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"You Can Count It All Joy!"
Sunday School Youth Group Study Notes
February 10, 2008
Theme: Because God is in control of the trials of life, we can choose to grow from them.
(Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version; copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc.)
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4).
We'd all like to avoid tough times in life. But the fact is, we can't. The Lord Jesus promises that there will be troubles in this world (John 16:33). And even if we live as devoted and obedient a Christian life as we can, we still must face hard times in life (2 Timothy 3:12).
The people to whom Pastor James wrote his letter were Christians who suffered hard times because of their faith in Jesus Christ. And the first thing he wants to talk about in his letter is the trials of life. But he doesn't write to tell them how to avoid hard times. Instead, he helps them to see that God—who wisely controls all things—allows those trials come for a reason. God permits then in the Christian's life in order to help him or her grow. And James teaches his Christian friends what they need to do in order to gain the greatest benefit from those trials, and to let them accomplish God's good work.
I. WHAT DO WE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT GOD WHEN "TRIALS" COME?
A. First, we need to remember that God is "sovereign". When speaking of God, that means that He is in absolute control over everything that ever happens in this universe—including "trials". Even when evil people do evil things, God is so in control that He can make the evil things evil people do turn out for the good of His children. Back in the Old Testament, God permitted Joseph to be sold into slavery by his twelve brothers; all so that Joseph could become a mighty ruler in Egypt and could save his brothers during a time of famine (Genesis 50:19).
B. Second, we need to remember that the sovereign God has a plan for those who place their faith in His Son Jesus. The Father is working to make each believer grow increasingly to become more like Jesus. He causes "all things" to "work together" for those who He loves and calls to salvation (Romans 8:28-30). "All things" would also include the trials of life.
C. Third, we need to remember that, in His sovereign power, God will never permit a trial to come into a believer's life that is greater than that believer can handle. God may permit temptation to come into our lives; but He never tempts us to sin (James 1:13). In fact, He will never permit a temptation or a test to come into our lives that is greater than our ability to endure in Him (1 Corinthians 10:13).
D. Fourth, we need to remember that the promise of God's good purposes through trials is something that only a believer in Jesus has a right to claim. Look at our passage, and you'll see that James speaks to those who are his "brethren" in Christ (v. 2), and that it is their "faith" that is being tested in trials (v. 3).
II. WHAT DO WE NEED TO REMEMBER WHEN "TRIALS" COME?
A. There is an attitude to have (v. 2). We will "fall" into trials in life. Even if we try our best to avoid them, we still end up in them. And we will fall into "various" kinds. A great "trial" for one person may not be so much of one for another. But when the trial comes we are to "count it" or "consider it" all "joy". It's not that we enjoy the trials (because that would be crazy!). Rather, it's because we know something about them and what God is doing through them (Romans 5:3-4).
B. There is a product to expect (v. 3). We are to "know"—in advance—that God does something wonderful in us through all our trials. He permits them and uses them to "test" or "prove" our faith. When the challenges of life come, and we turn immediately to God and ask for His help in the midst of them, then our faith is being shown to be the real thing (1 Peter 1:6-7). Trials are an opportunity to flex our "faith muscles"; and when we do so, our faith grows just that much more! The testing of faith produces "patience" or "endurance" or "perseverance" in us; so that when the trials come, we are able to stand strong and confidently in Jesus.
C. There is a work to permit (v. 4). James tells us this so that, when the trials come, we won't try to fight what God is doing in us through those trials. We are to let "patience" have its "perfect work" in us—under God's sovereign hand—so that we "may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing". The "construction program" that God has us under in Christ requires that we undergo times when our faith is "tested" so that it becomes stronger. And we must not try to avoid the trials, but go through them with faith in Him. On the other side of that trial is a stronger faith—and the promise of eternal reward (James 1:12).
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WHAT TO DO THIS WEEK:
What trial are you going through. Thank God for it; and write down ways that God is using it.
Seeking Wisdom for Life from God (James 1:5-8).
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