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When You Are Tested, Turn to God

2 My brothers and sisters, be very happy when you are tested in different ways. 3 You know that such testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 Endure until your testing is over. Then you will be mature and complete, and you won't need anything. 5 If any of you needs wisdom to know what you should do, you should ask God, and he will give it to you. God is generous to everyone and doesn't find fault with them. 6 When you ask for something, don't have any doubts. A person who has doubts is like a wave that is blown by the wind and tossed by the sea. 7 A person who has doubts shouldn't expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 A person who has doubts is thinking about two different things at the same time and can't make up his mind about anything. 9 Humble believers should be proud because being humble makes them important. 10 Rich believers should be proud because being rich should make them humble. Rich people will wither like flowers. 11 The sun rises with its scorching heat and dries up plants. The flowers drop off, and the beauty is gone. The same thing will happen to rich people. While they are busy, they will die. 12 Blessed are those who endure when they are tested. When they pass the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:2-12 (GW). I have inserted a comment made in THOTS ON JAMES Part B here as it fits in with the study here. For further thoughts see THOTS ON JAMES Part B.

James spends very little time on a personal introduction except to simply introduce himself as… James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. James 1:1 (GW) and to identify his readers to whom he is reaching out to,”… To God's faithful people who have been scattered James 1:1 (GW) Note that his audience are faithful Christians who need encouragement. No one is immune to the problems of this world. Satan will attack any and all and we all need God’s strength and guidance and support from one another as we will see later in the epistle.

Charles Swindoll makes a comment in his book (JAMES: Hands-On Christianity pge 9) that there are many who believe we experience trials such as illnesses, mishaps, pain, etc. are due to our lack of faith in God Then there are those who believe once we attain a certain level of maturity we no longer experience trials. If this be the case why was Christ tempted in the wilderness for 40 days? (See Then the Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil. Matt 4:1 (GW)) to me temptation is part of our trials. Temptation in itself does not fit in with the definition of “trials.” “Trials” is translated “tests” but don’t temptations come our way to test us? As already stated no one is immune to trials not even our Lord.

I may be repeating myself here if so it’s to emphasize this lesson in the above passage. Note James does not say “if” but “when” we encounter various trials. Peter confirms this in his own epistle, “12 Dear friends, don't be surprised by the fiery troubles that are coming in order to test you. Don't feel as though something strange is happening to you, 13 but be happy as you share Christ's sufferings. Then you will also be full of joy when he appears again in his glory. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed because the Spirit of glory—the Spirit of God—is resting on you. 1 Peter 4:12-14 (GW) Let’s face it trials of all kinds are here to stay and we need to be encouraged in learning how to deal with them. As already indicated we need God’s help but we also need one another.

Ever experienced a time when you faced certain trials and asked yourself, What did I do to deserve this?” Job’s friends were quick to blame him and his family for his misfortunes (see Job 8-15) yet, Job had no idea why he was experiencing all these trials. He did not know about the meeting between Satan and God (Job 2:1-6) Job did not know why he was being tested but his attitude should be ours10 He said to her, “You're talking like a godless fool. We accept the good that God gives us. Shouldn't we also accept the bad?” Through all this Job's lips did not utter one sinful word Job 2:10 (GW) Pretty strong language for today’s age of political correctness yet so true.

What does it mean to experience “trials” or “testings’?” The word “testing = dokimos means approval. Mr. Swindoll illustrates this with a lesson from archeology. He says that many pieces of pottery have been found in the Middle East with the word “dokimos” or“approval” on the underside. This meant the pottery had gone through the furnace without cracking. It had been approved. The classic hymn “Faith of our Fathers” speaks of former Christians who endured the fires (often literally) of persecution. When one reads of first century Christians being persecuted by the emperor Nero in the first century, Queen Marry in the in the mid-16thcentury (ruled 1553 – 1558) who persecuted so many and had them burned at the stake. Read Foxes Book of Martyrs and read of the early trials of many of our brethren. Even some of our early Reformers like John Calvin were guilty of this. There are other trials besides persecution that we face. Some trials we face include temptations, unfaithfulness, hatred, marital and family issues, and loss of employment. Look at your own lives you know what trials you have (are) experiencing how did (are) you responding to these trials? Did they make you stronger? Were you“stamped” with God’s approval? Through all this Job did not sin or blame God for doing anything wrong. Job 1:22 (GW) see also Naked I came from my mother, and naked I will return. The Lordhas given, and the Lord has taken away! May the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:21 (GW) Job is a book worthy of our studies. We need to stop seeing trials as being our enemy and see it more as our servant that brings about the circumstances we need to grow.

The word“endurance” (vs.4) means to “abide under.” I am not certain who said the following but I believe it fits here,“God’s seal of approval is applied to those who persevere or abide under the tests He sends.” More later on this.

God allows particular trials to challenges us not to discourage us or hoping we will give up our faith rather He desires we learn to exhibit a greater character quality. Enduring these trials or tests is what brings about our maturity and that is God’s ultimate purpose for our lives.

In verse 2 James says, “be very happy when you are tested in different ways.” There is definitely nothing joyful about suffering. Most people consider it a joyful thing to escape suffering of any kind. Yet James is telling us to be joyful in the midst of our sufferings. How? Why?

(1)Because we knowor “comprehend” are tests designed by God for good, not for evil

(2)We know they have a purpose and that we are not simply “playthings of circumstances.”

(3)The heat of the furnace is not meant to make us crack, but to solidify and strengthen His character in us.

When I picture heat strengthening us I picture one who makes plough shears using extensive heat to beat it or pound it into shape. Once it cools and solidifies it is strong enough to bite deep into the earth to turn the soil over. I want to quote a comment I came across by Curtis Vaughn,

“Let’s be careful what James is saying here. He’s

Not advocating that Christians should deny the

Pain and sorrow they feel in the midst of a trial.

“Indeed,[J.B.] Mayor points out that James does

Does not say that trial is all joy; rather, he urges

His readers to count(to reckon or consider) it all

joy, ‘that is , look at from the bright side, as

capable of being turned to our highest good.”

What does it mean to “let” and “endure?” The Greek defines “let “to “cooperate” i.e. allow testing to do its job in your life. Swindoll says,”Let the test go on, regardless of your circumstances.”

The word “endurance” is translated in the RSV as steadfastness meaning manifestation or practical proof. The proof of our endurance is seen in our faith.

Why Do Troubles Overwhelm Us?

Faith Of Our Fathers

 

Frederick W. Faber (1814-1863)

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Faith of our fathers, living still, In spite of dungeon, fire and sword; O how our hearts beat high with joy Whenever we hear that glorious Word!

Refrain

Faith of our fathers, holy faith! We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will strive To win all nations unto Thee; And through the truth that comes from God, We all shall then be truly free.

Refrain

Faith of our fathers, we will love Both friend and foe in all our strife; And preach Thee, too, as love knows how By kindly words and virtuous life.

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