I like listening to different teachers. I stumbled upon a new teacher on Sunday. I’m not sure of the quality of his message, so I won’t give the person’s name. However, one thing stood out as I listened. “Count it as joy.” It’s not that noteworthy in just a simple statement. The passage in the Book of James (1:2), tells us to count our trials as joy. It seems impossible. But if we have our eyes upon Jesus, and realize that if He has brought us to the trial, then it is for our good. It is a test of our faith, which develops perseverance in us. We’ve heard this before. But what the speaker said about the future was noteworthy.
What if the amount of joy we exhibit here is reflected and experienced there in greater portions? If we practice joy here, then maybe we will have a greater capacity of joy there. Maybe the treasure we store in heaven is more than what we originally thought: i.e. good deeds, giving sacrificially, etc. Maybe it’s how we respond to events as well. The treasure from this life is stored for us to use there. This life is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s our practice field. This life determines our eternity. God has a purpose in our trials. It is shaping our character; character that will be used in heaven. Our gifting here is sharpened for eternity. This life is not all there is. There is so much more than we could ever imagine.
The message made me think of a lecture I heard on brain capacity. Dr. Caroline Leaf, a noted brain researcher, said that we only use only a fraction of our brain’s capacity (something like 6%) here on earth. She believes that we are given the greater capacity for our eternal life. We don’t know what eternity will actually be, but I believe it’s going to be nothing like we imagine it to be.
I heard another message this past weekend about replacement theology (my term). Louie Giglio talked about replacing bad habits with good, although the way to do it was not to take out the bad. His theory was to start with good habits. The good habits displace the bad. This theory points to the “renew the mind” passage in Romans 12. One of the places to start with good habits is to get under the authority of the Bible. Memorize, meditate and let it dwell in us. Our capacity to know God grows as we learn more about Him through His Word.
Another thought came from a message from Clay Scroggins at North Point Community Church. His message was on identity. Events happen in our lives. What we believe about the events shape our identity. We have to replace our beliefs of what we believe about ourselves with the message that God says about us. We become who we believe we are. My pastor says “our past doesn’t shape our future.” It doesn’t define us either. We have to replace the recorder of negativity in our minds with the recording of Scripture (memorize, meditation, dwelling in us) that displaces the negativity.
Events shape us. We can count the event as joy; receive the trial as a test of faith. We can renew our minds by replacing thoughts that are not true by the truth of God. If we are His, then we are not alone in our trials. He never leaves us or forsakes us. We are never separated from His love. His love endures forever. We can replace our mindset with the truth of God, and let it build a foundation in which we can take a stand. The capacity is there to grow us into the new creation we are in the process of becoming. Scroggins said “You can do what God has for you to do when you see yourself how God sees you.” We will achieve what the mind believes – as Henry Ford said “if you think you can’t or if you think you can; you are right either way.” The capacity to change is right in front of us – if we believe it.
It’s time to replace thoughts and renew our minds; our minds are a terrible thing to waste. The capacity is there for much more joy than we could ever imagine. Let’s just get through this next trial with a smile on our faces. God says He’s got this, and He has us in the palm of His hand. No other better place to be. Count on it! I believe Him. Do you?
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12