Summary: "For Dummies" books are a raging success! Why? Full of practical wisdom and simple "How To's" Wouldn't a "Christianity for Dummies," a book full of practical wisdom & simple How Tos on how to live out our faith, be great? James & this series is JUST THAT
Christianity For Dummies: How To Respond to Trials
A. How many of you have ever used one of these? Show "For Dummies" book.
B. When Dan Gookin wrote "DOS For Dummies," the first "For Dummies" book, most bookstore chains didn't want to carry the book at all, claiming the title insulted their customers! Dan countered that the title was a "term of endearment" that readers would immediately relate to and identify with.
C. And people did and still do! Since Nov. 1991, more than 250 million "For Dummies" books have been printed with 1800+ titles!!! Discuss titles: Parenting, Potty Training, Anger Management, Auto Repair, Gardening, Self Hypnosis, Surviving the Holidays, Living Longer, The Bible.
D. Why the success? A simple, yet powerful concept...relate to the anxiety, frustration and/or intimidation that people feel about a subject through a book that is insightful and educational and makes difficult material interesting and easy. In other words, practical wisdom with simple "How To"s.
E. Wouldn't you agree trying to live out the Christian life is wrought with anxiety, frustrating and intimidating?? Wouldn't it be great if we had a "Christianity for Dummies" - a book full of practical wisdom and simple "How To"s that would instruct us on how to live out our faith?
F. You're in luck because we have JUST that! Truth be told, the original "For Dummies" book was actually written in the AD 40's by James, the brother of Jesus. While it's seen as an epistle, the Book of James is actually Wisdom Literature, in fact it's been referred to as the NT Book of Proverbs. No insult intended but a sort of "Christianity For Dummies."
F. For the next 12 weeks, we are going to break this gem down, chapter by chapter, verse by verse and let James school us on how to live out our faith...how to be a doer and not just a hearer of the Word. First, let's get a proper overview of this NT Book.
II. The Book of James - An Overview
A. Author: James, brother of Jesus. Called "James the Just" and nicknamed "camel knees" b/c he constantly prayed! Not a believer until after the resurrection when Jesus appeared to him personally. Leader of the Jerusalem church, called one of the "pillars" of that church by Paul (Gal. 2:9). Martyred in AD 62 by stoning.
B. Date: AD 44-49 so earliest written Book in NT canon.
C. Audience: Jewish Christians. Not one church but a scattered group of individuals living outside Palestine.
D. Occasion: #1 = Dispersion as a result of Stephen's martyrdom, scattered and traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus & Antioch. #2 = Persecution by wealthy Jews (drug into court - 2:6; taken advantage of by landowners [kept back wages, gorging selves on luxuries]- 5:4-6).
E. Literary Features: Not a true epistle, but Wisdom Literature! See this in the style: 1) loose structure, jumps one subject to another - "pearls on a string," 2) lots of imperatives (54 in 108 verses!), 3) diatribe - supposed objector asking questions.
F. Purpose: Dr. Constable = "His preeminent concern was the practice of Christianity, the manifestation of salvation in shoe leather." Adrian Rogers = "Faith is belief with legs on it!" In other words, living out our faith. What I'm going to call "Christianity For Dummies."
G. This AM I want us to learn "How to Respond to Trials." James gives us four imperatives in these seven verses that frame a believer's proper response to trials. James commands us to COUNT, KNOW, LET & ASK!
III. Scripture Reading & Prayer
A. Read James 1:2-8.
B. Pray - Father, we desperately want to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. Help us to put aside our daily cares for a moment and receive the truths of your Word that we may do just that.
IV. How To Respond To Trials: COUNT Them Joy (James 1:2)
A. Read and explain James 1:2.
- #1 Trials are a matter of when, NOT if! James asserts that you WILL experience trials! The NT is clear...crystal clear in fact....that if you are a CHRISTian, you will have trials, tribulations, suffering. Read Acts 14:21-22. As it has been said, you are either in a trial, coming out of a trial or about to enter into a trial. Discuss conversation with Leah Coop.
- #2 Trials are various kinds. Greek = "many colored" James says that trials are like Skittles, a rainbow of fruit flavors! So did he he mean....discuss various trials by age - kids (bullying, homework, obeying), youth (boyfriends/girlfriends, peer pressure), college (balancing work & school, finding a job, student loans), married (money problems, marital issues, staying up all night with a sick child, work stress, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer), golden years (declining health, loss of spouse, loss of independence, dementia, arthritis), Christian (holy roller, Jesus Freak, ridicule for taking a stand against homosexual marriage, abortion, evolution and for Christ and the Bible)?? Yes, yes and yes! My trials are not yours and vice versa. Each stage of life brings a WHOLE new set of problems. Problems happen! How believers face them is the crucial issue!