Summary: James encourages us to persevere in times of trial by choosing to have an attitude of spiritual joy, an attitude of persistent faith and an attitude of humility.
a)Statements made: children don’t come with an instruction manual.
b)Society says that there is no standard way to live your life. Just do it your way, make yourself happy, and according to Nike “Just Do It.”
c)The Book of James however, is a Do It Yourself Guidebook on Faithfully Living the Christian Life. I’ll be preaching through the Book of James over the next several weeks. Today we will examine the first 12 verses of chapter 1 as James encourages us to Faithfully Persevere in the midst of trials.
d)Date: This book was written approx. A.D. 44-49 which makes this the first New Testament book to be written.
e)Read the text.
f)Author: James, the half brother of Jesus. Initially James and his brothers rejected Jesus but later James came to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, his Lord and Savior. James became the “Senior Pastor” of the church in Jerusalem. In the first verse James identifies himself as a bond-servant of Christ. Instead of identifying himself by his title as the leader of the church he chooses to identify himself humbly as a bond servant, a slave of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. The term Doulos refers to a slave who has no personal freedom, is totally loyal, obedient, and completely under control of the master. A Doulas was born a slave. James became a Doulas, or bond servant when he was born into new life through faith in Jesus Christ. People typically get their identity from what they do, what their title or position is, what material belongings they own, how much money they have or how successful they perceive themselves to be. James gained his identity from whom he served because nothing was more important to him than serving his Lord, Savior and Master Jesus Christ.
g)Purpose: James is writing to Christians from the Jerusalem Church who fled to other lands due to being persecuted for their faith. James fully expected that this letter would be an encouragement to them to continue to live out their faith in a world that was not very accepting of their faith
h)Transition: In these first 12 verses James encourages us to “Faithfully Persevere in the midst of trials.”
2)Attitude of Joy (vs. 2-4)
a)Joy vs. “Woe is me”. We should not be surprised when we face trials. This text does not say “if” you face trials but “when” you face trials. We have the ability to choose how we respond to the trials we encounter. It’s a “Joy vs. Woe is me” attitude choice. Some trials occur simply because we are human such as illness, accidents, disappointments, and tragedies. Others occur simply because we are Christians and Satan opposes us and the world around us opposes us. But how do you choose an attitude of joy? We need to focus not just on the immediate physical circumstance but also on the spiritual situation and KNOW and have FAITH in certain things:
b)KNOW that Jesus said in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. “ And
c)HAVE FAITH that the second part of that statement is also true when Jesus said “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”1 Jesus overcame every trial and struggle that faced him including death on the cross. Death and the grave could not defeat Jesus and no struggle or trial can defeat a child of God whose faith is firmly entrenched in the power, mercy, and saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
d)Know and Have Faith that nothing, absolutely nothing can separate you from the love of Christ and that your God is right there with you in the midst of the storm because he tells us in Deut 31:6, Deut 31:8, Josh 1:5 and Heb 13:5 that He will be with us in the struggles and He will never leave us nor forsake us.
e)Know and Have Faith that the end result of the trial is that your faith will be stronger and you will be more spiritually mature. Every time we go to the gym we test our muscles to their full capacity. As a result we become stronger. So it is with our faith. Paul tells us in Romans 5:4 that “suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character and character hope.” Each time we go through a trial and look back and see how God carried us through it strengthens our faith and allows us to trust Him more fully in the next trial.
f)Joy comes from focusing upon what God is doing in and through us rather than focusing upon the circumstances we find ourselves in. That is why Paul tells us to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter or 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.” (HEB 12:2) Jesus’ joy was not found in the circumstance. It was found in the grace and power of God that was going to be poured out on all humanity after he persevered through his trials of crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection.