Retired Pastor Pat Duffin,
High Prairie Christian Centre
When you are having a bad day, does everybody around you have a bad day, too? What are your spiritual weak spots? When under stress does your spiritual walk with God suffer?
Pressure points to where our “pressure points” [weak spots] lurk below the surface until the stress comes and something gives way under the pressure. How do you react when the pressure’s on? What are you like to live with when you are under stress?
Addressed to Jewish Christians dispersed throughout the known world, the Book of James is a letter written to counsel Christians who were afflicted by many problems – some beyond their control and some of their own making. Caught amidst internal competition, strife, and divisions within, and beset by severe persecution and hardships from without, many of the brethren were becoming disheartened. Outward circumstances and inward inclinations were demoralizing the saints.
Underlying all this was a deep-seated spiritual immaturity that left them vulnerable. Many of the brethren were simply failing to live up to what they professed to be.
Now spiritual immaturity is, by no means, a problem unique to the church in its spiritual infancy. Even today’s church, after nearly 2,000 years of sophistication, gives all too ample evidence of spiritual immaturity.
As Warren Wiersbe puts it in his book ‘Be Mature’, “Too many churches are playpens for babies instead of workshops for adults.”
Life is change, and change hopefully means progressive growth rather than regression. Unlike natural growth, spiritual growth is a process that must be provoked as well as nurtured and cultivated. Somehow, there has to be a decision to move on from the place where we are at, to grow into the person we have the potential to be. Start cultivating a fruit-bearing life that will have meaning and eternal significance.
In the first chapter, James, demonstrates how both trials and temptations can become the instruments in God’s hands which can train and prune our spiritual growth into spiritual maturity – if we let Him. That doesn’t necessarily mean God deliberately puts us into painful situations. Life has a way of doing that on its own.
But, what do you do when life hands you one of those unpleasant surprises? What do you do when all the little things start to pile up and the pressure’s on? How can these things be turned to spiritual profit instead of spiritual liability?
Attitude determines action and outlook determines outcome. Therefore, James offers us three attitudes to cultivate when confronted with outward trials and inward temptations.
The first thing we can do to experience positive gain in adversity is to count it “joy” when we fall into trials. [James 1:9-11]
The second thing we can do is cultivate patience, or endurance, when we fall into trials. [James 1:3-4]
The third thing we can do is to covet and ask for wisdom from God when we fall into trials, and God will give us understanding. [James 1:3-4]
Each of these attitudes seems unnatural and impractical. Yet these are God’s solutions to our pressure points.
Therefore, I invite you to study the Book of James verse by verse, chapter by chapter, asking God to reveal to you the pressure points He especially wants to work on with you. There is power in His Word and as you study it, you will find God moving you forward in understanding and in bringing positive change into your life.
And take a new attitude and purpose with you when you go to church this Sunday. It can change your life!