Last night was a good night at Revolution, unfortunately, we ran into some technical problems and the recording of the sermon got corrupted, so we weren’t able to post it on our podcast as we normally do. This happened once before and I re-recorded it, but since then I’ve completed changed how I preach and now I preach with very little notes as opposed to the manuscript I used to use. It makes my preaching a lot better, but when this happens, it is difficult to re-create because I stew on my sermon for so long and then when I preach I am sharing what I’ve read and what God has done in my heart because of the text. Meaning, 80% of what I say on Saturday night is not written down (it makes it really fun for the person doing the screens during my sermon to follow along).
That being said, because the topic is so important and something many people wrestle with, I thought I’d share some of the things I processed during the week and shared last night.
It was part 2 of our series in the book of James and we looked at handling doubt from James 1:5 – 8. The context to James is incredibly important, as it is to every verse in the Bible. Last week, we look at James 1:1 – 4 where James talks about trials that we experience. He says that the goal God has for us is to become perfect, complete and lacking nothing. To be mature and become like Christ. The path to that is through trials and often hard things in life. James tells us in verse 2 that when this happens, we should rejoice because God is working in our lives to make us more like Christ. To get a little more on last week, you can listen to the sermon here.
This flows right into verse 5 when James tells us that in the midst of these trials, we should ask for wisdom. This made me pause all week. Why would James tell us in the midst of trials to ask for wisdom? Why not tell us to ask for faith to trust God? Or strength to get through the trials and have endurance. Instead, he tells us to ask for wisdom and God will give it to us because he is a generous God. I think he tells us to ask for wisdom because when we have wisdom, we are able to see with more clarity what it is that God is doing in our lives and world. We begin to see our mind transformed because of the gospel to see our trials the way God sees them, as a way of growing us.
I think the reason many of us doubt in the midst of trials or when the bottom falls out in life is for two reasons that James gets into in these first 8 verses: the first is, we don’t trust in the sovereignty of God, we trust in the sovereignty of man. If you think about it, many of us don’t trust God. It is the reason that we don’t do what Scripture calls us to, we don’t believe that God will do what he promises to do. The reason we don’t give back to God is because we don’t trust God to bless us and meet our needs. The reason we don’t share our faith is out of fear of looking dumb and not knowing what to say instead of believing that God is moving in our world and will use us, give us the words we need and the power of the Holy Spirit (the same power that raised Christ from the dead) that lives in us, we don’t trust that it is there. Maybe we don’t pursue God and worship him because we don’t believe that grace is real and our sins have been forgiven.
At the end of the day, we can say we trust God, but many of us live as if we are over all things and in control.
The second reason we doubt is because we don’t want what God wants. This goes with the first. What God wants for us to become perfect, complete and lacking nothing. Many Christians would say, “Yes, I want that.” Until James reminds us that to get there, we must walk through trials. Many people fight against what God is doing in their lives, maybe they choose to not forgive or let go of past hurts, addictions or pain, maybe they refuse to follow what Scripture calls them to, maybe they choose to not live on mission in their world.
Whatever the reason, the reason many of us have doubts in life is because we don’t trust that God is in control or we don’t want what God is doing and where it will take us. They are deeply connected to each other and to our doubts and ultimately how we live out our faith.
If you haven’t already, I would encourage you to download the James study guide and to do this week’s 10+10 questions.
I’ll see you next Saturday as we continue our series in James looking at 1:9 – 11 as we look at decision making and what we pursue and give our lives to. Many of us, without knowing it, are wasting our one and only life by what we give our lives to. Let’s make our lives count.