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We are weak, but He is strong.
Can I make a little confession to you?
My faith in Jesus causes me to have a little knot in my stomach every now and then.
Yeah, I know that doesn’t sound all pastoral and holy and such, but I’d be lying if I said otherwise.
See, I don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
Heck, I don’t even know what today will bring.
And I know - and the Lord has proven to me - that He is always going to do what is best for His glory.
And He’s going to do what is best for me - that will make me more and more like Jesus.
Everyone with me - everyone believe that?
But see, I’ve read the Bible and I believe it.
But in Isaiah, the Lord says, Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”
And while I think winning a couple of hundred million in the lottery would suit me well.
The Lord thinks a 2012 Chevy Impala is more my style.
So there is a tension that lives in me - which I think is actually kind of healthy.
I know that the Lord is good and is fully, 100% trustworthy.
That He loves us and His goodness abounds for all of us.
I know that He controls the rising of the sun, the wind, the waves and everything in between.
But I do not presume upon Him.
Our text this week tells me that what I’m saying to you is O.K. with Jesus.
Open your Bibles if you would to James 4.
We’ll read from verse 11 to chapter 5, verse 6.
As we read and listen, at first blush it sounds a little bit like James is coming down on us pretty hard.
And everything he talks about, we’ve done.
But James isn’t intent on sending us home feeling like worm dirt.
He’s going to send us home remembering what He said the other day.
James 4:8 “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you...”
Hear the Word of the Lord and see if you can hear the grace coming through.
This is the Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Keep this in mind right quick - this letter is written to Christians.
While it certainly fits with a lot of things going on in the world right now - James isn’t looking at the world.
He’s looking at the Church, the Body of Christ.
In fact, he’s down to the granular level.
He’s looked around and he’s seen how rotten we treat each other sometimes, and he makes three points.
The first point is this:
We forget we are weak and insecure
James 4:11 “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers.
The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law.
But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.”
We all know bullies right?
And churches have bullies too.
And we all know know-it-all’s - churches have those too.
And Eeyore’s - folks that rain clouds follow them everywhere they go.
And Tigger’s - folks who are so full of life it drives you bonkers.
And Winnie the Poohs - people who are mostly clueless but friendly and kind.
And Piglet - our little voice of reason.
And then there is us - and we have a theme song:
Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in every way.
I can’t wait to look in the mirror, cause I get better looking each day.
To know me is to love me, I must be one heck of a guy.
Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble, but I’m doing the best that I can.
Maybe we don’t say that out loud - but that is James’ point - it’s hard for us to be humble because we forget we are weak and insecure.
Now, what evidence does he give that we are weak and insecure.
Evidence #1: We talk bad about other Christians.
When we talk bad a brother or sister, that tells us that it’s hard for us to be humble.
James has been all about loving our neighbor as ourselves - he’s mentioned it repeatedly.
But when we put down a brother or sister, we replace that law of love with the law of denigration.
And the scary part of that is this - the law of love was written by the Lord.
Any other law is ours.
So our actions are saying that our law is preferred over the Lord’s law.
That we are smarter and more fair than the Lord.
Kind of makes you wince, doesn’t it?
“Now Pastor Randy, that’s not what I mean to do.”
I know that and that’s why James is calling us out on it.
We don’t mean to do that - that’s not our intent.
But we are weak and insecure.
And weak and insecure people do things to make ourselves not feel weak and insecure.
All the while missing the point - the Lord gave His law so we wouldn’t feel weak and insecure.
The Lord has no problems with His identity,
He has no problems with His self-esteem,
He has no problems with His self-confidence.
So, the very thing we want is the very thing the Lord wants us to have.
We just forget.
What other evidence does James give that we are weak and insecure?
Evidence #2: We believe we are masters of our own fate
James 4:13 “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—”
Listen to what that one little sentence says - “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town...”
Remember when we talked about Centrikid camp a few weeks back, remember that on Sunday night while we were preparing to go...
A couple of hundred miles north of us, they were deciding whether we could go or not because so many of the staff got sick.
Hannah and her friend bought a tour to Greece and got all fired up and ready to go.
And - Covid.
In both cases, the same circumstance - Covid.
One situation turned out one way, one situation turned out another.
And in both cases, we were ignorant - we had no clue that there were things at work in the background that might wreck our plans.
We don’t know what is right around the corner.
I bet you’ve done this.
You’re getting ready to go somewhere.
You stop and say to yourself: “Have I got everything?”
Then, once you get there, how many times did you end up at the store because you didn’t have everything?
We don’t know what we don’t know.
Look at what else that sentence says: James 4:13 “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there...”
I will go to that town and spend a year there.
Our perception of time is a problem.
We see life as circular.
When you are crazy busy, “I feel like I was running in circles all day.”
We get up - we go to bed - then we get up and we go to bed - then we get up and go to bed.
Spring comes - then summer - the fall - then winter - then spring again.
Easter comes - the 4th of July - Thanksgiving - Christmas - and then Easter again.
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