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Trials and Temptations: Thoughts on James 1:1-18
Trials and temptations
James 1:1-18

This morning we are going to take a look at James 1:1-18 together.

-While the Bible lists a number of "James"-- 2 apostles had this name. It is generally thought that James- the half brother of Jesus- is the author of this book
-the recipients are Jewish Christians wherever they may be found
-The author is a master of segues -- flowing effortlessly from one topic to another and then circling back and tying everything together
-The Book of James is easy to read and entirely practical in nature.

While James 1:1-18 touches on a number of topics, this morning we are going to consider 1. Trials and their purpose 2. Temptations-- which often arise during trials.

Without a doubt rials and temptations is a relevant subject to us all: Each of us has or will face difficult times. Every day we struggle with temptation and sin.

READ TEXT

Trials and temptations

1. Trials come in many different shapes, ways, and sizes.

Relationship troubles, illness, financial hardship, employment issues, mental illness, disability, persecution (James poor readers were facing oppression and persecution at the hands of the rich).

Trials are unavoidable for us. Trials are a part of life.

Sometimes it feels and seems that troubles are all around and that they won't end.

In James 1:9 and throughout James, poverty is identified as a trial that. A number of the believers had very little. Further to this: the rich actively oppressed them and revealed in their luxuries. James message to them is that though they were financially poor, they were in fact rich-- for they had a treasure that money cannot buy--- eternal life, the forgiveness of sins, Heaven as their home.

2. A DIFFICULT COMMAND: "Count it all joy when you face trials of many kinds" v.2

The call to "count it all joy when we face trials of many kinds" is a tough command and may strike you as a bit bizarre.

Trials are painful, they are heart wrenching, they seem to anxiety inducing. Most often we equate trials with a break down in our life--- a period of time-- that we want to be done with- and so its hard for us to see what to rejoice in--- Hence we need the eyes of faith.

I personally find this command to be a difficult one- and somewhat perplexing.

We have examples of people doing it: The apostles rejoicing that they were worthy of the name of Christ-- after being persecuted. In Hebrews 12 it says "for the joy set before him, Jesus endured the cross. I've seen some people have it.

Some rough thoughts on what the command means and how to obey it.

1. Joy and peace, while we often associate it with circumstances, as a follower of Christ, should not be dependant on circumstances. Such is the fruit of the Spirit, a gift from the Lord to us as we delight in Him
2. As we shall observe in a moment (as we take a look at v.3-4) there can be joy when we see what God's purpose is in the trial.
3. To rejoice and give thanks in the midst of trial is an intentional act of choosing. It is a step of faith. See Hab. 3:17-19 as one of the greatest examples. "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.The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights."
4. To rejoice in a present trial necessitates a future and sure hope. Such is the definition of faith. Eyes that look heavenward and upward are required.


For further insight into the command to rejoice, consider

1 Thessalonians 5:18 "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

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

Psalm 126:5-6 "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him."

Note Isaiah 35:10 "and the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

A thought on how to pray in a time of trial. Help me Lord to endure this moment. Help me to be found faithful to you. Deliver me from evil. Whatever is lacking in my faith and character, please supply. Give me patience. Thank you for.....


3. VERSE 3 AND 4, THE ONLY WAY TO MAKE SENSE OF THE COMMAND OF VERSE 2

The only way the command of v.2 makes sense is when you link it with v.3-4, which says "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"

The purpose of Trials

Trials are a test of our faith. They are an opportunity for us to prove our faith.

Trials reveal the depth and genuineness of our faith.

Trials are part of God's refining work in making us more like Christ

Trials show how much we are going to trust God.

Trials equip and shape us for ministry! They give us deep roots. God is growing oak trees, not pumpkins.

Trials come that we might grow in our faith, in maturity, in love, in purity, in long suffering, in compassion, in Christ likeness***

If we keep these purposes in mind, then the command of v.2 makes sense.

Just like engineers test a product or a doctor administers a stress test- and we understand how important these actions are, so tests and trials come are way to reveal, refine, and build our faith in Christ.


A special note on perseverance in the midst of a trial.

The word used means to remain, steadfastness, to abide, not to flee, to hold fast, to endure bravely.

Our calling, over and over again, in book after book of the Bible is this: remain in Christ, persevere, hold fast, stand firm. Trials are meant to make us hold all the more tightly to Christ.

In James 1:4 we are told that perseverance under trial leads to maturity and completeness in Christ.

In James 1:12 it says; "Blessed is the person who perseveres under trial, because when they have stood the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." POINT: Heaven and eternal life is the reward for our steadfast commitment to Christ.

Lastly, James 5:10-11 "Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider 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."

Are you facing a trial? Are in you the valley? HOLD on. Stand fast. Do not turn to the right or to the left. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Blessed is the person who perseveres under trial.

Key during a trial

Don't lash out at God-- having been tested, Job's wife told Job to curse God and die. This is not a good way to respond--- lot's of people curse God, but we are not to.



4. A NEAR UNIVERSAL PROBLEM: In the midst of trials its more than likely that we are going to deal with temptation v.13-15 read

As Christians everyday we struggle with temptation-- the flesh and Spirit being in conflict.

In the midst of trials comes the temptation to stop praying, to stop worshipping, to abandon ourselves to sin, to use our tongues for evil, to lash out in anger, to come up with our own solutions to our problems/versus going to God and asking for wisdom (as highlighted in v.6-8).

You may find it interesting that the same root word is used for trial and temptation. They are related and yet the clear message of the Bible is that the temptations that arise during trials or anytime are not from God. Further note: While the same root word is used, context determines the meaning of the word. This point also applies to the Lord's prayer.


CRITICAL POINT***: God does not tempt anyone to do evil. While God tests a person to reveal and refine, He never attempts to cause a person to sin.

Temptation comes from 3 sources: The World, our own flesh (the focus of James 1:13-15), and the Devil

As James emphasizes: We are tempted by our own evil evil, selfish, and twisted desires. Giving in to them only leads to misery, heart ache, and death. Resisting temptation brings blessing.

As for clarification that God does not tempt anyone to sin, in James 1:16-17 it says; "Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

Reminder: Nothing good ever comes from giving in to temptation


All that comes is guilt, lack of peace, a sense of discombobulation with God, illness, sickness, pain, suffering, and very short term pleasure.

So: Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you!

Good news: Victory can be had over temptation

I Corinthians 10:13 says "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

Victory had when we purpose to do so-- strengthened by the Word, our renouncement of the sin that is tempting us, caring friends, and the indwelling Holy Spirit

Steps to victory

-guarding our hearts, minds, ears, where our feet take us
-prayer
-taking care of our bodies (eating well, getting proper sleep)
-worship, time in the Word (being transformed by the renewing of our minds)
-for some: journaling (keeping track of their progress)
-resisting the Devil
-accountability
-Memorizing scriptures that address the temptations that we face


CONCLUSION

Trials are no excuse for us to stop following or stop praising and serving God

Trials come to us with a holy purpose: for the strengthening of our faith, for our increase in being like Christ, for our being equipped for every good work.

In the midst of trials we are going to often struggle with temptation and sin-- this does not come from God, but from within. Victory over sin can be had.

May we be found standing firm in the time of trial and encouraging others to do the same- and praying for such.