I did a sermon on the first chapter of James last week which I will break up into 2 sections. One will be here, which will be about half of the sermon, since it is a bit long. The second part will be at my other site, thelivingmessage.com. I pray that those of you who read this will take the lessons of it in stride because it has much to say about how we are supposed to live as Christians.
Faith responds with practical godliness under testing (1:1-27).
James uses the description of himself as a servant or in some other translations “a bond servant” of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ to show that he willingly and lovingly served. He could’ve claimed status since he was the Lord’s half-brother, according to history. But, he didn’t. A bond servant serves out of love not because of being bound. This is the service that we should be giving unto Jesus and to our faith!
Your faith and your Christian life is no good if the people that you are around can’t tell that anything has changed in your life. Testing is like polishing a car or a piece of jewelry, it needs to be done from time to time so that your life reflects Jesus more than it does yourself. Sometimes the testing or pruning in your life may not be very enjoyable, I mean look at Job! In the first chapter of Job, God actually brags to Satan about him. Yet, when Satan challenges God on this he is given permission to do anything he wishes EXCEPT take his life.
Will we be tested quite that hard? It is possible, I mean when you are given a diagnosis of cancer or some other disease which can kill you, that is pretty hard testing. Sometimes the test is just getting through one day at a time, getting past the treatments and the medicine and the side effects of that. Lean on God’s strength when yours fails you and He won’t let you down. Because, James used the word “when” to say that we will go through testing because we are His servants in this world and this world hates Him.
A. Faith responds with joy when it faces testing (1:2-4).
This one is tough, especially when you may not be in the midst of testing right now. But, if you ever have been I am sure it didn’t seem like a joyful time. Our joy comes from knowing that Jesus is also God and He won’t let you down, no matter what. “Joy comes in the morning” is something which I turn to almost every day when my legs and hips hurt and when my spine feels like it won’t flex at all. (Psalm 30:5)
God is there with you in your pain and in the joyful times. He is near when tragedy strikes and when a child is born. In all things give thanks that He loves you and is working the best out in your life so that others will see Him in your life! Trials will cause you to develop patience and endurance in Him, if you will stay close to Jesus during your trials. Don’t think or even consider that your strength is enough to get you through any trial, regardless of the hardness of the trial, because if you do Satan can make the trial hard enough to make you look to Him even though he isn’t trying to turn you toward Jesus our Lord.
B. Faith seeks God for wisdom in times of testing (1:5-8).
In our trials, whatever they may be, we truly should seek God’s wisdom during these times. Trying to lean on your own understanding and your own wisdom will bring more problems and even harder testing because you think that you can get through without God! God’s Word contains all of the wisdom that you need to get through trials. Prayer and fasting can increase your faith to bring you even closer to God and His Wisdom. Even Jesus said that “when ye fast”, it was not a command but He knew that even in our time, there will be days and problems which require fasting to bring the solution to our knowledge from God!