James 1:2:  Consider it pure joy…when you face trials of many kinds.

Trials!  The Olympic Trials in Omaha last summer were a spectacular event, with young athletes competing from all over the United States for the few coveted spots on the 2012 US Olympic team.

One of our sons is a swimmer.  A number of his teammates qualified to compete in the Olympic trials, and six even made it to the Olympics. “Training for trials” became familiar jargon around here.

Swimmers endure riduculous training regimens, early mornings, sacrificing a “normal life”… all for the chance to make it to the Olympic Trials.  Every swimmer wants to achieve that magic time, the “trial cut,” so they can compete in Omaha.

As believers, we, too, train for our trials.  Have you thought about how your daily routine of prayer, reading God’s Word, listening, and obedience, day after day after day,  prepares you to stand strong when faced with a trial?  Training for trials prepares you in advance to fight the fight of faith.

Friends, do you love the fight?  Paul calls the fight of faith a “good fight.” It’s been said that we should love the contest of faith in the way an  athelete loves his sport.

I don’t know if I’d say I love trials.  But there is something invigorating about approaching each day on the offensive, strengthening myself in God’s Word and intentional about prayer.

I should walk away from my devotional time armed and ready.  Expectant and watchful.  Alert to both signs of God at work and opportunities to step out in faith.  Ready to share the Gospel, to meet a need, to take back territory from the enemy.  And prepared to stand strong in the inevitable trials that are part of life on a fallen planet.

The book of James has 108 verses in its five chapters.  Here’s my watchword for today:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, 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 (James 1:2-4).

Meditate for a few minutes on these verses.  Notice that James takes us a step further.  We are to consider trials as an opportunity for  joy. What if the same kind of joy awaits us when we prevail in our trial as the swimmer winning his race?  Now that’s a new vantage point.  Let’s agree to train for our trials today….something to ponder.

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