What are we called to? Well the most logical answer is the beauty of salvation found in His divine election through Jesus Christ our Lord. But what else are we called to? According to the scriptures we’re called to: Holiness, Love, Serve, Good works, Give, Ministry, Endure and ultimately to Glorify God to name a few. We come to a letter that gives us a picture or a glimpse to what we are called to....... Practical Christian living, which is the fruit and light of Christ in a world that is fallen and heading to ruins. This is a small letter that exemplifies what a Christian looks like and it begins with the most unusual opening statement that seem strange and downright weird "you will face hardships! But cheer up it’s for your own good." [paraphrase] See! Every one of us in this room, is, or will go through trials until King Jesus calls us home. Whether that be physical persecution, various pressures of life, or plan ole sin that temps us every day. Why do we go through trials? For or maturing so that we bear fruit of Christ righteousness, even when we don’t understand why! Let me ask you when you fall into trials, what do you do?
- Do you lose your cool?
- Do you take it out on others? (Family, friends, Co-workers)
- Do you break things, use foul language?
- Do you get angry with God?
- Do you throw in the towel, give up?
Or do you
- Praise God in it?
- Persevere through it?
I remember back to our vacation these past few weeks…..you can be 10 km from home or 2500 km and you still face certain trials and tribulations. But! The amazing thing is that it’s for our good and for His glory to shine in and through our lives. Again we may not understand why……..but as one writer put it. “The purposes of God often develop slowly because His grand designs are never hurried.” For example: The great New England preacher Phillips Brooks was noted for his poise and quiet manner. At times, however, even he suffered moments of frustration and irritability. One day a friend saw him feverishly pacing the floor like a caged lion. “What’s the trouble, Mr. Brooks?” he asked. “The trouble is that I’m in a hurry, but God isn’t!” Haven’t we felt the same way many times? The late Thomas a Kempis described that kind of patience in these words: “He deserves not the name of patient who is only willing to suffer as much as he thinks proper, and for whom he pleases. The truly patient man asks (nothing) from whom he suffers, (whether) his superior, his equal, or his inferior…But from whomever, or how much, or how often wrong is done to him, he accepts it all as from the hand of God, and counts it gain!”
Trials are a part of life.....according to the scriptures there is no escaping the misery and agony of trials and tribulations. J C Ryle knew this best when he said “Are you indeed Christ’s sheep? Then be sure you will have many a trial. Where would be the value of a Savior, if there were not enemies to be saved from? Yes! You will have many a trial! Satan has great wrath against all who have escaped his snares, and he will bring every weapon to bear against your peace; he will start many a doubt within your mind, he will stir up many a vile and blasphemous imagination within the chambers of your heart, many a horrid thought you once would have believed impossible—but still remember those words, “never perish.” Yes! You will have many a trial!” So we come to a small letter that is filled with the riches and beauties that flow from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A small letter to challenge, encourage and convict if necessary the Christian to walk in such a way that makes Jesus look precious and glorified.
A quick background…….
The writer James is the half-brother to the Lord Jesus Christ. James, letter has been compared with the wisdom of the Old Testament. Particularly Proverbs, because of its direct relation to wise living. The recipients of this book were mostly Jewish Christians [but also Gentile Christians as well] who had been dispersed, or scattered spreading the seeds of the Gospel to other lost Jews and Gentiles. (v1) “scattered or dispersed” Possibly as a result of Stephen's martyrdom…..persecution was running ramped in the early church! Luke wrote “And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” Acts 8:1. James' main theme or purpose for writing this epistle was to challenge his readers to EXAMINE their FAITH, to see if it was GENUINE SAVING FAITH. See over the coming months we are going to see a Christian’s orthodoxy put into orthopraxy. Which means? What a Christian believes put into action……which ultimately displays the fruit of your love for Christ and His gospel. This letter is written to Christians whose faith is clearly being put to the test [same can be said for us at times] James epistle has many practical lessons for us to learn in our Christian Walk
- Rejoicing in trials
- Loving God under trials
- Qualities needed in times of trials
- Pro claimers of the Word
- Beware of personal favoritism
- The importance of your faith in action
- The untamed tongue
- The importance of wisdom
- Prideful heart
- Keeping brothers and sisters in Christ accountable
- Patience and perseverance
- Meeting others needs
- Restoration of fallen brothers and sisters
So we begin with James identifying himself as the author and his love for the people of the church with this greeting of compassion for the children of God (v1) Then he moves on to this statement that would make many us scratch our heads! (v2). You are going to face many trails in this life but be of good cheer it’s for your own good in Christ. What do trails produce? Answer: The fruit of patience to endure despite any and all situations. But look what he tells us to do or how we are to respond! What does he say? “count or consider it all joy..” (v2)
“Joy” which means: pure joy, unmixed joy, complete and total joy, or sheer joy. Let’s stop there for a moment! Our natural response is not to rejoice in times of trials. It's usually the opposite. Can you truly say that when you’re faced with the obstacles of this life, the toughness of this life, or the trials and tribulations of this life? Can you say that about your life? Can you say that about your life at this moment, this very hour, this minute or second? Can you say with the Apostle Paul I count my life as nothing in comparison to the one I now have in Christ Jesus Christ my Lord? Can you say with Paul to die is gain but if I live it’s for your benefit! Can you say with joy no matter what happens I will always trust in you Lord?
Isaiah knew this because He knew whom he served with his whole entire life. Isaiah 40:28-31 it says “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
When you know the promises and provision that God sets before you….you are able [or better yet will] endure with JOY! One writer said “the horrors of life can leave a believer confused, uncertain, uncomprehending, and floundering. Joy, which is the fruit of knowing God, and wisdom, which is the ability to handle life, seems remote and unattainable. James reminds the audience that trials are part of the package of faith and yield good fruit at the end of the day." John MacArthur said “the more we rejoice in our testing, the more we realize that they are not liabilities but privileges….” See! When we endure with joy………. look what blossoms in your Christian walk or Christian life! (v3-v4).
James uses two interesting words that follow after his statement of joy! “Patience” which means "persevering endurance and continuance"....“Perfect work” does not refer to sinless perfection, but to spiritual maturity…a maturing purpose behind the testing. You put these two words together! A Christian who is growing [baring fruit] will be equipped or not lacking [endure] when they are faced with obstacles, struggles or trials of this life.” God is the one who does the equipping….He is the one who is perfecting you to bare fruits of righteousness. Sometimes we fail at this truth of God.
Again I go back to our family vacation! The first vehicle breakdown I handled rather well…the second no so much! My patience reached its peak and I lost victory in my trial and God wasn't glorified by my actions and I was so ashamed of my behaviour not only to my family but to the one [GOD] that loves me even when my faith seems weak or hidden by my loss of joy as I faced this trial. The question I needed to ask myself was! Is God getting the glory in our situation? Is He not able to see or help us through this? Let me ask you! Are you giving God the glory in your trials? Or are you telling everyone on FACEBOOK how discussed you are with God because He allowed this happen? Think before you ask those questions! Because there times when were all guilty of this.SO AS YOU PONDER THOSE QUESTIONS! HERE ARE 8 SIMPLE TRUTHS WHY GOD ALLOWS TRIALS IN OUR LIFE! AND THE REASON WE ARE CALLED TO COUNT THEM ALL AS JOY ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES.
TRIALS ARE GIVEN TO HUMBLE US, TO REMIND US NOT TO LET OUR TRUST IN THE LORD TURN INTO PRESUMPTION AND SPIRITUAL SATISFACTION
2 Cor 12:7 “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. (means uplifted, or elevated up).”
ALLOWS US TO SUFFER TRIALS IN ORDER TO WEAN US FROM OUR DEPENDENCE ON WORLDLY THINGS
John 6:4-6 “Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?" He said this to test him, for He Himself knew what he would do.”
PURPOSE OF TRIALS IS TO CALL US TO ETERNAL AND HEAVENLY HOPE
Paul said in Rom 5:3-4 “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,”
PURPOSE OF TRIALS IS TO REVEAL WHAT WE REALLY LOVE
Luke 14:26 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
TRIALS ARE GIVEN TO TEACH US TO VALUE GOD'S BLESSINGS
Heb 12:2 “looking to Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Ps 63:3-7 “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise You with joyful lips, when I remember You upon my bed, and meditate on You in the watches of the night; for You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I will sing for joy.”
THE LORD USES TRIALS TO DEVELOP IN HIS SAINTS ENDURING STRENGTH FOR A GREATER USEFULNESS
2 Cor 12:10 “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
THE LORD USES TRAILS TO ENABLE US TO BETTER HELP OTHERS IN THEIR TRIALS
Luke 22:31-32 "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."
THE LORD USES TRIALS TO PUT OUR RELIGION [WHAT WE BELIEVE] TO THE TEST
1 Peter 1:6-7 “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Remember joy transcends suffering……and this is what James is trying to convey to us this morning! Trials are a part of life and James is saying “rejoice none the less!” There is another place in scripture where someone said the same thing. "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matt 5:11-12
Testing’s are to be occasions for joy because they are opportunities to endure and prove faith keeping……This produces healthy fruit in the life of the believer as its being perfected by the love found in the gospel. Testing’s of your faith drives the believer to a deeper communion with the Lord. Which leads to a greater dependence and joy in our Lord. We always need to remember! Our Lord is always with you through each and every trial. He will always see you through it. As Paul said in 1 Cor 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” We can’t control the circumstance, but we can control the way we think or act about the present trial. As John Piper said "When God calls you to be free from fear as you do evangelism, as you take a test, as you face an interview, as you take a stand against an unjust business practice, as you confront someone with sin in their life, when you leave a secure position and take a risk in a new venture, when you face an operation or a treatment, when you lose a spouse or a friend--when God calls you to be free from fear (to overcome this natural emotion and have peace, he does not leave the command hanging in the air. He puts pillars under it. Five of them. That's the nature of all Biblical commands. They come with divine support.
Fear not . . . God is with you;
Fear not . . . God is your God;
Fear not . . . God will strengthen you;
Fear not . . . God will help you;
Fear not . . . God will uphold you.
What is my calling? To be ready to endure for His glory and for my maturing which is found in the Gospel that saves.