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Dear Partner,

I have never met anybody who enjoys problems. Have you? I personally like it when all of our bills are paid and there is gas in the fuel tank of the car, when everybody in our family is healthy and nobody is in strife with each other. I like it when the weather is pleasant. I like for people to think kindly of us and to say good things about us. When things are going well for us we tend to be content and happy. Those are not the times when we learn much about our true character. When problems arise, that's when we find out who we really are on the inside.

One of the most familiar passages in the New Testament regarding how to handle times of trouble in our lives is this one from the King James Version:

James 1:2-4   My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. [King James]

Notice we are to "count" it all joy. Why? Because joy is not the natural response when trouble arises. The Greek word translated "count" in that verse is hegeomai. Its primary meaning is "to command, to have the rule over." If we are going to have "joy" in the midst of our problems, we are going to have to allow the born again spirit within us to rise up with authority and take dominion over our emotions by "commanding" them to be full of JOY! Emotional "Pity Parties" are the surest path to destruction. Our emotions love to have them, but there is no victory produced from them.

For years I couldn't understand how it was possible to maintain "joy" in the midst of serious problems because the passage says the key to victory is "patience." The modern definition of the word "patience" means to sort of "sit there and put up with it." I don't know what the English word "patience" meant to the readers when the King James Version of the bible was first printed in 1611, but I do know that the modern definition of the word does not match the Greek word in the original text. Regarding this particular passage of scripture, the New American Standard does a better job of bringing out the meaning in the original Greek language.

James 1:2-4   Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. [New American Standard]

ENDURANCE is the key! The very first exhortation that the Lord spoke to the Prayer Center in the very first service was, "Endurance is the key." There is a big difference in our concept of "endurance" compared with "patience." Notice the difference in the synonyms given in the American Heritage Dictionary:

PATIENCE: resignation, forbearance, passive long-suffering.
ENDURANCE: stamina, persistence, perseverance, withstanding hardship or stress.

There is a "passiveness" associated with the word "patience." There is an active "withstanding" associated with the word "endurance." Patience sits on the wilderness side of Jordan and longs to someday live in the Promised Land. Endurance crosses over Jordan and continues in battle after battle with "joy" knowing that one day it will fully possess what God has promised and will be "perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

Sometimes problems get so big they look like mountains to us. If somebody is trying to go a certain direction and there are mountains in the way he thinks, "Those mountains are huge. If they don't stop me they will at least slow me down." There was a man named Zerubbabel in the Old Testament who had been given the assignment of rebuilding the Temple of God. The problems he faced were huge and no doubt they began to look like impassable mountains to him. But listen to what the Lord spoke to him through the voice of the prophet:

Zec 4:6-7   Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.

When a mountain is removed, nothing is left but a flat plain (a level field) for us to walk on. The mountains won't stop us. The mountains won't even slow us down! Jesus told us in the New Testament:

Mat 17:20b For verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

Remember, God is with us! One of the surest paths to victory is to always compare the size of our mountains to the size of God's grace! Mountains quickly flee at His presence. FAITH in God's GRACE brings HIS POWER on the scene to remove the mountain. That's how we can count it all joy! That's how we can steadfastly endure! It's the JOY of knowing that ENDURING FAITH in God's GRACE will remove every mountain of problems we will face in life.

Sue and I love you and appreciate you. We thank God for your generous and giving heart. God bless you!

Your friend and co-laborer,

Gary Carpenter

 

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