Reaching for my Crown

Reaching for my Crown

James 1:1-12

Hollyview Family Fellowship…

Reaching for my crown….James 1:1-12
This morning we are beginning a study in the book of James. This is one of the books we studied during our 40 days is the word. This is a very practical book, giving us specific instructions how we respond to life and our Christian faith. James makes some startling statements that grab our attention and make us wrestle with how we see and respond to our world.
The first statement we read in verse two is….
James 1:2 (NIV)
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
You got to be kidding… joyful….when trials come…. What in the world is he saying…….?
How can we be joyful when trials come?
Let’s break this down a little bit……
When the doctor tells you…you need to come in for tests…..respond with joy?
When your job is terminated…..respond with joy?
When a relationship is causing more pain than happiness…respond with joy?
This doesn’t seem normal.
This doesn’t seem like the proper reaction.
Surely, that is not what God meant….that must be a bad translation….I started looking for loopholes……I compared other translations…….
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy.
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.
My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy,
No loopholes……I guess God really meant it……so how are we to understand that which seems to go against reason……?
How can we experience joy when troubles come?
Rather than looking for loopholes…..I really should have just read the next two verses….because they explain what God’s goal is…..the purpose of trials….and gives the bigger picture……
James 1:3-4 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. [4] Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
The formula we discover here… that God allows trials into our lives, so we will develop perseverance, and as we learn to persevere we will become mature and complete in Christ.
God loves us too much to simply leave us as we are ……He wants us to grow and mature, to become more like Jesus. And the best way to develop the character of Jesus in our lives is by allowing trials into our lives.
Someone once said……God whispers in our pleasures, but shouts in our pain. Isn’t that true? Don’t we cry out to God, or take notice of God much quicker when we experience pain?
God is up to something big in our lives…..
God is up to something Great…..
God has a plan a purpose for our lives……
When you’re down to nothing, God is up to something The faithful see the Invisible, Believe the Incredible And then receive the Impossible
Philip. 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
God has begun a good work in our lives….and he is going to complete his good work….he has a plan and purpose for our lives….God is up to something big in our lives
Janet and I latched on to this verse along time ago when we were facing trials in our lives….
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
This verse tells us God has a plan for us…..We have a hope and a future….and so whatever difficulties or troubles we are facing, we can know that they are achieving a purpose far beyond what we can understand……. God is up to something big in our lives
You often hear me quote this verse…..
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
God is working for our good…..and all the things that come into our lives, even all the painful experiences…….God has a purpose for…….they sift through his fingers….. God is up to something big in our lives
And one of the big things he is up to….is making us like Jesus, making us complete in Him….
There are many places in the New Testament where this is taught.
Philip. 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, [21] who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
God is in the process of transforming us………We will look like Jesus…not a physical resemblance…but a spiritual one…..we will be like him…..
Did you ever notice when two people hang around each other…they begin to resemble each other…..
That happen to me and my friend George Oehl…In Jr. High school….we went everywhere together…..did everything together…..people thought we were brothers……
John tells us this as well…. 1 John 3:2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
We will be like Jesus….God is up to something big in our lives…….
Look at that person sitting next to you… they look like Jesus? Maybe not now? Some maybe more than others….but remember God isn’t finished with them yet…..God isn’t finished with you yet…..God is up to something big…..we shall be like Him.
We are in process……God wants us to grow and mature……
Peter writes….
2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
We are to grow…both in grace and knowledge….we are not complete yet….but God is up to something big in our lives.
Often when I pray for our kids in Sunday School…I pray this verse. Isn’t that what we want for our kids…to grow…..
When we take them to the Doctor what is the first thing they do?
They check to make sure they are growing. That is what God wants for us……to continue to grow.
Paul writes to the Colossians…..
Col. 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.
The King James Bible translates that perfect and complete.
Are we perfect and complete?….Not yet…..but we will be….God is up to something big in our lives.
As I mediated on this passages I thought…..this is like one of those Good News….Bad News …Jokes.
Doctor: I have some good news and some bad news.
Patient: What’s the good news?
Doctor: The good news is they are naming a disease after you!
The Good News is that God is at work in your life….to make you mature and complete.
The Bad News… that He will use trials to get you there.
This shouldn’t be a surprise to us. It is a theme throughout scripture…….Peter taught it…..
1 Peter 4:12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.
Think of Peter’s life……did he go through trials?…..He certainly did…..But, God was up to something big in His life…
Think of his story on the night before Jesus died. First, Jesus washed his feet….He was amazed and astounded, that Jesus, His Lord would do this…but Jesus insisted. Then he celebrated the first communion service with Jesus, where Jesus spoke of His death…..and Peter vowed to stand by Jesus and protect him with His life……Jesus told him….that Peter would deny him before the night was out….Peter protested….He would lay down his life for Jesus.
And Peter did prove true to his words, in the garden …they came to arrest Jesus…..It was Peter that took out his sword and cut off the high priest’s servant’s ear…..but then Jesus told him to put the sword away…..He was confused, and frightened…..Not understanding all of God’s plan…….And then we read of Peter’s denial…..three times He denied he even knew Jesus……Even with a curse he denied it…(Remember Peter was a sailor…he could curse like a sailor) …..And then Jesus looked at him…..He ran outside and wept……..Where is God’s plan? What was God up to in Peter’s life?
After Jesus rose…in that great passage where Jesus asks Peter….Peter do you love me? He renews his fellowship with Peter and predicts Peter will experience more suffering in his life for Christ.
John 21:18-19 I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” [19] Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
And Peter did experience suffering…eventually he gave his life for his faith in Christ……but He also experienced great joys….remember It was Peter who preached at Pentecost and 3,000 were brought into God’s kingdom that day……read the book of Acts…….God was up to something big in Peter’s life.
Peter tells us not to be surprised by suffering.
Think about all the great heroes of faith in the Bible……were their lives easy and filled with comfort…….?
I have a hard time thinking of one that matches that description.
What about Moses?…….He life was threatened before he was born…his parents had to hide him…and then they set him adrift on the Nile….where the daughter of Pharaoh found him and raised him…..but he soon discovered he lived in two worlds…..the world of Pharaoh and the world of slaves….and eventually he chose to identify with his own people……We read in the book of Exodus all the trials and hardships that Moses faced in completing the task that God had given him.
Do you remember when Moses reminded God…these were God’s people not his….
God was up to something big in Moses’ life. And it was often accomplished through difficulties and trials.
Think of David, Abraham, Paul…..all of them experienced the same things.
Think of James the author of this epistle….he was known as James the Just, he was the brother of Jesus and he died as a martyr because of his faith.
So we shouldn’t be surprised when we read….
James 1:2 (NIV)
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
Because we should know that this is the process God uses to make heroes of faith.
This is the process God uses to make us like Jesus.
When we consider the life of Jesus, we see the same pattern emerge. A life of trials and difficulties to bring him to a place of glory.
The pattern is there for us to see…..but we don’t want to see….we want comfort not conflict, ease not difficulty.
But that is not God’s plan.
I have established a family motto…..
I tell my kids and grandkids…over and over again….. Nothing’s easy….
At least nothing worthwhile…….
I remember teaching Jeremy to ride a bike. We were living the house next to the church in Salem…..I was youth pastor there. We had a big parking lot…and so one morning I took him over and worked with him trying to teach him to ride a bike……I ran and I ran behind him for along time…..but he still didn’t quite have it…..I told him I needed to go into the office to get some work done. He decided he was still going to practice on his own. I could see him out my window…(By the way he did not have a helmet…today I would be arrested.)
..he tried and he fell, he tried and he fell,….over and over…until finally …he found his balance.
There was joy….but it followed a lot of bruises and pain.
God is up to something big in your life. God is at work in your life.
We read….
Isaiah 64:8
Yet, O Lord, you are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
How is God molding your life?
What pressures is He applying to your life?
The potter uses pressure and fire to produce his work of art.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
God is up to something big in our lives….we are going to get crowns. We are going to live forever with Him.
Don’t forget…..1 Cor. 2:9 However, as it is written:”No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”–
When you’re down to nothing, God is up to something The faithful see the Invisible,
Believe the Incredible And then receive the Impossible. AMEN

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