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Lesson 02

RETURN TO SYLLABUS
JAMES 1:1-12
Lesson #02
THORNY TRIALS

  • Memory verse: Jam 1:3
    • In the book of James, the author sees faith as something very practical and an every day issue. It is not something that occurs just on Sunday. It is not just doctrine. Faith touches every aspect of life.
      • One of the first things a Christian learns is that God tests faith. God is not ignorant of how much faith we have, but we are ignorant of it.
    • Read Jam 1:1-12 God verifies genuine faith
      • James, a servant of God
        • The word servant is literally a bond-servant in the Greek.
          • As a half brother of Jesus, James does not tell us of his blood relationship with Jesus. Instead he tells us of his spiritual relationship with him.
            • Paul used the same symbolism to indicate a willingness to be a servant to Christ.
            • Spiritually Paul and James had willingly committed their whole lives in service to Christ.
              • The word bond servant indicates a total reliance and a total obedience.

      • Thorn #1 count it all joy (2)

        divers temptations” = multi-faceted temptations, tests, or trials.

        • The word tempt, trial, and test are all the same word in the original language. This word is used in various ways depending on the perspective of use.
          • When the problem is viewed with Satan in the picture, it is a temptation.
          • When the problem is viewed from the viewpoint of the believer, it is a trial.
          • When the problem is viewed from God’s viewpoint, it is a test.
        • Some of these divers trials are a result of the consequences of sin and some are unmerited. Some of these trials are chronic and some are temporary.
          • These points do not matter for God can use all and any trial for his purposes toward us.
      • The hardest thing to do when you are having problems (divers temptations) is to rejoice. This difficulty is what makes this a thorn.
        • However, that is exactly what James tells us to do. Why?
          • The natural thing to do when we have problems is to worry or to feel sorry for ourselves, and then to complain to others about what sad condition we are in.
            • That is the natural thing to do, but we are believers who are supposed to be living by faith, not by feelings. (2Cor 5:7)
          • The Christian thing to do is “count” it all joy.
            • In other words, consider it beneficial. Look at problems as God’s opportunities to benefit you.

          • The Test of Faith #1 is this:
            • What is your initial reaction to problems in your life?
              • If your answer is worry or sadness, you have failed the initial test of faith.
                • Your initial reaction tells you whether or not you are trusting God.
              • If your answer is rejoicing, you have passed the first test of faith.
                • Faith is not feelings. It is something that is under the personal human will of the individual.
                  • By an act of your will, you decide that you are going to rejoice in the midst of problems. This is a determination on your part to trust God no matter what happens.

    • Thorn #2 the trying of your faith works patience (perseverance or endurance) (3)
      • Patience is a hard character trait to possess. Why?
        • Patience only comes through suffering and trials.
          • Read Rom 5:3-4
            • In verse 3 James says, “knowing this…” it literally means to know by experience that the trials of faith work (develop) patience.
        • The natural man thinks he knows what is best for his life, but this is nothing more than a spirit of pride.
          • It is God who knows what is best for our lives because he sees the beginning and the end, and he knows us better than we know ourselves.
          • Therefore, in God’s school of training, he is teaching us patience. Even Jesus had to learn patience and obedience. (Heb 5:8)
            • To learn patience requires faith in God.
              • We have to trust God for a future we cannot see.
              • We have to trust God that his timing is best.
              • We have to trust God’s wise control over our lives.
        • However, even though patience is difficult to learn, perseverance is even harder.
          • The difference between patience and perseverance is this:
            • Patience sees a light at the end of the tunnel of trouble while perseverance sees no light or any end to the tunnel.
              • Therefore, perseverance requires more trust in Christ to see you through.

          • The Test of Faith #2 is this:
            • Do you find yourself becoming impatient with God because of a problem in your life?
              • Impatience reveals an attitude of pride because it points out a lack of trust in God’s wisdom to control your life.

    • Thorn #3 let patience do her perfect work (4)
      • The thorn is perfection. Just when we think we have learned the lessons God wants to teach us, we discover that there is something else in our character that God wants to change. We are not yet perfect.
        • The word perfect means = complete or finished; reached a goal and able to do a task; mature; complete in every way with nothing lacking, like the Old Testament sacrifice animal.
        • God’s perfect work is a never-ending process in our lives. He is constantly working on changes in our character so that through perseverance a weak area of character actually becomes a characteristic of strength.
          • That is why we go from trial to trial, from problem to problem. We are learning to be perfect and trusting God all the while by faith. God does not permit problems in life without purpose.
            • Therefore, we not only go from trial to trial, but we also go from faith to faith.
              • Read Rom 1:17
      • Conclusion: what is God’s purpose for problems (trials) in life?
        • Problems or trials are to :
          • Encourage us to more faith.
          • Change our character.
          • Make us perfect or mature in Christ.
        • Trials are God’s chastening program:
          • Read Heb 12:5-13
            • Notice that Hebrews tells us the same things that James tells us:
              • The process of chastening or trials is to produce holiness or righteousness (perfection) (Heb 12:10-11)
              • Trials are not joyous, but we are to be encouraged to joy by faith (Heb 12:11-13)

          • The Test of Faith #3 is this:
            • You may not always understand God’s specific purpose in the midst of trial, but by faith do you trust God that the trial is for your benefit. (Rom 8:28-29)
    • The testing process by example:
      • Gold and silver are tested (refined, purified, made perfect) by fire, which is a process of separating the good from the bad.
        • With silver, the dross (the waste product) sinks to the bottom.
        • With gold, the dross (the waste product) floats to the top.
    • “if any of you lack wisdom” (5)
      • Usually through trials we lack wisdom. Wisdom is the application or practical use of knowledge.
        • In other words, God wants to teach us something through trials. It is better for us to learn God’s lessons so we do not have to repeat the lesson.
          • Therefore, while we cannot always understand the lesson in the midst of a trial, we are supposed to ask because eventually God will reveal it to us.
            • Wisdom is a practical life style where you live out for others to see of that which you believe in your heart.
            • Notice that God says he will give wisdom liberally. Then why do we not have wisdom to make decisions in times of deep problems?
              • It is because God wants us to use our faith to believe him for the wisdom we need.

            • The Test of Faith #4 is this:
              • What questions do you ask God in the midst of a trial?
                • The “why” question is the wrong question.
                  • Our natural inclination is to ask God, “Why me? Why this? Why now?”
                • The better question is a “what” question.
                  • What changes do you want to make in my character?
                  • What do you want to change in my life?
                  • What lessons can I learn from this?

    • Thorn #4 stability of faith over the long term
      • The thorn is perseverance. It is so hard to continue through a problem day after day and maintain a high level of faith.
        • The reason for the difficulty is in trying to work up our faith to a high level in our own strength.
          • The Bible tells us that God gives each believer a measure of faith (Rom 12:3) and that faith comes by hearing the word of God. (Rom 10:17)
            • We are to take the small measure of faith that God gives us when we are born again and make that measure of faith grow by hearing and studying the word of God. Then when troubles come, we are to “rest” in the confidence that we have in him. (Heb 4:9-10)
      • If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. (5-6)
        • Unstable faith is the result of:
          • Asking God the wrong questions.
          • Taking your focus off of God.
          • A failure or unwillingness to learn the lesson of patience.
          • A failure to hear and study the Word of God.
        • Double mindedness is the result of: (lessons from the book of Ezra)
          • The word, double-minded, means = with two souls.
          • An unwillingness to act on what God says…inertia
          • A willingness to fall prey to fear.
          • A willingness to compromise your faith to correspond to the world system.
          • A willingness to remain in discouragement.

        • The Test of Faith #5 is this:
          • How stable is your faith over the long term? Is your faith based on temporary exterior conditions?
            • Sometimes God takes us to this level of enduring a trial over a long period of time. It is a test of endurance and perseverance of your faith.
              • If you can maintain your faith over the long term without wavering, you pass the test and receive the reward.
              • If your faith is unstable and you are tossed about by doubts, like an up and down roller coaster, you fail the test and receive nothing from the Lord. (6-7)
                • That may seem a little harsh, but when we read verse 8 we see why this believer of unstable faith receives nothing from God.
                  • His whole life is unstable, not just his faith. His decisions of life are unstable, his attitudes are unstable, his convictions are unstable, his promises are unstable. There is nothing in his life on which you can depend.
                  • His attitude in life is that prayer is a last resort or a variable option. With that attitude, his life remains unstable and he does not grow closer to God.
    • Understanding the nature of trials (9-11)
      • Trials happen to everyone, the famous and the unknown, those in leadership and those at the bottom, those who are rich and those who are poor. (10)
        • James uses the rich and the poor as his case in point.
          • Anyone who has invited Jesus Christ into his heart is rich spiritually no matter how little material wealth he has. (9)
          • All flesh is temporary for all people eventually die.

      • The Test of Faith #6 is this:
        • Do you constantly compare your life and trials with those of others?
          • Believers are never supposed to judge between people and that includes judging your own life against another’s.
            • Believers are supposed to judge their own lives against the Word of God.
            • Humans do not have all the facts, and therefore we are not qualified to judge the level of faith of others or to judge the lessons that God is working in the life of another person.
          • If you are judging others, you are lacking faith in God to handle another person’s life, and therefore, a lack of faith to handle your life. You fail the test.
          • The message in verses 9-11 is that the kingdom of God is a paradox. What is a paradox?
            • A paradox is “truth standing on its head shouting for attention.” (G. K. Chesterton)
              • Principles in the kingdom of God appear to be upside down. For example:
                • Give and it will be given unto you.
                • Serve and you will be served.
                • Rejoice in trials (Jam 1)
                • Humble yourself and God will raise you up.
                  • This is another principle mentioned here in James 1 with the contrast of the rich and the poor.
    • The results of suffering through these thorns and passing the tests: (12)
      • “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation” (12)
        • Remember that the word temptation is the same word as test and trial.
        • The believer who passes the tests of faith receives the crown of life that will be given at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
          • This crown is given to those who have totally given their lives in service to God.
  • Application:
    • The message in this lesson is that we can have joy in times of trials because:
      • We can see the purpose of trials…to make us more like Christ. (3)
      • We can gain wisdom as a result of trials. (4)
      • We can recognize what trials are. (9-10)
    • The decision, the attitude, and the action are left to each believer as to how he will handle the trials of life.
      • As a result of life’s trials:
        • Some people are driven closer to the Lord, while others are driven away.
        • Some people develop a sweet spirit of humble reliance, while others develop a spirit of bitterness against God.
      • How will you handle the trials in your life? Will you pass the test? The decision is yours. Just remember that problems in your life are custom made just for you
  • HOMEWORK
    James 1:13-27
    This is a self-study. Please do not send homework answers to the teacher forcorrection.

    • Application of Jam 1:1-12
      • What primary truth have you learned, that you did not know before, in how to handle the trials of life?

     

      • Write about some specific experience, that you either handled well or handled badly, that fits this lesson.
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          • In answering the questions under the tests of faith, what grade would you give yourself?
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            • Preparation for Jam 1:13-27
              • Read Jam 1:13-27
                • What do you learn about temptation that will help you to overcome it? (17-18)
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                • How is the Word of God a test of faith? (22-25)
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                  • Memory verse: Jam 1:22
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        About Joyce

        Joyce
        I came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in 1963 giving my heart to Jesus in a Billy Graham crusade in Los Angeles, CA. I have been teaching the Word of God since 1964, Usually two to three adult classes a week.

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