January 17, 2016 – manuscript

A study of Twitter users found an interesting pattern about the happiest time of our day: humans tend to be happy at breakfast time, not so happy at midday, and then happy again near bedtime. The study, which analyzed 509 million tweets from 2.4 million users in 84 countries, found that moods fluctuate in a predictable pattern. On weekdays, positive tweets peak between 6 A.M. and 9 A.M., then decline steadily to a trough between 3 P.M. and 4 P.M.  Those positive tweets begin to rise again in the late afternoon, peaking after dinner. On weekends, the pattern is similar but morning happiness shifts later, starting at around 9 A.M., when most people are beginning their day. The study’s authors used a text-analysis program that scanned the tweets for words that had positive and negative effects.  The moral of the story is that what we post is constantly being monitored by somebody and we have a responsibility to re-present Jesus the best we can.

Scripture Text: James 1:5-12 (ESV) – 5If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

9Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.  12Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Let’s begin with the prize in verse 12. “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”  In other words, blessed is the person that chooses joy.  Blessed is the person that perseveres the trials of life and finishes well.  The word “Blessed” is the same word found in the Beatitudes of Matthew 5 and describes an inner joy that cannot be explained.  If we want to receive the crown of life, four items must happen.

 

 

 

  • Do not compromise your trust in God.
  • Do strive to align with God’s mission for your life.
  • Do understand that Christianity is a daily demonstration of faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
  • Do not dig up in doubt what you planted in faith. – Elizabeth Elliot
  • This person gains the crown of life along with “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Last week, we were challenged to choose joy.  This week, James challenges us with three additional steps to persevering the trials of life.

Ask for wisdom

James 1:5 (ESV) – 5If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

In verses 3-4, we learned that trials will reveal our beliefs, convictions, integrity and genuine faith.  We are not able to endure that kind of testing on our own power.  We weren’t meant to. Proverbs 3:5-7 says, “Trust in the Lord with all you heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  Be not wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.”  Solomon, who the wisest man ever to walk the face of the earth, understood that his decision-making skills weren’t good enough.  Solomon understood that wisdom came straight from God.  That’s why God gave us the Holy Spirit.

The wisdom described in James 1:5 will…

  • Guide us through and strengthen within the trial.
  • Provide the discernment to know when something is a test and when it is a consequence of our actions.
  • Help us know when we are in the midst of a spiritual battle or spiritual refinement.
  • Keep us from falling into the traps of the world.
  • Prevent us from compromising the absolute truth of the Bible.

The vital part of this verse is that we have to ask.  God wants to generously pour wisdom into our lives and hold nothing back.  We don’t receive wisdom because we don’t ask for wisdom.

Don’t live in your doubts

Scripture Text: James 1:6-8 (ESV) – 6But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

A few years ago, I listened to a book by Ken Ham called, Already Gone:  Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it.  I don’t remember a lot about the book except a few alarming things.  The data in this book showed that 4th and 5th graders are already making decisions about whether or not to hang on to their parent’s faith when they are adults.  The other thing I heard was there aren’t many safe places in most churches for kids to talk about their doubts.  Many churches take an “all or nothing” approach and it seems there is no room for individuals to process and own personal faith.  That type of doubt is seeking to process, understand and grab hold of information.  It’s actually an important part of spiritual development.  This isn’t what verses 6-8 are talking about.  We cannot twist Scripture to say something different than it says.

James 1:6-8 says, “6But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

This specific text is talking about a Christian who asks for wisdom to persevere through a trial.  When we ask God for something, we better not doubt his capability to deliver what we ask for.  The text tells us the person who doubts God’s capabilities should never expect his/her request to be answered.  He is not stable.  He is not spiritually mature.  He should not be in any type of decision-making role in a local church.  He needs to be discipled.

If you become the Christian who doubts God’s capability to deliver his promises, the text declares you to be a double-minded man.  Here are some traits of a double-minded man:

  • Your words are not aligned with your actions
  • You become a rule-bound Christian because you’re trying to gain God’s approval
  • “God is judge” reaches your lips faster than “God is love”
  • You are quick to bail on God’s mission for your life.
  • You find yourself in a “wait and see” holding pattern
  • You choose not to give God everything he wants

Individuals fall into this trap and that is the context, but groups of people and churches are able to fall into this trap as well.  If you have any of those traits, confess your sin.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Christian, confess your doubts before the King of Kings and Lord of Lord.  Allow Jesus to pour himself into you.  Allow Jesus restore within you the joy of your salvation.  Allow the Holy Spirit to use FBC to change this community.

Embrace humility

Scripture Text: James 1:9-12 (ESV) – 9Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.  12Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

In the eyes of Christ, what you have or do not have doesn’t matter as much as whose child you are.  All of the stuff we have, or want, is only temporary.  If we like to tell people about all our stuff, we have a boasting issue.  A boasting issue points to pride, arrogance and a false significance.  Our significance in life should be a trusting relationship in Jesus Christ, who provides a wealth that will never go bankrupt.  Jeremiah 9:23-24 is a great alignment for our boasting, “Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”