This would be another part of the new segments that I have been thinking about. Since it typically takes me most of the week to get ready for Sunday School and I put alot of time and effort in reading and studying and gathering information I figured I would post my efforts.
We use the KNOWN material from Lifeway and I think it is pretty decent literature. I wish they focus alittle more on the passage in the material but on the other hand it has gotten better from last year and it is probably the best Sunday School material I have ever been familiar with. All in all I am thankful just for the opportunity to teach in the first place.
This past Sunday's lesson was on James 1:2-4 which is obviously about having Joy in the midst of trials. Instead of posting the whole lesson today I think I will break it up into at least two parts, partly because I have alot that I used yesterday morning.
Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials. James 1:2
I found some presuppostions or foundations as I would term them on a blog I read this past week and I think the author borrowed it from Douglas Moo in the Pillar New Testament Commentary Series.
I will paraphrase, but again, the idea is not originally mine.
2. God is perfectly good. There is not the slightest hint of evil in Him. He cannot commit evil and does not hold grudges nor is spiteful.
3. I am perfectly forgiven through Jesus Christ's sacrificial death on the cross.
This sums up my viewpoint and I can run everything about what I believe about trials and tests out of these three points.
Now, lets look at the passage. The first thing that jumps out at me is James uses the word whenever. There is no if, might, maybe, perhaps or slightest hint of a question in the sentence. As a human we are going to go through tough times, it is simply unavoidable. We are fallen people in the midst of a sinful world. It is a wonder and testament to God's grace that we are not faced with more trials.
Our lesson pointed out that if we are facing trials then more than likely we are on the right track. That is, if we are living from the Lord then we should expect opposition from the enemy. However, we have to keep in mind that sometimes God uses trials as form of correction and discipline in our lives. He will sometime use those tough time to wake us up and bring us back to Him.
Now going back to the beginning James instructs us to consider. You could swap out examine or evaluate, we should evaluate our trials with Joy, and not just any Joy, but Pure Joy or Great Joy, we should consider them to be among the best things to ever happen to us.
I also want to point out the word various. Notice when we go through trials it seems like they all come at one time, or as I like to put it they overload the zone. I used the analogy that they are like bananas, they come in bunches during Sunday School and that got a rise out of the guys.
To put it in a sports analogy, consider a quarterback under pressure. He snaps the ball, then he might have as many as four defends running straight at him, trying their hardest to kill him and stop the play. Our tests seem to take a similar approach, if they can overload our defense then it is much harder to deal with. However, that is crux of the matter. If we just had one trial to deal with , we might just be able to take care of that ourself, if the quarterback just has one defender running his way, he can usually side step him and then get the ball off. However, when we are overloaded then we have to rely on God to get us through the trial.
Lastly, lets take a look at the word 'trial'. It refers to something that will test a person for the purpose of proving and never the purpose of causing him to fail. Even though we go through tests and trials we can have the confidence that God is with us in the midst of them. Just like Jesus was with the Disciples n the boat in Mark 4:35-41. Jesus was the one that told them to get into the boat in the first place. He knew that the storms were going to come, but let them happen anyway. He even took a nap in the middle of it all. Sometime, we like the disciples can get terrified and loose our focus, but all we have to do is call on the Saviour and He will calm us, just like He did the wind and waves. Mind, He doesn't always take away the trial, but He will bring peace and return our focus.
to be continued.....