Going Through Tough Times
“Consider it a great joy my brothers whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” James 1:2 The byproduct of going through a trial is an increase in endurance and personal strength. That does not mean that it is right to say that God creates trials for this purpose- it simply is a statement that when we go through difficult times, then we grow in strength. Remember, just as God cannot be tempted or lured by sin and evil, he does not willingly tempt us. It is our own evil desires which lead to our downfall. So, don’t accuse God or hold Him responsible! It is our own weakness and tendency to sin that is the cause of our temptation and subsequent downfall. And remember this, don’t be puffed out with self praise just because you think you are better than anyone else. If obeying the Lord naturally comes easy for you, good for you! Keep your boasting to yourself, because remember, one day your life will end just as the autumn leaves which dry up al fall off the trees. And if you struggle daily to obey the word of God, don’t beat yourself up over it, praise God, because you are aware of your spiritual need. No matter what, keep this one thing in mind, when you do have the strength to endure hardships and tests in life, remember you will be blessed all the more when it is finally over! The message we have heard makes us a new life in Christ, we are totally different! If there is something we do not understand, or something we really feel that we need or that is important to us, we should ask God about it. And not only this, we should be confident in God’s willingness and ability to meet all of our needs!
Keep a reign on your temper! If you have a short fuse, watch your mouth- and keep it shut. Put a muzzle on your mouth. If you want to hit someone, go lock yourself in a closet- restrain yourself! If you know you have a problem in this department, some anger management skills cannot hurt. Anger does nothing to help others come to God! And remember, don’t use “righteous anger” as an excuse to do or say whatever you want either. So think about it, your anger accomplishes nothing to promote the message of God. In fact it hinders others from understanding and accepting the good news of salvation. Do you think you are religious? Do you feel you have a gift? Well think twice- if you are consumed with anger, all the preaching in the world will not help your listeners or draw them closer to God. “Rid yourselves of all moral filth and evil excess.” James 1:21 Don’t just read the bible and listen to sermons. Do something about it! Put what you read and learn into practice as well. Remember to help one another in need.
Don’t play favorites! How unfair! Don’t be quick to judge others by their clothing and wealth. Remember that in God’s eyes, those who wear designer clothing, handbags & jewelry and who drive expensive have no advantage! Do you think they are better people because they have money? Then why do you act as if they are better by giving them preferential treatment and by acting nicer to them! What an injustice! Don’t you know that when you do that you are guilty of discrimination? Don’t you know that you are taking the liberty of being a judge! How dare you! And what good do the wealthy do anyway, but to flaunt their riches as if they are better, and to use their so called power for selfish ambition? Remember that God has chosen the poor to be rich in faith. His message was delivered to the poor as well as the wealthy. God considers all to be equal and commands us all to love our neighbors- whether they are poor or rich! So stop being a stuck up snob- treat everyone with fairness.
Doing the Word; Bringing Your Faith to Life!
Bring your faith to life, by putting into practice what you read and what you learn. If you see someone in need, don’t just feel pity; don’t simply offer words of encouragement. Sure those are good things, but how much better is it, to actually go out of your way and help your brother or sister or neighbor who is in need. Empty words with no action is useless! What good is it to encourage a starving man, yet not even offer him a piece of bread? Go the extra step, don’t be lazy. Remember faith comes first and we cannot merit salvation based on works. But keep this in mind, faith without action is essentially useless- or dead. We need to put into practice what we learn in order to show love for one another and to carry out the purpose of why we believe. What good is it to retain all the knowledge of God, and to have faith but do nothing about it? Faith comes first of course. Secondly, live the word, and act! Sure this teaching is more advanced, than faith alone… but when we receive the good news, we should have in us a desire, or at least a responsibility to be doers of the word as well.
Chapter 3: Responsibility & Words
“Not many should become teachers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment” James 3:1 In other words, don’t be too hasty in rushing into a position of responsibility or leadership. Sure it is an ego booster to be a teacher over a class, or a leader or pastor. But with that role comes a grave responsibility before God. When you teach others, you are essentially taking into your own hands, the salvation of your hearers! What you teach affects not only yourself but others as well. Also be careful of what you say. Words can be very powerful; more so than you realize. What we say can have the power to harm others or to help, so take great care. “No man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison”. James 3: 7,8 And finally, keep this in mind, if you really think you are wise, the you should really show it by your actions. If you are envious and ambitious, then don’t pretend you are wise, and certainly don’t go around bragging that you are wise- because you are not! You are just lying to yourself, because there is no way you can fool God. He knows what is inside. Envy and ambition, though they are very common qualities and even praised by so many in society, are really evil and terrible qualities. Seek after humility, peace and fairness and reject favoritism, ambition and envy!
Chapter 4: Reject Selfishness and Greed
This world and the people in it care so much about wealth, favoritism, pleasure, selfish ambition and other greedy desires! These are the sick and useless things that cause so much distress, and make this world evil in the first place! We need to reject these things not embrace them! Don’t pursue your selfish ambitions or wealth! We must choose friendship with God or the world- we cannot choose both because they are in direct opposition to one another. This world, with its selfish evil priorities and desires- is really the enemy of God. Selfishness, ambition and the pursuit of pleasure pleases the Devil! Remember that! So you need to reject these things, even though you may not want to. Sure you may feel left out or deprived without worldly things. Maybe you will feel like a second class citizen. But, you need to overcome self pity and greed. You cannot make your Coach purse, your career, your technological gadgets, your Mustang or your bank account your priority. You can if you really want to, I suppose, but don’t deceive yourself into thinking that you are doing the will of God if you do. And on top of that, you presume to judge others who don’t have the same material possessions as you to be inferior? You think that you are luckier or better off because of your wealth or possessions! Then you are delusional! You place a lot of reliance of your bank accounts, your homes, cars and material possessions. Remember you are on shaky ground with God if you do. You boast in your travels, your vacation getaways, your cruises and your parties. You talk about your 401k plans and your stocks and your plans to retire early! Perhaps you plan your agenda months in advance. But remember this humbling fact- you do not even know you have a tomorrow, there are no guarantees in life. Instead you should say “If the Lord wills, we will do this or that. But as it is you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil”. James 4:15-17 “Cleanse your hands, sinners and purify your hearts, double minded people! Be miserable and mourn and weep….. Humble yourselves before the lord and He will exalt you.” James 4: 8-10 “Come now, you rich people! Weep and wail over the miseries that are coming on you. Your wealth is ruined: your clothes are moth-eaten; your silver and gold are corrupted, and their corrosion will be a witness against you… You stored up treasure.. you have lived luxuriously… and have indulged yourselves… you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter”. James 5:1-6 Don’t misplace your faith and happiness on wealth and worldly possessions.
Chapter 5: Persist in Prayer and Encouragement
Remember that Jesus will return. You can be assured of it, but be patient as well. We ready and be faithful. Keep your encouragement up as well. Remember what Job, of the Old Testament, went through? Who can say they went through the tough times he endured, yet he persevered in his faith and was blessed by God in the end. That should serve as an example to us all. Remember to be honest, and confess our sins and our troubles to one another. Pray if you suffer and praise God when you prosper as well. Prayers of a righteous faithful person, is especially powerful so remember to pray for one another. Remember to call upon the elders in the church as well as each other when you are in need. And if one of you should stray from the truth, that man who helps him in the right path will have saved him from so many sins!