Summary: When facing difficult times we can find Peace and Joy only from a committed relationship with Jesus Christ
Finding Joy in Hard Times
James 1:1-8 New Living Translation (NLT)
Greetings from James
1 This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I am writing to the “twelve tribes”—Jewish believers scattered abroad.
Faith and Endurance
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
Tonight we begin a new study in the Book of James. Many scholars believe this was the first New Testament book to be written.
Now - if we think about that - it's pretty significant to study this book.
James almost certainly was a half-brother of our Lord Jesus Christ, a child of Joseph and Mary. (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3)
55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Matt 13:55
3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Mark 6:3
As Jesus was growing up, the Bible tells us that his siblings did not believe in His claim to be the Messiah, the actual Son of God. At that time they thought it was a preposterous claim.
At the time of Jesus' Resurrection we are told He appeared to James (1 Cor. 15:7).
7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, NIV
7 Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. NLT
It could have been around this time that James became a follower of Christ.
I mean after all James, his brother saw Him crucified and died and watched Joseph of Arimathea take him to the tomb to bury him.
It's interesting that Mark and Matthew makes an emphasis here that Jesus appeared to James first.
We can only guess that Jesus appeared to James first because He wanted to prove to James that He was truly who He said He was, "THE SON OF GOD AND THE MESSIAH."
Within a few years, James had emerged as the leader of the church in Jerusalem.
He did not boast about the fact that he was related to Jesus but instead called himself a “servant” or "a slave" of Jesus Christ.
Now, James is going to give us some good advice.
Have you ever had anyone give you good advice? Who was it?
Why did you take their advice, if you did?
** Someone said, “Good advice is what your own kids disregard but save to give to their kids.” Isn’t this the truth? “Now listen, you kids, my daddy always said…” I may not have done what daddy always said, but now I know he was right and I’m going to tell my kids.
** Someone else said, “We could all save ourselves a lot of words if we’d only remember that people rarely take advice unless they have to pay for it.”
All of us need advice at some time or other in life. Sometimes we get it whether we want it or not. You know what I mean by that.
James addressed his letter to “the twelve tribes who had been scattered”.
These were Jews who become followers of Christ and had left Jerusalem because of the Persecution. It's referred to as the Dispersion.
The twelve tribes were the twelve tribes of Israel. So James is addressing Jews. They are his people.
Many of these people left due to the persecution of Christians we read about in Acts 8. If you would go to Acts chapter 8 you would find verse 1 saying, "On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria."
James is a book I think that you will love for its practical teaching.
However, I want to tell you that you will also find it to be an uncomfortable book because of its directness. Don't forget this. I will try to remind you from time to time of this truth.