Between the Words ... Pastor Jim’s Perspectives on the Weekend Behind and the Week Yet to Come (February 2, 2020)

By Jim Garrett

February 3, 2020

Wisdom, Faith, and Endurance

James 1:2-12

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know (while knowing) that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Sermon Blurb

Often, we come into situations where we really don’t know what to do. And many would guide us to follow our hearts or to go with our gut. But the Word of God clearly tells us that if we lack wisdom — we should ask for that wisdom from God.

Thank you for joining us today, this One Service Sunday, at Ontario Christian Fellowship, as we seek wisdom from God — and in addition, as we pursue unwavering faith and endurance — and as we find His joy — in all life’s challenges.

Life Principle: We must always remember that there is the work God does for us — the work God does in us — and the work God does through us.

Introduction

The author of this book has identified himself simply as James, a Servant of God.

Because of that simple introduction, I believe this is probably James, the brother of Jesus

He presents himself as one who is already known by his readers.

He is clearly not a name-dropper; he doesn’t need to be

He sees no reason to present further qualifications of who he is.

Besides being his brother, the Resurrected Christ had appeared to James. (Nothing will turn a man around more than encountering the risen Christ.)

This same James, at the time of this writing, was the head of the Jerusalem church that we see in the book of Acts — especially Acts 15.

Even the Apostle Paul came to consult with James—as we also see in the Book of Acts.

Facts about the Book of James

There are 108 verses in James — 54 of those verses are imperatives– commands.

James is telling us what to do.

James is not open to our suggestions; he really does not want to know what we believe or what we think.

James is more concerned with our walk than he is with our talk.

Because of James’ direction of writing to the 12 Hebrew tribes, it is clear that he writes with a Hebrew mindset.

“The 12 Tribes” is a clear reference to the Jewish People scattered throughout the world.

Because of this, James deals more with concrete function—as opposed to abstract theory. Again, this is part of the Hebrew mindset.

James is writing people who are enduring adversity.

Key words used in James

  • Pistis faith, confidence, reliance, trust
  • Dipsychos double-minded, wavering, doubting
  • Sopha wisdom, skill, ability to act on what you know
  • Hupomone patient endurance, perseverance, steadfastness
  • Peirasmos trial, test, temptation
  • Dokimion testing– Genuine, without alloy

Life-Thought: What makes the complete Christian?

  • The work that God does for us
  • The work that God does in us.
  • The work that God does through us- service.

Life Principle: We must always remember that there is the work God does for us — the work God does in us — and the work God does through us.

As God works for us, in us, and through us, He often uses Troubles to work toward maturity.

James 1: 2-4- “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Note that James does not tell us, “if trials come”— instead, he says, “WHEN” trials come – My friends, TRIALS WILL COME.

1 Peter 4:12- “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

Trials affect everyone

The Greek word translated both as “trial” and “temptation” is the same word—peirasmos

And further, trials will come in all shapes, forms, colors (literally), and sizes.

Trials may be frequent and frustrating, and life-changing.

But notice what Paul says in 2 Corinthians,

2 Corinthians 4:17– “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

And when compared to the eternal glory they bring, trials are simply light and momentary.

The testing of faith produces endurance—endurance.

Romans 5:3– “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance (or endurance) …”

Testing refers to a means of authenticating something.

Maturity only comes after – or through– testing.

And here is how the Biblical progression of our faith works: Trials- Testing- Perseverance- Maturity.

Even when God called Abraham to live by faith, He tested him – He put him through trials and testings– in order to increase his (Abraham’s) faith.

Testing, from the Greek, dokimion, means without alloy, genuine

My friends, our Faith will always be tested.

And also, God wants to use these trials – these testings — to remind us how faithful He is and how real He can be.

Illustration: Tapestry- Don’t judge the worker or the work by looking at the wrong side of the project.

In other words, don’t put off your life of faith until times get better.

Life-Point- Right now, in the midst of your suffering, is the very time to be putting your servanthood toward Christ into practice.

Life Principle: We must always remember that there is the work God does for us — the work God does in us — and the work God does through us.

James is addressing hardships and sufferings that Christians encounter even as they are following Christ.

Poverty can be included in trials of many kinds. Humble circumstances were a common trial often mentioned among early Christians.

And even as we stand up underneath the trials, James says that we are blessed individuals.

  • The Greek word here, Makarios, means one who is genuinely happy.

Matt 5:11-12– “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

All throughout Scripture, what satan meant for bad—and often it was very bad– God used it for good.

In the Book of Job, God not only sustained Job all the way through his ordeal BUT, He rewarded Job ultimately.

Throughout the Bible are people who turned defeat into victory and trials into triumphs.

The ultimate result of this victory is spiritual maturity through Godly character.

It is God’s desire to process and develop our true character.

God is a good trainer—concerned with our spiritual exercise, diet, and schedule.

God is developing our spiritual muscles.

God is proving our character and maturity.

The directive is for us to develop a joyful attitude, an understanding mind, a surrendered will, and heart — that wants to believe.

Outlook determines outcome—attitude determines action.

Life Principle: We must always remember that there is the work God does for us — the work God does in us — and the work God does through us.

Obeying while thinking “poor old me” is different from obeying with pure joy.

Choose joy.

Endurance is also a part of this goal of perfection/maturity/completeness/character

We can stay steadfast in joy BECAUSE we know that the attitude of joy is leading us and guiding us.

And we cooperate with God’s work because we are cooperatively being led by Him into His perfect result.

We are called to Joy.

1 Peter 1:6-7– “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven (tested) genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

My friends, here is a secret: to end with joy – begin with joy.

“Count” or “consider” is a financial term meaning to “evaluate.”

 Pasan charan means “all joy” or “pure joy.”

We are therefore, called to pure, total, ALL joy,

Do not be robbed of your joy by supposing that your trial is not a suitable context for applying this passage. Instead, look for the spiritual dynamics of trials. In particular, look for the testing – or proving — in the trial.

Life Principle: We must always remember that there is the work God does for us — the work God does in us — and the work God does through us.

Seeing God’s faithfulness manifested in the situations, we will be made entire and complete; we will become mature.

When trouble comes, we should respond in faith.

God’s Spirit strengthens our personal faith within the community of faith.

1 Thess. 3:2– “We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith …”

Hebrews 10:24- “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds …”

Faith is made pure only when the fiery trials burn away the dross.

Again, the Biblical context of testing as James uses it here, is one that reveals the genuineness of a person’s faith.

A test is also designed to develop something that is not yet present in full measure in a person.

This is why, for the one who wants to live by faith, the trial can be (and should be) a time for rejoicing.

But why do trials overwhelm us?

Because we operate in lack of knowledge concerning what God is doing.

My friends, if we value comfort more than character, trials will surely upset us.

BUT, Wisdom comes from God (5-8)

James 1:5-8– “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

When troubles come, it is essential that we respond not only with joy – but also with wisdom.

Wisdom can be understood as the ability to view life from God’s perspective.

Someone once said that knowledge is the ability to take things apart while wisdom is the ability to put it back together.

God has not left us on our own to endure these things.

God tells us to ask Him for wisdom- Wisdom comes only by prayer.

James 1:5- “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

Matthew 7:7– “Ask (and keep on asking) and it will be given to you; seek (and keep on seeking) and you will find; knock (and keep on knocking) and the door will be opened to you.”

We should ask God for the wisdom we are lacking.

And you may ask God for the wisdom you need without fear, for God gives without holding your failures or lack of wisdom against you.

The very heart of the Gospel of Christ will certainly not be contradicted by God when we come to Him for wisdom.

And what, again is that heart of the Gospel? God gives to all who ask — without finding fault.

One of God’s characteristics is that He is a giving God.

It is His constant nature to be gracious and giving.

God gives generously.

Stand the test of faith by asking God for the wisdom you need.

When asking, do not be unbelieving toward God or frightened by your lack of wisdom.

A lack of faith can cause us to fail in times of lack of wisdom.

Understand, God does not help us by removing the tests, but by making the tests work FOR us.

Satan wants to use the tests to tear us down, but God uses then, to build us up.

Again, as a reminder, all throughout Scripture, what satan meant for bad, God uses it for good.

Life Principle: We must always remember that there is the work God does for us — the work God does in us — and the work God does through us.

Christ builds character before He calls to service- a surrendered will.

The Greek word translated “purify” in this passage literally means “make chaste.”

This is a picture of an unfaithful lover.

This lover has been unfaithful to his marriage commitment.

But somehow, God is able to once again make him chaste.

SO, in that light, testing purifies or makes chaste.

And testing produces perseverance

Stand the test of faith by asking God for the wisdom you need.

And that is Faith in the grace of God which enables faith to be exercised– even within hardship and deprivation.

  • It works to purity.
  • It works to perseverance.

There is no substitute for an understanding and wise mind; Satan can defeat the ignorant believer BUT, he cannot overcome the Christian who knows his Bible and who understands the purposes of God.

Stability only comes through Christ … That is unwavering faith

The greatest enemy to answered prayer is unbelief.

James describes such deep-seated doubt as being “double-minded”

James uses the Greek word, Di-sychos which literally means “to be two-                              souled”

  • James records the first historical usage of this term that we are aware of.
  • James defines Di-sychos as an impurity in our inner person

Life Principle: We must always remember that there is the work God does for us — the work God does in us — and the work God does through us.

In the double-minded individual, where there should be one thought, goal, attitude, or devotion, we find instead two competing thoughts.

This is a vacillation between self-reliance and God-reliance.

Illustration: The South Indian Monkey Trap

The “South Indian Monkey Trap” was developed by villagers to catch the ever-present and numerous small monkeys in that part of the world. It involves a hollowed-out coconut chained to a stake. The coconut has some rice inside which can be seen through a small hole. The hole is just big enough so that the monkey can put his hand in, but too small for his fist to come out after he has grabbed the rice.

Tempted by the rice, the monkey reaches in and is suddenly trapped. He is not able to see that it is his own fist that traps him, his own desire for the rice. He rigidly holds on to the rice, because he values it. He cannot let go and by doing so retain his freedom. So, the trap works and the villagers capture him.

A double-minded person is one who wants his will and at the same time wants God’s will. This type of person is unstable in everything he does.

Doubt is an immediate contrast to belief.

Such doubt is instability

My friend, Doubt makes a person unstable.

Single-minded, Single-focused faith means to make a conscious decision, with God’s help, to choose our attitude: joy—and to move on to Christian maturity.

God’s goal for us, then, is to be mature and complete.

James wants to help suffering Christians find the strength to make tough personal moral choices beyond the realm of sentimentality.

Because we value the Lord and His Kingdom life more than we value ease and comfort, it becomes the choice of realism and wisdom to consider it pure joy whenever we face trials of many kinds.

This becomes, then, courageous perseverance in the face of suffering and difficulty.

Habakkuk 3:17-18

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

God does give the ability to endure patiently – in steadfast faithfulness

Life Principle: We must always remember that there is the work God does for us — the work God does in us — and the work God does through us.

Conclusion:  While it seems that perseverance may be a valuable end, there is a more valuable and ultimate ending- Godly character and maturity – and that perseverance and endurance and joy and maturity will ultimately result in praise, glory, and honor – all unto Him.

James 4:8- ‘Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

Life Points:

What makes the complete Christian?

  • The work that God does for us
  • The work that God does in us.
  • The work that God does through us- service.

Life Action Steps

  • Let God do the work He does for us
  • Cooperate with the work God does in us
  • Choose joy in the work God does through us
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