Summary: While testing is an everyday part of the Christian life, we can take comfort in the promises God has given us.
1. God promises His perfect provision—God is always good. (17a)
2. God promises His permanent position—God never changes. (17b)
3. God promises His purposeful plan—God has a plan. (18)
Two brothers were left alone in the kitchen. The older brother pulled the egg carton out of the refrigerator. He pulled the eggs out of the refrigerator and told his little brother, “I’ll give you a dollar if you let me break three of these eggs over your head.” The little brother said, “You promise?” And the older brother said, “I promise.” Then he pulled out an egg and broke it over his brother’s head. It oozed down through his hair and ran down his face. Then he pulled out the second egg and broke it over his brother’s head. This one was really messy. It went all the way down the back of his neck and inside his shirt collar. After the second one, the little brother really braced himself. He knew the third egg was going to be really nasty. And he waited. And waited. He waited but the third egg never did come. Finally, he spoke up. “Hey, when’s the third egg coming?” Finally, the older boy told him, “It’s not—if I broke that one over your head, it would cost me a dollar.” I can’t even imagine what happened next. All I know is, it couldn’t have been pretty. You know, that’s one thing about kids. They’re innocent enough to believe the promises they hear. If somebody promises them something, they believe it. Some people call that naïve. I call it trusting. But what happens to that innocent trust that children have? It starts to go away when people around them break their promises. Just like the younger brother with egg on his head, we say things like, “you won’t fool me again.” “I won’t fall for that again.” Sometimes, after the biggest promises have been broken, we can get to the point where we say, “I’ll never trust anyone again.” The fact is, we live in a world where people break promises. But even though people break promises, God doesn’t. From the first page of the Bible all the way through to the last page, God is a God who makes promises. But the wonderful thing is, He not only makes promises, He keeps them. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been looking at the overview James wrote for his letter. In that overview, he tells his readers what his letter is going to be about. In verses 2-18, he tells his readers that his letter is going to be about testing. Not just testing for testing’s sake, but testing for a reason. He talks about the tests that God places in our lives. Tests that if we pass, prove our faith. Tests that if we fail, prove our need for Him. Two weeks ago when we looked at verses 2-8, we saw God’s purpose in testing. We saw that God’s testing produces patience, perfection, wisdom and faith. Then last week when we looked at verses 9-16, we saw the nature of God’s testing. We saw how God’s intentions for His tests are good. And we saw how Satan’s intentions for God’s tests are evil. This morning, we’re looking at the last two verses of James’ overview. In these two verses, James outlines some of God’s promises that can give us joyful hope in testing. You see, even though testing is an everyday part of the Christian life, we can have joy in the promises God has given us. No matter what kind of trial or test you’re going through this morning, I want each of you to place your hope in the promises of God. Trust Him. He is faithful and He always fulfills His promises. In order for you to be able to place your hope in the promises of God, we’re going to look at three of His promises that can give you joyful hope in testing. The first promise is of God’s perfect provision. Look with me at the first part of verse 17:
JAMES 1:17a (Every good and perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of lights)
God promises His perfect provision. We all like to get presents, don’t we? In my house, it seems like the kids hardly get finished opening Christmas presents before they start thinking about what they want for their birthday. But the thing about most presents is, they don’t last. They break or they wear out or they don’t fit or they just aren’t as much fun as you thought they were going to be. But what do the gifts that last all have in common? They all mean something. Most of the time they wouldn’t mean anything to anybody else, but they mean something to you. And more than likely, they mean something to you because of who gave them to you. Your kids can take a crayon and scribble something on a piece of scrap paper. But when they give it to you, it means the world to you. Not because of what it is, but because of who gave it to you. Well, the thing about the gifts God gives us is that it’s not only special because of the gift itself, it’s special because He’s the giver. Now remember the context of this verse. It’s easy to pluck it out of context and make it say something it doesn’t. This verse is in the context of the tests God gives us. James has spent the previous 15 verses talking about testing. More specifically, having joy in testing. And now he calls those tests gifts from God. You see, the tests in your life are not mistakes. They’re not events that just happen to you. They don’t surprise God. They don’t catch Him off guard. God either places them there or allows them to happen to you. And then He calls them a gift. God gives us the gift of trials and testing. God gives us the gift of testing our faith. Why? As a provision for our good. Because God is good. And He is in control of everything. And everything that He gives us is good. Everything that He gives us is perfect. Does that mean that we have to understand it all? Does that mean that we have to enjoy it all, right when it’s happening to us? No. But what we do have to understand is that God promises His perfect provision. He is in control. And whatever circumstance you may find yourself in has passed through His hands. It has passed through His hands, not for evil purposes. But it has passed through His hands for good. For the accomplishment of His perfect will for your life. Now, does that mean that we have to call bad things that happen to us good? No. Death isn’t good. Sickness isn’t good. Tragedy isn’t good. Heartache isn’t good. But God is good. And when those things happen in your life, He is still good. He is still perfect. And when you trust Him as sovereign in the midst of your circumstances, He will shower you with blessings you can never explain. He will give you the joy that James talks about in verse 2. The good gift of joy. The perfect gift of joy. The kind of good and perfect joy that can only come from a God as powerful as the one who created the light and separated it from the darkness. The kind of good and perfect joy that can only come from a God who loves you enough to call you His child. Who loves you enough to provide for you in the way that only an all-loving, all-powerful Father can. The first promise that can give us joyful hope in testing is that God promises us His perfect provision. The second is that God promises us His permanent position. Look at the second part of verse 17: