper into His love for you?  Will they bring you to trust Him more?  Or will you let them soften your faith.  Clouds aren’t always pretty like on a nice summer day.  They have a tendency to stick together and bring a storm or two.  Yet in the end will the sunshine in your heart bring you into His Presence in a more powerful way?  Our choice is in our relationship with Him before the storms come.  We can choose to honor Him through them or to allow them to destroy us and our witness for God.  The choice is now. The choice is ours.  Choose God above all things and watch His mercy fall down from heaven like refreshing drops of rain!   In His love, Pastor Bill ♥