The testing of our faith is gift that produces endurance and reveals where it’s lacking.
00:00 You're listening to a live recording from Westside church in bend, Oregon. Thanks for joining us.
00:06 I'm Boster Brady and I'm super excited to be launching a new series this morning, right out of the book of James. James is a really unique little letter. It's something, and it's been interesting studying both it and its author in the last few weeks. James is actually the first letter, the first anything written to the early church. I know you think we always like Matthew, Matthew, mark, Luke, John. I know the order of the books, but chronologically James was the first one to write something to the church. James was a pastor of the church in Jerusalem. He and Peter started that church and pastored it. He was high, a high profile leader and there are quite a few James's in the new Testament and they didn't have surnames. So there's not like James Jones and James at Anderson and stuff, but they did have ways that they identified the James.
01:00 So there were two disciples named James. One was James, the son of Zite and they called him James, the greater and one was James, the son of, uh AIAS and they called him James, the lesser. And that is not actually a statement of their importance. It's about their height. Isn't that funny? It's kind of harsh. Yeah, James, the short and James, the tall is what it was. They maybe they was the start of Starbucks or something. so they, they were the disciples and then there was James James. They called him James, the, just, he was James, the half brother of Jesus. And you'll remember out of John five. it says that James, the brother of Jesus did not believe that Jesus was the son of God. It specifically states his brother did not believe in him. How many of you would believe if your brother said he was the son of God?
02:53 And then he did believe, and he believed so strongly that he gave his life for that belief. He was martyred sometime bet be between 62 and 69 ad. And that's also when he wrote his letter and this letter is a doozy. It really is. It's five little chapters filled with 53 ways. James wants to boss you around. James doesn't even try. He doesn't even try to suggest your truth is your truth. And my truth is, you know, doesn't even do that. He's like, here's what you gotta do. James was pretty controversial book Martin Luther didn't think it should be included in the actual body of the cannon. He wanted it in a little appendix in the back. And I get later in his life, he did teach out of James as the authoritative word of God. But initially there were a lot of scholars that were like, mm James, isn't it?
03:51 Because they felt it was at odds with the grace doctrine. That's presented so clearly in Corinthians and Romans. And so many of the epistles. And the thing is those books are filled with beautiful doctrine. They tell us why you should love Jesus. The gospels tell us his pedigree, the way he fulfilled prophecy, the way he lived, the way he died, the gospels, give us something to go on and build a life around who he was. And then the epistles. Tell us a lot about doctrine. Why to believe in him, how the cross works, how sin works, what forgiveness looks like, how the kind of the taste of grace, but James doesn't really touch on doctrine. James just wants to tell you if you have already decided Jesus, is it for me. If you have chosen to love him and follow him, this is how your life ought to look.
04:44 This is the grid that you need to set over your life and see, am I doing it? Am I living it? James is a book where he gets down into the trenches. It's boots on the ground. It's it's real life. This is how this should look. And I'm gonna challenge you for the next few weeks. As we go through this book, chapter by chapter, James is gonna speak to his culture and to his church, he's speaking actually to the dispersed church. This is a general universal letter. So he's, he's writing to the whole church, which then maybe numbered a million people in Asia minor. He was preaching to the dispersed church. They had fled because of persecution. So last week we ended the exile series and here we are back to James talking to people after the cross, still in exile. And so he's preaching to the dispersed church and he wants to explain to them how it looks to live out your faith.
05:44 He's called James. The just because he has such a profound reputation for being a good guy. He is a man of integrity and morality. People trust him. He's got a lot of credibility. And actually in that era, people would follow the brother of a deceased rabbi and James has that title and he also has a reputation for being a good person. And it's interesting that his character created his name, James suggest. And I just was thinking, this is a cul-de-sac comment, but I just was thinking today, if my character was my last name, what would that be? If somebody was gonna call me be the something, what would it be? Would it be, be the bitter or be the fearful or be the frustrated or be the happy or be the hopeful? I don't know. I just know I wanna live in a way that ripples out and becomes a part of who I am and that's what James is asking us to do.
06:40 And so he's riding to the depo. He's, he's telling them, this is how this looks. And so the challenge is we need to ask the holy spirit, as James says to his church, when somebody comes in and they're not dressed fancy, and they clearly don't have any money and you don't treat them as fairly or as well as you would, somebody who doesn't look like them, you're not doing it right. What does that mean for us today? How does that translate into our culture and our stuff and the stuff that we are fighting about and talking about, and, and, and how does it look in our city? And so we wanna look at the book of James as he wrote it to the church that was enduring a lot of persecution, but we wanna also bring it home to where we are sitting in these seats today, living in these streets, communicating with these neighbors and with each other, how does a life of faith play out?
07:37 That's what James is gonna tell us, listen to the opening line, James, a servant of God and of the Lord, Jesus Christ to the 12 tribes scattered among the nations. James could have right off the top called himself James, the brother of the Lord, Jesus Christ. But he does not. In fact, in the Greek, this word is bond slave. I am a slave to my brother, Jesus, and it's beautiful. And then he's talking to the dispersed Jews throughout the, throughout the whole world. and then he says considerate, pure joy. My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. A lot of, translation say endurance. I already don't like the book, frankly. This is a little like the screen say screen time notification on my iPhone. I don't want to know.
09:27 This is, surrounding trials. This is overwhelming trials. This is when you feel overmatched and under, equipped. This is a big deal. When you face these trials, he says, and then he says, they are trials of many kinds. And this in the Greek is a word that literally means Motley. So when he said to the, to the, to the scattered church, you're facing trials, they are living in a time of persecution. So acute that their, their families are being taken from them. Their possessions are being stripped of them. James is gonna address that later in his book. they're being imprisoned, they're being martyred. And so when he says you're gonna face trials, what is the first thing that comes to mind for them? The empire, the empire is our problem. He's talking about the empire, but James intentionally adds a word that means all kinds of trials, a Motley crew of trials, a little gang of rapid wolves coming at you in surrounding you.
10:34 And some of them are financial and some of them are relational. And some of them are maybe governmental. Some of them are current events. Some of them are family. Some of them are vocational. Some of them are there. There are all kinds of trials. James says they all qualify all the trials we face. It's not just the empire. It's not just government. It's not just persecution against the church. There are gonna be all kinds of swarms of trials that you face in the course of your life. And this is James introduction to the church that a life lived with. Jesus is not a life without trouble. That's the, the bad news. But then he tells them, there is a way to face these trials. There's a way to view them. I love that. He says consider that's the first word of his imperative. Consider think stop, don't react.
11:27 Don't come out, swinging, take a minute and choose how you will view these trials. You don't just have to. I had a, a student wants in an internship who said, I'm just depressed all the time. I wake up in the morning and I think about how I feel. And that's how the day is gonna go. Just like she had zero control over how she would face the day. And James is saying, you get to stop and choose the perspective with which you face this Motley crew of difficult things. That's in your power. The fact that they are coming at you maybe is not in your power, but how you face them is. And he says, then he tells them how they should position themselves. How should you face them? And he says, consider it all joy. Ugh. Consider it all joy. Joy is the Greek word.
12:24 Karen and I really like that because for any of you named Karen who have been on the back end of difficult memes of the last three years, this is your redemption story. joy it's, it's actually the Def the definition of it is calm. Delight. Face this band of misfit trials with calm delight. What is your calm delight in the fact that you don't have money? Nope. The fact that the relationship is breaking down, no, the joy is not in the trial. The joy is in something else. We face these trials with a posture of joy because of something that is on the other side of them. There there's something about these trials coming into our life. That is gonna be the key that opens a door. That unleashes something else for us. Isn't that cool? That's a great idea. I like this a lot.
13:19 Now it's getting better. So considerate, joy, stop and think position yourself with joy. I don't typically do that. I typically first treat the Motley crew of trials, like a terrorist attack on my happiness. I have panic and fear and anger, and then more fear. But James says joy, considerate, joy. Not because the trial is fun, but because something better is coming. So this principle is actually modeled by Jesus. In John 15, James probably knows his brother modeled this idea. He says to his disciples on like one day before, he is literally surrounded by a mob and taken to the cross. He says to his disciples as the father has loved me. So I have loved you now remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love just as I have kept my father's commands and remain in his love.
14:21 Do you hear the endurance in that remain, stick it out. Don't cut and run. Don't quit. You're gonna question everything you're gonna not know. And in fact, his disciples are gonna run and Jesus is saying, stick, stay endure. Even when you don't want to. Even when the world is against you, stick and remain. And then he says, this is why very next verse. I have told you this not. So you have, because you have to follow the rules. Not because it'll make me mad. If you don't. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. Jesus is telling us there is joy in endurance. James is telling us there is joy that comes on the other side of endurance. It's essential for our faith. It's essential for all the other things. James is gonna ask us to do over the next five weeks.
15:19 We need to know how to stick when it gets hard. And it's not a very popular concept. I got married three years ago and we got a lot of sweet cards and notes and stuff. And people wished us all kinds of things. They wish just health and prosperity and grandchildren and not babies.
16:20 If you endure, there will be joy on the other side of it that you couldn't know another way. And, Jesus even says, you get to have my joy. I'm gonna put my joy in you. The same joy that helps Jesus face the cross. I'm gonna give you my joy. It's like if Jesus gives us a resource box, I, I, I, when after my husband died, I, somebody anonymously sent me a big box that was filled with 30 gifts that I could open each day of my first month being a widow. And they were just really sweet, like nail polished and face masks and journals and pens. And it was lovely. And some days I remembered to open them and some days I didn't, but they always brought me a lot of joy when I did. And I was thinking this Jesus like hands us, this box, here's what you have to endure a hard time.
17:12 You get the holy spirit, you get love and power and safe thinking. And one of those cheerfully wrapped gifts would be the gift of joy. Jesus just said it in John 15, I'm, I'm telling you this so that you can have my joy. And I think we get to choose whether or not we access that very gift. It is always an option to run. It is always an option to give up. It is always an option to curse God and die, but Jesus encourages us choose joy. You'll be glad you did. I, hate saving money. Hate it.
18:08 And, and I hate saving money. But when, unless I put some stress on my lifestyle, unless I put some restraint and hold back, some things I'm not gonna have any money to live on in the very short amount of time, I have to retirement. And we met with our financial guy the other day to see, like, how are we doing on retirement? He was like, you're doing pretty good. And I had so much joy about the times when I have resisted and put stress on my lifestyle. So that someday when I need it, I have an account to draw from. Honestly, that account right now brings me no joy. It's just sitting there doing nothing. It's just sitting there waiting for some day when I'm old and need it, but it will bring me great joy when I don't have to move in with my child.
18:53 You know? And I think this is like this I I'm, I'm, I'm doing something now I'm enduring trials now. And I'm saving up something for later, even though I don't really know what that is. Even though I would rather just sink into a pit of bitterness and despair and be done with this whole thing. I know that the testing of my faith is producing endurance. And look at this, let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault. And it will be given to you. This is a really interesting thing. Endurance finishes the work in our life and it says, you, you let endurance have its way. You let endurance work in you so that you can be complete. And then it says, if you do lack something, if you are not complete, yet, if you lack wisdom, then just ask God because he gives it.
19:56 But how did he just say he gives it through endurance and how do we get endurance through trial? I mean, it's hard. Wisdom comes this way through facing trial, through facing hard things and sticking it out. And so we've talked about this idea of falling into a pit and being surrounded by a Motley crew of trials and how that produces endurance in our lives. And endurance does this amazing work inside of us, but does this also work for trials that are caused by our own stupid decisions, by our own mistakes, by our own sinful ideas? Does it work in that? Does that even produce something in us? I think these are two different issues. One is the, the, the trials that we can't see coming that just come in to try to take us over. One is the trials that come, that we actually call the consequences of our decisions.
20:54 And so my answer to this is not very theological, but I do believe if you fall into a pit of Vipers or you jump into a pit of Vipers, the way you face the Vipers is probably pretty much the same. I'm still gonna face the trial and say, I believe that God can do something good with this. I believe that even though I blew it, even though here I am living in the, in the consequences of my own actions, God can show up here Romans 8, 28. He can even work this together for his glory and my good, but also what I take out of that pit should be different than what I take out of the pit that I've fallen into. If I fall in, I come out more in love with the grace and goodness of God, because he delivered me from my enemies.
21:43 If I jump in, I come out more in love with the grace and goodness of God, because he taught me something in the middle of that and, and delivered me. But also I'm, it's time to invite the flashlight of the holy spirit in and answer the question of my soul. Why do I keep sabotaging my life? Two different things? Yeah, God can use 'em both. I believe God will use them both if we stick. And if we face them in the posture that James gives us, I believe he will. But I think the things that we wanna take and learn and understand from them is different either way. Steve, you can come back. We're gonna take communion together, but I wanna say, I just love how straightforward this book is. I also kind of hate how straightforward this book is, but he says, here, there is an action when you are surrounded by trial and the action is stop and think, consider how you will face it, choose your perspective.
22:49 And then he says, there is a position. The position you take when you're faced with lots of trials is calm, delight. I'm gonna, I'm gonna delight myself and who God is because I know he is at work in this. And the outcome is endurance and endurance finishes the work. He started in us and it is valuable. This is straightforward. what is it? Simple but not easy, but we wanna understand how God is at work in that. And we see him model this on the cross. Hebrew says for the joy set before him, he, what endured he endured the cross.