Summary: All of us will face trials. Ironside said, "be careful you do not allow your trials to be wasted on you."
The Road to Spiritual Maturity
“What doesn’t kill us makes us Stronger”
Let’s begin this morning with a few brief facts we need to know about the book of James.
1. It was written sometimes prior to AD 62.
2. It was written by James, the brother of Jesus.
3. During the public ministry of Jesus, James was not a believer. John 7:2-10.
4. James became a believer following the resurrection. 1st Cor. 15:7
5. His nickname was old camel knees. He spent so much time in prayer his knees were like that of a camel.
James is basically a guide to spiritual maturity. With that in mind let’s pray.
I heard of a young man who had just taken a test in one of his college classes and he got his grade and he made a zero on the test. He went in to see the professor and he argued with him. He said, professor I don’t think I deserve this zero. The professor said neither do I…. but it’s the lowest grade I had.
When trials come to us there are many times that we simply fail. We don’t pass the test. Likewise there are times when we overcome and we pass the test. And we rejoice when that happens. But there is another step we need to take when we pass the test. Look at it this way. If you’re in school and you have a class…say in chemistry and you make 90% on a test, most of us are pretty happy with that. In most schools that’s an A. It shows that we knew 90% of the material. But when we face trials and tests in life and we score 90% there is something we need to realize and here it is…. God is more concerned with the things we don’t know than with the things we already know. And that is one of the purposes of trials we face. God wants us to grow up! He wants us to mature in our spiritual lives. So he tests our faith. Testing makes us stronger.
1. One of the ways God tests us is through the difficulties of life. One of the tools He uses is like a hammer. The hammer is an essential tool for a builder; you cannot build a home without one. But remember for the hammer to work there has to be a nail. And if you are the nail you’re not really as happy about the hammer doing its job as everyone else is. To the nail the hammer is often like an enemy without mercy the enemy/hammer seems to live to pound the nail into submission, to hit it right on the head and to beat it down. Everyone on the outside looks at the beautiful work the hammer is doing. But the nail is hurting, the nail’s like why do you always want to beat me up, you always seem to hit me right on the head…and you never miss.
To the nail; that’s us, here is what God says, “Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds. Write this down. When God is working on us it is always His decision to craft us into something stronger. He never desires to hurt us. At the same time He knows we will experience pain but pain is not His purpose. His purpose is in the result/outcome. You see the nail has to understand that the hammer has a plan for our future. We are a part of something much bigger than ourselves. Never forget that the hammer AND the nail are both tools that God uses and they must work together.
2. Another way God tests our faith is through the demands of life. Let’s face it, the demands of life can wear us down. People we deal with daily can be abrasive, they can make cutting remarks and at the end of the day we feel completely worn down. If we were to list some of the demands of life we face we might list our…
Caring for our children
Being a caregiver to someone
Staying current in our job/training
Deadlines we are required to meet
And you could add to the list I’m sure. God tests us through the demands of life. God reaches into His toolbox to select just the right tool to fashion us into the person He wants us to be. One of the tools He uses is like a file. A file can be painful. Some of you file your fingernails. Doesn’t hurt unless you go too far.
• Ink pen incident. I used a file to clean my hands.
The job of the file is to cut into the wood and shape it into something that is smoother and more attractive; easier to handle. In this scenario WE are the piece of wood. Again, the wood doesn’t really appreciate the work of the file until the product is finished. Until it’s finished the wood is saying things like, man you really rub me the wrong way… why are you so abrasive?