(The following are notes from the message preached by Michael Larsen on Sep 9, 2018.)
God's will for every person is that they become mature. Hebrews 6:1 says,“Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God.”
1) Maturity is not age.
2) Maturity is not appearance.
3) Maturity has nothing to do with what you accomplish.
Maturity is attitude. It's your character.
James gives us five marks of maturity.
1. A MATURE PERSON IS POSITIVE UNDER PRESSURE
James 1:2-4 says,“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
The first test of maturity is attitude: how do you handle trials?
2. A MATURE PERSON IS SENSITIVE TO PEOPLE
James 2:1-6: "My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?"
Don't show favoritism. Don't look down on people. Don't judge by appearance. The second test of maturity is love: how do you treat other people?
3. A MATURE PERSON HAS MASTERED HIS MOUTH
James 1:26 says,“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”
James 3:2 says,“We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.”
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
A mature person manages his mouth.
4. A MATURE PERSON IS A PEACEMAKER NOT A TROUBLEMAKER
James 4:1 says,“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?”
James says there are two reasons for conflict.
The firstcause of conflict is selfishness. James 4:3 says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
The second cause of conflict is pride. Proverbs 13:10 says, “Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.”
5. A MATURE PERSON IS PATIENT AND PRAYERFUL
James 5:7 says, “Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.”Patience is a mark of maturity. The only way you learn patience is by waiting.
James 5:11 says, “As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”
There are 4 facts of life from James that will help you with your problems.
FOUR "FACTS OF LIFE" YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. Problems are inevitable.
2. Problems are unpredictable.
3. Problems come in many kinds.
4. Problems are purposeful.
Three purposes of problems in your life:
1) Problems purify my faith.
2) Problems fortify our patience. "...the testing of your faith develops perseverance."
3) Problems sanctify my character. James 1:4 says “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
The Bible says there are two ways that God makes us like Jesus:
1) Through the word of God.
John 17:17 says“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”
2) The second way is through the circumstances of life.
Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
The secret of Romans 8:28 is 8:29: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Why do all things work together for good? In order to make me like Christ.
HOW TO HANDLE YOUR PROBLEMS
1. Rejoice- v. 1 “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.”If you want to know God's will for your life, it's simple. “Give thanks in all circumstances.”It does not say “Give thanks FOR all circumstances.” It says “Give thanks in all circumstances.” 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.
2. Request- Pray. What do you pray about when you have problems? v. 5 “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.”Why should I pray for wisdom? So you won't waste the opportunity to grow.
3. Relax. Trust God to know what's best for your life. Co-operate with His purpose. That's called faith. Verse 6says “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” Relax. Let God work.
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.