Summary: There is constant scriptural evidence that says we can ask God and expect to receive. What stands in our way?
November 23, 2003
Text: James 1:2-8
Subject: True Faith
Title: What Have We Missed?
A story is told about a mountain climber with great ambition who had a lofty goal of climbing a mountain near his home. He was desperate to complete his climb and after years of training and planning began the climb. But seeking to gain glory for himself alone, he decided to make the climb alone. As he climbed, he began to realize that he would not complete his feat before dark. He was not prepared to camp so he decided to continue climbing. Soon it was dark. There was no moon. Clouds obscured the stars. All that he could see was all consuming darkness that enveloped him. As he groped his way toward the top, nearing the completion of his climb, his feet slipped on some loose granite and he fell into the vast darkness. Just as he was sure death had come, he was jolted to reality. Like any good mountain climber, he had driven a peg and tied off the safety line, which, though nearly tearing him in half, had just saved his life. Suspended in darkness, he did the only thing he knew to do – he held on to the rope with all he had and cried out “God save me – help me!”
God heard his cry and answered with, “Do you think I am able to save you?”
“Of course. You are God. Save me!”
“Then take your knife and cut the rope that is holding you up.”
The man stared blankly and silently into the darkness, holding on to the rope more tightly than before.
The next morning the rescue squad found the man, frozen to death, suspended at the end of his safety rope – two feet off the ground.
One of the things that I am concerned about – both personally and as a pastor – is, how much are we missing out on because we can’t see what God has in store for us? Paul tells us that as Spirit filled believers we are to walk by faith and not by sight. But I wonder if we have ever been left stranded just a few feet from safety because we wouldn’t let go of the rope.
This morning I want to take you to James chapter 1 to look at the things that might limit us in receiving all that God has for us.
First - We can be blinded by our circumstances.
Second -We are definitely limited in our knowledge.
Third -We are often restricted by our doubts.
I don’t have any doubt that when we begin to operate in the spiritual realm the way this passage says we can, there is nothing that can stop us from being everything God wants us to be.
I. BLINDED BY OUR CIRCUMSTANCES (2-4)
A. You will fall into trials. Notice that James understands trials as inevitable. He does not say if you fall into trials, but “when” you fall into various trials. The Greek word for trials peirasmois refers to persecution or troubles brought on by the world or Satan. If anyone ever told you that when you became a Christian that all your troubles would come to an end, they were mistaken. Actually, when you accept Christ your troubles with the world are just beginning. Romans 5:1-5a, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character, and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint…” Once you are a Christian you don’t have to go looking for trials – they will find you. There is nothing that Satan would like better than to steal away one of these baby Christians. Our faith can only reach maturity when faced with difficulty and opposition. Perhaps that is why Christianity in America is in a decline. In this land of the free there seems to be no opposition. Therefore, we are not maturing at the rate that the church needs to. Trust me, when you begin to feel pressure from the world, you can take that as a good sign. Consider it all joy.
B. You will benefit from trials. (vs 3) Paul says that trials produce perseverance. Romans 5:3. James says it produces patience. It is interesting to note that the word translated “patience” is actually carries a more forceful meaning. It refers to tenacity – the ability to hang on. It is what I call the “bulldog mentality”. William Barclay says, “It is the quality that enables a man to stand on his feet facing the storm”. It is only in the struggle against the opposition that arises that spiritual stamina is developed. We don’t necessarily rejoice in the trials themselves, but in the results that they bring. Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:6-7, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory, at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” .