"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." - James 1:2-5
This Greek word for "count", heggemia, in the above passage involves the concepts of "lead, rule and command". In other words, we have been given grace from God to take authority over our response to trials in order to obtain the correct divine perspective on our situation. This is why James says to ask for and expect wisdom (divine perspective) to come to us in the context of trials. This will ensure for us the positive results and outcomes that our good Father intends through any challenging situation or circumstance.
"About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened" (Acts 16:25-26).
Many people will say that this way of life is not "realistic". But is moping, complaining, grumbling, and being oppressed with an impending sense of doom and gloom honestly more "real" than having hope – when the truly good and living God is always active in our world and on our side?
How has despair, worry and anxiety been working for us anyway? "Keeping it real", from the angle of some -- will only keep us in defeat!
When you magnify God deliberately enough to be able to see and then praise Him in the most adverse conditions...a dunamis power of God can be released to burst into circumstances and even liberate the 'prisoners' around you.
The world is watching and we should never waste an occasion to "see" and praise God in a contradictory situation. These apostles had gone on a mission trip and were rewarded with persecution instead of the expected blessing or breakthrough. Yet, they magnified God in their prison until they saw Him. Paul and Silas' confident and optimistic spirit released the freedom of God's Kingdom not only into their circumstances, but it also loosed the observing prisoners to bring salvation to many. Paul and Silas viewed themselves as the "prisoners of hope" prophesied by Zechariah more than the prisoners of men.
"...and He shall speak peace to the nations; His rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. As for you also, because of the Blood of My covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double." (Zechariah 9:10b-12a).
POWER OF CONFIDENT EXPECTANT OBSERVATION
In the mysterious quantum world, inanimate matter behaves differently depending on if it is being observed and who is observing it. Particles are activated in various ways by the power of observation. What if the living God's invisible power can simply be activated for good by the anointed observation of His sons and daughters?
Jesus said that unless we are born again we cannot see the Kingdom of God (see John 3:3). But the implication is that if we are born from above, we are enabled to perceive the Kingdom of God, thereby acknowledging and anticipating the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom of God is in the Holy Spirit (see Romans 14:17).
We are challenged in the New Testament to see God at work in the midst of our trials so that incredible positive outcomes are secured. Isn't this what Paul and Silas "saw" in the darkest hour with bleeding backs and bound in the prison stocks?
The Holy Spirit is promising us that in these days we are going to begin to "see" the invisible God at work in ways that we have not recognized before. This spiritual insight is what distinguishes this "Holy Spirit optimism" from the mere "power of positive thinking".
ASPECTS OF RISING HOPE:
The invisible God becomes activated when we "see" Him.
• Look for the silver lining (redemptive purpose) in every cloud (trial).
• Good things are always going on, even when we're in a test of hope or faith.
• If we see what God is doing and thank Him for this, He will cause His blessings to multiply and will go to work in those yet untouched or unmoved arenas.
• Offer to God the "little" breakthrough we do have and trust Him to miraculously bless and multiply it.
• Praise and gratitude pave the way for the release of greater power.
God wants a confident and expectant people who will have a courageous and childlike spirit that praises Him greatly for all His goodness, smack in the face of the evil despair, pessimism and cynicism of this world. They will not be ashamed to show their fullest and truest colors that display the multi-faceted genius and nature of the living God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, who freely takes the things of the Father and the Son and reveals them to us.
As we DISCIPLE others into God's PURPOSE for their lives we set them upon and keep them advancing along a pathway that involves developing a daily lifestyle of Spirit-filled adoration, Spirit-led inquiry and Spirit-inspired confessions of who they are in Christ, who He is in them, and who He is in all the earth.
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