Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Tough times come for all of us in a variety of ways.

Sermon for Sunday, January 2, 2005

1st sermon in an 11 part series

"You don’t always spell ’trouble’ with a capital T"

"Words to Grow By"

(James 1:1-18)

Copyright 2005 G. Charles Sackett

That section in Ginny’s Bible is absolutely correct. Tough times come. They come for all of us in a variety of kinds of ways. If you’ve been watching the news at all you know that somewhere near a hundred thousand people have died in Southeast Asia. Hundreds of thousands more are homeless, are left with vast questions about where their loved ones are or how they will ever have a future again. Seems like a long ways away and yet, because we are brothers and sisters with many of those people there, they are our family and we are to be concerned.

Not nearly so far from home, even this morning, Bruce is over at Janet Hynek’s because Janet is not doing well. They have not expected her to make it through the night and she did. Um. . . .tough time, hard!

If you watch the newspaper, it doesn’t take you very long to realize that it happens to a lot of people in a lot of different ways. Just two weeks ago, we learned that one of our students, Scott Ewing, on vacation in Ohio just before Christmas, was killed in a head-on car wreck leaving his wife and two year old son. The week before that Laurie Tauckey was killed out near Camp Point, a chaplain at the local prison. Tough times come! It’s the way they happen.

On Thursday of this week I sat at the Catholic church in Lincoln with my grandson and watched as he’s trying to figure out where did my great-grandmother go and as he went to the visitation he stood next to the casket laying in the picture that he had drawn for her, the back of which says, "I hope you are having a good time in heaven. Can she hear me?" Tough times come.

It doesn’t seem to make any difference if it’s a physical kind of ailment. If it’s something that you have no control over, like your doctor saying you have cancer. If it’s something that happens to you because your company downsizes or because there’s a tragedy in your family or just down the street, a friend. It seems like there is plenty of trouble to go around.

One of the email’s we got this week was a request from World Vision to pray for those who have been impacted by this tsunami and we want to take a moment and do that this morning.

"Father, it’s hard for us to imagine what it’s like for a hundred thousand people in one area of the world to die. It’s hard to know the feelings of those who are struggling with the questions about whether or not their family even exists any more. It’s hard to understand the depth of the heartache of those who stood and watched their entire lives be swept out to sea. Father, we’re grateful for those people in the world who are bringing aid to those folks; for those who are supplying food and water and clothing. We’re thankful for our missionaries who are there with the hope of Christ in their hearts to help them deal with these tragic issues.

We’re praying too, this morning, right here at home, for Janet and her family. That you’ll watch over her and them. And we give you thanks for their faith in you.

And Father, for others whose troubles have not even been mentioned but whose hearts are broken and aching because of the hurt. We pray, that what James has to offer us will be comforting and strengthening and challenging. We pray all of this in Christ’s name. Amen."

We are getting ready to take a look at the book of James. We’re going to be spending the next several weeks looking at what James has to say to us about living our Christian experience out. He opens the book rather simply.

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings

One of the simplest of introductions of all the New Testament letters. It’s to those twelve tribes that are scattered. That shouldn’t sound dis-familiar to you, unfamiliar to you because we went through Acts this last summer and in Acts 8, those early Christians out of Jerusalem where James would have been one of the key disciples, key apostles, had been scattered because of the persecution.

Here he is a bit later writing to them, to those who have been "scattered". To those 12 tribes, to those who belonged to God who represent his people, who have been dispersed out among the nations because of their faith.

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