Well, we seem to be at the end of the Thanksgiving season and headed straight into the Christmas season. But before we leave the turkey-day spirit let’s talk about some traditions that come with this time of year.
Now I’m going to ask you if you were involved in the following traditions and you can signify “yes” by raising your hand.
How many of you:
-Ate turkey on Thanksgiving Day?
-Watched the Cowboys beat up on the Dolphins?
-Fell asleep while watching the Cowboys beat up on the Dolphins?
-Went shopping on Friday or Saturday?
-Went over your Christmas budget on Friday or Saturday?
-At your Thanksgiving dinner go around the table and everyone
share about one thing they are thankful for?
We do things like that at our house. We share things like, I’m thankful for:
-An answer to prayer.
But you know, I’ve never, ever heard someone say I’m thankful for:
-My financial struggles.
-Wrecking my car the other day.
-The ridicule I get at work for being a Christian.
-This disease I have that causes me so much pain.
We usually don’t thank God for things like that. It’s hard to be thankful or even happy when our life’s circumstances are difficult. But check out what the Lord is saying to us tonight in James 1:2-5.
He tells us to have joy when things are tough. That is so hard to do isn’t it? It’s hard to look up when life is beating you down.
There’s a movie from the 80’s called “The Money Pit” and it’s a film about a couple that buys a house only to realize that it needed just a few more repairs than they had originally thought. Watch this clip of one of their many trials in remodeling their new home.
[Show clip from “The Money Pit”.]
Now I know that Tom Hanks was laughing more out of utter frustration instead of joy, but the point is we need to get to a place where we can have true joy when trials come our way.
Now verse 2 says, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” What is that joy God is talking about.
The word used here is chara’ and it means, “cheerfulness, calm delight, gladness”.
The Greek word for trials is pirasmos’ and it means, “Putting to proof by experience”.
So the Lord is telling us that these trials are experiences that test and hopefully prove our faith to be real so we should welcome them with gladness and delight.
It reminds me of the cold winter snow that I endured for four years in the suburbs of Chicago. Some of you can relate all so well with me.
You see, when it snows the county lays down tons and tons of salt to melt the snow on the roads so people can still drive around. And what does that salt do to your cars? It starts to rust them! It rusts the doors. It rusts the frame. It can even rust up through your floorboard! The only way to stop it is to rust proof your car.
Now, the newer car’s paint usually has a rust proof coating on it so this doesn’t happen as much. But older cars don’t have this coating and need to be rust proofed or look out!
It’s the same way with us. The salt, or trials that come into our lives can start rusting our frames. And guess what, rust grows and grows until we deliberately stop it!
In our lives, to get rid of the rust, you gotta get some trust! Listen to this passage again.
To get rid of the rust, you gotta get some trust! So what do we trust God for?
We need to trust God for:
1. Patience to make it through the trial, (v4).
2. Wisdom to handle the trial correctly, (v5).
3. Growth as a result of the trial, v(3-4).
patience + wisdom = joyful maturity
One of the greatest accounts of biblical joy during a horrific trial is the true story of Pastor Duane Scott Willis that I’m going to share with you tonight. I’m going to read the entire story, but you’ll soon understand how relevant it is to this passage we’re looking at tonight.
[Read “Through the Flames”.]
If anyone wants a copy of this story I have a few printed up for you and you can get one after the service.
Here’s a family who went through a Job-like experience but were able to keep their God-given joy through it all. That kind of joy only comes from trusting in our awesome God who not only knew they would be going through that trial and but who was ready to help them through it. He’ll do the same for us tonight and till kingdom come.