Weekly Devotion | A Radical Proposal

This devotional is based on C.J. Mahaney's sermon, A Radical Proposal, given on January 31, 2016.

 

Day 1: Accepting our Trials | James1:1-2

Quotes/References:

  • "James is nothing if not realistic: Life is a tale of various trials." Alec Motyer

Questions to Consider:

  • Read Acts 8.1-3. James is writing to “the Dispersion”. Think for a few minutes about those who were dispersed during Saul’s ravaging of the church. What must it have been like to leave all that was familiar in Jerusalem?
  • Read John 16:33 and 1 Peter 4:12. What are Jesus’ and Peter’s expectations regarding the normality of trials in this life?
  • According to Jesus in John 16:33, what gives us the ability to accept regular trials and even to “take heart” in the midst of them?

Prayer Recommendations:

  • Read Revelation 21:4. Trials are the norm in this life, but eternity will be different. Our trials, along with all the other “former things,” will give way to uninterrupted joy! Take a moment to thank God for the ultimate end he is bringing us to.

 

Day 2: Understanding our Trials | James 1:2-3

Quotes/References:

  • "Frankly, many of us would prefer that this passage were not in the Bible. But it may also be one of the most profound and crucial for truly mature Christian living." Craig Blomberg
  • "Embracing trials doesn’t mean we are to pretend they are not trials. It simply means that we are to not let our reactions to them be determined by how they first feel to us." Mark Dever

Questions to Consider:

  • When you fight for a faith-filled perspective on your trials what feelings regularly compete with your knowledge of God?
  • God’s Word is filled with promises that remind us of his good purposes, such as deeper intimacy with God, stronger character, and greater hope. What are some specific good purposes God has already worked in your life through trials? Where can you find these explained in Scripture? 

Prayer recommendation:

  • Read Genesis 50:20. The story of Joseph serves as one of the greatest Biblical examples of God using a long and severe trial to bring about good for a faithful sufferer. Ask God to strengthen your faith, and the faith of another in the church, by his example of faithfulness toward Joseph.

 

Day 3: Wasting our Trials | James 1:4

Quotes/References:

  • "The stakes are high here. Suffering will either leave you a much better person or a much worse one than you were before. Trials and troubles in life, which are inevitable, will either make you or break you. But either way, you will not remain the same." Tim Keller

Questions to Consider:

  • Have you ever wasted a trial? Have you witnessed a wasted trial in someone else’s life? Describe the wrong perspective that you (or they) had on their trial while experiencing it.
  • How can the reminder of James 1.4 give you fresh hope in your current trial?

Prayer recommendation:

  • Read Hebrews 12:7-10. Ask that God would help you to interpret you trials by his Fatherly compassion, and not the other way around. Our Father loves us as his own children and always has good purposes for us.
  • Pray 1 Peter 4:19 for our church. Pray that the Holy Spirit would help us to trust in the faithfulness of God to his good purposes in our seasons suffering, so that we may endure. 

 

Day 4: A Radical Proposal | James 1:2

Quotes/References:

  • "This hard saying by James is really a merciful one, for it teaches us to endure trials in a spirit that will make us feel them least." Alfred Plummer
  • "James is bringing a word of caution. A believer might endure for a while, and then tire of enduring. In this case the desired growth to maturity is halted midway. There has to be a persistency of enduring. Steadfastness must have its full effect. The road is, therefore, hard and long, and the task is unremitting: to endure the first onset of the startling, unexpected trial, and to endure again while it persists, and then to go on enduring. We are called to persistent endurance. But the hard road has a glorious destination for us too: 'that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing.'"Alec Motyer

Questions to Consider:

  • How is it that counting our trials as joy keeps us steadfast in trials?
  • Have you ever heard James 1:2 misinterpreted? Sometimes the phrase “Count it all joy…” is read as if James was saying ”Feel it all joy.” What’s the important difference between these two readings?
  • Describe an experience in which your joy in God was able to carry you through a trial. What specifically about God gave you joy?

Prayer recommendations:

  • Read Romans 5:3-5. When we count our trials as joy, we can do so with confidence. Our God will never let us down; we will never regret the fact that we put our hope in Him. Ask God to give you not only endurance, but also confidence as you face trials.
  • Read Hebrews 12.2-4. Take a moment to praise God for Jesus! His sacrifice for us is our guarantee that our Father will fulfill all our hopes in him.