12 December 2012
When I think about who Jesus is, that hymn "Something About That Name" comes to mind! "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus... there's just something about that name!" See Jesus is ________!
- The Great One
- The Second Person of the Trinity
- The Messiah
- The Son of God
- The I’AM of all Creation
- The Great Teacher
- The Great Shepherd
- The very Word of God made flesh
- The First and the Last
- The Bread of Life
- The final amen
- The Great High Priest
- He is the image of the invisible God
- The Judge of the living and the dead
- The Name above all names
- The Alpha and Omega
- The Beginning and the End
We need stop and ask ourselves the hard questions! Was Jesus just a man like you and me? YES.
HE HAD A HUMAN BIRTH! In Luke 1:35 “And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.” HE HAD A HUMAN MIND! In Luke 2:52 “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” HE HAD HUMAN EMOTIONS! In John 12:27 "Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.” BUT! Here is where I put “but” to the previous question! YES HE WAS A MAN LIKE YOU AND ME! BUT COMPLETELY SINLESS. In 2 Cor 5:21 “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Sadly the world doesn't look at Jesus in this light! The Bible says they only saw him as a man, a miracle worker who met there need as John wrote in chapter 6 of his gospel. To this fallen world Jesus, is nothing more than a children’s tale to tell at bedtime…… like “Jack and the Beanstock.”
- Some would say “Jesus is no more than angel created by God.”
- Some would say “Jesus is a small puny deity created by God”
- Some would say “Jesus is folklore, made up tale to help the weak”
- Some would say “Jesus is a god like the rest of us”
Again, sadly these ideas are wrong and my heart breaks because of their blindness to the beauty and truth found in His name. He wasn’t some man who could build solid furniture and tables! He was much more than this. He is the second person of the Trinity…..fully God and fully man! He had all the same characteristics as the Father and the Holy Spirit inside the Godhead. Paul wrote about Jesus this way! Col 1:16-19 “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,”
This is what makes Jesus unique above or separate from His creation. He is the one who took part in creation. He is the One who life into existence. He is the One who is keeping your beating right now. Jesus was fully God and fully man who came to earth [which He created] on rescue mission to die for His sinful rebellious creation [You and me]
He came to save us from ourselves. We come to one of the most well written gospels about who Jesus was and is in my opinion “The Gospel of John” A letter written to display the glory of the Son in His humanity to tell the world that He is the God incarnate. What I love about John’s gospel is that he doesn’t waste time getting to who Jesus is. Not that the other gospel didn’t revere or display the glory of Christ…..the focus on John’s gospel is the man who Jesus was and is…….God incarnate deity.Throughout the next few weeks leading into the New Year…….We are going to see for ourselves the underlining theme that displays Jesus not only as a man but as the Son of God who is God in the flesh. One of the first precious truths about Jesus we see John write about……. is a key truth to understanding this gospel letter, and that is Jesus is…….
THE ETERNAL SON [V1-V3]
What does that mean?
- Before light, water, the moon, and stars were put into their rightful places……He was there.
- Before plant life, flowers and trees were put into their rightful place…..He was there.
- Before animals, insects, fish, and birds were put into their rightful place….He was there
- Before angels were created……He was there
- Before Adam breathed in his first breath …….He was there
- Before you were created……He was there
As Psalm 90:2 says “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” See He was much more than some man…….He was before all things! Remember what Jesus said to the Pharisee’s “before Abraham was, I AM” Which could possibly be translated “I will be what I will be” This is gives us clear indication that Godhead [Jesus the second Person of the trinity] is completely independent of His creation. Wayne Grudem in his Systematic Theology book defines it this way “God is independence is defined as follows: God does not need us or the rest of creation for anything, yet we and the rest of creation can glorify Him and bring Him joy. This attribute of God is sometimes called His self-existence or His aseity [from the Latin words “a se”, which means “from himself”]. Scripture is very clear in several places that God does not need any part of creation in order to exist or for any other reason. He is completely self-sufficient, and absolutely independent. For example.......
Acts 17:24-25 “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.”
Job 41:11 God says “Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.”
Ps 50:10-12 “For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. "If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.”
This is what John’s opening statement is directing us too (v1-v3) The fact that Jesus was there when the earth was without “form and void”. [Gen 1:1-2]. Which means “not finished in its shape and as yet uninhabited by creatures” And what’s amazing God would decorate His creation in 6 days! That’s how amazing our God is……that’s how amazing Jesus is! He was in the beginning….He lived outside of time and has no beginning because He always existed. (v1) “was” is an important word here! The “verb” highlights the eternal pre-existence of the Word [Jesus] Meaning it has no end or beginning because Jesus is God incarnate. So when Jesus came to this earth He never ceased to be God but took on a genuine human nature/body and voluntarily refrained from His independent exercise of the attributes of deity.That’s amazing! And as a reminder Paul penned these beautiful words……..Phil 2:6-11 “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
You might be asking yourself what does this have to do with me? How can I apply this passage to my life? By embracing the grace that was given by Jesus in His humiliation and exaltation. By understanding that an independent God who spoke all things into existence ….completely perfect and sovereign who needs nothing from us chooses to come to this earth and saves fallen undeserving sinners like you and me. That in eternity past Jesus would come and lay down His life for your sin, so that you could live with Him for all eternity. That in eternity past, Jesus would leave His glory, to give us a living hope through His death and resurrection. That in eternity past Jesus would reveal Himself to you for the simple reason He can! He’s God.
The gospel is much more than a man dying for our sin! And I'm not minimizing that major importance...... It’s about a God who is infinitely worthy and deserving of our praise even if He sends us to Hell….But the beauty is that He came to earth to save sinners which I am the chief of them all. He came in His humanity by lowering Himself to die for our sin. Why? Because He can and He chose to! He is WORD and the WORD was with God and the WORD is God. The Self existent One who loved you despite your ugliness of sin and rebellion. Church family! Embrace this truth this morning and fall to your knees to the Eternal Son of God who is our Saviour. Jesus is the eternal Christ who came to save sinners.
04 December 2012
In our modern age of instant messaging, information technology like: I-phone, I-pad, Apps, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and other electronic gadgets are fast becoming obvious that skills from the past are becoming a dying art. Let me talk about another dying art…………. To see what it is I’ll start with this quote. “I have so much to do that if I didn't spend at least three hours a day in prayer I would never get it all done." Martin Luther”. Think about that statement for a minute! 3 hours a day … at least how many of us would pray for 3 hours a week? I suspect some would not even make 3 hours a month. It is a dying art. But it shouldn't be because it is the gift [privilege] which God has given us to get through any and every situation. Let me ask you this morning! How is your prayer life?
- Is it consistent with your walk?
- Does it play an important part in your life?
- Do you only pray when you need something?
The reason I ask is that prayer is vital characteristic and mark of a genuine Christian! Think about it for a moment! How do you deal with your day to day problems? How do you preserve through trials? How do we follow the examples of godly people? How do you speak to a Holy God? "Through the privilege [not your right] of Prayer" We should pray when we are going through troubling circumstances........Is any one of you in trouble? He or she should pray. The people to who James was writing……. knew what it meant to suffer as they have been facing much religious persecution against them. It didn't always make sense. James’ advice is this…….when God doesn't make sense, or when it feels like our world is overwhelming, we should be praying......
- Not shaking our fist at God.
- Not angrily fighting the world.
- Not working it out on own strength but praying.
- Praying, as we make our way through the life challenges.
- Remember exciting things happen when we pray.
The bible is full of people who thought prayer was an important part of there lives.
- Abraham prayed
- Moses prayed
- Joshua prayed
- Ruth prayed
- Hannah prayed
- David prayed
- Solomon prayed
- Ezra, Nehemiah prayed
- Esther, Job prayed
- Isaiah, Jereimah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel,
- Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi prayed
- Peter, John, Paul, Jude, and the churches prayed. Even the Lord Jesus himself prayed in public and in private! Because He knew prayer was vital for Christian life!
What makes us think we don't have too? Why is the church failing to recognize the vital importance of prayer? Why is this becoming a dying trend in the evangelical community? Remember what Paul said to the church Philippians as he penned this in JAIL! “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;” Phil 4:6. Everything by prayer which means "in every time": always, constantly, every day, as often as there is opportunity and need requires. Prayer is so important to a Christian’s life and to the churches life. The one on one, personal communion with the God…….who shows compassion and mercy with overflowing love which was demonstrated towards us when He saved us from His wrath and judgement. This is a wonderful privilege that Christians have, but many seem to disregard this privilege as…..
- A burden
- A waste of time
- I'm too busy
- Not right now
- Maybe later
But we have been commanded by a Holy and Perfect God to make our prayers and supplications to Him always, constantly every day. Why is the evangelical church failing in the area of prayer? We are to seek Him while He is near! “Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.” Isa 55:6. The children of God are to call upon Him at all times. This is what it means to have a personal relationship, with a loving and Holy God. Do you talk to your husband or wife, your children, parents, or friends? How are we to communicate with loved ones? Is Facebook and E-Mails enough? NO. John Bunyan said Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God hath promised, or according to the Word, for the good of the church, with submission, in faith, to the will of God. Warren Weirsbe said “prayer is certainly a high and holy privilege. To think that, as God’s children, we can come freely and boldly to His throne and share with Him our needs. “ Richard Baxter said "Prayer is the breath of the new creature." 7 times in this section James mentions prayer! In this closing section James encourages us to pray by describing 4 situations in which God answers prayer.
PRAYER FOR THE SUFFERING (V13)
“afflicted” which means “suffering” in difficult circumstances. Paul used this expression being persecuted for the proclamation of the gospel. In 2 Tim 2:9 it says “for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!” What must we do when we are faced with trying times? We must pray and ask God for wisdom who gives it freely to those who seek Him. As one writer puts it “God can transform troubles into triumphs.” Remember Paul when He prayed 3 times to have this thorn removed from his life? Listen to God’s answer! 2 Cor 12:9-10 “But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Though we may not like the answer to our prayer we none the less must praise His name even in the midst of suffer. A prime example Paul and Silas when they were in jail praying and sing to the Lord! Acts 16: 25 “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,” Demonstrating the privilege to be called a redeemed son of the God! Prayer is not something we do after the storm; it’s something we do during….. even if the circumstances never change. I will still cry out to you in prayer and I still sing your sweet name, despite the outcome whether good or bad.
PRAYER FOR THE SICK (V14-V16)
I don’t think James is giving us a blanket formula for healing the sick….God is much greater than that! Not to diminish the importance but understand that God is not restricted to our abilities. Those who are “sick” which could be translated “weak” this passage is not just talking about the physical sickness in general, but spiritual weakness in battle for the gospel……Probably due to persecution these believers were faced with as they lived there lives for Christ and His glory. “Are any of you weak?” See the weak in this passage are those....
- Who have been defeated in spiritual battle
- Who have lost the ability to endure their suffering
- They are the fallen spiritual warriors
- The exhausted, weary, depressed Christian
- They have tried to draw to God but have lost their motivation
- They are the ones who have hit rock bottom
Paul penned these words! “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak [sick], be patient with them all.” 1 Thess 5:14. And who does James say for those people to seek? The elders…..not the elderly in the church body, but the spiritual mature ones. The ones who are called to spiritually lead the flock of God. “anointing him with oil” is not reference to some symbolic ceremony. “Anointing” could be better translated “massaging”. The elders were to rub massage oil on their body as a means to comfort and strengthen them as medical treatment. John MacArthur said “it may well have been that the elders literally rubbed oil on the believer who had suffered physical injures to their bodies from the persecution. Medical science was certainly in a primitive state and there were few trustworthy doctors. It would have been a gracious, kind act on the part of the elders to rub oil on the wounds of those who had been beaten, or into the sore muscles of those made to work long hours under harsh treatment.” The faithful prayers of the elders and the power of God’s sustaining grace, the believer will find strength in due season! Making our petitions known before a holy God who sovereignly acts on behalf of His people. “Raise up” God will restore His battered sheep’s enthusiasm to endure to the end. As Iasiah wrote! “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isa 40:28-31
PRAYER FOR THE NATION (V17-V18)
Did Elijah consider prayer a dying trend in his day? No. He was a praying man who prayed for his nation and the people who governed over him. James uses Elijah as an example, he prayed that it would not rain and his prayer was answered! This goes back in 1 Kings in chapter 16 when Ahad reigned as king and he was the worst of the worst. It says in 1Kings 16:30-33 “Now Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him......” The background to this incident can be found in Chapter 17 we read Elijah told king Ahab that it would not rain! While this chapter only gives us the story of the drought; James account gives its duration and links it to the prayers of Elijah and then Chapter 18 at the end........we read that the Lord sent rain on the land (v42-v46). Elijah prayers both created and ended a devastating three and a half year drought. So, if the righteous prayers of God’s children avail, or accomplish much, why is the evangelical churches weak or failing in this area? He was a man just like you and me! He had downfalls….he wasn't perfect! Do you remember what happened after this wonderful act displayed by God in the victory on Mount Carmel? He was so afraid and discouraged…………he ran away fearing for his life. But the beauty of this is even in the middle of discouragement…..he never ceased to pray to the one whom he knew he could trust! The sovereign LORD.
PRAYER FOR THE STRAYING (V19-V20)
Though we don’t see James mentioning prayer in section….the implications are surely there. If we are to pray for the sick, the afflicted, surely we must pray for the brother who wanders from the truth. “to wander” suggests a gradual moving away from the will of God, to lead away from the truth, to lead into error. The outcome of this wandering is “sin” and possible death! What are we to do when we see a fellow believer wandering form the truth? We should pray for him or her! Jesus said to Peter “but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again [literally means converted], strengthen your brothers." Luke 22:32. Though we are to seek the lost with the gospel, it’s just as important to seek the saved! As Jesus said in Matt 18 dealing with sin and it says "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained [literally means won] your brother.” Matt 18:15. John MacArthur says "maintaining open, sharing, and praying relationships with other Christians will help keep believers from bottoming out in their spiritual lives. Such relationships help give the spiritual strength that provides victory over sin". We are to lift each other up to the Lord…..we are not called to tear down and destroy one another. We are called to have an attitude of love for the fallen brother….not to point fingers, murmur or crush them under the weight of their sin. We are to come alongside them and guide them in the Savior arms whether there saved or unsaved. we are never to turn a blind eye to sin....especially among the house of God. As Peter said “love covers a multitude of sins” 1 Peter 4:8. We have seen that prayer is a vital part of our lives….no excuses!
So, please don’t join the Facebook group of prayerlessness…….Prayer should never be a dying trend in our homes, churches …….and especially in the Christian life. We must never replace prayer with “what ifs, maybe later or but!" It’s way to precious and dear to the One who gave us this privilege. As we close this wonderful letter of self-examination I want to leave you with these 12 questions by Warren Weirsbe…….
- Am I becoming more and more patient in the testing of life?
- Do I play with temptation or resist it from the start?
- Do I find joy in obeying the Word of God, or do I merely study it and learn it?
- Are there any predispositions [bias opinions] that shackle me?
- Am I able to control my tongue?
- Am I a peacemaker rather than a troublemaker? Do people come to me for spiritual wisdom?
- Am I afraid of God or a friend of the world?
- Do I make plans without considering the will of God?
- Am I selfish when it comes to money? Am I unfaithful in the paying of my bills?
- Do I naturally depend on prayer when I find myself in some kind of trouble?
- Am I the kind of person others seek for prayer support?
- What is my attitude towards the wandering brother? Do I criticize and gossip, or do I seek to restore him or her with love?
26 November 2012
The gospel is worth dying for isn’t it? Jesus seemed to think it was when He walked this earth to the cross. Why is it that we have a hard time with this idea when it pertains to the Christian life? Suffering is a part of Christian life…….at some point in time each and every one of us will face some form of suffering in this life when it comes to the gospel. I sincerely don't say this to make you feel unhappy or sad; I say this because the Bible says so! Jesus said remember I have overcome the world “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." John 16:33. Peter said rejoice in your suffering “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:12-13. It’s part of the Christian Life “strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God." Acts 14:22. Paul says we have the Spirit of power and love and a sound mind in the gospel. In 2 Tim 1:7-8 he says “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,” Martin Luther said "They gave our Master a crown of thorns. Why do we hope for a crown of roses?" Jerry Bridges says “One thing we may be sure of, however: For the believer all pain has meaning; all adversity is profitable. There is no question that adversity is difficult. It usually takes us by surprise and seems to strike where we are most vulnerable. To us it often appears completely senseless and irrational, but to God none of it is either senseless or irrational. He has a purpose in every pain He brings or allows in our lives. We can be sure that in some way He intends it for our profit and His glory.” Paul said all who desire to live godly will suffer “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” 2 Tim 3:12
Remember! James book is all about….Persevering in your Christian walk. Walking worthy of your calling! This is just another series of tests on how we’re going to deal with each and every situation that gets put in front of Us? Think about what James has spoken about so far as he comes to the end of his letter……Count it all joy........blessed is the man who endures temptation, God gives grace to the humble. The Lord says…….Draw near to God (draw near to His overcoming grace and power) The Lord hasn't left us alone to handle it or face it on our own! "I will never leave you, or forsake you" Heb 13:5. This is where that hope worth dying for comes into play for the Christian. I need not to fear anything. James tells us even though we are going to face suffering. James says wait patiently! Why? Because the day is at hand and He is coming to receive us unto Himself. James gives us 5 practical views to Patiently Endure trials
ANTICIPATE THE LORD’S COMING WITH PATIENCE (V7 - V8)
He is coming back again, so be patient! Coming is an important New Testament eschatological term, this is referring to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. 1Thess 4:14-17 “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord." See if we focus our attention to this Truth, persecution or trials will not seem so big! John MacArthur says "the realization that things won't always be as they are now, that believers are headed for "the city... Whose architect and builder is God", this provides great hope for those undergoing persecution. For that reason, the more persecuted a church is the more eagerly it anticipates the return of Jesus Christ; conversely, an affluent, indulgent, worldly church has little interest in the Lord's return". He endured beatings and being spat upon "then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands" Matt 26:67. Reticule and mocked "and having blindfolded Him, they struck Him on the face and asked Him, saying "Prophesy! Who is the one who struck You?” Luke 22:64. He was hated by many "if the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” John 15:18. Remember what Luther said ……....but apply those truths to your heart this morning!!
- This is our great hope
- This is what we anticipate
- This is what we are to wait patiently for
The church's greatest hope is the arrival of Jesus Christ when He comes to bless His people with His presence.
RECOGNIZE THE LORD'S JUDGEMENT THROUGH HOLY LIVING (V9)
The Judge is standing at the door Christ the Divine Judge is portrayed as ready to throw open the doors and burst onto the judgement scene. Paul says He will bring every hidden thing to light………He is at the door! 1Cor 4:5 “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God.” That's something that is worth taking note of or pondering over! He will reveal everything that is hidden. Do we as Christian's have anything hidden? James says “don't complain, brethren, against one another. What is James saying to these believers? Living with difficult circumstances can cause believers to become frustrated, a sense to lose their patience and complain. Complain means to groan within oneself, or to sigh, it describes that is internal and unexpressed, its a bitter, resentful spirit! Paul says to the Philippian believers not to complain in the light of the day of our Lord's return. In Phil 2:14-17 “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.” He is coming again………continue in your walk by living holy. So we can say with Paul "I have not run in vain or labored in vain" so patiently wait and anticipate His coming, through holy living
FOLLOW THE LORD'S SERVANTS AND BE ENCOURAGED BY THEIR EXAMPLE (V10)
Be encouraged by believers that were and endured unjust suffering “Spoke in the Name of the Lord” means this represents all that He (the Lord) is, does, and wills. The prophets were God's spokesman. Jeremiah endured opposition through his ministry. In Jer 18:18 “Then they said, "Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come and let us attack him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words." Moses had to put up with the stiff-necked, rebellious Israelites who left Egypt. Exo 17:3-4 “And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, "Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?" So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, "What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me!" John the Baptist cousin of the Lord Jesus Christ, was faced with much opposition. Matt 14:3-5 “For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife. Because John had said to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her." And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.”......And the end result was John's head! In Matt 14:9-11 “And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her. So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.”These are only a few of many who have been persecuted and endured great tragedy and trials. This is to encourage us…….. as we again, wait patiently for the Lord's return. As the Hebrew writer says, let us run the race, let us patiently what for the author and finisher of our faith. Heb 12:1-2 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Are we willing to do the same? He did it for us; can we do it for Him?
UNDERSTANDING THE LORD'S BLESSING THROUGH ENDURING PATIENCE (V11)
God will bless those who endure such trying times. James gives the upright Job as a great example, he in endured great hard ache and trials
- Lost everything
- His livestock
- His help
- And most of all his children
- To top it off he was faced with bitter wife along with 3 friends who were self-righteous
- And if that wasn't enough he had boils all over his body from head to toe
We can learn a lot from Job's life! Why? Because he is just like you and me today. A sinner who needed the a Savior like you and me. If Job can get through his trying time so can you and me. This should encourage us to persevere through our tough times today or what lies ahead tomorrow. God's blessing does not come to people who do great things, but to people who endure great things for His glory. Those who will receive the greatest blessing in the life to come are those who have endured the greatest suffering in the present world. Matt 20:20-23 "Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. And He said to her, "What do you wish?" She said to Him, "Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom." But Jesus answered and said, "You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They said to Him, "We are able." So He said to them, "You will indeed drink My cup (You will follow me, and you will partake of my afflictions, and will suffer as I shall)., and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.” Remember what the Lord said Matt 25:33-34 “And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:" The hope of future blessing should encourage and motivate us as we patiently endure in this present age! Remember what James said in the first part of his letter “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12. Paul said this is a crown that can never be destroyed........Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown." 1Cor 9:25. Patiently waiting and enduring trials mean nothing in the big picture of things. The reward is eternally secure in the arm of a God who loves us so much He sent His only Son to die for the wickedness of this world!
REALIZE THAT THE LORD HAS A PURPOSE (V11)
- It strengthens the believer
- It draws the believer closer to the Lord
- It is a way to receive His compassion and mercy
Full of Compassion and Mercy is full of pity, very kind, tender hearted, never ceasing tender mercy and compassion. Micah 7:18-19 “Who is a God like You, Pardoning iniquity And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea.” This is what it means by His sovereign compassion towards us, Not only does He cast it into the deepest sea, But He removes it as far as the east as to the west. Ps 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”Enduring trials is nothing in compared to what the Lord Jesus endured for us! He has shown us great mercy, He as show us great love, even when we dead in our sins We have received this love by the death and resurrection of His only begotten son. He allows us to endure and to learn patience because He is full of compassion and full of mercy. Compassion means extremely compassionate: - very pitiful. Mercy means benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves His voluntary expiatory sacrifice in the shedding of His blood, under Divine judgment upon sin, and through His resurrection, Christ has become the Mercy Seat for His people. Listen to these two words put together in a promise of God’s character Ps 145:8-9 “The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy. The LORD is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works.”
He is coming to receive us unto Himself! James gave us 5 practical views to Patiently Endure trials
- Anticipate His coming
- Recognize the Lord's Judgment
- Follow the Lord's servants
- Understand the Lord's blessing
- Realize the Lord's purpose
He has given us this and allowed this in our lives for His glory! What a blessing that is. “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,” Phil 1:29. This is part of our Christian Life…….. it prepares your heart for what is yet to come! A Heavenly home stead for all eternity. As Rev 21:6-7 promises “And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” John described this further by saying in Rev 21:22-24 “But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.” Nathan Busenitz says “As Believers, a Christ centered hope must be the foundation of our lives. Hard times come and hard times go, but God's promises are forever.” As Matt Chandler said during his cancer treatments “the good news of the gospel is not all my hurts go away. It’s that Jesus is enough regardless of the hurts.” We must endure with Patience, because this is the Last Days and our victory is found in Jesus Christ our Lord!!............And He is worth dying for!
23 November 2012
“If money could talk” said one popular comedian “all it would say is goodbye” Isn't that the truth 9 times out of 10…….money comes in and leaves just as fast as it came in! The story of my life………the cycle of life for most people around the globe! See how I said “most people, not all people” See…this wasn't necessarily so for some of the people that James was writing to. Something different was happening at the time of his letter…something that was distasteful to James and especially a Holy God who inspired him to pen the words found in chapter 5. See the opposite was happening to the statement above by the comedian. Money wasn't saying “goodbye” there where men who were using their wealth for selfish purposes and were persecuting the ones [labourers] who help them get it. We have seen throughout this letter of James a series of tests which validate or invalidate one’s claim to be a Christian! James presents another test to how we view money? We need to understand something, especially in our North American thinking! True happiness and contentment depends on the true riches of God's grace, not on our earthly wealth as some would have you believe today….even from the pulpit. See! It doesn't matter how much money you have! God does not determine your spiritual growth or your faith by your money or your worth for that matters………………going back to the 2nd chapter of his letter.
- Do we love our wealth more than Jesus?
- Do we love our possessions, our stuff more than Jesus?
- Do we love the Lord and treasure Him as the most valuable gift in our lives?
The reason I ask these questions…….this was, and still is, a major problem in the church today! Jesus said “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal [devoted] to the one and despise [hate] the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." Luke 16:13. The love or a stronger word worship of money will divide your interests. Which means: “you’re not exclusively committed to the Lord”
- It will hinder your spiritual growth
- It will hinder your desire to pray and seek God in everything.
- It will hinder your complete dependence on God in every aspect of your Christian life.
- It will hinder your motivation to spend it for God's purposes instead of our own.
One thing we need to understand! Money is not evil in itself! The bible does not teach that possessing money is sinful or wrong. This truth is confirmed in Proverbs “The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, And He adds no sorrow with it.” [Prov 10:22]. David Livingstone had the right idea when it came to money "Do not think me mad. It is not to make money that I believe a Christian should live. The noblest thing a man can do is, just humbly to receive, and then go amongst others and give." The problem that comes with money is the Love of money! In 1 Tim 6:9-10 we read “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”The worship of money is rooted in evil…..
- It produces disobedience
- It produces greed
- It produces a breach in your spiritual walk
- It produces nothing but sorrow and grief
A person who desires money, possessions, wealth and stuff they are only setting themselves up for a major fall…because they are blinded by their own hearts desires. Just like the rich young fool……Just like the rich young man who see salvation because he had everything he thought he needed. Just like what Jesus said, when He warned the disciples where they storing their treasures "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matt 6:19-21. We are going to learn as Christians what not to do when faced with a situation like this! We’re also going to see the hearts of those who belly is their god! People who say “What’s in it for me?” James points out 4 MAJOR CONCERNS that the love or worship of money does and why it’s so dangerous for a person's soul.
THE WORSHIP OF MONEY WILL RESULT IN MATERIALISM (V2- V3)
Their wealth was being uselessly hoarded…..stored up! “Hoarding” means to instinctively collecting and laying up provisions for winter; as, the squirrel is a hoarding animal. Jesus said in Luke 12:21 "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
IT IS TO BE USED TO ADVANCE GOD'S KINGDOM
In Mark 12:42-44 Jesus made this comment “Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. (It was in value about three mills and a half, or one-third of a cent) So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood."
IT IS TO BE USED AS A MEANS FOR PROVIDING FOR YOUR FAMILY.
In 1Tim 5:8 “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
IT IS TO BE USED TO CARE FOR THOSE IN NEED
In 1John 3:17 “But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”
IT IS TO BE USED FOR SUPPORTING THOSE IN MINISTRY WHETHER IT’S FULL OR PART TIME.
In 1 Tim 5:17-18 “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”
We are not to hoard our possessions or wealth; it’s to be used where necessary! Everything we do is for His glory
Look what James said…. all things are subject to decay, theft, fire, or some other form of loss. James uses 3 VERY IMPORTANT words in these 2 verses. Corrupted which means to make corrupt, to destroy, to become corrupt, corrupted, rotten. Corroded which means to rust down, that is, corrode: - canker. Fire which means literally or figuratively, specifically lightning): - fiery, fire. It symbolizes fast escapable, fatal, and final judgement. James was rebuking this people for hoarding their wealth without regards for anyone else especially our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That it will all be consumed to nothing and the fact of their laying up treasures would be followed by painful consequences.
THE WORSHIP OF MONEY WILL RESULT IN DECEPTION (V4)
Their wealth was Unjustly Gained…exploiting others for personal gain. Moses said in Lev 19:13 ‘You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of him who is hired shall not remain with you all night until morning.” James uses the term “you kept back by fraud"
Fraud means to deprive; to despoil: - defraud, destitute, kept back by fraud. Not only did they hoard their money or possessions, but they also sinfully acquired it. Far from being generous to the poor or those in need as we have seen earlier in James letter…..…..taking advantage of others [there workers] is a very dangerous thing. Tricking people so that you can gain money is a dangerous game to be playing! Jeremiah speaks of this kind of person. In Jer 22:13 "Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness And his chambers by injustice, Who uses his neighbor's service without wages And gives him nothing for his work" James uses the expression they “They cry out against you” (v4) Cries out mean to shout, or to scream, it gives us the idea of John the Baptist when he said: "I am 'THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS: "MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE LORD," ' as the prophet Isaiah said." John 1:23. This phrase also gives us the same cry that the hate filled cries of the blood thirsty mob for Jesus' execution. “Then the governor said, "Why, what evil has He done?" But they cried out all the more, saying, "Let Him be crucified!" (Matt 27:23). This is the same kind of cry, those who were wrongly being used, by those who wanted their own pockets filled for personal gain, or riches. Moses warned that the rich who try to deceive the poor in Deut 24:14-15 "You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether one of your brethren or one of the aliens who is in your land within your gates. Each day you shall give him his wages, and not let the sun go down on it, for he is poor and has set his heart on it; lest he cry out against you to the LORD, and it be sin to you.” John MacArthur says "a frightening judgement awaits those who unjustly hoard the wealth they rob from the poor. Their victims will cry out for justice to the Righteous Judge and He will not disappoint them."
It says they cried out to the “Lord of Sabbath” which means hosts, or armies. Describes God as Commander of the armies of Heaven. The Lord of Hosts…..He is the One who hears the cries of the defrauded poor and will call His angelic armies to act in judgement. Matt 13:41-42 “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”The Psalmist says “When He avenges blood, He remembers them; He does not forget the cry of the humble.” Ps 9:12. The worship of money only leads to trouble, blindness and possibly eternal destruction!
THE WORSHIP OF MONEY WILL RESULT IN OPPORTUNITY SQUANDERED (V5)
Their wealth was Self Indulgently spent living the luxury at the expense of others. Life of Wanton means giving oneself to the pursuit of pleasure, vain attempt to satisfy their own insatiable desires. Basically filling your heart’s desire with stuff! I must have this in order to make me happy. This kind of behavior is often foolishness, produces blindness, and sadly a harden heart to the truth. It is often a hindrance to accept the Gospel! In Matt 13:22 “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.” The son who wasted everything! In Luke 15:13 “And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.” Paul warned the Philippian believer's about this kind of person! In Phil 3:18-19 “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.” Lavish indulgences can lead to something worse than plain old self-indulgences; they lived only to eat and drink, and to enjoy life. Isa 22:12-13 wrote “And in that day the Lord GOD of hosts Called for weeping and for mourning, For baldness and for girding with sackcloth. But instead, joy and gladness, Slaying oxen and killing sheep, Eating meat and drinking wine: "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!" James warns this kind of person of a coming day of slaughter. This is a sad picture of people around us today making castles for themselves in the sand, filling their bellies with their heart desires. All this leads to death, a coming day of slaughter! This is a frightening picture of His divine Judgement. Basically what James is saying " you are heading to the slaughter house, because you are like fat cows who are ready to be put to death" John MacArthur said “blind to Heaven, deaf to warnings of Hell, insensitive to the impending day of slaughter and judgement, the unrepentant, selfish, indulgent hoarders stumble blindly to their doom. Unless they repent".
THE WORSHIP OF MONEY WILL RESULT IN A EVIL HEART (V6)
Their wealth was cold-bloodily attained. Do you see the progression the love money has over an individual.
- After storing up the money
- They robbed from the poor
- Spent it on themselves
- Now they would utterly kill to maintain their lavish lifestyle.
James said (v6) "You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you." This describes the next step in a selfish indulged lifestyle that only wants to fulfill self! This is the sinful progression of someone who loves money! They will do anything to attain it! You have condemned (means) to sentence, the implications is that the rich were using the courts to commit judicial murder. They will do whatever it takes to keep what they have attained for themselves. They will kill whoever gets in their way of Living. The Pharisee’s were a prime example in the Gospels and in the early church. Acts 4:10-12 Peter said “let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the 'STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED BY YOU BUILDERS, WHICH HAS BECOME THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE.' Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." In Matt 23:29-34 Jesus said "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.' "Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers' guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, And you have “Murdered the Just” means the righteous, denotes someone morally upright…….in a sense those who genuinely saved under the righteousness of Christ….”the just ones.” As Paul wrote in Rom 5:8-9 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. As they killed the Righteous One [Jesus Christ] they will continue to do the same to us in order to keep what is there’s. But James finishes this statement, by saying "he will not resist you" The Christian will not resist you! This means the Christian will not resist their oppressors, they will live out the truth taught by our Lord.” Jesus said in Matt 5:39-44 “But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. "You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, G. K. Chesterton said "The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies: probably because they are generally the same people." Wealth may be a blessing a gift from God….bring the opportunity to do good with it like the first church giving everything they had to supply the need of the Believers (Acts 2). But that can only be true of those who are also "rich in Faith" Rich in Christ Jesus. Paul wrote in 1 Tim 6:1-19 “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
- Their wealth was uselessly Hoarded
- Their wealth was Unjustly Gained
- Their wealth was Self Indulgently Spent
- Their wealth was Ruthlessly Acquired
There are so many people in our society today who are intent on accumulating all the possessions they can, totally oblivious to the fact that we are living in the last days. Judgment is indeed coming. As Luke wrote in 12:40 “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." We as Believers need to be careful that we do not become infected with this same attitude. We can get so easily caught up in the same pursuits acquiring all that we can, while ignoring the fact that we are living in the last days. Whatever you are banking on will not last, even our most precious and indestructible things are doomed to decay. What will our [your] store of wealth say about us when we stand before Christ? (1 Tim. 6:8-10, 17-19). Riches in themselves are morally neutral, neither good nor evil. Wealth is like fire — very useful, but also terribly dangerous. We must balance between practical saving and sinful stashing. Material wealth will be worthless when our Lord returns. Place priority, not on your possessions, but how you use them. As the apostle Paul said to the believers at Corinth “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (2Cor 5:10). God will have the final say! So the Sunday question is…………What does your money say about you?