Summary: 1st in a series from the book of James that examines the realities of the genuine Christian life. This sermon deals with the tough times we face in life.
“THE GENUINE CHRISTIAN FACES TOUGH TIMES”
INTRO – Begin series out of James today – “The Genuine Christian Life.” Theme of James – the marks of maturity in the Christian life. James dealing with several different issues and problems in this book, but all are due to spiritual immaturity on the part of the readers.
There is a tremendous need within the church today for maturing believers, genuine Christians who go beyond mere words about their Christian life. There is a great need for those who will “walk the talk,” who will live out the Christian devotion with a life of obedience and service to their Lord. James will challenge us later in this chapter when he says that we ought to be “doers of the Word and not hearers only” (1:22). Wiersbe – “Spiritual maturity is one of the greatest needs in churches today. Too many churches are playpens for babies instead of workshops for adults. The members are not mature enough to eat the solid spiritual food that they need, so they have to be fed milk…God is looking for mature men & women to carry on His work, & sometimes all He can find are little children who cannot even get along w/ each other.”
If we are going to get the most out our study of this book, then there are some basic essentials that must be present in each of our lives:
- First, we must know Jesus personally as our Savior and Lord. Can’t talk about spiritual maturity if we’ve never been born again. Stop right here.
- Secondly, we must honestly evaluate our lives in the light of God’s Word. Notice that we evaluate in light of God’s Word & not in light of someone else’s life. James compares the Bible to a mirror (1:23) – we see ourselves as we really are. Too many people are like the savage who looked at himself in a mirror for the first time. So shocked by what he saw that he broke the mirror.
- Third, we must obey – PERIOD!
- Fourth & finally, be prepared for some extra trials and temptations. If we get serious about growing in spiritual maturity and living an obedient Christian life, our enemy is going to certainly notice and step up his attacks against us. Don’t be surprised if over the course of the next 9 weeks you find yourself tempted & tested in many different ways. There will be tons of different excuses and reasons to miss church and miss the study of this book. The enemy will be firing barrage after barrage of flaming arrows at your spiritual heart as you commit to growing in spiritual maturity.
That’s where we begin today – The genuine Christian faces tough times. (Show video clip – Barney buys a car)
Tough time tips for genuine Christian:
Tough Time Tip #1 – Expect the tough times to come – v. 2
The word is “whenever” not “if.” I looked at 17 different Bible translations and versions. Every one of them had either the word “whenever” or “when” in this verse. Didn’t find a single one that said “if.” Point is: Tough times are inevitable. They are a part of life, and not just life in general, but they are an expected, inevitable part of the Christian life. If you got saved and expected to have an easy life after that, you’ve got a big wake-up call coming if you haven’t already had it.
Def. of “trials” – a putting to the test. We talk about doing “trial runs” in different situations, meaning that we are going to put something to the test. Going to try something out to see if it works, if it’s for real.
The trials and tough times that God allows to come into our lives are those times where our faith is put to the test. Those are the times when we find out if what we believe about God is for real, when we find out if it works.
Just like Barney Fife in the video clip, how many times have you found yourself cruising along in life, everything seems to be going fine, and then the breakdown happens? While the actual time of trial may be unexpected – the shock of the death of a loved one; the loss of a job; the buyout of the mill; an accident or illness that changes your life; a major letdown or disappointment by a friend – the fact that you are going through a tough time ought not to surprise you at all. Jesus told us in John 16:33 – “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.”
Tough Time Tip #2 – Keep the right perspective – v. 2a
What is the right perspective for the genuine Christian? JOY! “What? How can you have joy when tough times come?” Key word – “consider” or “count” (KJV). Means “to evaluate; to lead out before the mind; to view.” When we accept Christ as our Savior, we must evaluate our lives and set new priorities and goals. Things that once were important to us pale in significance to the “surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord.” And when the tough times come to our lives, we must evaluate them in the light of what G is doing for us.