Study # 78
Thesis: We have specific instructions regarding our reactions to our circumstances.
Introduction: We have come in our study to James' wrapping up of his message. All the way through the book James has been dealing with our reactions to our circumstances, seeing them in the light of their potential to be used against us by our inner and outer adversaries. Every circumstance has the potential to be used by God for our growth and ultimate joy; and every circumstance has the potential to be used by the flesh and the devil to our damage and ultimate loss.
James has been meticulous about dealing with the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the arrogance of functional capacity. Now we have come to the final instructions. This evening we want to begin our study of these final instructions as they relate to our reactions to our circumstances.
There are four basic situations in which we will find ourselves:
March 31, 1999
These are the four scenarios that we face and we have specific instruction for each of them.
- 1) situations that challenge our joy at the level of disappointment;
- 2) situations that challenge our joy at the level of self-indulgence;
- 3) situations that challenge our joy at the level of physical and emotional weakness; and
- 4) situations that challenge our joy at the level of the weaknesses of others.
- I. Dealing With Disappointment.
- A. The problem as James identifies it.
- 1. Translational differences are caused by the size of the category covered by the term he used.
- a. The problem is anything/everything that a person sees as an externally undesirable set of circumstances for himself.
- b. It basically boils down to being faced with having to deal with unpleasantness created by others.
- 2. It can be summarized by the word "disappointment".
- B. The solution as James gives it: Prayer.
- 1. Not as a routine religious exercise that ends up being nothing more than either talking to oneself, or simply making noise.
- 2. Prayer in the Scripture is always to be seen as a real contact with a real God Who has real input as a consequence of the conversation.
- a. The pre-requisites to prayer are two: humility and confidence of His help.
- b. The consequences of prayer invariably are presented as "resolutional"--i.e., we find what we have to have...grace to help in time of need.
- II. Dealing With Satisfaction.
- A. James' description of this set of circumstances is just the opposite of the prior set: flooded with a sense of well-being.
- B. This situation is not without instruction.
- 1. It is not without its own set of dangers...
- a. A slipping into self-indulgence.
- b. A slipping into self-righteousness.
- 2. It is to be accepted as a foundation for songs of theologically accurate truths.
- a. Songs are supposed to be expressions of joy and contentment...music that does not do that is probably an abuse of music.
- b. Just any old songs will not do...
- III. Dealing with Physical Illness.
- A. James' two-fold description of the problem.
- 1. He speaks of physical weakness/pain.
- 2. He speaks of spiritual/emotional weakness unto the destruction of the experience of life by the Spirit...sinking into despair or rising to hostile anger...both caused by the sense of divine antagonism and/or abandonment.
- B. James' solution.
- 1. Personal responsibility...
- a. In calling for the elders.
- b. In not making an unnecessary nuisance of oneself.
- c. In being willing to admit and confess to any sin that surfaces in the time of the ministry of the elders.
- 2. Elder responsibility...
- a. In responding to the request with wisdom.
- 1) This is not the typical prayer meeting.
- 2) This involves two critical care issues.
- a) Demonstrating love...prayer/oil.
- b) Pursuing the question of cause... prayer/questions.
- b. In recognizing that the problem is not the physical issue, but the consequential issues.