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Finding Joy in Strange Places

Destined for Victory / Pastor Paul Sheppard
The Truth Network Radio
September 22, 2021 8:00 am

Finding Joy in Strange Places

Destined for Victory / Pastor Paul Sheppard

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September 22, 2021 8:00 am

How joy differs from happiness; the role trials play in our spiritual development; learning how we should respond properly when trials come our way; based on James 1:1-8.

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When you get saved, go all the way. I'm tired of seeing halfway Christians. You were buckwild in the world, and so you need to be all in for Jesus.

And when you are, He can use your life in a significant way. For years, James was skeptical of his older brother. But when Jesus Christ rose from the grave, the sibling became a servant. Hello and welcome to Destined for Victory with Pastor Paul Shepherd.

Thanks for making this part of your day. Well, James had an up close and personal look at Jesus for his entire life, but not until after the resurrection did he truly believe. He became a passionate leader in the early church, sold out for the cause of Christ, and boldly encouraging others in the faith. Today, Pastor Paul begins a deep dive into the book of James, written to Jewish Christians who have been scattered all over the world by the persecution of the church. Stay with us here or visit to listen to Destined for Victory on demand.

You can also subscribe to our podcast at Google Podcasts or wherever you enjoy yours. Now here's Pastor Paul with today's Destined for Victory message, finding joy in strange places. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 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. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord.

He is a double minded man, unstable in all he does. I want to talk to you from the subject finding joy in strange places. Now, this letter is one of the earlier letters written in your New Testament, and it is written by a man named James. Now, if you study the New Testament, you'll know that there are five different men named James who are spoken of in the pages of the New Testament. But this particular James is the oldest of Jesus' four brothers.

I want you to know that Jesus was the firstborn because he was born of the Holy Spirit through the womb of Mary. But he was not the only born of Mary. So please know that the Lord used her when she was a virgin. She was engaged to be married to Joseph, but they had not been officially united and they had not come together sexually. They were merely betrothed at that point when the Holy Spirit came upon her.

You know that story. Luke chapter one tells you all about it. The angel Gabriel came and announced that God had chosen Mary. Well, after the birth of Jesus and after they were officially married, they were like every other couple. And they had children. So never think Jesus was the only child of Mary.

That's not true. The Bible lets us know that Jesus had four brothers. James is the oldest of the other of the remaining siblings.

In other words, he's the second born son in the family. Interesting thing about James is that he was not a follower of Jesus during the three years of Jesus earthly ministry. He did not come to have faith in who his older brother really was until after the resurrection. So during the years that Jesus was was moving about Galilee and the various regions preaching and teaching and healing and blessing and delivering folks.

During those years, he was not a follower of his brother's ministry. He needed to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus was someone sent from God. And he really didn't come to recognize that until he himself saw Jesus alive after he knew that he was killed on that cross. So the Bible tells us that James is one of the more than 500 people who saw Jesus alive. When you see your brother alive after you know he was dead.

That is shake up your spiritual existence. And that is when James came to faith. And I tell you what, he wasn't an earlier follower, but when he surrendered, he surrendered all the way. And before long, you see James being named among the leaders of the early church in Jerusalem. He came to be one of those people who worked under the auspices of the apostles. He himself wasn't one of the original 12 again, because those were people who had walked with Jesus as well as who witnessed his resurrection. And so he wasn't one of the original 12, but he was later called an apostle. In other words, he was one of those who assumed that title and that responsibility after the church was born on the day of Pentecost. And so he was late to faith, but he gave his whole life to the Lord.

That's what we ought to do. When you get saved, go all the way. I'm tired of seeing halfway Christians. Y'all weren't halfway in the world. What you doing fronting in the church?

You were buck wild in the world. And so you need to be all in for Jesus. And when you are, he can use your life in a significant way. And that's what happened with James. And it also tells you that you shouldn't write off anybody in your family, in your neighborhood, on your job. Don't write anybody off.

Let James be an inspiration, a personal inspiration to you. Don't look at folk and say, well, I don't know, he's been in the world for so long. No, no. One encounter with the resurrected Christ can change their life forever. And you say, but Jesus is back in heaven. He's at the right hand of the Father.

No, no. Just like he revealed himself to Paul on the Damascus road, he can reveal himself to your loved one, to your friend, to the person who doesn't yet know the Lord. And so don't write anybody off. Don't act like anybody is beyond the grip of the Holy Spirit. But go on and share the good news of Christ and pray for them and believe God for their salvation.

Because we're just one encounter away from having our lives changed. So James is the author of this book, the younger brother of Jesus Christ himself. And he says, James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I want you to think for a moment about that introduction. He's introducing himself as he writes this general epistle. Now, this is one of the epistles not written to a particular church, but it was written to saints who had scattered abroad. They are called here those who are scattered. And I want you to know that this is not a reference to a particular group of people, but to God's people who are scattered among the nations. When persecution broke out in the early church, people began to flee from the area of Jerusalem and they established themselves.

They relocated in other places where persecution had not yet broken out. And he's writing a general epistle. And the idea is take this letter anywhere where, you know, groups of saints are gathered and living and read it to them.

It's one of what is called the general epistles because it didn't have a specific church target audience. But I want you to know of all the ways he could have introduced himself. He says, James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. He could have said, James, you know, I'm the brother of Jesus, don't you? He didn't brag about being Jesus' brother. He didn't say James, one of the leaders of the church at Jerusalem, although he was.

James, a highly respected apostle, although he was one of those named apostle after the church was launched. No, he sees himself and he identifies himself as a servant of God. Before I get into the meat of the passage, I want to ask you, how do you identify yourself? Do you identify yourself by what you do? Do you identify yourself by your vocation? Do you identify yourself by your ethnicity? Do you identify yourself by your gender? Do you identify yourself by anything that might be considered a earthly identification?

If you are, you're missing the whole point. And James shows us the best way to look at yourself is as a servant of God. He says, yes, I lead, I lead the church. Yes, a lot of people count on my spiritual guidance, but at the end of the day, I'm not confused about who I am. I am a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I love that about James. It encourages and inspires and reminds me and people like me, hopefully, that at the end of the day, all of us are just God's servants. Yeah, what you do is great. Your activity is great, but your activity is not your identity.

Everybody hear me on that? Your identity is who God is in your life. And if he is your Lord, then you are his servant. That's our identity, no matter what vocation you're in. Some of y'all are big shots on your job. And I'm not just on the job. I'm the supervisor.

I'm the good, wonderful, I'm glad, happy for you. But that's on your job in the kingdom. We're all servants, servants of the most high God. And in James' case, as in my case and many others of us called of God to shepherd and lead God's people, our activity is leader, but our identity is servant. When I teach at pastors' conferences, I try to remind my colleagues because some of them be tripping. Some of these preachers and pastors and bishops and stuff, they are tripping for real. And when I have a chance to be a speaker on a pastors' conference, I tell them, listen, your activity is leader and God calls people to obey you and listen to you because you're representing his word in their lives.

But don't trip. You are identified as a servant. In other words, we are not leaders who serve. We are servants who lead, servants who lead.

And this church is always going to have a pastor who knows the difference between the two. And I'm trying to help some of my other colleagues because some of them got 19 members. Six of them are armor bearers.

I got to help my brothers out. You got 19 members and six of them are armor bearers guarding you. Who they guarding you from? Nobody's shooting at you.

You're tripping because you saw somebody else with armor bearers and all that stuff. No, no, wait your turn. Wait till you're needed before you get that. Anyway, we are all servants of the most high God. And that's how he identifies himself. And then he launches into what he really wants to begin to say to these saints who are scattered. Coming up next, the rest of today's message, finding joy in strange places with Pastor Paul Shepherd, Senior Pastor at Destiny Christian Fellowship in Fremont, California. If you've never stopped by our website,, I invite you to do so when you have some time. You'll find all of Pastor Paul's recent messages on demand. Plus, there's a host of great resources in our online store, including books and DVD messages from Pastor Paul. Learn more about the ministry and all the great things friends like you are doing through your prayers and financial support. That's If you enjoy this program, we know you'll love watching selected video clips by subscribing to Pastor Paul on YouTube.

For more details and links to all of his social media sites, be sure to visit Now, from the book of James again, let's rejoin Pastor Paul Shepherd for the rest of today's destined for victory message, finding joy in strange places. Verse two. Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds. Consider it pure... wait a minute.

He said what? Consider it pure joy, not just be a little happy. Consider it pure, uncut joy whenever you face trials of many kinds. That sounds at first glance like very impractical advice. You know, some folks just give you advice that just doesn't make sense.

You have any of them in your life? You just lost somebody near and dear to your heart and they tell you, don't cry. Shut up. And at first glance, this looks like that kind of information, but it's not because of the word he uses. He doesn't say get thrilled when you're going through trials of many kinds. He says, consider it pure joy. He says, I want you to put a designation on the trials and let them cause you to choose joy. Joy can be chosen. See, happiness typically depends on what happens.

The root of the word has to do with what happens with events. And all of us can be happy and all of us are happy when the right things happen. Get a raise, happy.

Isn't that right? Get a good review on your job, happy. Kids do something good, praiseworthy, happy. Spouse is acting like they really do kind of like you, happy. You know, those kinds of things make us happy. People do nice things for you, say nice things about you, makes you happy.

It depends on what happens. Nothing wrong with happiness. When you can get it, enjoy it. I love happiness. I love Pharrell's song.

You all like Pharrell's song? Happy, because I'm happy. Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof. Because I'm happy. Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth. Because I'm happy. Clap along if you know what happiness is to you. Because I'm happy. Clap along if you feel like that's what you're going to do. I love that song.

Got it in my iPod. Driving down the street, because I'm happy. When you get happiness, grab it.

Hold on to it. But we all know that happiness sometimes fades because of what happens. And so he didn't say choose to be happy when you're going through trials of many kinds. Because trials, there's no direct correlation between trials and happiness, because happiness depends on what happens.

When a trial is happening, it's hard for me to get to happy. So he uses a better word. He says consider it pure joy. You redesignate your response. You choose to have a different response when you're going through trials of many kinds. And he says the choice you make ought to be one of pure joy. And then he tells you why he wants you to make this kind of recalibration.

He says because, because there's a basis for this advice. Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Some of your translations may use the word patience. The Greek word there is hupomone.

You've heard me perhaps preach from passages that use that word that I always pointed out. Because hupomone is a word translated in some patients with some perseverance. I prefer perseverance because patience, it's not that it's a bad word, but our connotation, we often think patience means just sit somewhere and wait. And that's really not what hupomone means. Perseverance means I learn how to joyfully endure things that I cannot otherwise enjoy.

You've got to go through some things that aren't thrilling to you. And hupomone, when we're called in this passage and in others. For instance, in Hebrews chapter 10, you know that passage that tells us you have need of perseverance so that when you've done the will of God, you'll experience what he's promised.

Same word, hupomone. It means you have need of pressing on through the tough stuff. But don't do it with your head down and your belly aching and you're telling everybody a sad story. Hupomone says, go ahead, gird up your loins and push on through what you got to go through. Stop acting like you're a little baby because you're going through a trial.

Gird up yourself and press on through. It says, joyfully endure. Don't say, oh Lord, every time I just come out of one trial, go right into another one.

That's not hupomone, that's moné. No, no. When you experience what James is encouraging us toward here, it means you say, well, this is what I got to go through to get to where God's taken me. So let's just go ahead and push through this. And let's do it with a good attitude and a good disposition and with faith in our heart. And he says, the reason you ought to count it pure joy when you go through trials of many kinds is because they are working to a good end. Now, let's comb through here.

There's some stuff you need to grab. Notice that he doesn't assign the trial to God, to the devil, to the world. He doesn't assign the trials. He says when you go through trials of many kinds, you do know there are many kinds of trials. Some things the Lord personally takes us into. Some trials the Lord will put you in. Other times the trial came because we live in a fallen world among fallen people and bad things happen in this world. That's why I tell these Christians who try to act like earth is always supposed to be like heaven.

No, it's not. We can get tastes of heaven by our authority, by walking in our spiritual authority. We get little tastes of heaven and little blessings, but this will never be where we're going to end up. I tell folks, you will know you're in heaven because you will notice the improvement. Heaven is nothing like this. In heaven, the old saint said no more crying, no more dying, no more sickness, no more trials of various kinds.

None of that stuff. Nobody causing you to cry. Nobody treating you wrong. No prejudice in heaven. No discrimination in heaven. No gender discrimination. Ladies are just as valuable as men in heaven. And all of that, you can get the same crown I can get. But here, you're not going to be paid as much.

They're talking about it all over the news with all the advances they made. Women doing the same work and getting less pay. You know that's not right.

If she's doing the work, give her the money. But we're not in that kind of society. But when you get to heaven, you're going to get equal pay. You're going to get the same crown the brothers get.

Some of y'all are going to get a bigger crown for putting up with the brothers. You know, God never gives us a command that would be impossible to obey. So when he tells us to consider it all joy when we go through various trials, it's because he knows he's already given us the gift of joy as well as the power to choose it. No matter what you may be going through, allow the Holy Spirit to help you choose joy today. It will not only produce endurance, it will draw you into an even deeper, more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

In Psalm 107, King David writes, Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress. Now if you need prayer today, the Destined for Victory ministry team would like to join you in prayer. From the home page at, use the contact feature to let us know how we can pray for you. And while you're there, be sure to ask for Pastor Paul's monthly letter of encouragement, yours at no cost or obligation. Well, we have a great resource to share with you today, a booklet from Pastor Paul Shepherd that goes hand in hand with his message, Junk Removal for the Soul.

All of us have some habits from our old life that we need to set aside so that we can embrace the newness of who we are in Christ. Pastor Paul offers some practical biblical advice about doing just that in this booklet, our gift to you this month by request for your generous gift to Destined for Victory today. Call 855-339-5500 or visit to make a safe and secure donation online. You can also mail your gift to Destined for Victory, Post Office Box 1767, Fremont, CA 94538. Again, that address is Destined for Victory, Box 1767, Fremont, CA 94538. God says when you go through trials of many kinds, consider it joy because when I get through working you out, you're going to have spiritual muscles that you didn't have before, where you used to be weak.

But now I can eat that trial for breakfast. That's next time when Pastor Paul Shepherd shares his message, finding joy in strange places. Until then, remember, he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion. In Christ, you are Destined for Victory.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-20 12:08:33 / 2023-08-20 12:17:13 / 9

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