Reading the book
Dear brothers and sisters when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
James 1:2-4 NLT
When you chose to consider troubles great joy, God will do something redemptive with your life.
• The Principle – “Don’t Ask Why, Ask What”
People who never move beyond asking why live their lives as victims.
• Three “What” Questions Survivors Ask:
1. What can I control when my world falls apart? My Attitude
2. What must I do to make it through today? Endure
3. What hope do I have for tomorrow? God will take the worst things and turn them into the best things.
While we may resolve to not be victims and resolve to not be bitter we still have to deal with the reality of our broken world. It could be a marriage that is making you miserable, or a job that you have lost or one you hate. It could be a son or daughter that has ripped your heart out. It could be your singleness or a financial breakdown or any number of things that have shattered your world. You are trying to consider it all joy but frankly while you may feel empowered to do that occasionally the reality of life is almost more than you can stand.
God knows that we can get stuck in our pain and so He has a solution.
How to Move Beyond the Pain Broken World
So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. 5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.”
James 1:4-8 NLT
The Problem – Sometimes we get “stuck” in our pain.
a. There are times when you may feel stuck in your pain and the fact is God understands that. That’s why included in these verses right after suggesting you will be perfect and complete we see the word “if.” The implication is “but if you get stuck.”
b. God promises to help us 100 percent of the time.
c. He will always help but there is a condition.
The Solution – God promises help for those who are “stuck.”
• God’s Offer = Supernatural Wisdom
We read that if any of you lack wisdom and I think that we might tend to think of wisdom as relating to being smart. In fact the people the letter of James was written to were running for their lives, they were being persecuted and burned at the stake, their homes were being destroyed, families were being torn apart and it is into this world that these words penned.
The writer wrote: Dear brothers and sisters when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.
He then follows it up with “but if any of you lack wisdom.”
Wisdom here means: skill, practical knowledge, or understanding insight to live our lives God’s way. God designed life to work in a certain way and He promises that if we walk in obedience to Him He will give us wisdom to understand and know how to live our lives in the perfect way He designed for human beings to live.
• Our Responsibility = To Ask
“ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.”
In the middle of our broken world and difficult situations we are commanded and encouraged to come to God and ask Him for help. If and when you are in a broken and painful life circumstance you come to God and ask specifically for the wisdom (practical knowledge skill or knowhow) to know what to do next. You are asking for a gift from a loving Heavenly Father who will help you to know what to do with a family that is a mess, or a job that you can’t stand or a marriage that is not really working. For those of you that are kids you deal with things that maybe sometimes parents don’t understand. Sometimes kids at school can be mean and say mean things. Sometimes homework seems impossible to get done or you are under pressure to say or do things that you know are not right to do or say but sometimes you can’t seem to help yourself.
Whatever the situation we are instructed to ask for supernatural wisdom and we are promised that God will help us 100 percent of the time.
Prayer is the hardest discipline of our lives. We might as well as admit it yet if we could ever grasp the concept and the importance of prayer we would not avoid it like we often do.
Most of us will pick up the phone before we talk to God about big problems in our lives. We will talk to a friend or just about anybody before we will get on our knees and pour out our hearts to God. That’s not a chastisement just a fact. Sometimes we will pay someone hundreds of dollars to a stranger to just listen to us pour out our stuff. (This is very needed sometimes)
God’s offer is supernatural wisdom, our responsibility is to ask. I believe that many times we don’t ask because we are afraid of what we are going to get when we do. We have a warped view of God. Many of us are afraid of Him.
Maybe we are afraid of what we are going to learn about ourselves. Often when God gets involved we learn things about ourselves. (marriage, job, relationships) It is a whole lot easier to just meet someone at a coffee shop, or watch a ball game or a movie to forget our situations or eat come chocolate!
• God’s Attitude = Open and without reproach
For many of you in this room you are convinced that if you come to God with all your failures and shortcomings that God will be standing there with His arms folded and His toe tapping shaking His head in unbelief at how totally stupid you are or how many times you have had to come to Him. There is nothing that could be further from the truth.
“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”
When you are at the end of your rope and don’t know what to do next God longs for us to come to Him and ask.
Kids I want to talk to you for a minute. Do you know what happens when you do something wrong and you know you are about to get caught? The first thing we often try to do is think of something to say that will shift the blame to someone else. This never works of course because to do that means that you have told a lie and now you have bigger problems because one lie always is followed by a bunch more. Telling the truth is always the way to go. There may be consequences but they are a whole lot less than trying to avoid telling the truth.
Ingram Story: (Hide and seek, bathroom window and soap dish) An earthly parent just wants their children to be honest and when we honestly come before God and confess our condition He promises to help us.
There is one condition!
The Condition- We receive God’s wisdom only when we “ask in faith, without any doubting.”
• To “ask in faith” means believing and trusting I will do what God says I should do. I will obey Him. I will act on what God says because I trust Him. Faith and obedience always go together.
You trust God enough to do whatever He says for you to do when you ask Him. There millions of people sitting in church today who think they have faith in God but they are missing something. You can’t have faith without believing and obeying. Don’t say you have faith if you are not acting on what you believe.
• “Without any doubting” means that you have no divided loyalties. You are not double minded. Your loyalties are not divided between the world and the kingdom of God.
The condition for receiving help for our broken worlds is obedience. A sample prayer from a double minded person might be something like this: Dear God, please give me wisdom and understanding and help for my BIG problem. Please show me Your will so I can consider that as one of my options to decide if I want to do it or not.
People do this all the time regarding some of the biggest decisions of life. They will pray, “Oh God help me help me help me,” but when He gives them answer that is not what they want to hear they will often reject it and do whatever they want to do regardless of the consequences.
You want to know something. Being married is hard work and chucking it because you don’t feel well is not a good option. Having kids is hard work and checking out and being irresponsible as a parent is not an option. Working a job should be challenging that’s why we call it work.
What we want you to hear today is that God will help you through something so you can quit running away from your problems. You can face them and you can put the pieces back together with God’s help and in His way.
As a child, one of the things that I liked playing with was Lincoln Logs. They have different sizes now for kids to use. If your house is like my house, we build all kinds of things with Lincoln Logs – houses, schools, places for animals, a place for a car – matchbox car. And after you spend all of this time building this structure, one of the worst things that can happen is for it to fall apart. When that happens at my house, it can be like life can’t go on. There can be crying. There may be blaming someone for making it fall. There can be comments like “What am I going to do?” “It will never be the same.” “It can’t be fixed.”
At least that is the way it is with the kids at my house. That is about the time that I ask the question: “What can you do about it? Is there anyone you can ask to help?”
Often I get this response: “No, there is nothing I can do. This is a terrible day.”
Then it is as if I have to state the obvious: “Can’t you just ask me for help?”
I think there are so many times when things in our lives go wrong. We feel like things can’t be rebuilt. We don’t know what to do. And God is going: “Can’t you just ask me for help?”
We are like “no” because we aren’t willing to ask for help. God so wants to help if we would just be willing to trust that He cares and ask Him for the wisdom we need.
If you want to move beyond the pain or brokenness in your life, you have to be willing to…
1. Admit you’re stuck. (Things are broken and you need help.)
2. Admit you can’t do it on your own. (You need God’s help.)
3. Ask God for supernatural wisdom.
4. Be willing to trust God and obey His wisdom. (Trust that God cares and then be willing to do what He asks.)
Maybe you are facing something right now in which you need to be willing to go to God for help. Will you turn to God for help? Will you ask God for wisdom? Maybe you haven’t been willing to really trust God. Will you trust Him? Maybe you have gone to God for help but you haven’t been willing to obey or do what you know you need to do. Will you obey His wisdom?
As this song plays, will you spend some time asking God for wisdom and trust Him with all of your life?
Closing Song and Send Out: Rescue
Send Out: Ephesians 3:20-21 (The Message) 20-21God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
May you trust and obey God who can do far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request.