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August 16, 2021 11:21 am
Let me start by asking you a few questions this morning. How would you describe your faith. Currently, how you doing are you wiser in your Christian walk today than you were pre-covert. Solomon told his sons in Proverbs chapter 4 to get wisdom, get insight, pursuant person would greatly acquire it in the epistle of James gives us great insight on how to gain true wisdom.
He teaches us how to do that in the context of dealing with our trials in life that hit us unexpectedly so I invite you to take your Bibles and turn to the epistle of James, and to set the context of going to read to you versus one through four. The testing of our faith here through various multicolored trials. James 11 through four, James a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ to the 12 tribes in the dispersion greetings counted all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness and let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. We see here that God wants us to learn perseverance through our multicolored trials so that our faith is mature and complete as we walk with the Lord.
But sometimes we just don't get it. Do we. We continue to struggle with the same kind of issues sometimes in her life right as Paul Tripp put it, were often blind to our blind spots will people in the world don't always getting gain wisdom from their experiences either. They often repeat the same mistakes over and over again because of unwise decisions that they make me give you an example. Two teachers were applying for the same vice principal position at a local high school one had been teaching a total of eight years and the other a total of 20 years.
Everyone expected the teacher with a greater experience to get the job.
But when a decision was made. It was the person with eight years of teaching, who was chosen for the job. The teacher overlook for the job, complained bitterly. I got 20 years of teaching to her eight he cried. I'm vastly more qualified, the school board's reply went like this. Yes sir, you do have 20 years of teaching to her eight, where she has eight years of experience you have one years experience repeated 20 times interesting. So that begs the question for us. Are we learning and maturing from the trials and experiences that God is allowed in our lives. Put another way to follow the point of the story do we have eight years of experience like the younger teacher or one years experience repeated 20 times, like the older teacher. Are we growing in wisdom or are we repeating our folly.
A key way to embrace our trials with joy is to petition God for help through prayer and in verses five through eight.
Our text for this morning containing God's offer to help us in facing our trials and tribulations. Here we see a God centered approach for acquiring wisdom and strength in the midst of our challenges to make us more like the Lord Jesus. There are two important ways to get wisdom in the midst of our trials look at two ways this morning.
The first one is to pray in faith to pray in faith. In verses five and six.
What does it mean to pray in faith to receive wisdom will follow along here as I read verses five through eight.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind for that person was not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord use a double minded man unstable in all his ways.
So first of all we see here to pray in faith for wisdom in our trials. James helps us to see our need for wisdom.
Notice what he says there in verse five. If any of you lacks wisdom when were hit with unexpected challenges in our life. We realize how much we need wisdom, don't wait to navigate through them. Notice the connection with verse four and let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing that he goes on here and on earth.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you see the repetition of the word black shows that he still discussing the subject of our multicolored trials that we face that come our way from outside of ourselves unexpectedly so is talking about those trials and adverse, for he assures us that when perseverance has finished its work.
We will be mature and whole, lacking in nothing. Meaning we will lack none of the virtues and strengths that characterize a mature believer in Christ. He's growing see sanctifying us through our trials and tribulations, and hopefully at the end of our lives we be able to testify as the apostle Paul did. I fought the good fight fight I have finished the race, I have kept the faith of kept the faith. That's what James is talking about here to learn perseverance through our trials so that we may be mature and complete, a virtuous Christian in verse five.
However, he is speaking of the period of testing before perseverance has finished its work in us during such testing of multicolored trials.
If you lack wisdom, he saying you can have it by coming before the Lord and humbly asking for it and God will grant it to you.
One commentator says this James speaks of the period of testing before perseverance has completed its work as were being sanctified.
Haven't arrived yet.
And those trials will continue to come to grow us and stretch us and so James is saying if you still lack wisdom, which we do then ask God for. Notice how tactful he is by saying if any of you lacks wisdom, he appeals to each of us individually to see that he could've said everybody lacks wisdom, and that's true right we all like wisdom, but by saying any of you. He gives us a chance to examine ourselves, to come to the conclusion ourselves that we need is wisdom and should follow his inspired counsel to ask God for what type of wisdom is he talking about here.
It's not theoretical it's not based on some philosophical system of men. Paul talks about that in Colossians chapter 2 verse eight where he says see to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ, but that's not what James is talking about here. The wisdom he's talking about here is more than just knowledge. Remember that a good education can give us knowledge, but at the does not necessarily give us what wisdom right we can accumulate a lot of facts in our minds.
That's knowledge. Where's wisdom is the proper use of those facts. For example, teaching engaged couples about finances and the importance of living within their means that they don't get into credit card debt. Another trouble to apply to be a good steward of God what he is given you at that stage of life.
But wisdom dictates that we would watch ourselves closely in the area of finances. What James is talking about here is a God-given understanding based on his word that encompasses the rich Old Testament meaning of wisdom. The comparable Hebrew word carries the idea of being skilled and living God's way how to do it God's way.
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. If walking closely with him. We can gain wisdom and be skilled and living God's way.
Does that sound familiar, and Old Testament book on wisdom. What book we thinking about book of Proverbs right. The book of Proverbs contrast what a wise person how a wise person lives, compared to a person wants to live in folly the book of Proverbs in the New Testament here. This book of James. The epistle of applied Christianity teaches us that these things for wisdom.
Don't just James is teaching us here don't just tell me otherwise what show me by your words and your actions in life. This type of God-given wisdom has a wider application relates to all areas of our lives where spiritual discernment is needed, you may be wise concerning the things of the world, but it doesn't necessarily follow that you are a wise person in the spiritual realm, natural wisdom and godly wisdom are vastly different.
He describes the contrast between godly wisdom and natural wisdom chapter 3 verses 13 through 17 so keep your fat finger there.
Chapter 1 and flip over to chapter 3 verses 13 through 17. Notice how James describes the difference between godly wisdom and natural wisdom who is wise and understanding among you by his good conduct let him show his works in the maintenance of what wisdom but if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic for where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice but the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. May our world and our country, especially at this time see us walking with godly wisdom and not the wisdom that they purport in the world where people are looking out for themselves. Notice the contrast that he draws here, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy, good fruits, impartial and sincere. That's quite a description of godly wisdom that's what James is talking about.
We can receive that from the Lord. When we asked for in faith. Where does this wisdom start for us. Well, going back to the book of Proverbs, Solomon tells us Proverbs 822 and 23. He writes there the Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work. The first of his acts of all ages ago. I was set up at the first, before the beginning of the world there is wisdom before God created us wisdom was with God. Where does wisdom begin for us.
Proverbs 910 says the fear the Lord is the beginning of what wisdom and knowledge of the holy one is understanding. So how are we getting it wisdom. The first step is the fear of God to know him personally, then in our lives. It continues in progressive sanctification. Proverbs chapter 4 verses five through nine were Solomon writes to his sons get wisdom, get insight do not forsake nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will guard you love her and she will guard you. The beginning of wisdom is get wisdom. And whatever you get. Get insight price.
Her highly and she will exalt you.
She will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head.
A graceful garland. She will bestow on you a beautiful crown, don't you love that Proverbs is stressing to us get wisdom and insight pursue it go after it.
Walk with the Lord closely. So how do we receive God's wisdom that James is describing here in our text by humbly asking for it. Look at the next phrase in verse five, let him ask of God. This is a present, active, imperative. It's a command consistently asked from God do it, acquire it, pursue it, asked the Lord for the way to gain wisdom is to simply and humbly ask for. It's a necessary part of our prayer life that we pray in faith trusting God to give us wisdom. We are to go to God for wisdom in each situation. Now, many of us in this room this morning are familiar with Proverbs 3, five and six trust in the Lord with all your what part and do not lean on your own. What understanding, but acknowledge God in all your ways and he will make your paths. What straight, but we don't often quote and want to verse seven do not be wise in your own eyes. Solomon says warning his sons to be careful. Don't be wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. So how do we gain wisdom.
According Proverbs fear the Lord and turn away from evil and to ask God for wisdom. I think it's interesting to note.
Luke tells us in his gospel in Luke chapter 6 verses 12 and 13 that before the Lord Jesus chose his disciples what did he do, he went away all night and prayed and in his humanity, praying for his heavenly father to grant him wisdom. Corsi contains all wisdom and yet in his humanity. Praying to his heavenly father Lord, give me wisdom before he chose his 12 apostles now noticing verse five.
Again, part B here, let him ask of God, who gives generously to all you know it's interesting to note here the language that James uses here is very, very rich. It pictures the needed wisdom is present alongside of God. It's there.
We just need to ask for. It's there in full supply.
If we come and ask God for it.
He's talking about God, who gives giving God he can give us wisdom. It's in his inherent nature to give to us when we ask for John 316 for God so loved the world that he gave and he wants to give us wisdom as well.
He gave us his only begotten son and he wants to give us wisdom in the midst of our trials in the present tense language that he uses here sets forth God's generous nature as continually giving none of us. In other words, cannot give God he is our Creator and sustainer, and he would love to give to us if we come before him as his children, asking for wisdom. One commentator writes this. I love this is characteristic of the unbeliever to see God with the clenched fist as Becca said she viewed God in her testimony as what type of God angry that just a few minutes ago. She viewed God as an angry God, whereas it is characteristic of the believer to see him with an open hand. Because of Christ, as were under this cross here we can come to him with open hands and asked for wisdom and he will graciously give it to them.
So wisdom is available to all Christians. If we see our need for wisdom and approach him in what faith in faith to ask for wisdom. He responds with giving us wisdom and how does he do that notice gives generously to all without reproach. The promise here is that wisdom will be given to those who ask for.
There is nothing in God to keep him from giving and how does he give wisdom generously. Notice that he gives generously what does it mean unreservedly wholeheartedly liberally. All we need for that particular moment whatever trial you're going through. God can grant you wisdom. If we ask in faith.
He has a limitless supply. He won't skim and giving us wisdom. He's our heavenly father. He loves us and he will give it to us wholeheartedly.
I noticed that next phrase there. He gives without reproach's interesting term. What does that mean how does God give us wisdom without reproach. What does that mean that means without finding fault God gives wisdom generously to us without finding fault or without insulting us. Why because he loves us because of Christ. He loves us were his children were joint heirs with the Lord Jesus.
He loves us so he doesn't scold or chide us because we have failed in the past or rebuke us for our repeated lack of wisdom, which is going to happen to us right in our sanctification. As James says later in his book will still stumble in many ways, but when we come to him in humble faith and asked for wisdom, God will give it to us. He wants scold you for that.
He won't charge you for that.
He won't be sarcastic about that as I thought about this what James is telling me here. It's interesting, I couldn't help but think of us as parents right with our kids of Varanasi can be typical of us when one of our kids comes to us and they realize their mistake and they come for further advice on something to say something like what you should've known better than to do that right. You should've known better or well I'll give it to you again but you sure don't deserve it. We do that, his parents taught me that's giving with reproach. We sorted become sarcastic or so you don't deserve it but I'll give it to you again that's with reproach. Instead, we should say in moments like that. What did you learn from your experience, how can I help you to make a wise decision. Now that's wanting to impart wisdom without reproach, and that's what God does for us when we ask when we ask him in a humble spirit, we will hear no reproach. Just his lavish response and as James states here in verse five. Wisdom will be what given to him.
We can have God's wisdom. Okay, let's look at an Old Testament example.
I couldn't help but think of Solomon here. Both of God granting him wisdom and him applying wisdom in an interesting circumstance to take your Bibles and turn back to first Kings chapter 3 as we read the account here of King Solomon. First, we see that Solomon asked for wisdom and God grants it to him first Kings chapter 3 verse starting in verse nine first Kings 39 give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people that I may discern keyword their discernment between good and evil. For who is able to govern this your great people. So it please the Lord, that Solomon had asked this and God said to him, because you have asked this and if not asked for yourself long life. Riches the life of your enemies, but of asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right. Behold, I now do according to your word.
Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you have been before you, and none like you shall arise after you there we see in his prayer asking for wisdom and God grants him wisdom. I let's see an example. Right after that in his life of Solomon's wisdom. Verse 16 then two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him, the one woman said oh my Lord, this woman and I live in the same house and I gave birth to a child while she was in the house. Then on the third day after I gave birth.
This woman also gave birth and we were alone there was no one else with us in the house only, we too were in the house and this woman son died in the night because she lay on him and she arose at midnight and took my son from beside me while your servant slept in late him at her breast and later dead son that my breast when I rose in the morning to nurse my child, behold, he was dead. But when I looked at him closely in the morning, behold, he was not the child that I borne but the other woman said no living child is mine, and the dead child.
It's yours. The first said no. The dead child is yours in the living child is mine. Thus they spoke before the king not here we see his wise response. Then the king said the one who says this is my son that is alive and your son is dead and the other says no, but your son is dead and my son is the living one. And the king said, bring me a sword so his sword was brought before the king of the king said divide the living child into and give half to the one and half to the other and the woman whose son was alive said to the king because her heart yearned for son.
Oh my Lord, give her the living child by no means putting to death, but the other said he shall be neither mine nor yours divide them than the king answered and said, give the living child to the first woman, and by no means putting to death. She is his mother and all Israel heard of the judgment and the king had rendered that the king had rendered and they stood in all the king because they perceive that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice, wisdom of God. What a great application to ask for wisdom and God will give us wisdom as he did with Solomon so stepping back now after that example let's look at the big picture for us as believers in Christ we know the creator from the universe of the universe because what the Lord Jesus is done for us. He's redeemed us. He's given us his favorite special revelation. The Bible, which is wisdom. It is his practice to give generously and without finding fault. When we ask for. So how are you doing at praying regularly for wisdom in the midst of your trials. Do you think that God will provide only part of what you need course, not you won't do that. Ask in faith, and receive all the wisdom that you, for you and me. So the first way to acquire wisdom is to pray in faith. The second way to acquire wisdom is to pray without doubting. Here comes the caveat now to pray without doubting. Here's the contrast of the right approach.
One moment a person may say that they trust God in the next moment they doubted graphically illustrated by the wave of the sea here as James describes it completely lacking instability tossed by the wind back and forth a billowing restless sea moving back and forth with his endless ties never able to settle which is one of the metaphors is that such a Christian wavers in his faith, his or her faith were not sure of God and his promises, which could indicate our own independent still from God. We don't trust him were unstable and restless. This person is like a cork on the waves of the sea up one minute and down the next showing some signs of immaturity. Paul speaks to this in Ephesians 4 the pastors and teachers are here to equip the saints in sound doctrine.
Paul speaks to us in Ephesians 415 14 and 15 by saying, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes, rather speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head into Christ. So we don't want to certainly be like a cork on the way up one minute down the next, but some people struggle because are not trusting in God's promises in the Christian who doubts God's promises. Look at verses seven and eight for that person was not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord. Meaning wisdom. He is a double minded man unstable in all his ways because he doubts God God withholds wisdom from that person because of his doubt, this person is a fickle or vacillating type of person and God withholds wisdom from why notice because he's what kind of man a double minded man literally here. It means a man who is to sold to sold it's only used twice in the New Testament.
This word James uses those two times in James chapter 4 verse eight. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded, only these two times at this word use in the whole New Testament. Don't be to sold don't be double minded doping on this and I trust the Lord on this and I do not trust him on vacillating among short one minute. I believe the next minute I don't in this divided attitude that reveals itself, then in sinful words and actions tragically in some people's Christian walk. That type of person I teach Sunday school here at Calvary and yet shows anger in his home.
This type of person may say grace one minute and use profanity in his home toward his wife and children. On the other hand how church is good. I like to go to church occasionally but I like to hang out the bar and have a few drinks with my friends as well. Going through tiles like fear and worry dictate their responses instead of trusting God and his promises. In this type of person has a civil war going on inside of them constantly fighting with trust and distrust of God waging a continual battle in that person.
This double-blind is is double mindedness reveals itself in someone's conduct is a whole. Notice the end of verse eight. James says he is what unstable in all his ways unstable. This person is unsettled not having totally committed to stand solid in Christ, not sure their salvation.
They live their life a lot on their feelings instead of the promises of God in their personal lives. Their business lives, their social lives as well as their spiritual lives. A person like this will not notice what he says receive anything from the Lord. Kurt Richardson puts it this way that the double minded believer is a believer is already clear, for he is challenged to understand trials, not as the interruption of pleasure by suffering. But is the pathway toward a mature faith.
This pathway will require endurance, but this is secured by the wisdom of God. All things provide provided to those who ask for and what faith in faith. Faith receives because he trusts doubt which also is directed toward God is totally rejected by him. Prayer accompanied by doubt is much like the problem of claiming to have faith but showing know what works. As James says in chapter 2. Faith without works is what did dad let me give you an example from our Lord's own words as he was teaching his disciples turn to Matthew 2118 through 22 Matthew 2118 to 22 in the context here we see the Lord Jesus speaking to his disciples. God's impending judgment on faithless Israel for rejecting him their Messiah starting in verse 18, Matthew 21 in the morning as he was returning to the city became hungry and seeing a fig tree by the wayside. He went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves and he said to it made no fruit ever come you again and the fig tree withered up once again representing the nation of Israel. In general, but notice what Jesus goes on to say to them.
Truly I say to you. If you have faith and do not what doubt you will not only do what has been done to this victory, but even if you say to this mountain, be taken up and thrown into the sea, it will happen and whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive. If you have what faith faith God will grant us wisdom. If we pray without doubting. Now, beloved, we will have doubts from time to time) were still human were still being sanctified during our trials were still going to to doubt but that should stimulate our faith not causes to recourse away from God.
The psalmist, the lament Psalms. There are many lament salts Lord. Where are you, and yet they come back to. I will rejoice in my salvation because I trust you. That's a subject for another time. There many lament Psalms that can help us because they returned to the promises of God and we can grow tremendously through our tough times that are thrown at us as we pray to an all wise God, who knows what is best for us in each situation. Paul exalts God's wisdom in Romans 1133 and 34 don't turn there. Just listen as I read this Romans 1133 and 30 4O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways for who has known the mind of the Lord, who has been his counselor. That's our heavenly father we could run to him and he will grant us wisdom. If we trust him. And if we do that and walk closely with the Lord. Notice back in James chapter 1. What's the reward at the end of our lives.
James 112 look at our reward.
Look what's ahead of us brothers and sisters. James 112 Blessed is the man who remains what steadfast under trial for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love what's ahead of us the crown of life, salvation in its fullest sense that we go home and someday will give a glorified body. We will be with Christ in our heavenly father forever worshiping him. That's what awaits us. Let's walk closely with him now as many of you know, last December. My oncologist called me and said Jim you have cancer is pretty serious and like many of you in this congregation open hit with a diagnosis like that. My mind went blank for a few moments was very surreal and was a bit scary and things race through your mind once you take out all in Lord, I know my days are preordained before the foundation of the world before the Rosie at one but it would be my prayer that I'd like to hang around a few more years to be with my family and grandkids into minister to the wonderful people at Calvary church and to receive cookies from those you try to bribe me in my Wednesday night classes not to give you quizzes and things like that all kinds of things race through your mind right because I'm a cookie monster right. I love cookies and Betty of you brought me wonderful traits over the years as a pastor file.
We don't want to cruise the all those kinds of things race through your mind and yet over these past eight months. The journey between radiation, surgery, more MRIs and CAT scans coming in a few few weeks.
All these things that have been thrown God's been teaching me to pray in faith and to pray without doubting. Because his promises are true to myself and our families ran our kids have seen his his faithfulness to our family. As you have seen, but he's been teaching me. Pray in faith, pray without doubting. I say that is not about me but I say as a fellow cancer patient.
I want you to listen to this young lady who's also in our congregation.
Her testimony who she's been battling cancer for quite some time and she updates her journal on caring bridge, which I and she is minister to my heart a lot over the past number of months the context in this particular Journal is the story of Shadrach me shack and Abednego before they went into the fiery furnace, where they stood in before Nebuchadnezzar and said Nebuchadnezzar okay and we cannot power need to you to worship your golden image, or any other God that we know that God has the ability to love, deliver us, but even if he doesn't we shall not bow her knee to you. What did Nebuchadnezzar do okay let's jack up the temperature seven times and burn these guys, but what happened.
That's the context there of her comments here about her own cancer journey. Listen to what she says. What if God doesn't save me from this cancer well may we be brave enough to worship God for who he is and not what he does prayerfully praise him so six years later still got the cancers still got other issues going on still have tons of doctors appointments and tests a mentor the head, but I'm alive. Loving Jesus, laughing and trying to enjoy life a no worse for wear really I love. Here's an honest testimony and say hey I'm going to trust God even if he doesn't heal me from my cancer and I'm going to continually prayerfully praise him, no worse for wear for to me to live this Christ and to die. Like Paul said is that certainly is move my heart and is help me on my cancer journey not to be double minded. As James is teaching is here to pray in faith and pray without doubting.
So in closing here when were confronted with the trial. What kind of application.
Can we take away from today's message from J. Let me give you a few thoughts here. What should we do. First, when you're hit with the trial unexpectedly. What should you do first stop and pray for what wisdom stop pray and ask God for wisdom, may I suggest to you that you pray the words of Scripture, may I also suggest pray out loud get in the habit pray Scripture pray out loud and sing songs to God. Each Sunday is even as before I get up to speak this morning so grateful for the worship songs we sing here hearts can well up to sing praises to our great God.
So stop and pray for wisdom. Be careful what you are watching and reading.
Is there anything in your life that is causing you to be double minded amputated out of your life. Be careful my brothers and sisters what you read what you watch so that we can become more like Christ.
A man by quoting Isaiah 26 34. You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is what stayed on here because he trusts in you trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord our God is an everlasting rock.
What a great that's how we can have a mind that is at peace by staying in praying for wisdom and staying focused on him. Let's pray together, Lord, thank you for this marvelous epistle in teaching from the hand of James help us to come to you daily in faith without any doubting to trust you no matter what were going through. Whether it's a spiritual challenge right now, or physical challenge. Lord, we know your sovereign and that you care for us as your children and that you're not going to allow anything to commend your life except your sovereign purpose is to make us more into the image of the Lord Jesus. So help us sort help us not to be double minded. But help us to trust you in all things, may we walk more closely with you and be salt and light to those around us to see a difference that we are living for you in such a troubled world at such a time as this. Use us as instruments of your grace, for we pray in Jesus name, amen