Tithe and Offering
Pt. 3- James 1:12 - Persevering Faith
When I say the word “perseverance”, what comes to mind?
I think of:
· LSU being laughed at because coachO wasn’t refined enough. Ha who’s laughing now
· Walt Disney was fired from his first job because his cartoons weren’t creative enough.
He persevered. As a result, there have been hundreds of movies - now an empire
· I think of hurricane survivors who are determined to rebuild and move forward – even after losing everything.
· Bethany Hamilton was attacked by a shark while surfing at age 13, and lost her arm. Two years later, she was surfing again and the best in the world for her age. wasn’t only surfing again, but was the best in the world for her age.
· Henry Ford went bankrupt five times before Ford Motor Company finally took off.
· I think of immigrant families who are trying to become legal citizens. The process takes some of them more than 20 years! In spite of that, they keep hoping, believing and working.
Perseverance describes our thousands of health care workers who in spite of risk to themselves and their families are caring for those who have this virus and others. They are truly heroes. They do this day in and day out every year.
We have many tied into our own church family who serve in hospitals and clinics at risk to themselves. I want to give you a chance to join me in saying “Thank you” to them.
Thank you for serving, loving and selflessly giving. We appreciate you!
When you see people overcome the odds, fight through adversity and succeed, it encourages, inspires and challenges you.
It gives you hope that you can make it through your struggles.
Church people story:
Maybe you remember a time when quitting seemed like the best option - like there was no way you could possibly make it.
You might be in one of those situations right now.
· You feel isolated and alone.
· You are waiting on your Covid-19 test results and you are afraid.
· The doctor gave you a bad report
· Your kid is struggling with addiction
· You’re overwhelmed with bills and debt
· You had surgery scheduled to deal with a medical issue, but it’s been postponed.
· You lost your health insurance
· Your dishwasher, stove, refrigerator and garbage disposal all went out at the same time – one week after the warranties expired.
· You had your retirement all planned out, but now you are looking at working much longer because of all the money you’ve lost in your retirement account.
· You don’t know when you’ll get to go back to work, or if you’ll even have work to go back to.
Life is filled with one set of challenges after another.
No one is immune from struggle or trouble.
We all face it. Currently, we are all facing the same thing - which is exceedingly rare.
Through This season as a church, we are learning and expanding on the promises of God.
Today’s promise will give you direction in challenging times, and hope for the future. You’ve got something to look forward to - God has great things in store for you!
Before we look at the promise, let me set the scene.
Jesus told the disciples to wait in the Upper Room as He ascended to Heaven.
They waited and received the Holy Spirit.
They came out of that room ready to reach people with the Gospel and the church was born.
In the very first message Peter preached, over 3,000 people were saved!
It looked like the church was going to be hugely popular and successful, but it wasn’t long until they faced trials, difficulty, and persecution.
The church scattered all over the region to avoid their enemies. Many lost their jobs, and homes.
They were separated from family and friends.
Stephen, one of the leaders, was put to death for his faith.
This was a time of great confusion, fear, loneliness, anger, and hardship. When you just describe it in those words (confusion, fear, loneliness, anger and hardship) In many ways, their situation sounds like ours!
James, the half-brother of Jesus, and the leader of the church in Jerusalem,
wrote a letter to encourage the new believers and to strengthen them in the faith.
Times were tough, so James ignored the traditional greeting and jumped right in.
Jam. 1:2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds…
The Message says it this way:
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.
Wait a second. Count it a joy when you face trials? When tests and challenges surround you, it’s a gift? Its hard to understand.
We would understand if James said:
· Consider it an incredible pain my brothers when you face trials.
· Consider it unfair
· Consider it an attack from Satan
· Consider it a reason to quit
But, James said, “consider it pure joy”.
This early group of Christians didn't choose to be persecuted. They didn't choose to lose their homes, families, friends and jobs. It wasn’t right or fair.
We didn't choose Coronavirus. We didn't and don’t want to deal with it and all the consequences. But, it’s here.
You don’t get to choose what happens to you. But, you do have some control over your response.
Think about it.
· Does anger and bitterness heal a broken body?
· Does going over and over the hurt make it hurt less?
· Does unforgiveness make things better?
· Does a pity party fix the situation?
Of course not. Those are normal human reactions to adversity.
But, you aren’t called to be normal; you are called to be different.
You’ve got the Spirit of God living inside of you.
Choose to act like a child of God.
Your circumstances are not your choice, but your attitude is your choice.
Everything can be taken away from a man but one solitary thing: The last of all human freedoms is the ability to CHOOSE ONE’S OWN ATTITUDE in any given set of circumstances. To forfeit this it to forfeit life.-Victor Frankl
A bad attitude makes you a prisoner of your own experiences
Shock the people around you. Don’t just endure hard times, celebrate difficulty!
In the words of James, count it joy!
In the middle of challenging times, in the midst of all the gloom and doom in our world, when everyone else is down, discouraged and defeated, followers of Jesus should still be filled with joy!
· Because your joy is not based on your circumstances.
· Your joy comes from serving the God who is bigger than any problem, trouble, enemy or fear.
· You can celebrate because greater is He who is in you than He who is in the world.
· Choose joy. Let joy shine through even in the middle of your darkest times; especially in the middle of your darkest times!
In the next verse, James revealed why you should have joy when you face trials:
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Some translations say “endurance” or “patience”, but I like the word perseverance.
The dictionary definition of perseverance is:
Steady persistence in a course of action, or a purpose especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
Here’s another definition/personal definition :
perseverance is the decision to go on when others quit, to press on when others turn around, to do what others aren’t willing to do, go where others aren’t willing to go, and stay where others aren’t willing to stay.
Perseverance says, “I will not quit. No matter what. I’m in this for life. And, even if it leads to death, I’m not giving up”.
Everyone wants perseverance. But, no one likes to do what it takes to get it. Perseverance is developed through testing and trials, through problems and struggle.
Have you ever lifted weights?
You go to the gym and decide “I’m going to be like that guy. I am going to build some muscles. If I’m am going to be big and buff, I have to lift the same weight he lifts.”
And so, because you are ignorant, you load up the weights and go for it. You might not even get the weight off the floor. If you do get it in the air, it’s ugly. You lift it once and decide, “This doesn’t work. I’m out.”
That is the wrong way to build muscle. Instead, muscle is built by gradually increasing what you lift. If you’ve never lifted a weight, don’t start by trying to curl fifty pounds. Start with five. Do three sets of ten reps.
Guess what? The next day your biceps are going to hurt, because they were tested. You forced them through a new trial.
After a few weeks, five pounds won’t be enough.
It will no longer be a test. Move to ten pounds. Sure enough, the next day, your arms will be on fire because You tested them again. But, after a few weeks, you will be able to lift ten pounds without pain.
Then, move to fifteen pounds and start the cycle all over again. With each test, each new weight, you have new pain. But, your muscles are slowly being built up.
One day, two years later, you will walk over to those fifty pound dumbbells.
They look huge, but you’ve been working your way up to this. The testing of your arms has produced perseverance. Each time you put them through pain, they gained strength.
When you curl that fifty pound dumbbell, it’s because you didn't give up at five pounds, even though it hurt.
Count it joy, in this trial, because it is producing perseverance.
This test is preparing you for the next test, which is preparing you for the next test, which is preparing you to do great things for God!
We are going to make it through this and we are going to come out stronger!
1:2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Having your faith tested through obstacles isn’t fun. Persevering isn’t fun.
But, it’s worth it because of what it produces in you.
Trials build perseverance, which results in maturity - a healthy, complete follower of Jesus with faith and trust in Him.
Every fifth grader wants to be old enough to drive. But, you can’t skip years. You don’t get to jump from ten years old to sixteen. Getting there is a process.
Robbie, my Friend who stole car
You can’t skip steps on the way to maturity. I understand - like a ten year old with a driver’s license, you want to make it to maturity without the testing. It doesn’t work that way.
When everything is going perfect and just like you planned, you don’t need faith and trust. Your plan is working.
But, when your circumstances are squeezed and the pressure is on, when things are challenging and difficult, when you face huge trials and opposition, you are forced to depend on God, on His power and His strength. And, your faith grows!
When you push through the challenges and trials, when you stay focused on God, and refuse to quit on your faith, that’s when you learn and grow the most.
When it comes to weight lifting, you understand - it’s simple - if you quit at five pounds, you’ll never lift fifty.
But, how many people quit on God when times get tough?
· They quit on God because of sickness, disease or disappointment.
· They drop out of church because a relationship ended, someone offended them, or they got their feelings hurt
· They quit on God when they are struggling with depression.
· They quit giving because finances are tight.
· They walk away from God because someone they loved died.
Instead of responding with perseverance, they quit. They problem is, if you quit, you miss the reward.
If you run a marathon, there’s only one way to get the race medal - you have to finish.
You can be first or last, but you’ve got to finish.
The reward is reserved for those who persevere through the pain and finish the race.
· Every challenge you face is shaping you and making your faith stronger.
· Every difficulty is an opportunity for God to receive glory, praise and honor.
· Every apparent setback is really one more step towards the end result of your faith - when you see Jesus face to face.
· So, even when it’s difficult, even when you don’t feel like it, choose to celebrate in adversity. Choose to keep moving forward. Choose joy!
You might be thinking, “This isn’t very encouraging Pastor. Basically, you are saying, “Tough times are going to come, trials are headed your way, but cheer up, choose to be joyful, because this trial is making you stronger for the next one. No thanks. I quit.”
That’s called the culling*
cull means to select, choose, pick, glean.
Culling separates strong from weak, useful from not
like culling the blemished sheep from the heard to produced unblemished sheep
we just call it separating sheep from goats
Hold on. Don’t tune me out. It’s not just that each trial builds you up for the next trial in a never ending cycle of problems.
There is a promise waiting for you at the end of the struggle.
Jam. 1:12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
When things get bad, but you keep going, when you hold on and don’t give up, when you persevere, you will be blessed!
Later in the letter, James circled back to this same point:
5:11As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
In both places, it’s important to note. The blessing comes after the persevering.
That’s not the way you want it.
You say, “God, if you will keep blessing me, I’ll stay faithful. If you give me extra money, I’ll tithe. If you bless me, I will persevere.”
It doesn’t work that way.
God says, “You be faithful. Stay true to My Word in spite of difficulty.
Persevere - and then you will receive the blessings I have for you!”
· When your schedule is crazier and more chaotic than ever – decide “I’m going to be more faithful to church and to my ministry, not less.”
· When people at work are being rewarded for taking shortcuts or being dishonest – decide “I’m going to be more truthful and honest than ever.”
· When your budget and checking account are the tightest they’ve ever been – decide “I’m going to be more faithful in giving, not less.”
· When you are gripped with fear about coronavirus and wonder if you are going to survive, don’t you dare quit on God!
Hebrews 10:36 says:
Heb 10:36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.
Be faithful. Keep doing right, regardless of the circumstances. God honors right and God blesses right!
When you keep going, regardless of the test, trail or obstacle, you will be honored and declared victorious.
When you persevere, you win!
Jam. 1:12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
JALEN Jay-quellen, Be-La-kay, A-a-ron! what where is A-A-ron, matter of fact where in the heck are any of the wheelers??? quick Wes, MEgan , search party of two. check on A-A-ron and the wheelers, make sure they didnt get the RONA
unless they actually showed up in which case this isnt as funny as it was intended to be
When we see the word “crown”, we think “royalty”. A king or queen wears a crown - which means they are important and have a high position. But, that is not the word picture James intended.
Prop - Crowns
King &Princess first…then description
In this case, the crown was a sports term.
In Bible days, the winner in an athletic contest had a wreath placed on his head which symbolized persevering triumph.
That crown represented victory over your enemies.
It was a symbol that you had overcome all the obstacles and were victorious.
That crown also meant you were being publicly recognized and honored for your achievements.
You persevered, persisted and beat all odds.
Paul wrote, in First Corinthians, chapter 9:
1 Cor. 9:24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
When you persevere under trial and stand the test, the crown you win is not like the crown a princess wears. It’s not like the crown a runner gets for winning a race.
The crown you have to look forward to is one that lasts forever - the crown of life - eternal life!
One day soon, your faith and perseverance will be rewarded. You will be honored and victorious because you finished the race and kept the faith. You will receive all the promises God has in store for those who love Him.
· I don’t know everything you are facing or everything you are going through. I can’t tell you how it’s all going to work out.
· I wish I could promise you a wonderful, healthy, wealthy, rich, happy life, where you always win.
I can’t promise that, but I can promise you what God promises:
12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
Keep going. Don’t quit.
Don’t let this trial stop you.
Don’t let this disappointment be the one that makes you walk away.
You’re not finished. Don’t give up. Don’t stop.
God has something good in store for you - blessings and a reward waiting for you in Heaven.
Pray for people who feel like giving up.
This week, let’s spread joy instead of corona conversation. #choosejoy #choosehappy