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· If you are experience Déjà vu, bro. Jacob did speak out of this chapter last month; I just figured I’d correct a few things… J
o Nah, just kidding, Bro Jacob delivered an excellent message on dealing with trials and temptations, how they can teach us patience and work maturity in us.
o I did get scared a little bit that I’d have to revisit my topic for this morning, but fortunately Bro. Jacob got the ball rolling in this fabulous book and I’d like to pick up where he left off.
· I don’t want to take much time this morning. Pastor’s not here, so if you don’t tell him I let you out a little early today, I won’t either.
o Actually, I told Pastor I appreciated him setting the table for me on Sunday in his morning message in his sermon on Faith.
§ I thanked him for making a couple of points I was planning on making this morning, but now I don’t have to, and my message is cut down from an hour long down to only 55 minutes. J
· I would like for us to discuss this morning a very simple, but important thought.
o That word simple, I used to have a Sunday school teacher who used to tell us that, “The Christian life is simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.”
o Isn’t that true with a lot of things in life?
§ You want to make money in life? Work hard, make money, and spend less than you make.
§ You want to become educated? Spend more time reading and learning than hobbying.
§ You want to lose weight? It’s simple, eat fewer calories than you burn in a day.
§ You want to get fit? Discipline yourself to a rigorous exercise regimen fueled by healthy eating.
o What I would like to talk to you about today, just like physical fitness, is a simple concept, but that doesn't mean it’s easy.
§ Otherwise we wouldn’t need to be talking about it this morning
§ And James wouldn’t need to be addressing it here with his audience.
· Before we look at our text, allow me to give you a very brief outline of James up to where we will begin reading.
o In , we have a standard greeting for an epistle at that time, but it’s very short and James gets right to the point in…
o V.2 – 18, where James provides some comfort, reassurance, and exhortation to his audience that were most likely dealing with such hardships to respond to the trials in the right way.
§ As bro. Jacob reminded us a few weeks ago, while Satan desires to use them to pervert and weaken the Christian…
§ God desires to use these trials to purify us and strengthen us
§ It is from God that we receive every good and perfect gift (V. 17).
o Now, verse 19, here I’d like to slow down and for us to take a look at the text.
· V. 19-20:
o James is preparing his audience for what he is about to share with them
§ He challenges them to listen to what he has to say
§ To hear him out.
§ To not become angry with what he is about to challenge them with.
o He reminds them that becoming angry, I interpret it narrowly here as him referring to what he is about to tell them, does not result in righteousness that is from God.
· V. 21:
o James challenges his audience to do a sin check; make sure you are spiritually prepared for what the Word of God is trying to teach
o Once prepared, receive it with meekness
§ Be a sponge, be Velcro, duct tape.
§ Be receptive to the truths God is conveying through His Word
· V. 22
o Hearing the Word is essential, but not sufficient.
o Show me someone who is not busy “doing” for God, and I’ll show you somebody who has fallen into the trap of self-deception.
§ These are often they whose view of their own sanctification is skewed
§ Often, those who are not busy being doers are deceived into thinking they are right and others around them are wrong
· Pastor Dan, the most critical church member is usually the one “doing” the least around the church.
· V. 23-25
o We’re familiar with this comparison:
o Gentlemen, most of us looked in the mirror this morning, not to admire ourselves for our good looks, but to do something about what we saw
o Men, when we respond correctly to the Word, when we read it, when we hear it, God promises blessing! His blessing!
§ God’s blessings can take on many forms, including trials that are meant to help us grow as James reassures his readers in the first part of this chapter.
· V. 26-27: Now we’re getting to the heart of what I want to discuss this morning. If you’ll allow me to, I’d like to lead us on a brief study of the next few verses and then into chapter 2, and then finish up with some practical thoughts and self-examining questions we can ask ourselves, both individually, and collectively as a church body.
o James sets up his readers for the next 2 chapters of his epistle here, following what’s called a chiastic structure.
§ In V. 26, we have a foreshadowing of what is addressed in chapter 3. (Hallmark of a spiritual person)
§ In V. 27, we have an introduction to what is addressed in chapter 2.
· If you are looking for a life verse as a Christian, this is it!
· James is telling us exactly what God is looking for in the Christian life
o A constant, daily striving for sanctification.
o Serving others in selfless love
· I want to come back to V. 27, but let’s jump down to 2:14, as James has more to say on this matter of being a doer of the Word, and not a hearer only. Vv. 14-26
When’s the last time we checked our spiritual vitals? Is our faith a dead faith, or a living faith? How can we know?
Theology behind faith and works
· What it’s not saying
o Salvation requires works
· Take Abraham for example:
· What it is saying
o James in these verses is not contradicting Paul. Paul, in and , is explaining how the sinner is justified, given a right standing before God; James, on the other hand, is writing about how the saved person proves that salvation before others. People have no right to believe that we are saved if they do not see a change in our lives. A sinner is saved by faith, without works (), but true saving faith leads to works (). Being a Christian is not a matter of what we say with the lips; it involves what we do with the life.
§ Warren W. Wiersbe, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1992), 724.
o Paul words it in as, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
Practical Application behind Faith and Works
· How is your Spiritual Fitness?
o In other words, “You even lift, brah?”
o For a weight lifter, there are two key components:
§ Proper nutrition
§ Proper exercise routine
o Spiritual fitness works the same way
§ You have to be both a hearer AND a Doer
§ The Bible refers to itself as spiritual nutrition, (As newborn babes…)
· Pastor often refers to this church as a well-taught church, or, for our purposes, as well-fed church (this is true!)
· However, if all we are doing is fueling ourselves with spiritual nutrition, what happens is that we become spiritually fat!
o It’s like chugging a bunch of protein shakes without actually working out! You can get fat off that stuff!
· In the same way, we are commanded to work out our faith
o We must be doers of the Word, and not hearers only
Couple of Questions:
1. How would you classify your faith?
a. Is it alive?
b. Is it dead?
c. Is it unfit?
d. How do we know?
i. According to James, a true, living faith is one that produces works.
ii. If your faith is not producing works, something is wrong!
1. There are too many churches filled with so-called believers who are content to fill a pew every Sunday, maybe even every Wednesday, who refuse to lift a finger to serve the Lord in any needed capacity.
2. Oh, they may serve when asked… Pastor forces their hand… but only because they couldn’t come up with a good excuse quick enough.
iii. Ask yourself, how do I react when asked to serve (I have to check myself on this often)?
1. When Pastor Dan comes around asking for a substitute for Children’s church, if you legitimately have to tell him no, is your internal response one of relief that you had a legitimate excuse, or one of regret that you were not able to help fill a need of the body of Christ?
2. Can I park on this thought for a second? We make time for what we prioritize.
e. I’m not questioning anybody’s faith here today.
i. That’s not for me to do.
ii. If I were a betting man, I would bet by the sheer fact that you are in attendance here this morning, that you are exercising your faith.
2. To what extent are you working out your faith (do you even lift, bruh?)?
a. I said I wanted to go back to ; this is one of my favorite verses in the Bible
i. What do the fatherless and the widows both have in common?
1. They are the most vulnerable
2. They have nothing to offer in return for your service
ii. Do we determine how we work out our faith based on what’s in it for us?
1. I am so thankful for my dad, and the example he set for me
a. Earliest memories was him taking me out on door-to-door visitation, usually coordinating with the bus captain who had the bus route in the roughest area
b. He got to the point where he even began to bus-captain a route for our midweek children’s program through the roughest neighborhood around, seeking to minister.
c. For the last 15 years or so, he’s run the food pantry for our church, giving hours every week working to acquire food to be able to distribute to needy families and individuals in his community, who, yes, have spiritual needs, but who can’t focus when you try to give them the antidote for the spiritual needs because they are too busy worrying about how they are going to feed their kids that day.
d. Thank you for being such an example of what God calls Pure religion. I can only hope to be half the man you are
2. Father’s, are we setting similar examples for our sons and daughters, of selfless service to those whom God cares about? Or are we like the examples James references in chapter 2, giving preferential treatment to the rich at the expense of caring for those down and out?
a. Shame on us if we can get on facebook and rant against the government using our tax money for welfare programs, yet pass on the offering plate after every communion and not contribute to the benevolence offering we take up as a church.
b. The nice thing about the command given to us in , is found in v. 13
i. God doesn’t need a superhero Christian for service to him
1. He doesn’t need an eloquent speaker
2. He doesn’t need a seminary educated person
3. He doesn’t need somebody who has been a Christian for at least 10 years
ii. It is God that worketh in us
1. both to will
2. to do of His good pleasure.
iii. So what do we have to do?
1. We have to yield ourselves to Him.
2. Are we giving God enough to work with?
3. Is what we are giving God prepared to be used by Him?
3. Pastor has spent a lot of time and energy preparing our church for a large shift from the usual.
a. Our church leadership is making extensive preparations to lead our church beyond where we are
i. Where we are isn’t a bad thing
ii. But by definition, a growing church (numerically and spiritually) has to be changing; change is directly related to growth
iii. In church planting seminar, one of the few things I actually remember is the quote that, “A church is a living organism, or at least it should be. And all living organisms have on thing in common. They reproduce themselves”
1. Their cells reproduce for continued growth
2. They reproduce themselves in the form of new life
3. Our churches should be the same way
b. Are we fit enough to take on the new challenges?
i. Pastor Phelps is working on an extensive shift in how our church disciples our young people. That’s going to take several people ready to “work-out” to get that accomplished. Will you be ready, to work out your faith?
ii. Pastor Dan is working on a summer soul-winning seminar, and I’m assuming a reorganization of how our church attempts to reach our Jerusalem/Judea. Will we be ready, to work out our faith?
iii. Our church has building needs, this requires giving above and beyond what we have become comfortable giving to the church. Are you ready to work out your faith, by giving to spirit-led causes, giving that requires faith?
c. How sad would it be, if God has given Pastor Arrowood, Pastor Dan, Pastor Brent, Chris, Caleb, how sad would it be if God were to give them a vision to lead our church in these faith projects, yet we were not ready to have our faith worked out, because we have become spiritually fat off of being well fed without ever become Doers. Or even worse yet, our faith is not truly faith at all, but instead is a dead faith.
Do you even lift, bruh? How is your spiritual fitness?
Work out your own salvation. Be a doer of the word, not a hearer only, because faith, without works, is dead!
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