Today, we jump into chapter 2 of James. Chapter 2 teaches us 2 core principles:
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?
Discrimination– to 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!
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
In case you are new to reading my notes, please know that there is a LOT of content that comes to my mind while I’m up there and it is not reflected in these notes. Also, they are not proof read. You can watch this message on our vimeo channel.
Today, we start the book of James! We will be going chapter by chapter through the book of James. Commit to coming throughout the month of June and you will grow deep in the word of God. You will have a firm grasp on this profound book in the New Testament. READ IT AT HOME. Five Chapters.
PLEASE TAKE NOTES. YOU WILL BE LOADED DOWN WITH GREAT THINGS TODAY!
Many scholars believe that the writer of this book was the half brother of Jesus.
This book is unique for the New Testament in that it covers a lot ground in only 5 chapters. It is similar to the book of Proverbs because it offers blurbs of powerful truths. As a message it compares closely to Jesus’ sermon on the mount in Matthew 5, 6, and 7.
This month we are going to teach and preach as much as we take 1 chapter per week. There is no way we can cover it all, but we hope that your interest will be piqued and you will dig into the word on your own throughout the week.
This one chapter covers the challenge and test of the Believer.
James 1:2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.
The Bible gives a whole lot of direction on how to stay out of trouble, but at some point, you will find yourself in some trouble no matter what.
TRIAL. TEST. DIFFICULTY.
Someone walked out on you. Your car breaks down.
You lose your job. You fail a test that you studied for.
You are diagnosed with diabetes.
CONSIDER THESE OPPORTUNITIES FOR JOY!
3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
Endurance– the capacity to hold out or bear up in the face of difficulty, patience, endurance, fortitude, steadfastness, perseverance.
- To hold back the discouraging results of a bad temper or remorseful self-pity.
- Staying power because we trust in God.
If I want to build endurance to run a long race, then I have to begin running.
If I want stronger muscles, then I need my muscles to go through a process of being broken down and being rebuilt.
When you put your body through trouble, it begins to build muscle. Whether that is cardiovascular or biceps, it takes challenge to build strength.
This is the same with FAITH
4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
He expounds on this in verse 12 to say:
12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
Story of Ron Liles – (Ron Liles slide)
That type of strength or wisdom can only come from God:
5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
I remember when I was a kid hearing the story of King Solomon asking God for wisdom and it struck me at a young age. Ask God for wisdom. I prayed as a young boy for wisdom and God granted it!
Now there is a whole different route that we can go if we choose to. Troubles come. Our faith is tested. We are tempted and we can respond in fear, in doubt.
James makes it clear in verse 14-15:
14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. 16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. 18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.
We can see that there are two clear options or paths to take when troubles come our way. We can allow our faith to grow and endurance can produce in us completion, contentment, the crown of life.
OR we can take the path of least resistance where temptation leads to sin and sin leads to spiritual death.
I don’t know about you, but I want to take the high road. The top route. The endurance and the perfect path.
IF that is the path you want to take, then James gives us clear steps on how to walk it.
19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. 21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.
We want to rid ourselves of any voice in our life that is telling us something different from God’s word.
Your spirit and soul are no different than your body in that they both are a result of what you feed them. What are you feeding your spirit and soul.
Spirit food is what we spend our time mentally digesting.
Entertainment. Books. Recreation. Family. Relationships. Work Environment.
If you are in an environment where you are consciously or subconsciously being fed a lie about the sovereignty of God. The Goodness of God. The satisfaction of God. The peace of God. YOU NEED TO GET OUT OF IT.
Get the remote and turn off the movie that is filling your mind or your family’s mind with filth. “Oh, but it is just funny. It is just a movie. It is not real life. I can watch it and it doesn’t affect me.”
When you start believing that it is morally acceptable for us to live in a way that is opposed to God’s ways, then that came from some sort of influence in your life. You are starting to believe something that is opposed to the way God has ordained it to go from the beginning of time. You didn’t use to believe that! Something has happened. Something has changed.
The influencers in your life are saying that it is acceptable. Politicians, Entertainers, Athletes, Leaders, Good looking people…
WHY WOULD JAMES SAME GET RID OF THE FILTH AND EVIL???
His following statement tells us why. Accept the Word of God… IT HAS THE
POWER to save your soul.
When we are entranced with or intoxicated with the systems and culture of this world, we will believe a lie about God and not believe the truth of his word. IT IS HIS WORD that will save our souls!
22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
He even gives us a picture of what it would look like if you lived out this complete life of faith. What would perfect religion look like?
- He doesn’t say it looks like going church every week
- He doesn’t say it means carrying the biggest Bible
He does say that how you talk means something. What comes out of your mouth, your conversation paints a picture of what is in your heart. If you are secure in your identity with him or not. He says:
26 If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.
He says that how you treat others means something. Your actions towards people that will never pay you back, or never give you a promotion, or never… tell a story about your walk with God.
27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
In a church like mine, the tech booth is bustling with people every Sunday morning. They move sound board faders, check batteries, design slides, move lights, run cameras, stream online services, and many other jobs that many of us will never know about. They get there early (all amped up on caffeine) and stay long after everyone else has left the building. We love them all!
What does it take to move an ordinary tech volunteer into a SUPER tech volunteer?
Here are 5 Steps to Making a difference in the Tech Booth?
- A heart to learn and not act like a “know it all” – A lot of people that are interested in serving in the tech ministry are very knowledgeable before they ever enter the tech booth. Many have experience in computers, networking, other churches, work experience, etc. It is extremely easy for them to bring an ego into the ministry. We don’t need more smart people in the tech people. We need more people with a heart to serve. Having a pliable heart that is eager serve and learn will take an ordinary tech person and move them to a super tech volunteer!
- A knowledge of what the end product should look, sound, and feel like – It is crucial that the people responsible for creating a visible and audible atmosphere to have a good understanding of what the end goal is. There are tons of different methods and atmospheres of worship in the modern church. Are they trying to make it like a concert they attended last week? Are they trying to make it like the church they grew up in last week? If good communication hasn’t happened between the leadership and the volunteers, then there will probably always be tension and corrections made. Take them to a conference, another church, show them youtube videos. Get on the same page.
- The ability to prepare as much as possible – Thoroughly going over the service schedule before rehearsal is crucial. Details make ALL the difference. Examples: Know when there is a guitar solo. Know when the video element needs to start. What kind of mood do we want the lighting to convey on song 4? What should overall band volume be when minister comes to stage? The list goes on and on…
- Anticipate change – Be ready to go with the flow when changes happen. In our environment, we sometimes need to make a change because we made a mistake in planning or mishaps/breakages/outages necessitate a change. Hardware breaks. Singers lose their voice. Lightening storm blows up a circuit. It has all happened, and the service must go on.
- Be alert, focus, and give it all you have got! Sometimes, it can be monotonous in the tech booth. A long song with no changes, a long sermon, during the offering… It is tempting to get on your phone and check Facebook or Instagram. You might even want to take a pic or send a text. Heck, you might want to catch up on your sleep by taking a catnap. RESIST the temptation. We need you on your toes and ready for action. You never know when you are needed to make an adjustment.
What would you add to this list?
Tuesday, I am headed over the hill. I will turn 40. It has made me become a little introspective. It has made me think about where I am going, where I have been and who has been on the path with me.
I preached my first sermon 20 years ago in 1996. 12 people were there. 8 of them were related to me. Since then, I have preached 1000s of times. I’ve held 4 different pastor positions in 3 different churches in two states. I have ministered in North America, South America, Africa, and Asia. I traveled some in Europe. I have been blessed to serve on boards of non-profit organizations, lead ministers’ associations, help plant 4 different churches. Been married 17 years and have 3 beautiful kids. Our church in San Marcos started in 2003 with 30 people and now (13 years later) averages over 1200 per weekend. I am so blessed.
However, I have lived long enough to know that, I am a man. Every day that I do not die is a great opportunity for me to sin. I am very capable of sinning and falling short of perfect. I could walk into pride, jealousy, selfishness, greed, lust, and loose my focus on Jesus.
Therefore, I CLING to my faith in Jesus and my obedience to His way. I surround myself with other believers that will keep me accountable.
When I look back on my life, I can remember statements that people told me that shaped my life. 40 years is a long time. To remember one sentence that one person said 30 years ago…that is incredible. It had to be a serious situation.
I’m sure everyone in here, if given the time, could remember statements that shaped your life from childhood to the present day. Some were spoken in trauma. Some statements were spoken in party times. Some statements push us. Others challenge us. Some statements make us angry. Some make our hearts skip a beat.
Regardless, of the environment of the statement or even the speaker of the statement, we have a choice of what to do with the statement. We are holders of the statement. We are stewards or guardians of the statement.
Over the course of Peyton Manning’s career (we are the same age), he wrote notes to people in his life. Those people saved the notes and in a tribute to Him in his retirement, Gaterade compiled these notes and sent one back to Peyton.
Words are enormous. They paint pictures. They express emotion, commitment, concern, disapproval.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:13
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
Throughout the Bible we see some powerful statements!
“Sarah, You will give birth to a son.”
Joseph told his brothers, “I had a dream last night that you all would bow down to me.”
“Moses, What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.”
“Naomi, where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay. Your God is my God.”
“Ruth, go to Boaz’s house and make your intentions known to him.”
“Samuel, go back to bed, but listen for God’s voice.”
Elijah said to the widow, “I know that you don’t have hardly any food left, but cook me a meal first.”
Here are some statements that shaped my life. These may not be for you…they were for me.
Starting in around 1980 my dad repeated a certain phrase to me…
- “Your word is your bond.” – Dad
In 1989, my parents had found some materials in my room that were not becoming of a future pastor. Music with explicit lyrics and notes from a girl at school…
- “I’m not going to punish you. You need to pray until you hear from God and then come talk to me.” – Dad
The next statement was from someone that I don’t even remember her name, but she said something so kind. She was a mom in my boy scout troop. This was probably not too much after my dad’s last statement. I was elevated to Senior Patrol Leader at like 13yrs old, which was the highest level of leader as a scout in the troop. I was in over my head. She said to me at one of the meetings:
- “You are wise. You don’t speak much but in that silence, you speak volumes.” – Boy Scout Mom
Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. Proverbs 17:28
- “You are good enough to play on the A team but I need you to play on the B team.” – Coach Long Dahlstrom 8th grade football team
I was so mad!
Then, 2 years later, I made the varsity soccer team at Hays as a freshman and had a great year as a player. The next year, we got a new coach that had never played or coached soccer in his life. He looked at my height and said,
“You are going to play on JV.” – Coach Mathys
Both those statements were GREAT opportunities for me to be angry, quit, be bitter. I was quite mad. I scored 2 goals that first soccer game I was so mad. I eventually was moved back up to Varsity and made 1st team all district.
- “You are the best Spanish Club president that we have ever had.” – Mrs Clayton
- “You have nothing to prove to anyone” – Tudor Bismark
- “I do” Erica Steele
- “The parents understand that there is no chance of their daughter having a meaningful life.”
- “I want you to run sound in San Marcos.” – Kenneth Phillips
- “You should read Timothy Keller’s: The Reason for God” – Jason Bollinger
Here are 4 Things I Suggest:
- Put your family in the environment to hear these types of statements.
- Allow statements to drive you to Jesus. Allow him to process them with you.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1
- Allow them to push and challenge you to go farther, bigger, and better.
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Proverbs 19:20
- You should Say things to people. Don’t afraid to be a mentor. Don’t be afraid to speak the truth in love. If God is leading you to say something, say it! They might remember it on their 40th bday.
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Colossians 4:6