Forged In Faith: Part 1

So glad to have you. Oh, what a beautiful song and hope that places a little bit of hope in your own heart and certainly a lot of faith in a God that loves you.

Today we’re moving into a new sermon series called Forged in Faith and it’s important because what we’re doing is we’re really in this entire year from the very very beginning of this year as we’ve left out of last year we’ve really started to stand more deeply more powerfully on the spoken word of God.

And we were really trying to figure out how to move out of that series into something that would still bring us in and continue to challenge us I mean we’ve done movies summer at the movies and all these other sort of you know not gimmicks but just sort of not silly but lighter things and we really wanted to continue to press inward and deeper into our you know walk with God and stay on sort of that more serious road if that makes sense.

And so Forged in Faith was sort of born out of a lot of talks, especially which you know Sherri’s the one that came up with it and she comes up with most of the series by the way. But James is this little small book, this little small letter in the New Testament that has this unbelievable, an unbelievable word for us. So we want to look at that book we want to look at that letter that James has written to us and to his churches and figure out how we can do something with our lives and a little bit differently with our lives during these summer months.

Now as we start in the book of James. James was the half-brother of Jesus we really don’t know who really authored the book of James.  We believe it was the half-brother of Jesus,  but James became a leader in the Jerusalem church. He certainly was not a follower before.

Ironically I mean he became a believer in the post-resurrection of Jesus, and then became a powerful leader of the church and it’s there that that was written around 50 a.d or so plus or 10 years minus 10 years. And it was written to the early churches in the diaspora that’s what the letter says.

Now the diaspora was where outside the holy city of Jerusalem and where Jews were ended up being dispersed outside of the holy city. A couple of diasporas had already occurred or displacements had already occurred with the Jewish community. The one was in 586 bc with the Babylonian takeover they were taken from the holy city and put in captivity dispersed. And then in 63 a.d when Pompeii sacked Jerusalem and then the temple was destroyed again another disbursement.

And so you have people Jewish, Christians living now outside of the city of Jerusalem and that’s exactly who James is talking to and James is talking to them for a reason. He’s talking to him because they are deeply they’re being deeply persecuted. Being a Christian is certainly not easy and James wants to forge their faith. He wants to solidify their faith. He and throughout James you’re going to get these snippets sort of like Old Testament proverbs but for the New Testament.

You’re going to get these snippets that teach men and women how to live their lives as God would want them to live and how to really interact with one another. And so you get this powerful letter written by James to the people that are really struggling, And I believe that that letter speaks to us today. We need a forging of our faith. We need to, during very difficult times today, uncertain times today, tumultuous times today, terroristic times today,  we need a faith that needs to be forged. A faith that needs to be solidified. We need to be able to say, “This is what we believe and nothing can move me in that.”

So this letter becomes very important to us today. So I hope you have your Bibles. Hit that heart emoji hit that like emoji if you have your Bible open to James.

We’re going to start in chapter one. This is going to be a five to six-part series. That book’s literally, the letter’s that long. And so hit that heart emoji, hit that like emoji if you’re ready to receive the word of God.

The very first part of James is very telling and this is where we want to start today. This is sort of the first step into the forging of our faith. This is a very interesting first line of a letter written to people that are really hurting. Hear this out of

James 1 verses 1 through 3

Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Now how would you start that letter? How would you write a letter to somebody who was hurting? How would you write a letter to somebody who was in deep pain? In fact, the very first thing that James says is the very last thing that I would say. I mean there would be no way that I would start out with sort of “Look I know you’re in pain, I know you’re hurting… Rejoice in that! It’s a good thing that you are because amazing things happen from them from that.”

But that’s exactly what James is saying to them, and that’s exactly what James is saying to us.

That it’s it’s through our trials and our testing that we begin our in our testing. That we begin to be continually built into something else.

Now the testing, the word the Greek word for testing is perasmos and perosmos means not just temptation. Not just a, you know, life tempts us and we fall into it. That’s not at all what James is talking about. James is talking about a testing that leads to a purposeful conclusion.

And what I mean by that is it’s sort of like a bird tests its wings you know. They’re always testing, they’re always fluttering their wings. Why they do that is because they want to make sure that their wings are capable of flying. Okay, every time they do that they’re testing their wings and so every single time it’s a purpose to fly.

Okay, so with Christians the testing has a purpose. It’s to be able to proclaim the word of God and to be able to witness to the name of Jesus.

Every test, every moment is another moment to declare our Lord is risen.

Every moment is another moment that we are built into witnessing to the risen Christ.

Okay so I mean we too are being tested for a purpose that has a conclusion for it. All right. And that testing builds something within us. All right. And I need to know what trials you’re in.

Don’t write them down please, but think about the trial you’re in. I mean we all face trials. They did 2,000 years ago. It was deep persecution of their faith. For us it’s different. I mean yes, it’s persecution of our faith today. Obviously. But financial, serious financial trials, mental trials, emotional trials. I’ve been through them all, and you’ve been through them all, all right. But James is telling us to look at them as times that are pressing us down, is maybe the wrong way to look at them. I

Instead maybe there are moments in our life that are trying to lift us up and out and prepare us to do something incredible with our lives. Strengthen us to do something incredible with our witness. Now James talks about that strengthening in a very specific way in

James 1 : 1-3 Let me repeat this: Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters when you face trials of many kinds. We’ve just talked about that because you know that the testing of your faith produces what? Perseverance.

Now that’s not a word that we like. In fact, if you did if you hated the word trial, you hate the word perseverance even more because literally what James is saying to us is that, you know what? I know you’re in pain. I know you’re hurting, but it might not end. It more than likely will not end if you’re following and being a Christian.

If you’re determined to go down this road as a disciple of Jesus these things might not end. You’re going to have to learn to persevere. You’re going to have to learn to move through the suffering that might be constant and find a way to deal with that kind of suffering in your life. Whatever trial you’re dealing with might not end.

For Paul it was a thorn stuck in his literally stuck in his flesh. I mean he said, “Please remove it.” And God said no only by the grace of God will you move forward.  And so Paul had to persevere through a lot of things knowing that those things might not ever end.

The definition of perseverance is this continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties failure or opposition. Perseverance is always trying to push us through the opposition. And as Christians, we have many many things that oppose us.

The things that are unseen. The evil one, and then people themselves that hate the word of God. People are always stopping us from moving forward in doing what we’re called to do. Moving through our testing that’s leading us to a logical conclusion to be a witness for Jesus Christ. Things are always trying to stop and oppose us.

There are many things that we need to push through today. It was no different for the Christians two thousand years ago.
Paul will reiterate this in his own life. Listen to

Romans 5 : 3-5
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Paul knows what it means to persevere. Paul knows what it means to push through. Paul knows that his sufferings are moments where he’s being created and molded into something greater.
If he will allow those moments to do that, now this is the thing, you might think okay well that’s not a really great picture that I painted. You know I’d really like my sufferings to be relieved.  And a lot of these things are just too big for me to deal with and I agree with you completely.
The things that I’ve been through in my life from the day I was born have been a lot. Way too big for me to deal with, and I’m here to bring you just a little bit of good news. We won’t do it alone.
All right please listen to that. We’re not going to do this alone. Now I watched the zombie movie and of course, normal people watch zombie movies about the undead eating the dead or the undead eating the living. So that’s perfectly normal we get that.
But it’s there. Then one of these zombie movies that one of the persons was bandaging an arm that had gotten, I mean hurt, let’s just say. and it will look painful it happened to a marine and so this person was like you know what it’s time to gut up and when I started to think about that and she sort of looked it so look looked at it and says gut up he’s like it’s time to gut up it’s time to bootstrap it’s time to tie the belt tight it’s time to get that inner fortitude it’s time to suck it up it’s time to gut up and there I realized that a lot of times we look at our trials as something that we just have to bite the bullet through that we have to grind out that we have to just suffer through and be dragged over the finish line don’t think that’s at all the way God intended it.
I think God brings us a couple of things that help us persevere and James names them okay and the first one is this. It’s wisdom.

Nnow listen these aren’t the most exciting things, so I don’t want you to fall asleep. In fact hit that heart emoji, hit that like emoji, to tell me you’re still with me right now.

Bbut this is really important, although they might be boring they’re important.

The first one is wisdom. James sets up this thing called trials and testing. He says I know you’re going through them but you know what it will lead to perseverance. It will lead to this beautiful gift that will help you move through.

Then the very next thing he says is this in:

James 1:5 “If any of you though lacks wisdom you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault and it will be given to you.”

So what Paul, excuse me, what James is trying to say to us all is that through our trials through this testing, and through this thing called perseverance, we’re going to need God’s wisdom.

We’re going to need the wisdom from a very specific place. Now Solomon had that wisdom Solomon, remember, do you remember the story of the baby the woman stole the baby from another woman?

While that woman, the mother, while she was sleeping? Both women came in front of Solomon and Solomon had no idea who owned the baby. Each one accused the other one of stealing the child. Each one proclaimed that it was the mother, she was the mother. It was there that Solomon said then fine take the sword and cut the child in half and give one half to each of the women.

The first woman yelled out screamed out no let her keep the child and Solomon knew that one woman took it out of hate and greed and selfishness and the other one raised that child out of selflessness and love and would be the first one to yell out to protect the child and be the true mother.

That’s real wisdom isn’t it?

I mean you would have never thought of that, I would have never thought. That’s true wisdom but Solomon knew something about wisdom, that it comes straight from God. It’s the only wisdom that matters.

What Solomon did when he was installed as king, God said you can ask me for anything and this is what he said:

1st Kings 3 : 7-9

Now lord my God you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I’m only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people to distinguish them right and from right and wrong. For who’s able to govern this great people of yours?

Solomon asked for one thing: God’s wisdom. He asked for God to lead him and to allow that wisdom to lead him. This is important because a lot of times we start to form our sort of bank of wisdom through a lot of different areas.

Like politically, I mean I’m not going to talk about politics, but politically if whether you’re left or right. You gain, you glean your wisdom from the thing that you want to hear, that you agree with. A lot of times we just sit there on one side and listen to that side and as if the other side makes no points. No valid points whatsoever or not we don’t even test our position with the other side.

I think in our in the trials that we’re in a lot of times that happens and the trials that we’re in instead of using God’s wisdom, this is what happens, we use our emotions. Our emotions can be deadly because our emotions make us make knee-jerk reactions in situations. Our emotions make us do things that we we wouldn’t have otherwise done if we had thought them through correctly.

Jjames says this is the kind of wisdom we need this is in

James 3 : 17

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Now think about this for a second. What if one of your trials was a a a deep division between another human being. You were fighting, another person slandered you, another person hurt you, or you did the same to another person. Or you just had a disagreement and that thing became like the Hatfields and the McCoy’s. What if, instead of using your emotions, you use God’s wisdom?

This kind of wisdom that you would start to understand how God sees another human being. How God sees a division that you needed to now have a mind that was pure a mind that was peace-loving a mind that was considerate.

A mind that was submissive, a mind that was full of mercy, a mind that was transformed by impartiality and sincerity. What if all of a sudden you looked at your situation like that. What if all of a sudden, and it could be anything from a disagreement with a person, hatred of another person, a loss of a job, or you know absolutely anything in life. When you start to apply God’s wisdom to it, all of a sudden you’re looking at it through the lens that God looks at. You’re looking at it through God’s heart as he sees life, and then all of a sudden you see how to interact with every trial and every testing and every moment that starts to press you down.

Aall of a sudden you see it through those kind of eyes, those wisdom eyes of the kingdom of heaven, and man when you do that, you can change anything. When you do that you change your heart, you change your thinking, you change the knee-jerk reaction. You become you become more a patient, you become more peaceful, you become less hysterical. You start to really work in the fruits of the Spirit.

Wisdom is critical, church. Wisdom is critical when we’re moving through our trials and and being tested in our trials but it goes along with the second thing called believing believing. Listen to what James 1:6 again this can be boring i know but please hit that alarm as you hit that like. Imagine, if you’re with me so far: first wisdom, second believe when you ask you must. This is out of James 1 : 6 it’s right after the wisdom part

James 1 : 6

But when you ask you must believe and not doubt because the one who doubts is like a wave on the sea blown and tossed by the wind.

You know it’s interesting how james couples wisdom in believing,  how essential they are when we’re tested. I’m going to tell you, you know when we’re tested.

Eevery single time I’m tested, my faith is tested, I begin to doubt that God’s listening. I begin to doubt that God is hearing. I begin to doubt that anybody cares any longer. Instead of being of one mind and purposeful, all of a sudden I become scattered. This is exactly what this means.

It’s the Greek word dipsuckas and listen to what this literally means, which literally means a man with two souls or two minds inside of him. That’s what James means by one who doubts as like a man a wave on the sea being blown and tossed by the wind. I think in our trials what happens is, we do become like sort of like a drunk person moving swaying back and forth. A person that’s divided in their soul. A person that wants to desperately stand on on the truth of God. And what he means in their life and then another person that wants to take control of that situation with their emotions.

Iit’s like one who believes but yet at the same time disbelieves. I believe that what God is asking us to do through our trials and through our testing is look. Have a mind concentrate on one thing concentrate on that that mustard seed of faith. Remember it’s just that mustard seed of faith. It’s just that moment where, instead of turning to the world, or turning to our own emotions, or turning to our own ideas of what what we should do in our trials and testings, we look to heaven we just take that one glance to heaven, that mustard seed of faith, and say, “God help me. Help me. Listen to me. Let me know.”

I mean that we just sort of fall down on our knees and we and we open our hearts to the lord that we know is there that’s all he needs you see. When you start doing that, what happens is you start creating a belief system. You know you’ve created a belief system of your own during trials. Look I’ve created a wonderful belief system that medicates me in unhealthy ways. I’ve given up so many things that I used to medicate myself through very unhealthy times.

Iit was a belief system that I knew would make me feel good, that would make me feel good if I did that. That would make me feel good. We do create belief systems, the question is are they belief systems that are built on the solid ground.

You know when I look at the the parable, the not the the folk tale of the three little pigs, (is that a folk tale? I don’t know what they call that thing), anyway, but you remember the three little pigs. The wolf comes and the first pig built his a house had a straw second and he huffed and puffed it down and got the pig second pig built his house out of sticks huffed and puffed and blew it down and the third one built its house out of brick and he couldn’t get to him because the third pig had chosen wisely built something wisely.

Aand i’m going to tell you right now there’s always somebody, something, some moment, some trial, some testing is trying to come down and blow down your belief system. Blow down the things that you know are true. Blow down the faith system that you’ve created in your own heart that you’ve been led by God, that you’ve worked so hard for. And it’s in those moments that the evil one or whomever or whatever, life itself, just comes down and wants to blow that thing down.

I think that’s why when we saw that first video we heard that God said nothing can do that, you’re mine, I have you in the palm of my hand every single time. James is speaking to the Christians that are being persecuted. They need to be reminded right now that their faith is the most valuable thing that they have. Their faith in God that walked with them through the Red Sea, moved them through the valley of the wilderness into the promised land. Fed them and gave them drink, has moved you through valleys before.

If you just remember that you would remember God’s faithfulness to your life and it’s in those moments, Church, that no testing and no trial can overcome us. Instead we use those testing in those trials to build us. Today I want you to think about the one you’re in. I want to think, I want you to think about how using God’s wisdom to move through it and help you persevere. How you’re using your faith, the cornerstone of who you are, and what you are, how you’re letting your light shine for others to see. Even though you might not feel it, even though you might not want to get out of bed, even though you might have had death in the family, even though you might have even be facing death yourself.

How have you declared the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. How have you declared the goodness of God through what you say and what you do, even in the toughest times? That’s your faith shining through. I’m telling you when you allow your faith and your wisdom, when you’re believing to come together in a powerful way man you become unstoppable.

Yyou become that person. You become that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that says you know what you can put me in that fiery furnace but I will not worship any other God. You become that shining light for others, an inspiration for others to see during difficult times. Today a trial is going to hit you. You might be in one now but if you’re not there’s one coming.

Ppersevere your lord is with you. Don’t give up – your Lord is for you. Use his wisdom, cast your wisdom aside and use and lean on His wisdom. See things, see that trial through His eyes and His heart and know that your faith will move you through anything. Take you through anything. It’s time to start standing in a forged faith. A faith that the world can see that is unshakable and they see that through us they see that through Christians who believe in the risen lord.

Let us be able to proclaim that name with courage with strength, with love and with grace and let the world see it shine through you. Through all of your trials, through all of your testing, and watch them follow too.

Llet’s bow our heads in prayer. Father in Heaven, Gracious God, it is a time that you begin to use us in a very powerful way through our testing, through our trials. James knew that they were real. James knew that they were real and he writes a beautiful letter to his people to let them know not to give up. To live in a way that will let you shine through them. So today Father we ask that now. We ask that you let your spirit shine through us, through the trials that we face. And that in the trials that we face that we glorify your Holy name so that others might see the goodness. That others might see the love, that others might see the grace that lives in and through us now. Father take us into the world to share your name for the rest of our lives. And we ask this in Christ’s name and we say together amen.

Amen and God bless you guys. I hope this message meant something to you today. If it did hit that heart emoji. Hit that like emoji, let us know that these messages are having an impact on your heart.

And if they do share this on your social media. There’s somebody right now going through a trial. There’s somebody right now hurting and I know that this message could maybe uplift and bring somebody out into a new way to live their life.

Hey listen I hope you have a great week we hope that you feel the presence of God. We hope that you hear his voice more importantly that through your trials that you’re testing that you will persevere. That the wisdom of God will flow in and through you and that the faith your faith in God will shine like a beacon for the world to see. That you may as you might have been let out by somebody else’s faith and trial that you will lead others out of their valleys to proclaim a risen lord named Jesus Christ that lives in and through them.

As well may that be the light you shine and the light people see living in you now receive this blessing please may the God of all of creation the saving grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you now and forever and we pray that that light will shine now and forever may God bless you we cannot wait to see you again soon 10 o’clock at canton 4 o’clock in peachtree city God bless you guys love you bye.