Trials How They Work – I cannot think of one trial or one test I went through that did not mature me and make me a far better Christ follower. Trials develop the believer. We are successful in life because we have been successful in trials. That’s HOW LIFE WORKS.
The Book of James – How Life Works
By Pastor Delbert Young
How Trials Work
How Trials Work
Scriptures: James 1:1, Colossians 1:27, James 1:2, James 1:3, Proverbs 17:22, James 1:5, Proverbs 3:13, Proverbs 4:5, James 1:6, James 1:7, James 1:8, James 1:3, James 1:4
Over the next several weeks, we will take a look at the book of James. My prayer is our study and time together will be enjoyable and fun. Mostly, I want this study to be practical. I want us to walk out of here thinking, “Yes. That’s the way life actually works. So, let’s call the series “The Way Life Works.”
I want the principles we talk about to be things that will stay with us the rest of our lives. So, my plan is to not go fast and simply dump a bunch of information on us at every sitting. I want to concentrate on one principle at a time. So, let’s get started and dive right in.
James is a little different from other New Testament writers. Perhaps this is why I enjoy reading his book. I find myself a little different from many people, and I find many of you are different also. I don’t want to be like other preachers, pastors, dads, or Ahdaddys (it’s what my grandchildren call me, Ahdaddy). James simply punches the points he wants to hit and then moves to throw his next punch. There isn’t a lot of development and setting up of his points, but obviously there has been a lot of development in his thoughts.
James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.
James: James was the brother of Jesus. They had the same mom, but a different dad. Joseph, the step dad of Jesus, raised Jesus and was the biological dad of James. Jesus and James and Jude were raised in the same home. What a reality for today. Many of today’s kids, and several of us in this room, have experienced this home situation. James was the “stepbrother” of Jesus.
Servant: James said he was “a servant.” He doesn’t write as an apostle. He relates to people from the perspective of a servant rather than authority. He desires to serve Jesus and serve God and serve people. The Greek word is doulos (#1401 Strong’s). It means a slave. There were two basic types of slaves during the Roman empire. There was the purchased slave as we define a slave. Also, there was the slave who voluntarily sold himself or herself into slavery. This is the type of slave James was. He was a slave by decision.
Serving God and serving Jesus Christ and serving people is a decision. It’s not a one time decision. It’s a daily decision. I decide every day if I will serve people and Jesus. I watch people come to Jesus, but I don’t see a lot of people become servants. How do you and I do as servants? What do you do for God and for Jesus?
. . . servant of the Lord Jesus Christ: Then James says, “. . . a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” It strikes me in a powerful way James recognized Jesus in relationship with a deity. James was raised in the same home with Jesus. This is a tremendous witness for the Christ. If one’s own stepbrother recognized uniqueness, then uniqueness must be true. When I saw this years ago, it tremendously influenced me to become a Christ follower. I have a sister and she knew me well. I think she remains suspect today with my being a pastor and a preacher. This would be a normal sibling response. This was not the case with James toward Jesus. James recognized his big brother Jesus was the Lord Jesus Christ. His brother was long awaited Messiah.
We also note the influence big brother and big sisters have on their younger siblings. It can be positive or it can be negative. I was an older brother. I hope I made a positive influence upon my sister. How have some of us done? How are some of us doing?
Believers in Christ are brothers and sisters. What type of influence do we have on the younger believers coming to Jesus? Are we a positive influence? Or, have we been a negative influence? Also, I wondered if we at Life Gate to see the deity, the Christ in one another? We certainly have an ability to see the faults in each another. Do we see the deity in each another? The Bible says each believer has Christ within.
Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
. . . twelve tribes scattered – Multiracial:James tells us to whom he wrote this letter. He says,
“To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.”
I will quickly attempt to explain what this means. After Solomon’s death, his son Rehoboam became king. Under Rehoboam’s leadership, the nation rebelled and divided. The norther kingdom was called Israel and the southern kingdom was called Judea. Ten of the tribes went in the rebellion. Two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, remained in the southern kingdom along with the Levites. The northern kingdom was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar who took the people and “scattered among the nations” those people. The people of God quickly became multiracial. The southern kingdom remained “Jews” or of the nation of Judea. When James writes to the twelve tribes, he is simply writing to both Jew and Gentile. James wrote to the “twelve tribes scattered among the nations.” This would be a multiracial people. James wrote to a multiracial church. Isn’t this what church should be? The truths of James work for all believers no matter what the race.
Sometimes life is a series of trials. How our lives go is determined greatly by how we handle trials. How many of us believe we have been through a trial? How many of us believe we have recently gone through a trial? How many of us believe we might be in a trial at this moment? So, this is a relevant topic, but what most of us will soon see is we really haven’t gone through as many Biblical trials as we may think.
James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
This verse (James 1:2) seems somewhat sadistic doesn’t it? Are we supposed to be happy about bad things happening to us? I don’t think so. James punches the issue of trials. Who is responsible for them? Why does God allow us to experience difficulties? How are we to respond to difficult times? Let’s look at these questions.
Stuff happens: I think the very first point we must make is trials will come. It doesn’t matter if you are a believer or not. Stuff happens. A person is living in a fairy tail if they expect to have a life where nothing ever goes wrong. The difference between a believer and a non believer, is the believer should have wisdom concerning handling the trial and should become more Christlike during and after the trial.
What is a trial? We need first to identify exactly what James means by “trials.” A trial is not simply the “bad times” every person goes through. The trial James speaks of is something that will test my faith/belief in Jesus. A trial has the potential to turn us from Jesus.
James 1:3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
A trial will show and answer the question of, “Do I have the goods?” Through a trial, I will know if Jesus is really in my life. I will know if I have salvation or if I am being deceived. This is important to know. I do not want to spend my life deceived thinking I have eternal life, only to wake up in hell. How about you?
We need to remember the trials James and the Christians of the first century were facing. There were the pressures of the antichrist Judaism religion which hated Christ and his followers. Judaism was arresting and persecuting and killing every believer they could find. Stephen was stoned to death. James, the brother of John, was killed with a sword. Peter was imprisoned. This James would eventually be thrown off the temple to his death. Also, there were the trials given by the Roman who had marked Christians as traitors to the emperors. They were being killed, crucified, fed to wild beasts, made Roman Candles, etc. There were the poverty trials 90% of those Christ followers experienced. The trials James and his generation faced far exceed anything most of us will ever experience.
How are we to respond to trials? When I find myself in a trial, what should I do? There are at least two things we must do in response to trials.
(1) First, James said, “Consider it pure joy . . .” respond with “pure joy.” Is James sick? Am I supposed to be happy about going through something serious enough it causes me to doubt Jesus? Hold on a minute. The Greek word translated pure is pas (Strong’s #3956). It means every part. Simply put, don’t let a trial ravage any part or our joy. Joy is a principal thing when in a trial. The reasons we fight to keep our joy are physical, emotional, and spiritual.
Proverbs 17:22 A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.
Sadness and worry and stress will rob us of energy making us sick. Many illnesses are stress related. Joy brings healing and a clear mind. We are to battle to keep our joy. We must be able to think clearly when we face trials.
When in a trial, do something that makes you happy. What do you like to do? I like to go fishing. Some enjoy golfing, or shopping, etc. What do you EN-JOY doing? It needs to be something filling our finds with good thoughts so we cannot think about the trial. What do you CONSIDER PURE JOY? Don’t allow anything to take your joy.
I watched Linda Eaker go through cancer and treatments and never lost her joy. You can’t tell me she didn’t fight to keep it, but she never allowed the Devil to take her joy. I watched some of you lose your jobs, but never lose your joy. You can’t tell me you didn’t battle to keep your joy and even faith. James said to keep your joy.
Do you know what those trials showed them and me? It proved they have the goods. Jesus is there. They are experiencing the salvation Jesus came to give us. What would it have said if they said, “Forget this Jesus stuff?” We would have wondered about their salvation, right?
(2) The second response we need to do when a trial comes is pray. I know this does not seem like a big truth – yet. Let’s look at the words of James.
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
This prayer is not a prayer asking the Lord to remove the trial. We are pretty much wasting our time if we ask God to remove a trial. We will see why later. James said to pray and ask the Lord to give us wisdom about the trial. I can’t recall a time in the scriptures when God removed a trial. I can recall in every trial, the Lord gave wisdom to those who prayed as to how to handle the trial. If we ask, the Lord will give us wisdom generously. He will not find faults with us and hold back because of a dark spot in our history.
We are to ask God for wisdom. What is wisdom to you? Wisdom is best defined as understanding. At least, the result of wisdom is understanding.
Proverbs 3:13 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.
Proverbs 4:5 Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.
We can find wise people. What they have is understanding. We want this understanding. James is saying to ask God to help us understand the trial. If we understand the trial, we can fix it and get life working smoothly again. My father-in-law was an excellent mechanic. He was not an educated man, but he was an excellent mechanic because he understood how an automobile engine worked. I watched him time and time again fix a problem with an engine others could not fix because he had understanding. It nearly seemed supernatural to me. I remember working all day attempting to fix a skip in an engine. Finally, in frustration and $60.00 later, I took the car to Floyd. I told him what the car was doing. He walked up to the engine, removed the distributor cap, and showed me a tiny crack in the distributor cap. I said, “You are kidding me. This tiny crack is causing me all this trouble.” When I replaced the cap, the skip stopped. A lot of our trouble and trials are because there is a tiny crack somewhere. We need wisdom and understanding to fix it.
. . . believe and not doubt . . . James is quick to add . . .
James 1:6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
Prayer for wisdom is accompanied with application. James says if we are not going to do what God said to do, then don’t bother asking. Don’t think we will receive anything. What if I had not believed Floyd about the tiny crack in the distributor cap? Had I not believed, the engine would have continued to skip.
Isn’t this what we often do with God? We want his help, but then when he gives it to us via counsel or his word, etc. we doubt and don’t apply the wisdom. I remember so many times talking to people about trials they were in. I would say, “Here is what the Bible says.” And then I would give them the wisdom and understanding of God. How many times do you think people in trials apply what God says? The answer is few. However, the success ratio is staggering. 100% of those who do what the wisdom of God says go through the trial and their faith is stronger and better than ever. The skipping stops and life runs smoothly again. 100% of those who do not do the wisdom God gives lose faith and are even devoured by the trial. I watch as they are tossed and blown around. If they do not apply the wisdom of God, they will eventually shipwreck.
James 1:7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;
James 1:8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
When we refuse to do what the Lord says, we should not think we will receive anything from the Lord (1:7). It’s what James said. We are double-minded. We want God on our side, but we want to do things our way. We asked God for advise. Then we did it a different way. Forget it. He will allow us to struggle along on our own.
Why does God allow us to experience difficulties? Next time I want to talk about from where trials come. Is God responsible for this trial? Or, is it the devil responsible? Or, is neither responsible? We will see probably 90% of trials we bring on ourselves (Jam 1:13-15). Most stuff is our reaping what we have sown. It’s not always the case, but probably 90% of my trials are because of things I have done.
I needed to say this to set up our last point for today. Why does God allow me to experience difficulties? It’s not so much God is allowing me to experience difficulties as it is God helping get me through difficulties I created. God loves us so much he said if you will ask me, I will tell you how to get out of this problem the fastest and best way possible. You got to do what I say, but I will get you through it and make you a better person in the process.
James 1:3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
James 1:4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
God wants us to have great lives. He wants us mature and complete and NOT LACKING ANYTHING. Sadly, trials are necessary to have such a life.
I have a great sister-in-law. She loves me and loves our family. She is a great person and will do anything for people, but she did not allow her children to develop when it came to life’s trials. Her children are handicapped. They do not know how life works. They get in trouble and literally wait for her to bail them out. The trials never had their complete work. The trials never brought maturity. They lack nearly everything when it comes to having a successful life. God wants us to have a great life not lacking anything.
News channel 9 has a segment called “Does it work?” Calvin Sneed does the segment. He takes a product and test the product to see if it does what the manufacturer claims it will do. Does faith work? Let’s test it and see.
How many have ever had a trial? I’m talking about something tested your faith in following Christ. Did it work? How many of us believe we are better Christians and more mature because of the test? Did it work? I cannot think of one trial or one test I went through that did not mature me and make me a far better Christ follower. Trials “develop” the believer. We are successful in life because we have been successful in trials. That’s HOW LIFE WORKS.
Other Related Sermons: