Friday, March 16, 2012

Digging Deeper (James 5:12)

I pray that God will change our lives for His glory by the study of His Word!
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Digging Deeper 25 James 5:12
The study of God’s Word is the only real way to understand the character of God, and who He is. But there is another aspect that is revealed our character.  As the Bible shows us the greatness of God it exposes our stature and it is in that humility, in that weakness, we can truly experience the strength of Christ. Now let’s dig a little deeper in God’s Word.
James 5:12 But above all, my brethren do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any oath; but let your yes be yes, and your no, no so that you may not fall under judgment. James leading to this passage has talked about works and controlling the tongue. He has expounded on things the believer should avoid and how to resist the devil. He has given warnings concerning the misuse of riches and much more. Then we come to this phrase “But above all” which gives great weight to what follows. “Do not swear” the command here is not “do not say curse words”. When we swear, by definition we are vowing that we will do something or makes something happen. This goes beyond what we consider making a promise which we understand to mean do everything in our power to make it happen. But to swear by either heaven or by earth would mean somehow we had control over such things. In passing we often say “if the Lord is willing and the creeks don’t rise” well I am not sure about the creeks rising but the first part is certainly truth to live by. Who are we that we can obligate heaven or earth to anything or anyone? The teaching here is we have nothing to swear by! Who are we? Making a vow in itself is not wrong it is even encouraged and shows a commitment to do everything as God enables us to further expose His glory but that is not the thrust of scripture here. Above all be humble!  The notion that we somehow have authority to swear by anything reveals pride and arrogance.
Let your yes be yes and you’re no, no… Just be honest, a believer’s word should always be trustworthy not because of our ability to keep it but because our words are carefully chosen and are founded solely on the strength of Christ and not our own. James is echoing Jesus words in Matthew 5:34 But I say to you make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God. Matthew 5:37 but let your statement be, yes, yes or no, no; and anything beyond these is of evil. We are being taught to be humble and honest in what we say only obligating ourselves to the truth for we have no other power in our lives other than God’s truth.
By seeing that God alone is sovereign we can see the truth about ourselves. We are in no position to make an oath concerning the things of God. And when we come to that place of humility we are changed, we become full of faith and strength because we see Christ as our only hope and strength in our acknowledgment of weakness we have become conquers. Romans 8:37-39 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What do we believe about God? 
1.   In God is all power.
2.   In God is all authority.
3.   In God is all truth and strength.

What do we believe about ourselves? 

1.   In our acknowledgement of our weakness God makes us strong

Covenant Church 210 Station Rd, Wilmington, NC 28405 (910) 395-5800

Friday, March 9, 2012

Digging Deeper (James 5:7-11)

Digging Deeper 24 James 5:7-11
Hurry up! That seems to be the rally call these days. We live at a tremendous pace. Isn’t it something that a few years ago we were amazed at how fast we could get information via the internet on a dial up modem? Now if we have to wait even a few seconds we consider our computer junk and look to move up to something that only takes a half of a second instead of the tiring full second that we have been waiting. Most of us feel like we are living 25/7 lives. There is nothing wrong with a go after it attitude the point is that whether we acknowledge it or not we can only see results on the time table of God. Now let’s dig a little deeper in God’s Word.
James 5:7 Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and the late rains. Let’s jump to the third word of this passage, the word therefore; this passage is directly connected with the passage before where James speaks directly to the rich. Your wealth will not sustain you but can lead to self indulgence and pride causing you to treat others poorly. So we come to verse 7 Be Patient! In verse 2 and 3a Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth eaten Your gold and silver have rusted. These things that are described here are satisfying in the moment. Money and clothes and other material things can be described as a quick fix! But there power to give comfort and peace fades as quickly as it came. If we are trusting in those things, and we are simply in a hurry to get that fix we will find ourselves on a roller coaster ride never finding the true joy and peace of walking with Jesus. So James says “Be patient” know that the Lord is coming. Too often we tie ourselves to the material things in the world as a measurement of who we are and what we do. But good farmers wait! There is going to be rain and there is going to be more rain. We don’t always like when it rains but then when we need it rain we don’t want to wait on it. But it is for sure that without the rain no fruit is produced.
James 5:8 You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. We are to be like the farmer trust that the Lord will send the rain. Just as the farmer is inspired, knowing that in due time there will be fruit, the believer can know that regardless of how difficult things are, no matter how long the draught, and regardless of circumstances “The coming of the Lord is at hand” What is our hurry to have our best life now when we can know that Jesus is going to return for us in all His glory. He promised He would prepare a place for us and if He prepared that place He would return and we will be with Him. That is something worth waiting for!
James 5:9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. So what is it that we have to complain about? It is a dangerous thing to judge others in such a way.
James 5:10 As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Those that are suffering and those that are trying to be patient look at the prophets as an example. The prophets looked forward and kept the faith despite their circumstances. The writer of Hebrews describes it this way Hebrews 11:37-40 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy) wandering in the deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
James 5:11 Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. When we look at those that have endured the most we see them as having the strongest faith. We watch those examples and we see that even in their toughest hour God has not left them and He is compassionate and merciful.
We should conclude that maybe we just need to hang in there. There is hope, Jesus is coming. Maybe we should slow down for a minute knowing that God is sovereign and knows our situation. What if in difficult times we become an example of faith patiently waiting on the hand of God. Slow down not in our efforts to serve Him but in understanding that our life is not a sprint but a life of endurance with lots of hurdles and stumbling blocks but with a definite goal.
Hebrews 12:1-2a Therefore since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. Maybe we could slow down and watch for Jesus!
Now that we have dug a little deeper what do we believe?          
What do we believe about God? 
1.   God will supply the seed and the rain.
2.   Jesus will come again in all His glory!
3.   God is full of compassion and mercy.

What do we believe about ourselves? 

1.   We need to be patient God is still working.
2.   Complain will not make us stronger but weaker.
3.   Look to the examples of faith before us.

Covenant Church 210 Station Rd, Wilmington, NC 28405 (910) 395-5800

Friday, March 2, 2012

Digging Deeper (James 5:1-6


Digging Deeper 23 James 5:1-6
There is a tremendous emphasis if not pressure in our culture placed on the acquisition of knowledge. Now with the inception of the internet, vast libraries of books, video and countless media outlets it would seem that we would be getting more knowledgeable and I guess on some level we are gaining more information. But what about the truth how much of the information that we process is actually the truth? Have we reached a point in our society that Google is the answer to all questions? True knowledge is not just information; true knowledge is just that, the truth!  So where can we find the answers how can we acquire true knowledge information that is life changing? Jesus said “I am the way the truth and the life.” True knowledge comes from knowing Jesus! Now let’s dig a little deeper in God’s Word.
James 5:1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. This is not an indictment on the rich. The point is that if you are dependent on your riches, your abilities, your resources difficulty is coming there will be a time when you will they will not sustain you. Verse 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Rotted simply means worthless and when your garments are moth eaten, and moths don’t care if they are designer clothes, you are exposed. Verse 3 Your gold and your silver have rusted; and there rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure. Earthly treasure will not stand the test of time and depending on them will witness to the character of the man.
James 5:4 Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Saboth. When man falls in love and dependence on earthly things he begins to fill with pride and arrogance. Others really do not matter, “I got mine let them get theirs.” Verse 5 You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.  Because you have embraced a lifestyle of I have all I need, your heart is not right. Verse 6 You have condemned and put to death the righteous man, he does not resist you. When attitude is “I have all I need”, which leads to an attitude of “I’ve got mine you get yours”, a false sense of power over those that “have not arrived yet” ensues and then there is no  hesitation to step on anyone or do anything to continue the pursuit of more earthly treasure and literally lives are destroyed.
This narrative of James concerning riches does not condemn the wealthy. It is about the attitude of the rich, it is about being arrogant and full of pride and how that pride will destroy not only the prideful but as it runs its course seeks to destroy the humble. James begins this passage with “come now, you rich weep and howl” it is a call to realize your situation, being wealthy is not a sin. Proverbs 10:22 It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it.
Earthly riches are blessings from God and are to be handled with great stewardship (to whom is given much is required). The blessings of God requires an attitude of humility and must be handled if they are going to bring glory to God.
This passage is much about attitude not the riches themselves when we have a prideful attitude it causes us act differently even cruelly and unfairly towards others placing ourselves in a place a prominence based on false sense of value.

What do we believe about God? 
1.   God is the giver of all blessings
2.   God desires good stewardship of His blessing

What do we believe about ourselves? 
1.   All blessings come from God
2.   Our pride will lead us to destruction and seek to destroy others.
3.   Our dependence should be completely and wholly on God!
Covenant Church 210 Station Rd, Wilmington, NC 28405 (910) 395-5800