Endurance in the Trials
Andy introduced us to James last week.
The brother of Jesus, who ended up being the leader of the early church and ultimately died serving the church.
But he didn’t always believe his brother was the Messiah.
3 So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. 4 For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For not even his brothers believed in him.
Though he wasn’t specifically mentioned, James was likely in that group.
He struggled, much like people we know, and maybe even some of us today.
Call him a doubter, but when Jesus died and was resurrected, James had what he needed to give himself fully to Jesus and making Him known to the nations.
This week in our d-groups we read 1 Corinthians 1 and verse 18 stuck out to me.
18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved.
I think that was James’s story. The idea of his big brother being THE Messiah was foolish.
Yeah he was a great brother, seemed to never do anything wrong, always knew the bible better than anyone else, and had incredible insight about life situations…but the Messiah? Nah.
But to those who experience the reality of Jesus, this message is the POWER of GOD.
By the time James is writing this letter he has been following Jesus for several years, leading other to follow Him, and even leading the church in a upfront ministry position.
He has experienced persecution, his friends and loved ones have been imprisoned, beaten, or even killed for their faith in Christ.
He is writing this letter from experience. So when he says “count it joy when you face trials” he knows what he means.
So when we get to our verse for the day, James is challenging the struggle we all share, to endure and persevere in the faith when we face trials and struggles in life.
How do we endure in trials?
How do we endure in trials?
12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
James is continuing his teaching on trials in life in this section. It is a huge theme throughout the letter that we will come back to and look at from differing angles.
There are 3 parts to this passage that we need to examine to understand what James is saying:
He first gives us an image of someone who endures through trials in life.
1) Know the DESTINATION
1) Know the DESTINATION
James 1:12 (ESV)
12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial
He uses the same language as Jesus uses in the sermon on the mount in Matt 5, “Blessed is the one...”
Blessed can also mean happy/content/joyful is the one.
He then points to the reason for the blessing, “he will receive the “crown of life” which God has promised to those who love Him.”
He is finishing the thought from the previous verses.
God uses the trials in our lives to grow us into maturity, to shape and strengthen our faith.
We rejoice not because trials are fun and fulfilling, but because God is working in us and in our circumstances for good.
Verse 12 is a perspective verse. James is saying “don’t loose perspective in the middle of hard times.”
That’s where verse 13 comes in:
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.
2) Don’t lose PERSPECTIVE
2) Don’t lose PERSPECTIVE
We can look at verse 13 as dealing with temptation in general. Like the temptation to steal, lie, or do something sinful in general.
But in the context of the rest of the section, the temptation here is a temptation to NOT endure in trials.
James is speaking to the hearts of those who are feeling the weight and the struggle of hard seasons of life.
In those seasons there is the temptation to give up, give in, or get even.
And James is pointing to the tendency in all of us to blame God in the midst of our trials.
The word “tempt” here can mean to “try or test” almost like a time trial in a race.
James is fighting the perception that God is maliciously bring trials into our lives to test us.
Hence we then make God out to be evil, which then gives us the permission to give up and throw in the towel, to give in to sin in some way, or to get even in a some vengeful way to those who seem to be the source of our struggle.
The real source of our temptation isn’t God, it is us.
14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
3) Don’t be DECEIVED
3) Don’t be DECEIVED
This is the result of a loss of perspective.
James has spent the first several verses of chapter 1 giving us a framework for how we are to view trials in our life.
Closing that discussion with verse 12 and the promise of a blessing and a crown.
But if we lose sight of the prize, if we forget the purpose of our pain, we will not endure.
The last section of the passage points to the roots of why we are so prone to give in and NOT endure.
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
“Don’t believe lies, brothers and sisters.” Such deeply wise words from James.
He knows the hearts of sinful men and women like us. Who, when we face hard season and tough situations, are prone to start believing in and telling ourselves lies.
The most prominent and destructive lies are the ones we begin to believe about God.
James confronts 3 lies we are tempted to believe in trials:
God isn’t good
James 1:17 (ESV)
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights
God is good even when life is hard, people are mean, or circumstances stink.
Every good thing there is in your life is given by God, and He even gives us wonderful gifts in the middle of our pain.
Don’t lose sight of God’s goodness.
God has changed
James 1:17 (CSB)
who does not change like shifting shadows.
God was good and he seemed to be really be on my side, but things have changed.
Maybe you did something or maybe God is having a bad day.
NO, James says, God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
In a world that is always changing and even though we are always changing, God never changes.
God doesn’t have off days. He doesn’t get into a funk, or just decide He wants to make our lives miserable for a few weeks.
So, regardless of our circumstances and struggles, God is, and always will be, good.
God isn’t trustworthy
18 By his own choice, he gave us birth by the word of truth so that we would be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
It is so easy and tempting for us to get so caught up in our circumstances that we can’t see beyond them
We begin to believe the lie that God really doesn’t care about us and the things He promises are bogus.
But James reminds us “By His OWN choice, he gave us new life”
And the birthing of New life came from the Word of Truth, or the gospel.
It is true and God is faithful.
Even though it might not look like it right now, trust Him.
He hasn’t, and will never, leave us or forsake us.
Lesson for the Journey
Lesson for the Journey
James’s central message in this passage seems to be: Keep your eyes forward through the struggle of life. That is how we endure
I thought of an analogy from when my dad was teaching me how to drive after getting my permit many years ago.
When you drive a car there are all kinds of potential pitfalls and obstacles that may hinder or ruin your journey. So it is necessary to always maintain the right perspective.
There are 4 perspectives we can have in a car.
In the trials of life we can focus our perspective on our past, whether that is mistakes we have made, trauma we have experienced, or even dreams/expectations we have had that are not yet fulfilled.
When we focus on the rear-view mirror of life we can expect a similar outcome if we always look in the rear-view mirror as we drive…a crash.
My dad warned me a lot about focusing on the stuff around me in the car. Stereo, friends, food, or cell phone (not a big deal back then).
In life we can do the same thing, focusing our attention on the circumstances of life we are in right now.
But when our attention is on the things around us in the car we will crash.
The car in front of us
One of the lessons my dad continually reminded me of was to not focus just on the car in front of me because you will only have time to react to that car rather than see what was happening further down the road.
In our lives we get caught up focusing on the short term, often overwhelmed with what might happen or what might not happen.
We can get so focused on people “in front” of us through social media and our friends that we only react to the things we see them say or do.
The inevitable outcome of this perspective is that same, a crash.
This is James’s message, if we are going to endure, we have to fix our eyes on the hope we have in God through Christ Jesus.
When we face trials and struggles in life we can’t and mustn’t loose hope, we can’t believe the lies as the come, and we must know the good, unchanging, and faithful character of our God.
He has promised us a crown and has chosen us as His sons and daughters.
Don’t lose sight, don’t give in, endure.
Pray- Band and ushers come forward
Band plays softly
One of the ways we keep our eyes fixed on the destination is by remembering what Christ has done to ensure the promises of God for those who love him and trust in His name.
Today we are partaking in the Lord’s supper in order to remember God’s promise of salvation.
As the ushers begin to pass out the elements we would invite all those who have trusted in Christ to join us in this meal.
If you have not trusted in Christ we would ask that you let the tray pass. Instead we would invite you during this time to take Jesus as savior and Lord.
This meal we eat together represents the body and the blood of Christ which is the source of our salvation, there is no power in it, just an opportunity for us to remember and to praise.
Paul teaches us the significance of this meal in 1 Corinthian 11:
23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
So together as the family of God, we take this bread as a reminder of the body of Christ broken for us.
And, as we have been saved and united by the blood of Jesus, we take this juice remembering the promise God has made to us through Christ blood.
Now let’s sing together as a response to the Lord’s kindness.