15 May 2017

LIVING IN LIGHT OF THE LORD’S RETURN PART 2


James 5:12

If you are ever called on to testify in court, you will be asked, “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” Are you violating Scripture to put yourself under such an oath? Some Christians would answer, “yes.” by what they read in Matt 5:33-37 when Jesus said “Do not swear at all…”

But this is where we need to be careful! James says this goes beyond the taking of oaths or vows…He deals with the issue of truthful speech in midst of suffering. Oaths ought to foster truthful communication, but in reality they had become a smokescreen for lying. This portion of James letter seems out of place with the context that surrounds the issue of suffering. But think about! If you have ever suffered you know the answer to this portion of James letter. It’s easy to say things you do not mean, and even make bargains with God, when you are going through difficulties.

For example Lord if you get me through this situation or the pickle I’m in, I promise I will go to church every Sunday. Lord if you get me through this I will serve you and even give my life to you. Lord if you get me out of this I will be a better husband/wife and father/mother. But sadly many of these promises are never fulfilled because we don’t see God as we ought too. The Bible does not forbid all oaths as God dealt with His children. God swore to David with an oath that one of his descendants would always sit on his throne. Act 2:30 says “Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne,” Jesus stood before the courts under oath. But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, "I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!" Jesus said to him, "It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." Matt 26:63-64

The Apostle Paul on many occasions often swore by the Lord. Rom 1:9 says “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers,” But the Bible does forbid both lighthearted oaths and false oaths.

Example! In Judges 11:29-40 we read about Jephthah who foolishly vowed to sacrifice the first thing that walked out of his door when he returned from battle. When it happened to be his only daughter, he foolishly kept the foolish vow. He never should have made it in the first place and he should have broken it when it meant killing his daughter. So often frivolous vows stem from a prideful heart. Sometimes we want to impress others with our spiritual commitment, and so we make a boastful vow. The unconverted young Martin Luther made his famous promise to become a monk when a bolt of lightning terrified him in 1505. That didn’t stick, because when he read the book of Romans later on in life those vows he made were nothing more than frivolous and false.

Our vows are to be reserved for sincere and important occasions, where it matters the most personally. Vows that have eternal implications and build on the integrity of our person. To take an oath in court, or to vow to be faithful to your spouse at your wedding, or to vow to be faithful to the Lord at your baptism are examples of godly vows. But according to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matt 5:33-37 the Jews were notorious of making vows and oaths in all the wrong things. But what’s interesting is that they never used the name of God in their oaths, out of fear of blaspheme. So they would swear by Heaven, and Earth or Jerusalem, or even by their own headsAnd what good is that? Matt 5:36 says “or shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black.” But Jesus taught that it’s impossible to avoid God in such oaths.

Heaven is His throne
The Earth is His footstool
Jerusalem is the city of the “Great King”
Your head is under the sovereign control of God. 

When James says, “Do not swear,” he is not referring to taking the Lord’s name in vain, although Scripture clearly forbids that. He is referring to not invoking God’s name in everyday speech to assure the truthfulness of what you say. Example! Have you ever heard someone say, “I swear to God that’s true?” Why do you need to say that? Because you begin to wonder whether anything he says is true. Your word should be true without needing to make a big deal about it.
  
True Christian character requires few wordsThe person who uses many words (including oaths) to convince others has something wrong with his or her character. If you are a true Christian, with integrity then all you have to say is yes or no and people will believe you. Jesus warned us that anything more than this is from the evil one in Matt 5:37. This is why it’s important to be patient during a time of suffering! Throughout the letter and especially in the preceding passage, James has been concerned to encourage his readers' patience and perseverance in the midst of trials. It is clear that James anticipates in their suffering the temptation to compromise their moral standards and so become polluted by the world.
  
From the very beginning, James has said that his readers' faith is being tested in the trials (James 1:3).

In the midst of trials, Christians are to ask God in faith (James 1:6). 
It is because of this faith they hold in Christ that they are not to show favoritism (James 2:1). 
It is faith that constitutes true riches (James 2:5). 
James has gone to great lengths to emphasize that genuine faith will manifest itself in deeds (James 2:14-26). 
His whole letter is a plea for his readers to be not merely religious people, but people of faith in Christ alone.
  
Doing right when you are done wrong is hard! We are to never focus on the situation or you’ll get angry, instead James says for us to “Patient “as we looked at last Sunday. Yes you’ve been wronged but don’t let this get you down where you dishonor the LORD who saved you and gave Himself for you. We are not to focus on yourself, or you’ll have a piety party. Take each situation and be strong in Christ. See that this person is not an enemy but as a tool for your spiritual growth.
  
We are not to focus on someone to blame, or you’ll end up complaining. Don’t shift the blame on others, instead view others as a means God uses to shape and mold your inner person. We are never to focus on the present but look to the future for insight. In order to do that, we need to turn to the Word of God. So consider memorizing these verses and stitch them on the fabric of your heart. As you stand firm and do not pretend to say yea with your lips, and annul it in your heart; let the yea or the nay which you express be genuine from your transformed life. A man who makes that his common method of speech is the man who will be believed. Let your yes be yes and your no be no! (v12) But in order for this to happen, we need to stand be tested true to the promises of God as we endure this Christian life. How we use our words, in a crisis, shows how much we trust the Lord.

First one!

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Rom 8:18-25 

Second one!

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Cor 4:16-18 

Third one!

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:3-9

These are 3 simple reminders of God’s provision and goodness as we endure for His name sake though a life of integrity and genuine Christianity. Why? Our speech and actions provide the most revealing evidence or position of our spiritual condition. When we make a vow to serve Christ that is outward expression of true inward change. When we make a vow to live and die for Christ that is an outward expression of an inward change. When we vow to be whom the bible speaks about in the New Testament, the world will take notice, ask or get violently upset because they see Christ in us. Why? God has revealed Himself and has given everyone a conscience to know right from wrong. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,” Rom 1:20. What does Romans 1:20 reveal as we look at James 5:12? God knows who are genuinely His and those who are faking it. What Jesus calls of us as to…..His sanctified (set apart) children are that we be straightforward, honest, and plain with our speech, seasoned with grace and salt. The use of oaths is contrary to faith, it marks unbelief. Faith always means yes when it says “Yes”. People of faith have no need to make oaths to give their words weight or to prompt a solution to suffering. They wait patiently as they endure suffering Why? To speak otherwise brings about condemnation and judgment. (v12c)

“…fall under condemnation or judgement.”

The Mosaic Law warned about this! "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” Exo 20:7. It’s so much more than using God’s name as a curse word…. but to make an oath under God falsely is very dangerous. Jesus pronounced “Woe you Pharisee’s” because of their false oaths. Matt 23:16 says “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.” The sobering reminder is that that those who continue to blaspheme God’s holy name through lying oaths face eternal damnation. This being another test of living faith. Not to say we are perfect and will won’t mess up on occasion. BUT! Those whose lives are patterned by habitual lying give evidence of having an unregenerate heart.

And the Bible is very clear where a lifestyle of lying leads too. “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." Rev 21:8. So as James says “But let your "Yes" be "Yes," and your "No," "No," lest you fall into judgment.” Be honest and speak the truth at all times for the glory of His name.

As a pastor I don’t know what’s in store for you in the coming weeks, months and years and neither do youGod knows and has counted your days to endure for Him and His glory as we wait for Christ’s return. Whatever that might be from……Losing your home, job, prolong grief with a neighbor or friend, a rebellious child, a parent who treat you like garbage or a bad grade on your examine. James is reminding us no matter what we go through…. Faith that preservers are trustworthy in speech. The words from our mouth should be consistent and dependable that they guarantee reliability. This is what Christ has done for us through the promises of eternal life.

08 May 2017

LIVING IN LIGHT OF THE LORD’S RETURN (PART 1)


James 5:7-12

Patience and suffering in the same sentence seems like an oxymoron. Its like oil and water, Sens fans and Leafs fans…they don’t work well together. If you asked most people they would tell you that they don’t like suffering at all and the last thing they want is to endure suffering or for it to be prolonged. But this is exactly what James is saying in his closing remarks. Patiently wait in your suffering and persevere in the truth of the gospel. Why? By the opening remarks of chapter 5 “Be patience or endure Christian, until the coming of the Lord.” See suffering is part of the Christian life…….at some point in time each and every one of us will face some form of suffering in this life: The suffering that the Bible talks about is so much more than your physical well-being, your finances, name calling or who unfriends you on Facebook! The suffering the Bible talks about is the battle of the Spirit and the flesh as we patiently endure this present evil age. Jesus said 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

See! It’s part of the Christian Life for this reason "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God." Acts 14:22

Martin Luther said "They gave our Master a crown of thorns. Why do we hope for a crown of roses?"

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. The Lord says…….”Draw near to God” James 4:8 and 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…… and James reminds us of this truth. James tells us even though we are going to face suffering as we walk this narrow road. James says wait patiently! Why? Because the day is at hand and He is coming to receive us unto Himself! That’s good news that sustains us in our suffering. James gives us 5 practical views to patiently endure trials until the coming of the Lord.
  
ANTICIPATE THE LORD’S COMING WITH PATIENCE (V7 - V8)

James uses the example of a farmer who waits for his crops. In the agricultural society we are dependent on God’s provision in the weather. Think about that! Too much rain can kill a crop to rot and too little of rain can cause them to burn or dry up and die. And as Canadians we have another issue when it comes to planting things! Frost which as the same affects as too much rain and no rain. In the end it will die without God providing the proper amount for things to grow. And we know farmers and people in general are very patient people! Right? We know when you plant seeds in a field they don’t all of a sudden sprouts and produce the delicious vegetables and fruits we all are accustom to love and enjoy.

What is James trying to tell us? He is coming back again, so be patient. Faith involves trusting in God with what you cannot control. A farmer cannot determine when it will rain or when it won’t rain. When it comes to the Lord’s return and the injustice that were faced with each and every day the farmer reminds us to patiently wait. “Coming” (v7) is an important New Testament eschatological term; this is referring to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. We read and are reminded in 1 Thess 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 in light of this promise! 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. This is our great hope, this we anticipate and this is what we are to wait patiently for every day. The church's greatest hope is the arrival of Jesus Christ when He comes to bless His people with His presence.

James says “establish your heart for the coming of the Lord.” (v8)

How does one establish his or her heart?

Invested your time with God in the Word and in prayer.
Reading His word and discerning the lies that Satan speaks to our hearts.
Remind yourself of the gospel and the promises it brings.
Never allow seeds of doubt to enter in about the eternal promises of God.
Count it all joy when you go through trails of various kinds. (James 1:2)

We are to patiently wait and trust in God with what we cannot control, but we are to honour God with what we can control.

RECOGNIZE OUR RESPONSIBILITY THROUGH HOLY LIVING (V9)
  
What are we to control? “Do not grumble against one another.” (v9) See as we patiently endure trials we will also be tempted to sin and usually that sin is easily achieved by the one another. It’s so easy to complain or find fault and speak evil of one another. We must resist this behaviour…this is something we do have control over. When we say “Oops I didn’t mean say that” what you’re really saying “I did mean to say that, but I meant to keep to myself. It’s the idea “Did I say what I really mean out loud?” We need to be extremely careful in this area of life because it’s so much easier and less work to destroy someone then it is to encourage and lift up someone. Why? James is reminding of this! “The Judge is standing at the door” (v9) Christ the Divine Judge is portrayed as ready to throw open the doors and burst onto the judgement scene. The Judge will bring every hidden thing to light, because He is at the door! 1 Cor 4:5 reminds of this truth! “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 one-self, or to sigh, it describes a bitter, resentful spirit.

But Paul says to the Philippian believers don’t complain in the light of the day of our Lord's return. “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.” Phil 2:14-17He 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 who though hardships spoke about the goodness, the greatness, the judgement and the mercy of God. Even when it wasn’t socially acceptable or  as today considered “Hate speech” They were example of people who loved the Lord and were willing to go to the ends of the earth for the gospel. “Spoke in the Name of the Lord” (v10) they represented all that the Lord is, does, and wills, the prophets were God's spokesman. Moses had to put up with the stiff-necked, rebellious Israelites who left Egypt “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!" Exo 17:3-4. Jeremiah endured opposition through his ministry “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." Jer 18:18
  
John the Baptist cousin of the Lord Jesus Christ was faced with much opposition the end result was John's head “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.” Matt 14:9-11. 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, so let us run the race, let us patiently run this race for His glory. Are we willing to do the same as those who went before us? Jesus 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. We see this in the life of Job. A man who endured many trials and hardships. He lost his livelihood of 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen and 500 female donkeys.
He lost his gifts from God, the death of his 10 children that he concentrated for every day to the Lord. “It may be that my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Job 1:5. And to top it off! Job was faced with bitter wife along with 3 so-called friends who were self-righteous and judgemental. And if that wasn't enough, poor Job had boils from the top of his head to bottom of his feet. Remember it took 42 chapters for the purpose of suffering in Job’s life to be revealed and only at the end did he confess. As Job said I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes." Job 42:5-6
  
We can learn a lot from Job's life! Throughout this experience Job’s faith was never shaken and he was a man of integrity and would not curse God ever! “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.Job 2:9-10. If Job can get through this trying time as a sinner saved by sovereign grace, then 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. Remember what the Lord said “…..'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:” Matt 25:33-34. The hope of future blessing should encourage and motivate us as we patiently endure in this present age! This has been the purpose in James’ 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 “…an imperishable crown.”1 Cor 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!

APPRECIATE THAT THE LORD HAS A PURPOSE (V11) 

There are 4 important divine purposes for suffering in the believer’s life as we have seen in Job.

To test your faith to prove it is genuine.
To prevent Satan’s attempt to destroy that faith.
To strengthen your faith so that you see God more clearly.
To increase the blessing in your life.


We saw this in Job’s life at the end in Job 42:10-17 The example of Job should encourage us through suffering trials to be patient and endure and realize the Lord’s purpose is to strengthen us and bless us in ways we would never think or imagine. Suffering is the off-ramp where we find and receive His compassion and mercy.

“Full of Compassion and Mercy” reminds us of the Lord’s character which is a great comfort when we are faced with suffering. As God showed deep compassion in the case of Job, we have equal reason to suppose that He will do the same in ours. This is what compassion and mercy look like as we go through suffering. 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. It’s a tenderness of heart which positions a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves. Through His death and resurrection, Christ has become the Mercy Seat for His people. This is why we patient wait and endure this present world system. It’s all because His grace, it’s all because of His mercy and compassion. Listen to these three words put together in a promise of God’s character and hope we have eternal glory. “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.” Psalm 145:8-9. Praise God for his amazing love and mercy that He shows each and every one of us. This is why we endure suffering in this life, He is coming back to receive us unto Himself!
  
5 practical views to patiently endure trials……..

Anticipate His coming at any time with great joy.
Recognize the Lord's Judgment on this perverse generation.
Follow the Lord's servants as examples of patience and perseverance.
Understand the Lord's blessing as you endure for His name sake.
Realize the Lord's purpose never go to waste.

Understand God has personally given this to us and allowed suffering in our lives for His glory! “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 as it prepares our heart for what is yet to come! A Heavenly homestead for all eternity. James wants to encourage us to be patient in times of suffering! Like the farmer waiting for a spiritual harvest and the fruit it brings though God’s provision and timing. The prophets who looked for opportunities to witness and share the truth of God’s word without worrying about what man can do to them. You like Job, who displays for us that God never causes His children to suffer needlessly. To understand that through suffering we know Him better for having been in the furnace of affliction. 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, so be patient!

23 April 2017

To Be Rich Without God


James 5:1-6

Would you like to be rich? Very few would say, “Nah, it doesn’t interest me!” One wise guy said, “They say it’s better to be poor and happy than rich and miserable. But couldn’t something be worked out, such as being moderately wealthy and just a little moody?” As Christians, we know that the Bible has many warnings against the dangers of pursuing wealth. Paul said this to TimothyBut 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.” 1 Tim 6:9-10. But most of us read this portion of Paul’s letter would say “I could handle it, or at least I’d like to try!”

Too many people! It seems as if more money would solve a whole lot of our problems. But, we often forget that wealth can create a lot of problems as well. Something dangerous was happening at the time of his letter. Something so dangerous forced James to pen some of the harshest words in his entire letter. There where men who were using their wealth for selfish purposes and were persecuting the ones [labourers] who help them to 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 yet another test to how we view money? We need to understand 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? 
Or! 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 interestsWhich 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! 
“….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.” 1 Tim 6:9-10
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

James gives the warning in the opening sentence “for the miseries that are coming upon you.” (v1) 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. 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. The rich were storing away their wealth in barns and James is saying ”all that money and all those possessions, all that stuff you buy that you do not need is rotting.” You think your investing is wise, but sadly in the end it will bring miseries. Jesus warned the disciples about 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. Jesus said in Luke 12:21 "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

Where is it supposed to go then?

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 1 John 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. (v2) James uses 3 descriptive words in these 2 verses.

Corrupted (v2) which means to destroy, to become corrupt, rotten. When combined with the fallen, greedy, selfish human heart, money can quickly corrupt.

Corroded (v3a) which means to rust down

Fire (v3b) which means literally or figuratively, specifically lightning): - fiery, fire. It symbolizes fast, inescapable, fatal, and final judgement.

When God brings judgment, even these precious metals will be doomed to corruption and fire. Think about it! What good were all the gold and silver in the world in A.D. 70 when Titus destroyed Jerusalem and slaughtered a million Jews? 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 ransack or loot by robbing. The money changers in the Temple where prime examples of this sort of behaviour. “Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, "It is written, 'MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER,' but you have made it a 'DEN OF THIEVES.'" Matt 21:12-13

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. The rich were 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! Example 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 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 "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.” Deut 24:14-15

What does this cry mean? There is going to be a frightening judgement awaiting 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 Host” 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. Isaiah 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" Blind to Heaven, deaf to warnings of Hell. They are insensitive to the impending day of slaughter and judgement, unless they repent"
  
THE WORSHIP OF MONEY WILL RESULT IN A EVIL HEART (V6)

Their wealth was cold-bloodedly 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 in 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…” 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 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 in Acts 2. But that can only be true of those who are also "rich in Faith" Rich in Christ Jesus

What is the warning for us?

Don’t let your wealth be uselessly hoarded.
Don’t let your wealth be unjustly gained.
Don’t let your wealth be self-indulgently spent.
Don’t let your wealth be 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 “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." Luke 12:40. 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 for the glory of God. 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 wealth say about you?