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Weekly Devotion | A Generous God for a Difficult Trial

This devotional is based on C.J. Mahaney's sermon, A Generous God for a Difficult Trial, given on February 7, 2016.

Day 1: Our Desperate Need — James 1:5

Quotes/References:

  • "In seasons of severe trial, Christians have nothing on earth in which to trust, and we are therefore compelled to cast ourselves on our God alone. When our vessel is tilting so far over it is in danger of capsizing, and no human deliverance can avail, we must simply and entirely trust ourselves to the providence and care of God. Happy storm that wrecks us on such a rock as this! O blessed hurricane that drives the soul to God and God alone!" Charles Spurgeon
  • "Not till we have become humble and teachable, standing in awe of God’s holiness and sovereignty, acknowledging our littleness, distrusting our own thoughts and willing to have our minds turned upside down, can divine wisdom become ours." J.I. Packer

Questions to Consider:

  • Doesn’t it seem odd that James identifies wisdom as a Christian’s greatest need in trial? Why not comfort, strength, or hope? What are the effects of wisdom that might explain why James chose it?
  • Read 2 Corinthians 2:9-10. What does Paul say that he gains through his weaknesses? Is he ultimately joyful or sad about the state of his weakness before God?
  • What personal weaknesses are you most conscious of?

Prayer Recommendations:

  • Read Philippians 2:1-10. Spend time thanking God for Jesus! He was willing to become weak and small for our sake. Now we have been given access to more power than we could possible imagine! (Eph. 1:19-21)
  • Ask God to grant you a greater awareness of your need for wisdom.

 

Day 2: What is Wisdom?—James 1:5

Quotes/References:

  • "Wisdom is the means by which the godly can both discern and carry out the will of God." Douglas Moo
  • "The effect of the gift of wisdom is to make us more humble, more joyful, more godly, more quick sighted as to his will, more resolute in the doing of it and less troubled than we were at the dark and painful things of which our life in this fallen world is full…a wisdom that will find expression in a spirit of faith and a life of faithfulness." J.I. Packer

Questions to Consider:

  • Read Job 28:28. How does the author define wisdom?
  • As CJ reminded us, James 1:5 is often generalized beyond its context. The wisdom that James is prescribing was specifically intended for Christians undergoing a season of trial. What specific trials in your life might James’ words best speak to?

Prayer recommendation:

  • Read 1 Corinthians 1:24. Again, take a moment to praise God for his Son! If true wisdom is found in knowing and fearing God, then the only way that we can ever come to have wisdom is in Jesus. He himself is Wisdom.
  • Ask that God would give you a greater desire to know Jesus. By knowing him we come to know God, for in him the fullness of God is revealed, the invisible made visible!

 

Day 3: Our Wildly Generous God! — James 1:5

Quotes/References:

  • "No one attribute expresses all that is true about God, but each expresses something about him that is true all the time. Giving is not the whole truth but it is ceaselessly true. He is more than giving, but he’s always giving. This is how the giving God gives--with a selfless, total concern for us and with an exclusive preoccupation as if he had nothing else to do but to give and give again." Alec Motyer

Questions to Consider:

  • Read Hebrews 4:15-16. How should we come to God’s throne? What word does the author choose describe God’s throne? What does he promise we will find there?
  • What do you feel when you read that God doesn’t rebuke us for asking him for wisdom? Does it draw you closer to him?

Prayer recommendation:

  • Reread Hebrews 4:15-16. Take time to thank God for our Lord Jesus. It is he who has thrown open the doors of God’s grace and favor toward us forever and ever!
  • Ask that God would give you great confidence in his desire to grant you wisdom, so that you may more readily ask him for it.

 

Day 4: A Walking Civil War — James 1:6-8

Quotes/References:

  • "The vivid expression ‘a man two souled’ (Greek) denotes the doubter’s divided attitude. He is a walking civil war in which trust and distrust of God wage a continual battle against each other. He is the pattern for Bunyan’s 'Mr. Facing both ways.'" Edmond Hiebert

Questions to Consider:

  • As CJ said, many of us are tempted to think that unless our faith is flawless when we request wisdom, God won’t hear us. Do you yourself struggle with that lie? Do you know someone else with that struggle?
  • How can you use the truth of God’s generosity to combat this lie when you pray? Is there someone you know who would be encouraged by this truth?

Prayer recommendations:

  • Read Proverbs 1:7. Ask God to help you to believe that he who he says he is (that is, to have faith) in order to foster a fear of the LORD in your heart.
  • Ask God to show you where your requests for wisdom are coupled with a resistance to delight and submit to the wisdom you are asking him to reveal. Pray for a heart of faith that is pre-decided to believe the wisdom that God reveals to you simply because it is God’s wisdom.

 

Questions for Group Discussion:

  • Proverbs 1:7 says that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. James 1:6 emphasizes the importance of faith in God when asking for wisdom from God. What is the connection between fear of God, faith in God, and receiving the wisdom of God?
  • What is the connection between faith in God (1:6), the wisdom of God (1:5), and endurance in trials (1:3)?
  • From your current understanding of the scriptures, share with the group what you believe the Word shows us as some of God’s wisdom with respect to trials. Why might it require faith in God to produce a heart that is willing to receive that wisdom?
  • What is an area in your life in which it is hard to believe that God is always a giving God?
  • Let's take time to pray and declare our trust in the generosity of God and the faithfulness of God to keep his promises. Let's then ask for God's wisdom for our specific trials as well as the good fruit of endurance.