When we get saved, we need to focus on perfecting ourselves – attitudes, demeanor, endurance, steadfastness, patience.

Psalm 138:7-8 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

Are we counting the trials all joy? The trying of our faith works patience. If ever there’s a time we needed patience, it’s now.

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.

God is reminding us to consider trials as wholly joyful. In trials he wants to perfect our endurance, steadfastness, and patience.

James 1:2-4 (Amplified Bible, Classic) Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.

Paul said he had learned every situation (prison, shackles, no ventilation, no bathroom privileges or shower), to be content.

Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

To be content is to not be disturbed or disquieted in the situations. God wants us to be content in our situations (in the pandemic), not disturbed or disquieted. If we’re grumbling and complaining, we won’t have a testimony to help others. Paul had to learn to be content in prison. We should be able to learn to be content in the pandemic of these last 4 months. God wants us to focus on our own changes and shortcomings, not the other person. The devil wants us to focus on changes others should make. If there’s a problem with someone and you think it would get better if they change, let God deal them.

Philippians 4:11-13 (Amplified Bible, Classic) Not that I speak from [any personal] need, for I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances. I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In …every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need. I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose…self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency…through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]

If we focus on the mote (a speck of dust) in someone else’s eye but we have a beam in our eye, our focus and attitude are wrong. We need to change and focus on perfecting ourselves – on our shortcomings, changes, and attitudes. We can’t help someone with a little speck in their eye when we have a big beam in ours.

Matthew 7:3-5 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam…in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine…? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine…then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Do you have excuses for focusing on others? 1) It’s all their fault (it’s usually both sides), 2) I get angry, but it’s because of how they treat me. Excusing our attitude and putting it on someone else isn’t focusing on our problem. God doesn’t want us to make excuses for our anger and blame someone else. He wants us to take care of our shortcomings. 3) I’m too angry to focus on myself. The little faults we see in others become very large, but our own faults seem very small. God wants us to ask him to search us and see if there’s any wicked way in us. He doesn’t want us finding fault or criticizing because of someone’s personality, character, weakness, frailties, or because they didn’t do things the way we would. We aren’t to criticize others motives or interpret the desires of their heart. There’s no way we can interpret someone’s motives or desire of their heart. We’re not called to judge others. We have one judge – God! When we judge others, we put ourselves above them and think we’re better than them. We’re trying to get a speck out of their eye when we have a huge beam in ours. Our responsibility is to not put a stumblingblock in others’ way or an occasion to fall.

Romans 14:11-13 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

If we’re fault finding and picking on people or have wrong attitudes, we need to ask God to help us be perfected: to focus on letting patience work, to crucify ourselves on the altar (our ideas and opinions). We need to ask God to help our longsuffering and patience work, so we can help others. The enemy wants to confuse everyone’s mind. When there’s not much to do, he brings lots of ideas and battles in our mind. God wants us to cast down mind battles about others’ faults, or I’m right and you’re wrong, or he’ll exaggerate things. The enemy is out to divide but God unites us. The enemy tries to discourage, worry, or get us to obsess about things. We need to give things to God because he doesn’t put obsessions (ideas or feelings that completely occupy the mind) on you. The enemy condemns, frightens, confuses, and rushes you.

A pilot got confused when the enemy tried to bomb him. He didn’t know what way to go. The enemy can confuse or disorient us in battles. We’ll think we’re going up when we’re going down. We have to go to God’s word to focus on what’s right and what he says – not opinions, feelings, sight, perceptions, fears, or doubts. He’ll help us all the way. David sang praises in trouble. God wants us to have praise in our heart continually. Ask God to help you have praise and thanksgiving when the enemy fights.

Psalm 138:1 I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.

After the judge Deborah died, the Israelites started worshipping Baal. God delivered them to the Midianites. They were sons of Ishmael (Abraham’s son) and they were idol worshippers in Canaan who weren’t destroyed. They forgot God so they had to live in caves and strongholds for 7 years. We have nice homes with air conditioning and bathrooms.

Judges 6:1-2…Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord: and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years …Midian prevailed against Israel…made them the dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and strong holds.

The Midianites destroyed the Israelites crops and took their cattle so they were very poor. They lacked food and many things, but after 7 years they cried to the Lord. God allowed it because he was trying to get their attention. God is trying to get people’s attention today. He needs our attention to ask if there are ways to improve and grow closer to him.

Judges 6:3-6…when Israel had sown…Midianites came up, and the Amalekites…against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth…and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass. For they came up with their cattle and their tents, and they came as grasshoppers for multitude; for both they and their camels…they entered into the land to destroy it. And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites…Israel cried unto the Lord.

God sent a prophet that said what happened was because the Israelites didn’t obey him. They blamed it on the Midianites, but it was because they didn’t obey God. Gideon was trying to feed his family so he hid down in the winepress to thresh wheat. He couldn’t do it on the mountain where the wind would blow away the chaff because the Midianites would take the wheat. An angel told Gideon as he was hiding and fearful that he was a might man of valor who would save Israel. Gideon said his family was poor and doubted what the angel said (Judges 6:12-22). Gideon gave an offering and fire came to consume it, so Gideon knew the angel spoke to him for God. He was going to smite the enemy like they were only one man. Gideon tore down his father’s Baal idol and when men came to make him answer for what he did, he said to let Baal plead for himself (Judges 6:25-31). Gideon still needed his faith encouraged. He asked God to give him a sign by a fleece of wool – to be wet with dew and the earth around dry one night, and the next night the fleece dry but the ground wet (Judges 6:36-40). God said if Gideon was still afraid to go hear in the enemy camp what they said. They said God would deliver them into Gideon’s hand. Gideon took 300 men with lamps. When they broke the lamps, the enemy ran away or destroyed each other (Judges 7:3-22). God didn’t condemn Gideon and Jesus didn’t condemn Thomas who doubted, but he was perfecting their faith. God wants to encourage and perfect our patience in our day and during the time of the pandemic.

(Notes from the Mature Class Bible Study, teacher Edith Tolbert)