Summary: James gives his church a message of hope in hopeless times. He encourages people to endure to the end, to be blessed through tribulation
Intro: as I read the New Testament, and realize what the early church faced, and look at today’s prosperity preaching, hyper-faith preaching, happily ever after preaching, never have a bad day preaching, I wonder how early Christians would have fared under this soft, fluffy,
easy listening preaching of today. When you are being persecuted, when people are dying for their faith, when it is very dangerous and unpopular to live for Jesus, what type of preaching do you need to hear. You need to hear preaching from the Pastor of the Jerusalem church, the half brother of Jesus, who wrote his letter to people who were being scattered all over the world because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
The Blessing of Endurance
reading sermons that are coming from America’s leading preachers, it all can start to look pretty vanilla compared to the preaching in the Word of God. Sermons by Isaiah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Peter, James and John, probably wouldn’t make the best seller’s list, they would be politically incorrect, out dated and old fashioned. But when you are going through trials and difficulties, and your faith is being tried, it is good to hear a strong word on endurance, staying the course, keeping the faith. James gives us some instructions on how to endure trials, how to go through hard situations. This is real life stuff, and real life answers.
I. Find Your Greatest Joy in the Difficult times–v.2 can you imagine hearing this: not that it is all going to get better, not that everything is going to go as you had planned, but let joy be developed in your life through difficult times.
a. James is writing to people on the run. People that are being scattered under persecution. I am sure they would love to hear someone preach, this will all be over soon, don’t worry be happy. But instead he writes, in times like these, let God give you real joy, learn to be happy in the midst of pressure and persecution.
b. divers–manifold-or many–this doesn’t sound so good, be happy when you go through a lot of problems, a lot of pressures. Develop an attitude that you rejoice in suffering, you rejoice when you face difficulty. Now I don’t know about you, but I like the rejoice on the top of the mountain sermon, but James says, rejoice in the midst of the valley.
c. James is the pastor of the Jerusalem church– his members are Jewish Christians–they are hated by the Gentiles for being Jews, they are hated by the Jews for being Christian, basically nobody likes any of them. But in all this he stresses, keep your attitude right, don’t give up, let the joy of the Lord be your strength.
II. Keep Your Faith–3-4 Now James goes on to say, every test and trial you are facing, is proving your faith. Let faith come shining through, this isn’t the time to give up, this is the time to keep going. Let these trials perfect you, let your faith get stronger and stronger through the bad times.
Mature and complete–perfect and entire–all these things in your life are going to mature you, complete Christ’s work in you. You will come out of all of this lacking nothing. James is such an encourager, don’t look at what is happening around you, look what is happening in you.
III. Need Answers–Ask God–v.5 James is a great Pastor, people probably were asking him why is this happening to me, why am I going through this, what is the answer to my problems, he responds–don’t ask me, ask God. God has the answers, God will give you the help in your times of need.
James basically is saying this: you need to become God dependent in your trials and tests. You don’t need to run to and fro looking for the answers in life. Pray, ask God, get God’s Word on it. If you are facing some hard things in life today, I say, ask God, pray until you touch heaven.
God will give you the help you need to endure.
IV. The Blessing of Endurance–v.12
Since James never came to the faith until after the resurrection, I don’t know if he heard the sermon on the mount with it’s initial blessings. But he has another beatitude: the blessing of Endurance.
You are going to be blessed for what you have gone through, what you have endured. No prizes are going to be given to the quitters, those who walked away from the faith. You will be blessed for making it to the end. Having done all to stand, you are still standing.
It is going to be a happy day when you achieve your eternal blessings and rewards. You are going to be a lot happier if you have treasures stored up in heaven, even if you have very little stored up on earth.