Summary: God's Word shows us how to overcome the difficulties we are faced with.
Overcoming the Circumstances of Life
Someone once said that life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you respond to what happens to you.
One of the greatest hymn writers of all time was Miss Fanny Crosby. She wrote over 9,000 hymns. There are many in our hymn book, To God Be The Glory, Tell Me The Story Of Jesus, and probably her best known hymn, Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine. One biographer called her one of the greatest in America and gave her the title “Hymn Queen.”
One thing you may not know about Miss Crosby is she accomplished all this totally blind. She lost her sight due to an illness at 6 weeks of age and she was never bitter. One preacher told her he thought it was a great pity that God would give her so many talents but not give her sight. She said quickly, “Do you know that if at birth I could have made one request it would have been to be born blind.” “Why,” asked the surprised preacher. She said, “Because when I get to heaven, the first face I’ll see will be my Savior.”
At the age of 95 Miss Crosby passed away and on the grave at Bridgeport Connecticut there is a simple headstone with these words:
Blessed Assurance Jesus is mine,
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine.
I don’t know about you but that story blesses me. Miss Crosby was an over-comer. She didn’t let her circumstances in life dictate her responses or her destiny.
As we look at the end of the book of James that is precisely what God’s Word is trying to tell us. James inspired by the Holy Spirit ends his book with an exhortation to overcome circumstances that tend to knock others down for the count.
God doesn’t want the believer in Jesus Christ to be a reactionary to the situations that come our way. Last week we learned how to be people of patience. Now we see how we are to live above the circumstances of life.
We have an expression, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” When the enemy throws turmoil and tragedy your way live in such a way that all will see Jesus in your life.
The text is a great encouragement to every believer. The enemy uses the same tactics and deception on all of us and here we see that we have within us the ability to rise above our circumstances. Let me give you today the 5 circumstances and the ways we have to overcome them.
I. When the Heat is on: Guard your Tongue (v.12)
James is back to the tongue again, aren’t you glad? We have a tendency to say too much when we are upset or under pressure. This is an echo of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:33-37. Jesus said there, “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.
But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No.' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” (NKJ)
A Christian should be a man of his word. We should never use the Lord’s name in vain and that means we should never have to say I swear to Him, that what I am saying is the truth.
That really implies o few things; First of all, it’s like saying I’ve been known to lie before but since I swear by Him this is really truthful. Secondly, it’s like saying I’m really telling the truth and we are implying that if we are lying then God is now under orders to punish us.
A Christian’s word should be his bond. If we say yes it should not be yes to this person and then no to another. We should be able to speak the truth and stand on what we say. People should be able to count on us even when we are under enormous pressure to conform to whatever wind the world is blowing towards.
Guard your Tongue!
II. When you’re Sick Pray (v.13a, 14-15) Probably no one in Jerusalem was more qualified to speak on the subject of prayer than James. Church history records these words: “He used to enter alone into the temple and be found kneeling and praying for forgiveness for the people, so that his knees grew hard like a camel because of his constant worship of God. So often did he pray that he was referred to as ‘Old camel knees,’ because of the knots on his knees from long seasons of prayer. From his excessive righteousness he was called the ‘Just.’”