091115 How To Live Your Faith 03 When Life Hands You Lemons


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Sermon 3 in a series on the Book of James. The text of this sermon is James 1:2-4. It was presented at Palm Desert Church of Christ on November 15, 2009, by Dale Wells.

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091115 How To Live Your Faith 03 When Life Hands You Lemons

  1. 1.
  2. 2. James 1:2-4 NIV <br />Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, (3) because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (4) Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.<br />
  3. 3. “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade”<br />Normal people don’t enjoy trials<br />We do everything possible to avoid them<br />James writes people who knew hardship<br />Most faced loss of homes, jobs & security<br />Had to flee for their lives to strange places<br />Not inconvenience, but threats to survival<br />Separated from family & friends<br />
  4. 4. They were members of a new people & family<br />Ephesians 2:19 NIV Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household<br />James: three principles to profit from trials<br />As relevant for us as for the early church<br />
  5. 5. What SHOULD you do? What DO you do?<br />
  6. 6. 1. Don’t let troubles get you down<br />James 1:2 NIV Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds<br />
  7. 7. What do you do when life hands you lemons?<br />Hardships are not avoidable, but inevitable<br />We areto face hardships with pure joy<br />Gk pas– all, complete & whole<br />James is not telling us to “fake it” <br />Not contrived joy,as religious obligation<br />Rather, pure joy – the “real thing”<br />
  8. 8. What kind of hardships are we talking about?<br />Gk peirasmós – external adversity that provides testing towards an end<br />Describes a young bird “testing” his wings<br />Used to describe the trials faced by Israel <br />Hebrews 3:8 NIV do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert<br />
  9. 9. One great promise regarding hardships<br />1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV 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.<br />This is our confidence in life’s hardships<br />
  10. 10. Trials come in many forms<br />James 1:2 NIV Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds<br />Gk poikilósmeans varieties of trials<br />Three varieties of trials or temptations faced by sincere Christians<br />
  11. 11. Three varieties of trials faced by Christians<br />
  12. 12. Cause-and-effecttrials<br />Basic principle of Scripture: <br />Galatians 6:7 NIV Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.<br />Some come because of disobedience<br />We “play with fire” to see how close we can get to sin without being burned<br />
  13. 13. James 1:13-15 NIV <br />When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; (14) but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. (15) Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.<br />
  14. 14. Spiritual trials<br />Peter tells us not to be surprised: <br />1 Peter 4:12 NIV Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.<br />He goes on to say: <br />1 Peter 4:16 NIV However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.<br />
  15. 15. Jesus talked about these trials<br />John 16:33 NIV “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”<br />John 15:20 NIV Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.<br />
  16. 16. Spiritually mysterious trials<br />The hardest trials to accept <br />The hardest to express pure joy about<br />No rational reason for the trial – or at least not one that we can identify & understand<br />
  17. 17. This is the kind of trial faced by Job<br />Friends convinced that Job had hidden sin<br />Wife certain that it was God’s fault<br />Job didn’t understand the “why” of his trial<br />At the end, he still doesn’t understand why<br />
  18. 18. But God gives Job the response that is right for every hardship<br />Commit complete trust & faith to God<br />Acknowledge that God’s ways are not ours<br />Job committed himself to his faithful God<br />Conclusion: You can always trust God!<br />
  19. 19. 2. Troubles should make you better, not bitter<br />James 1:3 NIV because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.<br />
  20. 20. God is not behind our hardships, but we can find Him in them!<br />He uses them for our good<br />Romans 8:28 NIV And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.<br />Practical result of facing trials with faith<br />The result is the virtue of perseverance<br />How can hardships lead to perseverance?<br />
  21. 21. What kind of “testing” are we talking about?<br />Gk. dokı́mion, literally “proving” or “trying”<br />It is the word used by Peter: <br />1 Peter 1:7 NIV These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.<br />
  22. 22. Like a refiner’s fire that burns alloys from precious metal<br />God allows testing & uses it for our good<br />As we commit ourselves to Him<br />He allows impurities to be removed from us<br />He leaves perseverance in their place<br />
  23. 23. Note where this testing takes place<br />James 1:3 NIV because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.<br />Faith is essential to the Christian<br />Hebrews 11:6 NIV And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.<br />
  24. 24. God allows testing at that essential place – our faith<br />As we are tested, our faith grows<br />We trust God more and ourselves less<br />1 John 5:4 NIV … everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.<br />
  25. 25. What is “patience” or “perseverance”?<br />Not “passive” patience – laziness<br />Rather, “active” patience – “staying power”<br />“Stick-to-it-iveness”<br />Paul made a similar point: <br />Romans 5:3 NIV Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance<br />
  26. 26. Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV <br />Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (2) Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.<br />
  27. 27. “Keep on keeping on!” <br />God invites us to trust Him & to realize that the testing of our faith is for our good – it develops perseverance in our lives<br />Later, James shares moreinsight & advice about how we should respond to trials<br />
  28. 28. James 5:7-9 NIV<br />Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. (8) You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. (9) Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! <br />
  29. 29. Within that context, he refers to the examples of Job and the prophets<br />James 5:10-11 NIV Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. (11) 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.<br />
  30. 30. 3. Keep on keeping on<br />James 1:4 NIV Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.<br />
  31. 31. Trials can be beneficial if we trust the Lord<br />He will use those negative experiences for very positive results in our lives characters by teaching us perseverance<br />But perseverance is not an end in itself<br />James: three benefits of perseverance<br />
  32. 32. The first benefit of perseverance is maturity<br />
  33. 33. Mature (téleios) means to be perfect, complete, or full-grown<br />Jesus used this word: <br />Matthew 5:48 NIV Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.<br />“No way! No one can be perfect but God!”<br />Why would Jesus give such a command?<br />We can never reach perfection in this life, but that should be our goal<br />
  34. 34. Paul put this into perspective: <br />Philippians 3:12-14 NIV Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. … I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.<br />
  35. 35. The second benefit is that we can be complete<br />
  36. 36. Gk. holóklēros, means entire or perfect in every part<br />Found in only one other place in NT<br />1 Thessalonians 5:23 NIV May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole (holóklēros) spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.<br />
  37. 37. That is what James is saying<br />As we allow patience to have its perfect work, we become well-rounded disciples<br />But if the first two statements are not clear enough, he adds the third<br />
  38. 38. The third benefit is that we are “not lacking anything” <br />
  39. 39. James 1:4-5 NIV <br />Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.<br />
  40. 40. What a powerful statement! <br />We become more and more like Jesus – perfect, well-rounded,mature, full-grown, complete, whole, lacking nothing!<br />James 1:4 NIV Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.<br />
  41. 41. Which benefit is most important?<br />
  42. 42. The ultimate benefit is eternal life<br />James 1:12 NIV Blessed 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.<br />
  43. 43. Beyond the immediate benefits of perseverance is the ultimate benefit <br />Eternal life that no one can take from us<br />Life is not always fair<br />Our victories are not always obvious<br />We can be sure of one thing: ultimate victory is ours in Jesus Christ<br />As we are faithful and as we persevere, the “crown of life” awaits us in the victory circle of the kingdom of God!<br />