We begin a new sermon series entitled “Faith under pressure”. Preaching from Nathan Gordon. Service led by Beverley Sills.
Welcome to our brand-new series entitled Faith Under Pressure as we journey through the letter of James. For Dummies is a book series that seeks to break down subject matters simply and practically. In like manner, the Epistle of James is one of the How-to books in the bible which explains how things are done, with helpful pointers and colourful illustrations. The letter James offers practical and spiritual tools to Christians who are experiencing problems, as all of us do.
“It’s not your circumstances that make or break your day. It’s your attitude towards your challenges” – E Lilly
What have you produced under pressure? – V2-4
- (Trials)Tests and challenges are those circumstances, conflicts, sufferings, and troubles encountered by all believers. (Yes, Christians are not exempt)
- Trials are not pleasant and may be extremely grievous, but believers are to consider them as opportunities for rejoicing.
- Troubles and difficulties whilst being annoying, can develop and produce perseverance and patience in our walks with Christ.
Challenge – Under pressure sometimes people break down and run away from the challenge at hand. God however desires not to break or destroy us but to refine and purify our faith. Try to see the lessons and development of your trials and what they can produce as you draw close to God and seek His help.
Where do you go under pressure? – v5-8
- Under pressure, we may be tempted to look for temporary means of escape to numb the pain or to find alternative ways out of the trial.
- James encourages believers to always turn to God in prayer because He loves to help!
- The wisdom God gives is not necessarily information on how to get out of trouble but rather insight on how to learn from one’s difficulties. (See also Pro 29:15)
- James urges against doubting God in or after our prayers. Doubting means to be divided in one’s mind or to debate.
- Double-minded = two souls, one set on God and the other drawn towards the world. (Matt 6:24)
Challenge – Under pressure, we must avoid turning in the wrong direction and looking for help in the wrong places. This only frustrates and reaps more havoc in our lives. However, in every circumstance of life, we can turn to God in prayer, and He loves to have fellowship with us.
- How have the trials that you have experienced brought you closer to, or pushed you further away from God? How have trials affected your faith?
- When you read James 1:2-4, it seems like suffering is a major way in which God produces maturity and perseverance in us. Why do you think trials refine us so well?
- Are we supposed to deny our feelings when we “count it all joy” in the midst of trials (James 1:2)? Is it a sin to feel sorrow and grief in a trial? If not, how do these feelings fit in with God’s call for joy?
- How is joy distinct from happiness (see 2Cor. 6:10; 7:4-6)
- Some people subscribe to the idea that “the best are blessed.” How does that align with the suffering endured by Jesus (John 16:33), Paul (Romans 8:17), or Peter (1 Peter 4:12)?