Imagine you get to read a book from someone who watched Jesus’ greatness up close. Now imagine that person was Jesus’ brother who after seeing his greatness chose not to be considered a sibling but his servant. He did so to encourage believers to face persecutions with perseverance – a continuing state of grace. That person was James, and for the next seven to eight weeks we get the privilege to study the book he wrote.

Pastor Rich kicked off a collection of talks based on the Book of James and this Sunday’s message was on Trials and Temptations from James 1. The book provides practical guides for living to not just get through this thing called life but thrive in spite of any oppression, suffering or persecution.

 

Trials & Temptations

James asks that we consider (perceive) trials with a joyful heart (a decision to experience a supernatural delight) rather than a happy heart (a feeling or emotion based on the happenings in our lives). Pastor Rich reminded us that the problems we face are really not the problem but how we perceive them is what matters to becoming successful in our respective faith journeys.

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We change our perceptions when we start seeing trials as tests. Tests develop perseverance. He made an analogy of a teacher remaining silent during a test. God is a good teacher. The great thing about this faith walk is that we don’t flunk any test; we just receive an incomplete grade till we pass the test to transition to the next level in our faith. This is why it’s so important not wasting the times in any trial or trying to get out of them prematurely. There is a purpose for the pain while we strive for God’s promises for our lives.

 

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The flip side to the coin of trials are temptations. The former is of God to develop us, the latter is of the enemy to distract us from our God-given destiny. Temptations in themselves are not bad, it’s the giving in to them that’s bad. The enemy knows how to bait us from our inward desires. So believers must be prepared with the right tools in not yielding to temptation nor be despaired while facing trials. Pastor Rich gave us four thoughts in fulfilling our God-given destiny:

1. Take Responsibility

Responsibility has to do with choosing our responses to any situation. We walk through trials but we must defeat temptations. Avoid the blame game. It’s on us to control our response.

2. Take Protection

Set some boundaries. Let’s see ourselves as boxers and know how to protect the broken and weak sides of our lives as we fight in each battle.

3. Take Accountability

Find friends in the journey. Friends that raise the standard for the visions we have for ourselves.

4. Take Up A Weapon

God’s word is the weapon. The bible calls the word of God a double-edged sword. In using any weapon, the skills have to be developed. So it is with God’s word, the more time we spend in his word, the better skilled we become in its application to any trial or temptation we face.

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