An Evening with Walk in the Word’s James MacDonald
James MacDonald of Walk in the Word http://www.walkintheword.com/ has been on a bus tour this spring and John and I went to his worship service in Hendersonville, NC last weekend.
The message was Why Trials from James 1: 1-6
1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
This book was written by the brother of Jesus, yet he calls himself a bondservant of God and Jesus. He was writing to believers who were scattered and suffering. So he gets right to the heart of his message.
Consider your trials joy.
To understand this you have to have the right definition of joy. It’s not happiness. It’s a supernatural delight. It’s one of the gifts of the Spirit. Joy in God Himself!
God knows us perfectly and loves us infinitely. And He’s working out His plan for us: in the person of God, the purposes of God and in the people of God. That is certainly a reason for joy!
To count (or consider) it all joy means you need to think about it. When you are thinking about your trials ask yourself, “Why am I here?” “What is the purpose of my life once I’ve been saved?” James says it’s to display the superiority of a Christian life well lived. That’s why Christians have trials. God allows trials so we can show people the difference between a follower of Jesus Christ and someone who isn’t.
When you stand strong through the trials of life you are displaying the superiority of a life lived in God. God trusts us with the big stuff!
Eternity is racing upon us and the Bible says our trials are a light and momentary affliction. They should be our opportunity to show the world how awesome God is.
They are also a testing of our faith and they produce patience.
James says we should ask ourselves these questions:
Do you believe God is in control when something awful happens? (Even when you can’t see it or feel it.)
Do you believe God is good? (His disposition toward you is to bless you even if He has to hurt you awhile to make you a better person. God is interested in conforming us into the image of His Son.)
Are you willing to wait, by faith, until you see how God is working this out all together?
And finally James said we need to stay in the trial for as long as it takes. Don’t give up, don’t run, don’t complain or lash out. Trials produce transformation. We have to go through the whole thing to get the full effect. There is power in waiting.
Verse 4 says if you let it have its full effect on you you will be perfect and complete: lacking nothing. God is trying to rid us of the self-inflicted misery. Embrace the trial.
Verse 5 says if you lack wisdom ask God. This is about the trial. Ask God what you are supposed to learn from it. And God will give you insight.
Verse 6 says to ask in faith. You have to really want to know.