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Crown of Life (James 1:12)

Sermon on 25 April 2021 by Pastor Justin

James 1:12 - “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”


Today, we want to touch on the last instalment of the Crowns of Christians series. There are 4 Crowns of Christians the servants will receive. They are namely the Crown of rejoicing, the Crown of righteousness, the Crown of glory and the Crown of life. Crown in Greek is a metaphor of a prize and reward. It is an eternal blessing and a special gift given to the servants of God. This is an important reward. The book of James is not written by the brother of John. Apostle James is a half brother of Jesus. If you want to learn wisdom in the new testaments, the book of James is regarded as the Proverbs in the New Testament. The half brother of Jesus is very humble and he does not like to name drop. He doesn’t call himself the half brother of Jesus. Instead, he calls himself the bond servant. A servant is someone who takes a salary. A bond servant is someone who sells his whole life to his master. This is something we should remember. James considers himself as a born again Christian. He calls him Lord and not his half brother. After we have served the Lord, we are just an unprofitable servant doing our duty in the name of Jesus, standing in faith and truth. We are the child of the most high God and we are specially chosen. At the same time, we are a bond servant of God.


James 1:1 - “This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to the “twelve tribes”—Jewish believers scattered abroad. Greetings!”


James 1:12 - “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”


James just mapped out a secret to receive the special reward. It is about those who endure and love God. James said that everyone of us will fall into trials and tribulations. We have a fallen nature. All men sin. Your faith will be tested and when it is tested, your perseverance will be strengthened. You are giving patience a chance to grow and develop. The Bible promises us that when patience finishes its work in you, you will lack nothing. If your faith walk is smooth sailing, it is abnormal because the Bible tells us that there will be challenges. We will face challenges because of the love of God and because we are not of the world. If the world loves us, we are no different from the world. You must understand that faith will continue to be strengthened when we face difficulties. The secret to all these crowns of life and blessing is endurance and love under trials. Endurance produces patience. Your faith is stretched. Patience is a divine nature of our God for love is patient, as seen in 1 Corinthians 13. When you have love, you will continue to have patience and will continue to develop the other fruits of the spirit. If you are patient, faith will divide you from the world. It will open up your horizon to see different perspectives and see the grace of God. That faith will produce patience. Patience is love for God is love. When you have love, you will be peaceful and joyful. If you were to just focus on love and self control, the rest of the fruits of the spirit will fall into place. It is a spiritual realm and a biblical principle. Faith without work is dead. Without faith, you cannot please God.


There are 5 Problems faced by Christians. The impatience of Christian when we meet trials. We have all the knowledge but we are not a doer. A tongue which lacks control. From the same mouth, we praise God but we also gossip about our brothers and sisters. Fighting in the church. Focusing too much on wealth.


James 1:12 (AMP) - “Blessed [happy, spiritually prosperous, favored by God] is the man who is steadfast under trial and perseveres when tempted; for when he has passed the test and been approved, he will receive the [victor’s] crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”


The world tells you to give only when you have enough. The Bible tells you to give more than you receive. Come with all joy when we face trials. It is indeed so joyful when your faith is strengthened. Then, you will lack nothing. God blesses you with a different perspective and they will see life in a different manner. You need to let your endurance set in. You need to stand up for that moment. Stand in the truth that God has given us. Resist the temptation. The devil will tempt you but God allows the temptation to test you. It is the goodness of God that we are tested. God is a door opener. God’s plan is the best plan. Revival is not about numbers. It is about your heart and touching the grace of God.


Matthew 5:11-12 - ““God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.”


When we go through difficulties, rejoice. Every situation is preparing you for the next season. If you are not ready in this season, the blessings for the next season will not come. Blessings will pour down if you are ready in the current season. Season comes, season goes. Problem comes, problem goes. We must endure. People who put their trust and hope in the Lord are like trees planted in the riverside. The leaves will always be green. Run in such a way that we will win the heavenly prize. Run with endurance. Jesus endured the cross and the shame. Fix our eyes on Jesus as he is the champion of our faith. Look to Jesus and keep focusing on Him because he is the finisher and author of our faith. Rejoice exceedingly.


James 1:2 - “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.”


Galatians 5:22 - “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,”


You need wisdom to stand firm. Ask without any waiver and double loyalty to God. Let your loyalty be fixed on Christ alone. If you obey Him, keep His commandments. This is what it means to love God. Your doing must be immediate. God wants your availability and willing heart. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good of the lamb. Any form of delayed obedience is disobedience. Don’t throw in the towel in challenges. Blessed is the man who endured temptations. To be envied is the man who stands firm in all the temptations.


Pointers for today:


1. The road to the crown of life is a road of endurance


Everyone has to suffer. But endurance is key. Turn every trial into triumph. Turn every disbelief into the crown of life. Endurance produces character, which produces hope. The hope will not put you to shame. Love is patient. The fruits that we develop are not for us to just keep inside us only. The fruit of the spirit is for people to pluck. When someone misunderstands you, are you able to have the fruit of patience? These people want to pluck your fruits. This is how you use the fruit of the spirit.


Romans 5:3-4 - “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.”


Endurance is having faith in Christ, trusting Him even when all circumstances are negative. Endurance sets you apart from the world. Christian endurance is not giving all out to the end of the day until you become very grouchy and bitter. Some Christians suffer trials but are very bitter in their hearts. This isn’t Christian endurance. Faith, love, joy and patience are the fruits. When you endure, these fruits must come up. When we endure, let’s endure for the glory of God. Great is your reward. You will receive the crown of life. The secret of receiving the crown of life is endurance. The secret of endurance is looking to Christ.


Luke 23:42 - “Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.””


2. Endure all temptations and trials for the glory of God


Devil tempts but God allows the tempting. Some Christians suffer for God and are put in jail. However, some Christians are put in jail for wrongdoings and breaking the law. When they are released, the congregation cannot say that they endured for God. These people didn’t suffer for the glory of God. They suffered for their own lust.


1 Peter 4:15 - “If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs.”


James 1:13 - “And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else.”


God never tempts you, you are the one who tempts yourself. He allows your faith to be tested. Those who sow according to the flesh will meet destruction but those who sow according to the faith meet eternal blessings. When you are tempted, it is because of your own desire. This isn’t suffering for God. If anyone is wrongly accused, you are suffering for the will of God.


3. Endure all temptations and stay faithful to God


All men will fall into temptation because all men fall. Let us be clear and wise. Temptations don’t just come externally. It can come internally, through your own mind. In our local context, external temptation is limited. In Singapore, it is comfortable to preach the gospel boldly. The persecution we receive mainly is internally. We have a dangerous potential for evil thoughts. Focus more on the internal trial of temptations. There are many opportunities for our children to be alone. When you are alone, temptations come in. Dirty and unclean thoughts can come in. Even for someone serving, the thought can come in heavily. If you entertain the thought straightaway, you respond by emotions. You need to respond by faith and not by sight. The devil will come in with more thoughts.


Proverbs 23:7 - “They are always thinking about how much it costs. “Eat and drink,” they say, but they don’t mean it.”


You need to control yourself. It is a deliberate act to do. Paul said you need to pull a stronghold. The war we fight isn’t in the flesh, it’s spiritually. The devil puts these thoughts in you. We can’t stop a bird flying over our head but we can stop a bird nesting on our head. We have to train our body to read the Bible in a disciplined way. This is a battleground not a playground. When you are in the midst of trials, we have to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to wrath. Let patience finish its work. Endure all temptations by obeying and love God. When you have love and patience, you have self control.


1 Corinthians 10:13 - “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”


James 1:5 - “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”


He will provide a way out for you. He will not tempt you to a point you cannot take it. Blessed is the man who endured temptation. I want to be envied because of how I endure trials and tribulations.


Amen.

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