Preached at Straightway Bible Church on February 11th, 2013. Below you will find the study notes I handed out. I had been in bed ill for a couple of days so forgive the sniffles and scratchy voice. Trouble and trials are a way of life for the Believer but God uses each and every one of them for His purpose and our good.
(Click here to see the entire series of “The Book of James – Practical Faith”)
Here are the study notes:
James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials…
The Godly life is a life of trials:
- Job 14:1–2 “Man who is born of woman; Is of few days and full of trouble.
- Psalm 22:11 Be not far from Me, For trouble is near; For there is none to help.
- Isaiah 8:22 … and see trouble and darkness, gloom of anguish; … driven into darkness.
- Ecclesiastes 2:22–23 …. For all his days are sorrowful, and his work burdensome;
Jesus didn’t avoid troubles – John 13:1
… when Jesus knew that His hour had come
Trials are a way of life for God’s people:
- Noah – 120 years of taunting and being ignored while he did God’s plan
- Joseph –enslaved by brothers, thrown in prison by employer, neglected by those he helped
- Job – lost everything
- David – ignored by his father, hunted down by Saul, betrayed by family
- John the Baptist – mocked, imprisoned, forgotten, and then silenced by beheading
- Jesus – our greatest example of enduring trials
- Apostles – imprisoned, roughed up, beaten, and harassed nearly fifty times in the book of Acts
- Foxes Book of Martyrs – thousands of years of stories; those who suffered the ultimate for God
Not a popular Gospel message today: come give your life to Jesus and then be joyful about the inevitable suffering that will follow…
“count it all joy…” ALL joy means complete, fulfilling joy… we have joy because :
- it authenticates our faith,
- strengthens our faith (as all testing does),
- it comes with a great satisfaction when we’ve successfully finished it and
- we joy because we know trials keep us close to God; glorifies God when it’s proven that He sustains us through everything, and we look back and see the lesson or refining we know God gave us.
Five Ways God Uses Trials, Suffering & Pain
- To Push Us
- Prov 20:30 Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, As do stripes the inner depths of the heart.
- Luke 15:14–16 The prodigal son had to hit bottom before he would turn back to the Father
- To Guide Us
- Psalm 119:71 (NKJV) It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.
- Joseph suffered a lifetime and He ended up right where God needed him to be… Genesis 50:20–
- To Measure Us
- People are like tea bags—you don’t know what is inside until in hot water. Isaiah 48:10 (NKJV)
- When you squeeze a lemon, you get lemon juice
- God tested the Israelites – turned a 2 week hike into a 40 year trial – Deuteronomy 8:2 (NKJV)
- To Protect Us
- What does pain do physically? It tells us something is wrong, something needs to change, something needs attention
- SPIRITUALLY THE SAME: the pain of trials are God’s alert system to warn us that something is wrong, something needs to change
- To Mature & Humble Us
- We are confident, self-sufficient, prideful & independent when everything is going great
- We live in culture where all things “self” are taught and encouraged: self… esteem, love, confidence, improvement, sufficiency and focus
- Selfism started in the Garden when Adam and Even turned from God to SELF
- Selfism is exactly the opposite of Christianity, so it makes sense the world promotes it
- “Selfism” keeps us prideful and immature
- Is God using my trial to push me towards changing something or to quit doing something?
- Is God using this pain to guide me in a new direction or to greater Christlikeness?
- Am I allowing my trials to help me measure myself and see what I am really like on the inside and see what needs to be changed? Is it a warning light that something is wrong?
- Is God using a trial to protect me from something worse, to keep me from wandering too far, and to keep me dependent upon Him?
- Is God using suffering to mature me or humble me?
- Can you look back at your life and realize that the greatest growth in your faith and Christianity have occurred because of and through trials?