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How to Profit from your Problems

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HOW TO PROFIT FROM YOUR PROBLEMS

Developing a Faith That Works - Part 2 of 15

James 1:2-6

Rick Warren

My idea - "Beliver's face trials..."

James 1:2-6

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds..."

How Can I Be Positive Under Pressure?

I. FOUR "FACTS OF LIFE" YOU NEED TO KNOW

"Consider it pure joy ... because you know ..."

1. PROBLEMS ARE ______________________________

"... whenever you face trials ..."

2. PROBLEMS ARE ______________________________

"... whenever you face trials ..."

"peripipto": fall into

3. PROBLEMS ARE ______________________________

"... trials of many kinds ..."

4. PROBLEMS ARE ______________________________

"Realize that they come ... to produce in you..." (Phillips)

2-ii

3 PURPOSES OF PROBLEMS (vs.3-4)

  • Problems purify my ____________________

"You know that the testing of your faith..."

  • Problems fortify my ___________________

"... the testing ... develops perseverance..."

  • Problems sanctify my __________________

"so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything!"

God's #1 Purpose in my life: ______________________________

For further study: Rom. 5:3-5, 8:28-29

II. HOW TO HANDLE YOUR PROBLEMS

1. _____________________________________________

"Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials..." (vs. 1)

2. _____________________________________________

"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding

fault, and it will be given to him." (vs. 5)

3. _____________________________________________

"But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt ..." (vs.6)

The result: James 1:12

HOW TO PROFIT FROM YOUR PROBLEMS

Developing a Faith That Works - Part 2 of 15

James 1:2-6

Rick Warren

We're going to look at "How to Profit From Your Problems". James is the most practical book in the

New Testament. It is the "How To" manual for the Christian life.

When you write a letter you normally figure that the guy is going to warm up and ease into his subject.

He's going to have a few preliminaries, opening remarks, and then move into the message. But James

drops a bomb in verse 2. He announces who he is and then in verse 2 he says, "Consider it pure joy,

my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds..."

How would you like to get a letter like that? "This is a letter from me... You got problems? Be happy!"

How? There's no way I could be happy. You don't know my situation. The key is the phrase

"because you know". "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many

kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." Your attitude is

determined by your understanding. Rejoicing is not just positive thinking but based on some facts of life.

Four facts of life from James that will help you with the problem you're going through right now:

I. FOUR "FACTS OF LIFE" YOU NEED TO KNOW

1. Problems are inevitable

Scripture doesn't say, "If you encounter problems consider it joy" but whenever -- count on it,

you're going to have problems. If you don't have problems, check your pulse. It is a fact of life. Jesus

said "In the world you will have tribulation." Peter said, "Don't be surprised when you have

problems." Count on it. Problems are not an elective in life. They are a required course. You don't

get out of them by saying you don't want to have any problems. Nobody's immune.

I was naive in my college days. I used to pray for trials. I have since learned you don't need to pray for

trials. But I thought I needed to pray for trials. The next day my van blew up. Scott Peck's book The

Road Less Traveled ... the first sentence is "Life is difficult." It is. It is inevitable that you will have

problems in life.

2. Problems are unpredictable.

He says, "...whenever you face problems ..." The word "face" in Greek is "peripipto". It literally

means "to fall into unexpectedly". It is the same word used in the story of the Good Samaritan where

the man fell among thieves -- it was unexpected. Trials are not planned. We seldom can anticipate the

problems we're going to experience in life. That's probably good because if we could anticipate them

we'd run the other way and we wouldn't get the benefit from them. We don't plan to have a flat tire, or

a crisis. They are unplanned and unpredictable -- when we least expect them. That's what makes a

problem a problem. Often it's inconvenient when you fall into it suddenly.

HOW TO PROFIT FROM YOUR PROBLEMS

Developing A Faith That Works - Part 2 of 15

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Story of a guy who was riding on a New York subway for the very first time. He got motion sickness

standing cramped in next to the door. The subway stopped suddenly, the door opened and he lost his

lunch right on the first guy standing in line. The thing was, the doors didn't shut and it took off again.

"Why me?"

3. Problems of many kinds

They come in all shapes and sizes. One thing about problems, you don't get bored with them. There are

a wide variety of them.

Have you ever tried to match paint? The word in the Greek for "many kinds" is literally "multi colored".

There are problems of many shades and varieties. They vary in intensity, they vary in variety, they vary

in duration. Some are minor inconveniences. Some are major crises. We have all kinds and shapes of

problems. They come in more than 31 flavors. Some problems are custom made and you know it.

Sign I saw this week: "Into every life some rain must fall, but this is ridiculous." Lots of varieties of

problems in our life.

4. Problems are purposeful

They have a purpose. Pain can be productive. Pressure produces. Suffering can accomplish

something. It has value in our lives. What value? Three purposes of problems in your life:

1) Problems purify my faith. He uses the word "testing", as in testing gold and silver. You

would heat them up very hot until the impurities -- the dross -- was burned off. Job said "He has

tested me through the refining fire and I have come out as pure gold." The first things trials do is

test our faith. They purify us. Christians are a lot like tea bags. You don't know what's inside of them

until you drop them in hot water. Then you know. Your faith develops when things don't go as planned.

Your faith develops when you don't feel like doing what's right. It purifies your faith. Christians are like

steel; when they're tested they come out stronger.

We've been in a test for this land for over a year. We've been in a course on character

development. God is much more interested in building disciples than He is in building buildings.

Problems purify our faith.

2) Problems fortify our patience. "...the testing of your faith develops perseverance."

He's talking about staying power, not a passive patience, but staying power, endurance. The ability to

keep on keeping on, the ability to hang in there. The Greek here is literally "the ability to stay under

pressure." We don't like pressure and we do everything we can to avoid it. We run from it, take drugs,

drink alcohol, go to Disneyland, anything to get away from pressure. But God uses problems in our

lives to teach us how to handle pressure, how to never give up. There was a time in my life I prayed for

patience, and the problems got worse. Finally, after a while, I realized I was a lot more patient than

when I first started out.

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Developing A Faith That Works - Part 2 of 15

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How does God teach you patience? By everything going your way? No. God teaches you

patience in traffic jams, in grocery lines, the waiting periods of life.

We live in a comfortable and convenient society. Everybody wants it now. If I can't have it now,

forget it. Endurance, today, is a rare quality. Lombardi said, "When the going gets tough, the tough get

going."

3) Problems sanctify my character. They make me like Jesus. They help me mature. They

help me to grow. "The testing of your faith produces perseverance that you may be mature and

complete, not lacking anything." That's God's long range goal. His ultimate purpose is maturity. God

wants you to grow up. He wants you to mature. In the Christian life, character is the bottom line. So

many Christians I talk to have absolutely no idea of God's agenda in their life. They don't know what's

happening and as a result they are overwhelmed by their problems.

God's number one purpose in your life is to make you like Jesus Christ. God is much more interested in

building my character than in making me comfortable. If God is going to make me like Jesus, He's going

to take me through the things Jesus went through. There were times when Jesus was lonely, fatigued,

tempted to be depressed and discouraged. The Bible says there are two ways that God makes us like

Jesus:

Through the word of God. John 17:17 "Sanctify them through Thy truth. Thy word is

truth." James 1:22-25 "The word makes us like Jesus" it builds our character, matures us. But even

if you read the Bible two hours a day, how many hours of your life are you not reading God's word?

God demands even more in the second way.

Through the circumstances of life. Here's where James hits it right on the head. So many

Christians I meet say, "Everything was going great when I first became a believer. Then all of these

problems came. Maybe God doesn't love me. Maybe I'm not a Christian. Maybe I'm not really

saved. Maybe I've missed the boat." You are exactly where God wants you. You're in a character

course. He's making you like Jesus. Romans 8:28 "We know that all things work together for

good" [not all things are good but they work together for good] if we love God and are called

according to His purpose." The secret of Romans 8:28 is 8:29 "For whom he did foreknow He did

predestine to become conformed to the image of the Son of God." Why do all things work together

for good? In order to make me like Christ.

We just finished twelve weeks on the fruit of the spirit. How does God teach us the fruit of the spirit?

By putting us in the exact opposite situation. If God wants to teach you love, He puts you around

unlovely people. If He wants to teach you joy, He puts you in times of tragedy and sadness so you will

learn joy in the situation. Peace? God puts you around chaos. The dinner's burning, the telephone

rings, the cat grabs the dog, the kid's diaper is dirty -- that's where you learn peace. It's easy to be

peaceful laying on the beach in Tahiti. Anybody can do that. Patience? Through times of waiting.

Ephesians says "We are God's workmanship" -- God wants to make a masterpiece out of you. He

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wants us to be mature, complete, not lacking anything. That is a picture of Jesus Christ. That's what He

wants you to be like.

This is what you need to know. And then there are three things you need to do.

II. HOW TO HANDLE YOUR PROBLEMS

1. Rejoice

"Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials ..." v. 1. Don't misunderstand what he's saying. He's

not saying "Fake it. Put on a plastic smile, pretend, be a Polyanna." God never asks you to deny

reality. He doesn't mean some kind of psychological pump-up based on nothing. He's also not talking

about masochism. "Good! I get to suffer! I just love to suffer! I feel so spiritual when I feel bad!" He's

not having a martyr complex. We don't rejoice for the problem, we rejoice in the problem. We don't

thank God for the situation. Why would I thank God for evil? But I thank God in the situation. One of

the most misunderstood verses in the Bible is I Thessalonians 5:18 "In everything give thanks for this

is the will of God concerning you in Christ Jesus." If you want to know God's will for your life it's

simple. "In everything give thanks." It does not say, "For everything give thanks." Why should I

thank God for giving me leukemia? "Thank You for that accident.... Thank You for that war.... Thank

You that I just lost my mother." No! What kind of God do you think He is?

It says "In everything give thanks." Why? It means we can thank God because we know that He

can even take the bad in our lives and turn it around and bring good out of it. I don't care where your

problems come from. You may have caused them yourself. The devil may have caused them. They

may be a problem that society has brought on you. But the source of your problems doesn’t really

matter. God can use them all for your growth and His glory.

What makes a difference? Your attitude. It says "Consider it pure joy..." The word "consider"

means a deliberate look at. It means to evaluate, to make up your mind once and for all. While I'm

living in the present, I look to the forward benefit of this problem. Consideration is a choice. Although I

cannot control the circumstances that happen to me in life, I can control how I will respond to them.

Victor Frankl, the Jewish psychologist who spent time in the Nazi concentration camp in Germany said,

"They stripped me naked. They took everything -- my wedding ring, watch. I stood there naked and

all of a sudden realized at that moment that although they could take everything away from me -- my

wife, my family, my possessions -- they could not take away my freedom to choose how I was going to

respond." You choose to rejoice in the situation.

Psalm 34:1 "I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth." Even

when I don't feel like it, even when things aren't going right. Problems do not automatically produce

blessings. For some people, problems destroy them. You'll either be bitter or better. The difference

between bitter and better is the letter "i". I make the difference -- my attitude. Problems break some

people, make some people brittle. It's how you choose to respond. Choose to rejoice.

From Strange and Unusual Events of 1982 from the Encyclopedia Britannica Yearbook:

HOW TO PROFIT FROM YOUR PROBLEMS

Developing A Faith That Works - Part 2 of 15

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Brian Hise had more than his share of bad luck in July. His apartment in Provo, Utah became

flooded from a broken pipe in the upstairs apartment. The manager told him to go out and rent a

water vacuum. That's when he discovered that his car had a flat tire. He changed it and went

inside again and called a friend for help. From the electric shock he got from the phone, he

inadvertently ripped the instrument from the wall. Before he could leave the apartment a second

time a neighbor had to kick the door down because water damage had jammed it tight. While all

of this was going on, someone stole Hise's car. But it was almost out of gas so he found the car a

few blocks away, but had to push it to a gas station where he filled up the tank. That evening Hise

attended a military ceremony at his university. He injured himself severely when he somehow sat

on his bayonet which had been tossed in the front seat of the car. Doctors were able to stitch up

the wound but no one was able to resuscitate four of Hise's canaries who were crushed to death

from falling plaster. After Hise slipped on the wet carpet and badly injured his tailbone, he said he

began to wonder if "God wanted me dead but kept missing."

That's what I call a good attitude!

It is your choice to rejoice.

2. Request

Pray. Of all times to pray, pray when you've got problems. What do you pray about? v. 5 "If any of

you lack wisdom, you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault and it will

be given to him." You ought to pray for wisdom when you're in the middle of problems. Why should

I pray for wisdom? So you won't waste the opportunity to grow. If you don't learn it this time there will

be one more lap around the desert! God will give you another opportunity. Learn from the problem.

We become overwhelmed when we don't understand what God's doing. Pray for wisdom. Wisdom is

seeing life from God's point of view. Pray for wisdom to understand the problem. Request.

There is no situation of life that you can't learn from if you have the right attitude. Don't ask "Why?", ask

"What?". “Why” is to purify your faith, fortify your patience, sanctify your character. But ask "What do

You want to teach me in this problem, Lord? What do You want me to learn? What characteristics

can I develop?"

3. Relax

Trust God to know what's best for your life. Co-operate with His purpose so you don't short circuit the

process. That's what's called faith. "When he asks he must believe and not doubt." Relax. Let God

work.

Letter:

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Dear Pastor Rick, It has amazed me how the Lord has moved in my life in the past two years. I've

always known about the Lord and went to church. But when I lost my mother two years ago

things changed. Watching someone I loved and respected so much and be eaten away by cancer

so quickly, I kept asking that one question, "Why?" But strange things happened. God took over

in my life. So many things happened to change my life even through such adversity and sadness.

Then four months later the man I had loved for six years ended our relationship. But God was

there again giving me wisdom and strength and protection. Then I had to overcome a drinking

problem. And I did. It's been one year ad two weeks that the Lord has kept me from drinking.

He moved in again at that point and saved me from myself. Since then I'm trusting Him more and

more each day and it is so exciting. Yes, there are still problems and sometimes deep depression

but He is there. I know now that if I choose I can trust Him. Do you know what that has done for

me? Each day is a growing experience for me with Him. I know God sent me to this church to

hear your teaching. I wish and hope the Lord will make me grow so I can help others in their hard

times and help them to know Him."

My heart breaks when I think about the heartache and pain many of the people in our church feel.

There are some people in this church that are going to be in God's Hall of Fame. You have maintained

a sweet spirit in the odds of incredible pressure -- things that people did to you, that people did about

you, situations you have been living with. It's not always easy to have a joyful heart in the middle of

problems. Even when you want to have a joyful attitude it's still difficult. That's why you need to pray

for two things: wisdom to understand the trial and faith to endure the trial. You need them both. James

says you need wisdom to know what's going on and faith to hang in there and never, never give up.

You're never a failure until you quit.

God says the devil wants to use problems to defeat you, but God wants to use those problems to

develop you. Which will it be?

Some of you are going through some tough times right now. It's pretty hard. God cares. He cares

about you very much. God sees everything you're going through. He's got your number! The very

hairs of your head are numbered. He knows exactly where you are. He hasn't lost your number! He

cares. God has the power to do something about that problem. He could change it in a snap. He's a

miracle working God. Why doesn't He? Because there's a greater purpose. The greater purpose is

what He wants to do in you. God is more interested in building your character than in making life

comfortable. Once you've learned those qualities, He may be free to remove that situation. But there

are some things in life we're never going to be free from on this side of Heaven. They are thorns in the

flesh. We will deal with them and carry them. Nothing comes into your life without the Heavenly

Father's permission.

There is a fantastic promise in v. 12 "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial. When he has

stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him."

God says there will be a reward. I don't think when we get to heaven the rewards will go to the

pastors, and evangelists, and the Billy Grahams. I think the rewards will go to the people who quietly

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put up with difficult situations and developed the character of Jesus Christ in their life. He says, “There

will be a crown of life. Cast all your cares upon Him.”

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, as I look out on to these faces, I see many, many needs. There are those here

Lord that had a very discouraging week. Some have been living with a persistent problem that has

carried on and on for days and weeks and even years and there has been no relief. Lord, they

have wanted to doubt and say, "Where are you, Lord? Don't you know?" Lord, like the disciples

in the boat when it began to toss we come to You and say "Don't You care?" and yet, Lord, we

know You do care. And because You care, You're allowing these situations in our lives, not to

break us but to make us. Not to destroy us, but to develop us. Lord, help us to be triumphant

under trials. Help us to learn from this passage how to suffer successfully, how to profit from our

problems, how to be positive under pressure. Work in our lives for our growth and Your glory.

With our heads bowed in the quietness of this moment, there are some of you who may never have

invited Jesus Christ into your life. You've heard about God and Christ and maybe you even went

to church as a kid. I'm not talking about a religion, I'm talking about a relationship. I don't care if

your background is Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Buddhist, Mormon, Baptist. I don't care what it

is. The issue is your relationship to God. It's not where you've been that counts it's the direction

your feet are headed now. Would you say, "Jesus Christ, I don't understand it all, but as much as I

know how, I want You to come into my life. Lord, please come in. Make me the person You

want me to be. Help me to understand it more. As much as I know how I want to live for You.

Thank You for loving me. Thank You for forgiving me. Thank You for dying for me. Please help

me to understand it more."

If you prayed that prayer in your heart, I believe God heard you. This is the beginning of a new

journey called the Christian life. Today's your day to open up your heart to Christ. You're no

accident. God knew you'd be here a thousand years before you were born. He put you here for a

purpose. I made a decision like this years ago. It was the turning point in my life. My life has not

been a bed of roses but I have a power that I can rely on now. Today, you're opening your life to

Jesus Christ. You're saying, Jesus Christ I don't understand it all but I want to be a Christian, a

believer. And that's great. God's happy. The Bible says there is a party in heaven when one

person commits their life to Christ.

There are others of you who know the Lord but you're going through a tough time right now. Ask

the Lord to give you the courage and the choice to rejoice.

Father, today, thank You for Your Word. Thank You that it is clear. It is relevant. It applies to

our lives. It helps us. Lord, encourage us this week as we meditate on this passage. In Jesus'

name. Amen.

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