Summary: James tells us that God does good things for the Christian during the bad times of life.
HOW TO PROFIT FROM YOUR PROBLEMS
JAMES 1: 2- 11
1. Illus. of Patricia Christy.
•Probably never heard of Patricia Christy, but she is a woman who found out the hard way that you can’t run away from the problems of life. After Hurricane Andrew devastated Florida in 1992, this South Florida resident was standing in line waiting for food. She decided then and there that she was going to run as far away from this problem as possible. She boarded the first available flight and headed for a restful vacation on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The day after she arrived, the island was struck by Hurricane Iniki.
2.That’s the way it is in life, isn’t it? You can’t run from life’s problems. No matter how hard you try, you can’t escape cemeteries, hospitals, marriage counselors, nursing homes, and pink slips. You might evade them for a while, but sooner or later they hit all of us! See vs 2- says not if but when.
3.Background: James is writing to a group of Jewish Christians who knew first hand about hard times. See vs 1- scattered is a technical word used to describe Christians who had been scattered from their homes by persecution. These are Christians who had lost their income, their position in the community, even their dignity. Many of them were hanging on by a thread. They were caught in a pressure cooker, and there was no way to get out.
4.Text: James writes to these first century Christians to tell them since they couldn’t escape their problems, that they shouldn’t waste their opportunity to advance spiritually.
5.Today: Are you stuck in one of the hard times of life? If you will let Him, God can make this one of the most spiritually profitable times of your life.
6.You may say, “How could I possibly profit spiritually in these hard times of life?” Three ways.
I. HARD TIMES HELP US GROW SPIRITUALLY
1.See vss 3-4. Notice the progression: Through being in the hard times we develop patience. Many newer translations use the word “endurance.” The word is literally means under + to stay. It is the ability to not give up, but to continue trusting God in the tough times of life.
2. This ability to not give up but to continue trusting God will produce two results:
a.One result of patience in trials is that it causes us to be perfect. The word does not mean without flaw, but rather spiritually full grown or mature. It was used to describe a fruit tree that had come to the point where it could produce fruit, or of an animal that was full-grown.
b.The other result is that we become complete. This means that we are equipped with everything we need to successfully live the Christian life.
3. Do you see the process? As we go through trials, we develop patience. Patience in turn produces spiritual maturity.
4.Illus. of boy and butterfly
•Young boy found a cocoon hanging on a tree branch. He cut the branch off, and hung it up in his room. In the spring, that caterpillar turned into a beautiful butterfly, and began to struggle to escape its prison.
The young boy, wanting to help it, cut an incision in the side of the cocoon. Sure enough, the butterfly escaped in just a matter of seconds.
.But the butterfly couldn’t fly, and soon died! You see, it is in struggling and pushing against the cocoon that the butterfly develops its wings. Without that struggle, it didn’t develop.
•That’s the way it is with us. It is in pushing and struggling against adversity that we develop spiritually. Without that struggle, we may never grow!
5. However, let me say this spiritual growth in trials doesn’t happen automatically. Notice the phrase in vs 4, “let patience have its perfect work…” You have to cooperate with the process. Are you in the hard times of life today? You have two choices: you can get mad at God, and bitter and angry. When you do, you will lose ground spiritually. You can let patience have its perfect work. You can say, “Lord, I don’t why this is happening, but I submit myself to your loving grace and authority in my life.” When you do, you will grow spiritually through your trials!
6. We can grow spiritually in the hard times of life!
II. HARD TIMES TEACH US TO PRAY EFFECTIVELY
1. See vs 5a- “if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God…” He is talking about praying for wisdom during these hard times. “What do I do God?” Very few things will improve your prayer life like a good dose of adversity!
2. Illus. of man giving prayer testimony
•Got up in morning to have prayer time. Sat, knelt, stood, couldn’t get motivated to pray. Went to my job as lineman for power company. About 10:00 got tangled, found myself dangling upside down by one foot 40 feet in the air. Suddenly I found myself motivated to pray!