Summary: How can we persevere in difficult times?

James 1 – Joy when it hurts!

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Discussion Questions

What compelling examples of Christian perseverance/steadfastness have you seen in others under extreme trial?

What lessons has anyone here learnt in difficulty?

Can you believe in a sovereign God who allowed the events of September 11th to occur? Is the alternative, that God doesn’t know the future too horrible to consider?

What is it about trust that is most clearly demonstrated when we suffer?

Can anyone share how they knew supernatural joy at times of great difficulty?

How should we approach it when we ourselves or others face problems?

What do James 1:2 and Romans 8:28 have to say to us when we face difficulties- how can we live this out as a church? (NB make the point we cannot do it alone!)

Detailed Sermon Notes

Introduction James – epistle of straw or a solid word from God?


In the church we often react to extremes by swinging to another end. Many believers were so eager to please God and be ‘holy’ they added various laws to the gospel and banned even the hint of sin. Soon legalism prevailed and some became so isolated from the world and any sense of fun or joy that they became poor ambassadors for the God who said ‘I have come that you might have life to the full’. (Jn 10:10 ) Full of condemnation and fear of Gods wrath the gospel itself became lost.

At many times in church history, God has raised people up to preach the gospel that alone in any message can put an Auca Indian who murdered a group of missionarys next to one of those missionary’s son in a tour as reconciled brothers!

We have a glorious gospel of grace. Sadly that can be twisted into a travesty where Jesus no longer saves us from our sins he saves us in our sin. James is not ignorant of grace as some suppose him. He simply looks at the same truth that Paul does from the other side!

If ever the church needed awakening to what difference the gospel should make in our lives, it certainly does now! In James, we see that difference clearly and we will not go from a good look in the mirror of this book with all its earthy reality without being seriously changed. Warning, this book could seriously damage your sin life!

James is in fact a solid earthy book that has much to teach us about life.

Chapter One - The steadfastness God desires

- far from being made of straw this passage speaks to us of stability

v2 stability of joy in all circumstances – Christians are intended to be happy whatever the circumstances ‘The whole tendency of our holy faith is to elevate and to encourage. Grace breeds no sorrow, except the healthy sorrow which comes with saving repentance and leads to the joy of pardon: it comes not to make men miserable, but to wipe all tears from their eyes’ Spurgeon

but bad things WILL happen-

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”[1] (Jn 16:33) Jesus always keeps his promises!!!

Some here today may be facing terrible troubles, and nothing in this verse is intended to pretend we can simply smile plastically through them and ignore them! Those of us who are not facing troubles at the moment are just in a gap between problems! Jesus said each day has enough trouble of its own!

Our nation faces an uncertain future on the anniversary of an event that changed the face of world terrorism in an instant, and on the eve of ever more likely war. Who knows what horrors will be inflicted on us, or we will inflict on others?

But we can find joy in the middle of them in amazing ways- It is possible to experience two emotions at once! This may sound crazy but it isnt- what about the mother sad at loosing a daughter but thrilled at her getting married. Personally I experienced this when I looked at my son for the first time a couple of weeks after the death of my best friends newborn baby. Sorrow and joy. 2 Corinthains 6.10 puts it ’sorrowful, yet always rejoicing’.

Even our sorrows are to be considered ‘all joy’ = ‘as if every possible delight were crowded into it.’ Spurgeon

How can we know joy- by thinking right. Troubles either ours or others are actually excellent opportunities for our faith to be demonstrated for what it is!

Satan challenged God about Job  “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Job 1:9. It is in suffering the loss of other things dear to us, that we find out is God as dear to us as we think he is, is our faith or trust in him as real as we proclaim. Will we believe Romans 8:28 ‘And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,  for those who are called according to his purpose.’ [2] when our child is dying?

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