Wednesday Lesson: ‘Trials and Tribulations’ pt. 2

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Tonight’s lesson is a continuation of a study we began last week: ‘Trials and Tribulations’ pt. 1. We learned in our previous study that God has a purpose for the trials and tribulations many of us go through.

James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

Trials help to produce patience. A better definition of the word patience would be endurance. As I said last Wednesday night, God often puts us on the treadmill of tribulation in order to build our spiritual stamina. According to James, ‘knowing this’ should give us reason to be joyful. Though our trials do not make us joyful, knowing that God is able to make “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:28) does.

I. The Purpose of Trials see: ‘Trials and Tribulations’ pt. 1

II. The Peril of Trials

God has a purpose for our trials, yet that purpose is not always easy to see. While in the midst of being tried, we may be tempted to doubt, despair, to question the goodness of God and even to become bitter. Therefore, it is for that reason that James says to us:

James 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Let God work in our life. Allow God to have His way with thee. The peril of trials is not so much the trials themselves but our reaction to them. If we allow God to have His way, He can use trials to produce greater spiritual maturity. However, if we refuse to submit to God and His will for our lives, our resistance can cause us to become hardened and cold.

Let’s examine the next several verses and learn more about the peril of trials.

A. The Peril of Faltering in God’s Guidance

The first question that comes to our mind whenever we are facing a trial isWhy God? Some believe that we should never ask God why. I agree, if our asking is somehow an accusation against the character of God. If in our asking we are insinuating that somehow God might be doing evil, then our asking is evil. But if our asking is an honest desire to understand and to grow, then not only is it OK to ask, it is right to ask.

James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, [with confidence and trust] nothing wavering. [picking and choosing or arguing with God] For he that wavereth is  like a wave [raging] of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8 A double minded man [doubting or divided] is unstable in all his ways.

* You will notice that contained within the brackets are some definitions of various words that will help us to better understand what James is saying.

1. We must ask in faith

a. To ask in faith is to ask with:

i. Confidence in the character of God

ii. Trust in His wisdom

b. “Lord, I honestly want to know and to grow.”

2. We must ask with fidelity

a. ‘Fidelity’ means – {loyalty to what is right}

James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is  like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

b. Peril of asking with a lack of loyalty to God and His will  (vs. 6-8)

i. Wavering:

(I) To waver means to pick and chose what you believe is the right answer

(II) And to argue with God if He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear.

ii. Why is there peril in wavering?

(I) Such asking will not bring us assurance

vs. 6 For he that wavereth is  like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

* The word ‘wave’ found here refers to a raging wave; the kind of wave that might be found in the midst of a storm

vs. 8 A double minded man [doubting or divided] is unstable in all his ways.

* A man who doubts the wisdom of God and is divided in his opinion of Him, will remain uncertain in all his ways

(II) Such asking will not bring us an answer

vs. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

* God is not going to argue with us. His will is not up for debate.

B. The Peril of Focusing on Life’s Luxuries

James 1:9 Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: 10 But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. 11 For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall  the rich man fade away in his ways.

1. The Blessings of Trials

The most common error in dealing with trials is to begin to wonder if somehow God is against us. ‘Why God?’ often has more to do with – ‘If you love me, why would You allow such a bad thing to happen to me?‘, than ‘What are You trying to do in my life?’ We think that trials are an indication that God has turned against us. James, however, teaches us that God uses trials to bring us all (both rich and poor), to the place where He can bless us.

a. God blesses the brother of low degree by lifting him up

b. God bless the brother of lofty degree by lowering him down

2. Blessings in Disguise

It’s easy to see the blessing of lifting up the brother of low degree, but where is the blessing of lowering the lofty brother down? James gives us several reasons why it is actually a blessing in disguise whenever God lowers the lofty down.

a. His loftiness is temporary (It’s like a flower that will fade and fall away)

b. His lowering is tempering

What does it mean to ‘temper’ something? Tempered steel is steel that has gone through a series of heatings and coolings that eventually produces greater strength and toughness. God tempers us through trials. He builds our spiritual stamina and endurance.

Illustration – Suppose you went to the hardware store to buy a chain. On the package it says, ‘GUARANTEED TO PULL 10,000 lbs.’ How do you know that chain can be guaranteed to pull that amount? Is it simply because the manufacturer put it on the label? Of course not. To guarantee the strength of that chain, it must be tested with a resistance of 10,000 lbs and over. A chain guaranteed to pull 10,000 lbs should have been proven to hold at least 10,1001 lbs.

How do you get that chain to the level where it can withhold several thousand pounds? You do so through developing of the steel that is used to make it.

c. His gain is timeless

James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

C. The Peril of Accusing God’s Actions

James 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished , bringeth forth death. 16 Do not err, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is  no variableness,neither shadow of turning. 18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

I read many years ago that a trial is not a trial unless it makes you want to quit. How far will God allow us to be tried? Sometimes to the point of breaking. Why? God allows us to be tried to such an extend in order to:

  • Prove our character
  • Produce our character

We studied last week how God can produce our character through allowing us to endure trials. God puts us on the treadmill of tribulation in order to produce spiritual stamina. But how do trials ‘prove’ our character?

The Bible says that Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness in order to be ‘tempted’ of the devil. Does that mean that the Holy Spirit wanted Jesus to sin? Of course not. What then does it mean?

Many times in the Bible, the words: trial, temptation and testing come from the same Greek word. Many times these three facets of difficulty can be seen in the same event.

God allowed Jesus to be put on trial in the devil’s courtroom of temptation in order to test His validity and thus to prove His character. Does God do the same with us? Consider the book of Job.

During this trial of temptation, there are four things that we must keep in mind:

1. God is not tempting us to sin

James 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

2. The temptation to sin comes from our fallen nature

James 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

3. God will not allow us to be tempted beyond the point of resistance

1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able ; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

4. But with the temptation, provide power to resist

2 Corinthians 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

D. The Peril of Arguing With God’s Authority

James 1:19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

Sometimes in our frustrations of being tried, we can be tempted to become angry and resentful. We can become angry over the trial and we can become angry with God for allowing it. Yet instead of allowing ourselves to fall into the trap of developing an angry and argumentative spirit, we need to search for and listen to the wisdom of God. Or as Casting Crowns called it – ‘The Voice of Truth.’

CASTING CROWNS – ‘Voice of Truth’

Oh, what I would do
to have the kind of strength it takes
To stand before a giant
with just a sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound
of a thousand warriors
shaking in their armor
Wishing they’d have had the strength to stand

But the giant’s calling out
my name and he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times
I’ve tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me
time and time again
“Boy you’ll never win,
you’ll never win.”

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
the Voice of truth says “do not be afraid!”
and the Voice of truth says “this is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth

III. The Profit of Trials

A. From God’s Wisdom

James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

Covey translation: “Therefore, knowing that God has a plan and a purpose, resist the temptation to become angry and resentful, and instead, humbly allow God to use His Word to make you more sound and stable in the inner most part of your being.’

B. From God’s Work

James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

Covey translation: “Don’t waste this opportunity to become more like your Lord. Let God reveal your flaws and build your character. The freer you are from your old nature, the freer you are to serve Christ.

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