02 April 2017

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE?


James 4:13-17

The Gospel shapes the way we think; the way we speak and how act privately and socially. Just as their many marks to a healthy church in scripture; the same rule applies to a healthy Christian life. For example…… the scripture says Christians are marked by their:


Love for God
Repentance of Sin
Humility
Devotion to God's Glory
Prayer and supplication
Joy and peace grounded in the 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 ones 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 Jesus 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. Submission to His will. A Humble servant desire to His will. We as Christian’s must do the same….submit and humble ourselves in the presence of His Holiness and perfect will for our lives.

I GUESS THE BIG QUESTION IS……. How do I know I’m in the Father's will? John MacArthur helps answer that question "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" 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 those who are shaped by the gospel and those who are not. As Paul said the church of Ephesus “not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,” Eph 6:6. BUT! In this portion of James letter we are faced with something completely different when it came to doing the Lord’s will as was for Paul and the church of Ephesus. James and His people were faced with disobedience, a disregard and a disinterest in doing God's will. Which this is a certain mark or characteristic of the presence of PRIDE in one’s life. This ugly sin causes spiritual conflict, worldliness, a slanderous tongue as James has already wrote about in the previous chapters. James wrote this "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" James 4:6. Meaning…..those who do not submit to God's will give evidence that their lives have not been transformed by His saving grace founded in the gospel.

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…meaning my way or the highway?


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 in a gospel shaped life. So as a good steward of the word, 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 as James expresses in (v13) 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 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 this people in a 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 and Governs your life. 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 14 "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.” Isa 14:13-15

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 of "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 an area for trade) 
5th: they chose their own goal or objective "to make a profit"

Again! James is not attacking their profit & Business motivation……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 two 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 good works and disregarding the very One who gives you the gift of life and breath. According to James! Arrogance and boasting are evil….which we have already seen the greatest boaster their father Satan in Isaiah 14. Those who arrogantly deny God's will follow after 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 His children, you and me…..

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 we are to "delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart" (Ps 37:4). Meaning, God will plant His desires into our heart and they will become ours as well. If you do not respond to the Lord's will by obedience…… it’s SIN. A prime example is Jonah, the Pharisee’ and every fallen human-being as Paul explains in Romans 1. 

The seriousness of this 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, even if you stumble and get bruised along the way. A gospel shaped life will press on in faith! Remember, we may be able to fool the people around us, but you can never fool the LORD! A person’s ignorance is no excuse and they will be judged according with harshness and 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!" It is a danger thing to fall into the hands of wrathful/righteous God. NOW the good news to following God’s will for your life.

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 and supreme rule 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 too. “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 of ones Christian life. What matter most, or should matter most is to be daily transformed by the gospel.

See…..

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 counting me worthy of this day and this hour that I may be among Thy martyrs and drink the cup of my Lord Jesus Christ." Why is this important as it was for Polycarp? Because James said “life is but a vapour” a puff of smoke, or ones breath as it appears for a moment on a cold day. What James is trying to tell his listeners and us is that…….life is frail, life is short and death is certain. Life is but a vapour here today and gone tomorrow! But has the gospel shaped your life as it did Polycarp? Will your final words on this life say “I bless Thee for counting me worthy of this day and this hour that I may be among Thy martyrs and drink the cup of my Lord Jesus Christ." Our lives have been purchased by His saving grace and the gospel is the only way we will ever live in His will and see Him in all His glory in Heaven. As Paul said in 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 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. His will is perfect for our lives and need to accept and submit to that and live for His glory and not yours.


CORRECTION IN THE AUDIO SERMON:

Sorry I said the wrong team! Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth collapsed in his crease during a stop in action Saturday, Apr 1

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