Upside-Down Community: “God Grows Us Through Trials”

Passage: James 1:1-8
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection

Bobby Warrenburg - March 22, 2020

God Grows Us Through Trials

From Series: "Upside Down Community: How the Gospel Reframes Covid-19"

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Sermon Summary

When we’re in the midst of a trial, it’s important to have the right perspective. Christianity gives us a unique perspective on trials. First, Christianity leads us to expect that as Christians, we will face trials. Trials are inevitable, and all of the great characters in the Bible faced them, so we shouldn’t expect to avoid them, nor think that God doesn’t love us when we face them. Second, one of the major reasons God gives trials is to grow us, shaping us into more “complete” and “whole” people. Trials expose what is lacking in us, and if we engage with God, and persevere in the midst of our trials, we will grow, and that process will ultimately bring joy. Finally, God graciously gives us wisdom in the midst of our trials, when we ask him for it. This wisdom is ultimately found in the person of Christ, who himself became our wisdom and entered our trials on our behalf. This makes us want to live for him.

Sermon Outline

  • The Reality of Trials (vs. 2)
  • The Reason for Trials (vs. 3-4)
  • The Resource for Trials (vs. 5-8)

Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide

Re-read the passage (James 1:1-8)

The Reality of Trials (vs. 2)

Q) The word “consider” means we should think deeply about our experiences from the perspective of our Christian worldview & story. What practical steps are you taking this week to get a perspective that’s informed by God? What steps would you like to take?

Q) James tells us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…” Christians are led to expect trials in life. Nevertheless, why do you think trials often catch us off-guard?

Q) What can we do as a Christian community, to be more spiritually, mentally, and emotionally prepared for the reality of trials, before they come?

The Reason for Trials (vs. 3-4)

Q) James tells us to “consider it pure joy” when we face trials, because trials have a way of exposing where we are not yet “mature” or “complete” (vs. 4), and then growing us into more “mature” or “complete” (well-rounded) people. Have you experienced a time in your life when a trial forced you to grow into a more mature or well-rounded person? If so, when?

Q) Can you think of any specific ways in which this COVID-19 trial is exposing areas where you have need for growth and maturity?

Q) What new temptations is this COVID-19 trial exposing you to? (e.g. the temptation to give in to anxiety, or laziness, or impatience with loved ones…)

The Resource for Trials (vs. 5-8)

Q) James tells us “God gives wisdom generously to all without reproach,” when we confidently ask him for it (vs. 5ff). How is God’s attitude towards us different than others who we generally look to for wisdom?

Q) Who have you been looking to most for wisdom, in these past few weeks?

Q) Bobby defined biblical wisdom as “skill in navigating through complex realities in life with God’s wisdom and grace.” Where do you need biblical wisdom right now? (e.g. Wisdom for how to prioritize bonding time with my family, while also having time to re-charge myself or Wisdom in being a diligent employee, while working from home)

Q) Read 1 Corinthians 1:30. What does it mean that “Jesus has become for us wisdom from God…”? How does this impact the way we seek wisdom from God?

Additional Application Questions

Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?
Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?

Prayer

Pray for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.

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