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Text:  James 1:19-27

Big Idea:  An authentic relationship with God will change your life.

Purpose:  To inspire people to lives of service.


How does Christianity differ from a philosophy?

            Philosophers – try to answer the BIG questions

                        -How did we get here?

                        -What is the meaning or purpose of life?

                        -What are the big problems in out world?

                        -How can those problems be corrected?

            The Christian faith offers answers to those questions

            Philosophy – gives a view for how one looks at the world

            Christianity – has its own worldview


            Philosophy – talks of theories and concepts that are difficult to grasp

                        -causing some people to think it is a waste of time

            Christianity – talk of theology, attributes of God

                        -and some respond wondering why that knowledge is necessary

            Philosophy – literally translated means “lover of wisdom”

Is Christianity more than a philosophy?

                        -or is it just a good set of ideas?

            I hope we can agree – there are ideas that are part of Christianity

                        -there is a philosophy of life, or view of the world

                        -that comes with following Christ

            My question – Is Christianity just another philosophy?

This month – focusing on spiritual disciplines

            -may seem like a philosophical pursuit

            -we have talked about prayer, fasting, meditation

                        -includes scripture reading, devotions, keeping a journal, worship

            -today, we conclude our        

Sermon Body:

Movement 1:  *The life of faith has two extreme dangers.

1.  Dismissing Christ with rigid obligations.

            What does this look like?

                        -trying to fulfill the bare minimum

                                    -list of don’t’s

                                    -avoid swearing, stealing, and I’ll be OK

                                    -go to church on Sunday – AM and PM

                                    -Read my bible every day

            Disciplines – are designed to draw us nearer to God

                        -When they become legalism

                                    -they begin to drive a wedge

            There are some for whom

                        -Prayer – is a daily obligatory drudge

                                    -mealtime, bed time, in church

                                                (this was my error in childhood)

                        -And then – we pray to get it over

                                    -to fulfill obligation

            To be fair – I would rather have a person pray from obligation

                        -than not pray at all

                        -saying they don’t want to – going to be authentic

                                    Discipline will sometimes be a struggle

            However, If our prayer, discipline, service

                        -is a way of dismissing God

                        -and we somehow believe we satisfy Him in this way

                        -we are missing the joy that we can have in Christ

2.  Taking Christ for granted by ignoring His Lordship.

            We can emphasize the Grace of Christ – and abuse that truth

            -believing that simply intellectually agreeing with the Bible is faith

            -and that we do not need to be changed by the gospel

                        -in any way

            Such treatment of Christ’s grace takes Him for granted

            Jesus came – calls us to Himself

                        -and many today – call Jesus friend and Savior

            But when Jesus came

                        -He came with a plan

                                    -plan to build a Kingdom

            If you are going to follow Him

                        -can’t just call Him friend

                        -without buying into His plan

            Jesus even said – you are my friend if you obey me

                        -not a peer relationship

                        -we can’t pick and choose when to follow

The book of James is written to people who might be prone to take Christ for granted.

Movement 2:  *The practice of Spiritual Disciplines is not limited to thoughts and ideas.

-and many may think it is

-meditation, prayer, reading - all have an inner focus

-but that inner focus is designed to produce an outward change

*Change is not well received in our world today.

-people generally want people to accept them as they are

-and it is a nice sentiment

-and good to be loving to all

God is loving - loves you just the way your are

-but God does not settle to leave you the way you are

-He has a plan to make you holy - perfect

And if you come to Him in Confession - you want this

-you acknowledge that there is something amiss about you

The thoughts and ideas of Christianity change your life

            Cadet Code:

Reverent, Obedient, Compassionate, Consecrated, Trustworthy, Pure, Grateful, Loyal, Industrious, Cheerful

            It’s a good code – is it enough to know the words – for this to be meaningful?

                        -go home after Cadets – yell at parents – fix me something to eat

            If a Cadet does that – he may know the code

                        -but he is not living by it

                        -and you wonder if he is gaining much from being in Cadets


                        Christian – can know the Bible, understand ideas, argue theological fine points

                                    -If I have not love – I am nothing

                                    -Furthermore – that love – not just a feeling

                                    -Love is evident in actions

                                                -feeding the hungry

                                                -clothing the naked

                                                -visiting the sick

                                                            -This is what Christ sees as love

                                                            -this is what He will mention at the judgment day

Movement 3:  *True faith will necessarily lead to a life of service.

-can't help it

-focus on God - will learn to value what He values

-He values other people

*Progression of Service:

1.  Submit in obedience to His command.

            At first, obedience to Christ might be nothing more that submission

                        -there are times when we must submit – not a desire, but obey

                        -your first day on a new job – you don’t understand why

                                    -you merely follow instructions

                                    -and in following, you can be productive

                                    -eventually, through the process of repeating, you learn

            As we follow Christ – there will be times – just rote obedience

                        -does not mean that there will never be joy

                        -in fact, the more you mature, the more you find joy

                                    -even though there will be remnant of sadness until Christ returns

2.  Way of growing closer to God

            -As you serve, you see how God gives strength

                        -Youth in Trinidad last year

            -As you serve, you learn of God’s love for others

                        -He makes you aware of His concerns

                        -you see His hand at work

            -You want to grow closer to God

                        Serve – like going to work with your dad

                        -see him in a new light

                        -He is in the business of showing grace and mercy

3.  Overflow of a changed life

                        -As you practice disciplines – life of discipleship

                        -your life will be changed

                                     -sometimes slowly, sudden bursts of insight and joy

                        -Your disposition will change

                                    -as you experience the abundance of God’s presence

                                    -you will rejoice and want to respond with love 

 Action Steps:

            Start practicing Service

                        -as a discipline – offered as a service to God

                        -help someone who is in need

                        -take moments to act kindly

                                    -this is not the center of a Christian life

                                    -but it is the natural outcome


            It is possible to be a philosopher – without being a practitioner

                        -just because you love wisdom, doesn’t mean you live wisely

                        -I have known people with PhD’s – utterly foolish in their life choices

            But if you are a sincere follower of Christ

                        -the ideas change your life

                        -you become like God

                        -joyful in service

            What a gift – joy in service

                        -joy in material runs out

                        -joy in money, no more money

                        -joy in fame – no longer known

                        -Joy in service – always someone to serve

            Experience the joy of serving God

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