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December 21, 2009

JAMES: 12.21.2009

Filed under: Old & New Testament — Adam Osborne @ 6:38 pm


When Trials Come – James 1:1-11

When Trials Come

James 1:1-11
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
9 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation,
10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away.
11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

When we look at the Book of James, we can relate it to our preparation for upcoming storms… James is helping the believer prepare for upcoming storms (or trials).
James provides practical instruction for us.
It was written by Jesus’ half-brother.
James is writing to scattered believers (Jewish Christians).

So, what is James teaching us about trials in life?

1) Trials invite joy (1-4).
James starts this Book with one of the strangest exhortation of the Bible… “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” This statement doesn’t seem normal. Really, we are supposed to be joyful when we meet trials?
Note that this statement is for Christians… otherwise, it doesn’t apply. Only Christ can give us the ability to apply verse 2.
James is describing the type of joy we should experience… “all” joy means complete joy. Joy can be defined as a settled contentment… it doesn’t mean happiness. Joy isn’t how we should feel… it should be how we think! James is not asking us to “enjoy” our trials. When we experience trials, we need to have contentment in God.
God has a purpose in our trials. It produces steadfastness! By being tested, we are being refined as gold is refined. The trial is the fire, refining us in sanctification.
Suffering is often ordained by God to make us more holy (you won’t find that in any prosperity gospel).
Some reasons for Godly suffering:
Test the strength of our faith (Deut 13:3-4)
To humble us (2 Cor 12:7)
To wean us from worldliness (Heb 11:24-26)
To call us to eternal and heavenly hope (Rom 8:18-25)
To reveal what we really love (Luke 14:26)
To teach us to value God’s blessings (Ps. 63:3-7)
To strengthen us for greater usefulness (2 Cor 12:10)
To prepare us so we can help others (1 Cor 1:3-6)
Think about it this way… isn’t it awesome that God takes the time to refine us through our trials? God will use various trials to make us more like Christ!

2) Trials demand wisdom (5-8).
Sometimes when in trials, it’s like we’re in a fog… it’s hard to see things… it’s hard to think clearly.
When we often think wisdom, we think about our brains. Instead, wisdom is the application of knowledge. It’s how we live our lives. There is not a day when we will achieve all wisdom. When we are in the midst of a trial, we need to seek wisdom from God. We need to go to Him in prayer! Too often do we immediately pray, “get us out of this”. When we’re seeking wisdom:

A) Know who you are asking. God is the source of ALL true wisdom.
Proverbs 8:22-33
22 “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old.
23 Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
24 When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth,
26 before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world.
27 When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28 when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep,
29 when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30 then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily hisdelight, rejoicing before him always,
31 rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man.
32 “And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways.
33 Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it.
God gives wisdom generously. God’s resources are unlimited. We can trust Him! We are designed in the image of God, and He delights when we come to Him to seek wisdom.
God gives wisdom graciously. We should feel comfortable bringing ALL of our questions to Him. He will never shame or belittle us for asking Him.

B) Know how we should ask.
We need to ask God in faith… no doubting! We need to be approach Him in full confidence that God will provide us with wisdom. We all struggle with our faith. Don’t pray as a doubter. We should never question the character of God.
When we pray in doubt, we pray with conflicting priorities.

3) Trials require perspective (9-11)
Our spiritual standing is not based on our wealth or possessions on this earth. We must not put trust in these worldly possessions.
Both the poor and the rich will experience trials.
This world is temporary. Our trials our temporary… our material possessions are temporary… We need to get to the point of viewing our lives with the right perspective. We must put our hope in Him!

Based on the sermon of Pastor Adam Polk on 9 September 2016

A Warning & A Hope

James 5:1-12
1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you.
2 Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten.
3 Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days.
4 Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.
5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.
6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.
7 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.
8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.
10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
12 But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

American Christians would be surprised to know how much North Korean Christians are praying for them. They pray for us because we have so much and how it straps us to this world. They don’t pray for freedom or money… they pray for Christ! They know how distracting and idolatrous wealth can be.

In James 5, James is warning the rich, and is encouraging the poor. We found two pieces of instruction in these verses:

1) A condemning word. Regardless of if he is talking ABOUT wealthy non-Christians or wealthy Christians, he is writing TO Christians.
We are some of the wealthiest people in the world. This word is for us! We need to be reminded not to put our hope into things of this world, but instead
Is it wrong to be wealthy? NO!

Luke 16:13
13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

1Timothy 6:10
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Deuteronomy 3:18
18 “And I commanded you at that time, saying, ‘The Lord your God has given you this land to possess. All your men of valor shall cross over armed before your brothers, the people of Israel.

Proverbs 10:22
22 The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.

A) The attitude of wealth.
Where is our heart? Is it focused on wealth? Is it focused on worldly treasures? How do we see material things? Do we seek to store more and more?

B) The pursuit of wealth.
What will we do to achieve wealth? Will we take advantage of others? Will we prey on others to achieve success? Would we be willing, at ANY level, to cheat someone for our own benefit? We need to examine our hearts. Do we put ourselves in front of the line, or in the back. Are we willing to use the gifts God has given us to enrich ourselves, or take care of others? We have been called to bless and pursue others.

C) The use of wealth.
As farmers fatten cows prior to the slaughter, the risk fatten their hearts… for their self-indulgence. They would do anything to keep it. They sought wealth solely for their pleasure. Solomon had something to say about this…

Ecclesiastes 2:4-11
4 I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself.
5 I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees.
6 I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees.
7 I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem.
8 I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man.
9 So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me.
10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil.
11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

Solomon had it all… but he realized that it was vanity. God gives us wealth to be a blessing, but also to be a blessing to others.
We regularly take what God gives us and corrupt it.
Consider sex, and how we abuse it.
Consider food, and how we abuse it.
God doesn’t despise wealth, he despises how we corrupt it.

Do we focus on self-advancement? Is that our priority? Do we dwell and focus on it? Will we do anything to get it?

Don’t envy the wealthy… instead be encouraged and satisfied about what God has given us.

2) An encouraging word.

Many of these believers were probably suffering under the ruthlessness of the wealthy land owners. We all need to be patient. Christ will come again for His people.

God is a God of justice. He will see justice fulfilled.

In times of oppression, our eyes should be focused on Christ! We should EAGERLY wait. We should be excited about His coming. Our patience is active!

We often have too many distractions… distractions that takes our hearts and minds away from the promise God has given us.

We need to establish our hearts! As we wait on Christ, He is transforming us! Be excited in the transformation!

For those that put their reliance on worldly things… realize that all things of this world will wash away. Focus on the gift that God gives willingly… the gift that is eternal… the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. His gift is so incredible, it surpasses ANYTHING of this world.

If you find yourself disappointed with the promises of this world, ask God to fulfill His perfect promise in your life!

Based on the sermon of Pastor Adam Polk on 20 November 2016.


Key Verses

  • James 1:5 (NIV)5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
  • James 1:12-14 (NIV) Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.
  • James 1:17 (NIV) Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
    who does not change like shifting shadows.
  • James 1:19-21 (NIV) My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
  • James 1:22 (NIV) Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
  • James 2:10 (NIV) For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
  • James 2:17 (NIV) In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
  • James 3:1 (NIV) Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
  • James 3:9-10 (NIV) With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.
  • James 3:17 (NIV) But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
  • James 4:4 (NIV) You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
  • James 4:7-8 (NIV) Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
  • James 4:11 (NIV) Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.
  • James 4:13-15 (NIV) Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
  • James 5:11-12 (NIV) As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. 12 Above all, my brothers, do not swear–not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.
  • James 5:14-15 (NIV) Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.

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