THE BOOK OF JAMES
( An Opportunity for Joy - April 19, 2020)
Series Big Idea: "A call for the church to be the Church"
Sermon Big Idea: "Successfully overcoming trials will produce maturity and strong character"
Key Scripture (James 1:1-8)
The Book of James is one of the earliest letters of the NT and possibly the first to be written. After the murder of Stephen, who was one of the most dynamic preachers of the Gospel, persecution of Christians became more intense and this caused Christians to scatter throughout the area to seek protection. These early Christians did not have the support of local established congregations such as we have today. But this James who was the half brother of Jesus, was the leader of the Jerusalem church at the time was concerned with their well-being and attempted to encourage them in their faith during these trying times. Over the next several weeks we will study this book and prayerfully draw encouragement ourselves during our current trial.
(James 1:1-8) James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ: To the 12 tribes in the Dispersion. Greetings. Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways.
James doesn’t pretend these people are not experiencing trials and knows they will experience even more in the future. We know this because he uses the word “whenever” in verse two. He is assuming they will have trials, but he encourages them that they can get through it and even more that they can learn from it. James is not just being an optimist and is not suggesting these people ignore their trials completely and pretend nothing is wrong. What he is suggesting is they can have a positive outlook of their trial because this is the very thing that will produce maturity in their lives.
In these verses James teaches us that our hardships can be a time of learning if we are paying attention. But what can we learn?
Our Trials can teach us Perseverance (v 2)
James plainly says in these verses that testing of faith will produce endurance. But he says we must be patient and allow the endurance to work completely in our lives. It is the only way to mature in Christ.
Our Trials will reveal our Character (v 2-4)
Everyone knows that it is simple to show kindness to others when things are going well in our lives. But is it as simple to show that same kindness when we are under pressure or persecution? How about when someone is treating us unfairly?
James says that God’s goal is to grow us unto mature Christians and that is going to cause some pain along the way. But complaining about our trials will not help the situation. These times should be seen as opportunities for growth in the Christian life. The truth here is that you and I can’t know the depth of our character until we are under pressure. But James encourages us that we can ask for wisdom.
We can ask God for Wisdom (v 2-5)
We can and should thank Him for being with us during hard times. We should ask Him for the strength and common sense to endure. God is not going to leave us alone in our problems and trials. He will stay close and wants to help you grow in His Son Christ.
The wisdom James talks about in not just head knowledge. It is the wisdom to make wise decisions during difficult times. He says if we lack wisdom then ask God. This is prayer. We can pray. And when we pray and ask for wisdom, He will give it to us generously. We don’t have to stumble around trying to find our way. We can and should ask God for the wisdom to guide our choices.
This wisdom James is talking about is revealed in three different qualities. The first is that it is practical. God is not just in the good He is practical in the tough times. This wisdom doesn’t come from a God that is distant from our troubles. That is how we overcome. Someone with high intelligence, it seems, has all the answers but it is the godly wise person who will put them into action.
Secondly, this wisdom is divine. This goes way beyond just common sense. Because common sense can never lead us to have joy in the midst of our trials. Wisdom begins with respect for God, then leads to living by God’s direction and its final result is to distinguish between right and wrong.
Finally, this wisdom is Christ-like. We are ultimately asking to be like Christ. The Bible tells us that Christ is the wisdom of God.
(1 Corinthians 1:24) Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom, because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
Pastor Beaver's thoughts and ideals for this message, are inspired by:
Holman Christian Standard Bible
English Standard Version Bible
King James Version Bible
Christian Standard Bible
The Bible Knowledge Commentary by John F. Walvoord/Roy B. Zuck
The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge by Jerome H. Smith
Water, Mark, ed. Encyclopedia of Bible Facts. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2004. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.
Barry, John D. et al. Faithlife Study Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016. Print.
NIV, Archaeological Study Bible, eBook: An Illustrated Walk Through Biblical History and Culture
Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Duane Garrett, and Walter C. Kaiser Jr.
NIV, First-Century Study Bible, eBook: Explore Scripture in Its Jewish and Early Christian Context
Zondervan, Kent Dobson, and Ed Dobson
Hughes, Robert B. and J. Carl Laney. Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1990. WORDsearch CROSS e-book. Revised edition of New Bible Companion.
Lea, Thomas. Hebrews & James. Edited by Max Anders. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1999. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.
Nystrom, David. James: From biblical text...to contemporary life. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1997. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.
Richardson, Kurt A. Volume 36: James. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1997. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.
Vaughan, Curtis. James. Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2003. Print. Founders Study Guide Commentary.
Moo, Douglas J. The Letter of James. Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2000. Print. The Pillar New Testament Commentary.
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