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November 25, 2020 3:00 am
The when we find ourselves in the middle of a hardship. Most of us can't wait to get past it to get through the valley, believing that only then will we experience joy. The problem is there's always another problem just around the corner today on Truth for Life. Alister big challenges us to think differently about hardships so that we can respond biblically when trials come James a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ to the 12 tribes scattered among the nations greetings consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Amen that a prime on one occasion, wrote as follows. Trouble, hardship, and various forms of suffering common to all of us at some time or another. The natural tendency may be to feel that such things are a waste of human life and to be avoided at all costs. Knowledge informs as otherwise. So for example we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Now James the brother of Jesus, the writer of this letter is a good pastor and as a sensitive soul to what his people, his readers are facing. He addresses very quickly and very practically the facts of life which are inescapable, unavoidable and experienced by everyone. Namely, that the Christian life is chock full of tests and trials in James recognizing that the nature of his readership, particularly in the first century, buffeted by the insurgencies of persecution and by the peculiar difficulties that faced the dispersed church as a result of all that Had Taken Pl. in Jerusalem.
He recognizes that each of his readers will be going through difficult experiences, experiences that they wouldn't have chosen for themselves. Rather these things have as we will see fallen upon and he writes, and I think Philip's paraphrase has been very helpful.
He writes to say instead of resenting these things as intruders we should learn to welcome them as friends. I was important to recognize when he is not saying what he is not suggesting is that we can equate trials for their own sakes as a source of joy to suggest that would be a sign of a disordered mind and find psychiatrist spent a great deal of time dealing with people who face masochistic tendencies. There is nothing of that and what James is saying here. James would have been prepared to acknowledge that trouble hearts that trials are painful. That loss is difficult but what he is saying is this, they may become the occasions of unrestrained or unreserved rejoicing. If we respond to them from the right perspective. Perspective is crucial.
The line of approach the angle of approach to the experience of trials and difficulties is is fundamental in the way in which we tackle it unless we think correctly. We cannot respond properly is not unique to James.
Of course, Paul.
You remember when he makes his application of all that he said in the first 11 chapters of Romans immediately says I want you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, and I want you to be transformed by the renewing of your mind's and this takes some mining transformation to get to this because it is a paradox, isn't it verse two because the first part of the verse counted pure joy doesn't really seem to go with the second part of the verse. When you face trials.
Most of us. I think if we think out with the box of the Bible are tempted to believe what is common notion, namely that you don't have joy. If you have trials and therefore the way to experience joy is to make sure that you don't have trials they don't have difficult circumstances that you don't have any of these things to face, and if you can spend your energy is making sure that all of that is removed from you and you may be a joyful person and you can tell people as you go up the high Street. I just how joyful you are. James paradoxically says no he says consider it pure joy when you face trials of various kinds, so that the trials are directly related to the experience of joy makes you think doesn't Thomas Goodwin, the Puritan responding to this said this is the hardest duty that ever was required of the distressed hearts of men so that when our hearts are distressed. The word comes consider it pure joy.
Goodman says as hard.
Then he says, and yet God would not require it. If it were unattainable.
God is not asking from us what he is unable or willing to provide for us. Note, our study gathers under two headings really are two words. One word is perspective and the other word is process. You will notice the verb that is used in the NIV consider it. Consider it when I was studying this in the week I I had a vivid recollection of a phrase that I have long since forgotten.
It was used by my father when I would go to my dad as a youth at making a particular request or offering him an opinion. It was not uncommon for him to say I will give that due consideration.
I will give that due consideration or something sort of quaint about that. Even as I reflect upon it, and he may simply have used it as a mechanism to buy some time, but in actual fact, I think in the instances when he employed it he was being absolutely honest and what he was saying was this I will think about the issue that has been raised from a particular perspective, and in a deliberate way. You have asked of this. You have suggested this, I will give it my due consideration that what James is saying is this when trials and difficulties and circumstances come into our lives, our first response is to be a considerable response or the responsive consideration and that consideration will allow us to take what ever whenever as the basis for unreserved rejoicing when you take this opening section, perhaps the most basic lesson that we learn from what James is saying is that the benefit that we receive from going through trials depends in large degree upon how we look at them and the spirit with which we handle them when a child is punished if they stiffen their necks if they grow resilient and resistant to it. If they are not trained by the punishment if they become and newer to the punishment then the benefit that is represented in the discipline is unknown by them, and in the same way. What James is saying is this when trials and difficulties, as they inevitably will. The perspective with which we view them in the spirit in which we respond to them will determine the benefit of them consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of various kinds, trials are inevitable, they are not unusual right I don't understand why it is that in the Christian life. We put our hands over her mouth and say I can believe this is happening as if somehow or another to live the Christian life is to be exempted from the class that involves trials and difficulties when the whole Bible is replete with the emphasis upon the fact that we are not removed in the world. Jesus as you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. He doesn't say you won't have any tribulation, because you are mine. You are my children and James understanding his brother's words now drives this home trials are not unusual. Their inevitable, they frequently appear out of nowhere this little phrase whenever you face trials of various kinds. The verb that is used here is the same drug that is used in Luke chapter 10 in the story of the man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. At the story of the good Samaritan, but the focus is on the man who's going down and he fell among thieves. He fell among thieves.
A pleasant looking for thieves was just simply going down to Jericho and all of a sudden out of the blue.
The clothes were ripped off and he received a dreadful beating. That's the verb that is used consider it pure joy when you're going along nicely and all of a sudden consider it pure joy in the awareness of the fight that this is not unusual. This is inevitable. Consider it pure joy when you recognize that trials come in all kinds of shapes and sizes is that the phrase when you face trials of many kinds. Now all of that by way of perspective, let's move into verse three and verse four, where he outlines. If you like the process or the sequence that results in the finished product.
First of all, there is faith because you know that the testing of your faith. Faith. Faith appears there without an object. It doesn't say faith in God or faith in Jesus just says your faith. Therefore, legitimately, rightly, it simply means being a Christian. Being a Christian because you know that the testing of your faith, the testing of your Christian life. The testing of your Christian profession. James is writing here not to people who are interested in religion, but he is writing to people who have come to understand that Jesus as their Savior, they have been made aware of the fact that by their nature they are unfit for heaven.
They are unable to rectify their circumstances and they have discovered in Jesus the only one who can prepare them, save them, deliver them, and they are the people who have received him and who have believed in him and all of that is represented in this notion of faith, thereby causing us all as we take a second and passing to say am I a man or woman of faith have I come to a place in my life. Recognizing I'm unfit for heaven. I am unable to make my own way. There and discovering that Jesus has provided for me by his death on the cross, forgiveness for my sins, and is opened up, aware of entry so that I might come like a little child and trust unreservedly in X-rated all begins.
Number one faith number two in the process or the program. I have friends are always saying what's the program I will. Here's the here's the program. Faith and faith put to the test. Faith put to the test because you know that the testing of your faith.
Trials are the means by which our faith, our Christian life is tested.
What is being tested for two things.
The test is number one to see if that faith is genuine or if it's fake and one of the ways that we discover whether we have genuine faith or fake faith is when our faith is up against. When the band plays when Evelyn's marching when everything's fine. It's pretty easy to say I I'm in this. Yes, I'm going along with this is when the wheels fall off of the difficulties, when family life begins to disintegrate when we lose our job when it appears that we maxed out in the things that we hope for in life are not coming our way. Whatever it might be. Then in the testing we begin to discover whether faith is genuine the testis to look for the genuine nature of faith in the test is to look for the growing nature of faith. Is this a stagnant faith or is this a growing faith back to James chapter 1 he chose to give us birth. He humbly plans the word and is verse 21. The word which can save you. And then he says make sure you don't merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Thirdly, faith faith, put to the test and perseverance.
Perseverance by means of the testing. James says we develop staying power.
The Christian life is not a few hundred yard sprints. It's a cross-country run that last for the totality of our life's fate faith put to the test tested. It produces staying power and our heavenly father knows how much we can take and perseverance. You will notice must finish its work must finish its work and hers were forced to learn and practice what we know, in principle, look at the life of an individual who has soft eyes, a tender heart, a caring granny sensitive youth and I can guarantee they did not come to that without the experience of trials and perseverance when it finishes its work renders as the product maturity. Completion and lacking nothing.
Last Sunday we sang and waited Graham Kendrick song, consider enjoy pure joy when trials come management when troubles come. Many trials will make you strong.
Consider enjoy pure joy and stand your ground, then at last you wear a crown. Where did that come from a game from verse two, three and four and verse 12. If you look down at Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when you're stood the test, he will receive the crown of life.
Most of us want a crown without any perseverance. Most of us want to be able to go straight to the graduation class without doing the study and God is so gracious and kind he won't allow it, he brings us to maturity. He completes the good work that he has begun and is Philippians 16 and the good work that he brings to completion is to make is like Jesus Christ likeness. Christ likeness.
How does a person become mature. How is the work of grace completed. How is there that sense of being wrapped up in the provision of God was all here in this process is give you two quotes, one from the Puritan and another from Spurgeon. One of the Puritan writers puts it this way.
He says the winds of tribulation blow away the chaff of error hypocrisy and doubt is because hypocrites will never stand up under the trial if you're a hypocrite you be gone in the running for the border you be running for the hills. It is skin deep. You're done. There's nothing there.
How do you find that not in the sunshine in a furnace. More progress is made in the Christian life through disappointment and tears that is ever made, through success and laughter.
The winds of tribulation blow away the chaff of error, hypocrisy, and doubt leaving that which survives the test, the genuine element of Christian character, the genuine element of Christian Spurgeon in a formal colloquial way addressing his congregation in February 1883 picks up the picture from the sea and from sailors and he says you look at the weatherbeaten sailor, the man who is at home on the sea.
He has a bronzed face and mahogany colored skin. He looks tough as oak, he would not have become a hearty sailor by staying on the shore. Now he says trials work in God's people. That spiritual hardiness that spiritual hardiness which cannot be learned in ease trials work in God's people. That spiritual hardiness toughness that cannot be learned in ease. He goes on, you may go to school forever, but you cannot learn endurance. There you may color your face with paint, but you cannot give it that in grain brown which comes of stormy seas and howling winds, strong faith and perseverance come by trials to reach that condition of firm endurance and sacred hardiness is worth all the expense of all the heaped up troubles that ever come upon us from above or from beneath Marie that funnels to reach the condition of firm endurance and sacred hardiness is worth all the expense of all the heaped up troubles that ever come upon us from above. The question his do I believe, do you believe do we believe because if we do it will change dramatically the way we respond to our trials. Not that we will say all I love these trials in and of themselves.
They fill me with joy know they don't they fill us with pain. They fill us with fear, they fill us with uncertainty, they may fill us with panic, but we considered them pure joy because endurance and sacred hardiness come down that road and not down the path easy credit for its no wonder that verse five, and reads as it does if any of you lack wisdom. In other words, if any of you are tempted to say no I don't get this. If any of you are going on no no no way way way way dominates, then you should ask God, God will get you sorted out on this because we need sorted out on this.
I do, I would imagine you do to Alastair back with a helpful reminder your listing to Truth for Life in a series called my times are in your hands.
For most of us, this has been a year that has included significant testing we found ourselves asking questions like why is all this happening where we find hope, of course, the Bible has answers for those questions and so you may have found yourself with a unique opportunity to have a conversation with a friend about spiritual matters that you otherwise would not have been able to have and today we want to encourage you to be intentional with that effort would like to help. We have just added the complete ESV Bible to our store. You can purchase Bibles for just two dollars a copy.
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This is written by author and pastor Christopher Ash and he guides us through the first two chapters of Luke's gospel to help us experience the Christmas story in a fresh new way.
We'll see Christmas through the eyes of those who witnessed it firsthand. People like Mary and Elizabeth to the shepherds and Simeon visit Truth for Life.org/donate to request your copy of repeat the sounding joy or tap the book image you see in the mobile app can also call us at 888-588-7884 Bob Lapine hope you can join us again tomorrow as Alastair beg brings insight into the reality of unjust suffering. The Bible teaching of Alastair beg is furnished by truth for line Learning is for Living