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We’re continuing our study of James
He was the half-brother to Jesus
Earliest book written, in the 40’s
This is a letter is all about how our faith should affect our works, deeds, actions.
I left out a note on the word “Greetings” in verse 1.
It is the usual greeting with which, as the papyri show, Greek letters of all periods opened
In Hebrew (and ancient Syriac and modern Arabic) the regular greeting is “Peace!”
In Latin it is “Health!”
In Greek it is “Joy be to you.”
With that note, let’s read our passage for today.
There are a variety of themes in this book, but its primary focus is trials and temptations.
Why do we go through them?
How do we go through these trials and temptations?
If I could summarize this section in one sentence it would be this: Trials and temptations are inevitable and God will use them to deepen our faith.
So we must seek wisdom from to God to endure afflictions and difficulties which threaten to overpower us.
God Is Sovereign Over Our Trials 1:2-12
James tells us that trials are never out of God’s control.
Every trial we go through is under His control and He accomplishes His purposes through our trials.
This text is one of the most profound passages for mature, authentic Christian living.
There is present today a theology that says God never wants you to be sick or poor and you should name and claim health and wealth.
Folks that is not biblical and James tells that in these verses.
He was writing to a poor and hurting Christian community, so he tells them “to consider it a great joy”.
This is the first command in the letter, an imperative.
It’s a verb that addresses how we think about our trials.
It is not about feelings.
Trials don’t bring smiles and its not putting on a happy face and pretend everything is OK.
The trials we go through may be big, small, minor or major and we wonder why.
How can I be joyful in the midst of them.
However, we need to realize that these trials are not joyful in and of themselves, but are joyful when we realize they are under God’s sovereignty as He accomplishes His purposes in our lives through them.
We can learn four things in trials that should cause us to be joyful.
We Learn To Grow In His Likeness V. 3-4
God’s goal in our lives is maturity in Him, growth in His likeness.
This is the main reason we can rejoice because God is working on us to be more like Christ.
The testing is used by God to produce perseverance.
Without these trials, some character would be undeveloped.
He also uses these to get rid of defects of an immature faith.
James says that the testing produces endurance.
Perseverance or stamina
It does not refer merely to the ability to hold back the discouraging results of a bad temper or remorseful self-pity.
It also includes staying power that believers can have because they trust their God.
Tested faith becomes spiritually tough and rugged.
A believer with endurance is perfect or mature.
This does not mean we are sinless or morally flawless.
It describes maturity, the state of being fully developed.
Being complete pictures someone who possesses all the spiritual traits needed for moral completeness.
People who endure trials with faith in God can develop every trait needed for spiritual victory.
Moreover, these traits can be ripened to a full maturity.
The trials then will be joy to you because they will teach you to know, love, and trust Him.
We Learn To Trust In His Wisdom Vs.5-8
In these verses, James outlines resources we have to face trials and how to get them.
The first idea here to ask for wisdom to help us get through our trial.
When we do God will give it to us.
We don’t receive wisdom automatically, but we must ask for it.
First, we know God is a giving God.
Giving to those who ask from him is natural for God.
Second, God gives generously to all.
He has no favorite recipients of his gifts, but gives to all classes, races, and types of people.
Third, God gave without finding fault.
God does not give in such a way as to humiliate us.
He does not chastise us for our failures or hold our unworthiness against us.
He is always ready to add new blessings to old ones without finding fault in us for our many shortcomings.
Finally, God promises to answer those who come seeking wisdom.
This wisdom will help us understand why we are facing what we are going through.
It will help us understand how God is using our daily trials to grow us.
Instead of serving as a hindrance, trials present a marvelous opportunity to become wise.
The way we get wisdom is to pray for it.
Whoever asks God for wisdom must believe or have faith and not doubt.
Faith is a complete commitment to God in trusting obedience.
Two reasons to encourage faith are presented here.
First, a doubting person is spiritually unstable like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
Our prayers for wisdom must not alternate between faith and unbelief.
We must endure in the confidence that God will answer our request according to his will.
Second, doubters should not even imagine that God will answer their prayers.
Faith alone opens the door to God’s limitless treasury of wisdom.
Unbelief receives God’s rejection slip which reads, “Request denied due to insufficient faith.”
Let us be careful not to make light of our hesitant faith.
Doubting God is serious business!
Such doubt implies we have a low view of God.
To receive answers from God, you must come to him with the conviction that he gives rewards to those who diligently seek him.
Doubters or double-minded people often sit on the fence of belief.
One moment they are inclined to obedience.
The next they follow their own way.
Failure to endure with faith in prayer is an indicator of the doubter’s general character.
We Learn To Rely On His Resources Vs. 9-11
These verses give examples of trials for two different groups of people and call for both groups to show a right estimate of their trials.
Poor people must not lament their poverty, but must rejoice at God’s bounty in their lives.
The rich must not delight in their wealth, but must find joy in the humility which trials produce in their lives.
Many of James’s readers were likely poor, but some were rich and were trusting in their wealth.
James reminds us in these verses that trials have a remarkable leveling effect.
If you are poor, you should boast in the fact that your circumstances are actually leading you to trust in God;
And in the absence of physical resources, you are driven to boast in your (paradoxically) rich status as a child of God.
On the other hand, if you are rich, be careful.
Trials will remind you that money can’t solve your problems, and all of the stuff you fill your life with can’t cover up your hurts.
One day all that stuff is going to be burned in the fire, and you’re going to have nothing left.
Pastor Greg Laurie of the Harvest churches in California has written a book entitled, “Lennon, Dylan, Alice and Jesus: The Spiritual Biography of Rock and Roll.”
In his book, He says that many of the rock stars he studied "climbed the mountain of fame and found out there was nothing at the top.
They experienced unimaginable success and wealth — and, sadly, so many of them died at an early age, from Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison to Curt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, and most recently [Foo Fighters drummer] Taylor Hawkins and many others."
The pastor said he included "inspiring, redemptive stories of rock icons who turned to God and found redemption and a second chance in life — such as Alice Cooper, who literally was at death's door and could have so easily been another rock star statistic."
If they had only read the book of James they would have known that apart from Christ there is no true joy.
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