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1022. Wisdom in the Midst of Trials

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
June 29, 2021 7:00 pm

1022. Wisdom in the Midst of Trials

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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June 29, 2021 7:00 pm

Dr. Steve Pettit continues a series entitled “Wisdom from Above,” with a message titled “Wisdom in the Midst of Trials,” from James 1:1-5.

The post 1022. Wisdom in the Midst of Trials appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina.

The school was founded in 1927 by the evangelist Dr. Bob Jones Sr. His intent was to make a school where the focus would be on Christ, so he established daily chapel services. Today, that tradition continues with fervent biblical preaching from the University Chapel Platform. Today on The Daily Platform, Dr. Steve Pettit is continuing a study series entitled Wisdom from Above, which is a study of the book of James. This study was preached in chapel to the Bob Jones University student body during the first few months of 2020. However, due to COVID-19, the student body went home, but they continued to take classes online and Dr. Pettit decided to continue preaching the James series through livestream chapel services. Today's message is entitled Wisdom in the Midst of Trials. As always, you're invited to follow along in the study booklet that Dr. Pettit has written for this series.

You can order a printed copy from the website, thedailyplatform.com. Well, I thought it would be appropriate this morning to go back and take a step back. We have not been in chapel for at least three weeks. Our theme this semester is Wisdom from Above, and we really haven't been able to work through the passage of Scripture over these last three weeks.

So I think it would be helpful this morning to just simply do a review. We'll go back over more or less the last six or seven messages, and then we'll set us up for the next three weeks that will follow as we'll study through and finish our series here on the Wisdom from Above. I'd like to read this morning from the book of James chapter one, verses one through five, very familiar passage, but I think as we read it, of course, we'll have fresh eyes and new insights and hopefully a deeper understanding of the word of God. James 1, verse 1 says, James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations, knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. The author of this book is obviously a fellow named James. It is the brother of Jesus, the half-brother of Jesus, and he is writing this book at a very interesting time. It was written about 49 AD, which means it's actually the first of 27 books in the New Testament that were written.

So to me, it's very interesting. This is the first book that, this is the first inspired writings in the New Testament. And then we come to James chapter 1, verse 1 and verse 2, and we discover that the very first thing that James addresses is the issue of trials or pressures in the life of a believer.

How practical is that? And James, as he is writing this letter, is writing to his own people. James was the lead pastor of the church of Jerusalem. And in Acts chapter 8 and verse 1, right after the stoning of Stephen, we find that there was a massive disruption in the church of Jerusalem because the people came under persecution, and they were driven from their homes, and they were spread out in what we would call a dispersion. And the simplest way that I could say it is this, that their whole life had been completely disrupted, and James as their pastor was trying to lead them through this crisis.

Well, that's pretty practical for us. Here we are, we are humming along this semester. We had a great Bible conference on the God of all comfort. We've been studying wisdom from above, and all of a sudden we've been thrown into a situation where actually we are experiencing, at least in some ways, not completely, but in some ways, the same things that these early disciples in the New Testament experience. So God is putting us in a place where we are practically learning to live out God's truth.

I look at this situation that we're here in today as what Paul says in 2 Corinthians chapter 12 verses 9 and 10. When he says that he glories in his tribulation because when he is weak he is strong, and he lists out various ways in which we're suffering. He talks about infirmities, which are physical problems. He talks about distresses, which are actually national issues.

And so in one way we're experiencing right now infirmities with sickness, or we're experiencing at the same time these distressing times because of a pestilence or because of a plague that has come upon our country. So he's writing to these individuals, and he views them as brothers in the Lord Jesus Christ, brothers and sisters. So who is his audience? Well I already mentioned they were believers in trials.

They were suffering. And James opened up, as he opens up, and he calls them his brothers. In fact it is later throughout the book, he calls them either brethren or beloved brethren, and he focuses his attention on his deep love for them as a part of the family of God. If you're like me, for the last three weeks I've had church at home. And to be honest with you, I don't like church at home. Because the church is a called out assembly. It's a group that's meeting together. And I posted this on my Twitter yesterday as I thought about what it's going to be like when we all come back to our churches, and maybe it's going to be another two or three or four or five weeks.

We really don't know. But as time goes along and absence makes the heart grow fonder, I'm thinking that when we come back together it's going to be an explosion of praise and worship and thanksgiving to God. And I thought about what is that going to be like when we all get to heaven? And we all worship around the throne of God, where we see the Lamb of God, who God has put his love in our hearts, and one day we will see him with our eyes. When James wrote this book, it was really a first century 101 manual for Christian living. And what he says in this book is pretty simple and straightforward. It's not primarily focused on doctrine, though doctrine is throughout the book. It's actually focused on Christian living. Out of the 108 verses, there are 50 definitive commands. So what is the main purpose of the book of James?

Well, it's really what we've been studying all semester. Wisdom from above. It's the first New Testament letter, as I already mentioned. And his goal is to help believers mature, to grow up spiritually.

I think during this time as we've been thrown into trials, obviously we've had to face difficulties which has made all of us have to grow up a little bit. And so we find here that James is wanting the believers to grow up into wisdom. And if you think about it, and I've mentioned this over the semester, that each New Testament writer who wrote to believers about how to live the Christian life focused on different aspects of maturity. For example, Paul, which is very clear as we read his letters, is his goal for the Christian life is to become like Jesus, Christ-likeness. We read Peter's letters, his two letters, and he focuses on believers becoming holy.

We read the book of John's letters, his three epistles. And John's goal is that believers would be perfected or they would be matured in love. So you have love, holiness, Christ-likeness. You read the book of Hebrews, who the author is unknown, but his message is clear, that he wants us to go on to maturity.

And the way that we become mature is by persevering faith or simply saying being faithful. And then we come here to the book of James. And what is the goal of James? His goal is for believers to become wise people. And that corresponds with what Paul says in Colossians 1 in verse 9. It's a prayer that I've been praying over the last few days. It says, and so from the day we heard it, we have not ceased to pray for you and ask that you be filled with the knowledge of his will and all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

My prayer for you is that during this time that your understanding of God would deepen. I mean, think about all the free time that we have in many ways. I mean, there's only so many reruns that you can watch on television. Let's be honest, television gets pretty boring.

There's not a lot to watch unless you want to watch basketball games from 15 years ago. And God has put all of us in a place where we have the opportunity to seek him, to pray, to spend more time in the word. And James's overall goal is to help believers mature in the wise men and wise women.

And I hope that you're doing that during this time. So what is the process by which we gain wisdom? Well, wisdom is not something we get automatically.

It's not something that you get in a classroom. It's not something that comes just because you have a lot of knowledge. And it's not even something that you get when you get understanding, although that's a part of it. But the Bible says wisdom is something more than that. Wisdom is something that God gives. If you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally. Wisdom, spiritual maturity, spiritual growth, comes through God giving us wisdom.

So here's the question. When do you start pursuing wisdom? What would motivate you to want to have wisdom? And the answer is actually here in James 1 verses 2 through 5. You and I seek wisdom when we're in the midst of trials.

And you know what? It's interesting when James says, count it all joy when you fall. That word fall in the various trials is the idea that something is coming to your life that's unexpected. Something that was unavoidable and something that it was definitely unwanted. On the day that I made the announcement a little over two weeks ago that school would be closing the next day, it was very interesting to watch our student body as in some cases, I'm sure there was a sense of relief that maybe you wouldn't have classes for a couple of weeks. But by and large, pretty much the student body was very sad about the situation. This is something that none of us really wanted.

Surely none of us expected. And there was not really much we could do to avoid the situation. And that is really the recipe for not only a trial, but how it is that God gives us wisdom. Because these trials and these pressures have come into our life.

And what do we need to do? We need to learn to think properly and respond correctly. And I would say respond believingly in a way that will honor God. Because wisdom is this. It is learning to see life from God's point of view.

Think about all the different ways that people are looking at this particular trial right now. And wisdom from above is learning to look at it from God's perspective. Wisdom is the ability to connect the trials that we endure with the purpose and the character of God in our life. Wisdom is learning to have right responses and make right choices when you and I are going through a trial. For example, one of the things that we learn in a trial like this is trials bring into our life pressure.

That's what a tribulation is. It's an outward pressure from our circumstances that squeeze us. And of course when we go through these external squeezings, things come out of our heart. Whether it's sadness or confusion or anger or whatever comes out of our life. And we know that this is the means by which God matures us. Because as we go through the trial and we struggle within the realm of our emotions, God is actually spiritually maturing us. One thing that's very important to remember is you can't really be emotionally immature and spiritually mature at the same time. So God takes us through situations where we struggle within the framework of our emotions. And what God is doing is he's actually maturing us spiritually. For example, God takes us through a trial and we go through, let's say, a circumstance of sorrow. And through that we learn how to have joy in the midst of pain. We go through inconveniences and we learn to be flexible. I think of everyone in this situation. Students, staff, faculty who are so flexible and at the same time instead of complaining and being upset and angry, they're actually showing spiritual maturity where they are enthusiastic and they are zealous and they are joyful. When we have to face unwelcome responsibilities. Some of you have gone home and you faced a whole new set of pressures and problems at home.

Responsibilities that you didn't expect to have. And what is God doing? God is teaching you trustworthiness. And between the trial and the wisdom, what has to happen? There has to be endurance.

There has to be a sticking it out. There has to be a rejoicing which is an act of faith. And there needs to be prayer.

And God is molding and shaping all of us through this trial. It's like the way a pearl is developed. How is a pearl made? It's the only living organism that actually becomes a jewel. And it comes through suffering because a pearl begins with an oyster and a shell where it's content.

It's safe. Until a little piece of sand works its way into that shell and it begins to rub the side of that oyster and the oyster responds to the pain. It excretes what is known as knacker. And the more it rubs the more it excretes and over time that knacker forms and shapes over that oyster and it hardens. And in time it becomes a beautiful pearl. So that a pearl diver goes down to the bottom of the ocean or the bottom of the sea or wherever, finds the scoops up the shells, brings it to the surface of the water, gets up in the boat, pops it open with his knife and there you see this beautiful pearl. What is a pearl?

A pearl is simply an irritated oyster over a long period of time. In a way that is what God is doing. He's maturing all of us through these difficulties, through these hardships, through these trials that we find ourselves in. And God is maturing you.

You are growing. And as you learn to focus on the Lord and rejoice in Him, He's taking these things within us and He is changing us. And so that leads me to the last point I'd like to make this morning. And what then would be James' overall concern for his believers in the midst of these trials?

And his overall concern is going to be in the way that they respond. In James chapter 1 in verse 8, he tells us something that is intended to be very convicting. He says in verses 6 and 7 that we are to ask God in faith for wisdom, not wavering.

The idea of wavering here is like a ship in the ocean that's being tossed back and forth. And then after that illustration of that boat that's tossed back and forth, he says in verse 8, he illustrates what he means by that, that this ship going back and forth is called a double-minded man. And he's unstable in all his ways. And a double-minded man literally means two souls. It means somebody who has, it's a Christian, and we're all like this, who has a heart for God. He loves God. He wants to do God's will. But he also has a heart for this world. He's living in this world. He has desires for this life. He has his own dreams. But many times in life, our dreams are not really realities.

It's not the way it's working out. And so between what you desire, what you dream, what you want, and God's will and what he wants, we're kind of in the middle. And we have to make up our mind. Are we going to wholeheartedly and single-mindedly follow God no matter what? Or are we going to go back and forth between the desires of the world and the following of the will of God? It doesn't mean that God doesn't fulfill many of our desires, but he has to be in first place. And that's why James says, when you pray for wisdom, let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. What he means by that is that when you pray and you ask God for wisdom, it means that you're committed to think God's thoughts and follow God's ways and do God's will. There is a commitment in your heart. And what is James' biggest concern? His biggest concern is whether or not the people of God would be wholeheartedly and single-mindedly committed to following the Lord. And so he gives commands here in verses two through five that shows what it means to be committed.

When you're in a trial, what are you supposed to do? You're supposed to rejoice. Rejoice doesn't mean I feel good. Rejoice doesn't mean that I necessarily like this. Rejoice means that I believe God is sovereign in control.

And my ultimate joy is found not in the circumstances, but in the Lord. Not only are we to rejoice, but we are to remain. We're to be faithful. We are to endure.

It's to stick it out. You've got four weeks of classes. There will be endurance, no doubt about it. It will be a struggle for many of you. But you need to stay with it.

Why? Because you believe that this is what God wants. And then what are you to do? You are to pray. I've been thinking a lot lately about my own personal prayer life.

And to be honest with you, in the busyness of being here at Bob Jones University, working here, it is so easy to neglect the most important things in our life. And one of those is the time that it takes to pray. You have time now to pray in a way that maybe you'll never have the rest of your life. So let me urge you to pray and seek God and ask God to do abundantly above all that we could ask or think.

And so that's what James is all about. And as we've been looking this semester, we talked about who is a wise man, we talked about wisdom from above, and we talked about wisdom from below that is manifested in the way that you react and you respond. And then the last time we met, we talked about worldliness. And I'll come back to that next week because I want to talk to you the next time we meet on how it is that God responds to us when we don't make those right kind of decisions. And it's surprising what you discover about how God responds to us when we don't respond correctly to Him. That will be next week's message. Well until then, may the Lord bless you, may the Lord keep you, may the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you, may the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

God bless you and have a wonderful day. You've been listening to a sermon titled Wisdom in the Midst of Trials by Dr. Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University. A recent hymn titled Oh God, My Joy has been written by Paul Kew and Brian Penner. The hymn begins with the words, Oh God, my joy, you reign above in radiant splendor and beauty.

Verse 2 especially ties in with what Dr. Pettit preached today regarding trials. Sustained by joy and trial and pain, I trust your wisdom and mercy. Through suffering that your love ordains, more like your Son, you will make me. Let's now listen to the Bob Jones University student body singing the hymn Oh God, My Joy recorded live with orchestra accompaniment during a chapel service. Oh God, my joy, reign above in radiant splendor and beauty. Oh God, my joy, reign above in radiant splendor and beauty. Oh God, my joy, reign above in radiant splendor and beauty. Oh God, my joy, reign above in radiant splendor and beauty. Oh God, my joy, reign above in radiant splendor and beauty.

Through suffering that your love ordains, more like your Son, you will make me. Oh God, my joy, reign above in radiant splendor and beauty. Oh God, my joy, reign above in radiant splendor and beauty. Oh God, my joy, reign above in radiant splendor and beauty. Oh God, my joy, reign above in radiant splendor and beauty. Oh God, my joy, reign above in radiant splendor and beauty. Oh God, my joy, reign above in radiant splendor and beauty. Oh God, my joy, reign above in radiant splendor and beauty.

Oh God, my joy, reign above in radiant splendor and beauty. I'm Steve Pettit, President of Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. I'd like to invite you to attend one of our summer camps for both middle and high schoolers. BJU has over 50 camps to choose from, so there is one for you. Here's just a few. Aviation, astronomy, cinema, computers, culinary, criminal justice, media, music, nursing, theater, robotics, soccer, basketball, volleyball, golf, and there's many more. Come explore your future during a week of what we call EduCamp. For more information about our camps, visit our website, go to EduCamp, that's E-D-U-C-A-M-P dot B-J-U dot E-D-U. Thanks for listening. Join us again tomorrow as we study God's Word together on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-25 22:05:13 / 2023-09-25 22:14:29 / 9

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