09 October 2016

LEANING ON THE EVERLASTING ARMS OF GOD


James 1:5-8

I came across a story by a well know preacher who said he had a gifted Secretary who was going through some great trials…….She recently had a stroke, her husband had gone blind, and then he had to be taken to the hospital where [they] thought for sure he would die. This well-known pastor saw here in church one Sunday and said with assurance “I’m praying for you” Which seems normal coming from a shepherd of the church right? But what she said to the preacher stopped me to ponder what James is trying to tell us here in his letter. She said to the pastor “what are you asking God to do? Her question startled the pastor…so he said “I’m asking God to help you and strengthen you.” She responded with “but pray one more thing. Pray that I’ll have wisdom not to waste all of this!” This lady knew what James meant when He said “if those of you lack wisdom ask God” [paraphrasing] There are a lot of people out there who are very knowledgeable but lack wisdom. See as one writer put it! Knowledge is the ability to take things apart, while wisdom is the ability to put them together.”

Wisdom is the right use of knowledge as this dear lady said “Give me wisdom to get me through, so that I grow through my present trial of life.” Wisdom by definition is the trait of utilizing knowledge and experience with common sense and insight. Biblical wisdom is strong faith wisdom, which is not based on feelings but on knowledge and understanding of the promises of God’s truth found in His written word. 

The bible declares that a high view of God is the beginning of wisdom.

“…….Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.'" Job 28:28 

The bible declares that wisdom helps us to make good use of our time.

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Ps 90:12
  
The bible declares that wisdom helps us to understand our complete dependence upon the Lord.

“Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?" 1 Kings 3:9

The bible declares that God’s wisdom is pure and above all things.

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17
  
Something important we need to understand here! “We learn to trust His wisdom” which indicates were not there yet when it comes to wisdom, we are lacking something. We need God’s wisdom as we walk through trials and temptations. (v5) “let him ask God”
This is what we are to do when we lack wisdom. See, in relation to the wisdom of God our wisdom grows through three different factors.

Knowledge
Perspective
Experience

For example: We are limited because when we walk through trials……

We realize we don’t know all that is going on (Lack of knowledge) 
We don’t see our situation from every single angle. (Lack of perspective) 
We oftentimes lack skill in what to do during our present trial. (Lack experience)
  
See we need to embrace and humbly acknowledge that we serve a God who is sovereign over our trials and we don’t have all the answers. James now tells us the secret ingredient to doing that! Which in reality is only possible way we will ever find true joy in the midst of our all kinds of various trials?  (v5b). When we are in hardships and when the weight is too much to bare, James says you only have one option! Call upon the Lord.

See we sometimes forget that…….. 
He is the one that called us out of darkness.
He is the one who keeps us and does the saving.
He is the one who knows the beginning to end of your life.
He is the one who is writing the script of your life.
He is the only one who can help you…the greatest Counsellor.
  
Don’t get me wrong! Family is great and so are friends, but God surpasses each and every one of them. So child of God, cheer up! This is where it gets really good for you and me. James says “let him ask God who gives generously”. (v5b) “Wisdom” in this verse is referring to the kind of wisdom which you and I would need in our trials, to enable us, to bear them with a proper manner. Why? For there is nothing in which Christians more feel the need of heavenly wisdom than in regard to the manner in which they should bear trials. God is the only one that can deliver! And to receive wisdom from a holy God is a blessing and a privilege. James says God gives it “Generously” carries the idea of singleness of heart, openhandedly, doing something unconditionally without bargaining. This is a beautiful picture of the mercy that flows from our God! Just as He generously gave us salvation, He does the same thing when it comes to wisdom as you face today’s obstacles. When we come to Him with our trials He immediately and unwaveringly gives it to us generously. This is our God who says “I will impart my wisdom to you.” So draw near to Him.
  
Jesus said "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Matt 7:7-11All we need to do is ask! Not only does He do this with unconditional love……. He does this without reproach! God does this without “Reproach” means “to scold, to severely reprimand or rebuke” This means…. God doesn’t reprimand us for past failures or remind us endlessly of the value of the gifts He gives us. John MacArthur said “the Lord will never cast even the mildest reproach on a child of His who comes seeking wisdom in time of trouble and testing. He will not remind us of how undeserving and unworthy we are, obvious as that might be. Nor will He chide us for not asking sooner, fully understanding that “spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”……Without hesitation, reluctance, or reservation. His divine wisdom will be given to us in generous abundance.” This is same abundance of grace as He said to the Israelites “I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” Ps81:10

So we read God’s willingness to give us wisdom as we face each trial or temptation of life and all we need to do is ask Him! So simple, yet we fail to seek Him in the middle of our trials; that God allows in our lives to help us grow stronger in our walk by faith. This is why James now turns to waiting child that there is something that is required of us! “Ask in faith”

What is James saying to us if we lack faith God doesn’t listen? No! 
Is this trail I’m going through because I lack faith in God? No!

Trials are a part of life according to the opening verses (v2-v3). Trails help us to experience growth in godliness, like we could never experience any other way. God has never called us to an easy life, but a life of faith and godliness in the only one who can deliver us out of the pit of Hell and out of our trials/temptations. But God requires something to help us get through them “ask in faith without any doubting” (v6a) Key word “without doubting” In other words this request must be backed by genuine trust in God’s character, purpose and promises. See many doubts that God is able to help….so they rationalize their doubt in countless ways. They say “I’m too unworthy or underserving to get His help” Or  “God’s too busy to help me with my problem” See this is why James goes even further to say if you’re a person like that, then you’re a "double minded man” (v8) "double minded man" (means) having one's mind or soul divided between God and the world. It is applicable to a man who has no settled principles; who is controlled by passion; who is influenced by popular feeling; who is now inclined to one opinion or course of conduct, and now to another. This is someone called a hypocrite /Worldly minded fool. Who occasionally believes in God but fails to trust Him completely. When faced with trials this person seek the wisdom of this world instead of going to the Lord. They become bitter or resentful and seek no help at all or refuse to listen to biblical counsel. There whole life is like a roller coaster ride up and down, up and down. This person doesn't renounce God outright, but they act as if God doesn't exist at this moment in time. They says “God doesn't care, or isn't capable of delivering me from trouble.”
  
But that’s the exact opposite of the loving God we serve. His grace overflows with His love as He takes great interest in you and me and what seems big or small to us, He chooses to help us get through it generously and without guiltThat’s why James says this kind of person is “is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind” (v6b) Let me ask you! Have you ever gone into the water at the lake and lay on your back and let the water move you around and when you stop after a while you are amazed at how quickly you have moved away from shore. The same principle can be applied to the Christian life if where not looking vertical [looking onto Jesus]. James is telling [warning ] us that the person who doubts will be easily led astray, and easily led to believe that God isn’t interested in his or her lives. Just as it was so easy for Peter to doubt when he was sinking after the Lord upheld him on the water.

Let me tell you! If God wasn’t interested or investing His time with His creation……then we would still be lost and without a hope or prayer. The gospel is our proof and the only proof we need to get us through that we serve a holy God and most of all trust Him. He is a God who does cares about His children and He says “don’t doubt, but believe and seek My face for help.” This is so important to understand……..because this can happen to best of us! Yes even veteran Christians! It doesn’t take much to slip up…our slip ups are so bad it required someone to die in our place……..none of us in this room are exempt. That’s why James talks to the double minded man or woman at the end of his letter.“ Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8. This is why trials come into our lives to see who have Genuine Persevering Faith as they call upon God for wisdom to get through each trial, not the world.

Church family! Seek God with a believing heart and not with doubting one. Never shake your fist and question God “Why me?” The question you need to ask is “Why not me?” And when you can ask the question that way you will be able to endure whatever the Lord allows to enter your life. Why? Because it’s for your own good…for our maturing. (v4). There is no such thing as chance only opportunities to seek His face to embrace the everlasting arms of God.
  
Remember! He gives freely because the great desire of God’s heart is that we love Him and trust Him with all of ours. WILL YOU TRUST HIM?

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