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 perseverance. 4 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.
James majors in FAITH PROVING ITSELF THROUGH WORKS.
- 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.”