Faithlife Sermons

Called to Community Building

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impression: The church is behaving like the world and being ruled by their passion. God's heart is broken over worldly passions. Draw near to God and he will cleanse you.

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Opener: If you had the power to change one problem in the world today, what would that problem be?
If you have your phone with you this morning your can go online to -open the bulletin and and follow along with the message this morning.
Have any of your ever stood piece of lego? It is the most painful thing… it used to happen all the time when our kids were younger… But you know..
Lego’s are still the best toys ever...
… My grandparents had this huge box of legos at their house. When ever we went to visit them- my brother and I would tip the whole box over the floor and it would occupy us for hours… We still have a box full of legos at home and Pam’s kids that she cares for do the exact same thing… they love them.
Legos are tiny marvels of engineering - you can build just about anything… The real magic happens when you start making connections…you start with an idea and then start finding the right pieces and connectors— sometimes you have scavenge through the pile to find the right piece..
We are a-lot like legos when it comes to our relationships … Each of us has an number of open connectors and capacity for relationships…
Some of our connectors are full and others are still open… When it comes to the local church.. the real magic happens in when we begin to make connections with each other …because all of these little connections form one community… and God loves community..
God himself exists in community - God by nature is a Triune God…God the Father, God the Son and God Holy Spirit three separate persons yet one essence working perfectly together in harmony —
When God created Adam, He found Adam all alone and said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him" (Genesis 2:18).
God created man and woman to be in community together, then to create families and live together in community.... for the purpose of bearing the image of and reflecting the three-in-one God.
We have this conflict… you see
we are created for community but at the same time we live in one of the most individualistic societies in the world…
We have grow up to believe that you are because of who you choose to be,
you are who you determine yourself to be, you are who you seek to be and make an effort to be, you make yourself who you are.
But do you know what is interesting is that most all social scientists tell us differently --- That we are in fact products of our families, our culture…
They tell us tell us (we don’t like to hear this) THAT our beliefs are much more a product of relationships than they are of our own rationality. In other words we tend to find beliefs to be the most plausible if they are articulated by people you like and who like you and who you admire and who admire you.
Therefore, to a very great degree, your beliefs are the product of not your thinking and your reasoning but your relationships.
We see this in universities students take on the thinking of professors and faculty that they admire.... We tend to become like the people that we surround ourselves with… this is not necessary a bad thing...
Not only do we grow in community but we are happier in community..
Studies show that if you have five or more friends with whom to discuss an important matter you’re far more likely to describe yourself as “very happy.
Not only does having strong relationships make it far more likely that you take joy in life, but studies show that it also lengthens life (incredibly, even more than stopping smoking), boosts immunity, and cuts the risk of depression.(
James has been talking about living with wisdom…and it is connected to community. At the end of Chapter three James tells us that those who embrace the virtues of wisdom...being peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy, impartial…sincere… Will be sowing seeds of peace..
James 3:18 ESV
And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
1. James tells us that a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.(James 3:18) Do you have an example of where you have seen the harvest of something you have sown?
In other words the gift of wisdom builds a community… Wise communities are intentional in the sowing the right kind of seeds… One of the laws of nature is that you harvest the same kind of seeds that you sow into the ground… sow seeds of peace you are going to reap a harvest of peace....
In Chapter 4 we find that the church is struggling to function as a community… There is a lot of gossip and backbiting ...things are being said and people are being hurt and its causing disunity..
James is a practical guy…and he doesn’t pull any punches...He just says it like it is.... I was thinking that James being the half brother of Jesus showed some pretty similar traits when it came to dealing with conflict…
James starts with another one of his rhetorical questions.
James 4:1–2 ESV
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.
T/S James gives the first step to being a Community Builder… peace maker..

1. Uncover the source of destructive behavior.

James wants us the readers to think about what breaks community? What causes break down in communication between a husband and wife? What causes the loss of a friendship? What is causing conflicts...
James describe the conflicts as quarrels and fights. What is the distinctions between these two words?
Quarrels means wars and contention… you could say wars are feuds that last a long time… like an ongoing war… and Fights are more smaller battles....possibly conflicts that keep on reoccurring… The same thing keeps on coming up...
James want to get the source of the problem...and asks where do the come from? That’s a great question… Often if we ask the right question we get the right answer… Let’s take a moment and think and do a little experiment… think about your last conflict. What happened? Where did that conflict comes from?
James answers his question — with a question… Where do these conflicts come from?? Don’t they come from the passions that are with in you?
The word for passions comes from the word hedone… we get the word hedonists... What it means here is you please yourself. You live a life of self-pleasing. You want to please yourself. Your needs are more important than the people around you, and that’s all it takes.
There is a connection between chapter one (1:14) where James says that no one should say they are tempted by God… but rather temptation takes place when one is driven by ones own desires --- there is that life cycle where desires is fully grown it gives birth to sin… In other words it’s our own passions and drivenness that can cause relational barriers..
“Self centeredness is at the center of every failed relationship”
2. James tells us that quarrels and wars come from our own desires and passions. How might our need to control and desires hinder relationships? How should Christians handle disagreements correctly? (Matt 18)
James is a linear thinker… Look at where it is leading… vrs 2 you desire and do not have …so you murder… you covet and cannot obtain.... so you quarrel and fight ...
These Unfulfilled desires — not getting our way.... ultimately leads to disharmony and a breakdown in community..
Now when James says it leads to murder… he is using hyperbole - He is exaggerating. They are not literally murdering each other… but this is where selfishness goes… if you follow selfishness to its conclusion… it starts with putting yourself ahead of others…and ends with murder..
The underlying issue is THAT OFTEN CONFLICTS COME OUT OF OUR need to control…
There so much fear associated of LOOSING Control.. We often think about what we would loose something if we let go… and so we hold even tighter… or we go to the other extreme and simply give up..
Control is an area we all struggle with to some degree.
The study by found 61% of Americans feel at least one aspect of their lives is out of control. The top three priorities among respondents were personal health, household matters, and finances.
One company official says 4 in ten people aged 18 to 44 admit they have trouble controlling their finances.
—AP, November 3rd, 2000. Illustration by Jim L. Wilson
One one hand we struggle to maintain control… and the other is that we are not as in control as we think we are.
The truth is that control is really an illusion. No one really has complete control of their health. We may feel we have some degree of control in areas such as our job or financial matters. Ultimately, we control very little in life.
True freedom comes with simply letting go --- But when we do that we are inviting more joy, freedom, peace, connection and support.
We have all heard it said, “Let Go and Let God.” David said it like this in ..
Psalm 46:10 ESV
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
When we let go… we are saying God you are in control
James tells us that our need to control can spill over into the Spirtual life… One of the way that our need to control comes through is through our lack of prayer.. James 4:2c
“You do not ask and so you do not receive.”.
Prayerlessness is a sign that I need to be in Control… I don’t need to pray because --- I’m in charge… Ive got this God…
Anther way we take control is Praying with the wrong motives
James 4:3–4 ESV
You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
3. How might trying to be in Control hinder our prayer lives? James 4:3 Why is letting go of control so difficult for us?
4. James calls believers who continue to live like the world Adulterous — why would he use that analogy?
When it comes to prayer… You do not have because you do not ask with the right motives… Even our prayers tend to be manipulative… to have control — Spend it on your pleasures..
Our need for control goes back to this wisdom from below..where we value power, possessions, popularity...
James tells us that there is no room for worldliness… in fact sometime Christians behave worse then the world… People in the world demonstrate more of the fruits of the spirit… .. Division and disunity… to be honest that is where we get hit the hardest by the enemy… cause us to believe lies about each other..
James hits hard… you can’t soften the blow — He calls them adulterous people… I thought I would find a softer word in the greek… do you know what it means in the greek… the same thing… basically means a prostitute… tough love…here… James is talking their double mindedness.... being in two minds.. two… souls… lacking in authenticity --- calling themselves Christians but behaving like the world - The world functions with controlling things and people… it’s using others to my own means… Friendship with the world makes us an enemy of God… Adultery means being unfaithful to God..
T/S These are hard saying… not easy to take in… But sometimes the hard things have be brought up.... There is Good reason why we need to being contentious and stop trying to control… and it has to do with the Holy Spirit…
James 4:5–6 ESV
Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
T/S James gives steps to being a Community Builder… peace maker..
1. Uncover the source of destructive behavior.

2. ReDiscover the depth of God’s love.

James asks another Question… Suppose God had no purpose when he says in his word...
“He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?
To yearn means to desire strongly or persistently…it not a negative but a righteous jealousy… Just like their is anger that leads to sin --- but there is also a righteous anger… we see that when Jesus cleared the temple… Jesus said be angry and don’t sin. There is a Holy Jealousy… that Comes out of the Depth of God’s love..
It is an appropriate kind of jealously that desires the best for that person… God wants the best for us… His jealousy is connected to our sonship…God has placed his spirit inside of us that calls out Abba Father… God longs for those who he has redeemed…
5. James tells us that “He (God) yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”. Why might our actions provoke God’s Jealousy? What does this tell us about God’s love towards us?
As parents we can understand this concept of Jealous love… When I children get involved in the wrong things… wrong crowds… poor decisions…
we know what is good for them....In a sense our Jealousy comes our of our deep love and affection…
We know we can’t control our Children we just want them to make good and wise choices with their lives…When we walk with one foot in Christ and the other in the world --- there is inconsistency in our lives…
James calls it double mindedness.. and really this kind of thinking or living is the he outward manifestations of this inward rebellion…
We are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit -
Romans 8:14–15 ESV
14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
Both wisdom and the Holy Spirit - have been endowed upon the Believer… The HS role is to lead you into wisdom… … The Holy Spirit is a person — when we walk in rebellion he is grieved.... James tells us that there is a choice that we can make… Remember He is talking to Christians… those who know what they ought to do… They know the truth… they have the wisdom… but are choosing to ignore truth… I can read a speed sign and ignore it… we ignore warning signs all the time… When the check engine light comes on… we ignore it...
James says that God will oppose the proud… That’s a warning… When we continue in sin and disobedience… We are opposing God…
God opposes the Proud…but gives grace to the humble
David’s prayer for mercy after his sin with Bathsheba is recorded in psalms 51.. David prays for mercy… according to God’s steadfast love… according to his abundant mercy… David says blot out my transgressions… wash me thoroughly and cleanse me from my sins… Why?
Psalm 51:4 ESV
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
David realized that even though his sin was against Bathsheba and Uriah… His sin was ultimately against God… It is a truth that maybe we have overlooked today… God oppose the proud… Maybe we are coming up against barriers… and not sure why… When God stopped Saul… “Why do you kick against the goads.’ Saul being being a Zealot didn’t realize that he was opposing God....
But at same time to the repentant… to those who humble themselves before God… God gives us more grace…The word more — means megas or greater than.. Why do we need Mega Grace?
D. A Carson says
People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise...
We sing the Hymn Marvelous Grace… Grace Grace God’s grace… Grace that is greater than all our sin… More or mega grace — means their is no sin that you and I can commit that is outside of his grace… Romans 5:20 Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,,
Principle James is giving is that Pride brings opposition — (it sets up a road block)and humility (frees us up) brings in Blessings.
T/S We embrace God’s love by turning back towards him… James tells us..
James 4:7–8 ESV
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
T/S James gives steps to being a Community Builder… peace maker..
1. Uncover the source of destructive behavior.
2. ReDiscover the depth of God’s love.

3. Recover your Relationship with God.

When our vertical relationship with God is not right it impacts our relationships with others.
There are key words that James uses when it comes to recovering our relationship with God.
6. James tells us the way to recover our relationship with God is to Submit to God, Resist the Devil, Draw near to God. Why do you think that this would be necessary in the context of community building?
Bonus: What one thing you can do this coming week that would build community?
1. Submit
ourself to the Lordship of Christ
The Gr word for submit is hyotasso which means to place yourself under someone… it is recognizing authority.. It is saying that God is the Highest authority in your life… The opposite of submission is resistance…
Now, sometimes God is placing something on our hearts… forgive someone… repent of an action… We know the truth.... but instead of submitting to God we become resistant…
2. Re sist
the Devil and he will flee
There is nothing wrong with resistance as long as you are resisting the right things… The enemy is often tempting us towards worldliness… He does this through us questioning God’s love for us… This is one of the great principles of Spiritual warfare… We need to resist the enemy… and He will flee… The enemy does not like it when we use the name of Jesus...
3. Draw Near
to God -
a. Cleansing your hands -
b. purifying your heart- double minded
c. Weep - godly sorrow leads us to repentance....
4. Humble yourself - to be reduced in rank… be humbled allow God to humble you.
In the book of Luke 15 ff Jesus tells the parable about the prodigal son — the youngest son took his inheritance and left his family… He obviously wasn’t ready and after a short time spend all his money on reckless living… It wasn’t long until He lost everything and struggling to survive..…He longed to eat the pigs feed but wasn’t even allowed that..The Bible says that “He came to himself.” --- He regained came to his senses… I need to return to my father and repent… He would say to his father — I have sinned agains heaven and before you… no longer worthy to be called your son.. treat me as a servant! But when the father say him the Bible tells that the father saw him along way off in the distance… when he saw him he was filled with compassion - ran and embraced him and kissed him.
What is unusual is that culturally the father never run toward his child… it would have been too demeaning… yet the farther ran towards the prodigal as soon as he noticed him… Before He knew that… he planned to come in repentance.... This is God’s love towards us… Even when we making all those wrong choices… Even when we behave like the world.... God is loves us with a jealous love…
There was not one moment that he did not love his Son…He says to his servants bring out the best rob and places a ring on his finger… symbol of total restoration.
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