June 28, 2022
Tests & Trials – James 1:2-4
Listen to last week’s sermon: Tests & Trials found in James 1:2-4.
On June 26, 2022, seven individuals, who chose to follow God’s Word in regards to baptism, made a public declaration of their intention to be Christ’s disciples for the remainder of their lives.
As an introduction to his sermon, Pastor Eric stated that baptismal services are among his favourite, as they provide an opportunity for people to witness how the Lord has transformed the lives of those who have been saved through the power of the Holy Spirit.
He then shared with the baptismal candidates, as well as with us all, important truths: In life, you and I will be tested. So will our faith. It is also likely that the beliefs and convictions we hold will be challenged and put to the test. There will be times when, despite our belief that we are walking in righteousness, the outcome will not correspond to our expectations. Such circumstances can leave us feeling lost.
During trials, we can lose heart, because we do not see the Hollywood ending. Results are not what we expected. In such situations, we may feel lost, directionless, and unsure of how to proceed. In these times, Pastor Eric believes that it is important to remind ourselves that all of us will encounter trials at some point in our lives.
All present shared the desire that all candidates for baptism experience the joy of this significant event. Pastor Eric nonetheless reminded the group that they will eventually face a time of testing in which they may question whether or not they made the right decision. Such a time will come. We will all be tested at some point in our lives. When things are going well, it is easy to overlook the fact that life also involves trials and tribulations. The faithful and upright are not immune to these storms. They also occur to people who are doing the right thing at the right time. These trials are not necessarily the result of our wrongdoing. In fact, many of those trials are a direct result of something we did right. Whatever the case, we must make the right choices despite the less-than-desirable consequences.
The outcome of our hardships will be determined by our actions at the time of testing. According to how we manage these trials, the end result could either break us or build us. They will either make us weaker or stronger. They will make us bitter or better. Moreover, Pastor Eric prays that their purpose may strengthen us all in our spiritual journey.
Read James 1:1
James wrote to Jewish believers who were dispersed among the Gentiles and had spread throughout Rome. These believers were experiencing considerable hardship. One scholar noted that they were subjected to unfair trials imposed by the Roman government. Consequently, their land was confiscated, their income was decimated, and their safety was compromised. These people also faced increased threats to their lives, and many were unable to feed their families. Some were forced from their homes. Many lost their possessions while others were exploited by the wealthy.
Read James 1:2-4 and James 1:12-15
Pastor Eric highlighted three key points:
1 – Trials will occur.
James says “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…” James says when trials arise, not if they arise. We are to expect trials. While our lives are not only filled with storms, they will inevitably come to pass. When they do, we need to be prepared. Our trials are sometimes the result of our own poor choices. However, we may also encounter hardships when we follow the path of righteousness.
Read 2 Timothy 3:12
In light of the passage above, all who desire to live a godly life will undergo testing, hardships, and persecution. It is not a question of if, but when. Moreover, we should keep in mind that if we live a godly life, some people may disapprove of our position and choices, which may lead to grievances or even persecution.
A large number of people were outraged today upon learning that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to overturn the law protecting abortion rights. They claim that it is appalling and revolting that the killing of innocent children will no longer be legal. Consequently, we Christians anticipate persecution. It is only a matter of time. Pastor Eric’s pro-life position is not influenced by his role as a pastor or by his political views. His pro-life stance is based on his conviction that when we murder an innocent child, we will be held accountable before God one day. Some individuals were involved in abortions in some capacity before becoming Christians. Through the mercy of our gracious God, these people can be forgiven.
Are you aware that Ontario has the highest abortion rate in Canada, followed by Quebec? This implies that many people will find our beliefs and convictions offensive. Therefore, we will likely be subjected to some form of persecution, and we must be prepared for this.
Read Matthew 5:10-12
When we stand up for righteousness and are persecuted for our faith, we must remind ourselves that God blesses those who suffer for doing what is right. God blesses us when people ridicule us, persecute us, lie about us, and utter all sorts of evil things against us because we are His disciples. We should rejoice because heaven has a great reward in store for us. No matter what difficulties we are facing at the moment, we are not to give up!
2- During times of trial, our attitude matters.
It is essential that we maintain a positive attitude when we are faced with adversity.
Read James 1:2
As we go through a trial or a period of testing, we seldom think of rejoicing. Rather, we tend to complain and worry about our situation. Too many times, we allow circumstances and trials of every kind to rob us of our joy. Hence, we should take heed of what James said in the above passage. Despite difficult circumstances, we should be glad because the joy of the Lord gives us strength. It is easier to rejoice when we are aware of the benefits of trials and testing. We do not rejoice because we are going through fire. Rather, we rejoice because of what the fire will produce in us.
Read Romans 8:28
Everything happens for our good as long as we love God and are in tune with His purposes. Consequently, the next time we are confronted with adversity, we should be glad because our God makes all things work together for good. Regardless of whether the trial is from God or not, He is able to transform it into an opportunity for His glory.
3 – There are various kinds of trials.
Read James 1:2 and 1 Corinthians 7:28
Although we all go through trials, not all trials are the same. Our situation may be different from that of our spouse, brother, sister, friend, or neighbour. While we do not experience the same suffering, difficulties, and persecution, the end result is the same. Our marriage can also be adversely affected.
Since not everyone possessed the virtue of celibacy, Paul cautioned those who chose to marry that they would encounter many troubles in this life. Trials in a marriage provide couples with opportunities to practice being attentive, as well as forgiveness, patience, cooperation, and letting go.
The word trial in Greek is dokime, which means test. A trial can serve as both a test and a trial. Whether it be through suffering, difficulties, or persecution, God can use adversity to test our faith. The same applies to marriage. It is important to note that trials are never random and are never imposed without purpose. In most cases, a trial is not the work of God, but if we trust in Him, He will turn it into good.
Read James 1:13
Aside from trials, tests, and difficulties, there are also temptations. It is important to note that temptations are not from God.
Where does temptation originate?
Read James 1:14
Temptation arises from our own desires, which entice us and cause us to give in.
Our desires must align with those of God. When we seek the Lord through the Word and through His presence, we make God’s business our own, and then our desires change to reflect His. According to the Scriptures, if we make the Lord our delight, He will fulfill our deepest desires. Fleshly desires, however, are not from God. We must starve our human desires, as they provide a breeding ground for sin, and when sin has fully developed, it will lead to death. In response to these latter desires, our relationship with God becomes more challenging, and we may even become reluctant to open the Bible.
The late Dwight L. Moody once said, “The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.” The devil uses temptation to cause us to stumble, and then he condemns and accuses us so that we remain defeated. In the Bible, Satan is called “the accuser of the Saints”.
How do we resist temptation?
We submit to God.
Read James 4:7
James 4:7 instructs us to submit ourselves to God, stand against the devil, and he will flee from us. We must draw strength from the Lord to resist temptation. Our victory over Satan is only possible if we obey God’s Word and submit to the Lord’s will.
We resist the devil
In order to repel Satan, we must resist him. Let’s read, study, memorize, apply, pray, preach, claim, and declare God’s Word.
Read Psalm 119:9-11
Scripture is our sword to defeat temptation. Let’s quote it and resist the devil!
Read James 1:3-4 and Romans 5:3-5
Suffering and trials serve a purpose. They provide us with the opportunity to gain maturity and acquire greater faith.
Pastor Eric concluded his sermon by expressing his delight at the candidates’ commitment to follow Christ. He also stated that those who choose to adhere to a life of godliness will be confronted with trials and tribulations upon their spiritual journey. We should take great joy in the fact that God is able to unfurl a rainbow after our storms.