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Bridge Over Troubled Water - Part 2

Tom Pennington • James 1:2-12

  • 2005-07-10 AM
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water
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This week I read a quote by F. B. Meyer, F. B. Meyer, the famous commentator and theologian. He was describing the benefits and value of trials, and he described it this way: he said

If you were to take a bar of iron in his day, he says that bar would sell for two dollars and fifty cents. But if you took that bar of iron and you made it into horseshoes, it would sell for five dollars. If you made it into needles, it would be worth a hundred and seventy-five dollars. If you made it into ten knife blades worth sixteen hundred dollars, but if you took that bar of iron and you made it into springs for fine watches, it would be worth more than a hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars.

You see, the more the bar is manipulated, the more it's hammered, the more it's passed through the heat, the more it's beaten and pounded and polished, the greater its value, and that's exactly what God does with each of us in the furnace of affliction, in the furnace of trials and difficulty and the pressures of life. That's James' point in the first paragraph of his letter.

We're looking together at James 1:2 - 12, as he gives us a framework, a mindset for approaching the difficulties and the troubles of life. Let me read it to you. You follow along as I read beginning in verse 2 of James 1.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him, but he must ask in faith, without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position, and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass, he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass, and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed. So too, the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.

Blessed is … [the] man who perseveres under trial, for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

That paragraph ties together the theme, the issue of the troubles and trials of life. Essentially, teaching us this profound lesson: the troubles of life are God's tools to refine our character and to produce in us true Christian maturity. The key phrase that unlocks the whole theme of this passage occurs at the end of verse 2: when you encounter various trials. As we saw last time, the word "trials" is used with two opposite meanings, related but on different ends of the spectrum. The Greek word that's translated "trials", can refer to a test that's given for an evil purpose that is causing the tested object to fail. When it's used that way in the New Testament, it's translated "temptation". It's describing an inner solicitation to sin. The same Greek word can also be translated differently because it can describe a test where the intention is good, the end result is good in that the purpose of the test is to show the value and quality and strength of the tested object, and to further strengthen it. When it's used this way in the New Testament, it's translated either "test, testing, or trial", as it is here. You'll notice James uses this word in verse 2 and in verse 12. The context makes it clear here that James is dealing with the second aspect of this word, and that is an external test or trial.

Now what exactly constitutes a trial? We looked at it in some detail last week, but let me just remind you that trials aren't merely those devastating things that come into our lives. Instead, any external difficulty outside of your control, any undesirable event that assails you from without, is a trial. So, in the end, there is no trouble that comes into your life that doesn't fall under the title or tag of trial. We looked last time at Romans 5 where Paul refers to this same event that produced the same thing in us, endurance. He says those events are "tribulations". The Greek word literally means "pressure". So, whether you're talking about the pressures of everyday life or whether you're talking about those catastrophic events that bring us to our knees and everything in between, they're trials, and you and I encounter these every day of our lives. And James here provides us four godly responses to our troubles, our trials, our difficulties, four godly responses.

Last time we looked at the first. It is found in verses 2 – 4: develop the right attitude. If you're going to deal with trials in the way that honors God, you have to develop the right attitude. What is that attitude? Verse 2, consider it all joy. We should count the trials God brings as a genuine source of joy. That doesn't mean we enjoy the trial. It doesn't mean that we have some sort of sadistic, masochistic mindset about trials; instead, we are to consider the trials that come (even though they're mixed with pain and trouble and sorrow), we're to consider them to be a legitimate source of joy in our lives.

Now, how can we consistently think like that? Let's admit, that's fully contrary to human nature. None of us naturally rejoices in the difficulties we face. So how can we develop that mindset? How can we consistently respond to trials with joy? James tells us in verse 3: it's because we understand that God will use them to produce wonderful results in us. Verse 3 says "knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance." The ability to remain under, it builds, if you will, our spiritual muscles. If you understand that God is behind every trial you face; and that God intends that trial for your spiritual good; and if you respond properly to that trial; then every single difficulty you face in life can strengthen your faith.

Why should we respond with joy to our trials? Well, James answers that in verse 4. It says, "let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." He says if you will allow endurance to continue, if you'll remain under the trials that God puts you in, the difficulties that you face, then God will use it to produce something amazing in you, and that is true Christian maturity. Now that's where we left off last time. If we're going to respond in a godly way to trials and difficulties in our life, then we must develop the right attitude, the attitude of joy.

Now, let's examine the second godly response to trials that James details here. It's in verses 5 - 8. Use the available resources. Use the available resources. If you're going to respond in a godly way to trials, then you need to take advantage of the resources God has put at your disposal in the midst of your difficulty. Verse 5,

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him, But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind, for that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Now, what we see here in this passage is that in the middle of our trouble, in the middle of our difficulty, we have a universal need for wisdom. But if any of you lacks wisdom. In English, we essentially have one construction, that is a condition. It's the if, then. In Greek, however, there are several different types of conditional sentences. The type that James uses here does not imply that there are some of us who don't lack wisdom in the middle of trials, and who don't need to ask God. In fact, the construction that James uses, the kind of conditional statement that he uses in the Greek text says that everyone of us lacks the wisdom we need. In these verses, James acknowledges that responding to trials with joy is extremely difficult, and it demands that we take advantage of the divine resources.

Now what are the resources that God has put at our disposal? Well, James identifies three in these verses. The first resource that we have available to us is wisdom. That's what we lack and that's what we ask God for, for wisdom. Now wisdom simply describes the skill of living in a way that pleases God. In the Hebrew mind, wisdom was never merely or purely theoretical. That's how we tend to think of wisdom. But in the Hebrew mind, wisdom was always practical. We're talking here about the practical wisdom to live daily life in a way that pleases God. He says if any of you lack wisdom, ask of God. Now in what sense do you and I lack wisdom in the middle of our troubles and difficulties? In what sense do we lack wisdom? Well, there're really two ways that we need wisdom in the middle of difficulties.

First, we need the capacity to see our trials as a source of joy. We've just been commanded to consider it all joy, but let's be honest, that's a pretty tough thing to do. When you find yourself in the middle of trouble, in the middle of difficulty, in the middle of your world unraveling, the last thing you want to do is see it as joy. And so, we need to cry out to God for wisdom to understand His priorities in the midst of our trouble.

But there's a second sense in which we need wisdom or lack wisdom in the middle of our troubles. Not only to see our trials as a source of joy, but also to respond to our circumstances wisely. We often don't have a clue how to properly respond. Back in 1993, Reader's Digest recorded an interesting story about a man who woke up one morning to find a puddle of water in the middle of his king-sized waterbed. Perhaps some of you have had this experience. In order to fix the puncture, he rolled the heavy mattress outdoors and filled it with more water so that he could easily, more easily find the leak. Well, this enormous bag of water is what it amounts to, was impossible to control. He lived in a hilly area and it began to roll downhill. He tried to hold it back, but it kept heading downhill, and it ended up hitting a clump of bushes and was poked absolutely full of holes. The disgusted man threw away his water mattress, and he threw away the waterbed frame, and he moved a standard bed into his room. The next morning, he awoke to find a puddle of water in the middle of the new bed. You see, the upstairs bathroom had a leaky drain. That story is humorous, and yet it really describes how we respond in the midst of trials. When it comes to dealing with troubles that come into our lives, we do exactly the same thing. We jump to incorrect assumptions; we make bad decisions; and we basically mess up the circumstances that God has brought us into. We need God's wisdom in the middle of our difficulties to respond wisely.

But how exactly do we gain this important resource of wisdom? Well that brings us to the next divine resource: prayer, prayer. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask. You see, it's prayer that provides us access to God and His wisdom. Now in the Greek text, this is a command. Literally it says, "if any of you lacks wisdom, and you all do, he must ask God." This is to be our response, no options, except one. When you find yourself in the middle of trouble, you need wisdom, whether you feel you do or not, God says you do. Everybody needs it. So, ask. James comes back to this later in his letter. James 5:13, he says, "Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray." This is how we're to respond.

The rest of Scripture makes the same point. Turn to Psalm 50. Psalm 50 in verse 15. Aseph writes these words in the mouth of God: "Call upon Me in the day of trouble. I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me." You find yourself in the middle of trouble and difficulty. Cry out to God. Call unto me, He says. But I think there's one passage in Scripture that portrays this calling out to God, and even gives expression to our own hearts like no other. Turn to 2 Chronicles. You may have never seen this passage in this light, 2 Chronicles 20. You want to know how to talk to God when you find yourself in the middle of troubles you don't understand and you have no idea what to do. Here's how you respond, 2 Chronicles 20. The scenario is in verse 1. "It came about after this that the sons of Moab and the sons of Ammon together with some of the Meunites came to make war against Jehoshaphat."

So, here you have Judah's king, Jehoshaphat. He finds himself under siege, and he doesn't have adequate resources to meet the military onslaught, the invasion that has occurred. So, he was afraid, verse 3, turned his attention to seek the Lord, proclaimed a fast. All Judah gathers together to seek the Lord, and here he starts in verse 5 with this prayer. … Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem and the house of the Lord before the new court, and he said, … and he begins with the character of God. And then he begins to remind God of God's purpose for His people. But then he gets to his request. Verse 12, "Oh, our God, will you not judge them?" Now listen to this. "For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us."

Do you ever feel absolutely out of your element, absolutely in circumstances beyond your control, unable to know how to respond; without adequate resources to meet the trouble in which you find yourself? Then listen to what he says: "Nor do we know what to do." He says listen, I don't have a clue. I don't know what to do. This is how we express ourselves to God in the midst of trouble and trial and difficulty. "But our eyes are on You." There's how you cry out to God. There's how you ask God for His wisdom, for His help. Let me ask you a question. When you encounter trouble from the daily pressures of life to the catastrophic, life-shattering tragedies of life, and everything in between, is your first response to go to the throne of God and to seek His help? To seek His wisdom? That's the resource God intends for us to use: wisdom, prayer.

But there's one additional resource that we have from God to face our trials with joy, and it's "grace". What I want you to see is this: what really lies behind this verse. Back in James 1, yes, there is prayer in verse 5. Yes, there is wisdom God gives in response to this prayer in verse 5. But the stress is not on prayer, and it's not on wisdom. The focus is on God. When you find yourself in the midst of trials, when you feel that God has deserted you, and when you pray, the heavens seem like brass. Have you ever had that experience? When that happens, that's the very time that God stands most ready to help you.

In the words of Hebrews 4:16, "therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." James puts it this way: God gives generously to all who ask. That's grace. God has given you amazing resources when you face trouble and trials and difficulty in life. He's given you wisdom, His wisdom, at your disposal. He's given you prayer, the ability to access Him immediately, and He's given you the amazing gift of grace. Grace to help in time of need.

Notice the motivation that James provides us for crying out to God in the middle of our trouble. It's nothing less than God's character. Let me give you an accurate translation of what James says in verse 5. He says since all of you lack wisdom, when one of you discovers that, let him ask God; he must ask God, the God who by nature is giving over and over and over again, and notice this is how He responds to all. Now, there are two qualifications to that expression "all". One of them is found back in verse 2 of chapter 1. Consider it all joy, my brethren. You have to be a Christian to be included in this all. And also, verse 6 tells us you have to be a Christian who asks in faith, and we'll discover in a moment what that means. But if you're a Christian, and you ask in faith, then this is how God responds. He goes on to tell us how God gives. God gives generously. This Greek word has two nuances: one of them means "to be single", that is to be single in your motives. God gives with no ulterior motives. God isn't looking for something from you when He gives. He gives unconditionally. And He gives "wholeheartedly", or as it's translated, "generously". Both of those nuances are in that word that's translated generously. But he also gives notice "without reproach", verse 5. A reproach is simply an insult, a criticism, a reprimand intended to shame.

Listen to the wonderful commentator James Hebert in his commentary on James. He writes, (and see if you hear yourself in any of these things, if you've thought of any of these things)

God does not respond to our petition and then heap insults upon us for asking. He does not offensively recall the benefits already given, or rebuke the applicant who asks for more. He does not give in a way which humiliates the receiver. He does not scold because we have inadequately used His former gifts, or rebuke us for our repeated lack of wisdom.

This is how our God responds. When we come, when we recognize our need, when we cry out to God in the midst of our trouble for His wisdom, for His grace, He responds without reproach.

Turn over to Romans 5. You get another glimpse of this from the pen of Paul. Romans 5:2. He's just told us that we've been justified by faith, we've been declared righteous before God based solely on the work of Christ and received by faith, and he says therefore we have peace with God. But then in verse 2, he says, not only do we have peace with God, but we stand in grace. The very spiritual atmosphere of our lives if you're a Christian, it's as if you walk around and stand and breathe grace. Now, how does that express itself? Romans 8, Paul says, verse 31, "What shall we say to these things?" God is for us. God's not against you. God hasn't deserted you in the midst of trouble. God is where he's always been, and He intends them for your good. You're not alone. But notice verse 32.

If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

Here's the argument. If He gave you Christ, His most valuable possession, then how's He going to hold anything else back that you need? It's not going to happen.

Let me just ask you a heart-probing question. Is this how you think of God? I mean, really, in your heart of hearts, is this how you picture God? Do you think of God as the One who gives and gives and keeps on giving, as One who is overwhelmingly generous with absolutely no motives beyond your good? Do you think of God as the One who is for you, the One who, with Christ, will give you everything else you need? Well, let me tell you, if you think it's hard to think that way now, wait till you find yourself in the midst of trial, and it'll be much, much harder to think of God that way.

And yet James tells us that's exactly how we must think of God. God has not forsaken you. You're not alone. God intends this trial that you're going through for your spiritual benefit, and He's even put wonderful resources at your disposal to help you. He's given you His wisdom. He's given you prayer. He's given you His grace. And if you will ask God, notice verse 5, it will be given to him. Theologians call that kind of expression the divine passive, because the one performing the action isn't mentioned, but the clear implication is that it's God. God will give wisdom to the one who asks Him for it. God will give grace to the one who seeks it. That shouldn't surprise us. This is God's consistent response. God gives wisdom.

Turn to Matthew 7. Here you see God's generosity in the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 7:7. "Keep on asking and it will be given to you, keep on seeking and you will find, keep on knocking and it will be opened to you.

"For everyone asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, it will be opened. For what man is there among you, when his son asks for a loaf [of bread], will give him a stone?" [Hungry son, here, here's a rock to chew on. Go enjoy.] "Or if he asks for a fish, he won't give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in Heaven, give what is good to those who ask Him?"

This is God's nature. This is His character.

Now, when we think of God in that way, the most famous illustration of God's generosity in dispensing wisdom is, of course, King Solomon. I want you to turn to 1 Kings, and see this very familiar passage in the context that we're discussing this morning. First Kings 3. Solomon is a very young man. In fact, notice in verse 7, he says, "Now, O Lord, my God," again 1 Kings 3:7,

"Now O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child…." [You've given me, you've put me in a place where I feel great pressure. I don't feel capable of this. I don't feel adequate of dealing with the situation in which you placed me. The] "great people who are too many to be numbered or counted. So give your servant an understanding heart to judge your people, to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of yours?

Solomon finds himself in a situation that's way over his head, way beyond his control, that is to him a huge pressure. What does he do? He does exactly what James urges us to do. He turns to God, and he cries out for God's wisdom, for God's grace. Verse 10,

It was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon asked this thing. God said to him, "Because you've asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but you've asked for yourself discernment, to understand justice, behold I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before, nor shall one like you arise after you."

Here, lived out in the pages of Scripture, lived out in a real life, is exactly what we're talking about. None of us will ever be as wise as Solomon, but God has promised His wisdom in the midst of trouble, if we'll ask. When you find yourself in the middle of a trial, when you feel overwhelmed, cry out to God, and ask Him in His grace to give you wisdom, and He will do it.

Now, don't misunderstand James. James is not promising that God is going to tell you why. That's what we all want to know, isn't it? You know, there are many Christians, when they face difficulty and trouble, they think God owes it to them to sort of take them into the divine control tower and show them the whys and the wherefores. God isn't going to do that. You will probably never know why, at least in this life. Apparently, Job never knew why. Instead, what God will give you is the wisdom to see past your circumstances and understand their spiritual benefit. He'll give you the wisdom to have spiritual eyes, to look at your circumstances through His eyes, and He'll give you the wisdom to respond in a way that pleases Him. What an amazingly wonderful promise.

But, James then gives us a crucial caveat. Verse 6. But, he must ask in faith, without any doubting. So, what does that mean? I have to tell you that before my study this week, I thought what most of you probably think, and that is that it refers to a simple lack of confidence that God will give wisdom to the one who asks. In other words, I'm just not sure if I really have enough faith, if I'm really confident enough. But that can't be what James means, for two reasons.

First of all, a little faith is still real faith. You remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 17:20: "Truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of what, of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, move from here to there, and it will move, and nothing will be impossible to you." In Mark 9:24, you remember the father of the boy who needs to be healed cries out and says, "I do believe, but help my unbelief." And yet, Christ responded. So, a little faith is still real faith, and God responds to it. So that can't be what he means here.

Also, notice in this passage, there's another reason that it can't just be simple lack of confidence in God. In this passage, the one who doubts still believes he's going to get what he asks for. Notice verse 7. That man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord. The implication of both in English and in Greek is that he does expect it. He's assuming he's going to get what he asks for, so his problem is not a lack of confidence that he's going to get what he asked for.

So, what is his problem? Well, first, you have to understand what James means by faith here. Listen to Hebert again. "Faith here is not merely a body of doctrinal truth to which we adhere, but rather that wholehearted attitude of a full and unquestioning commitment to and dependence on God." That's faith.

So, what does it then mean to doubt? Well, unfortunately, the English word can be a bit misleading. The idea behind the Greek word that's translated doubt is to argue with oneself, to be torn in two directions, to have a divided mind. As one writer put it, it is to be in a state of constant inner conflict between two opinions. So what James is talking about here is not a mere lack of confidence. It's a divided allegiance, a lack of commitment to God. Douglas Moog, in his excellent commentary puts it this way, listen carefully:

James is probably thinking of a strong kind of doubting, a basic division within the believer that brings about wavering and inconsistency of attitude toward God. James is not, then, here claiming that prayers will never be answered where any degree of doubt exists. Rather, he wants us to understand that God responds to us only when our lives reflect a basic consistency of purpose and intent, that is, a spiritual integrity.

George Stulag puts it this way:

James certainly does place doubt in immediate contrast to faith, but James is writing about something much deeper than surface thoughts, the actual point of his warning about doubt, is to expose a basic soul condition of unbelief. That basic soul condition is described with the term "double-minded" in verse 8. It means a double-souled person, a person (listen carefully) whose heart's loyalties are divided, a person who has not decided to give his or her total love to God. The doubt, then, is a vacillation between self-reliance and God reliance.

This person can't decide whether they're going to be committed to themselves, or whether they're going to be committed to God. They can't decide whether they really want it God's way, or whether they want it their own way. What James is saying is this: if you ask for God's help in the middle of trials, but you distrust God, if your allegiance to God is divided, if you are content to be self-reliant, then God will not respond to your prayer.

I'm reminded of a couple of Old Testament stories. I'm reminded of Joshua. You remember, in Joshua 24, calling on the people of Israel. And he's saying, listen, how long are you going to waver between whether you're going to serve the gods which your fathers served which are beyond the river, the gods of the Amorites, or the true God? Or Elijah in 1 Kings 18, when he comes near the people there on Carmel, and he says how long will you hesitate between two opinions? That's what the one who doubts is doing here. To further strengthen our grasp of this truth, James adds an illustration.

Go back to James 1. Notice the last part of verse 6. The one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. Now James grew up near one of the most turbulent inland bodies of water in the world, the Sea of Galilee. There are a number of features, geographic features, around that lake that make it prone to immediate violent storms. He knew the sea, so he says that the one whose allegiance is divided is like the surge of the sea driven by the wind.

This afternoon, Hurricane Dennis is going to strike, it appears, my old home town. We've all seen pictures this week of the absolute violence of that storm, and it's captivating to watch that powerful water. We saw the power of the water in the tsunamis over in in the East, but to see that water as powerful as it is, driven and tossed and beaten around by the wind. Not only laterally, as the waves make their way inland, but also up and down, constantly. Four-dimensional instability, what a profound picture of the instability of the man or the woman who because of a divided allegiance is trying to go two directions at the same time. Verses 7 and 8 add,

for that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

In other words, he should never wrongly conclude that he will receive what he's asked God for. He's not going to get it. And he's not going to get it because of the kind of man he is. Notice how James describes him in verse 8, "double-minded". It's a very rare Greek word. In fact, it doesn't appear in the secular Greek literature until James' time. It may very well be that James coined this word. It only occurs in the New Testament here and in 4-:8. It literally means "a man double-souled", a man two-souled. This person acts as if he has two distinct souls or personalities that are in his body at perpetual conflict with each other.

I love the way one commentator describes it. Listen to this. "He is a walking civil war." There's a picture. A walking civil war, in which trust and distrust of God wage a continual battle against each other. He's the pattern for Bunyan's, Mr. Facing Both Ways. And this inner civil war that's going on in this man shows itself in every part of his life. Notice verse 8: he's unstable in all his ways. That is, he is unsteady in all of his patterns of behavior, in every aspect of his life.

Listen, this morning, if you are wavering between trust and distrust of God; if your allegiance is divided; if there's a civil war in your heart; then you will not, you cannot, gain God's help in your difficulty, and you will not benefit from the trials of life that come into your life each week and each day. But if you're committed to God this morning, if your defeat, if your allegiance is completely committed to God, then you have these amazing resources at your disposal. This week, when you're facing trouble and pressure, talk to God. Ask Him for His wisdom. Ask Him for His grace. And James' promise is clear: He'll give it. He'll give it. This is how the godly respond to temptation. Samuel Rutherford once wrote these words, listen carefully, these are incredibly profound words:

If God had told me some time ago that He was about to make me as happy as I could be in this world, and then had told me that He would begin by crippling me in arm or limb, and removing me from all my usual sources of enjoyment, I should have thought it a very strange mode for accomplishing His purposes. And yet, how is His wisdom manifest even in this? Now listen carefully. For if you should see a man shut up in a closed room, idolizing a set of lamps, and rejoicing in their light, and you wish to make him truly happy, you would begin by blowing out all his lamps, and then throwing open the shutter to let in the light of Heaven.

That's exactly what God does with trials. We think our true joy and happiness is found in the things of this life, and God, as it were, blows out our lamps. Not to make us miserable, but to show us in fact, the true light, the true joy, the true satisfaction is found in Him.

Let's pray together.

Father, burn your Word deeply within our hearts. Lord, again, we thank you for the thorns. We thank you for the difficulties, troubles, pressures of life. Because we see now your purpose.

Lord, help us when we find ourselves in the midst of those troubles to respond as you've taught us to, even in this passage. Help us to develop the attitude of joy, not because of the trouble, but because of how You'll use it, to build our endurance, and to make us strong and mature. Father, help us to rejoice in it, and help us to use the resources that You've provided for us.

Lord, help us to come to You, seeking wisdom, to understand, not the why but how to respond, how to find joy. Lord, help us to come to You in prayer, to cry out to You, even as Jehoshaphat did, that we don't know what to do, but our eyes are on You. Father, help us to use that wonderful resource of grace, to come to your throne of grace, seeking grace to help in time of need.

Father, I pray for the person here this morning who's in the middle of trial, who's in the middle of great difficulty even this morning. I pray that You would help them to learn from the words of James, the half-brother of our Lord. Lord, I pray that they'd embrace these truths, and Lord, for the rest of us, who, if we're not in trouble, will soon be, help us to think rightly and to respond rightly.

And Father, I pray for the person here this morning, for whom trials and trouble have no benefit whatsoever, because they're not in Christ. Lord, I pray that You'd help them today, to bow their knee, to confess their sin, to turn from it, and to embrace Christ as Lord and Savior, and from all these things, Father, may You get the glory. I pray that You would continue to blow out our lights so that we could see the light of Your glory.

We pray it in Jesus' name. Amen.

Bridge Over Troubled Water