James on Trials part eleven

15 Jan

As Christians we don’t close our eyes to reality and blindly endure trials refusing to give in to our desires for absolutely no good reason.

Instead we refuse to listen to our evil desires and choose to trust God because we are convinced of certain truths about Him. We know God and that changes everything.

To get a little more specific, we know God is all good all the time no matter what.

James explains,

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…”

If you have something good and perfect in your life, you want to know where it’s from, bank on it, it’s from God. If something is good, if it is noble, if it is beautiful, if it is of value, if something is perfect, if it is complete, if it is mature, it is a divine gift. Every single good thing in our lives is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.

The phrase ‘Father of lights’ is a Jewish way of describing God as the creator of the heavens. You look up at the stars, the heavens, the sun; God is the creator of all those things. Here James uses this phrase as a metaphor. Obviously as you think about light, you think about purity and holiness. By calling God the Father of lights, James is describing God as the creator of all that is good and all that is holy. As we look at the good gifts in our life, we need to remember that they have come down from God, who is the Creator of the heavens. James describes these perfect gifts as continually coming down on us. God is just pouring out good gifts on us.

It’s easy to complain when we are in trials, but we need to remember the good gifts God has given us.

That’s usually the last thing you want to do when you are hurting. Your trials warp your perspective and it can become difficult to think of anything good. But make it a practice to stop and consider all the reasons you have to give thanks to God.

You can begin with common grace; things like your job, your health, and your family. All that’s from God.

If you are an unbeliever, do you realize everything good in your life is from God? Jesus points this out in Matthew 6:44 where he commands Christians to love their enemies so they can be like God. “I say to you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…” If you are rejecting God, it’s really so sad because you are rejecting the source of all good.

But James is not merely pointing to God’s common grace. He’s primarily referring to God’s special grace. He’s calling on you to consider the spiritual blessings in your life.

As a believer, when you are faced with a trial, you need to learn to stop and consider your spiritual privileges. If you need a place to start, begin by considering Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate expression of God’s mercy, kindness, grace and goodness.

Just think John 3:16: ‘For God so loved the world that He gave us His only begotten Son.’ That’s an amazing statement. As Geoffrey Thomas explains, you’d expect that verse to read “God so loved his Son hat he gave him the world. But it is the world of sinners that God loves, and he gives to that world his own Son. … Paul says, “He loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). He is the God who gives himself to every believer. Saul of Tarsus was a cruel bigot, but the Father of the heavenly lights gave up his own Son for him. It is so personal and passionate a commitment…. He gives forgiveness of my sins, and reconciliation with alienated divinity. He gives [the believer] the righteousness of Christ, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the adoption of sonship, the inheritance of the saints and the hopes of heaven…” God gave us His Son – what a gift. “…the Creator of the rolling spheres, He who is ineffably sublime; the one in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge – and he’s mine: the one who is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of his person – and he’s mine: the good Shepherd: my prophet, priest and king: the one who has no restrictions, and no boundaries save his own determination and purpose – he is given to me ! He plants his footsteps in the seas for me, and rides upon the storms as he comes to me. He nourishes and cherishes me. He comes to me in my loneliness and spreads a table for me in the presence of my enemies. He fills my cup to overflowing. When the Christian looks back he says, “Goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life.” When he looks ahead he says, “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” He will present me faultless before the presence of his glory in that tremendous day. Facing the future the Christian has strong hopes and a single eye, because God promises that the flood of these good and perfect gifts will never end. “Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.” God’s so good that He gave you His Son.

We serve a great God. It’s His nature to give. He is the giving God who gives liberally and without reproach, and everything He gives is good and perfect.

Stop and make sure you feel the force of that.

No matter what you are experiencing, you know beyond a shadow of a doubt: God is good and everything He does is good. He never does anything wrong. As John Blanchard explains, “Nothing good comes except from God, and nothing except good comes from God.”

God is good whether or not He seems good to you. It’s not about your definition of what is good. God is the standard. He defines what is good and perfect. God is doing is good whether or not you think so. God’s gifts are good whether or not you feel like they are.

The only way you are going to keep from giving in to your desires when life gets difficult is by developing firm convictions about the character of God. You need to know James 1:17 well. You need to be convinced that God is good no matter what.

But you say, “How can I be confident of that?”

We’ll look at the reason James gives us in the days ahead.

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