Summary: A message which speaks of asking and receiving.
A Life Worth Living
* There is a story of two garment workers in New York City. One was a cutter and one was a stitcher. They were working side by side. They got to talking about vacations. One said he was looking forward to his vacation and the other said he was not going on a vacation this year. The question was asked, “Why?” “I went to Africa last year. I went elephant hunting.” “Did you get any elephants?” “No, I found an elephant. He charged me, but my gun was jammed, & I was killed.” The cutter gave a stunned look at his friend and said, “What are you talking about, you was killed? You aren’t dead. You’re sitting here living!” And the other fellow looked down at his scissors, looked across at the needle and fabric in his friend's hands and replied: “You call this living?”
* Jesus said, “I am come that you might have life and have it to the “full.” That means in Him we can not only have a life but we can really “LIVE.”
* As we have seen, James (the half-brother of Jesus) points his reader to take a look at the difficult life they were living and to understand how God was using those difficulties to make them into what HE wanted them to be. The ‘scattered saints’ to whom James was writing were experiencing a great deal of persecution. Trial, testing, and troubles on every hand were filling their lives and as a result, they were having problems understanding what was happening and they were having difficulties praying for God to give the understanding to what all of this meant. Quite likely, they were becoming discouraged and some it may seem were coming to the point of ‘giving up.’ Is this all there is?
* Some of us would understand this type of thinking. Is this all there is? Is my life going to continue being so difficult? Is it really worth it? How do I learn from this? Possibly some would say, ‘is this life really worth living?’
* If this question has even just flashed across your mind, would you hear the words of James which were inspired by God? James has just said, “Count it pure joy when you experience various trials, because the purpose of these trials is to test your faith and produce endurance.” Don’t ever pray for patience, endurance, or fortitude unless you are ready for a struggle because God does very little preaching, generally He will take you to the classroom of experience. A trial in God’s hand is a divine tool to develop us into a mature, complete, person who lacks nothing. Let’s think about this truth in 2 thoughts;
1. The Desire of God for you. – God has big plans for you! Now, it may not be ‘big’ in the eyes of the world, conversely it may only be big in the eyes of God. (God has a different rating system than the world) But the question is, ‘who do you want to live large for? The world or the creator?”
* Candidly, what God desires for you is more than anything this world can give you. Look at what James tells us that God wants us to be.
a) To be secure – Can you think of anyone who does not desire security? To be insecure is to be unsure, to be unsure is to be uncertain, and to be uncertain is to be ineffective. HCSB translates the word ‘mature.’ Never forget “Immaturity breeds Insecurity.” Think about response of the child who is so immature that every time mom leaves the room or when they don’t get their way or it’s not happening quickly enough for them, they ‘throw a fit.” Much of the time, in their immaturity these children show their insecurity. Some of us are too old to remember the fright of being in a room full of strangers and losing sight of dad. Yet, as we mature, we come to a place of understanding that dad only love us when he is in the room, but he loves us no matter what his geography. When we move from pre-adolescence toward maturity we find ourselves being secure. Spiritually speaking, James has just taught us about trials and how God uses those trials to bring us to maturity. What is one mark of maturity? It goes by several names, endurance, patience, or even steadfastness. The truly mature person can be counted on to be patient and understanding every time! Why can a person be patient when he is mature? Because he is secure in who and whose he is. By the way, the Greek word for maturity also means ‘brought to its end.’
b) To be strong – Almost everyone wants to be strong. We want to have strong bodies, minds, and hearts. When we are healthy, we expect to be strong. The word we read is the word, “Complete” which means “whole.” If you start a building and a mild storm comes in the midst of the process, it could be that the house is blown away. However, when completed, that same structure may well stand the strain of hurricane force winds, when house was completed and whole. The same is true in our life. No life is worth living if it can be blown around by every wind and whim. Furthermore, it is not God’s desire for us to be ‘pawns’ on the chessboard of life. He wants us to be complete. I’ll suggest that one of the possible reasons which has historically made Baptist a target for splinter religious groups (cults) is found in the harsh truth of our lack of becoming a real disciple. Too few who claim to be ‘believers’ have walked the road of discipleship. And much of the time we tend to think of discipleship in term of ‘how much you know’ when actually authentic discipleship (as we will continue to discover in James) is more about ‘what you do with what you know.’ An athlete never gets strong only by reading. At some point he must take action. Endurance equals strength.