Summary: When we see our trials as God sees them we can rejoice and grow because that is what God wants for us


James 1:1-8

I know you will find this hard to believe, but we are finished with John’s gospel. Today we will start Jim’s epistle. And Jim isn’t even here today. Let’s remember to pray for him as he often has to travel.

Do you ever wonder why some Christians seem to have it all together? They seem to be living their lives with purpose and while their lives are not trouble free, they are often able to rise above their difficulties.

Or why some Christians are always having difficulty but it often seems to affect every aspect of their lives.

Often I get asked “what does God want me to do?” in a difficult situation. Like because I’m a pastor and a missionary I have all the answers.

Well guess what? I don’t have all the answers. But we’re going to look at a book written by someone who doesn’t claim to have all the answers but he gets them from the One who does have them; God. It’s a small book, just after one of those NT greats; Hebrews.

For those of you who have patiently endured my messages on John, week after week, (and we’ll talk about patiently enduring today by the way), I think you will find a difference in James. Because the one thing I remember hearing over and over again in seminary, that whenever we taught the Bible, whenever we gave a message, the goal was a changed life. I enjoyed teaching from the book of John, but often it was difficult to get a message because of the way it was written. For example, remember the first 18 verses, when John writes about the deity of Jesus Christ. I can tell you all these lofty things about Jesus, that He existed in the beginning before the foundation of the world; He created all things, He existed with God and He was God. But what are we supposed to do as a result of hearing these things? If you don’t believe in Him, obviously you need to believe in Him. And if you do believe in Him, come away with a greater understanding of who He is and tell it to somebody who doesn’t believe in Him.

James will preach. Because you won’t see any of the lofty theology you saw in John. Of the 5 chapters with 108 verses you will notice that half of those verses are commands. I won’t be able to expand on that.

But, you see if you want to grow as a Christian, if you want to be mature in your faith, then this book is for you. Because the whole message of this book is Christian maturity. There are no shortcuts, or easy roads. As a matter of fact this is rubber meets the road Christianity. But if you follow the things you see in this book, you will grow as a Christian and be everything God wants you to be. So if this is what you want, you are in the right place. And if it’s not what you want, gomennasai, I’m going to preach it anyway. So fasten your seatbelts because we are taking off for a journey that won’t end until we go to be with Jesus.

Let me also say this before we get any further into James. This is not a book on how to become a Christian. You won’t get to heaven by doing everything in this book. James will later show how that’s impossible. James wrote this to those who were believers, and were probably going through great difficulties at the time. James didn’t write it to preach at them or look down on them. No, you will see his compassion as he often refers to them as “brethren” or “my beloved brethren.” I hope you find this book encouraging. I know I have.

OK, here we go. This was written by James, the half brother of Jesus. Now if any of you have your Japanese Bibles it probably says “Jacobu” or “Jacob.” I remember at a prayer meeting some time ago, Pastor Wada referred to this book. And the person translating for me, and I won’t say their name to embarrass them, referred me to the book of Jacob. And I said there is no book of Jacob. So I gave her my Japanese/English Bible and told her to find it. James comes from the Hebrew name Jacob.

Now I know it is very easy to skip his introduction, but let’s not do that. Look at verse 1.

James 1:1 ¶ James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.

James was the half brother of Jesus. You would think that would give him lots of clout and extra privileges like I had because I worked for American Airlines. Someone wrote that this is very similar to Thomas, who confessed Jesus as “My Lord and my God.” Because James considered himself a servant of God of of Jesus, even though he was His half brother. Lord is one who has the authority to rule over his life. And Christ is the anointed one; the Messiah. So James recognizes Jesus as the One who saved him from sin and death, and the One who is Lord over him. What about you? Is He your Saviour and Lord also?

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