We’re members of Crossroads Baptist Church, pastored by Larry York. Pastor Larry is the real deal, a true shepherd and disciple of Christ. He’s teaching out of James and I want to get as much as I can out of it. So I plan to write a post for each sermon, including both my sermon notes and personal reflections.
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
“James Series – Growing Up: A Living Faith That Makes A Difference – Seeing Trials Through God’s Eyes” (10/17/2010)
- God uses trials to strengthen weak faith.
- Christians will go through tough times.
- How can we consider it pure joy?
- We’re not to be phony or masochists.
- Think forward (fast forward) to what God is up to.
- Consider Hebrews 12:2
- Jesus thought forward to the outcome – the salvation of many.
- But wow, did it hurt, physically and emotionally.
- Instead of asking God “why me?” questions, ask Him what He’s up to and what He’s teaching.
- We need to get to the point where we trust Him and lean on Him.
- Look at tough times in a different way than “the world” does. See God in the middle of it.
- Patience is the determination to not give up but to actively trust God with what He’s doing in your life.
- God is more concerned about building big people than big churches.
- You’re an unfinished product until you go through trials in your life. It’s a sign that God is active and present in your life. So count it all joy.
- Spiritual maturity is the ability to endure and persevere in your faith when there’s nothing left to hang your faith on other than the person of Jesus Christ.
Sometimes trials feel like they’re gonna kill you. Like it’ll never end. It can be so hard to see past it, to think forward, because our minds our filled with trying to figure out how to get past the trial, how to “fix” things.
It’s a mind game, really. Our minds can be filled with useless and counter-productive thoughts during a trial. So it can’t hurt to replace those thoughts with something else, something beneficial and useful.
We can start by filling our minds with the reality of God. Because the first thing that I forget sometimes is that God is active and present in my life. I need to remind myself of that before I can work at trusting and leaning on Him in a particular situation.
This issue of joy in a trial can be hard to swallow. Trials can be associated with depression, so how can anyone be joyful when they’re depressed? We can control our thoughts, but controlling the way we feel is another matter.
I think the key is to understand that depression and joy are not mutually exclusive. That’s because the joy talked about in verse 2 involves our thinking and not just our feeling. The Greek word for “joy” in that verse is “chara”, which is translated as “calm delight.” It’s not jumping-up-and-down happy. I delight in something because I think about it, consider it, look at it from different angles. So while my feelings can be depressed, I can still have a sense of satisfaction as I think about the fact that there’s more going on than meets the eye because God is active and present in my life.
When all I think about is the trial, that’s all I see. But when I think about the fact that, even during the trial, God is active in my life because of Jesus, all of a sudden it’s Jesus that I see. So then I can begin the dialogue – “Father, what’s happening here? What are You teaching me? Is there something that I can be doing different? Should I start doing something, or stop doing something else? Please give me the strength to get through this. Please help me to see this with Your eyes, because what my eyes see is pretty bad.”
Abba, in reviewing this sermon I’m thinking of our own trials, of my family’s struggles over the last few years. Thank you so much that it hasn’t been constant pain and hardship. Because although there have been some hard times, we’ve also had so much true happiness. And thank you for showing us your activity in times that we could have just seen negativity. It seems like lately your activity is more obvious than ever before. An end to the trial is in sight, although it’s still not immediate. Please help us to focus on the satisfaction of having you working in our lives. You really are just too good to us. We don’t deserve it. I love you, and thank You for loving me.