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  • Feb 08 / 2015
  • Comments Off on Love Covers (James 5:9-20)
James: Put Your Faith to Work, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Love Covers (James 5:9-20)



Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Love Covers

James 5:9-20 (Pastor Brian)

9 Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! 10 Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. 12 Above all, my brothers, do not swear–not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.

The Prayer of Faith

13 Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. 17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. 19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.


Last week, we saw the first 8 verses of James 5 where he wrote a blistering condemnation of those who use money for their own selfish gain – covetousness, building up meaningless wealth, etc…

Following this he wrote to the rest of the Christians who were scattered abroad. They are exhorted to be patient and know that the Lord is coming “soon”. ( “Soon”? – that was 2,000 years ago… but don’t forget in 1/2 Peter “a day with the Lord is a thousand years” so “technically” it’s only been two DAYS…)

Just remember, always the Lord is at hand – ready to return. We have the ability and privilege to praise him.

And don’t forget that the Lord will render to us according to our works.

James 5:7-8 = “be patient” until the coming of the Lord like the farmer is patient waiting for his harvest.

Remember from last time the Psalmist Asaph? He was envious of the wicked as they didn’t seem to receive the same punishment for their sins that normal people would. Yet, he didn’t want to share that with the people of the congregation or they might stumble. But, then he went into the sanctuary and saw “their end” which was completely wasted when they died.

So James exhorts us to be patient.

The harvest doesn’t come straight away, but eventually, it DOES come.

Also, James says, “don’t grumble, don’t complain.” The problem with patience, you see, is that it doesn’t come naturally to those of us who are impatient. If we listen to ourselves truly, we may say, “I’m waiting” but truly we are grumbling. “They are too fast/slow/dumb/pig-headed…” James says, “no no”.

James 4:11-12 “Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against his brother speaks against the Law and judges the Law. This makes you no longer a DOER of the Law but a judge of it. There is only ONE Judge, and it isn’t you. Who are you to judge your neighbor?”

  • “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul. But rather, fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
  • “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Proverbs

This isn’t a phobia (spiders = arachnophobia). The “fear of the Lord” = a healthy reverence for the Lord, awe of the Lord.

Like when we raise our children, we teach them things to keep them out of danger. Look both ways when you cross the road. This is a healthy kind of fear – it’s common sense.

Yet, many people don’t even have this kind of “common sense” fear of the Lord and they don’t walk in wisdom.

My story:

Don’t pray for patience… or you just might get it. (loads of troubles, struggles, etc to MAKE you patient) – this isn’t necessarily totally true, HOWEVER, once we accept Jesus as Savior, we ARE living in “enemy territory.” The world lies in the lap of Satan.

But nevertheless, “count it all joy whenever you encounter various trials and struggles…” (James) Pray that you’ll grow in patience and grace. Whether we pray for it or not, Lord knows we NEED it. We ought also to pray for wisdom. The wisdom that comes from above is peaceloving, generous, etc.

“Patience is a virtue. Possess it if you can. Seldom in a woman. Never in a man.” (– Irish? proverb)

Look at the prophets as an example of patient suffering. Good thing they didn’t just keep “waiting” for it, but they spoke boldly before kings and rulers and put them right by speaking the word of the Lord before them.

  • Those who listened, were blessed.
  • Those who didn’t, were often not long on the throne – replaced, invaded, etc.

Remember Stephen, he just spoke it out (Acts 7:52) “Which one of the prophets did your fathers NOT persecute?” Those guys (the Sanhedrin) used to boast of their lineage as God’s “chosen people.” But Stephen was pointing out the truth to them – and they stoned him – yet he was emulating the spirit of Christ when he said, “Lord, don’t lay this sin to their charge…(forgive them).”

All throughout the Bible, we see men and women of God who SUFFERED. And yet, they were faithful, and God was faithful to them. As they endured, God was compassionate and merciful to them.

Consider Job.

Probably no greater example of suffering besides Christ himself, but about Job:

He had EVERYTHING a man could want, 10 grown kids and grandkids, riches, loads of servants, etc.

But… one day (in the SAME day) – everything was stolen, killed, burned, destroyed – even his own children were ALL killed instantly by a tornado.

Oh yeah, and THEN he got painful boils covering over his whole body…

And what was his response? Job arose, tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell to the ground and worshiped, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away…”

If you go outside and see the sign outside it says “nude” – naked – remember as you go in and out that you brought nothing and shall take nothing.

Satan got mad that Job didn’t curse God.

The book of Job is kind of a contest between God and Satan – Satan came into God’s presence at one point (God allowed it) and said, “Well, of course Job loves you, you’ve blessed him immeasurably…”

Satan took:

  1. his wealth
  2. his health

Inflamed, ulcerous, itching sores, insomnia, worms, hardened, running sick, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing, putrid (stinky) breath (no breath mints…), unending internal pain, fever, blackened skin. Wow. Sounds like some really bad medicinal side effects.

Anyone else would have (should have?) cursed God. Even his own wife said, “Come on man, curse God and just die!”

But he was a righteous man – he blessed others, prayed for his family – and he was trying to figure out why these things were happening.

Then Elihu (who observed the whole thing until around chapter 37) says, “I’ve heard all of this, but listen Job, you’ve been justifying yourself by your own righteousness. Humble yourself and trust only in God for your salvation.”

When Job humbled himself, God reversed (and doubled) all that he’d previously had.

But Job had to go through that suffering in order to LEARN those lessons (he couldn’t just be TOLD those things – he had to EXPERIENCE them).

James goes on to say, “Do not swear. Do not make oaths.”

There are times when we may release oaths from our mouths that we may later regret, “I swear I’ll kill/never forgive… that person….”

But that kind of thing brings judgment upon us, and we need to repent of them and ask for a better spirit/attitude toward events and people.

Matthew 5:33-37 “Again you have heard that the ancients have said, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ But I say, make NO vows, not by heaven, nor earth, nor Jerusalem, nor by your head (which are all owned by God), for you cannot make even one hair white nor black. But let your statement be, ‘Yes’ yes, and ‘No’ no. Anything beyond this is evil.”

Yes and No is enough.

v. 13-18

Prayer for the sick:

  1. We aren’t always called to endure suffering for as long as Job was. There are some that the Lord would be more glorified through by healing than by our perseverance.
  2. We can pray about this – call for the elders of the church. (Ask, seek, knock)

Because we live in a fallen world, there are times when we’ll become sick. If anyone IS sick, let them pray for him, anointing with oil.

Depending on your church background denomination, this is still a common practice in places. God is often glorified and faithful when we pray earnestly for our sickness.

James also says, “Confess your faults one to another that you may be healed.”

There are different causes for sin:

  1. World – outside influence
  2. Flesh – internal bitterness, unforgiveness, temptation, etc.

Sometimes, our spiritual illnesses are reflected in a physical way. Sometimes when a person repents of their sin, they become physically healed. (Not ALL the time, but this is often the case). God brings healing to spirit, soul, and body when we humble ourselves, confess, repent, and turn from those things.

This kind of humility is remarkable and God answers it in a remarkable way – with healing of one kind or another.

Don’t just confess to anyone – but think of someone who will have compassion on you and encourage you. Recognize as well that “we all sin in many ways.”

Also, remember the prophet Elijah – “the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much…”

When you read through 1/2 Kings, we can see that Elijah had times of great faith and times of failure. He had times of selflessness and times of selfishness. He was a man like us, but when he prayed that rain would not fall on the land for 3.5 years and then prayed again later that it would rain, God heard his prayer.

Elijah himself was NOT powerful, but he had faith in the God who IS powerful.

God honored his servant by answering his prayer.

v. 19-20

James speaks about being aware/concerned for the lives of others. When we pray for others, those who have strayed from the truth ( “prone to wander, Lord I feel it…” ) and turn them back to the faith, that will cover over a multitude of sins.

When God forgives, he forgets (He removes your sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalms)). He COULD remember, but he CHOOSES not to.


Struggling with lack of receiving forgiveness?

“God’s non-remembrance of sin”


Well worth the effort to read it.

Quotes 4 Scriptures – God gives 4 witnesses in Scripture:

  1. Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am he that blots out your transgressions for my own sake and will not remember your sins.”
  2. Jeremiah 31:34 “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin NO MORE.”
  3. (Let those words NO MORE echo in the chambers of your heart and get its point across)
  4. Hebrews 8:12 “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities I will remember NO MORE.” (Satan would omit that NO MORE)
  5. Hebrews 10:17 “And their sins I will remember NO MORE.”

When we counsel someone to come back to the Lord, we don’t remind them of their sins, but remind them of these verses that God would remember their sins NO MORE.

This is a good place to conclude today’s sermon and the Book of James.

Let’s pray.

  • Feb 01 / 2015
  • Comments Off on More Warnings (James 5:1-20)
James: Put Your Faith to Work, Pastor Brian, Sermons

More Warnings (James 5:1-20)



Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

More Warnings

James 5:1-20 (Pastor Brian)

Warning to Rich Oppressors

1 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. 2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.

Patience in Suffering

7 Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! 10 Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. 12 Above all, my brothers, do not swear–not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.


Last time, James gave warnings, and here again, more warnings – straight from the heart – no “beating around the bush” – no room for any excuses.

We must not be partial, must not withhold love from others. Our outer conflicts come from our inner conflicts – wars, fights, murders, adultery, proceed from our own hearts.

These conflicts come from an unsurrendered heart.

Also, don’t forget the “sin of presumption” saying, “Oh, of course we can go and do this or that because I PRESUME that everything will go smoothly and the Lord will bless it.” We must rather pray, “if the Lord wills…” because the Lord guides a man’s way.

James 5 – scolding the rich.

James 4 – “you kill” (metaphorically) – he’s writing to Christians abroad – this is what he sees in their hearts. It’s the spirit of murder in a person when in hostility toward another person. “If you harbor hatred in your heart, you harbor murder – without repentance, it may one day manifest into murder.” James here is warning the Christians against this kind of spirit.

James 5 – covetousness and speaking to the rich. Sounds like he has some real anger issues against the rich. Why?

Should we be embittered against the rich?

Not necessarily, there’s nothing inherently evil about money – it’s just a THING. “The (LOVE OF) money is the root of all evil.”

We must own the money, not allow the money to own us. We should use money and love people but most of us use people and love money…

James is writing here to rich people in general – later he will speak to the “brethren.”

These are practical and prophetic sayings to the rich Christians. This was written before the destruction of Jerusalem under Titus in 70 AD. At that time, there were no rich Jews remaining. Everything they had stowed up for themselves was gone.

Lesson: Stockpiling money isn’t God’s will for your life.

It is good to have savings, but not to just stockpile and do nothing with it.

Story of a man in Oregon – rode around on a bike, looked like a beggar, picked up cans and took them to the stores to get bottles. When he died, it was found that he had $10,000,000 and he’d never used it. He even got free meals from the town in which he lived at the soup kitchen.

That money did NO good for anyone, even himself until after he died.

Bible “The wealth of the wicked is stored up for … the righteous?”

Wealth is often used as leverage to gain more wealth. Millionaires may hire people at minimum wage and not actually pay them.

Microsoft for example, for 9 years, hired “perma-temps” which were “permanent full-time employees” who were classified as “part-timers” – so they worked the same as the full-timers with NONE of the benefits…

Eventually, they sued Microsoft, and MS needed to pay.

Ever encountered that? Employ them as full-time, but give the pay/benefits of part-time.

Leviticus : “The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you until morning.”

The men needed their wages – they needed to LIVE.

This wealth was not only used as leverage, but also as power?

Rich criminals sometimes get off completely free, but the poor get blamed. Truth? Not necessarily. The best Lawyers = “truth” and freedom for many.

Thank God there will someday be JUSTICE.

Leviticus: “You shall show impartial justice – don’t be partial to the poor, don’t defer to the rich.”

Illustration from Billy Graham:

A group of the world’s most successful financiers met in a hotel in Chicago? in 1920s. CEOs, Presidents of companies, Presidents of banks, heads of monopolies, etc.

Collectively, these men controlled more wealth than in the entire US Treasury.

For years, newspapers had been singing their praises and encouraging the youth of the US to follow suit.

But 25 years later, many died BROKE – on borrowed money, convicted felons, and committed suicide (3 of them).

They’d made money their god, and when their god fell, they fell.

When they lost their money, they lost their gods, they lost their souls, they lost their lives.

Their end was shocking.

We all have a little bit of envy of those who are better off than us – not even just celebrities – next-door neighbors…

Asaph in the OT, who wrote the Psalms wrote:

Psalm 72:

2-3 “As for me, my feet came close to stumbling, my steps had almost slipped, for I was envious as … I saw the prosperity of the wicked…

“They are not plagued like other men…

“Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and washed my hands in innocence…
“For I have been stricken all day long and chastened every morning. I may have become a stumbling block to others if I spoke thus.

“But then, I saw their end… destruction. Destroyed in a moment, utterly swept away by sudden terrors…

It’s easy to look as someone TODAY and be envious, but if we consider their TOMORROW, we’d be better to be patient waiting for the day of the Lord.

  • Do you invest in the world’s system?
  • Or do you invest in the Kingdom of Heaven?

2 Peter “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief when the world and its works will be burned up…”

The hope that the rich are holding onto will be destroyed – they will be without power, without prestige, without friends, without a checkbook.

But for those who have been trusting in the Lord, will find themselves to be very rich – eternal peace, life, love, joy.

Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when men cast insults at you or persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you on account of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven will be great. For this is how they persecuted the prophets as well.”

What about those who are wealthy?

If they are good STEWARDS of the wealth that GOD has given to them, they will be well off.

Luke “Make yourselves purses which do not wear out – treasures in heaven – where moths do not destroy. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Derick Prince:

  • “Yes, trust the Lord, have enough, provide for your family, and have enough to bless others as well.”
  • “If he can get it through you, he can get it TO you. But why would he give it to you if it stopped at you?”

The world revolves around money, but we don’t have to.

Be PATIENT – like the farmer who works hard NOW for the crop and the promise that is to come. Wait for the heavenly reward that is not subject to corruption and destruction.

Let’s meditate on this Word and pray.

The Prayer of Faith

13 Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. 17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. 19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

  • Jan 25 / 2015
  • Comments Off on Asking Amiss (James 4:1-17)
James: Put Your Faith to Work, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Asking Amiss (James 4:1-17)



Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Asking Amiss

James 4:1-17 (Pastor Brian)

Submit Yourselves to God

1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battlewithin you? 2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. 4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. 11 Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you–who are you to judge your neighbor?

Boasting About Tomorrow

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.


Different forms of wisdom:

  1. Consider “Worldly Wisdom” – like the character in John Bunyan’s book “The Pilgrim’s Progress”
  2. Also there is the “fleshly wisdom” from our flesh.
  3. And there is “demonic wisdom” – tarot cards, horoscope – just as often fake as real.

Remember in Acts, the slave girl who followed Paul and talked against them. Eventually, Paul was jailed and beaten, but the power of God was shown as he was freed.

We should not be looking into things that are contrary to God’s will – nothing “occult.”

Derick Prince “If you sup with the devil, use a very long spoon. But the best thing to do is to NOT sup with the devil at all.”

Anything dealing with the occult ought to be repented of and given to God.

Peace is sown in peace by those who want a righteous result.

Want wisdom? Pray to God – that’s the best way, the safest way to gain wisdom – “for God gives freely to all who ask without finding fault” (earlier in James).

We must not be partial, not hypocritical to our brothers and sisters in Christ (or potential bros and sis’ in Christ).

We must not blame God for our own faults – saying, “I was just born this way…” No, when we sin, we must not blame God – he’s provided the means of grace and must humble ourselves, repent, say, “I really can’t do this alone – I need you to help me break this thing in my life.”

After all this kind of exhortation, in chapter 4, James really hones in on the Christians in their scattered homes throughout the world.

He wants them to be “lights” though he knows they often aren’t due to pressures and forces internal and external.

In v.1 “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”

That was the root cause of all the conflicts. Every source of conflict has the same cause – Pleasures waging war against their Members (members of the body of Christ) – i.e. someone is putting their own “headoney” (pleasures/lusts – headiness) before others.

This is COMMON among the human population – pleasure is … pleasurable. “If it feels good, do it.” – You know… Hitler might have “felt good” but it wasn’t RIGHT. Just because it “feels good” or “everybody is doing it” doesn’t make it RIGHT or something that YOU need to partake of.

Galatians “The flesh sets its desire against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh – for these are in opposition to each other.”

For the Christian, there is a battle – we must acknowledge it, confess it, admit to God that we need his help.

v. 2 “You do not have because you don’t ask.”

Sometimes we don’t ask because we don’t expect. Sometimes we don’t ask because they are sinful motives – we ask for the wrong thing.

The answer? Wait on the Lord, pray, he will give guidance. Many Scriptures say the Lord will guide us if we actively seek him. But we must also walk in ways that are pleasing to him (Proverbs 3:5-6)

The price for our lives has been paid by the blood of Christ. We are not our own, we belong to Christ therefore.

  • 1 Cor 15:32 “If the dead are not raised, then let us eat, and drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we will die.” But as Christians – we KNOW there is a resurrection and life everlasting. We’ve received the gift of eternal life and that gift is pure and clean and wholesome having received new life.
  • James 4:4-6 “Friendship with the world is enmity (hostility) with God.”

The lust of the flesh, the pride of life lies in the lap of Satan – but as Christians, we’ve been redeemed from that system. We are now walking in the Spirit and being led by him. GOD is jealous of the Spirit he’s put in us – he “jealously desires the Spirit” – in the OT, God is a “jealous God.” Why? He wants to bless us, keep us, and he doesn’t want us to be controlled by the world. He wants us to walk in the Spirit and overcome the temptations from without and within.

If we are patient, we will overcome.

  • Psalm 32 “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart… trust in him and he will do it.”

These “desires” are given to you by God – no longer worldly pleasures, these are the “rivers of his desires”.

God will give a greater grace to us as well, when we HUMBLE ourselves before the Lord.

Let us humble ourselves and acknowledge his “greater grace”. James says, “grieve, be sorrowful over your sin, but also trust God to cleanse and heal” – there is a worldly sorrow that leads to death (Judas’ sorrow), but there is also a godly sorrow (Peter’s sorrow) that allows for full restoration of our relationship with God.

So the secret = be willing to bring your desires to the Lord “If this is YOUR will, DO it – if not, no matter how much I want it, don’t do it.”

Submit to God, resist the devil, and the devil will flee. BUT… “Too many Christians are submitting to the devil and resisting God…” (Derick Prince)

  • “Cleanse your hands” – repent of outward actions.
  • “Cleanse your hearts you double-minded” – repent of inward sins. Have you ever decided on something and then flip-flopped within 5 minutes? Yup, we all have. ALL.

The solution? Confess your faults one to another that you might be healed. Are you struggling with a secret sin? Find someone you can trust – bring it into the LIGHT, repent. Satan works in the dark, and wants to keep you in the dark. The longer you remain in the dark, the longer you remain in Satan’s domain and bondage. Come out in the LIGHT! Bring it to a brother or sister in Christ and this multiplies the effectiveness of your repentance.

God may want for you what you want as well – but as we submit to him and allow him to direct our decisions, we are doing well.

Even Jesus prayed “Lord, TAKE this cup from me! Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.” Remember that Jesus is our BEST example – follow his example.

James speaks of seeking wisdom and finding it through prayer.

v. 11-12 – “Do not slander one another.”

(Don’t let your tongue run away with your words – judging, condemning, gossiping – that’s SIN – it’s harmful, it’s prideful. Don’t you want to point out someone else’s sins? That’s pride.)

Be careful of judging and slandering others – this is breaking the Commandments.

Is this to say that we are never to mention the bad things that people do? How can we teach others about sin? Warn our children away from the wrong behaviors.

Greek scholar: Spearos Zoheitte?

“The love for one another refers to the PERSON and not to the ACTIONS of the person.” It’s not wrong to say, “He did this and it was a lie.” But it IS wrong to say, “He IS a liar!!”

If you point a finger, how many are pointing back at you?

Pointing fingers = judging, condemning, judging the PERSON.

Rather, do it in a loving way and judge the ACTION.

Remember, you “catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

“Here is Love, vast as the ocean” – are we bathing in the ocean of his love? Not only beautiful and wonderful, but also salty. If you get in salt water with open wounds… OUCH!

The Dead Sea = the saltiest place on earth. TONS of salt. The guide warned us – “if you want to go in, make sure you don’t have ANY cuts or scratches” but WOW – you could FEEL that salt where you’d shaved.

Not only does it hurt, but it also purifies.

Are we bathing in the ocean of God’s love? There may be some salt that would cause pain and irritation in our spirits, but it’s also cleansing.

Paul also says, “Let your speech be salty.” Cleansing, purifying, even though it may sting.

Don’t judge the Law BY not judging other PEOPLE (actions are on limits though).

God’s Law is holy, righteous, perfect, YET, we cannot keep it. Our flesh rebels against the Law of God.

Corinthians “The Law is perfect, written on stone, but those under it couldn’t keep it because their hearts were also stone. Therefore, let your hearts be changed to flesh (by God.”


In prison, a man had found the Lord, had been saved, got out of prison and went to church, and saw the commandments on the wall and thought “Wow, I’ve really broken a bunch of those.” But the Holy Spirit told him, “No, those aren’t commands any more, those are PROMISES.”

  • “Don’t steal” becomes “You WON’T steal because my Spirit is in you.”
  • “Don’t lie” becomes “You WON’T lie because my Spirit is in you.”

Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light…. if you abide in me and my Words abide in you, ask, and it will be given you.”

James also speaks against presumption:

“I’m totally going to … 5 years later… 10 years later… 20 years later.”

Actually, you don’t KNOW what will happen tomorrow. – Say rather, “If the Lord wills, we will…”

Presumption in another sense:

“Eh, I can sin in this or that way BECAUSE God has to forgive me.” Sin of presumption.

In the same way:

“We will blah, blah, blah, and hope that God blesses is.”


Sin of presumption:

A preacher had a fine dog, but there was a problem. Sometimes, things would go missing in his house – and he’d find the dog later chewing it up. Then, out in the garden under a bush, he found all manner of things.

It was like the Lord was saying to him, “Many Christians are like that. They do things that they think others won’t notice or bother.” But how many things have YOU hidden out there under the bush? That’s presumption.

We need to ask the Lord to help us NOT to do those things. Sometimes we allow things in our lives – grudges, a look on the Internet – and we need to repent of those things.

Remember the song “It’s your beauty, Lord, that makes us stand in silence.” And we also need silence in our lives to hear from him.

If we have things in our lives that are contrary to God’s nature, hidden sins, unrepentant sins, let’s confess those now before God and go from this place rejoicing in his greater grace and mercy for us.

“It’s your beauty Lord, that leads us to repentance.”

Let’s pray.

  • Jan 11 / 2015
  • Comments Off on Whence Our Wisdom? (James 3:13-4:10)
James: Put Your Faith to Work, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Whence Our Wisdom? (James 3:13-4:10)



Sermon Notes

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Whence our Wisdom?

James 3:13-4:10 (Pastor Brian)

Two Kinds of Wisdom

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition,there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.


— No recording – cable is broken today —


Christians are not to expect rosy, perfect lives, we are to expect conflicts that Jesus and others told us to expect – but THROUGH them, our faith grows, and BY it, we overcome the world.

We trust Christ and he blesses our obedience.

James talks about the trials and how our faith is strengthened through the trials. He speaks of the rich man and poor man (the rich in faith). In fact, usually it’s the rich who oppress and persecute and sue.

Don’t set your goals on this world, but on heavenly riches.

Some Bible versions have the same word for trials and temptations.

But, temptations come from WITHIN, trials come from WITHOUT.

We have been given new hearts, new spirits, but we still need to deal with the flesh. But still, 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Jesus said, “From within, from the heart comes greed, lust, murder, robbery, etc.”

God’s gifts are given generously to us if we ask for wisdom – God grants wisdom generously, lavishly, without reproach (without finding fault).

I struggle with condemnation, judgment, self condemnation and self judgment. “The Accuser” (Satan) of the brethren accuses us and pushes these things to the forefronts of our minds. But the Lord gives us grace and advocates (speaks for) us against the enemy.

“If Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.”

Listen to my Advocate – Jesus, he says, “NOT GUILTY” – he gives without finding fault. He’s not ignorant of our failings and sins, but he still provides the means by which we can be forgiven. God gives lavishly – we must be open to receive from him and we must have faith to receive that which we ask for (wisdom).

James reminds us of the holiness of God and his word – 1/2 Timothy 4:21? “The word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword…”

Where’s the GOOD seat? Do you say to someone “Hey sit over here by my feet”? God wants us to treat others equally and fairly – but we need the spirit of God and his sensitivity to do that.

Faith vs. Works.

  • We are SAVED by faith.
  • Evidence OF our salvation must be visible by works.
  • We are not saved by works – by the things we do. John 3:16 “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him  shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
  • We may HEAR the Word of God.
  • We may FEEL the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
  • But we still have the CHOICE to accept or reject that salvation offered freely by God.
  • Jesus alone is the Way, the Truth, THE Life.

OK, so you’ve accepted his salvation by faith. Now what?

Look at your testimony, and give it! “I’m not the man I once was. I don’t do the things I once did. Yes, I still fall, but there is ONGOING IMPROVEMENT – I am DAILY being renewed and remade in the likeness of Jesus, my Savior.”

Now, on to works. “Do SUCH good works that other men praise God because of you.” (Even in your workplace, home, community, society, etc)

Then, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers” because you will be judged more harshly.

Ex: “God says in his Word ‘You shall PROSPER!’” So how can we not believe it??” (Actually that verse says, “So that your SOUL shall prosper.” Get the soul prospering first before pursuing fleshly, worldly things.

Some of the things that James speaks of here (probably MOST of these things) were actually going on in the church at that time. There were people who dreamed of riches without God’s will, there were those who dreamed of being teachers, there were envious people, bad tongues, etc.

Bad tongues.

“All creatures of the air, land, and sea can be tamed and have been tamed by man, but no one can tame the tongue. Consider what a large forest may be set ablaze by a small spark. The tongue also is a spark and may set the whole world on fire and poison those who hear it – when we are critical and complaining.”

Remember this: “Cast all your cares on the Lord because he cares for you.” (Read Psalms for some great care-casting).

Whence is our Wisdom? From where does our wisdom come?

What do you think of when you hear “wisdom”? A gnarled old professor? Well, he MAY be wise, but merely HAVING Knowledge (in your head) is not wisdom. The APPLICATION of that Knowledge is wisdom.

There are three kinds of Wisdom:

  1. Godly
  2. Worldly
  3. Demonic

Some people BOAST of their wisdom. They want people to NOTICE just how wise they are. But if they don’t have “the fear of the Lord”, they don’t have true wisdom.

Proverbs: “For the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

What is this fear?

Being in AWE of God. We want to preserve his presence.

Some people are “wise” in a way, but it’s not godly wisdom:

  1. Earthly wisdom = knowledge used to your own advances. If you rip me off, I’ll sue the pants off of you. I’ll blackmail/take advantage of you. Spam you, Phish you, bully you, etc.
  2. Soul wisdom = intuition, feelings, etc.
  3. Demonic wisdom = deception

People are constantly looking for the truth in various religions and ways of life – all the while IGNORING THE Truth.

Here’s a testimony I’d like to share with you. This man goes out every week to Manchester and hands out these testimonies.

“Barry” was seeking wisdom in all the wrong places, but the Lord had mercy on him and led him to Christ. One man received this testimony and was so intrigued that he wants “Barry” to write more.

“Don’t talk to me about miracles. Show me one, and I’ll believe you. Christians can talk all day about the Bible’s ‘miracles’ but they can’t show you one. Obviously, the Bible is a tale of fairies, and has nothing to do with the real world – pain, failures, misery – and we all paper it over with fake smiles and try to make a crazy kind of life that we must make our home.

“Most of the above is true in the opinion of many – but here’s my story. This is the story of better and expecting better things. I’m sure many in France are hoping for better things now.

“My name is Barry. When I was young, a hippy, 60s generation, I was broken down, degraded, lawless, self-hating, delusional LSD tripper, occult-dabbler. As I ended this period, I was dying, extremely sick, and tormented. I was irredeemably insane. I was obese, and had sores all over my body. All who met me saw something so evil within me that they had to look away.

(Another friend of my was sitting in a cafe and said, “God, you’re so good, you can save anyone.” In walked Barry and the man said, “Maybe not him…”)

April 1972 – I knew this day was to be my last – I could not endure even one more tormented life. I was nocturnal, had dreams of parades of horror.

“Margaret was a young woman living near me and had been praying for me. Whenever she entered my room, an unnatural peace entered my room – and when she left, the peace left.

Final morning. Why should she care so for the wretch I’ve become? At least, I must go say goodbye to her. I went to her house and she told me and said, ‘God spoke to me and said you’ll be freed TODAY.’ I couldn’t believe her, but I asked her to pray for my soul.

“She was young, 24, married, had only been a Christian for 6-months. She prayed, ‘Jesus, I know you can heal him NOW.’ I suddenly convulsed and thought that I’d die immediately. The muscles of my face spasmed into grimaces of evil expressions.

“Margaret later told me that had even the heavyweight champion of the world had been there they’d have been ripped to pieces.

“Suddenly, I noticed that someone else was taking over my body – then a horrible wind rushed from my mouth for 1 minute – I thought I was surely witnessing my own death. I slumped to the floor and heard a death rattle coming from my throat.

“This is my miraculous story of rescue from demon possession – I don’t know how many there were, but at that time they were all cast out. That night, I slept my first peaceful night for 3 years.

Aug 25, 1972 – I became a child of the Living God. Jesus had risen triumphant from his grave, and likewise, I now was raised from my grave. Yes, really, that is the grace that I stand in today – I’m a Christian now and there is nothing special about me, BUT by crying out to Jesus, I’d given him permission to reach out to me and rescue me from the depths of my worst, most demon-possessed state.

“God is the Living God, and while he hates the SIN, he died for US – to lift our penalty from us and place it on Jesus for us that we might not perish but have everlasting life.

“All this is the gospel truth. Despite many failings, I’ll never forget this truth, this good news. I can guarantee that if you ask Jesus to reveal himself to you, he WILL – he cannot and will not leave your prayer alone.

“Joel/Job? And it shall come to pass, that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thank you for reading this account of my life.

Barry Jones.

He’s handed out about 12,000 to people individually. He doesn’t know what effect that may have.

The same need that Barry had is the same need that every one of us, our families, our friends, our enemies need. Are you manifesting works that prove that you’re saved by faith?

God says, “Open up my WORD. Read the Bible. I’ll speak to you through the Word, other people, dreams, circumstances, etc, etc.” God is reaching out to you – he wants YOU to experience HIM more fully – experience his peace, joy, salvation, life change.

Even as a Christian, do you know THIS? Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem (Jeonju), Judea (Iksan), and Samaria (Gunsan), and to the ends of the earth (Korea – your home country).

Make THIS your New Year’s Resolution!

How many times have we HEARD the Word and NOT acted?

Please don’t read this as a call to “religion” – it’s NOT. “Religion” is a hopeless attempt to satisfy a God we cannot know in a life we cannot live. God calls you to a RELATIONSHIP – a RETURN to your loving Creator.

At the beginning of this year, if you’ve never accepted Jesus, BEGIN the journey (Sola Fide – by faith alone).

But if you’ve BEGUN the journey, it is no longer Sola Fide – by faith alone – your faith must be SHOWN and ACTED upon. WORKS PROVE your salvation. Consider all the examples of FAITH IN ACTION that James gives throughout the book. Rahab, Abraham (not always a shining example of faith), – but in his journey in faith, he OBEYED God (faith in action) and God blessed him.

Let’s pray.

  • Dec 28 / 2014
  • Comments Off on The Taming of the Tongue (James 3:1-12)
James: Put Your Faith to Work, Pastor Brian, Sermons

The Taming of the Tongue (James 3:1-12)



Sermon Notes

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The Taming of the Tongue

James 3:1-12 (Pastor Brian)

1 Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.

3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.

5 Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongues also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and saltwater flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.


James has been talking about the importance of works in demonstrating our faith (these are evidence that we ARE saved – but they doesn’t save us in and of itself). We are saved by faith alone through grace alone. But where’s the evidence that you’re saved? Works. (James asserts)

James picks up on the topic of teachers now. This moves into an exhortation to all of us.

The Lord has established his church with a leadership with many responsibilities. (The five-fold ministry: apostles, evangelists, preachers, teachers, prophets) These “job descriptions” are present to help build up Christ’s church.

  1. Prophets speak God’s heart to his people – exhortations, encouragement, challenge.
  2. Evangelists bring in new people, spread the word to unbelievers.
  3. Preachers educate and instruct the church, helping people become mature in the faith.
  4. Apostles establish new works and lead the church into new things.

What happens if you aren’t doing your job? Bad things can happen. You should take your job seriously.

As teachers/preachers, we interpret the Word and tell people how to live out the Word of God. Therefore, we need to be careful to preach the TRUTH. (Paul says, “Entrust these to faithful men who would then teach others.”) – You must be faithful to learn – you can’t teach what you haven’t learned yourself. And all people will one day be accountable for all their words and works in the end.

Jesus told a parable – “blessed is the slave who is found by his master to be [doing all things with integrity] – but if he thinks ‘my master will be a long time in coming’ and starts to [take advantage, take for granted, act without integrity], then his master will come at an unexpected hour and rip him to pieces and hold him accountable for all his evil.”

The servant was to feed the others, but if he is slothful, lazy, gets drunk, beats the others, he will be punished horribly when the master returns. This is a parallel to the stricter punishment that teachers may incur if they “beat” the children of God and don’t feed them. (Remember when Jesus told Peter to “feed my sheep”? – this was the “reinstatement” of Peter – Jesus also prayed that his faith would not fail.)

  • Jesus then asked him 3 times, “Do you love me?”
  • Peter said, “Of course, you know all things.”
  • Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

(Remember Peter had previously denied Jesus 3 times, now Jesus is giving him an opportunity to acknowledge his love for him an equal 3 times.)

When we talk about pastors, preachers, teachers, Bible study teachers, cell group leaders, home study leaders, fathers and mothers at home – we all have a greater responsibility as teachers – we all have a responsibility to learn and grow – and we all will be held accountable in the end.

James says, “But not only teachers… consider your tongue.”

  1. The bit and bridle of the horse.
  2. The rudder of a ship.
  3. A spark that starts a forest fire.

Pauline’s story about “Dan” the horse. She was 5, on a horse, the horse walked on, came to a road, stopped, looked both ways, crossed, and went on a bit, turned around, came to the road, stopped, looked both ways, continued on home. She was safe. The horse had been well trained.

This bit is a very tiny part that guides the larger whole.

Incident of Derick Prince – he was in Israel teaching (married a European lady). She’d gone into a small store and was haggling – she didn’t buy anything and left. As she left, she stumbled. The Lord said, “The owner has just cursed you.”

This may seem far-fetched, but your words have power. Emotional power, spiritual power, sometimes physical power.

We must be careful in how we speak and in what we say.

The stumbling is not just a stammering in speech or saying something incorrectly, but we can literally start a fire, poison people, bring bitterness in the heart of another person.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” – chant from childhood

There are 4 headings of speech we must be aware of:

1. Gossip:

The WORST sin in a church – it often “looks” like counseling or “prayer requests”, but it is very common, done often, and may hurt others deeply and permanently.

Paul warned Timothy and Titus saying, “malicious gossips” (deabolos = devil) – When we gossip, it goes like this, “Did you hear…?” “WHA??? No way! Tell me more~~” and we jump on it like a hungry dog.

Don’t do this “devil talk” (deabolos) – gossip the gospel instead.

2. Tearing down/insulting

We are quick to point out the splinter in someone else’s eye, especially when they deserve it!

But we must speak the truth in love, not in criticism. Give a blessing, not evil for evil. (1 Peter 3:8-9)

In everyday life, we tear down politicians, neighbors, co-workers, family, friends we misunderstand. We must repent of this.

3. Profanity – bad language

What does the Scripture say? “Let no unwholesome speech come from your mouth, but only the words that may edify and build up so that it may give grace to those who hear it.” – Unwholesome = “rotten” putrid, not fit for use.

This isn’t only for the 4 letter words.

There are also fart jokes and etc that you don’t need to speak. This will probably require practice. But, “practice makes perfect.”

4. Complaining

Are you cold? Heater’s broken.

  • But this is forbidden in Scripture as well. “So as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, humility, kindness, gentleness, bearing with one another and forgiving each other just as the Lord forgave you.”
  • James 5:9 “Do not complain against one another brethren. The Judge himself is standing at the door.”
  • “Do all things without grumbling or complaining so that you may prove yourselves to be blameless.” Those who are blameless before God, forgiven by God, ought not allowed themselves to become ugly and complaining before men.
  • Proverbs “He who restrains his lips is wise.”

But we can’t all take a vow of silence. So, how can we control our tongues? Go to the SOURCE. (heart)

Jesus “Out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks. The good man, out of his treasure (heart) brings forth good, and the evil man, out of his treasure, brings forth only evil.”

So what should you do? Don’t try to stop your MOUTH. You’ll fail. Start by stopping it in your heart.

1 Corinthians “We take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.”

  1. Are these thoughts from temptation?
  2. Are these thoughts from my flesh?
  3. Are these thoughts from the Holy Spirit?

If it’s building, edifying, uplifting, encouraging, you can use it. The other 4? Avoid at all costs.

In the upcoming New Year, let’s challenge ourselves to make our tongues (hearts) more receptive to God’s inspiration and more edifying to the people around us.


Let’s pray.

  • Dec 07 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Faith and Deeds (James 2:14-26)
James: Put Your Faith to Work, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Faith and Deeds (James 2:14-26)



Sermon Notes

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Faith and Deeds

James 2:14-26 (Pastor Brian)

Faith and Deeds

14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder. 20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.


James is giving practical advice to his readers. In the beginning of the chapter, he warns against favoritism – showing undo favor to the “rich” of this world. “Oh, sit here in this nice place!”

  • All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans) and when you look at some of these lives (any lives actually), you’ll notice that they aren’t amazing.
  • Favoritism = giving undo favor where it is not due, and not giving favor where it is due.
  • James is bringing our identity back to Christ – we ought to keep the royal law = “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
  • If we keep only ONE part of the commandments and break ONLY ONE part, we have broken ALL the law. To break 1/10 = to break 10/10.
  • We must love others and show mercy (because we’ve received both from God himself).  Mercy triumphs over judgment.

“What good is it my brothers if a man has faith but no deeds? Can such faith save him?”

Paul writes “By grace you have been saved through faith…not as a result of works so that no one can boast…FOR we are his workmanship that he has created FOR good works.”

We aren’t saved BY works, but we are saved TO DO works.

Paul was a Pharisee of Pharisees and did everything in his zeal to keep the law – and he even persecuted the church at first. But after meeting Christ, he realized that ALL his works and deeds were FILTHY rags before God.

1 Cor 15 Paul rehearses how God’s mercy has been shown to him “But by God’s grace, I am what I am – and I labored MORE than all the other apostles (yet not I, but the grace of God working in me).”

God’s power gave him the power and the anointing to do what God called him to do.

James also asserts that we SHOW our faith BY our good works. We must demonstrate our faith by our actions.

When we come to believe in Jesus, we become a different person ( “A New Creation” ).


A pastor talked of how he became a Christian – he was a teenager in a band who HATED people. He looked for fights, insulted anyone, make fun of the homeless, and yell curses. God saved both of us in the same year and our hearts were absolutely changed.

When Matt saw a homeless man, instead of yelling at him, he pulled over and gave him a blanket and a lunch he’d made for himself.

What would James say if we’d become Christians and CONTINUED to yell at the homeless. If there was no heart change, no ACTION change, there is no EVIDENCE that your heart has changed.

It’s easy for a “pure” person to said, “Yes, I believe in God – and I’m a good person.” Well, the demons ALSO believe in God – shall they also go to heaven?

In the gospels, there was a man in the synagogue who cried out (with a demon), “Ya! What have we to do with you? Jesus, Son of God?” – Jesus didn’t say, “Oh, bless you, you know who I am.” Jesus cast him OUT of the man.

James goes on to show that faith without works is dead – using the Scriptures.

  • Abraham – sacrificing Isaac (Genesis 22): God tested Abraham (remember “count it all joy as you meet various testings in the world”?). He was instructed to take his ONLY son Isaac and sacrifice him on Mt. Moriah. He did it. It took 3 days to get to Moriah. On the 3rd day, Abraham raised his eyes and left the servants to “worship” God. (This is an obvious act of faith on Abraham’s part). Abraham laid the wood on Isaac and carried the fire and the knife.
  • Isaac: “Father?”
  • Abe: “Yes, son?”
  • Isaac: “We have all the stuff except the offering itself.”
    Abe: “The Lord will provide, my son.”
  • Abraham built the altar and bound Isaac and laid him on the altar and stretched out his hand to KILL his son – but an angel of the Lord stopped him. Test PASSED.
  • Then Abraham raised his eyes and saw a ram caught in the thicket by its thorns. So Abraham used the ram in place of Isaac. He called that place, “The Lord will provide.”

Up to this point in his life, Abraham had at times shown a bit of a shaky faith. He lied about his wife ( “she’s my sister, actually” ) and brought trouble on himself and the people around him (TWICE).

Now, even after he’s been given promises from God:

  1. You’ll have a son
  2. I’ll bless you through Isaac
  3. I’ll make your descendants as numerous as the sand on the seashore

But still, he takes his son Isaac to sacrifice him. He had such faith that God would do as he said to fulfill the promise, that even if he were to kill Isaac, God could raise him back up!

He’s taken it soooo far that he’s laid the wood on Isaac (remember Jesus also carried the wood of the cross). Isaac was NOT a young child – he was at least in his 20s. If Isaac had wanted to, he could have overpowered Abraham and said, “No way, daddy!” But he submitted himself to Abraham, laid down his own life – (remember, Jesus did this same thing for us as well – in complete agreement with God the Father).

“God will provide himself a (THE) lamb” – this is also a picture of Jesus – the ram caught in a thornbush – Jesus wore a crown of thorns for us to the cross.

Then, Abraham was told to NOT kill Isaac. In a sense, he received Isaac back from the dead – he was already sacrificed in his mind/heart. This is similar to Jesus’ resurrection as well.

James’ second example:

Rahab the prostitute protected Joshua and the spies when they investigated Jericho.

The prostitutes at that time also kept a boarding house – the spies went there for the night. The king heard about it and sent the guards to capture them. Rahab said, “No, they’ve gone.” But she’d hidden them. She’d also made a deal with them that when the men invade the city, they’d be protected from the destruction of the God of Israel.  So the men agreed – “put a scarlet rope from the window” – and they wouldn’t go in to kill the people.

After the walls of Jericho collapsed and the Israelites invaded, she was saved and assimilated into the nation of Israel.

This scarlet rope is symbolic of Jesus’ blood. In His blood, there is LIFE.

As we come around the table of the Lord for communion – as yourself, “Am I a part of this family? Is Jesus my Savior? Am I WALKING and ACTING in his will and his way?”

From the Daily bread – (hasn’t gone stale):

Feb 5, 2014: The Telltale Heart

We want to keep short accounts, not keep unforgiveness or sin in our hearts.

Recently, I read about a PI in the US who would knock on a door, show his badge and say “I guess we don’t have to tell you why we’re here.” And many times the person would look stunned and say “How did you find out?” And then go on to explain an unknown criminal act long ago.

This was an unconscious act of a telltale heart. We all know secret things about ourselves and our sins. The secret things we keep in our hearts may come back to us again and again.

  • John “By this we will know that we are before him. If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than us.”
  • James “Don’t just say, ‘We’ll pray for you.’ If you can actually help them.”

Have you done the things despite your failures? Then find rest. Even if your heart condemns you, know that God is greater. God abides in us by the Spirit whom he’s given us. God is greater than our self-condemnation.

Remember James’ words to be practical in our faith. Remember John’s words to DO the works before men that God would have us do – so that they will glorify God through what they see us doing through his power.

Where we can, ACT. (Maybe even a random act of kindness – don’t procrastinate – it won’t happen) If you have occasion to help someone, HELP.

Let’s pray.

  • Nov 16 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Perils of Partiality (James 2:1-13)
James: Put Your Faith to Work, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Perils of Partiality (James 2:1-13)



Sermon Notes

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Perils of Partiality

James 2:1-13 (Pastor Brian)

Favoritism Forbidden

1 My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong? 8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!


In James, remember where we’ve been.

James is writing to Christians, scattered abroad, discussing how important it is to practice what we preach “Walk the walk, and talk the talk.” Be DOERS of the Word, not just readers.

  1. Keep a bridle on your tongue.
  2. Show love to those in need.
  3. Keep yourself unstained by the world.

Things that are outright temptations in the world are obviously to be avoided, BUT ALSO, the attitudes and philosophies of the world show be avoided. (Romans 12:2 also “Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” – This is a process. Take in the Word, walk in the light of it, see the value of it.)

  • Here, James shows how conformity to the world’s standards can compromise God’s standards.
  • Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mould (mold).
  • Don’t show favoritism (partiality) – the state of being biased against or for one certain group or person over another group or person.

We are all likely guilty of this in some degree.

The Jews exonerated Jesus of being this (but this was hypocritical of them). Luke 20? The leaders came to Jesus and used his impartiality as their weapon. “Teacher, we know you teach correctly, and you don’t show favoritism to any, but teach the Word of God in truth…” But they tried to use this as a weapon “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?”

(If YES, the Jews wouldn’t find it very pleasing – he’d become unpopular. If NO, the Romans would see him as a rebel – he’d get in trouble. But you can’t outwit Jesus. “Who’s face is on this coin? Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.”)

They recognized that Jesus didn’t show partiality – even though they were enemies.

Partiality = undue favoritism

When he says “favoritism” he’s using a term in the Greek that means “lift up the countenance of somebody” (show a favor, encourage, lift up, etc). Think of Cain after he murdered Able – his countenance had fallen. And God saw that and said, “Why has it fallen?”

When your countenance is up, you are receiving favor, encouragement, etc. Originally, this was a pleasant term, but eventually, it became negative – when there is overt (too much) favoritism it’s no good.

For example, when the church was expanding, the Greek ajummas were not receiving the proper portion of the food and they had to resolve this issue so that there was no favoritism of Israel’s ajummas over the Greek ajummas.

Personal favoritism = lifting up or putting down someone else (you lift up one, you put down someone else)

Think of celebrities and the successful in their career/profession. We show tremendous respect to them, and to the “nobodies” we don’t care. God doesn’t do that – he looks at the heart.

Philip Yancy has interviewed many celebrities and has found that many have shallow hearts and depend wholly on the praise of others, not God.

The Lord looks at the heart.

Abe Lincoln “God must love the common man because he made so many of them.”

Even men of God – 1 Samuel 16 (after the failure of Saul – God was to choose a new king) verse 1 “So the Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long will you mourn for Saul? Fill you horn with oil and head to Jesse – I’ve chosen one of his sons to be king.’ Samuel ‘Saul will kill me.’ God ‘Take a lamb and say you’re going to sacrifice and invite Jesse. I will show you then.’ So Samuel went and the elders in the town shook in fear of him worrying he didn’t come in peace. When the sons of Jesse came, he saw the tallest, biggest, best and thought, ‘I bet this guy is who the Lord wants.’ But God said, ‘Nah, nah, nah – don’t look at his physique, I look at the heart.’ None of the young (7) sons that Jesse brought to Samuel were the ones that God had chosen. The youngest (David) was just a boy and was tending the sheep. So he was brought in – he was ruddy and handsome and the Lord said, ‘Bingo! He’s the guy!’ Samuel rose and anointed him with oil, then went on to Rama.”

Samuel even thought differently, but was sensitive enough to the Spirit of God that he knew there was another son and asked for him particularly.

There is a tendency (even among the prophets) to look at the outward appearance. Even Jesus said, “Do not judge by the outward appearance.” Romans 2:11 “There is no partiality with God.” Proverbs “To show partiality is not good.”

But we all have a tendency (from childhood) to show favoritism.

Still, James warns against this. So, he provides a common, practical example. Even in churches throughout the ages this is a big problem. The BIG givers usually get the best spots, the most preferential treatment, and the poor are told “Sit in the back.” Still, the Lord spoke strongly against this (Leviticus “Do not be partial to the poor…judge your neighbor fairly.” – we may even sometimes treat the poor better to the neglect of the rich. Don’t do this either.)

Use righteous judgment in whatever you do.

One pastor had been preaching on this and meditating for about a week. On Friday, a homeless man came in, he was almost getting sent to jail – he’d gone to every agency in town and didn’t get any help. He passed the office door and came in. We got him a Grey Hound (bus) ticket to Denver. He came back and said that his shoes were too small to walk – he asked for a ride. I obliged, nervously, but he was a good conversationalist and spoke of Jesus. He said, “Thank you, Father.” The preacher said, “Although I’d been meditating on this all week, it hadn’t yet touched my actions. I hope that I’ve learned this lesson.”

My experience:

In Canada, people often passed through, and people ask for money, a ride, etc. After a time, your heart can become hard. But the Lord says, “Repent of those attitudes. You have the means to help, so help.”

In Acts, the Jews had no dealings with the Gentiles, and yet God called Cornelius to know about Jesus and receive salvation through him. He was a centurion and tithed in the synagogue and prayed daily. An angel told him to go to Joppa and find Simon Peter and bring him to them – to their household – to tell them words by which they’d be saved. So he did it.

At the same time, the Lord was preparing Peter’s heart. The Lord gave him a (hungry) vision on the top of the roof of his building. A sheet came down from heaven with “unclean” animals and the Lord said, “Rise and kill and eat.” Peter said, “No, surely not.” God said, “Do not call unclean that which I’ve cleansed.” At that time the messengers from Cornelius arrived and called on Peter. The Lord said, “Go with them.” So he did, and he witnessed to them.

As he was speaking and explaining the ministry and life and salvation of Jesus, the Holy Spirit fell upon the Gentiles – and then Simon and the other Jews (witnesses) were able to testify to this to the greater Jewish church.

Then, Peter realized that God is not partial and that even Gentiles whose hearts are turned toward him can be saved.

Yet, even later, Peter still showed partiality to the Jews – separated himself from the Gentiles. Paul corrected him. “Old habits die hard.” You know that and I know that. We have to crucify the flesh daily. Peter subjected himself to Paul’s correction. We also must do that.

Remind ourselves: “That wasn’t right of me to judge him/her in that way. Just because he smelled, had bad hair, etc.”

Sex trafficking – in India – girls as young as 10 or 12 have no hope except through Christ. They are often enslaved by the government of the pimps. The pimps usually give loans with ENORMOUS interest which can NEVER be paid back.

Often these women may be saved and go right back into the prostitution. There’s not an immediate actual break from this kind of trauma. There takes time for the layers of brokenness to be healed.

“Over the mountains and the sea, your river runs with love for me, and I will open up my heart and let the Healer set me free.” But the healing takes time.

We should open our hearts to our brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world – don’t show partiality to any. Where there’s a need, try to meet it.

Ceneka – Greek philosopher – said, “They love to put rings on their fingers.” Just to show off how wealthy they were (even if they weren’t) – they just wanted to give the IMPRESSION that they were wealthy (how many of us do that today?)

These people were often given special treatment in the church.

Another person comes in who hasn’t showered in a few days and is told, “sit in the back… or at least not too close to the rich because their noses are sensitive…”

Yet, it’s the RICH who drag you to court and sue. The RICH oppress you. The RICH blaspheme the name of the Lord.

In Antioch they were called “Christians” first (in mockery) – but they took that name and ran with it – making it a badge of honor.

James concludes and says, “Show mercy TO EVERYONE.” No one can CHOOSE who is worthy or not worthy of salvation. Then you are becoming judges with evil thoughts.

Remember: Mercy TRIUMPHS over judgment.

The picture of the Roman general with all his treasures from the war would come out and honor the general – he’d come back with MORE than he’d gone out with. This is TRIUMPH. This is a good picture of what Mercy over Judgment means.

Even as Christians, we will face the Judgment at the Bema Seat – “what have you done with the life you’ve been given?” – this is not to enslave us with fear, and this is not the judgment of condemnation. But when we are merciful, we also will receive mercy.

“Love covers over a multitude of sins.”

May the Lord bless the Word to our hearts and enable us to put it into practice this week.

Let’s pray.

  • Nov 02 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Listening and Doing (James 1:16-27)
James: Put Your Faith to Work, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Listening and Doing (James 1:16-27)



Sermon Notes

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Listening & Doing

James 1:16-27 (Pastor Brian)

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Listening and Doing

19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does. 26 If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.


James was the half-bro of Jesus – didn’t believe in him at first, but after resurrection, became a Christian – believed in his brother as Lord and Savior, and became pastor of the church of Jerusalem. (Jude – half-brother also believed and wrote another letter in the Bible.)

James realizes that the Christians who are scattered abroad will be undergoing hardships and he’s writing this letter to encourage them. “Rejoice in various trials and temptations from without…” (We are fallen and living in a fallen world – but we’ve been revived and regenerated by the Word of God. Nevertheless, we are still living in the flesh and the sinful nature may yet rise up and mar our testimony.)

There will be trials from without – but if a person endures, they will be strengthened, mature in faith, build character, be lacking in nothing ( “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13 )

James is encouraging people to endure the trials from without.

Also, acknowledge where you fail from temptations from WITHIN. God doesn’t tempt, it’s not God’s fault you’ve sinned. Sin is a choice YOU made – you allow it to come into your mind and satisfy your flesh. This eventually leads to death. Get RID of those things. They MAR your testimony.

“Let the poor man rejoice in his high status – he’s raised with Christ to the high places. Let the rich man rejoice in his low status – he’s like a flower in the field – here today and gone tomorrow.” James 1

James also says we should “ask for wisdom – in faith – believing.”

Spurgeon – “faith comes” (by hearing) Romans

We must be DOERS of the Word, not HEARERS only. (Don’t just quote Scripture, Do what it says.)

Apply the Word in our lives – that’s the Challenge.

Neil Andersen – at the time he wrote the book “The Bondage Breaker” there were many pastors falling into the exact sins they were preaching against. Even if you’re preaching and teaching, don’t assume that you’re above sin. Even preachers aren’t FREE from sin and temptation. There is always (should be) growing and sometimes (groaning) as we grow.

“Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace.” – 18th century – Robert Robertson

“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Take my heart, Lord, take and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above.”

Prone = we have a tendency to wander

Robert Robertson’s parent died when he was young, then he got into trouble as a teenager. They went to a fortune teller and gave her some alcohol to tell their fortune for free. He, 17, was told he would live to see his grandchildren and children – he thought “I better get my life fixed.”

He went to see George Whitfield preaching, and he was preaching on the point where Jesus said, “you brood of vipers!” – He and his friends had gone to heckle (make fun of the preacher) but this Scripture grabbed his heart and held him for 3 years afterward. He eventually wanted to become a pastor.

He wrote this hymn at age 23.

“Here I raise mine Ebenezer, hither by thy help I’m come.” – 1 Samuel the Israelites had beaten the Philistines. Dago toppled over in their own temple and showed that Jehovah was the victor. Later, Samuel raised this stone of “help” that God had been to his people – he’d given them victory over their enemies. And this was a reminder of their victory.

The interesting point is – this was the point of their first DEFEAT – and then they were granted victory there and Samuel raised the Ebenezer? stone as a memorial.

Hitherto the Lord has helped us – “until here the Lord has helped us.”

When we sing “Here I raise mine Ebenezer” = we are remembering that the Lord has helped us up to this point.

“Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it.” = Praise the Lord for Calvary – where the Lord was crucified for our sins. And we need to daily go BACK to it to remind ourselves of it (you know, humans are inherently forgetful.)

Urban legend?

Later on, Robert Robertson did fall away from the faith. He was Baptist, Methodist, then Unitarian (didn’t really believe Jesus was totally God and man).


  • Later on in the stagecoach, a lady was humming the hymn he’d written – and she started pressing him about it “Wow, this is a beautiful hymn, don’t you think?”
  • He: “Madam, I’m the unfortunate writer of those words, and I’d give a thousand worlds to have the joy I’d had at that point when I’d written them.”
  • She: “Don’t worry, the streams of mercy are still flowing.”

And he was stirred in his heart and gave himself back to Christ.

“Take my heart, Lord, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.”

And his words live on – they are words of life, of reality.

Recently – a pastor who’d fallen into sin said, “Sometimes we take a persona to church (a tie, a “happy family” – an IDEAL life – rather than the REALITY of who he/she really is).” It’s actually in LONELINESS that we see who we really are.

“Just as I am” – without any ideas of falsity – the Lord receives us.

I wanted to explain the hymn so that it will become more relevant to where we are and what we are doing.

Back to James.

James is encouraging Christians to live in the world IN the New Life that we’ve received by the Word of God. We become a kind of firstfruits of all that he’s created. To Nicodemus “You must be born again – born anew.”

“Must I go back and come forth again?”

No, no, without Christ and his grace and intervention for us, we are dead in our sins.

God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

God is longsuffering, patient, kind, but he wants the similar Spirit to be manifest in our own lives. As Paul writes: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.” If these things are not evident, then we are bearing the fruit of the flesh: sexual sins, pride, strife, jealousy, anger, quick to speak, quick to anger.

You know, we can be in the Spirit one minute and the next BAM! out comes something we didn’t fully intend. Where did that come from? The flesh.

1 John 1:8-9 “If we say we have no sin, the truth is not in us… But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Neil Andersen: Bondage Breaker

Speaking of the San Andreas fault – if they get a small tremor – no problem. But if there is NO movement, uh oh, maybe “the BIG one” is coming…

Like this, if we confess our sins OFTEN – this is the course of life and reality and spiritual health. BUT, if there is a LONG period of silence, we are hiding sin, secret sin – and this may grow and culminate into an EXPLOSION of pain and trouble.

We must keep “up to date” with our confessions with the Lord. It’s like looking into a mirror. “I didn’t leave anything in there did I?” If you just LOOK and don’t CLEAN UP – what good is it?

Look in the Word of God and don’t apply it (to yourselves). Don’t just think of how it might apply to OTHERS. What about YOU??

“Lord, help ME get over this, help ME get rid of this.”

  • Sometimes it’s helpful to seek out a stronger Christian and confess and keep accountable to them.
  • Sometimes, when our spiritual joy is not where is should be, we should find a brother or sister in Christ to confide in and confess our sins to.

“Lay aside all that remains – the wickedness or naughtiness” – we can’t receive what the Bible promises if we remain in sin. If we think this is for someone else, and not just for ME, we are also not DOING the Word.

Jesus also said, “Deal RADICALLY with sin. If you right eye offends you, poke it out. If your right hand offends you, cut it off. It’s better to enter heaven mutilated than go to hell whole.”

(He meant this spiritually, not physically literally.)

Consider David (Psalm 51?) – Confession of his sin with Bathsheba before God.

David put Uriah – her husband – in the front lines of battle and had all the soldiers pull back so that he would be killed. Then he took her into his house – but the prophet Nathan? came and spoke to him.

“A rich man had tons of stuff, but stole the small lamb from his neighbor for a feast. You are that man.”

Psalm 32 = his ANGUISH over unconfessed sin.

“I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ and thou didst forgive my sin.”

David was forgiven, but not the same – not as bright as before.

3 aspects of sin:

  1. Missing the mark (Romans 3:23 – “all have fallen short of the glory of God” – we are all born that way and need the Spirit of God to be renewed)
  2. Transgressions (Presumptuous sin – willful, knowledgeable sin – you KNOW what you SHOULD do, but CHOOSE not to)
  3. Iniquity (deep roots – premeditated choice to CONTINUE in unrepentant sin)

Eventually, he recognized all three aspects of evil and confessed his sin.

He had to DO it, he had to HUMBLE himself before the Lord.

In conclusion:

Ravi Zaccharias

“A man was confined to a Communist prison in Europe around 20 years old. He was there for 50 years. Eventually, he was released in a wheelchair – and was speaking an ancient Hungarian tongue. He asked for a mirror – there were no mirrors in prison. The last time he’d seen himself, he was 20, now he was a shell of what he had once been at age 70.”

Is that like us sometimes?

We SEE the mirror of the Word, but we go away and forget the person we WERE reflected in the mirror to us.

Let’s let the Lord speak to our hearts now.

Let the Lord deal with one area of our hearts where we have failed, where we are prone to wander.

Quick to listen, slow to speak is what James recommends. Let’s be quick to listen to the Lord and slow to speak up in defense of ourselves.

The Lord wants to help, encourage us, and allow the streams of mercy to flow over us.

Let’s pray.

  • Oct 19 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Desire and Deception II (James 1:12-20)
James: Put Your Faith to Work, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Desire and Deception II (James 1:12-20)



Sermon Notes

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Desire & Deception II

James 1:12-20 (Pastor Brian)

12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Listening and Doing

19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.


Pastor Brian’s voice today = his wife Pauline

In James 1, we see:

  1. Trials
  2. Temptations

Trials & Temptations GROW our faith

#1: Trials come from outward things.

  • We need to PERSEVERE because it develops CHARACTER. (Perseverance = Not quitting)
  • It makes us stronger in Christ, maturing us.

Long ago, the builders of ships looked for LONG trees to build masts. They went up to the hilltops to find trees that were already strong in storms, tall, strong, straight. (Therefore, they didn’t go down into the valleys.) God wants us to be like these trees – tall and strong through the storms of life.

Don’t be a tree that is uprooted easily – we need DEEP ROOTS in Christ.

James says, “Ask God for wisdom.”

We need an unshakeable faith that God will help us and answer us. He will give us a crown of life if we do this.

#2: Temptations

  • Has anyone ever NOT been tempted?
  • Are you tempted to call in sick to work? Speed (or run red lights) on the way to church?
  • It’s the “little things” that can trip us up.

Paul : “You once were adulterers, murderers, hard-core sinners… you’ve put that all behind you.”

When we become Christians, we quickly put away the “big” sins, but it’s the “little” sins (gossip, lying, cheating, etc) that trip us up.

In a Speech, when we say our words, they are GONE. But when we write them, they remain. Hopefully this is an accurate transcription of the sermon today.

“No temptation has seized you except what is COMMON to man…” 1 Corinthians 10:13

Ex: “If THAT guy didn’t do THAT thing, then I wouldn’t have done THAT OTHER thing.”

Also, no one can say that God tempts us. God doesn’t do that. But each of us is tempted when we follow our own lusts and wander off.

God makes a WAY to escape our temptations.

“And God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear, but when you ARE tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can ‘stand up’ (resist) under it.”

1 Corinthians 10:13

How to deal with these:

  1. Trials: be a BOXER – resist it, persevere
  2. Temptations: be a SPRINTER – run away

Ever heard “The devil made me do it?” Nah, I made me do it. I chose to do it.

Hunters and fishermen use bait to catch their kill. The experienced ones know EXACTLY the right bait to use to catch them easily and quickly. (Satan is the MOST experienced hunter.)

Story: My dad was a hunter, and so it wasn’t unusual to see bears hanging in the garage. When he wanted to get another animal, he’d put a part of the dead animal in a trap to catch the other. The living animal would come along and be unable to resist and easily be caught.

Satan KNOWS (how? not because he’s omniscient – he just has a LONG wealth of experience) what is the most attractive bait for each of us. He won’t tempt everyone with the same bait.

You know the fishhooks with a barb on the end? If you get caught with that, it’s HARD to get away – you may need to CUT it out (and that gets painful).

When we follow our desires, we are tempted, when tempted, we sin.


  1. Give in
  2. Resist


  1. Joseph – he was “the guy” in charge of everything for Potiphar, but his wife chased him around tempting him continually. But he knew he couldn’t give in. She cornered him but he RAN, leaving his coat — oops. Then she lied about it to her hubby who threw him in jail.
    1. Paul to Timothy: “Flee youthful lusts and pursue righteousness.”
    2. Peter: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
  2. David (yes, THAT David)
    1. One summer, sigh, “I’ll just take a vacation this summer. You guys go off to war, I’ll chill in the palace.” He wandered up to the rooftop and saw a beautiful woman (Bathsheba) bathing on the roof below – and he fell into sin with her.


  • Joseph: servant, poor, woman in pursuit
  • David: king, rich, loads of wives already

They both had a CHOICE. Position doesn’t matter. Income doesn’t matter. Who we want to sin with doesn’t matter. So, then WHAT matters? THE HEART.

Get in the Word of God to put the Word of God in your Heart in order to resist the temptations that come our way.

James say, “When sin is accomplished…”

(i.e. we embrace it – habitually – it’s a “lifestyle choice” – a pattern)

  • Do you think drug addicts think, “Hmm, what do I wanna be when I grow up? I know! A drug addict would be great!” No way. It just takes one step, and another, and soon you lose track of yourself down the path that steers you away.
  • Gambling also is a problem like this – it’s a big bait for some people.
  • Also alcohol, promiscuity, etc, etc.

Would these people have CHOSEN these lifestyles if they’d KNOWN beforehand the consequences of their step-by-step choices that eventually led them to this life? No.

Unrepentant sin = DEATH

It will kill you physically and spiritually. Sin has consequences. “The consequences of sin is death.” Romans 3:23?

1 John “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

I dunno what your week has been like, but ask Jesus to FILL you. Get in the Word. FLEE youthful lusts.

If you have anything in your heart that you’ve been holding close, protecting, guarding, keeping secret – give it to Jesus. Let it go. Then, throughout the week, get in the Word and pray and CONTINUALLY give this to Christ. It’s not easy, nor a one-time deal in many cases.

Let’s pray.

  • Oct 05 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Desire and Deception (James 1:12-20)
James: Put Your Faith to Work, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Desire and Deception (James 1:12-20)



Sermon Notes

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Desire and Deception

James 1:12-20 (Pastor Brian)

12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Listening and Doing

19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.


James was the half-brother of Jesus, BUT considers himself a “bond servant” of Christ. He doesn’t boast in his relationship with Jesus except as a servant. He’s writing here to the 12 tribes scattered abroad (Jews, mostly) – in the “diaspora” – the spreading of the Jews into different parts of the world.

He is giving very practical advice and counsel. He is concerned about them living out their faith and being fruitful in ministry and life. He knows that they will have trials and suffering. James 1:2? “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds…”

Perseverance = going on to the end.

“The testing of your faith develops perseverance” Testing = making stronger, NOT trying to break. For example, steel: must be tested to strengthen it.

This is the kind of “testing” that God used to test Abraham. “Go up this mountain and sacrifice your son Isaac to me” (he was over 100 years old, this was his only son, through this son the Promise was to be fulfilled) – so why do it? The testing of his faith showed his heart to God – he knew that God would STILL fulfill that Promise to him – even if he had to raise Isaac from the dead again (which, in a sense, he did – because in his mind, Isaac was already dead).

Eagles also go through “testing”. When eaglets are “of age”the mother starts tearing up the nest and THROWS the eaglet out. The eagle struggles to fly, and finds that HE CAN! He didn’t know that before. But what would happen if he couldn’t fly? The mother swoops under the baby to catch it if it can’t really fly. Then, they will repeat the “test” again later.

The Queen of Sheba came to Solomon to “test” him with many questions. She came away convinced that all she heard about him was true.

God didn’t rid the land (the Promised Land) of its enemies before sending the Israelites there. He sent them to LEARN, to fail and then later succeed.

You start with the basics in school and build upon that.

Count these “tests” as fully joy – and allow perseverance to have its full work in you so that you may be complete and mature (not perfect).

Phil 1:6 “He who began a good work in you will complete it…”

What of these trials we face?

They are difficult. Trying. James says, “Ask God for WISDOM without ‘casting in your teeth’ (without reproach).” God doesn’t give a gift spitefully, nor to manipulate. He GIVES because he LOVES.

In the trial, ask “What can I learn from THIS experience?”

Maybe “try again” go around again, fail, fail, fail, succeed. God is looking for our reactions in these kinds of circumstances.

Now, this wisdom that James mentions is not some kind of abstract, philosophical, heady, theoretical wisdom – it’s practical LIFE wisdom.

“This is what you are to do to profit and grow in your trials and lives – ask in FAITH, remember how God has been faithful to his promises in the past, and trust that he will remain true to them in the future.” Doubt your doubts, and believe your beliefs.

Charles Spurgeon : “Faith comes…”

Romans “Faith comes from hearing…” (the whole verse) – but Spurgeon emphasizes “faith COMES” – if you don’t have it now, meditate (mutter), read, memorize, pray, proclaim God’s Word.

The Muslims proclaim their Quran multiple times per day – how much more should we also proclaim the Word of God!

We must hide his Word in our hearts, treasure it, and proclaim it.

What should we ask for? Not what you might think.

v. 9 “The humble man ought to take pride in his high situation – rejoice!” “But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position.”- He will pass away like the flowers. Imagine the fresh spouts in spring, scorched by the heat of summer.

Likewise, anyone’s life may be extinguished in an instant – you never know. Jesus also told this kind of story: “There was a rich man with an overflowing harvest. He decided to rip down his barns and build new ones to house it all. He would eat, drink, and be merry. Yet, his life was demanded of him that night.”

King Solomon (very rich) said in Ecclesiastes: “I hated all that I had and accumulated because I knew that I would not be able to enjoy it – but the one who came after me would get it.” Even Solomon fell from his high position at the end of his life when he turned from God.

In addition to maturity and perseverance, God wants to APPROVE of us.

There is a very detailed process for a politician to become a Cabinet member – they want to be sure there are no “skeletons in the closet” that would shame the government or create a scandal. However, where humans are concerned, things are often overlooked. But where God is concerned, things are NOT overlooked.

The Crown of Life: v. 12 “Blessed is the man who perseveres under temptation….”

  • 1 Thessalonians “What is our joy, our crown, in Jesus? Is it not you – indeed, you are our crown of joy.” (The Crown of Joy – those who lead people to Christ and disciple them)
  • 2 Timothy 4:8 (The Crown of Righteousness) – given to the Christians who expected the Lord to come back and lived with that “Now there is in store for me the Crown of Righteousness…to all who loved his appearing.” (Looking forward to his return?)
  • Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:4) – given to those who shepherd the church and are responsible for the flock “When the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory, which will never fade away.”
  • James 1:12 “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because when he has stood test, he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to him.”


  1. God allows some kind
  2. Some comes from within (our sinful nature)

Temptation is common in life (speed, lie, call in sick, cheat, steal, etc, etc) – everywhere we turn, we face it.

The Jews had reference to the 2 natures of man: good nature, evil nature. Paul also knew this “When I want to do good, there is evil there will me, fighting against the good I want to do… Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Christ is in him, giving him the victory.

Illustration of temptation:

  • Temptation comes – a begrudging thought. We play around with it a little bit – then go back.
  • We get a lustful thought – start doing it. “Oh, I shouldn’t be doing this” and go back.

Don’t let temptation go across the threshold of your mind. – Oswald Chambers

Let’s go into that more next week. Now, let’s prepare our hearts for the Lord’s supper.

What have we done throughout the week that is displeasing to the Lord? Confess those – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to cleanse us from our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Lord, forgive us our sins, and purify our hearts. In Jesus name.

Let’s pray.

  • Sep 21 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Introducing James (James 1:1-11)
James: Put Your Faith to Work, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Introducing James (James 1:1-11)



Sermon Notes

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Introducing James

James 1:1-11 (Pastor Brian)

1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.

Trials and Temptations

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. 9 The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10 But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.


Where are you on the journey of Faith?

You’ve exercised faith, lived by faith in your life before – looking back, surely you can see it. “Lord! You’ve got to come through! Show me you’re there!” And he does!

Wow. The book of James is a challenge to me (the pastor) and to all of us. May God bless us with MORE faith.


  • Do we live by Faith?
  • Do we live by Works?

Luther lived during a time of Legalism when lots of abuses of faith were in place – indulgences, etc, trying to “work” yourself into the presence of God. But he finally found peace with God when he read “The righteous will live by faith.”

Actually, Luther – who’d lived by works for much of his life – went overboard after he changed his opinion. He strongly disliked (hated) James afterward.

But James is not only about “works” alone – but THE “works” and the “work” OF our faith. “Without works, faith is dead.” says James.

After repentance, we live by faith, grow by faith, and WORK on it. This is what James says.


We know that the Lord used 40 authors to write the 66 books of the Bible.

  • John = fisherman
  • Matthew = tax collector
  • Luke = doctor
  • Samuel = in the temple
  • Moses = royalty
  • Daniel = slave

2 authors in the Bible lived a life NO ONE else lived: James & Jude: brothers of JESUS.

When Jesus began his ministry, he taught from many different places:

The boat, the mountain, hilltops, the synagogue, homes…

Even there was a synagogue in his hometown (Mark 6:1-3) “He went to his hometown and taught and many were astonished and saying, ‘Who is this man? Where did he get this wisdom? Isn’t this the son of Mary? The brother of James? Aren’t his sisters also here?’ And they took offense at him.”

His own family and hometown rejected him.

Jesus was the oldest of 5 boys – nothing set him apart physically from the others. These people had watched Jesus grow up from the time he was young.

  • Mark 6:4 “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown, among his relatives and his own family.”
  • In John 7:5 “Not even his brothers believed in him.” (after he was preaching and performing miracles) His brothers even teased him and said, “Hey, if you wanna be famous, go up to the temple brother!” (snickering)

They didn’t believe in him then, but then WHY is there an epistle from James (his brother) and Jude (his brother) in the Bible? They didn’t believe in him THEN, but AFTER his resurrection, they couldn’t NOT believe.

In his resurrection, James and Jude (at least) believed, became born again, filled with the Spirit, apostles, (and later martyred for their own brother/Savior).

We also need to believe and accept THIS TRUTH – that Jesus is the Son of God, died for our sins, was buried and resurrected on the third day to give us new life (this is the Apostle’s Creed which we’ve read this morning).


“I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas (Peter) but I didn’t meet anyone else except James, the Lord’s brother.”

14 years later, James spoke with authority at the Council of Jerusalem. This guy who once hadn’t believed in Jesus, became the lead pastor of the Jerusalem church! Galatians 2:12 “There are men coming to Antioch FROM JAMES.”

Even Jude, when he wrote his letter, he quotes his brother James, “Jude, a bond servant of Jesus Christ (my brother) and the brother of James.”

Neither of them ever quote Jesus as being their brother. This is part of their humility. They are SERVANTS of the Son of God – they recognized his authority and power and position as the Alpha/Omega – and acknowledge their position as his bond servants.

In the OT, if a person had fallen into debt, he could go into servitude and serve that master as a slave for only up to 6 years – in the 7th, he MUST be freed. But, some slaves felt, “My master is a good master – he takes care of me and my family – if I leave, I’ll likely be worse off. I’ll stay.” Then, there was a ceremony before God and the others to take him into his home. They used an awl to pierce his ear into the doorpost of the master’s house. He was then committed to this master FOR LIFE. This is the meaning of “bond servant.” THIS is how James and Jude see their relationship (now) with Jesus.

James then addresses his letter to the “Diaspora” – the twelve tribes of Jerusalem (i.e. the WHOLE church).

Many Jews had come back to the temple during Pentecost and heard Peter preach, had become born again and filled with the Spirit (3,000+ men in a single day), and went back to their homes and preached the good news there.

James is writing to THESE believers and encouraging them to remain faithful and encouraging them to PRACTICE their faith in a PRACTICAL way.

How many of you have had TRIALS this past week? They come and go, it’s a part of life – especially the Christian life because we’re living in “enemy territory.”

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds.” (one of my favorite verses in the whole Bible) – v.2

They counted it as JOY when they were persecuted and suffered for the name of Jesus.

  • Is “all” an adjective? “Count it ‘fully joy’?”
  • Actually, it’s a noun. “Count ‘everything’ joy.”

In a message my family was listening to – we became quite stirred up. This was the story of a man who was a homosexual – in fact, a prostitute. The Lord got a hold of him, saved him, blessed him, and gave him a powerful testimony. He still had mannerisms that outwardly described him as feminine. But this gave a remarkable illustration of Naman – a general who had leprosy and was told to “go to the prophet” to be cured of his leprosy. He went there, and expected Elijah to wave his hands over him and clean him up immediately. But that didn’t happen, Elijah sent his servant out to him, and said “Dunk yourself in that river 7 times” (wasn’t that river dirty?) – Naman was ANGRY “Hmmmph! The rivers where I come from are WAY better than this!” The servant said, “Listen, IF the prophet had asked you to do some great, enormous, glory task, you would do it right?” “Right.” “Then, just do this – it’s so simple…” So Naman eventually did.

The man (homosexual) said that MANY times during his life, he’d had to “re-dunk” himself in the grace of God. He felt like he was becoming clean. It’s a PROCESS – it’s not IMMEDIATE. Have patience with yourself and others who are going through the process. God sees all and knows all and deals with it and HEALS.

If you see “Dunkin’ Donuts” remember that YOU need more “dunks” before you’re righteous and holy.

“Should I forgive 7 times?” Jesus: “Nah, 77 times.” You want mercy, give it as well.

I’ve got trials, but don’t count it “joy” but “trying.” Difficulties are “difficult.”

If you lack wisdom, ask God, he gives GENEROUSLY, LIBERALLY. When in a trial, ASK God and he will give you wisdom to know how to react.

Ex: Car accident

Cut off, side-swiped, “Lord, give me patience.” The thing worked out very well. LESS anger in Korea = less crazy. I got my car back BETTER than I left it. (Me too, same story.)

“How can I show myself as a Christian in this trial, rather than just as a ‘crazy’ angry guy?”

LOOK BACK on how God has helped you previously and ask IN FAITH for God to help you out in THIS PRESENT situation.

If you don’t ask in faith, what good is it? You’re acting like 2 different people. God HELPED you before, won’t he again? This is faith. If you have trouble with faith, ASK, “Lord, help my unbelief.”

James says, “God is a good God.”

Jesus says, “If your son asks for a fish, will you give him a snake? NO. If you (evil by nature) know how to give good things to your children, how much MORE will he give you the Spirit?” CONTINUE asking, go DEEPER in the Spirit, be continually FILLED, LED, GUIDED by the Spirit, worship in the Spirit – and you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh.

From NOW, let’s prepare our hearts to EXPECT God to do good works in us and those around us. Let us now, “put our Faith to work.”

Let’s pray.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Listen