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Here Comes Trouble, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
January 18, 2024 9:00 am

Here Comes Trouble, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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January 18, 2024 9:00 am

The Book of James takes the lofty doctrines of the gospel and brings them down to earth. You can’t read James without being confronted, and Pastor J.D. Greear continues introducing us to one of the most practical books of the Bible in this teaching called “Here Comes Trouble.”

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Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. James says it is only when you lean all your confidence onto him that you're going to get any help from him. The only kind of faith that's going to get you through a severe trial, the only kind of faith that's going to get you over that vertex, the only kind of faith that's going to get heaven's help is the faith that leans all of its weight on God.

Is that what you're doing? Welcome back to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch, and we are so glad that you're back with us today. We're continuing the first part of a brand new teaching series through the book of James. What I love about James is how it takes the lofty doctrines of the gospel and brings them down to earth. You can't read James without being confronted by God while at the same time being given practical steps to obey and follow him deeper.

It steps on your toes at times, gets right to the heart of the issue, but with a roadmap alongside. Sounds like what we all need, right? Today, we'll see how James instructs us to hold onto our hope in God's goodness in the midst of life's troubles. Let's rejoin Pastor J.D. where we left off yesterday in James chapter one. James is going to give you three commands that you are to heed when you go through a trial. Those commands are about perspective, patience, and prayer.

Here's number one, perspective. Verse two, he tells us, count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, joy is not a feeling that overcomes you. Joy is a byproduct of believing the promises of God in the midst of great pain. You may feel the same, but in the promises of God, listen to this, your heart and your mind elevate to a peace and joy above your feelings because you are overcoming the world. God has not called you to a joy in the world, but to a joy that overcomes the world, which leads to the second command.

Number two, patience. In patience, James says, let steadfastness have its full effect that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. There is a part of Christian maturity that can only come through pain, through darkness, and through unanswered questions. The question is, do you want to know God more than you want to avoid pain? If so, then you will count it joy when you go through trials and you will patiently let steadfastness have its full effect. Instead of getting bitter, you're going to turn to God and say, God, this is joy because this is how you can produce Christ in me, which leads me to the third command, and that command is prayer. If any of you lacks wisdom, James says, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach. We'll come back to that. And it's going to be given to him.

Hey, I got good news for you, brothers and sisters. God will help you. God will give you the wisdom, the direction, the insight, and whatever other resources your soul needs for this to make you better and not better.

But there is a condition and it is a very important condition. Verse six, 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. That person should not suppose that he or she will receive anything from the Lord because that's a double minded man and they are unstable in all their ways. What James is saying is that when you go through trials, you can't hedge your bets. Tony Evans, the pastor, says that a lot of us have a mutual fund approach to trust in God.

Here's what he means by that. If you've ever invested in the stock market, you know a mutual fund is a way of spreading out your investment risk. Instead of putting all your money into one company, which could either go really good or really bad, a mutual fund spreads out your investment over dozens and hundreds of companies so that if one of those companies fails, you will make it up with the others.

You may not get the spike, you know, that you would get if you just put all your chips on one company, but it's a way of mitigating your risk. That is fine as an investment strategy, but it will not work in your relationship with God. If you're going to receive any help from God, you've got to lean all your confidence in him and do things his way. Some of you look at me and you're like, well, God's not helping me in my situation. Well, my first question to you is going to be, have you leaned all your hope into him? Because if not, you should not suppose that you will receive anything from the Lord because you are di-psychos. You are di-psychos with God.

It is full of trust or it is nothing. Now, when I say you lean all your weight on God, do I mean that you're doing absolutely nothing to fix your problem? Like if you pray for healing, then you should not go to the doctor? No, I am not saying that. God expects us to be active in solving our problems, but there is a way of doing that and being active that is still fully dependent on God.

And it would always show up in two ways. The first way it shows up if you're very active, but dependent on God is you're leaving the ultimate outcome of the situation to him. And when you lay your head on your pillow at night, you are at rest because ultimately God's in charge of your problem, not you. And then the second quality, if you're being active while dependent on God, is that you refuse to step outside of God's will to get things done.

James says, it is only when you lean all your confidence onto him that you're going to get any help from him. Here's a word picture I've used over the years to illustrate this. When I was in high school, some friends of mine and I got into rock climbing and rappelling. Now, both rock climbing and rappelling, they both involve scaling a rock face and ropes. But with rock climbing, you're moving up and down the mountain by means of your arms and your legs, and the rope serves as basically your safety line. But in rappelling, you have transferred all of your weight off of your arms and your legs onto the rope. Well, the first time this little group of four friends of mine and I got into rock climbing five, five of us total, decided to go rappelling, one of the guys in our group claimed that he knew how to do it. Now, looking back, I can tell you with full certainty, he had no idea what he was talking about.

And it is a genuine New Testament miracle that I'm standing up here in front of you today. But at 16 years old, your safety standards just aren't as high. All right. At any rate, when we got up to the top of this rock face, my friend asked for a volunteer who wanted to go first. That should have been my first clue that he did not know what he was doing because he didn't want to go first. He wanted one of us to go first.

Somehow I got nominated in the group to go first. And so I hooked into the blade system or whatever. And I remember that incredible moment when he told me to lean back over the edge on this rock face and just fall backwards. Y'all, it felt like the most unnatural thing in the world. You were leaning backwards into what feels like a headlong plunge into certain death.

Before leaning my weight back, I stood there, it was at least a minute, which I know doesn't sound like a long time, but just standing there terrified for your life, it's a long time. And I stood there for a solid minute just asking myself, why are you doing this? Why are you doing this?

I prayed and asked Jesus to come into my heart again. Right? Right? Just have all my bases covered. My friends are all cheering me on. I'm quite confident that if my manhood had not been on the line, there is no way that I would have done it, but it was on the line. And so I just kind of held my, closed my eyes and was like, well, I can't be, you know, I thought it was a girly man. So I just leaned back and I leaned back. And I remember when the rope caught me and my expert friend looked relieved. I was like, you know, like, what do you know? Then I summed up all my courage, y'all.

I mean, just all my courage. And I leap with all my might. And I moved down maybe two inches.

It's like, you know, right down. And then I did it again with a bigger jump and then a bigger jump. Sooner enough, I was at the bottom. Well, my best friend, best friend at the time, he was second in line behind me. And he was even more scared of heights than I was. From 75 feet below, I could see him. I could see him shaking. Now, one thing about my best friend, he was better looking than I was. He was more athletic than I was, more popular with the girls than I was.

So I hated this kid, but he was my best friend in the whole world. And so it was with great delight, great delight that I saw how scared he was. I mean, you know, again, from 75 feet, I can see his knees shaking. He must've stood there, y'all, for 10 minutes, trying to work up the courage to lean back. And after about 10 minutes, he held the rope, saw him hold the rope really tight. He stretched one foot back and found a little place on the rock. Then he found another, and he began to shimmy his way down the face of the rock. Now, was he rappelling?

No. He was climbing down the rock, using the rope as a safety line. And there is a world of difference between rappelling and climbing with the rope as a safety line. To really rappel, you gotta transfer all your trust to the rope.

Well, here's the thing. There was a point in this rock wall where the rock face quit going at this angle and kind of sort of curved and went back at this angle. And ain't nobody, ain't nobody strong enough to climb upside down. So when my friend got to that point on the rock wall, he hovered for a few minutes in indecision, looking for a foothold, and then he just climbed back up.

Let that vertex in the rock wall, let that represent a trial in your life. And in that trial, it gets revealed whether you're really trusting God with your life, leaning all your weight on him, or whether you're using him as a safety net while you hedge your bets with other things. James says the only kind of faith that's going to get you through a severe trial, the only kind of faith that's going to get you over that vertex, the only kind of faith that's going to get heaven's help is the faith that leans all of its weight on God.

Is that what you're doing? Y'all listen, Jesus repeatedly warned that there would be times when it feels like God is not responding to your prayers. I know some of you pray and it feels like nothing's happening.

You think, well, this is just me. I bet JD didn't ever feel that way. I bet the really spiritual people in my small group bet they don't feel that way.

No, we all feel that way. Y'all know that Jesus told a parable because he knew we felt that way. Luke 18 one says, Jesus told them a parable to the effect that they should always pray and not lose heart. He knew sometimes we were going to pray and we would lose heart because it felt like nothing was happening and nobody was listening. And then Jesus proceeds to tell a story about a woman who wants justice from this old, crooked, cranky, uncaring judge.

So she keeps asking and asking and asking and asking. And through her relentless request, the judge finally relents and gives her what she asked for. The point of that parable, of course, is not to compare God to an unjust judge and imply that he is crooked or uncaring. It is to contrast God with one.

And the point is, if even a corrupt judge gave this woman justice because of her relentless persistence, how much more will God see that our persistent prayers get answered also? Did you know that the Bible says that God collects two things of yours? He collects two things. Number one, your tears, and number two, your prayers. Psalm 56 six says, you have kept count of my tossings and you have put my tears in your bottle. Every tear you've ever wept in any trial you've ever had, your heavenly father has kept those in a bottle. And he's kept your prayers too.

I love this scene from the book of Revelation. And the 24 elders fell down before the lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are what? Those golden bowls are filled with the prayers of the saints. For years and years and years and years, the saints have prayed. You and me have prayed. We prayed for justice. We prayed for help.

And sometimes it felt like we were being ignored. But God had heard every single one of those prayers, and he kept them all in those golden bowls. God has treasured up every prayer we have ever uttered, even the ones we've forgotten.

And he's still weaving their fulfillment, bending history in the direction of a great yes to you and to me. In fact, when God brings the final restoration of the earth, you've probably never seen this. When God brings the final restoration of the earth, it starts with those golden bowls filled with prayers just being turned over. Revelation 8, and another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer. And he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne. And the smoke of the incense with the prayers of the saints rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer, and he filled it with fire from the altar, and he threw it down onto the earth.

And there were peals of thunder and rumblings and flashes of lightning and an earthquake. Every prayer you pray, God puts into a bowl. There are these bowls in heaven that are just brimming with cries for healing and for justice and restoration and vindication. Some of them are prayers that I've prayed. A lot of times God answers our prayers right now, but sometimes God delays, and you pray for 30 or 40 years before getting an answer.

You pray and you pray and you pray for that prodigal, and it's 30 years before God takes that bowl, and he turns it over and he brings them home. And sometimes you die without receiving the answer, and you think God has ignored you, but he's kept every single one. And the final restoration of the earth begins with God giving a categorical and unequivocal yes to all those prayers that we and every other saint have prayed since the beginning of history. God has not missed a single one that you've ever prayed, and Revelation 8 tells you that there is coming a moment where God answers yes to all of them. In the end, every prayer of a believer is an answered prayer. Not one tear you shed or one prayer you've ever prayed has God missed, and soon he is coming with redemption for all of them.

In the end, every prayer of a believer is an answered prayer. You're listening to Summit Life with Pastor JD Greer. I wanted to take a quick break here to sing the praises of a very special group of people, our gospel partners. This team gives so generously and faithfully to Summit Life each and every month.

It's not an exaggeration to say that they are the financial fuel behind everything we do, including broadcasting this program every weekday. We call them gospel partners because that's exactly what they do. They are actually partnering with us to help make the gospel known around the globe. And this month we're sending each of our faithful givers a set of our scripture memory cards for 2024 to help internalize God's word. This ministry couldn't exist without our gospel partners, and it's always a privilege to say thank you with our specially curated featured resource each month. To give a one-time gift or to join us as a monthly gospel partner, as well as get your scripture memory cards, call us right away.

The number is 866-335-5220, or you can visit us online at jdegreer.com. Now let's get back to today's teaching. Once again, here's Pastor JD. So James's question is, are you going to approach God without doubting? You're going to approach God with that kind of confidence? In the midst of all the chaos of your life, are you going to hold on to the character of God like I held on to that rappelling rope?

James 1-5, one more time. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God. Who gives generously? By the way, in Greek it says literally there, ask the giving God. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask the giving God who gives generously to all without reproach.

Without reproach means without condemnation or shame or disapproval. You come to God and you're like, I got this problem, and you feel like you were the one that created the problem. God didn't wag his finger and lecture you about all the ways that you got yourself in this mess. He responds with tenderness and generosity like I do one of my kids when they're hurt. One of my daughters comes home with a broken heart after being betrayed by a friend or treated meanly by some boy. I don't respond with a life lesson about how she should have better protected herself. If there's a life lesson in there for her, we'll get to that later. For now, all I want to do is give her comfort and help and go find that person who hurt them and punch them in the face, right?

But the point is my girl has a broken heart, and I want to help. This is what God does when he comes to us in the midst of our pain and our mess. By the way, I love that phrase. He gives to all. I love words like all in the Bible because he's trying to say, I know you think you're the exception.

You're not all. No matter who you are, what you've done, no matter how you've messed your life up, no matter how complicated you've made this, no matter how much of the problem you're in is really your fault, the giving father radiates with openness and love and a readiness to help. Is that how you think about God when you pray to him?

One of the old Christian mystics, her name was Julian of Norwich. She used to ask, when you pray, this is a great question, when you pray, what expression do you see on God's face? Is it an expression that's stern and serious? Is it an expression that's stern and serious, kind of angry, kind of condemning? Maybe when you pray, you see a God that is kind of aloof and disinterested.

Look in the other direction, paying attention to much more important things as you're desperately trying to get his attention. Or is it that when you pray, you see the face of a friend turn towards you full of inviting and happiness and peace and comfort? When you pray, see the God that is presented here in James 1-5, because seeing God that way will enable you to persevere through this trial with patience and even count it as joy.

Y'all, I said it before, I'll say it again. Every biblical hero in the midst of what felt like God's absence and silence came to a point where they defiantly and rebelliously and boldly said, I choose trust. I choose trust because this God whom I'm praying is not a God who looked down lawfully and apathetically on my pain from heaven. He is a God who entered into my pain. He looks at those in pain from level ground.

He went to a cross. He suffered with me in my pain so that he could redeem me from my pain. This is not a God who is powerless in the face of disease or death or defeat. This was a God who was driven by disease and death and defeat into a grave. But then three days later, he burst out of that grave victoriously with a promise to do the same for me. So I choose trust.

I choose trust. I want to close. I want to close by sharing the story of a woman named Emily who actually lived out James 1. I actually do not know this woman personally, but she was kind enough to share these thoughts from her journal. I want to read you a couple of pages from her journal.

It's totally worth it. Okay. She says, here's your first journal entry. If you had asked me what I was thankful for before September, I would have said that I was thankful for my family, my home, my job, for a husband who loves and cares for me, for four children aged 14, 11, 9, and 5 who are healthy and happy.

I would thank him for a home that I never dreamed that I could have, for a career that I love that allows me to work from home and for a good and generous God who has provided me all these things regardless of my unworthiness. In September, though, completely out of the blue, my husband left me and our four children for somebody else who left her husband and two children as well. This other family were friends of ours.

We vacationed with them on three separate occasions. I thought this woman was my friend. When she and my husband betrayed me, my heart died within me.

This couldn't be happening. My Christian husband, the one who had assured our kids that while divorce does happen in this messed up world, it would never happen to us, that we had made a covenant, a promise to God and to each other. No matter what, we will always be here for each other and for them. This is the man that was leaving. I asked what he was going to tell the kids, and he said he didn't know. I told him, you can't just leave without telling the kids something.

Surely, I thought this would hit him. He wouldn't be able to look at these precious children and tell them that he was leaving, but he did. He called them back downstairs out of bed and told them that he was leaving.

They didn't understand. Was this for work? When will you be back, Daddy?

No, kids. I'm moving out not to come back anymore. He left.

We were crushed. God, is this really your plan? How could this be your will for our lives?

I know. I know that you will heal my heart. I know that something good will come from this, but how? I've never been so angry. Our poor children are suffering terribly. Their fathers once come before their needs. He says, I still love my kids.

Really? How can you love them and cause them such pain? Next journal entry, four months later. God is beginning to heal me in a way that I'm not sure I want to be healed. I want to see justice, but I know it's not mine to inflict. I'm beginning to try to pray for him and not just about him. Praying for him to come back, not to me, but back to God. I have to forgive him to get through the bitterness, but how am I going to make it?

God says, pray, so I do. I'm praying for a miracle for him to snap out of this and to find his way back home, but I'm also moving forward now without him. Final journal entry, six months later.

It's now been six months. My situation has gotten worse, and yet I feel truly blessed. My husband's still gone, still with his girlfriend. He's told me that they will be a part of our kids' lives, and I need to get used to that and not hate her.

He told me that if she is my enemy, then I am his. My kids are still dealing with the impact that their daddy left. They're depressed, they're angry, they're confused, and they're frustrated. My oldest has started questioning his faith. He is rebelling against all authority.

He's lashing out at his family. My house is up for sale, a short sale which could probably turn into a foreclosure, and yet, and yet in the midst of all this, I've come to know God on a different level. To see God work in a way that I'd only ever heard about, to experience this is quite amazing. I've never had a big tragedy in my life, never really had to fully rely on God. I mean, sure, I prayed and I saw God work, but not like this. Before, when I needed God's comfort, the image in my head was me clinging to Jesus and him hugging me.

My image now is me completely collapsed and him carrying me, and it is awesome. Here's my question for you. Can you trust God like that? Can you embrace the mystery and hold on to the goodness of God in the midst of this trial?

Listen, I know I'm talking to some people in here right now that you're in a trial. Maybe you need the wisdom that James is talking about. The command is to pray.

Or maybe you need the Spirit's resources to persevere. Good news, friend, you've got a generous, giving God who stands here today without reproach. He's not up here to give you a lecture, to whack his finger at you and tell you all the things you did wrong. He is ready to receive you and to help you, for you to turn over control to him and say, God, I'm here. He is ready to help. He is ready to save to the uttermost those who come to him. Why don't you come and why don't you ask God for that kind of help? If any of you lack wisdom or resources or anything else, come and let him ask of God who will give generously to all without reproach. It will be fully given to you. Let prayer be your first act of declaring, I choose trust.

And you know what? Our team at J.D. Greer Ministries would be honored to pray with you and for you. You can always send us a prayer request at this email address, requests at jdgreer.com.

I'd like to tell you a bit more about our featured resource that we're offering this month. It's a handy set of 52 scripture memory cards. If you want to carry God's promises in your heart, these new Summit Life memory verse cards make it easy and convenient to memorize scripture.

It's a whole new set of verses for 2024 that we're committing to our hearts and minds. The suggested donation is $35 or more. Call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or you can give online at jdgreer.com. That's jdgreer.com. By the way, if you haven't checked out Pastor JD's newest podcast called Ask Me Anything, you'll want to do that today.

You'll want to do that today. Pastor JD gives quick, honest answers to tricky questions, and you can find it online at jdgreer.com or through your favorite podcasting app. I'm Molly Vidovitch inviting you to join us next time as we dive into our second message from the book of James called Shaky Foundations and Deadly Off-Ramps.

Don't miss it. Friday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-18 10:18:36 / 2024-01-18 10:29:40 / 11

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