26 November 2012

A HOPE WORTH DYING FOR



James 5:7-12

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

WHAT DOES YOUR MONEY SAY ABOUT YOU?





James 5:1-6

“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! “Hoardingmeans 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 youG. 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?

06 November 2012

WHO IS REALLY IN CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE?



James 4:13-17

The scriptures give many marks of a true Christian such as:

  • Love for God
  • Repentance of Sin
  • Humility
  • Devotion to God's Glory
  • Prayer and supplication
  • Joy and peace in His Son alone
  • Hope of our resurrection
  • Love for Others
  • Separation from the World
  • Growing in His wisdom
  • Obedience
But there is nothing that clearly summarizes the character of a Genuine Christian than the desire to do "The Will of God". David said “I delight to do your will, O my God; your Law is within my heart" Ps 40:8. David also said "teach me to do your will, for you are my God" Ps 143:10. Jesus spoke of the importance of doing the Father Will “And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, "Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You." But He answered them, saying, "Who is My mother, or My brothers?"  And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, "Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother." Mark 3:32-35. The greatest example of doing the Father's will is displayed in the Lord and Savior “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 6:38. That desire that Jesus exemplified to do the Father’s will drew Him to do something supernatural or unimaginable for sinners like you and me. “And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me." He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." (Matt 26:37-39). The Lord Jesus perfectly modeled the most essential element of a relationship to God.
  • Obedience to His will
  • Submission to His will
  • A Humble servant to His will

We as Christian’s must do the same….obey….submit…..humble ourselves in the presence of His Holiness. I GUESS THE BIG QUESTION……. HOW DO I KNOW I'M IN THE FATHER'S WILL? John MacArthur says "You be all that God has called you to be, you be living in the will of God, saved, Spirit-filled, sanctified, submissive, suffering if need be for what is right, and if you are the person that God has designed you to be then God will lead you the next step and give you the desire of your heart" The late Charles Spurgeon said "My brethren, let me say, be like Christ at all times. Imitate him in "public." Most of us live in some sort of public capacity—many of us are called to work before our fellow-men every day. We are watched; our words are caught; our lives are examined—taken to pieces. The eagle-eyed, argus-eyed world observes everything we do, and sharp critics are upon us. Let us live the life of Christ in public. Let us take care that we exhibit our Master, and not ourselves—so that we can say, "It is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me."

We come to a portion of James letter which identifies another test of genuine saving faith. As Paul said doing His will from the heart a genuine love for the Saviour “not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,” Eph 6:6. In this part of James letter we see that he is faced with something completely opposite to what Paul described in Eph 6:6 when it comes to doing the Lord’s will……He was faced with disobedience, a disregard and a disinterest in God's will. Which this is a certain mark or characteristic of the presence of PRIDE. This ugly sin causes spiritual conflict, worldliness, a slanderous tongue as we seen over the past few weeks. Remember what James wrote "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" James 4:6. Those who do not submit to God's will give evidence that their lives have not been transformed by His saving grace. So let me ask you!
  • How are you responding to the will of God today?
  • Is it with obedience and submission from your heart?
  • Do you have other plans?

From this portion of James letter we are given 3 NEGATIVE RESPONSES and 1 PROPER RESPONSE when it comes to doing the Lord's will. Let’s get the nasty ones out of the way first! The first negative response to doing the Lord’s will!

THE FOOLISHNESS OF IGNORING GOD'S WILL [V13 - V14]

God's will is foolishly ignored as if it doesn’t exist! You could sort of say “this is a person or lifestyle of a person who goes about his or her day as if there is no God." Basically they are practicing atheists.
  • An atheist is someone who believes and/or knows there is no god.
  • An atheist lacks belief in a god.
  • An atheist exercises no faith in the concept of god at all.
  • An atheist is someone who is free from religious oppression and bigotry.
  • An atheist is someone who is a free-thinker, free from religion and its ideas.

James addressed such people in familiar Old Testament prophetic fashion! What do I mean by that? James starts off with “Come Now" (v13) The same language written by Isaiah… "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.” Is 1:18. This is a call to attention…..what James is saying is “listen up” or as my mom would say “get this right knuckle head” James is rebuking those who habitually think through and articulate their plans as if God did not exist or care. Don’t get me wrong or misunderstand what James is saying! There is nothing wrong with managing and planning your days…but we all MUST consider the Lord when doing so…………..Why? He is sovereign and Ruler of all creation! As Psalm 89:48 says “What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his life from the power of the grave?” The greatest example of God not being part of your agenda is found in Isaiah chapter 14....Isa 14:13-15 "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!  For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north;  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.' Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit.” Just like Satan's 5 self-centered I will……..We see the same here in James letter……..5 bold ingredients indicating their ill-advised confidence.   "I will"

1st: they chose their own time "today or tomorrow"
2nd: they chose their own location for doing business "such and such a city"
3rd: they chose their own duration "spend a year there"
4th: they chose their own enterprise "engage in business" (literally to travel into a area for trade)
5th: they chose their own goal or objective "to make a profit"

Again! James is not attacking their profit motive……but their exclusion of God


THE ARROGANCE OF DENYING GOD'S WILL [V16]

Acknowledges that God exists and has a will, nevertheless arrogantly rejects it. Refusing to submit the uncertain ties of life to God, they set their own goals and their own will above God. As Ps 52:7 says "Here is the man who did not make God his strength, But trusted in the abundance of his riches, And strengthened himself in his wickedness." We see right of the bat their foolishness and arrogance leads to boasting "But now you boast in your arrogance" (v16) Boasting is a flamboyant [showy] display of personal worth, or actions; a glorying or promoting. Arrogance is the act or quality of taking much upon one's self or which exalts the worth or importance of the person to an undue degree; proud disrespect of others. It’s all about me! Put these 2 together and it breeds disaster! We see an example of this kind of behaviour in the gospel of Luke....Jesus said "……The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?' So he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry." But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?'  "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." Luke 12:16-21. Doing everything in your own strength, praising yourself for all your goods, disregarding the One who gives your life and breath. Arrogance and boasting are evil which we have already seen the greatest boaster of them all Satan in Isa 14 chapter. Those who arrogantly deny God's will follow Satan's sin, and MAY SUFFER His DOOM!


THE SIN OF DISOBEYING GOD'S WILL [V17]

They know God's existence and acknowledge the supremacy of His will, and then they proceed to disobey it. “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (v17). See God's will is that:
  • People be saved (1 Tim 2:4)
  • Spirit filled ( Eph 5:17-18)
  • Sanctified (1 Thess 4:3-8)
  • Submissive (1 Peter 2:13-15)

The Bible says "delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart" (Ps 37:4). If you do not respond to the Lord's will by obedience it’s SIN. A prime example is Jonah…..the Pharisee’s…….even fallen humanity as Paul explains in Romans 1. The seriousness can be found in the parable of the faithful steward Luke 12:41-48

[v41- v44] “Then Peter said to Him, "Lord, do You speak this parable only to us, or to all people?" And the Lord said, "Who then is that faithful and wise steward (picture of a genuine believer), whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season?  Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. (managing the Master's estate while he is gone) Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has.”

[v45] “But if that servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,' and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk,” (the wickedest steward's unfaithfulness, illustrates the evil of an unbeliever)

[v46] “the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two (utterly destroy  him or her) and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.” (speaks of the final judgement  on the unbeliever)

[v47- v48] “And that servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”

PERSEVERING IN THE FAITH……CONTINUING IN THE FAITH will Keep you in the Father's will. We may be able to fool the people around you………but know this! We will never fool the Lord of all Creation. A person’s ignorance is no excuse here will be varying degrees of punishment in Hell. Why do I say that? The Bible gives evidence of this truth! Jesus said to His disciples in Mark 6:11 “And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!"


THE BLESSING OF ACKNOWLEDGING GOD'S WILL [V15]

Submission to God's will, must be habitual and continual in every aspect of your life. Prov 19:21 “There are many plans in a man's heart, Nevertheless the LORD's counsel—that will stand.” Proper planning must always consider "If the Lord's wills" in everything! PERIOD. He is the key to all our plans…… acknowledging God's will affirms……..His sovereignty over all aspects of our lives. He is the one that purchased us not the other way around. Remember! We only live because ………God so wills it. “Who among all these does not know That the hand of the LORD has done this, In whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind?” Job 12:9-10. This is the joy of the true believer…..despite circumstances or the outcome.

DOING THE WILL OF GOD IS AN ACT OF GENUINE WORSHIP. “which is your reasonable service.” Rom 12:1-2

IT IS A NATURAL AND CONSIST WAY OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. “walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work” Col 1:9-10

IT’S ALWAYS TO BE DONE FROM THE HEART OF THANKFULNESS AND ADORATION. “….doing the will of God from the heart,” Eph 6:6

WE ALSO NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO DO THE LORD’S WILL IN OUR OWN STRENGTH. “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will…” Heb 13:20-21

Responding to God's will is yet another test of a living and true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. A strong desire to do the will of God  is a true mark of a transformed life. Polycarp said before his final breath “Eighty and six years have I served Christ, nor has He ever done me any harm. How, then, could I blaspheme my King who saved Me?.......I bless Thee for deigning me worthy of this day and this hour that I may be among Thy martyrs and drink the cup of my Lord Jesus Christ." Life is but a vapour here today and gone tomorrow! Can you say that with Polycarp? Our lives have been purchased by His saving grace. Eph 1:7-9 “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself,” He owns us, and He will do with us as He pleases. Receive His instruction with thanksgiving in your hearts this morning….How? By continuing to be, being filled with the Spirit of the Living God as Paul said to the believer's at Ephesus. Why? “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called [elected]according to His purpose.” Rom 8:28