DEVOTED TO STANDING FIRM
JAMES 1:2-4 PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH 31 JANUARY 2021
Summary: With God’s help, we can be steadfast, staying the course no matter what.
It is always good to be together as the family of God.
Is anyone here really enjoying the current situation we all find ourselves in over the past year?
How many of you sit at home and eagerly wait for trials to come to you?
Who among us have enjoyed an easy, carefree life with no trials, no temptations?
Have you ever been tempted to give up on your relationship with God because life has just become too burdensome and frankly, I can’t take it anymore?
Have you ever wondered “where is God while I am suffering in the middle of this storm?
Ove the next few weeks we will be looking at the level of our Devotion to our God and our obedience to Him. We will look at the importance of faithfulness to God, even when we are tempted to seek out other options to find sources of peace and comfort.
There are other avenues which promise peace and comfort, or an easier life. So how can we be steadfast, committed, and live with integrity and devotion when each day the world offers us an abundance of other choices?
When trials come upon us, we often have trouble committing to a Biblical worldview. We have difficulty committing to other people, to the Christian faith, and even to our families and the church.
In our humanity, we like exercising the freedom to choose our own way and adjust as we go. This desire causes us, in most cases, to become “unstable in all our ways.”
But the Bible has much to say about staying faithful over time, no matter what comes, with God’s help.
I am sure of this – there is no one here who enjoys facing trials.
The wisdom of the world tells us we must avoid trials at all costs. Has anyone ever figured out how to do that?
So, today, we will examine three things that will help us to face the trials we are hit with in a way that will help us to see something positive; something that will help to strengthen our faith.
In our lives we will be hit from all directions with trials. The question we have to answer is, HOW WILL WE DEAL WITH THE TRIALS and WILL WE LET THE TRIALS BREAK US OR MAKE US STRONGER.
There are two books of the Bible which deal heavily with wisdom. One, in the Old Testament is Proverbs. The other, in the New Testament is the letter from James. I have always found James to speak very clearly to the needs of us in our day.
So, here is what we want to learn today as we begin to look at the teaching of James.
With God’s help we can be steadfast, staying the course no matter what.
READ – James 1:1-4
Now, let’s see what the requirements are for being devoted to standing firm in our faith.
I Standing firm in our faith requires…
A proper attitude in the midst of our trials.
James says to consider the trials as JOY! Really? Face my trials with Joy? It is difficult enough to face them. But, with Joy?
Not only does James tell us to face trials, but we are to consider it GREAT joy whenever we experience various trials!
This verse challenges us as it goes against our concept of the wisdom of the world.
The world tells us there is no value in suffering. It has no benefit for us. So, we prefer to avoid pain at all costs.
We are told that only pleasure can bring happiness. As Christians, we need to understand that suffering through various trials is a part of life. Trials come to all of us in all walks of life. Just because we are Christians we doesn’t give us an immunity from trials.
We have all seen things that make us shake our heads in wonder and disbelief. We have all probably experienced something that could cause us to wonder if there is a God out there who cares for us.
Now, please understand that James does not tell us to go looking for troubles. We don’t need to seek them out. They come very well on their own. These trials are not chosen but fall upon the believers unexpectedly. These are the unavoidable difficulties of life.
It is significant to note here that James says in verse 2: WHEN trials come. He didn’t say “if” trials come your way. That tells me he means without a doubt we will fall into trials.
If we fail to face our trials with joy we will be robbed of our joy if we lack the proper attitude. We don’t need joy-robbers in our lives.
How do you make it through a difficult time in life?
Our attitude is vital to our being able to stand in the face of trials and stay devoted to standing firm in our faith. When the difficult times come, if I spend all my time crying about it, or being mad at God over the situation, I will probably not be able to stand firm in my faith.
As we know, many things in life are really about attitude. The correct attitude can take you places you never thought you could go. One the other hand, the wrong attitude can contribute to my failure and ruin.
So what does James say about our attitudes? Our attitude is to be one of pure joy; more than joy -genuine rejoicing. Again, this attitude is not joyful anticipation for trials – hoping they will come.
Instead, it is expressing joy during trials. This joy is based on confidence in the outcome of the trial, because we know and understand that God is in the trial with us. Joy is a deep sense of well-being that we can possess in the middle of trials because we know who we serve. Joy gives one the ability to trust God, and, at the same time, embrace the sorrows, tears, laughter, anger, and pain.
One thing we have to guard against is thinking that the outcome has to be the way we want it, or else .God failed me. You may have noticed, if you have lived very long, life is sometimes unfair. People die. Both good people and bad people die. Tragic things happen to all. Things are not always easy.
I am sure we have all seen people go through extremely difficult trials and come through them without falling apart and losing their faith.
Joy is more of a decision than a feeling. Joy is choosing to live above feelings but not denying them. Joy is not intense happiness, although choosing joy can very well produce happiness. Joy is a particularly Christian response to life since it depends on faith, knowing God is still in control and with you even in the trial. In a moment, we will look at why we, as Christians, can possess joy when the trials of life come to us.
We need to understand that in verses 2-12, James speaks of trials that hit us from the outside. A little later in Chapter 1, he deals’ with temptations from Satan within us. The trials we are to face with the proper attitude are the ones that blindside us; the ones that we do not bring upon ourselves.
Verse 3: knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
II. The ability to being devoted to standing firm requires… Understanding the purpose of your trials.
How can we maintain the proper attitude when we face trials? We must understand the purpose of our trials. Verse three gives us a reason why we can possess joy in the middle of the storms of life. We must understand what trials are capable of producing.
James tells us that we know that the test of our faith produces endurance. The reason we face trials is so that our faith can be strengthened and that our faith can have the endurance to run the race until the end.
The word TESTING is a word that was used of the instrument or means by which silver was tested to determine if it was genuine. Trials put our faith to the test to see if our faith is genuine, to see if our faith will endure.
God does not cause the trials. Trials are a part of the life we live on earth. God can use these trials to see if we will stand firm or stay faithful.
• In James’ thinking, there is no vital Christianity without faithfulness. Joy comes because we know the trials are tests of faith that we are eager to pass!
1 Peter 1:6-7 – Peter says, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Passing the tests of faith produces endurance. We see many of the saints of the Old Testament who faced trials, and those trials made their faith stronger. Think of Abraham, Job, Joseph and Daniel.
Passing these tests leads to perseverance. PERSEVERANCE, in Greek, the original language, implies steadfastness, fortitude, constancy, persistent determination, strong consistency, and staying power.
It is one thing to be strong. It is another thing to be strong and have the strength to endure. The human body is an example of this. If I were to go to the gym and put a lot of weight on the bar, I might be able to lift it one time. But, I have a friend who at over 60 years old was able to consistently lift 600 pounds of iron. And his 17 year old son is capable of consistently lifting that amount in competition. What is the difference between their abilities and mine? The difference is what we just learned about perseverance: steadfastness, fortitude, constancy, persistent determination, strong consistency, and staying power
Even if I am strong, that strength is weakness if I have no endurance.
When we understand that our trials do have a purpose, it can drive us to be joyful because we know we will be stronger for getting through the trials. We come to know that there is something good that will happen. We begin to understand that the end results are important enough to us to make real changes in our lives. When we understand what we will accomplish when we are devoted to standing firm during our trials, we too will be able to do so with joy.
James 1:4 - “And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect (mature) and complete, lacking in nothing.
III. The ability to being devoted to standing firm requires…
Embracing the results of standing firm in the midst of your trials.
We have to envision the goal to be able to be devoted to standing firm. We are not to endure just to make it through the storm. We are to make it so our endurance will carry us across the finish line! This endurance is to help to make us complete in Christ. It brings us to maturity in Christ!
To be able to stay devoted to standing firm, we must embrace the results that will come as a result of standing firm. We have to embrace the fact that these trials will help our faith to grow strong. We have to know that what we may be going through has a purpose.
Enduring trials thus produces joy because such tests shape believers into the image of Christ. In that image, one lacks nothing as James says in verse 4. Perfection, as James sees it is not just the result of our own efforts. Instead, it is brought by God and is the end result of steadfast obedience. Here James echoes Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount, who urged his hearers, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
Another reality is this: Pressure can make things beautiful.
Let me ask you ladies a question. How would you have reacted if when your, now husband, proposed marriage to you. He hands you the ring box, and in that box was a ring that featured a black chunk of carbon. It would be a massive chunk of carbon, and it looks like a piece of charcoal. What would you say when the man you love explains that technically, he gave you a huge diamond ring. The diamond was just not finished, nor will it ever be in your lifetime!
You see, diamonds are formed by pressure and over a long period of time.
In our own unformed and unfinished form, we are all lumps of carbon. But, if we allow God to work through our trials, we will all be flawless diamonds one day!
Here is what we need to take away today from the teaching of James regarding standing firm in our faith.
Even in struggles and sufferings, we can remain faithful and joyful, for we know that God will be faithful to us through it all.
Would you rather wear jewelry made from carbon or from diamonds? The beautiful, pure (and expensive!) diamonds we admire were once carbon that experienced extreme temperatures and pressure.
By God’s grace, when our lives and our faith go through extreme pressure and fire, his faithfulness will create in our souls something “perfect and complete”—steadfastness and joy (James 1:2–4).