Pastor Tony has started preaching a series on the book of James on Sunday nights. I've always enjoyed the book of James, and I'm looking forward to hearing what he has to say. The following are taken from my notes from his sermon. I think summarizing my notes here on the blog might be a good way to reinforce to myself what was taught. Writing them here will also allow me to find the notes later!
The first few verses of James 1 do (as Pastor Tony said) have to do with attitude. We're supposed to consider affliction, trials and testing to be pure joy (or to count it all joy as other translations say).
Tony reminded us that as Christians we're in one of three states: about to go into a storm, in a storm, or coming out of a storm. There are lulls at times, but the storms will come.
Our response to those storms reveals where we are in our spiritual life. I don't really like what it reveals about me because I tend to complain (though mostly to myself) when I'm in a storm or confusing time.
It's a comfort to be reminded that God is allowing us to go through trials to accomplish something as verse four says that "perseverance must finish its work so you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." So these trials are not for no reason. They could be a gift to us so that we won't lack something in our lives. We're reminded of Romans 8:28 and how in all things God can work for our good and his glory (if we're of the ones who love him and have been called according to his purpose).
We're to pray that God will let each trial have it's perfect work. That's a hard prayer, especially if you're in a trial right now. But, if you and I want to be made more like Christ, isn't that what we really want? We just don't realize that it takes trials to make us who we want to be.
God, please use these trials in my own life to make me more like you.