Friday, October 28, 2011

Digging Deeper (James 1:19-21)

Digging Deeper 7          James 1:19-21 (Another shovel full)

God once again struck my heart this week with the thought of truth. It is very difficult for us define truth because it can only be defined by itself. Truth claims itself to be true but how can we know that it is true if the only evidence is the truth defining itself. I know, I am confused to, so Let me put it this way faith reveals truth. So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. Romans 10:17 For just a moment do not let truth be defined by a lie think of truth as something that is straight, pure, unmolested it really doesn’t have any motive it is simply true, it is what it is and nothing else.
Without a pure sample we have no way to measure if something is contaminated. Jesus said I am the way the truth and the life. The Word of God is true not because we have proven it true but because it is the truth.
This week we dig a little deeper into the truth in the Book of James let’s pickup with 1:19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. A couple points on this verse, first note who James is talking to, beloved brethren, so the following points are to fellow Christians. “Be quick to hear” the word hear in this phrase is more than just acknowledging a sound it has the connotation of understanding so the instruction here is to be ready to understand and when there is understanding the next two precepts come more readily, slow to speak, slow to anger.  We often describe someone with a quick temper as someone with the short fuse always ready to blow up at the least little thing.  This verse is not an instruction to never be angry there are certainly times that believers can and even should get angry when something comes against the holiness of God it should strike a chord in our heart. But most often our anger is kindled from pride something doesn’t sit right with us but being quick to hear and understanding the situation and not speaking quickly, saying things that we often regret, slows down the anger process. Why is this process so important? Why should I slow down and try to understand and not get angry “I have a right to be angry, I have been wronged!” really? Verse 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Three important words to understand in verse 20 anger, man, and righteousness. Anger is the Greek word “orge” it means wrath as a state of mind with a purpose of revenge. Man the Greek word “aner” meaning male, the more prideful of the sexes. Righteousness “dikaiosune” that which is just. Man with a heart of wrath seeking revenge to satisfy his ego does not satisfy the justice of God.  
In verse 21 James brings some things together for us. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.
 Since these things do not satisfy the righteousness of God let’s put aside our filthiness and wickedness in humility. Often when someone is asked after they have struck out in anger if they thought it did any good they will say no but it made me feel better and that may be true but that means that the whole thing was about them and the instruction is to put all of it aside in humility. But pride must be destroyed to understand there is but one place that yields such understanding, “receive the word implanted” the Word of God is able to save the soul of man. It is the Word of God that gives us understanding so that we are ready to understand instead of being quick to speak and overcome with anger.
Now having dug a little deeper what do we believe?
What do we believe about God?
1.    God is the supplier of the salvation of our souls.
2.    God gives understanding.
3.    God alone is righteous.
What do we believe about ourselves?
1.    Seeking quickly to understand slows down the process of anger.
2.    Pride is most often our source of anger.
3.    Our anger does not bring the justice of God.
4.    Humility lays aside our filthiness and wickedness
5.    The implanted word is able to save our souls.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Digging Deeper (James 1:17)

Digging Deeper 6          James 1:17 (Another shovel full)

            Before we dig deeper into the text this week I want to take a moment to encourage you in the importance of knowing why you believe what you believe, which is the ultimate goal of digging deeper. We want to delve into the depths of God’s Word so that we can believe the truth of God rather than a tradition of men.  Our actions are a reflection of what we believe which makes it so important to believe the truth and we can only know the truth by God’s Word. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 The only excuse for not handling the word of truth accurately is not knowing the word of truth. There are far too many believers trying to live the Christian life without reading the instructions. Devotionals are good, listening to and singing worship music is great, quiet time in prayer is invaluable but none of these are a substitute for spending time digging deeper into the Word of God. Now let’s dig a little deeper into the first chapter of James.
            In  James 1:17 James makes a declarative statement:  Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. James 1:17 There are two things coming down from the Father of lights, who we will look at in a moment, good things and perfect gifts. So what are good things? The word good is the Greek word “agathos” which is defined as useful or profitable. The word things here is a little tricky because how can you define things wouldn’t that include every “thing”. But this word thing here is referring to the giving itself, look at this verse from Phillpians 4:15 You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; The word translated here giving is the same word in the original language “dosis” as thing in James 1:17 and it means the the act of giving. Now what about the perfect gift? Perfect, which means to complete, gift  which is something that is given freely. Everything that is useful that is given and everything that is complete and given freely is from above. Notice that the instruction here is not a description of materiel things. Look back at verse 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. The connecting verse 16 says do not be the deceived, what looks good can simply be lust that gives birth to sin which brings forth death. Death comes from sin but every useful and complete thing that is given comes from God see verse 12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. The good and perfect things that come from God are not always in the form of a check or new car. The good things and perfect gifts that come from the Father are things that are complete and useful to bring glory to Him and good to our lives.
            Just a couple of things we need to know about this last phrase “from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow”. The word light here describes a light that is never kindled and therefore is never extinguished. Describing God as the Father of lights simply means that there is no darkness in God, and of course no variation means that God is true or never changing and no shifting shadow means that the light does not move.
            James makes this great contrast the results of the lustful eye of man generated by man’s pride that leads to death verses all things given freely and are complete that come from God resulting in the crown of life.

Having dug a little deeper what do we believe?

What do we believe about God?
1.      Anything useful is given by God.
2.      God’s gifts are complete.
3.      God’s gifts are not always materiel things but are always perfect and good.
4.      All light comes from God!
5.      God is true and never changes.

What do we believe about ourselves?
1.      If we have anything useful it comes from God.
2.      What we have in God is complete.
3.      We are either following the lust of our eye that leads to death or we are walking in the free gift of a crown of life given by the Father of lights!

Pastor Jim


Friday, October 7, 2011

Digging Deeper (James 1:12-16)

Digging Deeper 5          James 1:12-16 (Another shovel full)

God’s Word is such an amazing blessing as God opens up for us a portal into the heart of God and reveals to us who He is and who we are and His amazing plan for us. This week we are digging deeper into the Epistle of James. Looking for what God has for us to see and learn.
This week we pick up in verse 12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. The rest of this passage is going to hinge on that first phrase “Blessed is a man that perseveres under trial” James is going to describe this process but we first need to answer two questions. What is a blessed man and what kind of a trial must a man travel  in order to be blessed? First the word blessed is translated here from the Greek word “makarios” and the simple definition of this word is possessing the characteristics of deity. It does not mean that someone has become God it simply means that they are exercising and experiencing the character of God in their life. The trials that James is talking about are temptations, (peirasmos) this is not sickness or financial hurting or any other particular difficulty. The statement is that you are blessed when you are tempted if you react with godly character.
This man that is blessed will get an approval, and once he has he will receive a crown of life. A man has not shown the character of God until he has faced temptation and overcame it. It is then after a man has shown the character of God in the face of temptation that he receives the crown of life. The reward for persevering with godly character is a life in the blessing of God, which is the crown of life, experiencing and exercising the character of God. This is a result of the promise of God to those that love the character of God and follow it.
Verse 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. God does not tempt man with the purpose of failure. It is not God that is to blame when we fall rather it is our own lust which emanates from our pride resulting in a reaction outside the holy character of God Verse 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. James continues to explain how that happens. Verse 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Once a man “falls for something” it captures the mind and the heart and then comes the sin as man is overcome by his lust and cannot contain himself and the results of sin is death it is the opposite of crown of life in verse 12.
Verse 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren James give this solemn warning concerning deception. Notice first here that James is talking to believers (my beloved brethren) and the warning beware of being deceived by your own lust.
A man has shown the characteristics of God when temptation comes. Evidence of the approval of God is the Lord’s promise of a crown of life. But when temptation stirs the lust of man and results in actions to satisfy the flesh rather than the character of God there is no approval and no crown of life only death. Do let your deceitful mind carry you away!
Having dug a little deeper what do we believe?
What do we believe about God?
1.     God extends His character to man.
2.    God gives approval for acting in His character.
3.    God is the holder of the crown of life.
4.    God does not test man with the purpose of failure.
5.    God holds both life and death.
What do we believe about ourselves?
1.     We can experience and exercise the character of God in our lives.
2.    We can receive the approval of God by reacting to temptation in His character.
3.    We can have victory over our lust by reacting to temptation in God’s character.
4.    Every trial results in either  the crown of life or it brings forth separation from the blessing of God “death”