2 Good News About Hard Times James 1:2-4


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Good News About Hard Times James 1:2-4 Adapted from a Tim Bond sermon http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/good-news-about-hard-times-tim-bond-sermon-on-peace-48374.asp

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2 Good News About Hard Times James 1:2-4

  1. 1. Good News About Hard Times James 1:2-4<br />Adapted from a Tim Bond sermon<br />http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/good-news-about-hard-times-tim-bond-sermon-on-peace-48374.asp<br />
  2. 2. James 1:2 NET My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything.<br />
  3. 3. Let me tell you a little about the bald eagle so that when you see it you will be reminded of something. The bald eagle is a bird used by our nation to represent power and beauty, grace and courage. It is particularly fascinating to learn about its early life as an eaglet. The birds are absolutely helpless right after they hatch. The mother eagle builds a nest, usually high on a rocky cliff, then lines it with soft down so that her babies are warm and comfortable. <br />
  4. 4. Then she cares for their every need, returning to the nest to bring back food that will nourish the 2 or 3 gaping eaglet beaks awaiting dinner.<br />When the little eagles are about 6 weeks old, the mother eagle stands on the edge of the nest and puts her large, stately bald eagle head down in the nest. She pushes it up against the secure, warm eaglet snuggled into its down bed. At first that eaglet must get warm all over thinking that momma is snuggling.<br />
  5. 5. But the mother nudges the baby eagle over a little, first gently, then a little more firmly. “Hey, what are you doing mom?” Before long she has pushed that little eagle to the edge of the nest. As the eaglet stares over the edge at the drop of several hundred feet to the jagged rocks below, there is one last nudge, and there goes the little eagle, careening down the face of the cliff.<br />
  6. 6. We are continuing our study of the letter that James wrote to Christians all over, and that includes us. The theme of James’ letter could be summed up in the phrase “Everyday worship.” Throughout this letter, James is not interested in talking about the kind of worship that goes on Sunday morning. He is more concerned about the way we worship God when we aren’t in the church building.<br />
  7. 7. For him, worship isn’t a weekly activity it is a lifestyle. And James doesn’t waste any time before he cuts right to the chase. In verse 2he jumps right into the deep end with a statement that drops our jaw. “…consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials,”<br />
  8. 8. Now that statement has to shock you if you really listen to it. Hear what James is saying. “…consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials,” The language he uses is jolting. The phrase “nothing but joy” is also translated: KJV “All joy.” GW “be very happy,” CEV “be glad,” MSG “a sheer gift,” NIV “pure joy,” GNB “consider yourselves fortunate,” TCNT “regard them as a reason for rejoicing,”<br />
  9. 9. He says don’t mix in any grief, but consider it 100% pure joy when you go through trials. It’s almost like James wants us to be thrilled with the prospect of suffering through the trials of life. Now that might sound good in the abstract, but in reality it’s no thrill to think about facing the trials and hardships of life.<br />
  10. 10. Think back to the little eaglet? I’m sure he would have loved to watch a video about flying, learned the details about swoop fishing and gathered the information about lift and trajectory all from the safety of the nest. But real life doesn’t work that way. When the hard times hit you, it feels a lot like that helpless eaglet dropping hundreds of feet to certain death.<br />
  11. 11. So when James says to consider trials your joy, that’s a pretty hard pill to swallow. But since James is the brother of Jesus, and since we believe that God inspired him to write these words, let’s look at them a little more closely.<br />When you look at verse 2 you will notice something about the way he words it. Pay close attention as we read it again. “My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials,”<br />
  12. 12. Maybe you noticed that he didn’t say “if,” but “when you fall into all sorts of trials.” You see, it’s a fact of life that you and I are going to go through hard times. In case you need that confirmed, Jesus told us that in John 16:33 NET I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage — I have conquered the world."<br />
  13. 13. Paul testified to it in Acts 14:22 NET They strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, "We must enter the kingdom of God through many persecutions."<br /> When he said, “We must enter the kingdom of God through many persecutions.” That isn’t telling us anything we don’t know, or is it.<br />
  14. 14. I wonder if in our society we have fostered the notion that it is possible to live a life of comfort, relatively free of pain and hardship. Some people of the Christian faith have even been taught that. I think there has been this idea floating around that if we can just get the right formula for success, we can skip all this trials and suffering stuff and really have a great life. <br />
  15. 15. If you hold to that false idea that a life of ease and comfort can be yours then when hard times come on, you could be destroyed. You will either think that you have messed up your life, or that God is punishing you. But the truth of the matter is, trials are inevitable. <br />Think about it!<br />
  16. 16. If you choose to love people, then you invite into your life the suffering that comes from being betrayed or deserted by someone you love. But if you choose not to love people, then you are going to suffer the pain of loneliness and isolation. <br />Either way, you will suffer pain.<br />
  17. 17. If you attempt to accomplish anything in your lifetime, you invite the trials that come with frustration and failure. But if you never attempt anything, then all your life you will fight with feeling insignificant. In the end you will look back on a life of unreached potential.<br />
  18. 18. If you breath air, you invite the prospect of a viral or bacterial infection. If you choose not to breath air it would mean wearing an oxygen mask 24/7, live in an oxygen tent, or you’re dead. So something of what James is saying is “since you can’t avoid trials, don’t spend your life hiding. Consider them joy.”<br />
  19. 19. A guy told about taking his 70+ year old mother out in a ski boat one hot June afternoon. She had never been water skiing before, and she said she thought it looked fun. It wasn’t too long before the ski jacket was on and she was out the back end of the boat waiting for the end of the rope to come her way. She got up on skis that day. One of the last things she said before she jumped out was, “What if I break a hip out there.”<br />
  20. 20. He told her, “Mom, if you’re going to break a hip, wouldn’t you like to tell the nurse that you did it water skiing instead of tripping over a rug!” That evidently convinced her. There is more wisdom there than you might think at first blush.<br />Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you chronologically advanced folks to go water skiing. But what I am saying to all of us is that since trials are inevitable don’t live your life cowering in fear of adversity!<br />
  21. 21. Don’t be afraid to love because people might hurt you. Don’t be afraid to try something because you might fail. Don’t be afraid to breathe because you might catch something! There is something to be said for someone who will set out to do something with the idea that “I’ll do it or die trying.” Isn’t that the way the apostle’s lived, enduring incredible suffering and every one of them ultimately giving their life for the cause of Christ? <br />
  22. 22. Isn’t that the way Jesus lived, offering His life up on a cross so that we could go to heaven? We love that kind of courage in other people. We live it out vicariously in movie heroes, but it is hard to muster for ourselves.<br />What we have to realize is that our attitude toward hardship determines how it affects us. You see, if we are afraid of hard times, they will beat us up.<br />
  23. 23. But if we view hardship as our ally instead of as our enemy, then we can come to know what James is talking about. You think about your life and I guarantee that you will realize that the times when you have grown the most is when you have gone through the hardest times. That is because God uses those hard times to mold us into who He wants us to be.<br />
  24. 24. You can see the progress of thought in James’ words. …consider it nothing but joywhen you fall into all sorts of trials,” 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything.<br />Now the Bible is full of ways that God uses suffering to help us become who He wants us to be. <br />Let me just highlight 4.<br />
  25. 25. 1. Romans 5:2b NET …we rejoice in the hope of God's glory. 3 Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance, character, and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.<br />
  26. 26. Through suffering, we learn to lean on the Holy Spirit. You all know about my plane crash & the devastation it caused to my health & every aspect of life. I can testify that before that time I had cruised through life. But that time, obviously the roughest my 26 years, (it’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since that terrible day) taught me that I wasn’t strong enough to face life on my own.<br />
  27. 27. I needed God’s help through that time, and when I start standing too tall sometimes I have to look back and see that God is the one who sustains me through His Spirit.2. 1 Peter 1:6 NET This brings you great joy, although you may have to suffer for a short time in various trials. 7a,bSuch trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold — gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away...<br />
  28. 28. Through suffering, we learn the depth of our faith. It’s easy to believe in God when you’re cashing paychecks, your health is good. But it is when you are standing in the unemployment line, or when the doctor tells you it’s terminal, or when your family disappoints you, that you learn how deeply you believe in God. Suffering is the thermometer that tests the strength of your faith.<br />
  29. 29. 3. Peter 1:7c NET …and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.<br />These have come so that your faith…may be proved genuine and may result in “praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” Through suffering, we are provided a testimony to the power of God. There are some people who God speaks through not because they are so polished or persuasive, but because they allow Him to work through their suffering.<br />
  30. 30. Horatio Spafford experienced several traumatic events. The first was the death of his only son in 1871 at the age of four, shortly followed by the great Chicago Fire which ruined him financially (he had been a successful lawyer). Then in 1873, he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the SS Ville du Havre, but sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business concerning zoning problems following the Great Chicago Fire.<br />
  31. 31. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with a sailing ship, the Loch Earn, and all four of Spafford's daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, "Saved alone." Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write the words of the hymn "It Is Well with My Soul" as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.<br />
  32. 32. The Spaffords later had three more children, one of whom (a son) died in infancy. In 1881 the Spaffords, including baby Bertha and newborn Grace, set sail for Israel. The Spaffords moved to Jerusalem and helped found a group called the American Colony; its mission was to serve the poor. The colony later became the subject of the Nobel prize winning Jerusalem, by Swedish novelist Selma Lagerlöf.<br />http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It_Is_Well_with_My_Soul<br />
  33. 33. There are many who have known pain or physical impediments far beyond anything I have known, and I have seen them stand firm and I know that they know what James means when he talks about “the testing of your faith produces endurance.” God reveals His power by carrying us through our suffering.<br />
  34. 34. 4. 2 Corinthians 1:3 NET Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow toward us, so also our comfort through Christ overflows to you.<br />
  35. 35. 6 But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort that you experience in your patient endurance of the same sufferings that we also suffer. 7 And our hope for you is steadfast because we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you will share in our comfort.<br />
  36. 36. Trials give us the ability to comfort others in their tough times. Have you seen the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus? I watched that movie and was really moved with Richard Dreyfuss’ portrayal of Mr. Holland. A struggling musician becomes a High School music teacher against his wishes. The movie takes you through his highs and lows like the birth of his son, the realization that the son is deaf, the struggle of the daily grind, and the triumph of seeing his students succeed.<br />
  37. 37. The movie dealt with temptation and love, the search for significance, the emptiness of unfulfilled dreams and the joy of true accomplishment. When it was all over I had laughed, but I had been sad. As I thought about that movie, I realized that when I was a teenager that movie would have been okay. But now it is more significant because I know the power of temptation and the joy of love. <br />You probably do too. <br />
  38. 38. When we can relate to someone, we can identify and are moved by their similar circumstances. <br />Honestly, it is a fearful thing to be a minister sometimes. I have had to go in and try to comfort where I really didn’t have a clue what to do. But I have watched people with no formal training meet the needs of hurting people that I didn’t even know existed. <br />
  39. 39. That is God at work in the lives of people who have been comforted, so that they know how to comfort. You see, it is only through the pain of suffering that you can come to know the power of God’s comfort. It is only because that mother eagle knew the need for that little eaglet to fly that she could push him out of the nest. But you know who was there to catch him before the jagged edges of the rocks below. <br />
  40. 40. At the last second she catches him, returns him to the nest and lets him rest until the next push she will give him over the edge. When you face “all sorts of trials” that James speaks of (and you will face them), you need to realize something. You are not alone. <br />
  41. 41. The Psalmist wrote God is our strong refuge; he is truly our helper in times of trouble. 2For this reason we do not fear when the earth shakes, and the mountains tumble into the depths of the sea,<br />Psalms 46:1-2 NET <br />God is there, and <br />He won’t let you hit the rocks. <br />Trust Him.<br />
  42. 42. One thing about James is that he is no ivory tower philosopher. He sure doesn’t spend any time asking the questions like “Why do people suffer trials.” He’s too practical for that. What is on his mind is helping us to see life from a different perspective. He wants us to know that if we are going to worship God even in the midst of trials, we need to be able to see the joy in their midst.<br />
  43. 43. Now realize, James is not saying that the trials themselves are joyful. But the results are. You see, God wants to develop us into people of character, James uses the terminology “…so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything.”<br />
  44. 44. And he even points us to a promise in v. 12. It is the ultimate promise of those of us who are longing to be everything God created us to be. <br />James 1:12 NET Happy is the one who endures testing, because when he has proven to be genuine, he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him.<br />