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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.