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About this series
Withstanding the Storms of Life
What’s the key to standing strong in the storms of life? How do we keep getting up no matter how many times the waves of trial and discouragement knock us over? One word – Resilient. Chip and Ryan Ingram team up on this series from James, Chapter 1, to remind us that God has given us all the resources we need to come out on top, regardless of what’s going on. If you’re looking for inner strength and outward power to withstand the toughest of circumstances, “Resilient” provides the guidance you need, to not give up or give in.More from this series
You know, Resilient, I love even on the top of the notes, “The ability to withstand or recover from a difficult situation.” And we have learned it’s tempting; we have learned it’s emotional. And I want to share it’s powerful.
And I’m going to do something I don’t normally do. I tend to do a fairly quick introduction, jump into the text, apply it all the way through.
I want to just get you to lean back and I want to talk about power, because I think right now, we feel powerless, right?
I mean, when are we going to get to go back to work? What about the future? What about my plans? It is really a challenging time. I think God wants us to be resilient. How do we overcome challenges and difficult situations?
And I think there’s a number of things at play here. So let me give you three very quick stories, all that have to do with the power of something. And by the time we get done, I think those three stories will be bing, bing, bing, wow! Maybe I want to remember them.
The story number one, I’m a young pastor, I’m twenty-eight years old. It’s my very first pastorate. We don’t even have an office and so, there was, it’s a small, little town of under three thousand. Not even a stop light. And there was an area where I could sort of, office in the back of someone’s place. They just put up a little, almost cardboard type thing, let me stay in the back, just a little place to study.
And it was a businessman and he was a Christian, went to the main church in town. And was trying to be nice to me and he came and said, “Hey! By the way, now, what version of the Bible are you using?” And so, we’re kind of talking about the Bible.
And all I know is he is a person who goes to this church, very open about his faith, we’re talking about the Bible, and he gets a phone call. Picks up the phone, “What? What? You tell that n-word, I would never have an n-word. That blankety-blank-blank-blank. This is a…
And I’m sitting there going, Now, are you kidding? And he hangs up the phone and then he comes over and goes, “Uh, now, the version I was telling you about,” I mean, there was not a skip in the beat. It’s the power of deception. There was absolutely no connection between him being a follower of Jesus, our conversation about the Word of God that screams no partiality, and the words and the prejudice and the anger coming out of his mouth about a human being made in the image of God.
I was a young pastor, I’m twenty-eight, but I’m thinking, Whoa. Now, candidly, I grew up in Ohio and I grew up in the suburbs and I was deeply offended. I grew up playing basketball and so, outdoor courts and then very mixed racially college team.
And it was just like – I remember, How could anyone be that deceived? Powerful, powerful deception.
Story number two, a number of years later it was a young man and from all practical appearances, he was doing great. Been married, I don’t know, seven, eight years, had a five-year-old at the time, good job, good family, just bought a house, attractive – he and his wife. Came to church regularly. I mean, you would just think – upwardly mobile, kind, generous, good dad.
And I got a call and he said, “I’ve got to talk to you right away.” And I said, “Well, sure.” He says, “Can I come down right now?” I said, “Well, sure, go ahead.” And he comes to me and he goes, “This is note that was on the refrigerator.” I said, “What’s it say?” He says, “I don’t love you anymore. I never loved you. And I’ve taken our daughter and I’m gone.” And that guy, I mean, if a lightning bolt would have it him, it couldn’t have been more drastic. He was completely relationally deceived, or unaware.
Whatever – if I had asked him a day before, “How is it?” “Great at home! Great with the wife. Great with work! Great with the family.” I mean, he was absolutely, one hundred percent – things are fine. Well, obviously they weren’t. Obviously, he didn’t see, he didn’t recognize, he didn’t see the hurt, he didn’t see the body language, he wasn’t listening to what she said.
People just don’t do that. That was a long, slow burn that ended up in a dramatic ending to someone that, for all practical purposes, was oblivious. Deception. It’s powerful!
Now, I’m telling stories, but here’s what I want you to get: what would this have to do with you? Or me? What if deception is that powerful that you could actually be convinced you are in right relationship with God and things are super-duper? Or you are in right relationship with someone you love and you’re completely wrong, completely deluded.
Third story about power. This is a positive one. This was during my college years. And I was a growing Christian I got into a Bible study and then I was meeting one-on-one with a bricklayer who was discipling me. Then little by little I was meeting with one or two guys and then I had a Bible study in my dorm.
And I was just learning. Everything was new. I was getting into God’s Word, I was a pretty slow learner. It was so hard to get up in the morning and spend time with God, daily. It took me about a year and a half, maybe two years before it became a habit and little later became a joy.
I began to write down some verses that were meaningful to me on cards. Early on, they wanted me to memorize Scripture and I thought, That’s stupid. It’s in the Bible. I can look it up when I want it. I had no idea the power of renewing your mind, the power of the Word of God, the power of meditating. I was clueless.
But I was growing now and I was even starting to teach a little bit. So, it’s about my junior year in college and I had been a Christian a little over three years. And we had a guy on our campus who came, transferred in, and his name was George. He wouldn’t mind me using his name. In fact, I’ve used it publicly before.
And George was just, there’s no other word, he was socially awkward. He came from an immigrant family, his parents moved here in the New York area, a Slavic background, so he had a pretty decent little accent. And then there’s nothing like being nineteen years old and prematurely balding. And when you’re in college, everyone wants to be cool. And George was not cool.
And so, George didn’t really have a relationship with God, he started coming to Bible study, he struggled. And then I’m – confession – you know when someone sort of joins your group you go, Oh, if they break up into groups, I hope he’s in another group. I just hope he’s not in my group.
And that’s terrible but it was true. And so, George, I got to know him for that first year. And then an amazing thing happened is he heard about something in the summer and he went to some sort of conference and in this conference, they were talking about: God can completely change your life and His Word is so powerful and all these verses.
And they said the way it really works is by memorizing and meditating on Scripture. And I think George just got super desperate. I mean, this is one of the most socially awkward people kind of pushing him away or to the fringes. And then the poor guy ended up, he ended up in the dormitory with the fraternity guys. I mean, all they did is make fun of him all the time.
So, George comes back after the summer and I noticed in his shirt pocket he’s got a stack of 3x5 cards about this thick. Very small, small print. And I said, “George, what you got there?” And he said, “Oh, you know, I went to this conference. I started memorizing Scripture.” And I started. I got some little ones here and I got my first sixty verses, topical memory system. And, yeah, I was kind of tracking so I had maybe a hundred, maybe two. I’m really a, yeah, spiritual, spiritual leader here.
And he said, “Well, I started out and I memorized the book of James. And then I did Matthew.” And I said, “No. You mean the book Matthew?” He said, “Yes.” And so, he goes, “And then,” I forget, it was the book of John and then 1 and 2 Timothy.
And I said, “George, are you kidding?” He goes, “No, it takes me, I spend like the first forty-five minutes of my day just reviewing those verses.” And first of all, I thought he couldn’t be telling the truth. And then fast-forward.
You know when you meet someone where there’s an inner beauty that comes out of their countenance, that comes out of their speech, that there is an attractiveness that you can’t even put your finger on that’s not physical that just draws like bees to honey? I watched this metamorphosis.
George got in one of my small groups and just the calm, the wisdom, the – I don’t know. I can’t even explain it. The year goes on, pretty soon, fraternity guys are looking both ways and going down to his dorm room to get counsel about their girlfriend or something that has happened at home.
And pretty soon, George is emerging as this leader and everyone wants to be around him. And he’s not socially awkward, he’s just like one of the most winsome, attractive guys I have ever met.
Deception, lies, delusions, thinking everything is okay: super powerful. God’s Word: super powerful. And that brings us to our text and I think you’re going to see this played out.
Ryan taught us that we should be – what? Quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Why? For the anger of man does not fulfill the righteous life that God desires.
And then we pick it up; I put it in your notes. We pick it up at verse 21, that Ryan ended on “Therefore,” here’s the application, this anger that we have, this speech that we need to have, this listening and caring about people, “therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent.” It’s the aorist tense. That means: make a radical step of faith and anything morally or the evil and the reference is to relationships that are not good and places where you shouldn’t go and influences that are messing with your life – make a radical, radical departure and put that behind you. So, there’s a negative command.
“And humbly accept the Word planted in you, which can save you.” We’re back to the Word. And notice, it’s planted in you. Literally, it says that you receive the Word. Remember the parable of the soils. Remember Jesus said to His disciples, “I’ll explain this to you.” “The Son of Man went out and He cast the seed upon the ground.” It’s the seed is God’s Word.
“And the seed of God’s Word fell on a hard path.” That’s a hard heart. “And the seed of God’s Word fell on shallow soil,” and that’s someone who responds quickly but when it gets tough to be a follower, they fade away. And the seed of God’s Word falls on thorny soil and that’s a person who, they love God and they are sincere and they start to grow, but the riches of this world, the deceitfulness of them, and other things and distractions choke out the Word. And so instead of a person becoming more and more like Christ and more and more loving and more and more transformed, they get stuck.
But then the last one. Luke 8, verse 15, “But the seed that falls in the good ground is the person with a good and honest heart who receives the Word implanted and obeys it.” That’s what He’s talking about. He’s talking about when you receive the Word of truth, the gospel, 1 Peter says that we are born again by an imperishable seed, verse 23 through 25, that our new relationship with God happened because we responded to the gospel of grace and the gospel of grace put the seed of new life in us and this new life grows and our heart is the kind of soil.
And so He says here, “Accept it humbly,” literally, with a teachable heart, which can save you.” And if you printed out your notes, circle that little word can. I didn’t know that this was true; I just learned this this week because I was doing a little extra study.
And it’s the word we get, later became a word that they used for, obviously didn’t have dynamite in that day, but dunamis – it’s a word for power. It has the power, the Word implanted in you has the power to save you.
And the word salvation, I think we always think of justification is when I prayed to receive Christ. But the word means deliverance. Your salvation is you are delivered from death. You are delivered from the power of sin, you’re delivered from the penalty of sin.
And so, what he is saying is, the Word of God implanted in our hearts when we trusted Christ has the power to deliver us. From what? Well, from all moral filth, from all evil, from – are you ready for this? – deception. Remember earlier? Earlier in the text, what’s it say? He says, “Do not be deceived, we had the Word of truth.”
And so, as you look in your notes, let me read the entire passage and then I want to break it down and then here’s the deal: I want you to think about how much power you would really like to have. We are just, we are all in this together. And we all struggle. We struggle with temptation, we struggle with emotions, anger, resentment, lack of forgiveness. We struggle with discipline. We struggle with a lot of stuff.
This passage, it’s going to remind us there is an amazing power of deception over here and there is a power in God’s Word that will deliver you. But it only does that if you do something with it.
Let’s read it. He goes on to say, “Do not merely listen to the Word and so,” there’s our word, “deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” Illustration, “Anyone who listens to the Word but doesn’t do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in the mirror and after looking at himself goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” Contrast. “But the man who looks intently into the perfect law,” speaking of Scripture, “that gives freedom and continues to do this,” so there’s a practice, there’s a habit, “not forgetting what he has heard but doing it,” notice the result, “he will be blessed in what he does.”
Now, when I study the Bible and when I prepare to teach it, one of the things I do is I’ll study the passage, I’ll break down the different verses in terms of grammatically how they fit, and then what I try and do for me, and I’ve given it to you, but normally I don’t give this to people. I usually give them just my big outline.
But we are kind of studying, this is about God’s Word, so I thought I’d show you what I do. So then what I did is I said, okay, what does it really mean what I just studied? And then I want to put it in one clear sentence that accounts for all the words that really make sense.
And so, what we learned from verse 21, the beginning of verse 22, is that freedom to become the joyful, mature, Christlike person who lacks nothing – where did I get that? Remember? “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials.” Well, we are in a trial, right? “Knowing the testing of your faith produces” – what? “endurance. Well, allow endurance to have its perfecting, maturing result, that you might be perfect, mature, Christlike,” notice, “lacking in nothing.”
So freedom to become that kind of person requires a radical repentance from sinful practices and relational patterns. That’s exactly what verse 21 said. Moral filth and the prevalent evil.
Then notice the positive. “And a wholehearted cultivation of the Word implanted in our hearts.” And so, you want to experience God’s power, His life change, I don’t know about you, but regardless of circumstances, I want to have joy. Regardless of temptations, I want to have great relationships and be connected. Regardless of emotional issues and what might tick me off or what might make me feel resentful, I want to be a joyful, loving, winsome person, dad, friend, husband.
And he says to do that, I have to make a radical repentance away from the things that are pulling me away from God and then I need to make a wholehearted, I mean, cultivation of taking this Word that is written now, but the living Word that has been planted in my heart and cultivated in such a way like you would a garden. Oh! Man, this is the most precious garden in the world and that garden is your heart.