Friday, September 30, 2011

Digging Deeper (James 1:9-11)

Digging Deeper 4         
James 1:9-11 (Another shovel full)

                The Book of James can be looked at as a mirror to gaze in to see where we are in our walk with God. “Digging Deeper” is an attempt to look at the scriptures and see God’s character and to see where man fits in the awesome will of God. This week we continue our study as James writes concerning glory in circumstance and position.
          But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position James 1:9 First James indentifies the victims of humble circumstances as brother. Brother in this context is not referring to siblings it is referring to people that are in common such as living in the same area or people of like beliefs. James puts himself in this first group of people that suffer with humble circumstances. He is referring to believers.
          What about these humble circumstances?  What kind of circumstances can humility be attached to? A humble circumstance is a situation where there is a realization of need. Man is humbled when he is no longer in control and has to simply say “I cannot do it” and in that attitude man can experience the glory of God. We understand by the next verse concerning the rich that James is referring to poverty, or someone of little or no status among man, as a humble circumstance. But why does this humble circumstance result in a high position. Look at these words from Paul And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 A “brother” should glory in the high position of being joint heirs of Christ able to receive the wisdom, direction, peace and joy which far exceeds the value of all the riches of this world. Humble circumstances are circumstance that recognize that only God can provide and the glory of that high position is that we are “brothers” in the family of God!
          Verse 10 and 11 and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away. Here James addresses the rich, but notice the scripture does not say the rich brethren. The rich here is not so much a description of wealth but an attitude of self sufficiency, although man almost always associates self- sufficiency with money there are much greater needs. Because of the temporary nature of riches a lifestyle of self- sufficiency always ends in humiliation. Riches or being self-sufficient is only for a season “like flower grass” but in the end will not stand up and what once looked strong and beautiful becomes ugly and is destroyed.
          Now that we have dug a little deeper what do we believe?
1.  What do we believe about God?
-          God is the supplier of all true needs.
-          God is not expecting or even desiring us to be self-sufficient.
-          God positions the humble in a high position, a child of God, joint heirs with Christ.
2.  What do we believe about ourselves?
-          Man needs God.
-          Man can glory on his own for a season and look good doing it.
-          If man is not humbled by the recognition of his need for God he soon will fade away.
-          A man that sees God as God and is humbled by his circumstance will glory in the high position as a child of God!
n  No one is self-sufficient everyone is in need. It seems that man is on a mission to figure out how to keep it all together and reach a point that there is no dependence on anyone or anything. It is this arrogance that is destroying man. “but let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position”

Friday, September 23, 2011

Digging Deeper 3 (James 1:5-9)

Digging Deeper 3

James 1:5-9 (Another shovel full)
This week we are digging a little deeper to understand the character of God and how we relate to it. It is important to know why we believe what we believe about God and ourselves. This week James writes concerning wisdom which by definition: knowing how to know God.
           But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 Let’s define wisdom: Wisdom, “sophia” in the original language, in context here is the knowledge of how to regulate one’s relationship with God. This same word can mean the knowledge of how to regulate a relationship with anyone or anything but it is obvious considering that James just declared himself a bondservant to God and the Lord Jesus Christ that the question is, if any of you do not have the knowledge how to live in this relationship with God through Christ then you should ask.
          When James writes, ask for wisdom he clarifies who should ask. “If any of you lacks wisdom.”  That covers just about everyone. James makes it clear that everyone needs wisdom to relate to God. The word "ask" is bigger here than we might understand. Look at Acts 12:20 Now he was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; and with one accord they came to him, and having won over Blastus the king’s chamberlain, they were asking for peace, because their country was fed by the king’s country. Same word ask is used here, these folks were desperate they were begging because without the king’s peace they would starve. One more instance, Acts 3:2  And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg (same oringinal word as ask) alms of those who were entering the temple. The word ask here is not used to acquire more knowledge, it is to petition for knowledge that is absent.
          Before we handle this phrase “who gives to all men generously and without reproach” let’s look at the last phrase of verse 5 “and it will be given to him” with this statement James is not talking about a possibility, this is a declaration, if knowledge of how to live in a relationship with God is asked for then that wisdom is given.
          Now let’s back up to that middle phrase. “who gives to all men generously and without reproach.” Understanding that God will give for the asking the knowledge of how to live in a relationship with Him is magnified by the statement that God will be generous and not give it begrudgingly.
          In the next three verses James exposes the conditions concerning receiving this wisdom from God.  But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.  For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:6-8 First there is to be no doubting, you cannot look to God for knowledge with the purpose of debate. You cannot expect to receive the wisdom of God so that you can compare it with what you all ready know. James says this is like being in the surf being tossed pulled back and forth without any real solid footing. James continues this thought in verse 7 by very bluntly saying “don’t expect anything from the Lord if you are double minded”. This is an interesting term, double minded. James uses it again in chapter 4 verse 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. The idea of having a double mind is that one is thinking that there is more than one truth. James declares that if you have such a thought process and not going to be singularly sold out to the wisdom of God then you will not receive it. The declaration is that if a man is trying to put his own spin on the wisdom of God then it is a mark of instability and an unstable, or double minded man is unqualified to receive the knowledge of God.
          Now having dug a little deeper what do we believe?
What do we believe about God?:
1.     God alone has the knowledge of how man is to relate to Him, he is the expert.
2.    God desires that we know Him.
3.    God has conditions that must be met to comprehend the wisdom that He desires to share with man.
4.    God’s ways are without compromise, God’s way is not a way rather it is the only way.
What do we believe about ourselves?
1.     We cannot relate to God unless we receive wisdom from God.
2.    Asking for knowledge from God first requires humility man must realize that he does not have the answers to how to know God.
3.    Receiving wisdom from God requires singleness of mind trusting only the precepts of God.
4.    Man left to his own knowledge will not hold fast to anything and will be tossed around with all kinds of ideas, precepts, concepts, and falseness.

n  In man’s infinite quest for knowledge he often misses out on the only truth, the wisdom that comes from God. To know God we must humbly seek God and trust His way as the only truth.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Digging Deeper (James 1:1-4)

Digging Deeper 2

James 1:1-4 (The 1st shovel full)

Digging deeper is an effort to expose scripture and to understand the character of God and God’s salvation plan for man. In a day full of Church entertainment and self-help guides this is an attempt to understand God’s Word and to simply believe its truths.

The book of James was written by the oldest half brother of Jesus, what a unique perspective he would have had. James was a prominent leader in the Jerusalem church; tradition says that James spent so much time on his knees that his knees became “callous as the knees of camels”.
But James was only the half brother of Jesus, Mary was their mother but they had different fathers. James understood that and that gives his writing a very clear prospective.
Now let’s dig a little deeper into the text and see how the writings of James the half brother of Jesus, inspired by God, fit into God’s plan of His glory and the salvation of man.
Verse 1 James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings.
This opening verse is a simple salutation but there is also some depth. In the opening we introduced James as the half brother of Jesus, but James introduces himself in a much different light. Before James ever records a single remark he approaches the reader, or listener, not as a relative of Jesus therefore I have authority to speak to you, rather he identifies himself as a bond-servant. Now here by definition is what he is calling himself a salve “doulos” in the Greek. A “doulos” is someone not serving to pay off a debt but is in permanent relationship of servitude to another. A “doulos” is one that is completely consumed in the will of the one to whom he is enslaved. A good example of this is the slave of the centurion in Matthew 8:9 For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” In this introduction of himself James makes it clear that he is devoted and committed to service and as we will see in his writing works are a prominent part of his teaching.
          James is a servant and clearly he is a servant of God “Theos” the one true God and the Lord Jesus Christ. It is interesting here that James mentions both God and Jesus. By saying that he is a slave to both, gives a very clear picture that James is not just a believer in God but also that he believes that Jesus is the Christ. James is writing that he is in an eternal committed relationship with God through God’s Son the Lord Jesus Christ.
          In the second half of this verse James indentifies his audience “the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad.” Where Paul for example was clearly a messenger to the gentiles, the heart of James’ ministry is delivering the message to the Jews, this does not negate the precepts in James’ writing from applying to the gentiles or anyone else for that matter, the words of God are for all II Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; this merely gives us context for his writing.
          Now James waste no time getting to the meat of the message. Verse 2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, now to see this verse clearly we need to understand these two words: joy and trials. To our natural thought process these seem to be terms that do not fit together. The word joy does not mean happy rather in context it means to rejoice for a reason, or there is a reason for rejoicing but again it seems strange that the reason for the rejoicing is because of a trial. So what is the term trial referring to?  This word can have two different connotations depending on who is doing the trying. If God is doing the trying then the purpose is to strengthen but if it is Satan doing the trying then of course the purpose is to cause failure. It is obvious that this testing is from God verse 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Satan would not attack and send us through a trial in order to increase our faith. This trial that we are to consider joy is a testing by God with the purpose to increase our spiritual endurance. Because it is from God and He is increasing our faith that should cause the believer joy to know that God would consider us to increase our faith, it is a reason to rejoice!
          Verse 3 pulls all this idea together And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. What is this endurance? “hupomone” it is to have patience and be longsuffering. And the desired result of that patience and long suffering is to be perfect and complete. Perfect to have reached the goal, complete to have all the parts everything that is needed. James ties it together “lacking in nothing”.
          Now having dug a little deeper what do we believe?
What do we believe about God? :
1.     God can only be accessed through Christ.
2.    God’s message is for all his people.
3.    God will test His children with the purpose of increasing endurance so that the believer will lack nothing.
What do we believe about ourselves? :
1.     We are not special because we are related to someone who walks with God we only have a relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ.
2.    We are to be bondservant totally consumed in the will of God.
3.    The trials that we face are by Divine design to give us everything we need to carry out our purpose to glorify God and live in the joy of His love.

n  We can truly find joy in our trials if we understand that our God does not give us trials to punish us but to give us strength to do what we were created to do, Glorify Him with joy unspeakable.
Pastor Jim

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Digging Deeper 

Let’s go a little deeper in God’s Word. I want to take you with me in a search to understand the character of God and His plan of salvation for man through Christ. Let’s look at some familiar verses’ Genesis 1:1-2.

· In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

Let me begin by stating that this study is not an effort to refute any particular view of this passage it is simply the results of a biblical study of this passage, surrounding verses and how it fits into the overall context of God’s Word and plan for salvation.

This is a pretty straight forward statement, it is declarative, and it declares an action. The action is the action of creating the heavens and the earth, God is the one committing the act and the beginning is when it happens. But let’s dig a little deeper, first when did it happen?

Well the simple answer is in the beginning but when was that? While it is impossible to put a date on it a look at the Hebrew word from which the word “beginning” is translated gives us some insight. “Re’shiyth” it means first in place, time, rank or order. So when Moses writes this declarative it is right to interpret beginning as this is the first time anything is created, which also means that this is what starts the time line of creation. There is much debate among Bible students if this is a declaration summary of the entire creation process or it is a preceding creation prior to the 6 literal days in the first 2 chapters of Genesis that prepared the earth for human habitation which may have come immediately after or any number of years after. There is really not much reason to debate these two views given that both recognize that beginning means the first, that nothing else existed prior to God’s creation so I will not debate the topic but simply expound on my interpretation.

The result of God’s action is that the heavens and the earth are created. First the heavens Hebrew word “shamayim” this word can have one of two meanings 1. The physical heaven, the place where the birds fly. Deut. 4:17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky, (the sky here is the same Hebrew word) 2. Where God lives is the other use of this word. I Kings 8:30 Listen to the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place; hear in heaven Your dwelling place; hear and forgive. So in order to understand the meaning here we have to look at context. Although we cannot be dogmatic about it, it would seem that God is not creating a place to live given the fact that God is doing the creating , again we cannot say definitively that God is not creating a place to have His throne but it really doesn’t fit. Leaving us with the definition that God is creating the expanse that God calls heaven in Genesis 1:8 God called the expanse heaven(shamayim). And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

The second half of this declaration of God’s creation is the earth. The Hebrew word for earth used here is “Erets” this noun means the physical earth, the ground as opposed to the heavens. But the context can be confusing if we believe that this verse is a summary of all of God’s creation. This word as with many Hebrew words can and is used often differently depending on context. Sometimes “Erets” can be more inclusive or sometimes have a more narrow meaning. In this case it seems that the context is more inclusive like it is used in Psalm 27:13 I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. (“land of living” same Word “Erets” ) and in Genesis 6:11 Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. It wasn’t the ground that was doing all the violence but the inhabitants of the earth. In context earth here can easily mean the earth and everything on it.

Having looked at this introductory statement “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” We move to verse two The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. A good interpretation would be to say that the earth was unformed and void. So would we be wrong then to believe that God did not create the earth from nothing? Certainly not, this scripture does not at all indicate that there was a mass of a blob wobbling around in nothingness and God stumbles upon it and decides to form it into what we now know as earth and all of creation. The declaration is that the earth was not formed and was nothing when God starts the creation process in the beginning.

The deep “tehom” refers to endless body of water that enveloped the earth and then the rest of this verse speaks of the breath “Spirit of God” moving over this unformed and lifeless, endless body of water. So this begs the question how did this formless, lifeless body of water exist before creation? The answer is it didn’t. Nothing existed before God spoke it into existence! Psalm 33:9 9 For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it [a]stood fast.

Because we do not see the narrative of when the formless and void earth came into existence does not at all detract from the fact that nothing existed before God and that everything that is created is created by God. This statement merely gives us the state of creation when God said “Let there be light” and the organization of God creation began.

Now having dug a little deeper in these two verses’ we need to ask ourselves what do I believe because this is what the Word of God says?

n What do I believe about God?

- I believe that God is not confined by time that God is eternal both past and future.

- I believe that God is creator and that nothing can exists unless it is a creation of God.

· “Of old You founded the earth,
And the heavens are the work of Your hands Psalms 102:25

n What do I believe about me?

- I am a creation of God making me accountable to the creator.

- I am not in charge without God I simply do not exist.

- God is God alone and I am His creation.

· “Have you understood the expanse of the earth?
Tell Me, if you know all this. Job 38:18

Sharing Great News

Pastor Jim