How do you thrive in the midst of chaos?
OCTOBER 6, 2021
How do you thrive in the midst of chaos? We’ll talk about it on this edition of Key Life.
This is Key Life. We are here to communicate the freeing truth that God’s not mad at his children. Steve invited our friend Pete Alwinson to teach us all this week. Pete is a former pastor, founder of ForgeTruth.com and the author of Like Father, Like Son.
Thank you Matthew. And again, this is Pete Alwinson sitting in for Steve Brown. We’re giving him just a little bit of a rest and so thankful for Steve and his ministry. You know, he’s been my mentor for years and years and years, and what a privilege to be able to sit in his chair today and talk to you. We’re in James chapter one. So, if you have your Bibles, you might want to open them up. We’re talking about the subject of trials. We started yesterday diving deeply into the reality of what trials are like. And we said, from James chapter one verses one and following, that trials are defined for us in two different ways. Trials are defined as those things that hit us from outside, those negative events that hit us from outside ourselves, but they can also be temptations that arise from within. So, that’s the definition of trials. Trials are those things that happen to us either from without or from within, that are not all that exciting. And then we saw that trials are absolutely inevitable. James says.
Consider it all joy my brothers, when you encounter various trials.
Not if, trials are inevitable, we live in a broken world and there are personal trials, that happen to us because people attacked us. Or there are impersonal trials that happen to us, as well just by living in a broken world. Let me expand on that one more step and say also that there are self caused trials. There are trials that we bring into our own lives. And while it’s true, as one psychologist said, broken people do broken things to others, broken people do broken things to themselves. In fact, in my ministry is mostly to men, men’s groups right now. But man, I hear story after story, they come to me and say, Pete, you won’t believe what I did. And I say, no, I believe it. And, the reality is, is that a lot of times we bring things to ourselves. We bring trials on ourselves. Like my good friend who just got a DUI. I love him. Jesus loves him, but he’s been fighting alcohol for a very long time. And so, he’s brought the loss of his license upon himself and the stresses that it’s put on his family. The young businessman asked the older businessman to mentor him. And he, he said at the first meeting, Hey, listen, how did you become such a great success? And the businessman said, good decisions. And, and the man said, well, then how did you learn to make good decisions? And the businessman said, bad decisions. So often, that’s what happens in our life. What grace can do for us in a powerful way, if we understand that trials come from without and from within, and that they’re inevitable and that they are incredibly diverse. They come at us from so many different angles, from other people, from just living in a broken world and from ourselves. If we understand that, then we can grow. Grace gives us the ability and I love this, to look at ourselves and say, God’s not angry at me. I’m not a failure. I’m God’s beloved son. I’m God’s daughter. But, you know, the definition of insanity is a real thing, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. And so we have to, we have to take our trials and allow the grace to remind us that even though they come from without, and they come from within, that they’re inevitable, and they come at us from all quarters. The reality is grace can enable us to grow and succeed and to become better people. And that’s where we see the functionality of trials. That’s the fourth point that I want to bring up in verses three and four. Here it is.
that the testing of your faith produces endurance and let endurance have its perfect result so that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing.
You know, when I first came to faith in Christ, I wanted to grow and I came across Philippians 1:6, where God said.
That he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
And I thought, you know, this is good. I want to grow. I want to be like Jesus. And I don’t want to be good and I don’t want to be like Jesus, so that God will accept me. I mean, I want to grow because he has accepted me. And that’s what grace does. And I think that’s, what’s behind James emphasis here, is that grace is the energizing power of sanctification. Grace is the energizing force because we are so deeply loved, we want to grow. And how does God do it? Well, one of the main functional means that God uses is trials. To help us grow, he’s got to put us through some pain. Now, nobody wants pain. If you really like pain, then we need to talk. You probably need some counseling, but, but the gospel gives us the ability to look at trials way differently than anybody else. There’s a clear function for trials. He’s leveraging them in our lives. God is not a child abuser. He uses trials, that take this bad and broken world and begin to build us into great people. But he’s got to give us endurance. He’s got to give us the ability to carry on and to move on and to learn in the midst of suffering. When I was a runner, I realized it was endurance, was so crucial so that I could do more. The stronger I got the further I went meant that the more I could go. And in the same way, with a spiritual trial, with a trial that comes into our life, what God is trying to do, is to give us the ability to see that this is not the end, that this is a means to the end. And that he has a plan to make us grace strong versus grace soft. That’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, in how grace enables us to develop the endurance, in the midst of trials. God wants us to say, alright, this doesn’t define me. And I’ve got to carry on in the midst of this and grow through it. God is never overcome by evil. And I love that, he always harnesses that the bad things in our life, to take us in a good direction. Some of you guys have gone through so much that I don’t even know. Some of you have lost jobs. Some of you have gone through sickness. Some of you had a bad round of COVID and you’re on the other side of it now. And it’s all good. Some of you, some of you, have felt shame by a trial that you went through and what he wants shoot to do. What the father wants you to see, is that your trial, your failure is not your name. It’s not who you are. It doesn’t define you anymore. And he wants us to get some endurance so that we can keep preaching the gospel to ourselves and understand that even in the midst of trials, God’s for us, a hundred percent, for us. I really like reading Erwin McManus. He tells in one of his books about an interaction with his son Aaron. And his son came to him and said, dad, would you purposefully put us in danger? Yes, I answered, of course. Without blinking an eye, his response was simply, that’s what I thought, I was just checking. And I liked that. And it almost seems as though it’s counter-intuitive to our life. That if you love somebody, you would actually put them in danger. But, but if God is trying to build us as strong people, grace strong people who endure trials in a broken world and share his message with people that oppose us and try to live in a way that’s often opposed to the culture. Then, then we have to have endurance and we have to learn, that we can carry on because he’s really, really not angry at us. He’s trying to teach us. Well, trials are important in our lives, but they are conquerable. I love what James says in verse five.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
Well, we’re going to talk a little bit more about this tomorrow, but it’s important to keep in mind that we need to understand that trials are conquerable. There’s a functionality to them. God is using them. He’s not trying to hammer us over the head. He’s not angry at us. He’s trying to develop us. He loves us as we are, but he loves us so much, he doesn’t want to leave us the way we are. He develops us. And so, every one of the trials that you face, every one of the let downs that you face, is an opportunity to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Ah, trials are conquerable. They’re inevitable, they’re diverse, but there’s a functionality to them and they are conquerable, by the grace of God. And that’s why James says. If any of you lacks wisdom, wisdom about what? Of course, I lack wisdom, lack wisdom about the trials. And so, this is the function of our prayer. Lord, why am I going through this? What do you want me to learn? How do you want me to learn it? Where can I grow? What a great prayer that is. Don’t ever forget who you are, preach the gospel to yourself. And take it to heart. Amen.
How do we thrive in the midst of chaos? That is such a relevant question. And hey, surprise, surprise. We find the answer to that question in God’s word. Thank you Pete, for bringing us this wisdom from the book of James. As I’ve mentioned, Pete is with us all this week. And if you’ve missed any of his episodes, you could find them for free right now on keylife.org. And not just Pete’s, but all episodes of Key Life. And you will also find the transcripts for this radio program. And that’s a great feature. If you or someone you know, is hard of hearing, or if you just want to kind of dig into the teaching further. Also at keylife.org, you’ll find our brand new digital magazine, there’s sermons, video versions of Steve Brown Etc, there’s Key Life Connection, even a link to our brand new Key Life app, which is awesome by the way. And all of it is still free, thanks to the generous support of listeners, just like you. If you’d like to donate, just call 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. Or you can mail your donation to
Key Life Network
P.O. Box 5000
Maitland, Florida 32794
If you’re in Canada, mail
Key Life Canada
P.O. Box 28060
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 6J8
Or e-mail Steve@keylife.org. You can charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or of course, now you can just text to give. Just text Key Life to 28950 on your smartphone, and then follow the instructions. Key life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. Both of those organizations assure financial accountability. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.