Summary: Part 2 of 7 in our teaching series, "TRUE RELIGION" For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.newsongs.org
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**NOTE: THIS IS A CONCEPT OUTLINE FOR THIS MESSAGE. GRAPHICS AND MULTIMEDIA ARE AVAILABLE TO SUPPORT THIS SERIES.
:: The Early Church
Imagine yourself to be a leader in the very early days of the Church:
What do these people need to know most about what to do next?
:: The Letter from James
James is the letter to those who want to answer those questions and get a grasp on how to experience real faith in their everyday lives.
James’ desire was to see people grow in their spiritual maturity – doing so would allow a relevant faith to transform real life.
• The process of spiritual maturity is often uncomfortable,
• It can be filled with failure, and frankly, humbling
• Not a process that we naturally want to embrace; it is painful and wearing.
But in the eyes of James – and the majority of the New Testament writers – it is a process that is crucial for the believer who desires to live out their faith in a real way
[James 1:2-5, 12-15]
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you are involved in various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But you must let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to everyone generously without a rebuke, and it will be given to him.
:: Broken Down, Growing Up
Experiencing and enduring PRESSURE, STRESS, HARDSHIP & TRIAL are part of the process of reaching spiritual maturity.
Basically, the spiritual principal here is that you have to be broken before you can grow.
• No one is immune or exempt from this process
• Those who seem impervious to trials are either in denial or have come to understand the powerful teaching that James offers us
Job says the same thing speaking from experience:
"What is man that You make so much of him and that You give him so much attention and that You examine him every morning and test him every moment?"
“The devil endeavors by sufferings… to draw men to sin and to deter them from duty, or unfit them for it; but, as our afflictions are in God’s hand, they are intended for the trial and improvement of our graces. The gold is put into the furnace, that it may be purified.”
:: Trials of Faith vs. Suffering from Sinfulness
DISCUSSION: Where does all of this pressure come from?
:: Staying Positive Under Pressure
1. Exercise of JOY
a. Discouragement, anxiety, uncertainty – these will not build endurance; they will cause us to faint.
b. “Philosophy instructs men to be calm under their troubles; Christianity teaches them to be joyful.”
c. There is reason for joy in our time of difficulty - God’s grace and power are now able to work in our lives, outside of our own abilities
2. Exercise of ENDURANCE
a. The more our faith is worked out, the more opportunity we have to grow.
By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
b. “Work it, baby, work it!” Endurance is about giving that extra push, taking that extra rep, going that “just a bit more.” If we give in when the exercise gets tough, we will not develop to our fullest potential.
c. It is comparable to the process of tempering, making metal “tough.” The continual, controlled reheating of the metal reworks the atomic structure, producing a different chemical composition and resulting in metal that is hardened and ready for use.
3. Exercise of PRAYER
a. Not for the removal of pressure, but for wisdom on how to handle it.
b. And not wisdom from people – to grow spiritually in a way that pleases God, we need to seek the wisdom that comes from God.
c. Asking for this Godly wisdom acknowledges the great truths of Christianity – that God is sovereign and I desperately need him – and also commits to adhering to these truths.