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James Series 02 - Be the First-fruits

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Reading: James 1:9-18
He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. James 1:18 (NIV)

I.   Live by new Values

     A.  Let the lowly glory in their High place

           1.  Let the humble “take pride”?!

                 a.  Yes! God lifts up the humble.

                 b.  We are supposed to boast about what the Lord has done in us.

                 c.  If it’s the Lord, it ain’t braggin’

           2.  Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 5:3)

                 a.  The poor in Spirit, the humbled, are in the high position of inheriting the Kingdom of God!

                 b.  Even if our present circumstances are humble, our future is glorious!

           3.  Though we are humble, we are treasured

                 a.  We find fulfillment in God’s love for us

                 b.  Our personal sense of value–our pride– is that God loves us so much!

     B.  Let the rich glory in their Low place

           1.  Don’t be fooled by temporary privilege

                 a.  Wealth and the power that goes with it are temporary.

                 b.  This seduction is powerful and empty.

           2.  Adopt a servant’s heart.

                 a.  Let we who have find our sense of value (pride) in our low positions.

                 b.  Let us embrace the place of a servant.

           3.  Though we have treasures, we are humble

                 a.  Don’t confuse having treasures with being treasured!

                 b.  Knowing the lie of wealth, we are free to live by what is of lasting value.

                 c.  No one’s wealth outlasts their lifetime.

II.  Resist the evil Within

     A.  Stand True in the test

           1.  We are put on trial daily by false values

                 a.  Lies about money, things, fulfillment, fun, sex, priorities, wholeness.

                 b.  The unspoken values in our world seem to have the most power.

                 c.  Every day we are tempted to trade in the Truth for half truths.

           2.  Let’s make our stand on true values

                 a.  Why settle? Why compromise?

                 b.  There is no better life than a life of faithfulness to God and His people.

                 c.  Prioritize nothing above loving God and our neighbor as our self.

           3.  Even if it feels like a sacrifice, standing true is rewarded with a victorious life!

                 a.  It’s not all sweet songs & gentle smiles!

                 b.  It’s hard swimming against the current.

                 c.  It looks and feels like giving up some good stuff–even though it really isn’t!

     B.  God doesn’t provoke Failure

           1.  God isn’t out to make us stumble.

                 a.  God isn’t into entrapment.

                 b.  He doesn’t try to trip us up just to us prove how weak we are.

                 c.  He isn’t out to get us.

           2.  God doesn’t tempt us

                 a.  Whatever He lets into our lives, He isn’t tempting us by those events.

                 b.  It’s impossible for God to entice us with evil–He has no evil to do that with!

                 c.  God wants us holy, not sin stained.

     C.  We are tempted by our old Selves

           1.  No one to blame but ourselves!

                 a.  When we’re tempted, we’re tempted to blame it on something else.

                 b.  But that’s dishonest! And we know it.

           2.  Temptations are temptations because they hook our desires.

                 a.  What we don’t want doesn’t tempt us.

                 b.  What looks tempting, looks that way because it hooks the evil within.

                 c.  We are tempted because on one level, we want to be.

           3.  Death is the grandchild of evil desire.

                 a.  Our foolish evil desires birth sin.

                 b.  We let that sin grow and mature.

                 c.  That sin gives birth to death.

III. Receive God’s good and perfect Gifts

     A.  All Good comes from God

           1.  All that is good and perfect and beautiful.

                 a.  From the beauty of nature, to the beauty of love between two people.

                 b.  All that is upright and honorable.

                 c.  Everything that works and makes sense

           2.  All that is good within us too!

                 a.  What God does within us is good–he doesn’t do anything but good!

                 b.  So we can boast about our humility!

                 c.  So we can use the gifts He gives

     B.  We are born to a new Life

           1.  God’s greatest good and perfect gift: Life.

                 a.  He promises us everlasting life.

                 b.  He gives us His life now.

                 c.  He gives us life worth living!

           2.  God gives us birth!

                 a.  We need the fresh start of rebirth

                 b.  We are reborn by the word of Truth

                 c.  Death is the child of sin, but we are children of God.

           3.  Since there are no shifting shadows in God, we are reborn to something wonderful!

                 a.  No “rebirth” defects.

                 b.  Our reborn selves are good, even though a part of us still isn’t!

                 c.  Since our rebirth is of God, we know His life is stronger than sin’s death.

     C.  Be the firstfruits of the new Reality

           1.  Members of the early church were the firstfuits of a harvest still being gathered!

                 a.  On one level, James says they are just the beginning of what God is doing.

                 b.  We are still blessed by the first picking!

           2.  And we are the firstfruits of a new creation

                 a.  On another level we are the firstfruits of a whole new creation.

                 b.  We live in the old world, with values from the new–so we don’t “fit in.”

           3.  Let’s live by the values of the new reality.

                 a.  Let’s adopt them as our values.

                 b.  Let’s live our lives, make our choices by these new values.

The Bottom Line:

Adopt as your Own and Live by the values of the Coming reality.

Hymn: R#468 Be Thou My Vision, vv.1, 3

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