We are in the book of James, still chapter one, and we already looked at the first half of the first chapter. I thought I would give a brief outline and overview of where we are going.
James addresses what a mature Christian looks like:
- He is Patient in Testing (James 1)
- Trials on the Outside (James 1:1-12)
- Testing on the Inside (James 1:13-27)
- How to handle temptation (James 1:13-18)
- How to handle self-deception (James 1:19-27)
- He Practices the Truth (James 2)
- Faith and Love (James 2:1-13)
- Faith and Works (James 2:14-26)
- His has Power over his Tongue (James 3)
- Exhortation (James 3:1-2)
- Illustration (James 3:3-12)
- Application (James 3:13-18)
- He is a Peacemaker, not a Troublemaker (James 4)
- Three wars (James 4:1-3)
- Three enemies (James 4:4-7)
- Three admonitions (James 4:8-17)
- He is Prayerful in his Troubles (James 5)
- Economic troubles ((James 5:1-9)
- Physical troubles (James 5:10-16)
- National troubles (James 5:17-18)
- Church troubles (James 5:19-20)
So far we looked into turning trial into triumphs (James 1:2-12)
When “life gives you lemons” (the saying goes), “make lemonade,” but it is easier said than done. If we are going to turn trial into triumphs, James tells us we must obey four imperatives:
- Count (a joyful attitude – James 1:2) outlook determines outcome, and attitude determines action.
- Expect trials: James says when, not if (John 16:33, 1 Peter 4:12).
- Evaluate troubles: Put what is happening into perspective; joyful people live for the things that matter most (Hebrews 12:2).
- Embrace truth: our values determine our evaluations.
- If we value comfort over character, trials will bother us.
- If we live for the present, trials will make us bitter, not better.
- Know (an understanding mind – James 1:3) what do Christians know that make it easier to face trials?
- Faith is always tested: like with Abraham. For us, a tested faith means we are of the faith, born again.
- Testing works for us and not against us: a different word could be approval (1 Peter 1:7, Romans 8:28, 2 Corinthians 4:17).
- Trials rightly used helps us to mature: God wants to produce in us patience and endurance (Romans 5:3-4, Hebrews 6:12, 10:36, Romans 15:4).
- Let (a surrendered will – James 1:4, 9-12) God cannot build character without our cooperation; without our consent.
- Growth: don’t remain as little babies (1 John 2:12-14)
- Goals: there are three works involved in a complete Christian life.
- The work God does for us (the cross): salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9, John 3:16).
- The work God does in us: sanctification (Ephesians 2:10, Romans 8:29).
- The work of God through us: service. God must first work in us before he can work through us.
- God spent 25 years with Abraham before he had his promised son.
- God spent 13 years with Joseph in prison before he was exalted.
- Gos spent 40 years with Moses in the wilderness before he was ready to lead the people.
- Gravity: makes us all the same, we are all on a level playing field; we all fall at the same rate.
- Ask (a believing heart – James 1:5-8) the Bible has a lot to say about wisdom, here (James 1:5, 3:13-18) and Old Testament literature.
- What to ask for: wisdom. Why do we need wisdom more than asking for strength, deliverance or grace? So we will not waste the opportunities God has given us.
- How to ask for it: in faith. Be a single-minded person.
- Peter on the water (Matthew 14:22-33) faith and doubt.
- Paul to the Ephesian church (Ephesians 4:14)
- How to receive it:
- Growth in Christian character: the cross always comes before the crown.
- Growth in Christian love: it is the spiritual motivation behind all these imperatives. If we love God, we will have no problem with counting, knowing, letting or asking.
- Why we receive it: weaning. This adds one more word. Weaning is taken from Psalm 131:2. God can use trials to help us leave childish things.
It’s going to be a great few weeks. Wait a minute, did I say, “few” weeks?