Summary: This is the 1st sermon in this series.

The Message of James:

"The Festive Sufferer"

James 1:1-18


*Illustration- Do you remember Harold Kushner’s book titled When Bad

Things Happen To Good People? R. C. Sproul had a great answer for that.

Someone asked him on one occasion, "Why do bad things happen to good

people?" His answer was classic. He said, "I don’t know because I haven’t

met any good people yet."

*James opens his candid-style book with an abrupt statement about trials

and what our response to them should be. No statements about his personal

state or statements about the progress of the churches. He simply begins

quite quickly into his message. And James’ message again confirms for you

and I that the Bible speaks on those things that you and I wrestle with

in life every day. The Bible is not an out-dated book, but speaks

relevantly and courageously about very difficult topics.

*This book poignantly addresses the harshness of poverty and oppression

which was experienced by many Jewish peasants in his day. But that does

not negate its import for you and I today in 1999. We must hear clearly

the message and understand what it is that God is trying to get through

to us via has servant James.


I. There is something about life that you need to know.

A. You will face trials.

*You should note that there is a word that it’s absence speaks louder

than it’s presence. The word is "if." That word is not employed by James

in verse 2. He chooses the word "whenever." Do you see the implications

in that subtle choice of grammar? There is no question as to whether you

will or will not face trials - it is already a concluded matter. You will

face trials.

*There will come events too impossible to face. Canyons will appear too

wide to cross. There will be heartache, sorrow, and pain. You will face


*Illustration - I do not claim to know much in the realm of engineering

but I was watching an interesting documentary on the Golden Gate Bridge.

The show said that, as with all bridges, the engineers had to take into

account three loads, or stresses, while designing the bridge. These are:

the dead load, the live load, and the wind load. The dead load is the

weight of the bridge itself. The live load is the weight of the daily

traffic that the bridge must carry. The wind load is the pressure of the

storms that beat on the bridge. The designer plans for bracings that will

enable the bridge to bear all these loads.

*God, the supreme architect and engineer of the universe, has provided

bracings for our lives as well to carry the dead load of self, the live

load of daily living, and the wind load of emergencies. You see at issue

is not "if" the trials will come, but when. And whether or not we have

put our trust in Christ to face the various trials that come our way.

*Illustration- I read once that logging companies that collect tress

from mountainous regions will separate trees that weathered storms from

trees that were protected from storms. Apparently the trees that are

protected from storms have a courser grain than the trees that endure


*Now I don’t know trees or bridges, but I do know life my friend. And it

can be hard and harsh. I can’t imagine enduring the loss of a child. I

can’t comprehend being told, "You have cancer." I can’t imagine not

knowing when I will eat again. I can’t imagine having my wife tell me she

doesn’t love me anymore.

*The point is - we will face trials. And so this connects the next


B. Your Faith Will Be Tested.

*Illustration- I heard a story about when Mount Vesuvius erupted over

Pompeii, burying the city in ash, that people were found everywhere. Some

were found in their cellars, some were found in upper rooms, some were

found cowering outside. But there was one that was found at the city

gate. It was the Roman Sentinel who had been placed there by his captain,

he was still grasping his weapon. As the earth shook, he stood faithfully

at his post until the end.

*Now, to be honest, this story doesn’t apply to me very well. Because if

I had been one of Pompeii’s residents then, I would have not been the

Stoic Roman Sentinel standing guard faithfully. I would have been one of

the ones found cowering in the basement cellar.

*I guess all of us are supposed to be the Roman Sentinel standing at his

post, but we begin to wonder why the General put us at the post when the

city was being destroyed.

*Why is it that God allows such horrible tragedies to occur to His

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