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The Good News About Troubles-James 1_2-8

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The Good News About Troubles

James 1:2-8

Introduction

Chippie the parakeet never saw it coming. One second he was peacefully perched in his cage. The next he was sucked in, washed up, and blown over. The problems began when Chippie’s owner decided to clean Chippie’s cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage. The phone rang, and she turned to pick it up. She’d barely said “hello” when “ssssopp!” Chippie got sucked in. The bird owner gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum, and opened the bag. There was Chippie—still alive, but stunned. Since the bird was covered with dust and soot, she grabbed him and raced to the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held Chippie under the running water. Then, realizing that Chippie was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do . . . she reached for the hair dryer and blasted the pet with hot air.  Poor Chippie never knew what hit him.  A few days after the trauma, the reporter who’d initially written about the event contacted Chippie’s owner to see how the bird was recovering. “Well,” she replied, “Chippie doesn’t sing much anymore—he just sits and stares.”  It’s hard not to see why. Sucked in, washed up, and blown over . . . That’s enough to steal the song from the stoutest heart.

·         We are told that every cloud has a silver lining.

·         We are told that if life hands you lemons make lemonade

·         We are told that if you fall off a horse we need to get right back on.

·         A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner.

·         It is always darkest before the dawn.

·         No pressure, no diamonds.

·         If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant

·         A kite rises against the wind rather than with it.

·         Rise above the storm and you will find the sunshine.

·         The distance doesn't matter; only the first step is difficult.

·         Whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

·         Determination, patience and courage are the only things needed to improve any situation.

More often we feel like this:

·         If you're not top dog, you're its fire hydrant

·         There's a light at the end of the tunnel, unless it's an oncoming train

·         The harder you try the more you fail

·         Your Hopes And Dreams Are Like A Beautiful Daisy - Until Someone Stomps On It

·         If At First You Don't Succeed - Quit

·         It's Always Darkest Before The Storm

·         It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.

·         No matter how great and destructive your problems may seem now, remember, you've probably only seen the tip of them.

·         For every winner, there are dozens of losers. Odds are you're one of them.

·         If at first you don't succeed, failure may be your style.

·         Troubles are inevitable but that does not mean the end of hope.

·         God assures us in our study of James that troubles are beneficial despite the despair that the world offers.

·         The dispersed Christians had their troubles, many of which are greater than we have faced and James offers hope for them and in turn for us as well.

The Benefit of Troubles (1:2-4)

1:2 My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, 1:3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 1:4 And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything.

·         Verse 2 begins by calling the reader to have joy.  This would be great and easy to digest but James calls his readers to have joy in trials.

·         As Christians are we to be happy about trials?

·         It’s important to explain what James means by joy:  It is more than just being happy about it but it is an excitement about the troubled circumstances…Why should we be excited about trials?

·         To “fall into all sorts of trials” tells us something about the type of troubles James is talking about. 

v      He is not talking about circumstances that we deliberate walk into or invite.

v      These are troubles that happen to us.

v      Some scholars restrain James to only mean troubles brought on because of believing in Jesus. But it can include any troubles that can either cause you to rely or draw away from God.

v      But he is not referring to temptation (The Greek word for trial and temptation is the same) that is brought upon to produce sin.

·         The idea of joy in the midst of troubles is not just taught by James in fact this was a teaching of Christ in Matt. 5:3-11:

5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God. 5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. 5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me. 5:12 Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way.

·         Verse  3 provides the reason why joy in troubles should be possible.

·         James tells us that when we are tested in our faith that this testing produces endurance.

v      It is interesting that he calls it testing. This is similar to his testing of the Israelites in Deut. 8:2:

8:2 Remember the whole way by which he has brought you these forty years through the desert so that he might, by humbling you, test you to see if you have it within you to keep his commandments or not.

v      God uses the troubles you face to test you in order to produce endurance…What does he mean by endurance?

v      The word endurance is in direct reference to not giving up on the faith or put another way: maintaining trust in God.

·         But why is endurance valuable?  Verse 4 tells us that maintaining our trust in God in the middle of troubles has a perfect effect of making us perfect, complete lacking nothing.

v      Being perfect according to James throughout his book means that we will have a character of righteousness that produces good works.

v      James 1:27 states what he means:

Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

 

·         When we maintain our faith in the middle of troubles God makes us complete.  This growth spiritually has a dynamic effect of producing a faith that desires to demonstrate itself by what it does.

My burdens keep me humble
And they teach me to pray.
If I murmur, if I grumble
Forgive the words I say.

Give me strength to just carry
My load day to day.
Just don’t take my burden
Or my cross away.

With the cross on my shoulder
My feet cannot stray.
For my cross leads me onward
To my home so far away.

And I’ll never question
The price I must pay.
But don’t take my burden
Or my cross away.

For I would grow careless
And idle I fear.
My eyes would be dry
I’d never shed a tear.

Lest I forget
That I need You today.
Don’t take my burdens
Or my cross away.

·         Why can James call his readers to have joy in troubles?

·         It is because the joy comes from what only troubles can produce- a perfected faith living for Christ daily.

Understanding Troubles (1:5)

1:5 But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him.

·         At first glance it seems that James has began to talk about something else.

·         But follow for a moment his thinking.  If you are in the middle of some trouble or trial do you understand its significance, importance, purpose or benefit?

·         Wisdom is the key to understanding the value of each trial to bring us to perfection and allow us to have joy in it.

·         Verse 5 tells us some things about wisdom.

·         If we do not have the ability to understand what is going on we need wisdom because we lack it.

·         In order to gain wisdom we simply have to ask for it and we can count on something significant from God

·         The verse states that God gives generously.

v      It means that he does only a part of what we need.

v      It means that he gives willingly.

v      It means he desires to give us understanding through wisdom.

·         James states that God gives without reprimand.

v      It is easy to chastise ignorance or lack of knowledge.

v      God could hold us accountable for not knowing the value of troubles for our faith

v      Instead he extends graciousness and compassion by giving wisdom without discipline.

·         The verse ends by telling us that if we ask God will give us the wisdom we seek in order to understand our troubles.

·         Proverbs 2:1-8 confirms what James is saying:

2:1 My child, if you receive my words, and store up my commands within you, 2:2 by making your ear attentive to wisdom, and by turning your heart to understanding, 2:3 indeed, if you call out for discernment – raise your voice for understanding – 2:4 if you seek it like silver, and search for it like hidden treasure, 2:5 then you will understand how to fear the Lord, and you will discover knowledge about God. 2:6 For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding. 2:7 He stores up effective counsel for the upright, and is like a shield for those who live with integrity, 2:8 to guard the paths of the righteous and to protect the way of his pious ones.

An angel appears at a faculty meeting and tells the dean that in return for his unselfish and exemplary behavior, the Lord will reward him with his choice of infinite wealth, wisdom or beauty. Without hesitating, the dean selects infinite wisdom.  “Done!” says the angel, and disappears in a cloud of smoke and a bolt of lightning. Now, all heads turn toward the dean, who sits surrounded by a faint halo of light. At length, one of his colleagues whispers, “Say something.”  The dean looks at them and says, “I should have taken the money.”

·         We know that wisdom is much more valuable than great wealth.

·         Wisdom can help us to understand and get through troubles in a way that money can never solve.

·         In our daily lives if we face trials and we cannot understand them-pray for God’s wisdom and he will give it.

Defeated by Troubles (1:6-8)

1:6 But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind. 1:7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, 1:8 since he is a double-minded individual, unstable in all his ways.

·         In verse 6 James gives us a condition for attaining wisdom and a possibility for being defeated by our troubles.

·         God gives his wisdom freely but he requires for us to ask in faith not doubting in Him.

·         Here James is making one of his first links between faith and action.

v      We can say that we have faith that God can provide.

v      When we doubt, we lack the tangible action that James talks about throughout his book.

v      It is this exact lack of faith and action that he describes as the faith that is deficient in verse 4.

·         Doubt places the character and sovereignty of God in question.

·         This doubting person is compared to the sea, wind and waves.

v      A wave comes and goes, never consistent

v      A wave can be influenced by outside forces like the wind

·         Isaiah 57:20 makes this comparison:

57:20 But the wicked are like a surging sea that is unable to be quiet; its waves toss up mud and sand. 57:21 There will be no prosperity,” says my God, “for the wicked.”

·         Paul in Eph. 4:14 makes this comparison:

4:14 So we are no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes.

·         James (v.7) says that the inconsistent doubting person who cannot trust should not expect God to give him what he needs.

·         This instability in faith translates into instability in daily life.

·         When we are unstable we are uncontrolled and outside God’s faithful provision.

·         This type of double-mindedness goes against God’s call for us to have single minded affection for Him.

·         When we doubt and cannot or will not trust God we will experience defeat in our troubles.

G. Campbell Morgan had already enjoyed some success as a preacher by the time he was 19 years old. But then he was attacked by doubts about the Bible. The writings of various scientists and agnostics disturbed him (e.g., Charles Darwin, John Tyndall, Thomas Huxley, and Herbert Spencer). As he read their books and listened to debates, Morgan became more and more perplexed. What did he do? He cancelled all preaching engagements, put all the books in a cupboard and locked the door, and went to the bookstore and bought a new Bible. He said to himself, “I am no longer sure that this is what my father claims it to be—the Word of God. But of this I am sure. If it be the Word of God, and if I come to it with an unprejudiced and open mind, it will bring assurance to my soul of itself.” The result? “That Bible found me!” said Morgan. The new assurance in 1883 gave him the motivation for his preaching and teaching ministry. He devoted himself to the study and preaching of God’s Word.

·         Being double-minded, distracted, pulled in various ways can lead to disaster.

·         It is only when we maintain our single mindedness on God and faith in him can we maintain our faith and grow in the middle of trouble.

Conclusion

·         What trouble are you facing?  How are you handling them?

·         The answer is not always for God to take them away.

·         In fact your trouble may be exactly what God wants, not because he is cruel but because he cares.

·         He wants to see his children grow to maturity in the faith.

·         His means to do so is to test our faith for it is through our reliance on him that we grow, are strengthened and come to display our faith in action.

·         If we have the single-minded trust in God that James describes then the trials we face and the purpose for us will give us the joy he commends his listeners to have.

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