Category Archives: theology

Take God With You | Sermon Notes

takeGodwithyou_mainIt’s BACK TO SCHOOL WEEKEND!  Yeah! Boooo!

Today, Let’s talk about TAKING GOD WITH US TO SCHOOL. 

I know that some of you are not teachers, you are older and you have no kids going to school.  Truth is you probably have grandkids going to school.  You have friends’ kids going to school.

We need you to pray!  We need you to stand in the gap spiritually and lift up these people who are daily going into this environment.  They are vulnerable and susceptible to spiritual attacks and difficulty of our modern day education system. 

This weekend has such mixed emotions. Some parents are sad. Some are excited. Some kids are sad. Some are excited. Many different elements are in the mix this weekend.

There is nothing like school to strike a fear in the heart of person. Heading to the classroom…do you look good? Are you prepared? What will others think of you? Will you do a good job….and I’m talking about the teachers point of view!!!

However, kids have the same perspective.

FullSizeRenderI went to Buda Elementary. Back then there was only 2 elementary schools in the Hays District.  I was up at the old original campus.  I can remember so many details about Kindergarten. I hated it!  I wanted to be at home. I would fake ear aches whatever it took to get to stay home.   Mrs. Shelton would always put us down for a nap after lunch. Oh yeah, we had naptime in Kindergarten.  She make us all lay down on our mats and then put on a Ronnie Milsap record.  We would all fight going to sleep but when we heard:  “I wouldn’t have missed for it for the world…Wouldn’t have missed lovin you girl.”

Every September, I distinctly remember getting new clothes, haircut, shoes, school supplies. I hated going to school, but there was this little cool part about getting new things.   Excited about new pencils. Picking out a trapper keeper with He-Man or Harlem Globetrotters.  I had a metal PacMan lunchbox.  You could use that thing as a weapon!  I always had to have my hair just right.

IMG_6560As I grew older, nothing really changed. I still took my style very serious.  Here I am with my sister.  It was GAMETIME right here.  Look at those expressions.  We were ready to conquer high school right here.  She was two years old than me so she would drive me to school in her ’92 dodge shadow.  Check out the double belts!   I would approach the name brand clothes. These were z cavaricci knock-offs. My mom was not about to spring for the real deal.  We didn’t shop at the mall. We were too thrifty for that.  We would hit Mervyn’s and SoloServe.

So many good memories at school. But at the same time so many heartbreaks at school.

You could have your wardrobe just right. You could have your hair and shoes just right, wake up the first morning of school, look in the mirror and have a pimple on your nose and immediately you were mortified.

I will never forget the first day of 6th grade PE.  We were all sitting in the bleachers at Dahlstrom Middle School. Boys on one side of the gym. Girls on other side of gym. This was the first year we were divided into two different PE groups.  They were calling roll for the class and they never called my name. Then, I was listening to the girls PE coach calling roll for the girls and I heard her call my name…Robin Steele. When she did all the girls started laughing!  The boys heard too and everyone was laughing.

School can be so harsh. Your hormones are going crazy.  You are getting used to changes in your body.  You are becoming interested in boys and girls in a “butterflies in your stomach” sort of a way.

Expectations for your grades.  Homework.  Projects. Tests.  College prep.  Athletics.  Band. Drama.

Parents = your babies are gone for the whole day! They are being influenced by kids that have no clue. They are being taught by teachers that don’t have your values or world view.  They are outside of your control.  Your connection with them is now reduced to a few minutes in the morning a couple hours in the evening.

Teachers! You are working extremely hard and not paid near enough.  You are responsible for students that have disengaged parents, no values, no discipline. You are expected to pull off a miracle and have your class do flawless on the STAAR test.  You are evaluated on results that you don’t have full control over.

Research shows that Teaching is in the top 3 of occupations that causes greater than normal stress. Wow!

SCHOOL is so HARD!

Going back to school is sort of a microcosm of life. Going back to school is a test. It is an environment. An opportunity.

But, what if we Took God With Us!

Thankfully though, no matter who you are, no matter where you are, if you are starting Kindergarten or moving up into Junior High or High School, Heading off to College, teaching a new age level, promoted to a different position or a parent/grandparent, excited, stressed, anxious about the next chapter in your child or young adults life…..the GOOD NEWS is that you can Take God With You into this new chapter of your life. He is with you, for you and goes ahead of you!

Deuteronomy 21:8  Do not be afraid (or anxious), for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you, he will never fail you nor abandon you.

Man that is good news. No matter who you are here today, no matter where you are going this week. Take God with you! He goes before you, he will never fail you nor abandon you, amen!

So, what does it mean to Take God with Me?  

Mathew 5:13 You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost it’s flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless 14 You are the light of the world, like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts in under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

God goes with me because:

I AM THE SALT 

Mathew 5: 13 You are the Salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost it’s flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

Salt changes the flavor of things. Are you focused on blending in at school or in the office or CHANGING things. Faith without works, walk in your Faith. Trusting that God is with you.

The world wants to divide us, to tear us down, to convince us that our financial status, how we dress, who we are or aren’t friends with matters. So, Bring God with you. Be a friend to those without, build people up versus tearing them down. Stand with and up for those that won’t or cant stand up for themselves. Stand with those standing alone. Encouraging others versus discouraging others. Change the flavor!

I AM THE LIGHT

Jesus said, “…You are the light of the world”

Everything we see in the media, on the news, on social media wants to create in us fear, anxiety. Be a light in and through the darkness.

Galatians 5:22 …but the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. There is no law against such things.

There are so many opportunities, each and ever day for you to be a reflection of Jesus. So much stress, anxiety, fear in this world yet you have the ability to be salty, to shine a light so bright that the whole world sees. You have the ability to be the example that you want others to see, God with you! Not just in words but active in your life. When those around you are dividing and tearing things apart you show kindness, gentleness, peace, patience and love.

When those around you are telling you: it’s just a few drinks, it’s just sex, it’s no big deal, just take a hit, what’s the worst that can happen, it’s not big deal to cheat on that test, just don’t get caught, do you know where he/she lives, we cant be seen with them.

You remind them whose you are and that alcohol could never make you feel the way HE Does. Sex can’t give you what HE can give you, drugs will never get you as high as His Holy Spirit, you don’t need to cheat because if God called you to it He will bring you through it, it doesn’t matter where he or she lives or is from because we are all God’s children. Son’s and daughters of the most high God and God is no respecter of Man. We are all loved alike and the same and perfectly. You show self control, faithfulness, strength, courage.

I AM THE REFUGE

like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts in under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

A city on a hilltop was a place of refuge for weary travelers in the night. Outside of the city was danger: robber, animals, no water.  Inside the city was safety, protection, provision, fresh water, food.

When travelers looked up and saw the cluster of lights on the top of the city, they knew where they could find respite and refuge!

God is calling us to be that safe place for people.

Wherever you go this week, Take God with you!

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At the Movies: Tarzan | Sermon Notes

AtTheMovies_MainEveryone has heard of the Tarzan story.  The original story was written in 1912.  Tarzan is one of the best known literary characters in the world.  There are 25 sequel Tarzan books and over 200 movies Tarzan in the name.  This latest installment takes actual history from the Congo in the 19th Century and blends it nicely with fiction.

 

 

(****spoiler warning****)  We find John Clayton III crying as an 8month old baby in a basonette.  His parents have died. He is alone in a remote part of the Congo region of Central Africa.   A nurturing mother gorilla named Kala, scampers into the small cabin and scoops up the frightened infant into her capable, safe arms.  Immediately, little John, feels secure and from that moment is raised by Kala and her sons.

Kala feeds him, teaches him to crawl, protects him from the other creatures of the jungle.   Finally, grows up to be a strong man and is discovered by explorers.  His name is now Tarzan.  He meets up and marries a beautiful American teacher named Jane.  They move to England where he tries his hardest to fit in.

 

Meanwhile, in Congo, leaders from Belgium have infiltrated tribal areas and are ravaging the land of it’s resources.  They are taking many of the Congolese as slaves and shipping them around the world.  There is one last section of diamonds that the Belgiums need in order to complete their domination of Congo. However, it is controlled by a powerful native tribe that is impossible to defeat.  The tribe chief (Mbongo) tells the Belgium leader, “If you bring me Tarzan, I will give you the diamonds you need.”

Why would he want Tarzan? Years ago, this chief’s son unknowingly killed Kala, Tarzan’s mother gorilla. In a fit of rage and revenge, Tarzan killed the chief’s son.  As a result, the chief has been hunting Tarzan for years.  He wants Justice served for the loss of his son’s life.  He is willing to trade his diamonds for a chance to kill Tarzan himself.  Not only that, if this deal goes through, he is putting his tribe and the entire rest of the country into the hands of the slave traders.  Mbongo is not only trading his diamonds but he is enslaving his whole country just so that he can execute Justice for his son.

There is a chilling scene where Tarzan and Mbongo finally meet and have a knife at each other’s throat.   “You killed my son!”  “He killed my mother!”   “Where was your honor?!”   “I didn’t have any!”

At the point of Tarzan’s humility, the tide begins to turn for the natives of Congo, their possessions, and their sovereignty.

 

MURDER    VENGEANCE     REVENGE     RACISM     FEAR       HATE

Are all central to Tarzan’s story.

These are all a central part of our story. The Human Story is filled with separation, selfishness, bitterness.

When we look at America and what we going through right now as a nation, we are marred with the ugly wounds and scars of  Murder, Vengeance, Revenge, Racism, Fear

We have the DESIRE FOR JUSTICE!  Justice is to be treated fairly. To be treated right. To be morally and ethically right. Just treatment. Fair dealings.  The devil is trying to divide us.   The devil thrives when we are separated and ostracized from each other! From the garden of Eden, he has tried to divide humanity.

Through JESUS CHRIST, God provides Efficient Justice and Freedom.

However, when we are focused on exacting revenge and establishing our own justice, we end up being blinded by the devil and used as a pawn for his good.  We are putting at risk our own sanity, peace, and future by being sucked into the lie of the enemy.  We allow fear to dictate our future.

So many people want to know what they can do in a situation like this. Here are 3 things!

  • Allow Faith To Dictate Your Future

Not fear.  Allow the Word of God to stir up your faith.  FEAR is rampant in our society right now. Everyone is afraid.  Blacks are afraid for their sons.  Police are afraid.  People in Europe are being terrorized with deadly events.

Instead of being paralyzed by our FEAR…We are going to allow FAITH to dictate our future!

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

One of the best things you can do is stop watching so much of the news.  Instead, go meet someone in your office or neighborhood that is different from you.

The media’s main purpose is to make money.  Not report truth.   They take morsels of truth and package it in a way to stir up more conflict and controversy.  Do you understand why Donald Trump got so much news coverage?  He was making them a ton of money!  The media is trying to make money and sell advertisements.  The more people that watch their station the more money they can charge for their ads.  People like watching things that are controversial. The media is seeking out controversial things and feeding you and your family a load of mess.

They want police to be violent, They want whites to be violent, they want Black Lives Matter rallies to be violent. They won’t show you the thousands of people at the Trump rally that are peaceful or the tens of thousands at a Black Lives Matter rally that are peacefully marching. They want everyone pitted against everyone so that everyone is riled up. IT MAKES THEM MONEY. It sells ads, it sells books, it makes reports and anchors famous.

The media along with other things we read, experience, hear, study, watch, talk about, people we hang out with work with, all feed us information and points of view ALL CAST FEAR IN OUR LIVES. That FEAR is dictating your future!

WHERE ARE WE PUTTING OUR HOPE FOR THE FUTURE?

Hebrews 11:1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. 2 Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.  3 By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

When you have issues in your life that are causing fear and anxiety, you can continue to be lost in that fear of the future  OR you can yield to God who has the power to turn your situation around!

II Timothy 1:7  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Here is another way to say it:

  • Allow God to Set Your Narrative

All great stories or narratives have 4 parts: a Purpose, a Problem, a Solution, and a Resolution.   YOU are living out a story with a purpose, a problem, a solution, and a resolution.  Most of us spend our whole lives trying to figure our life out. We think we know what is going on and when we don’t, we are burdened with so much grief and distress.

THERE IS A BETTER WAY.

Instead of YOU setting the narrative and determining the plot:   (who the good guys are and the bad guys.)  ALLOW the “author and finisher” of our faith to set the tone for your life.

Hebrews 12:22 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

You aren’t able to conquer your demons. Jesus can.  You aren’t able to exact revenge to right the wrongs. Jesus can.  You can’t write a chapter like God can write a chapter. Put it in his hands and allow the master craftsman to create a masterpiece in you that no man or woman can ever contaminate or destroy!

I want to close with this:

  • Allow God to Make us One

1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you.

There were divisions in Corinth between sects of people in the church saying:  “I’m from Apollos.” “I’m from Cephas” and the real religious one: “Well, I’m from Christ”  I can just hear Paul saying now. “I hear that some of you are thinking you are better than the other because of where you were born or what skin color you have or where you went to school.” Don’t you know that we are all equal at the foot of the cross. We are all brothers and sisters.  In fact, he says in verse 17, the Gospel of Jesus is ALL ABOUT second chances for everyone.  When we choose to ostracize and segregate, we are neutering the cross!

Jesus was addressing the disciples and told them that there would be troubling times ahead.

Luke 21: 25 “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken…. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

He tells them they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  Don’t spend your life trying to vindicate your past or your family’s name.  TRUST GOD with your future.  Allow God to take your blinders off.  See the truth that your pursuit is probably hemming you in or possibly enslaving you.

I see people all the time enslaved by their own self consciousness, fear. On the outside I see people with so much potential, gifting, flavor, and favor, but they can’t even see it because they are choosing to believe the lie that the devil has brought on them. They will never amount to anything. They are always a victim. Their future has been sealed.

I was just talking with a Father the other day who is separated from his adult son. They haven’t talked in months. I am friends with both of them. They are wasting their time. Valuable precious time that they will never get back on this earth. Stop allowing your situation to block you from the BRILLIANT plan God has for you in the future.

Just as Tarzan’s redemption and victory didn’t come from his strength or stamina, it came from his confession and humility, so we find our turn-around when we humbly submit to God!

Independence Day: Resurgence | Sermon Notes

AtTheMovies_MainToday, we are going launching a new series called, “At the Movies!” Each Sunday we will take a current blockbuster movie and use it as a parable to tell the amazing story of God’s Good News!

This is fourth of July weekend, so obviously we are going with  INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE

This movie is a sequel to the original 20 years ago. There was an alien attack on the world in 1996 and a crew led by Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum fought back to reestablish their independence from alien occupation.

Now, in 2016 there has been a resurgence of domination, fear, and possession.  The aliens represent an occupation of evil that strips humanity of its dignity, creativity, and most of all our independence.

The aliens are huge, multi-layer, extremely quick and intelligent. Obviously, more power than humans and can maintain complete control over humans. Our guns are big enough. Our money doesn’t matter to them. Our beauty, Athletic skill, education, means NOTHING to them. Aliens are not intimidated at all. When your spaceship lands on the Atlantic ocean (the whole Atlantic ocean) there isn’t much that earthlings can do.

In reality, there IS a force that dominates humanity.   There is a force of darkness that descended on the planet many years ago.

The devil has been fighting us for millennia. Breaking up marriages, pitting us against each other, spreading diseases, violence erupting, natural disasters, greed is a contagious power that eats away the soul and spirit of humanity

The good news is that we can be FREE from this grip of the devil.  JESUS CHRIST came to the earth to live as one of us and fight the fight.  Jesus Christ took on our sins and brokenness and nailed it to the cross.

Colossians 4:13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

When wondering how to apply this VICTORY of JESUS to our life, the story of America’s independence has an amazing parallel. Tomorrow, we will be BBQing, shooting fireworks, hanging out at the River.

Ironically, on July 4, 1776, a battle was not won. A Document was voted on. It wasn’t even signed (it was signed a month later). We celebrate our DAY of Independence, not on a battle day but instead as the day our make-shift congress voted on a document.

BUT It was more than a document. It was a declaration! A Declaration is a statement asserting or protecting a legal right.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown…

  • They made it known formally or officially. They revealed or made it manifest.
  • They stated emphatically or authoritatively.
  • “Not longer will we be dictated, ruled, controlled, by the King of England.”
    The king didn’t have their interest in mind.

When you declare something it begins to manifest. IT IS TIME THAT WE DECLARE OR ASSERT OUR LEGAL RIGHT AS GOD’s Kids.

1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm (profess), for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

Romans 10:9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

What do you need to be independent from?  Because Jesus literally lived a sinless life and then willingly gave his life for the sins of all the world, then we have a legal right as God’s kids to live a life of freedom!
We declare to OURSELVES, our PEERS, our ENEMY our independence from:

  • OUR SIN
  • OUR EMOTIONS
  • OUR MINDS
  • OUR APATHY

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

WHAT ABOUT WHEN THERE IS A RESURGENCE?

Sometimes, even after the devil has been defeated in your life, he will rear his ugly head and act like it never happened.

What do you do in a resurgence?

John 8:35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

John 8:44 …He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.

THE DEVIL IS A LIAR.

When temptation comes your way, you need to say, “Oh, Hell NO”!

Do you know John Dickinson or Robert Livingston? They both did not sign because they clung to the idea of reconciliation with Brittan.

 

James Ch. 5 Sermon Notes

James_MAINI want to break down chapter 5 into what I am calling the 4 Ps! Through all 5 chapters we see some reoccurring themes. PLEASE get into this book. If you haven’t read all five chapters yet, please dig into it. One of our families read it every day for a month.

We are going to call these first 6 verses the:

The Predicament of PROSPERITY

Everyone in the room wants to be prosperous. However, the Bible Tells us that prosperity puts us in a  difficult, perplexing, or dangerous situation. A predicament.

James 5:1 Look here, you rich people: Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. 2 Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This corroded treasure you have hoarded will testify against you on the day of judgment.

This is beginning like chapter 4! Remember him talking about running a race to satisfy desires in your inner most being?

In fact, here in Ch.5 he is talking about when you are running the race and you catch the fake rabbit. Prosperity is not all that it is cracked up to be.

Relying on money and success to bring you peace is the wrong idea.

4 For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the lord of Heaven’s Armies. 5 You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and killed innocent people, who do not resist you.

That doesn’t sound like you. Surely, he isn’t talking to you. You aren’t wealthy. You don’t participate in this… hhhhhhmmmmmm.

When I read verses 1-6, I think about America. All Americans.

Economists say that in the world there is about 153 trillion dollars. 63 of that trillion is in the US where 4.4% of the world population lives. The Average household income in America is $50,000.The Average household income for the world is $18,000. The median income is $1225. (for the math nerds out there)

The book of James is filled with warnings for the believer. It is so east to be ENTICED. SWAYED. DECIEVED. By this system and worldly thinking. BEWARD OF THE PROSPERITY PREDICAMENT!  We can be intoxicated by possessions and money.  We often allow the pleasures of this life and the pursuit of success to warp our true perception of God’s Kingdom.  The Love of Money is the root of all evil.

In verses 7-11, James gives us the Plea for Patience:

The Plea for PATIENCE

7 Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen.  8 You, too, must be patient.

Wait…patiently! While you wait, do these two things:

Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near. 9 Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged.  Basically, he is talking about the spirit of Eeyore! Down in the dumps.

“No one likes me. Everything is wrong. I have been treated wrong. Wah wah wah.”  My son would say, “Someone call the wahhhmbulance”

The Believer in Jesus doesn’t have to be bound by the circumstances being handed to them!  James is giving us a posture. A way to stand. A way to present our self.  Patient. Courageous. Good attitude.

Galatians 5 says that the Holy Spirit of God will give us patience, gentleness, and self control! Bring it on, God! I want to live that type of lifestyle.  When people see me, I want them to see someone that is patient. Trusting God. Not grumbly.  Live a Life of Integrity. Mean what you say and say what you mean.

12 But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned.

In verses 13-18, James gives us:

The Power of PRAYER

13 Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. 16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. 17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!  18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

In verses 19-20, James is giving us:

The Plight of PEOPLE

Or The Part you Play

19 My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, 20 you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.

 

You are going to play a part in the situation or condition of someone else’s heart.

You make a difference in someone’s life when you show them love.

You can adjust someone’s course and trajectory by the way you share your story with them.

Caring for others. Forgiving those who are different from you.

Instead of criticizing and condemning, James is calling us to step INTO the situation and reach out a hand. Open up your ears and arms. Open up your prosperous checkbook.

 

James Ch2 Sermon Notes

James_MAIN

James Week Two!  You can watch this sermon by clicking here.  You can listen to the podcast here.

Today, we jump into chapter 2 of James.   Chapter 2 teaches us 2 core principles:

  1. Christians Choose PEACE over of PREJUDICE

We choose accessibility over partiality!  We OPEN doors…first.

James 2:1 My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? 2 For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes.

OR they have a different style. They have tattoos, all kinds of piercings.  They are a different race. They are a different age. They vote different from you.  They come from a different background.  They like the Patriots or the Giants.

3 If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well,  4 doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?

Discriminationto make a distinction in favor of or against a person or thing on the basis of the group, class, or category to which the person or thing belongs rather than according to actual merit;

8 Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 9 But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.  10 For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. 11 For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law.  12 So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free.

 

What is the Law that Sets you FREE? Since your faith in Jesus Christ sets you free from your sin and deserved punishment, you are then freed from hatred and self-love and are able to love your neighbors as ourselves.

When this all started in the first century, Christianity grew and developed in confrontation, with an environment that breathed hostility to its doctrines and practices.

The main reason that Christianity survived being fed to the lions was because they acutally choose peace over prejudice.

The lives of early Christians showed that accusations against them were lies.

1 Peter 2:15 It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you.

The early believers actually fed the needy, accepted outcasts, buried the poor, cared for orphans and the aged, encouraged prisoners and victims of disasters, and showered compassion on the persecuted.

Their lives proved that Christianity produced a superior character. This is still the best proof of the reality of our faith.

I’m praying that PromiseLand is filled with people that are living out a declaration of the Gospel of Jesus. Sure we know how to describe the good news of Jesus from a theological standpoint (it’s always good to know good doctrine). BUT more than that, May God enable us today to make a bold demonstration of our mercy to others!

  1. Christians Do Good.

James 2:14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?  17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

VERY IMPORTANT: This is NOT talking about not doing bad things (sinning). It is talking about DOING good things.

James is not saying in this particular passage that your “work” is your ability to not sin. He is saying that your works are the good deeds that you perform.

As we go through this passage, you will see two distinctive words: shown and counted. Your faith counts you righteous. Your actions show your faith.

On one hand, If we were God, then we wouldn’t need works to show or display our faith. God sees the heart and knows all things. We can’t see inside someone, so the only way we know if someone’s faith is legit, is to see some outward evidence in their life.

On the other hand, it is impossible for strong, effective faith to be lazy or selfish. You can’t separate faith and good works. Christians do Good.

18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” 21 Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. 23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God.  24 So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.  26 Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.

Some translations say spirit instead of breath. The original word, pneuma means actually spirit breath. So it is all intertwined of sorts. God breathed life into the corpse of Adam in creation giving him a spirit breath. As your body, needs a spirit, so does your faith need works.

Look at the natural parallel as well: A healthy body has involuntarily muscles in the respiratory system that bring air in and out without you even knowing it. It is part of a healthy body.

Good works are the oxygen that a healthy faith body will bring in and out of it’s existence.

When Faith is inactive, it is entombed in a creed affirmed by the intellect. This has no more usefulness than a body with no heartbeat or breath – Holmann Commentary

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