Summary: God wants to take the trials in your life and through them produce in you fruit that will last.
An Opportunity For Joy
Text: James 1:2-12
1. Read James 1:2-12
2. Chippie the parakeet never saw it coming. One second he was peacefully perched in his cage. The next he was sucked in, washed up, and blown over.
The problems began when Chippie’s owner decided to clean Chippie’s cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage. The phone rang, and she turned to pick it up. She’d barely said "hello" when "ssssopp!" Chippie got sucked in.
The bird owner gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum, and opened the bag. There was Chippie -- still alive, but stunned.
Since the bird was covered with dust and soot, she grabbed him and raced to the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held Chippie under the running water. Then, realizing that Chippie was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do . . . she reached for the hair dryer and blasted the pet with hot air.
Poor Chippie never knew what hit him.
A few days after the trauma, the reporter who’d initially written about the event contacted Chippie’s owner to see how the bird was recovering. "Well," she replied, "Chippie doesn’t sing much anymore -- he just sits and stares."
It’s hard not to see why. Sucked in, washed up, and blown over . . . That’s enough to steal the song from the stoutest heart.
Max Lucado, In the Eye of the Storm, Word Publishing, 1991, p. 11.
3. Have you ever felt like Chippie? Like you’ve been sucked in, washed up, and blown over?
4. The Good News is that you don’t have to be like Chippie. You can still have a song in your heart and a bounce in your step even in the midst of trials.
Transition: James tells us that...
I. God Can Cause Trials to Produce Joy (2-4)
A. Introduction to Epistle
1. The Epistle of James was written somewhere between 45 and 49 AD, which makes it one of the earliest NT documents.
2. It was written by James, the half-brother of Jesus.
3. It was written to Jewish Christians who had been fled the Holy Land on account of the persecution of the church
4. They understood what it meant to go through trials.
a. Driven from their homes
b. Jews didn’t like them because they were Christians
c. Gentiles didn’t like them because they were Jews
5. They knew what it meant to be Chippie!
B. Count It All Joy
1. James starts out by telling them the facts of life - "when ye fall into divers temptations."
a. The word "temptations" refers to some form of difficulty or pressure in our lives (sometimes from the world or Satan) (Life in the Spirit Study Bible, 1986).
b. It can mean temptation to sin, or it can mean difficult circumstances in our lives.
2. Notice what James says about these temptations.
a. When you fall - not if, but when. They will happen!
b. Divers - many. There is going to be a lot of them.
3. Now look at what James says to do with these difficult circumstances - "My brethren, count it all joy"
a. You want me to do what?
b. Illustration: I used to have a friend named Mark Tatton who used to say "Count it all joy, Bro!"
c. Am I supposed to be happy about it?
d. The point is not to pretend to be happy when we face pain, but to have a positive outlook because of what trials can produce in our lives. —Life Application Bible Notes
e. "let it be an opportunity for joy" (NLT).
4. James tells us to turn our hardships into times of learning. He says, "Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience."
a. Tough times can teach us perseverance. —Life Application Bible Notes
b. What James is saying is that "when the going gets tough, the tough get going."
c. He is saying that you will know from experience that God will take this difficulty and make you a better person.
d. Faith is like gold; it stands in the test of fire. True faith, like pure gold, endures, no matter how hot the fire.—Bible Knowledge Commentary
C. But Let Patience
1. Again James gives us another key; we have to "let patience have her perfect work."
a. Whether or not we benefit from our trials depends upon us.
b. We must let patience finish its work.
c. James cautions us to observe our attitudes more than our circumstances.
2. James says that if we do this we will be "perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
a. By "perfect" James means mature, perfect, fully developed; full grown, complete, whole.—Practical Word Studies in the New Testament