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June 18, 2021 7:00 pm
Dr. Steve Pettit preaches a message entitled “How Do We Respond in Times of Troubles?,” from James 1:1-5.
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Today's speaker is Dr. Steve Pettit, who served as an evangelist for over 29 years before becoming president of Bob Jones University. Take your Bibles and turn with it please to the book of James. James chapter 1 this morning to look at the first five verses today, but I just want to begin my statement in my message with that which is very obvious but in preaching. One of the most important things that is appreciably obvious and that is that we are we are definitely living in incredibly troublesome times is almost a message you get tired of hearing, but you really need to hear about it because we have to constantly focus our attention back on the Lord. I think of the trouble that were facing today just in health, the threat of covert. I mean, I don't think ever in the history of the school have we had to have so many different meetings about health regulations and protocols and all this going own and we are having to wear a mask. I like to say actually stupid mass because everybody is tired of wearing them. I don't like wearing them anymore than you do but but it's it's there's a reason for that. And of course the. The rise of coven today is significant in in just the last couple weeks I've known a number of people who've gone to be with the Lord who who have passed known at this time because of health issues were living in in great political upheaval times today today as as were speaking now we we have a divided nation, and I think we should say what it is it is is a troublesome time. One person said is not been this bad since the Civil War.
I don't know if that's totally accurate but it will deftly go down in history as a troublesome time the first time a president has been impeached twice in the history of the United States of America and not only do we have issues on the national level and we have issues on state levels and each state is different because of the way each state is led politically and so California is very very different than, for example South Carolina, but there's lots of troubles politically there's there's lots of troubles financially paying the bills what's happening right now in people's lives.
Jobs that are being affected. II think where were facing great disruptions, educationally, as we completed last semester.
We are so thankful to God for the wonderful attitude of our student body and just the way that you reported through surveys and I'm just so deeply thankful for our faculty and staff. But it's weird. I don't ever see our faculty. I hardly ever see our our people except those that work in the world that I'm in and in and we don't even have faculty here will will go almost a whole year. Bob did universe without having our faculty in our chapel meetings.
It's weird to go is where to go to an artist series and the only people that are there students because historically we have hundreds of people, so which it would just living in very troublesome times, educationally, and then I think we have to say. We also were troubled spiritually and I think I think that that for some of you if not many of you probably had troubles over the Christmas holidays spiritually do not try to Mugabe. I feel guilty. I'm just trying to say what it is here we are in in these difficult times and maybe maybe you face some very unusual temptations. Maybe there's been some real struggles in your family.
So I'm sending a set saying all that to say that. So how do we respond in times where there are great troubles. How do we look at this and there's no quick answer that I can give you this morning because troubles go to be here tomorrow just like it is today, but there is a way to think and really spiritual growth actually has to do with the way you look at things the way you change your mentality as I'd like us to look at the mentality of a believer and how he faces the troubled times of life reading this morning from James one James is the brother of Jesus and he's writing to Jewish believers who were basically suffering because they work persecuted. They were driven out of their home in Israel and their literally living as refugees and their living our life of a refugee is a very, very hard and difficult life we we have students that are here at Bob Jones University who come from refugee families who were born in a foreign country and immigrated to the United States of America in the midst of turmoil and trouble and so is writing them he's helping them to think scripturally. The think biblically. The think is a Christian and in the light of God's control. That's what I really want to talk about and that's my heart to you this morning. We read in James one in verse one James a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ to the 12 tribes which are scattered abroad reading my brethren counted all joy when you fall into various trials or diverse temptations we read. Knowing this in the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work or maturing work that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that gives to all men liberally in upgrades not and it shall be given him. So here's what James is doing. He's addressing the nature and the purpose of trials. He's giving us a perspective he's helping us to understand realities.
But in the midst of those realities how God is in control as of the three things I want you to look at Darcy this morning about the nature and the purpose of our trials. The first is that trials actually are things that are really difficult.
So when I can assure you sugarcoat it were not to say I owe everything's really really great when everything really really stinks when things are really hard. He says trials are things that are difficult. The word for trial here we we read where he says counted all joy when you fall into divers temptations the temptation there is not a temptation to do something sinful. Although that is a part of a trial, because in every trial of life there is always a temptation to do something wrong to respond incorrectly but the primary idea of the word trial is something that has come into our life, generally from the outside, something that is outside of normal and it is brought a lot of pressure in my life and therefore it is affecting me internally.
It's affecting my mentality is affecting the way that I feel about things. It's affecting the way I look at life. It is something that is a real pressure and what is it that makes trials difficult will first of all, they are surprising. Notice what he says counted all joy when you fall the word for when has the idea of something that's undetermined you didn't see it coming. You could not pinpoint their libel ahead of time.
You don't look for them, they find you any says you fall into them is like the man on the road to Jericho, who the Scripture says, the story of the good Samaritan and says he fell among the thieves. In other words, they came up on him as he was traveling so when you and I are journeying through life. We fall among these thieves we fall. Among these trapped these troubles in their unexpected there unplanned for but I want to make make it very clear. There also unavoidable. We always think somehow we could avoid a trial and everything will be okay. But the reality is, nobody can avoid them. The Bible says in first Peter. Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial, that is to try you, as though something strange is happened to you. God is not picking on you. I just finished reading in my devotions. Over the last month, the book of Job and and I read it many times, but as you read the Scripture you always see new things because you only see new things in the light of your circumstance.
One of the things that really stuck out to me is in the first 210 chapters of Job.
It basically gives you God's viewpoint on Job's trials. But what is important understand is Job had no idea of what was going on in chapters wanted to we get to the troubles of the with her. He he couldn't see it and we know that God is sovereign. He rules over all, but we don't understand the courts of heaven were not there and Joe found himself in these trials that they came upon him, and of course he encountered them and he did not see them coming. So there always surprising. Secondly, trials always are long. The Bible speaks of the season. He says wherein you greatly rejoice.
First Peter 16, though now for a season if need be, you are in having us do manifold temptations. Your distress for a period of time in the Bible is clear that trials do not last forever, even in the book of Job, we know that Job's trials because if you read the beginning and the end you know that they did last forever. But sometimes when you're in the middle of them. It feels like it's forever you know when you do things that you enjoy, you never have enough time to do what you enjoy when you're doing things you don't enjoy everything seems to be long in a trial seems in the time to always be long and that's what makes them very difficult.
These are things that you're having to live with things that you're having to adjust to 5 1/2 weeks ago I went into surgery. People often ask me how you doing I had some I asked this morning how you doing and I said I'm adjusting Jesus.
I am adjusting adjusting and I having to live with some new normals. I'm having to do things today but I did have to do 5 1/2 weeks ago, and to be frankly honest with you, you kind of wondering when am I gonna get back to normal. We always are looking for normal, when in reality were always having to face a new normal. Something that we didn't expect. And these things often last a long time but one of the reasons they last for a while is they last long enough to change you know anything that's hard for a day you can get over it. You can get through it, but something that lasts for a period of time, and I don't know how long that time is but is probably longer than what you want to do.
That's long enough for God to change you. So these trials are long. These trials are surprising and then to be honest with you. These trials are truly hard when the Bible says you fall into divers temptations. He's talking about things you have to stick out you have to endure it. Sometimes I have to sit through meetings here at Bob Jones University and to be frankly honest with you I have to endure the yes that is true.
I have to endure meetings if they only lasted five minutes that would be great. But after two hours they get really old and you and I all have to end do more things Paul received a foreign in the flesh. Any praying for God to take away company times that he pray for God to take away. Not once, not twice but three times and you know the Lord said, I'm not gonna take your trial away.
I'm not going take the thorn in the flesh away.
But what I'm going to do is to give you something better.
I'm going to teach you how to learn to live by grace and let me just stop here and say this that all of us here are learning to hit have to live by grace. Grace means this. I am weak but God is strong.
Grace means I don't feel like I can do this but with God. I can do all things through him the strength and if me.
You are learning to live by grace.
And that's one of the great important things that you learn that what the Bible says is this my grace is really sufficient for you, but I will tell you this. You don't learn that the first day of trial comes in your life. I'm learning things right now that are are some of the hardest things that I've ever had to learn in my life but I know this. I know in my head.
God's grace is sufficient, but to get it from my head to really living it out on daily basis is what makes it a struggle. So trials number one, or difficult trials number two are diverse and this is what he says in verse two counted all joy when you fall into diverse are diversified trial. We understand that in the business world. You can sort of diversified things financially. You've probably heard that in in your classes will trials are diversified fact is the word here in the Greek has the idea of many colors, multiplied colors, and we know that there's a difference between the color blue and red. There different so there different trials that come in our lives. Paul mentions those trials in second Corinthians 12, he talks about five different trials we face the first trial is an infirmity. That's a physical problem. The second trial is verbal that that's that's a reproach that would speed people speak against you.
The third trial is a necessity that's financial. The fourth trial is the spiritual try. Where were persecuted for our faith in the fifth trial is called a distressing time calamity in the Bible calamities in distressing times came because of one of four reasons a war of famine and disease and pestilence. And you can read the Scripture and and what creates distressing times in a culture it's it's those things and obviously for some viruses created a distressing time and so Paul is of James is telling us that these trials are diverse and they're not just diverse in the kind of trials that we encounter in the responses they invoke out of our life.
In other words, just like there different colored trials.
There's also different colored responses because a trial squeezes us and it brings things out of us like let's take just different colors like the color red which represents anger you get mad or listing the color yellow that creates all kinds of fears because yellow is often the color used to represent or have a green the green with envy and jealousy or listing the color blue, the idea of depression or discouragement or maybe the color black, like darkness or confusion. Have you been through a trial recently where you're actually a little confused is why this is happening or what is it that God's doing in my life and this doesn't really make sense to me and I don't really understand you see diverse trials affect us in diverse ways and that's why God takes these trials in our lives and uses them individually to really work in our lives and what we see here is where getting a glimpse as to what's really going on in a trial. Why are we going through the trials because God is bringing out of us the things that are inside of us just like he you squeeze it to to get the toothpaste out so God puts us under pressure and what is he draw out of us.
He's drawing out of us to think number one.
He is drawing out of us. The evil of our own hearts those evil sinful emotions. I would say those in maturities those those things of how I want my life to be my expectations and I don't get what I want and I get upset. God is drawing all of that out. First of all, the show is ourselves. But secondly he's also drawing out of us because we believers are faith because when you go through trials you feel dependent when you go through trials you read your Bible and you suddenly see things you've never seen before. It's the two things working together both your own immaturity and at the same time your own faith in God so trials to show us things about ourselves and trials show us things about God and God's. This is why it's so important you see this and you understand it now.
Let's be honest when you're in the middle of it. You kind of thrown upside down and you actually struggle with your emotions put your faith hasn't left you trying to figure out how it all goes together.
And that leads me to my third point and that is that trials are not only difficult and diverse but trials truly are designed by God. This is God's work for.
He says here in verse three. Knowing this understanding this, that the trying of your faith is working something, let me just say that in general, a trial is developing you in the spiritual maturity you're growing up, you're having to put on your big boy pants you're having to mature immaturity in life is very very difficult and you cannot be spiritually moderate to poor and emotionally immature at the same time. So, for example. Oftentimes, people I like, I can say this here in Chapel. Many students come to chapel and they sit there and they drink in NY because of thirsty others come to chapel and they actually don't take anything in. Because they're not very thirsty. And when God takes us through a trial. He is creating within us as a believer of spiritual hunger a spiritual first, I need God. I need God to work in my life and so these trials are designed by the Lord to grow us, and spiritually mature us and and how is this working when you go to a trial. The first thing you begin to sense is your you're living in a different reality that I say this what you all understand this you go into a sick but say when you get sick going to a sick zone. I mean if your student here Bob Jones and suddenly find yourself testing positive for Covidien. You have to be isolated.
We are being isolated from the rest of the student body.
So you're in a different zone a different world and that's what happens when we go through trials, trials take us in it different it's it's like a different zone and our emotions are upset in their and their affected by this. In trials are touching our expectations.
What we want and it's in that moment. I'm learning how to surrender to God. I'm learning to say God I'm taking my expectations and I'm giving them to you to be transparent and share this with you. One of the biggest one struggle that I faced over the last 5 1/2 weeks after surgery. Is this that all of my life. All of my life with with just rare exceptions, I I hadn't been in the hospital for any other than the visit sick people. I hadn't been in the hospital for 46 years. My wife says my endurance level as far as work is concerned is she calls me a horse.
She said Steve you're a horse and you just go my work schedule has been since I've been the president is between Sunday morning and Tuesday night I worked in the reason why is because most the time I'm traveling and going various places and then there's Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday since she's been there Wednesday Thursday Friday and Saturday and and is okay as it's on the I don't not try to do more than I ought to do is just as is the way of live and I'm having to adjust to some new normals and I would like to get back to normal, but nobody is guaranteed normality and what it teaches you is to surrender to God you don't know this but one of the hardest things of life, and your learning.
This is you have expectations and there things that you want and what God is bringing in your life are the circumstances to teach you to want him more than what you so how do I respond in faith, the trials we finish this morning I went just just tell you what James tells you number one the first thing you need to do is you need to count it all joy. Notice what he says in verse two, count it all joy when you fall in trials that would assist me only think of joy is an emotional thing when you go to trial. You don't don't feel joyful so it's a matter of the choice that will it's a matter of changing your mentality. It is saying God, things don't look bad.
That means usually God, things don't look really good and that's why am so excited because your good and your working and I don't understand, but I know this that when I read the book of Job. When I read the beginning when I read the middle and when I read the end. I know that the end he was blessed greater than he wasn't in the end result of the book of Job is seeing the blessing in the goodness of God folks I want tell you something, God is good, even when things look bad, count it all joy. It's a matter of faith. Secondly he says stay under the trial. Knowing this, the trying of your faith is working endurance or patients or state is called sticking with it and let patience have its maturing work. In other words, as you go through this and you stick it out it's gonna bring in your life, spiritual and emotional maturity.
So here's what he saying saying stay with and I'd like to add another's statement here and that is this that you always when you're in these difficult times. You just keep moving forward. Do the next best thing. Now I can't see way down the road, but I can take the steps today and we all lived there. We need to keep moving forward.
In some cases, the worst thing for you to do is to do nothing. It's the run back to what I think is a state of normalcy. I run all my II hi I get away and I want to go back where I can. I can just just be comfortable and that's not what God wants you want you to keep moving forward. Three out of actually all of all four of my children have been deeply impacted by Cove 90 and all form in the realm of their job. Their work have a daughter who lost a years worth of work. She was leading to yours in Israel through a school there. I have a son-in-law who is a law urine. These an outstanding lawyer, but because of COBIT. It affected his job.
I have a son who graduated from Bob Jones in cinema. He was in the film world, and the film world shut down my youngest son got just got married and they had plans to go to Israel and they were to work.
There is a school in Israel shut down the nail. They lost all my kids lost everything and you know what, where, when you gonna get a job in the midst of COBIT how how easy is that you arty know how struggling and they've all had to change and you know what they've done. They had to almost reinvent themselves by daughter. My oldest daughter decided to work, get a doctorate degree but you know they've all done. What's at least will all for the kids done this with three out of the four specifically have shifted to go in the stocks in their investing in stocks is like a whole new world for it is become the family thing. It's even get they got me involved and you know I go up and down. I'm not that good and I don't have the time because the opportunity to make and sell you nominal and a dumb meeting and I can't do it but but but the point of the matter is we kept moving forward.
That's what you have to do. Don't stop and finally number three. Ask God for his wisdom when you're asking God for wisdom, let limiting what you're asking for. The Bible says God's ways are not our ways in God's thoughts are not our thoughts. In other words, he saying none of us here really think like God and none of us really want to go in the way of God. Naturally, we don't even know the way of God. But here's what Gotto do if you'll ask him. He'll give you the right way to think in the right way to respond in the day and age were living in.
And you know what, who knows who knows what God is wanting to do through the trial to give you the wisdom of how you should live and how you should do what you and this should cause all of us that when things are bad as Christians. Actually, it's a great time because God loves us.
He's not going to forsake us.
We are his children. We are written in his book in heaven. He is, we are already conquerors. We are already winters. We are already victors of the battle and felt we've already won.
And so what is it God think you're going to do to accomplish your will. That's this is a part of the mindset and element to say this, we finish this is not natural and it takes time. Give yourself some room to grow. You're not a failure because you struggle, it's just the way it works.
But God is faithful. This is my hope for all of you this semester to grow in the wisdom of the Lord as you face the trials that you're experiencing and you learn of the greatness and the goodness of our God. Let's all stand together as we pray. Father, we thank you so much that you are faithful and unchanging.
Your ways are not our ways and your thoughts are not our thoughts. Lord, we don't think like you and we deafly don't go the way that we ought to go in yet Lord, you faithfully directed redirected Lord you you you constantly are are working and so Lord bless each student. Each young man, each young lady, Lord, help them not to run from you.
Help them not to give in to their sinful emotions but help them Lord to live by faith and trust you. In Jesus name, amen. You been listening to a sermon preached by Dr. Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University. We hope you'll join us again next week as we study God's word together on The Daily Platform