Starting the first week in August, I will be preaching through the book of James on Sunday mornings at the Anchor gathering. I have to tell you, I am very excited for this Fall sermon series. As I began planning for the series back in March, I planned on the series being a 12 week series. But, as I began to really seek the Lord and study, I realized that I do not have a chance to finish this series in twelve weeks, so I have decided to extend it at least 18 weeks.
The first chapter of James addresses something that can be tough to swallow.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:2–3, ESV)
Okay, so I’m not going to preach my sermon on here. I’m going to just express some simple truths from these two passages.
First, trials will come in our lives! James does not say, “if you meet trials”, he says, “when you meet trials”. I really think this is an idea that the Church must understand. There are teachings out there today that basically stand on the idea that if you are just “Christian” enough, your life will be blessed. By blessed, they mean you will not have any trials. Now listen, that sounds great. The only problem is that it is not biblical. James says that we will face trials. Life is going to happen. Life is not always going to be smooth sailing. It is time for us to understand, because we live in a fallen world, trials are coming.
Second, when they do come, we are called to count it as joy – all of it. This is crazy to me. Being completely transparent, I have to tell you, I really enjoy rolling around in self-pity. When trials come, I really need to feel sorry for myself and I REALLY need everyone else to feel sorry for me. But, James says that we should see these trials as joy. Why?
Because these trials challenge our faith. That is a good thing. Our faith being challenged is not a negative thing. It is good – it is great. When our faith is tested we realize some things. We realize that we may fail ourselves. We realize that others may fail us. We realize most things we have sought after for a rescue, end up letting us down. Yet, James tells us that when our faith is tested, it produces steadfastness. In other words, when trials come, we are able to experience the reality that God does not fail us. We realize that He loves us.
James opens the book with a profound truth that drives my worship today. God has shown me that I can trust Him. I have a firm foundation in Him. I do not waver when I am in Christ. That is joy. My flesh may fail, but my God never will.