Summary: The first subject that James addresses in his letter is how to face our trials. His suggestion is shocking: we should welcome our trials with joy. But his reason for the suggestion makes sense when you understand things from God's perspective.
A. In Max Lucado’s book, In The Eye Of The Storm, he tells a story about a parakeet named Chippie.
1. Chippie the parakeet never saw it coming -one second he was peacefully perched in his cage, and the next he was sucked in, washed up and blown over.
2. The problem began when Chippie’s owner decided to clean Chippie’s cage with a vacuum cleaner.
3. She put the end of the hose into Chippie’s cage to clean the bottom, but then the phone rang.
4. She turned to answer the phone, and barely said “hello” when she heard “ssssopp!”
5. Chippie was sucked into the vacuum.
6. The bird owner gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum, and quickly opened the bag.
7. There was Chippie…still alive, but stunned.
8. Since the bird was covered with dust and dirt, she took him to the bathroom, turned on the water and held Chippie under the running water.
9. Then, realizing that Chippie was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do…she reached for the hair blow dryer and blasted Chippie with hot air.
10. Poor Chippie never knew what hit him.
11. A few days after the trauma, the reporter who had initially written about the traumatic event called Chippie’s owner to see how the bird was doing.
12. “Well,” the owner replied, “Chippie doesn’t sing much anymore…he just sits and stares.”
B. And it’s not hard to see why Chippie doesn’t sing much anymore and just sits and stares!
1. Sucked in, washed up, and blown over…that’s enough to steal the song from the stoutest heart.
2. “Sucked in, washed up, and blown over” - doesn’t that about sum up how many of us feel at times when life hits us hard?
3. M. Scott Peck begins his famous book The Road Less Traveled with a three word sentence that is packed with simple, yet profound truth…it reads, “Life is difficult.”
4. And he is so very right. Life is difficult. Who said life would be anything other than that?
C. Last week we started a new sermon series on the book of James called “A Faith That Works.”
1. Today, as we begin to work through the first chapter of James, we notice that the first subject James tackles is the problem of trials.
2. James knew that the recipients of his letter were facing many trials - many of them had been forced to leave their homes in Jerusalem under the threat of persecution.
3. They were forced to live in places new to them and among strangers, and they were having to adjust to their entirely different situation.
4. The message that James wants to give them is the same message that is communicated throughout the Bible about suffering.
5. The Biblical record shows that the people of God over and over turned defeat into victory and trials into triumphs.
6. No matter what the trials we face, through our faith in God, we can experience victory, and the result of victory is spiritual maturity.
D. There are many ways that we could approach the first chapter of James, but I have decided to take it slow and to address each of the initial subjects separately.
1. I noticed that when I preached through James many years ago, I tackled James 1:2-12 in one sermon – that was a lot to tackle in one sermon.
2. I will try to balance not going so fast that we miss the understanding and application of God’s truths, while not making the study of James too long and drawn out.
E. So, let’s start where James does, by talking about the reality of the trials that we face in life.
1. Job 5:7 says that “man is born for trouble as surely as the sparks fly upward.”
2. I see no way to deny that statement - we are a troubled people living on a troubled planet.
3. In addition to the fact that the world has been suffering under 15 months of a terrible pandemic, we hear bad news almost every day of mass shootings, hate motivated violence, internet hacking, global warming, and sin being promoted and celebrated.
4. Because we live in a fallen world, nothing works the way it’s supposed to.
a. Sin has stained every part of the physical universe and sin has deeply infected the human heart.
b. Because of that things break, our bodies wear out and we grow old and die.
c. People hurt and even kill each other and marriages come apart.
d. People get hooked on drugs or alcohol or sex – or all three.
e. Sometimes our leaders disappoint us and our friends turn into enemies.
f. Sometimes our employer decides to downsize or the boss decides that we aren’t the right “fit” - whatever that means.