Maturity Through Trials

This year in our Sunday School lessons we are going through the books of James and Proverbs to look at the Practical Living from God’s Word.  What is located below are the high level points we discussed this week.  Please use this tool to follow up with your teens and see how they plan to apply this to their life.

James 1:1-18

1. Outlook determines our Attitude (1-2)

Have you ever gone into the same situation on two different occasions but the experience was different because your outlook on the situation was completely different?

– I can remember times when I was forced to go to the grocery store with my mom.  I hated the grocery store.  There were many times when the store just seemed stupid because my mom was the shopper who could not just grab the first item on the shelf but instead would pull the whole row of items off the shelf until she got to the back one.  Or she was always the one who had to make sure that she was getting the best deal, which meant flipping through all of the coupons over and over again.  And of course when she got to the front of the store she would check every single price to make sure that she was getting the deal that was supposed to get.

– If I went in with a good attitude this was no big deal but if I was being grumpy when I went in then it turned into a miserable experience.  In the same way…

     a. James is able to have a unique perspective to the suffering he is going through.

          i. James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ (1)

             What other words are used to describe the word slave in this passage?

             The term here refers to being a bondservant.  A bondservant was a willing slave to their master.  Sometimes this would happen because they liked their master and wanted to continue working there.  Sometimes this would happen because they were in a unique marriage relationship with another slave.  The whole point is that there was a decision to set aside their own will in order to pursue the will of their master.

            Why do you think that the term slave gives us some insight into James’ perspective on life?

     b. Going through trials is a joyful thing (2)

          i. All throughout Scripture the hardships of the Christian life are described as a good thing.  Let’s look at some of the verses.

               a. Matthew 5:10-12

               b. John 16:31-33

               c. 1 Peter 4:12-16

              d. Hebrews 12:1-3

          ii. The theme in Scripture regarding trials is that it is a joyful thing to experience because Christ suffered the ultimate suffering for us.

          iii. “Our values determine our evaluations.  If we value comfort more than character, then trials will upset us.  If we value the material and physical more than the spiritual, we will not be able to “count it all joy.”  If we live only for the present and forget the future, then trials will make us bitter, no better.  Job had the right outlook when he said, “But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold (Job 23:10)” – Warren Wiersbe

            According to Romans 8:28-29 what is the purpose for every trial we go through?

2. Understanding brings Endurance (3)

         Have you ever known a believer who is going through tough times with an incredible ability to understand that it is good for them?

          I know a man who has a form of cancer that will eventually kill him.  I heard him say one of the most incredible things ever.  He said my goal in life is not to beat cancer but rather to glorify God in the midst of my time with cancer.  That is understanding the fact that God is letting you go through trials for reasons we might not understand.

          a. WE are guaranteed that our faith at some point will be tested.

               i. Abraham had to live by faith.

               ii. Daniel had to live by faith.

               iii. Adam and Eve had to live by faith.

               iv. Samson had to live by faith

               v. The reality is that every single one of these people had their faith tested but only two of them actually carried out their faith.

          b. Trials actually work for us not against us

               i. The verse says that the testing or trying of our faith works patience.

               ii. No matter how bad the situation we can rest in the fact that God is using that to help us be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:28-29).

               iii. “For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable weight of glory.”  2 Corinthians 4:17

          c. Trials help us to mature

               i. “And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.” Romans 5:3-4

               ii. “Immature people are always impatient; mature people are patient and persistent.  Impatience and unbelief usually go together, just as faith and patience do.” – Warren Wiersbe

               iii. ‘Now we want each of you to demonstrate the same diligence for the final realization of your hope, so that you won’t become lazy but will be imitators of those who inherit the promises through faith and perseverance (Hebrews 6:11-12).’

               iv. “For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised.” Hebrews 10:36

               v. “The only way the Lord can develop patience and character in our lives is through trials.  Endurance cannot be attained by reading a book, listening to a sermon, or even praying a prayer.  We must go through the difficulties of life, trust God, and obey Him.  The result will be patience and character.  Knowing this, we can face trials joyfully.  We know what trials will do in us and for us, and we know that the end result will bring glory to God.” – Warren Wiersbe

3. We must humble our will to God’s will (4, 9-12)

     a. According to Ephesians 2:8-10 there are three things that Christ does for us in his calling of us.

       “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift – not of works, so that no one can boast.  For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10

          i. God saves us through grace

          ii. God works in us (For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works)

          iii. God works through us (created through Christ Jesus for good works, which GOd prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.)

          iv. “God builds character before He calls to service.  He must work in us before He can work through us.  God spent twenty-five years working in Abraham before He could give him his promised son.  God worked thirteen years in Joseph’s life, putting him into ‘various testings’ before He could put him on the throne of Egypt.  He spent eighty years preparing Moses for forty years of service.  OUr Lord took three years training His disciples, building their character.  But God cannot work in us without our consent.  There must be a surrendering will.  The mature person does not argue with God’s will; instead, he accepts it willingly and obeys it joyfully. ‘Doing the will of God from the heart (Ephesians 6:6).’ If we try to go through trials without surrendered wills, we will end up more like immature children than mature adults.” – Warren Wiersbe

4. Asking for wisdom gives us understanding of the trial (5-8)

     a. What is wisdom?

          i. Wisdom is properly applying the knowledge that we have.

          ii. Wisdom is handling life God’s way.

     b. Why wisdom instead of strength or endurance?

          i. We need wisdom to understand the opportunities God is giving us to mature.

     c. Ask for wisdom in faith that he will provide it to you.

     d. Do not doubt the wisdom that God gives you or you will be completely unstable.

Conclusion:

     1. Trials give us the opportunity to gain wisdom

     2. Wisdom gives us the opportunity to humble our will to God’s will so we can be used by Him

     3. Being humble helps us have the understanding to endure the trials

     4. When we realize that we can endure it our outlook on the trial is greatly impacted.

     5. Trials are good things

          a. “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience  various trials,” 1:2

          b. “A man who endures trials is blessed, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” 1:12

 

Johnny Kjaer
Johnny Kjaer oversees the Youth and Skatepark Ministries at Faith Church. He can often be found serving the community with the teenagers. His passion is to assist parents in training their teens to love the Lord. He and his wife, Tori, have three children; Leif, Tryggve, and Kjirsti.
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