James 1:2-4 (The Message Bible) – “Consider it a sheer gift, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” Do you feel like your life is in a pressure cooker sometimes? How does that pressure cooker work anyway? A pressure cooker works on a simple principle: steam pressure. A sealed pot, with a lot of steam inside, builds up high pressure, which helps food cook faster. So how do you get that steam? You turn the heat up! The Christian life is a life of pressure and the heat being turned up. Who is controlling the thermostat is what we need to look at today.
Some people believe they should never have to be put under any pressure as Christians and that means don’t get yourself involved in anything that takes great prayer and great practice. But, that doesn’t line up with scripture. In James 1:3 he writes “Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” When the pressure is put on you what happens? Do you fall away from the faith or does it cause you to bear down and endure even more so? I have at times asked God why I having to deal with a certain problem and been shown through His word that there is a reason. In that reason I learn to trust God more and expect greatness to be seen in my life and that usually happens. So why would I back away from the challenges of the Christian life just because of a little pressure? Possibly because I don’t see how it helps me. But just like in the function of the real pressure cooker, when the heat is turned up it makes steam, and steam cooks the food faster without burning it up. Food that is cooked that way is very good and pleasing to the palate. Our lives are much better and the “cooking” process of pressure cooking makes us more pure in our approach to what we are doing. In other words, more like Jesus. Another thing the heat does is burn the impurities of our life away to make us look more like Jesus in every area of our life. Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:7 “So that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Our lives are precious to God and Him turning up the heat on our lives is His way of making that life look more like His son, Jesus. Remember though, apart from God you cannot handle the heat. Only with God does the heat make us more like Him. Which is why it is important to be current in your walk with God so that when the heat is turned up and we are cooked, the end result is a glorious success in making us look more like our Savior. You may be thinking at times when someone says it is important to have a daily quiet time, why? Here is the reason. Your current life is being prepared by spending time with God in His word to handle God’s temperature hike in the future to grow you closer to Him. We are not supposed to remain the same and get stagnant in our walk. We are to grow closer to Him and His ways and thus see a radical change in how we view life. That will only happen when God starts cooking our lives by turning up the pressure and developing us quickly into who He wants us to be. When I see someone who is very carnal in the way they live their life and how they react to things, I think “They are not receiving the cooking process from God in the right way.”
It’s time to immerse yourself in living for God and realize that the pressure is good for us, but we must handle that pressure with God’s Spirit and God’s Word. James goes on to say this in verse 5-8 “If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.
So you get the point don’t you? It’s all God and God alone. No substitutes. Only Him. Remember who was in the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? GOD!
When He turns up the heat on you and pressure cooks your faith, He will be right there with you through it all and you will be a much better disciple. God is our only option……
The Pilgrimage continues….