Summary: Our belief in Jesus and His calling on our lives dictates how we act therefore we should stop compromising with worldly values and behaviour and give ourselves wholly to the Lord. This applies to the way we deal with trials and temptations.

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James 1:1-18 - “Trials and Temptations”

Today we are going to begin an 8 part sermon series on the book of James. When you start a series it helps to have a bit of insight into some background issues about the author and those who he is writing too. A good place to start is James 1:1.

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.

James 1:1

James = the brother of Jesus

- initially not a believer.

- but became a leader in the early church

Twelve tribes = another way of saying “to my fellow believers”.

- reminds us of the OT ... twelve tribes.

- so, more focused on Jewish believers, therefore the letter is very early.

Scattered = official word is Diaspora.

- Early believers were persecuted in Jerusalem and Israel.

- Many left and went to other nations ... believers out into a Gentile world.

- So the letter is not to a specific church like Corinth or Philippi.

- It is more like a tract that was sent out to a whole group of believers who were scattered all over Palestine and Asia Minor.

The main issue that James is addressing is this one:-

No matter where we find ourselves in society there should never be a difference between our beliefs and our actions.

Our circumstances do not dictate how we act.

The people who we are with do not dictate how we act.

The challenges of life do not dictate how we act.

The pressure to conform does not dictate how we act.

Our belief in Jesus and His calling on our lives dictates how we act therefore we should stop compromising with worldly values and behaviour and give ourselves wholly to the Lord.

These are the themes that are going to come out again and again.

Now the first area of life that James deals with is trials and temptations.

James 1:2-18 (read)

When Corianna and I were first married we moved to Geelong to start my theological training. After being there 3 months:-

- we were entering winter but our house had no heater.

- we had $1 in our bank account.

- Corianna was lonely and homesick and heavily pregnant.

- I was working and studying all the time.

- Our house didn’t have a shower and only 3 out of the 6 rooms were liveable and we were spending all our spare time renovating.

And we would get to the end of the day and say,

Isn’t this great – I’m so excited and happy about our life at the moment.

... ...

You don’t believe me do you? About the bit about being joyful?

Fair enough.

We wanted it to be like that because in James 1:2 it says, “Consider it pure joy, whenever you face troubles of many kinds”. But the reality is that the road of troubles didn’t always cause us to be joyful. In fact the road of trouble often led to the Why-me-road.

“Why is God putting me through so much difficulty?”

“Why can’t God make our life different?”

“Why doesn’t God sort it out so it is all a bit easier?”

You’re with me on this aren’t you when I say often we do not consider trials as pure joy, in fact we sometimes even consider them as pure hell.

But when we do that we forget what God is really up to in our lives.

Difficulties and trials are not the defining moment of our lives ... the defining moment is our response.

We should be less focussed on what is happening to us.

And more focussed on what is happening in us.

Most of us have gone on long journeys with children. At some point in the trip there will come a phrase that every child who has travelled in a car has used. Are we there yet?

Why is it that they can’t understand that when the car is still going we are not there?

Do they expect you to keep on driving past your destination just for the fun of it?

The reason they ask questions is because they are too immature to understand the nature of the journey. They want to be at the destination without the travel necessary to get there.

As adults we can be the same … especially when it comes to trials. We don’t like what we are going through.

Are we there yet?

Why me?

I want it to be over.

But if we don’t take the journey we don’t get the blessing. If we keep on wanting to stop the journey before we get to the destination, how will we ever mature? That is the point James is making in verse 3-4

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