James 1:2-4

Sunday Morning Bible Study

February 18, 2001


Have you ever had a REALLY bad day?  I mean a really, really, really bad day?  Do you sometimes feel like the last week was really bad, perhaps the last year?


In 1976 a twenty-two-year-old Irishman, Bob Finnegan, was crossing the busy Falls Road in Belfast, when he was struck by a taxi and flung over its roof. The taxi drove away and, as Finnegan lay stunned in the road, another car ran into him, rolling him into the gutter. It too drove on. As a knot of gawkers gathered to examine the magnetic Irishman, a delivery van plowed through the crowd, leaving in its wake three injured bystanders and an even more battered Bob Finnegan. When a fourth vehicle came along, the crowd wisely scattered and only one person was hit, Bob Finnegan. In the space of two minutes Finnegan suffered a fractured skull, broken pelvis, broken leg, and other assorted injuries. Hospital officials said he would recover.


While motorcycling through the Hungarian countryside, Cristo Falatti came up to a railway line just as the crossing gates were coming down. While he sat idling, he was joined by a farmer with a goat, which the farmer tethered to the crossing gate. A few moments later a horse and cart drew up behind Falatti, followed in short order by a man in a sports car. When the train roared through the crossing, the horse startled and bit Falatti on the arm. Not a man to be trifled with, Falatti responded by punching the horse in the head. In consequence the horse's owner jumped down from his cart and began scuffling with the motorcyclist. The horse, which was not up to this sort of excitement, backed away briskly, smashing the cart into the sports car. At this, the sports car driver leaped out of his car and joined the fray. The farmer came forward to try to pacify the three flailing men. As he did so, the crossing gates rose and his goat was strangled. At last report, the insurance companies were still trying to sort out the claims.

James 1:2-4  Patience in trials

:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

allpas – each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything

joychara – joy, gladness

count ithegeomai – to lead; to go before; to consider, deem, account, think


It starts with your attitude

Sometimes the worst thing of all is not the circumstances we’re in, but the attitude we face it with.
The Bible says,
(Prov 15:15 KJV)  All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.

For me, one way of looking at this verse has to do with your attitude.  Are you facing life as one of the “afflicted”?  Then you will find evil in everything.  But if you change your attitude, you might find a little more feasting going on around you.

It's All In How You Look At It
A family had twin boys whose only resemblance to each other was their looks.  If on felt it was too hot, the other thought it was too cold. If one said the TV was too loud, the other claimed the volume needed to be turned up.  Opposite in every way, one was an eternal optimist, the other a doom & gloom pessimist.  Just to see what would happen, on the twins' birthday their father loaded the pessimist's room with every imaginable toy and game.  The optimist's room he loaded with horse manure.  That night the father passed by the pessimist's room and found him sitting amid his new gifts crying bitterly.  "Why are you crying?" the father asked.  "Because my friends will be jealous, I'll have to read the all these instructions before I can do anything with this stuff, I'll constantly need batteries, and my toys will eventually get broken." answered the pessimist twin.  Passing the optimist twin's room, the father found him dancing for joy in the pile of manure.  "What are you so happy about?" he asked.  To which his optimist twin replied, "There's got to be a pony in here somewhere!"

temptations peirasmos – an experiment, attempt, trial, proving; the trial of man’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy; an enticement to sin, temptation.  The newer translations all translate this “trials”, but the word can be translated “temptations” as well.

fall into peripipto (“around” + “fall”) – so to fall into as to be encompassed.  Like falling into a pool of water, but here it’s falling into different kinds of trials.

Whether you choose to look at this as temptations or trials, the idea is that these are things that you couldn’t avoid.  These aren’t the temptations that you went looking for, these are the ones you stumbled into.  These aren’t the trials you brought on yourself, these are the trials you fell in to.

diverspoikilos – a various colours, variegated; of various sorts

Not all trials and temptations are the same.  There are lots of different kinds of trials.


Rejoicing in the test

Sometimes the “temptation” we are tested with is a temptation towards sin.
Don’t misunderstand me here.  We are not to go looking for temptation.  In fact, we are to flee temptation every time it occurs.
(2 Tim 2:22 KJV)  Flee also youthful lusts …
Jesus also taught us to pray,
(Mat 6:13 KJV)  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil …
But we can rejoice in times of temptation because it is a chance to see God show us how to escape.
(1 Cor 10:13 KJV)  There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Every time we are tempted, God will ALWAYS provide an escape.  There will always be a door marked “EXIT”.  The question is, will we take the exit?

We’ve been reading a book called “The Prayer of Jabez” by Bruce Wilkinson.  It’s about this short little passage in Chronicles where we catch a glimpse of one man’s prayer:

(1 Chr 4:10 KJV)  And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.

In talking about how we should pray that God would keep us from evil, Bruce shares a personal story (pg.65):

“Years ago, a cab had picked me up in downtown Chicago and was whisking me down the Kennedy expressway toward the airport.  I slumped in the backseat, exhausted from a week of special meetings at Moody Bible Institute.  God had moved in remarkable ways.  I had preached every day and counseled scores of students – seventy-six, to be exact (I kept a log).  Now heading home, I was physically and spiritually spent.  Staring blankly out at the traffic, I reached for the Jabez prayer.

O Lord,” I pleaded, “I have no resistance left.  I’m completely worn out in Your service.  I can’t cope with temptation.  Please, keep evil far from me today.

When I boarded the plane, I found I’d been assigned a middle seat – not a good start from my flight.  And things quickly got worse.  The man on my left pulled out a pornographic magazine.  “Lord, I thought we had a deal here!”  I groaned in my spirit, and I looked the other way.  But before the plane lifted off, the man on my right opened his briefcase and pulled out his own skin magazine.

At that moment, I didn’t have it in me to ask them to change their reading material.  I closed my eyes.  Lord,” I prayed, “I can’t cope with this today.  Please chase evil far away!

Suddenly the man on my right swore, folded up his magazine, and put it away.  I looked at him to see what had prompted his action.  Nothing, as far as I could tell.  Then the man on the left looked at him, swore loudly, and closed up his magazine, too.  Again, I could find no apparent reason for his decision.

We were over Indiana when I began laughing uncontrollably.  They both asked me what was so funny.

“Gentlemen,” I said, “you wouldn’t believe me if I told you!”

Sometimes we “fall into” a temptation.  We can’t avoid it.  We find ourselves surrounded with it.  We are facing a situation where we are being tested.  Will we pass the test?  Will we be ready?  Will we take the “exit”?
I think that sometimes I look at temptations as being things that I won’t be able to survive.  I pray that God won’t lead me into temptation because I’m afraid I’m going to fail every time.  But that’s not true.  God wants me to learn to pass the test.  And passing the test could be something to rejoice about!


Rejoicing in trials

I know that for some of you, this just sounds plain sick.  Yet difficult times will mature us.
(Heb 12:11 KJV)  Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

chasteningpaideia – the whole training and education of children.  We often think of this word in terms of the “spanking” a child receives from a parent, but it’s much more than this.  It’s all about GROWING UP.

When we make a decision in our lives that we are going to be “exercised” in our trials, we will find God producing a type of fruit in our lives, the fruit of righteousness.  God will be doing correct, righteous things in our lives.  All that God does will have a certain “peace” about it.

But it only works if you choose to say, “I want to be exercised by it”.


We have a treadmill at home.  It is a pretty neat treadmill.  It has some different kinds of training programs built in to it.  It can measure your pulse.  It tells you how far you’ve gone.  It tells you how many calories you’ve burned up.  I need exercise.  I need to get on the treadmill.

But the treadmill will NEVER do me any good unless the day comes that I decide to start being “exercised” by it.  I have to willingly get up on the treadmill, turn it on, and start moving in order to gain any benefit.

You may have plenty of difficulties in your life, just like my treadmill sitting in my house.  But you will gain no benefit from these difficulties until you choose to let God exercise you, to “stretch” you a little through the tough times. 

Will you trust Him in the tough times?  Will you let Him show you how you can be growing through the tough times?

Tough times don’t seem “joyous” on the outside.  But if we will let God use them to help us, we can find ourselves rejoicing in them.
Paul wrote,

(2 Cor 12:7-10 KJV)  And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. {8} For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. {9} And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. {10} Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

How could Paul take “pleasure” in hard times?  Because He saw God using them in His life.

:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

knowingginosko – to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel; to know, understand, perceive, have knowledge of

the trying dokimion – the proving; that by which something is tried or proved, a test; it’s related to the word dokimazo, which means to test, examine, prove, scrutinize (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals; to recognize as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy


Tough times show how real our faith is.

Sometimes God allows difficulties in our lives to show us whether or not our faith is real.
It’s not that God doesn’t know how real our faith is.  It’s that we don’t always know how real our faith is.  When we fail the test at times, we haven’t disappointed God.  He already knew we weren’t trusting Him.  We’ve really failed ourselves.
The real value of your faith doesn’t show itself when life is easy, it’s when life is hard that you see how valuable your faith is.


The Best Position To Pray Is..
Three preachers sat discussing the best positions for prayer.  A  telephone repairman who was working nearby happened to overhear the  conversation.  “Kneeling is definitely best,” claimed the first minister.  “No,” the second pastor contended.  “I get the best results standing  with my hands outstretched toward Heaven.”  “You’re both wrong,” the third preacher insisted.  “The most effective prayer position is lying prostate, face down on the floor.”  The repairman could contain himself no longer.  “Hey, fellas,” he interrupted, “the best prayin’ I ever did was  hangin’ upside down from a telephone pole after my safety strap broke.”

faithpistis – conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it

worketh katergazomai – to perform, accomplish, achieve; bring about, result in.

patience hupomone – steadfastness, constancy, endurance; in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings


Tough times produces endurance

Your ability to run depends on the kind of training you do.
If you never exercise, you shouldn’t expect to be able to run a marathon.
But if you want to learn to run long distances without getting tired, you’re going to need to exercise.
If you’re getting tired out from your tough times, perhaps the answer is to get in better shape.
Get on the treadmill.  Let God put you through training.  Find out what God wants you to learn through your difficulties.

:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

patiencehupomone – steadfastness, constancy, endurance; in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings; patiently, and steadfastly; a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance

workergon – business, employment, that which any one is occupied; any product whatever, any thing accomplished by hand, art, industry, or mind

perfect … perfect teleios – brought to its end, finished; wanting nothing necessary to completeness; perfect; full grown, adult, of full age, mature

entireholokleros (“whole” + “lot”) – complete in all its parts, in no part wanting or unsound, complete, entire, whole; complete in all respects, consummate

wantingleipo – to leave, leave behind, forsake, to be left behind; to lag, be inferior; to be destitute of, to lack; to be wanting, to fail


Don’t run from growing up

Trials are God’s way of maturing us, growing us up.
We don’t like going through trials, but when we constantly run from our difficulties, we keep ourselves from growing up.
Listen to a teacup tell it’s story:
“There was a time when I was a red lump of clay. My master took me and he rolled me and he patted me over and over and over. I yelled out “Let me alone” but he only smiled and said, “Not yet”. And then I was placed on a spinning wheel, suddenly I was spun around and around and around. “Stop it I’m getting dizzy,” I said. The master only nodded and said “Not yet” Then he put me in an oven, I’d never felt such heat. I wondered why he wanted to burn me and I yelled and I knocked on the door and I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips. As he nodded his head he said “not yet.” Finally the door did open  “whew”, and he put me on a shelf and I began to cool. “That’s better” I said. And then suddenly he grabbed me and he brushed me and he began to paint me all over. I thought I would suffocate, I thought I would gag, the fumes were horrible. And he just smiled and said, “Not yet”. And then suddenly he put me back into an oven, not the first one but one twice as hot, and I knew that I was going to suffocate. And I begged and I screamed and I yelled , and all the time I could see him through the opening, smiling and nodding his head, “not yet, not yet” . And then I knew that there was no hope, I knew that I wouldn’t make it . I was just ready to give up when the door opened and he took me out an he put me on a shelf .Then an hour later he came back and he handed me a mirror and he said “Look at yourself”. And I did. And I said, “That can’t be me, I’m beautiful”.

The gospel

Jesus Christ came to earth and died on a cross in order to pay for your sins.  He did this so you could come to know God and find out what life is really meant to be.

For some of you, the hard times you are facing show you that you need Jesus Christ.  You will never be complete without Him.  Only He can show you what you were meant to be.