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Are You Blessed

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I.                    Introduction:

a.       Review: 

                                                               i.      James has called these believers to view trials as an instrument that God is using to equip them to be victorious in life and fit them for heaven. 

1.      To have the right attitude concerning trial

                                                             ii.      Some trials however prove too difficult and in this case the believer can ask God for wisdom. 

1.      Asking in faith not double minded

2.      The believer is to display consistent and intelligent spirituality avoiding being double souled

3.      That our nature in trial reflects God’s nature; singleness.

b.      Preview

                                                               i.      James moves to a brief mention of those who are rich/poor and their attitude

                                                             ii.      Concludes w/ a description of a blessed individual.

II.                 Trials do not discriminate

a.       Money is a lure capable of detracting us from singleness of devotion

b.      This letter has much to say about the relationship between the rich and poor.

                                                               i.      Trials are an equalizing factor.  Bringing both groups to the understanding that they are identified w/ Christ.

c.       The Lowly

                                                               i.      One who is w/o significance in the world’ estimation, often oppressed

                                                             ii.      But as a son of the King see y/s in accordance w/ eternal reality.

1.      Though oppressed and low in this world, because of your relationship w/ the King you have a wealth and glory where moth and rust cannot destroy.

2.      Because of your relationship w/ Christ you are seated in heavenly places

d.      The Wealthy

                                                               i.      The rich who are given high regard by the world are warned to not think too much of this and to not become proud

                                                             ii.      To identify oneself w/ Christ was to bring scorn

1.      Rejoice that you are identified w/ the scandal of Jesus.

                                                            iii.      Emphasis is given to the rich reminding that such privilege that money brings is transitory and doomed

e.       Summary

                                                               i.      2 groups of believers who are to look to their spir identity as the measure of their ultimate significance.

1.      The poor who is judged by the world on the basis of wealth and status is to take pride in his heavenly status in the heavenlies

2.      The rich is to joy in the fact that as a believer he identifies w/ Christ who was also rejected. 

III.               Are you Blessed

a.       Here James returns to the theme he began the letter with

b.      Who is the blessed person?

                                                               i.      The one who endures temptation! (Whether rich or poor) Why?  Because this is the one who will receive the crown of life.

                                                             ii.      Blessed often translated, as “happy” but this is weak. 

1.      One happy may not be blessed

a.       Happiness is an emotional state that varies according to circumstances. Blessedness transcends emotion and circumstance.

2.      Blessedness is a certainty regardless of emotional state

a.       Whatever the circumstances if we endure w/ faith we will be the recipients of God’s favor.

3.      It describes an inner quality of joy resting in God and unaffected by external events

a.       In the NT it often describes people whom the world would never described as blessed.

                                                            iii.      The one who endures temptation (trial)

1.      Trials would be anything in life that threatens our faithfulness to Christ (Phys illness, finances, death, emotional pain).

2.      The blessed person is the one who stands firm in these situations w/ a life devout and committed to God and shaped by His Word.

c.       Blessing #1Approval.

                                                               i.      Considered genuine

                                                             ii.      This approval does not infer a faultless steadfastness as though James is speaking of sinless perfection        

a.       But a lifelong steadfastness of faith that perseveres in the love of God who promises life.

d.      A crown

                                                               i.      Of life

                                                             ii.      2 types of crowns:  for the ruler and for the victor.

1.      Stephanos: the laurel wreath awarded the victors of an athletic game

                                                            iii.      God is equipping us to run this race and not merely run but win and when the finish line arrives we will be given a crown   

1.      Of life eternal

e.       Promised to those that love Him

                                                               i.      Notice James does not say, “obey.”  Because obedience is to be the fruit of love.

1.      If we love God we will have no problem trusting and asking for what is needed

2.      They are single minded

                                                             ii.      The double minded is like one who marries and still wants to date and have a relationship w/ others. Loving God and loving the world

IV.              Conclusion: 4 promises

a.       God uses trials to produce staying power in those who endure

b.      For those who seek it God provides wisdom to understand the trials

c.       Believers, rich or poor find encouragement to rejoice in their position in life

d.      God promises a reward to fill the believer w/ hope.

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