Tuesday, April 04, 2006

James 1:9-12 (Focus on Rewards During Trials)

James 1:9-12 But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; [10] and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. [11] For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away. [12] Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

James says blessed is the man who perseveres under trial or testing. Yes, blessed! A person who perseveres under trial shows their faith is real or genuine. In the OT, Job was such a man. Do you remember what Job said when he lost his children and possessions all in a single day? “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” In the NT Paul was such a man. In 2 Tim. 1:12 Paul wrote, “For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” Then in 2 Tim. 4:6-8 he said, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. [7] I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; [8] in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” Folks, trials test the validity of our faith and our love for God.

If we walk away from the Lord when trials come then it proves we really don’t have genuine faith or love. It was one thing for me to tell my first wife Melinda I loved her and would remain faithful until death do us part. It was another thing to prove that love by taking care of her through seven years of chronic illness. The testing proved my love was genuine. It proved it to me and proved it to her. Genuine faith in God and love for Him will endure the trials and tests of this life! If it doesn’t, then it was not genuine to begin with.

What happens if you pass the test? James says you will receive the promised crown of life! This same promise is repeated to the suffering church in Smyrna in Rev. 2:9-11.

Beware, if you’re not careful you’ll get the idea that you earn or maintain your salvation by endurance. Neither of these things is true. If you have been born again you will endure! You will endure because the Holy Spirit will enable you to persevere! As Paul said in Ephesians, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit for the day of redemption.

Jesus said in John 10:27-30, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; [28] and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. [29] "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. [30] "I and the Father are one." Jesus brother in the flesh Jude wrote, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, [25] to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

So what’s today’s main point? Wise Christians will look forward to their promised reward. What have we learned so far this week? First, wise Christians will evaluate themselves and their situation by God’s standard and not the worlds. Second, wise Christians focus on the eternal rather than the earthly. Finally, wise Christians will look forward to their promised reward.

You who claim to be followers of Christ, are you responding wisely to the trials of life. Are you evaluating your situation by God’s viewpoint or this world’s? Is your focus on the earthly or eternal? Are you looking forward to your future reward or do you have some anxiety about the judgment? What has God said to you this morning? Is there sin that you need to confess or forsake? Are there attitudes that need to be changed? Are there Priorities that need to be rearranged?

For you who are not Christians, that is believers and followers of Christ. God the Father invites you to believe in His son Jesus Christ as your Savior from sin and as Lord of your life. What does it mean to trust Christ as your Lord and your Savior? It means that you turn your back on the ways of this world and follow Jesus Christ. It means that you love Him with all your heart through the good times and the bad. It means that you will be rejected by this world but embraced by God. It means that you will be rescued from this domain of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son. It means that all your sin was paid for all Calvary’s cross and your sins are forgiven. It means that you will receive eternal life. It means that you will become a child of God! Will you believe? Will you decide to follow Christ? If you choose to follow Christ, pray this simple prayer as a way of expressing your commitment. Lord Jesus Christ, I confess that I have sinned and lived life my own way. Today I turn away from my sinful foolishness and I commit to follow you from now on. I will follow you through good times and bad. Please help me keep my commitment. Please teach me everyday from this day forward what it means to follow you. In your name I pray Lord Jesus. Amen

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