A&D Biker Ministries "Growing the Kingdom of God . . . one Biker at a time"

 

September 18, 2021

“SIN, JUDEMENT AND MERCY”
James 2:10-13

    
(A sermon series on Practical Christianity)

It seems in 2021 society, as soon as someone takes a moral stand on any important issue - someone else says that person is being judgmental.  Next up . . . that person is “cancelled!”  Period.  End of discussion.  And everyone is intimidated to have a spiritual backbone!

You may say, “Well, isn’t a Christian supposed to be civil and non-judgmental?”   Christian civility does NOT mean that we can’t criticize what’s going on around us.  Christian civility does NOT mean that we refuse to make judgments about what is good and true.  And, civility does NOT require us to approve of what other people believe and do.  Really, it isn’t possible to be completely nonjudgmental.

ISN’T TELLING SOMEONE THAT THEY ARE BEING JUDGMENTAL A RATHER JUDGMENTAL THING TO DO?  Well . . . maybe yes, and maybe no.    

There’s God’s righteous judgment, which we are called to live by / under.  And there is self-righteous judgment - which creates a “class system.”

According to James, there can be no “class system” for sin in our lives!  You do realize that we have created a class system for sins, right?  We try to justify our sin by excusing ourselves, because we haven’t committed sin in some other area.  We keep score.  (You know, “I did this, but I didn’t do that - and that would have been worse!” ) James is about to remind us:  SIN IS SIN!  

James 2:10-11 (NIV)
10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.  11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.”  If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.  

In God’s economy, sin is sin.  SIN is the same.  Now sin has various levels of impact, and some sins are more devastating in their natural repercussions.  Murder has a more devastating natural impact than lying.  At least that is how we see it, because we see in the natural realm.  But James reminds us that in the supernatural realm ALL SIN MEANS DESTRUCTION.  Murder and lying have the same exact supernatural result - separation from God.  In God’s eyes sin is sin!  So, James tells us to quit trying to downplay our sin.  If you have ever uttered the words, “It doesn’t hurt, impact or affect anyone but me” - you have set up a class system for sin!  It is an all or nothing deal.  We either keep all of God’s law or we have kept none of God’s law.

James 2:12-13 (NIV)
12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.  Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Does that sound kind of harsh and “judgy”?  If you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly.  Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time!

And, according to James, we should judge . . . but we should do it differently than the world!

There is a lie that has invaded our lives.  We have listened to the cry for tolerance so much that we have believed the devil’s lie that we should not judge.  We hear people say, “Don’t judge me.  The Bible says, ‘Judge not that you be not judged.’” 
 
News flash:  If you say that, you haven’t read the Bible!  The Bible specifically teaches that Christians are to judge (in a holy / righteous manner . . . NOT in a self-righteous manner).  There is even a book dedicated to people who acted as Judges.  James reiterates that here - we are to judge, to discern, to weigh in the balance, to examine the spiritual fruit in our lives!  WHY? 

SO THAT WE DO NOT BECOME TOLERANT OF SIN!  BUT, we are to judge with a tendency towards mercy.  

James 2:12-13 (NIV)
12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.  Mercy triumphs over judgment.

The same measure of mercy you give will be the same measure, the same dose, the same level of mercy you will receive.  Or said another way, the lack of mercy you give will come back to bite you in the behind . . . when you are the one standing in judgment before God.  So, we must also be intolerant of merciless judgment!

I want to make a statement to you right here . . . and, I want to try and say it clearly!  

Learn to give people the benefit of the doubt in the body of Christ (the Church)!  The body is too full of suspicion and thinking the worst about people.  We expect people to hurt us.  We expect people to be terrible.  We expect people to be vile sinners.  We expect people to stab us in the back.  We expect that people are talking bad about us.  

LET’S BECOME PEOPLE OF MERCY, AND GIVE OTHERS THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT.  

News flash:  Every person I have ever met that expected to be hurt, expected to be lied about, expected to be misused, abused and disappointed by people . . . WAS!  They go looking for it and they project their expectations onto every situation!  MERCY SHOULD RULE THE DAY!

Judge righteously . . . but judge through the lens of mercy.  We have been forgiven much and that should cause us to quit wanting revenge!  True forgiveness is revealed when you no longer want revenge.

Sinners should feel comfortable here, at A&D Biker Ministries, because they are loved.  They should not feel comfortable here with their sin!  We judge, but we judge with mercy!  

SINNERS WERE COMFORTABLE AROUND JESUS.  THEY JUST WEREN’T COMFORTABLE WITH THEIR SIN!  

James wants us to be able to judge effectively.  He wants us to see sin for what it is, but at the same time - he want sinners to feel at home around us.

What I firmly believe James is wanting us to understand and apply from these verses today is:  that we may live our lives as Christians, so that non-Christian friends leave our presence feeling like:  “I have got to get rid of my sin . . . not this friendship!”


 

 

September 11, 2021

“SHOWING FAVORITISM”
James 2:1-9
    
(A sermon series on Practical Christianity)

I know!  I know that I said we’d only work through chapter one of the book of James.  But, advice from a friend can be extremely helpful and life changing, if we listen to it and apply it.  So, we MUST continue on through this letter from James.  Afterall, James has a lot to teach us.  He’s giving us practical advice for Christian living.  Let’s be honest, he’s offering us wisdom that we often fail to apply or live out . . . and, we pay the price.  So, let’s continue to listen & learn!

James 2:1-9 (NIV)
1 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in.  3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?  5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters:  Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?  6 But you have dishonored the poor.  Is it not the rich who are exploiting you?  Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?  7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?  8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.  9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.

FAVORITISM.  We don’t struggle with this in the Church today, do we?  YEAH, RIGHT!  Do we actually believe that the Church is immune to this problem?  We know James is speaking directly about favoritism, because of (v. 1).  WE must have the same attitude toward people that Jesus does!

James considers the rich man, with his designer clothes and blinged-out jewelry - alongside the poor man, with his dirty clothes . . . and probably funky smell.  WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?

Apparently, the rich man is doing all he is doing to be seen by others.  While the poor man comes to church in clothing that Goodwill threw away . . . because it wasn’t fit to sell - even for 10 cents.

Notice that special attention and honor (favoritism) was given to the rich man, while the poor man got much less attention and care. 
 
We could make this an issue of clothing, but, look at our ‘Church clothes!’  James is making a point about the way we show respect and kindness to certain people over others.

Jesus has specifically called us into the business of producing fruit . . . NOT inspecting it.  

John 15:5-8 (NIV)
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

Too many churches are great at inspecting the fruit that walks through their doors, but they are not producing fruit as Jesus commanded.  ARE WE?  WE ARE TO BE AT THE WORK OF SAVING SOULS, NOT SHOWING PARTIALITY!

Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

If we show partiality, we are sinning - because it is not up to us to pick sides or play favorites!  We should see ALL PEOPLE the way God sees them, as souls who need salvation in Jesus.  Remember what James told us in chapter 1?  God chose the down-and-out of the world (us) as the kingdom’s first citizens, with full rights and privileges.  His kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God!


8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.  9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.  

When partiality / favoritism is shown, we sin because we become transgressors of God’s law.  That is, we are not loving everyone as Jesus would.

James challenges us to think very carefully about this whole favoritism business.  He tells us that Christians who think that what they are doing is not right, but it’s not that bad, are indeed guilty of breaking the entire law of God! (v. 10)

According to James, there can be no “class system” for people in church.  There is no room for judging people according to skin color, social status, or economic condition.  There is no room in the Church for prejudice in ANY form, shape, or color! 

The Church must be a safe place of equal opportunity for everyone.  Right?  If that is true, why do we continue to segregate and isolate?

This is not a new thing.  From the very beginning of the existence of the Church there has been this tendency to want to draw lines of separation.  Jews here and gentiles over there.  Rich here and poor over there.  Others started it . . . and we have perfected it.

White here and black over there.  BMW drivers over here and Bikers back there.  House dwellers in this body of Christ and apartment dwellers in that body.  There are white churches, black churches, Hispanic churches, seeker churches, social justice churches,  charismatic churches, and very quiet churches!  And, each one believes that they are the real deal Church!

James says that is SIN - and at that moment we become law breakers!  

9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 

This is not just about our preference!  It is that we have allowed our comfort zone to trump God’s Word!

We learned one of the most profound and closest truths to God’s heart, way back in our Grandma’s Sunday School . . . 
 
“Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.  Jesus loves the little children of the world!”

In the eyes of God, we all are equal.  We need to get our noses down . . .  and accept people from all walks of life.  Sit next to people who aren’t like you.  Speak to folks who aren’t like you!  QUIT SETTLING INTO COMFORTABLE CLIQUES!  God’s called us to be open!

In his autobiography, Mahatma Gandhi wrote that during time as a student he read the Gospels seriously and considered converting to Christianity.  He believed that in the teachings of Jesus he could find the solution to the caste system that was dividing the people of India.  So, one Sunday he decided to attend services at a nearby church and talk to the minister about becoming a Christian.  

When he entered the sanctuary, however, the usher refused to give him a seat and suggested that he go worship with his own people.  Gandhi left the church and never returned, “If Christians have caste differences also,” he said, “I might as well remain a Hindu.”


When, as a Christian, you are tempted to show favoritism or partiality to someone - once again, read James 2.  Be focused to see James’ clear and practical instructions to us about the act of partiality (vs. 1-4), the fact of partiality (vs. 5-7), and the results of partiality (vs. 8-13).


Let’s declare, here and now . . . that A&D will continue to be a church that loves everyone at every level! 

 

August 21, 2021

“THE WORD OF GOD”
James 1:19-27
    
(A sermon series on Practical Christianity)

As Christians, we have been given a guide to follow and we MUST NOT defer from it.  Why not?  Because, God has laid out THE pattern for our lives, and it is our responsibility to do as God has told us!

James 1:19-27 (NIV)
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.  21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.  22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it - not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it - they will be blessed in what they do.  26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.  27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

As we consider how we, as Christians, are to respond to God and what he desires - it would do us all good to consider how we should respond to his Word.  Remember, we as Christians are brought forth by the Word of God . . . 

18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.


So, IT IS THE WORD OF GOD (the Bible) THAT GIVES US DIRECTION IN OUR SPIRITUAL LIFE!

As we unpack these nine verses from James’ writings to us, let’s consider these three practical truths from our scripture verses today:

1. Proper Attitude (vs. 19-21)

2. Proper Acceptance (vs. 22-25)

3. Proper Application (vs. 26-27)


1. PROPER ATTITUDE (vs. 19-21)

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.  21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.  

•    Be quick to hear

•    Slow to speak

•    Slow to anger

•    Receive the Word in humility

This is contrary to what we often think or expect or do!  Our response too often is to not hear everything / or to speak before the other person is finished speaking /  or to get angry, instead of taking time to process what has been said to us.  (And this all shows lack of humility!) 

Think about the blessings that we have, when we live with a proper attitude:

We hear something / we listen closely / we don’t get angry quickly  - because it is something that God wants us to hear (his revelation to us)!

When we are sharing the Word of God with others and they get angry, they do not reject us . . . sadly, they reject the Word.  (When sharing the Bible with someone, we should be slow to get angry if they don’t understand or if they disagree with what we are telling them that the Bible says!  The Holy Spirit is the One who convinces and convicts us of truth.
 

2. PROPER ACCEPTANCE (vs. 22-25)

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it - not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it - they will be blessed in what they do.  

We are NOT to be just “hearers” of God’s Word - we are to be “doers” of God’s Word!

vs. 23-25 talks about looking into a mirror / looking into God’s Word and seeing what we’re supposed to look like (resemble Jesus) . . . and then either apply and live it, or walk away and forget / ignore it.  

As Christians, it is our responsibility to not just say we believe in the Word of God.  We must LIVE ALL parts of it, whether we like it or agree with it - or not!

When we look intently into the Word of God, which can save our souls - and apply it in an active way - then it is not too difficult to always strive to do the right thing.
DO NOT BE QUICK TO CLOSE YOUR BIBLE, AND TO WALK AWAY FROM THE WORD OF GOD, AND TO DISREGARD AND FORGET WHAT IT SAID.


3. PROPER APPLICATION (vs. 26-27)

26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.  27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Our religion shouldn’t be in our minds / thoughts only.  We need to seek to be made completely whole by the Word of God . . . serving others and living the righteous Christian life - ALWAYS!

When it comes to the Word of God, many people are Christians in thought only.  They think it sounds good and right . . . but, in application they fall so short because they never take the time to open their hearts and minds to the whole truth of God’s Word.

However, those who have open and responsive hearts, will hunger for and seek after the truth of God’s Word.

When God shows us something that the Bible says, we should be willing to apply it completely and continually in our lives! 

Make the circle back with me to James 1:5-8 . . .

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

If we want the power of God in our lives to understand his will, then we have to allow the Word of God to shape our lives - the power of God’s truth.

Romans 1:18 (MEV)
The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all the ungodliness and unrighteousness of those who suppress the truth through unrighteousness.

Does your Christian life just go through the motions, or are you living the way Jesus desires you to live . . . THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD?


 

 

August 14, 2021

“The Christian And Temptation”
James 1:13-18
    
(A sermon series on Practical Christianity)

One of the greatest challenges of living the Christian life is trying to overcome temptations.  Right?  I mean, we have it tough.  It’s not easy being us, sometimes!  It is frustrating knowing that your sins are forgiven, only to be tempted again . . .  to sin again . . . and to be tempted, yet again.

James 1:13-18 (NIV)
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.”  For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.  15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.  16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.  17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.

James gives us a couple things to consider in our scripture today:
 
    1) A Caution

    2) An Understanding

As we unpack these, ask yourself, “Can these really help me?”  THEN . . . PLEASE, APPLY THEM!


THE CAUTION (vs. 13; 16-18)

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.”  For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 

Our first response, when faced with temptation, is to NOT blame God.  God is HOLY, and he cannot be tempted by evil . . nor does God tempt anyone!
 
So, when tempted the obvious question to ask is,  “Can God deliver me from this temptation?”  

The good news is - God promises to provides us a way of escape!

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.  And God is faithful.  He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand.  When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father . . .

God is the source of good in our lives, NOT evil.  God created us out of His own free will . . . so that, 

18 . . . that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.

God wanted us to be the first, the best, at the top of ALL that he created!

So, if we can’t blame God when we’re . . . then who can we blame?


THE UNDERSTANDING (vs. 14-15)

It really comes down to simple math.  So, let’s break it down to its least common denominator.  How has sin developed in my life?

Step #1 - Temptation (v. 14)

14 . . . each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 

This involves two things: 1) Evil Desire (lust / a strong desire to do something God says is wrong).

2) ENTICEMENT - (opportunity / encouragement to satisfy that evil desire).

Mathematically:  Desire + Opportunity = Temptation

Example 
A boy, named Ralphie, is tempted to eat a cookie that he was told not to eat.  He wants (desires) it . .  and has the chance (opportunity) to get it and eat it and not be seen. 

Now, temptation in and of itself is NOT sin.  (Even Jesus was tempted Matthew chapter 4). 

BUT . . . SIN COMES IN THE NEXT STEP.

Step #2 - The Act

Temptation becomes sin ONLY when you yield and act upon it.  So, sin requires action!

Mathematically:  Desire + Opportunity + Action = Sin

Step #3 - The Result

15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.  
Death here is in reference to spiritual death.  And ultimately such death involves eternal punishment. 

Mathematically:  Desire + Opportunity + Action + No Forgiveness = Death / Punishment


GREAT, SO I UNDERSTAND HOW I GET INTO SIN.  HOW CAN I OVERCOME IT?

THE VICTORY

Step #1 - Change Your Desires

Since this is where sin begins, it’s the best place to start.  This is a part of our spiritual growth and spiritual maturity  - to change our desires.

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)
1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice - the kind he will find acceptable.  This is truly the way to worship him.  2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Galatians 5:24 (NLT)
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.

How do I change my desires?  Look to the Word of God (the Bible) as generations of people have done before us.

Psalm 119:11 (NLT)
I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Read, again, in Matthew chapter 4, how Jesus quoted scripture to Satan when he was tempting him.

Recognize and believe that God will help YOU as He did Jesus and many others!

To have VICTORY, Change Your Desires, and . . .

Step #2 - Limit your opportunities

Remember, to have sin you MUST have both Desire and Opportunity.

Do your part.  Ask God for help . . . IN PRAYER!

Matthew 6:13, The Lord’s Prayer, “. . . and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Step #3 - Exercise self-control
The Holy Spirit is vital in this step . . .

Ephesians 3:16 (NLV)
I pray that because of the riches of his shining -greatness, he will make you strong with power in your hearts through the Holy Spirit.

Through the strength of the Holy Spirit we can put to death the deeds of the flesh . . .

Romans 8:12-13 (NLV)
12 So then, Christian brothers, we are not to do what our sinful old selves want us to do.  13 If you do what your sinful old selves want you to do, you will die in sin.  But if, through the power of the Holy Spirit, you destroy those actions to which the body can be led, you will have life.


Final Step when you are trying to rid yourself of sin:

Step #4 - Obtain Forgiveness

Satan can only be victorious when our sin results in death / punishment.  If we receive forgiveness, through the blood of Jesus Christ, we can avoid this punishment.

1 John 2:1-2 (NLT)
1 My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin.  But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father.  He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.  2 He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins - and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.

Jesus is truly the propitiation (payment / forgiveness) for our sins! 
 
By his blood we can be forgiven . . . if we REPENT, PRAY, and CONFESS our sins to God.

Acts 8:22
Repent of your sin and pray to the Lord.
He will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart.

1 John 1:9 (NIV)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will
forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Every day this week, read James 1:13-18, in as many different versions / translations as you can find.  Think about and pray over these verses.  With God’s help, commit to live out these verses!  

James 1:13-18 (NIV)
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.”  For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.  15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.  16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.  17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.


God has shown us, ALL OF US, how to overcome sin.   Confession is also a good tool for cleansing the soul.  You may need that, today!  You may need to become a Christian, by asking Jesus to forgive your sins and to be the Lord of your life.  DON’T WAIT!  What will your response be?

 

August 7, 2021

“The Trials of Poverty & Riches”
James 1:9-12
    
(A sermon series on Practical Christianity)

I read the following quote this week, from Eugene Peterson’s book, A Long Obedience In The Same Direction, and it echo’s what James’ has been telling us about trials in our lives as Christians:  “All suffering, all pain, all emptiness, all disappointment is seed:  sow it in God and he will, finally, bring a crop of joy from it.” 

Keeping in James’ context of teaching about practical Christianity, we have saw last week that wisdom to understand our trials can be a very useful thing.  It can also be useful as we consider our day-to-day attitude in the world.

For instance . . . no one likes a “stuck up” individual!

We know people like these, don’t we?  You know, they always - work to make themselves look better than everyone else;  try to one-up others;  they look for opportunities to make themselves feel better - even at the expense of someone else.

James 1:9-12 (NIV)
9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position.  10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation - since they will pass away like a wild flower.  11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed.  In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.  12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

James encourages us, in this verses, to consider how we should act . . . ESPECIALLY as Christians.

Wouldn’t you agree that there is something wonderful about a genuinely humble individual?  They just seem to be a real blessing to so many other people whose lives they touch.  (Are you thinking of someone you know, who will always be real and not have a big head?)

The example of Jesus comes to mind, as we think of humility.  I mean, HE WASHED HIS DISCIPLES FEET!  

Let’s look now at James’ practical principles for Trials in our Poverty & Riches.


THE GLORY OF HUMBLE CIRCUMSTANCES (v. 9)

9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position.  

We understand this “humble” to usually mean lowly or unimportant.  In the context of what James is saying, though, “humble circumstances” is referring to someone who is financially poor.

James is saying that there is NO room for self-pity as a Christian . . . if one experiences a lack of financial wealth.

Christians make a huge mistake, if they consider themselves better than other people because of their wealth.  PLEASE HEAR OUR BROTHER, JAMES!  He is not saying that being financially wealthy, being rich, is wrong.  What he is challenging Christians on, in living out our faith practically, is for us to consider the humility of our Christian life.

Don’t you think it would take some real wisdom to understand how to accept our lowly (humble) financial position . . . especially if you have wealthy friends?  We must remember that God promises us that we will be rich - in HIM and in the prize that we will receive - when we move into our eternal mansion in heaven.

9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position.

Pride in their high position.  James is telling us that in Jesus we are truly in a high position.  We are children of the Creator God / brothers & sisters with Christ / servants of the eternal King of kings and Lord of lords!  CAN YOU GET ANY HIGHER THAN THAT?

We don’t really rejoice in our financial poverty.  We rejoice in our wealth in Jesus Christ!

SO, HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO US TODAY?

Here is the real application:  In this life we can have true riches.  This is what James us trying to get us to see.  But, true riches does not have to come via financial wealth . . . we are rich in Jesus Christ!


THE GLORY FOR THE RICH (vs. 10-11)

10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation - since they will pass away like a wild flower.  11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed.  In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

Look at the context.  The rich take pride / delight in their humiliation.  That is, they should consider themselves humble in this life . . . for financial wealth (riches) has NO place in heaven.

• The rich man and the beggar, named Lazarus (Luke 16)

• The rich man Jesus told to get rid of all he had and give to the poor (Matthew 19)

Here is the extent of riches:  it only last for a time, and then it’s gone . . . just like flowers and grass only lasts in their beauty for a season, and then they are gone.
If a rich person puts all their stock in their riches, they too will fade away!

We must always remember, that God is no respecter of persons.  NO ONE should expect to receive preferential treatment from God.  God looks to our inner person, and what we are doing for him, and God answers the question:  Is that person humble?
HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO US?

Financial wealth, in and of itself, is not bad.  BUT, when we place that wealth above our service and dedication to God . . . HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM!

Instead, we should have the mindset of the poor; we should long for the riches of Christ!


THE OUTCOME OF OUR PERSEVERANCE (v. 12)

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

We can let that verse speak for itself . . .

We that remain faithful to Jesus Christ, until the end of our life will receive the greatest reward - eternal life with God in heaven.  God has promised us a reward, a “crown of life” (eternal life). 

Titus 1:2 (NLT)
This truth also gives hope of life that lasts forever.
God promised this before the world began.  He cannot lie.

We persevere under our trials, in order to come out stronger on the other side!

Finally, notice the poor are the ones who will be lifted up!  They are the ones who do not allow the love of money to come in the way of their service for God.

And for the financially wealthy / rich, James pleads for them to have the same attitude as Jesus Christ and Paul . . . they knew that God provides everything and nothing is our own.  EVERYTHING IS GOD’S!  True humility is shown in one’s willingness to NOT be known for their money . . . or lack of it!

1 Timothy 6:17-18 (NLV)
17 Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money.  Money cannot be trusted.  They should put their trust in God. He gives us all we need for our happiness.  18 Tell them to do good and be rich in good works.  They should give much to those in need and be ready to share.

GOD HAS A RICH REWARD WAITING FOR US, IF WE WILL REMAIN FAITHFUL TO HIM ‘TIL THE END OF OUR LIFE ON THIS EARTH!

HERE IS MY CHALLENGE TO YOU . . .  
Every day this week, read James 1:9-12, in as many different versions / translations as you can find.  Think about and pray over these verses.  With God’s help, commit to live out these verses!  

James 1:9-12 (NIV)
9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position.  10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation - since they will pass away like a wild flower.  11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed.  In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.  12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

 
 
July 31, 2021
 
“Seeking Wisdom”
James 1:5-8
    
(A sermon series on Practical Christianity)
 
WISDOM is one of the greatest possessions that we can have, in this world.  With it, one can achieve great things!
 
As we seek direction in our lives, looking to God’s Word for direction, we know that with the proper wisdom in certain situations we can overcome HUGE obstacles.
 
James 1:5-8 (NIV)
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
 
These verses are talking about getting wisdom to go through trials (vs.2-4), so that we may come out the other side the way God wants us to.  So, this is application for us as to how to get through our trials!
 
Today, let’s look at James’ directions for us to:
 
1. Recognize and request Wisdom (v. 5)
 
2. Requirements to obtain Wisdom (v. 6a )
 
3. Watch our attitude about Wisdom (vs. 6b - 8)
 
 
RECOGNIZE & REQUEST WISDOM (v. 5) 
 
Look again at the scripture:
 
5 If any of you lacks wisdom . . .
 
This is not just any ordinary wisdom.  This is the wisdom we need to get through the big, fat, hairy trials that we face in this life!
 
Remember verse 2 from last week?  2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds . . . 
 
I don’t know about you, but for me if trials are to be considered pure joy, I’m going to need some understanding and wisdom . . . to get this attitude about trials!
If you lack knowledge, take a class or go to college.  BUT, wisdom is an entirely different thing!
 
Knowledge is understanding the facts of a situation (like, understanding how to change the oil in your car).
 
Wisdom is the practical use of knowledge.  
 
WISDOM IS THE ABILITY TO APPLY THE FACTS OF LIFE TO PRACTICAL LIVING.
 
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God
 
Notice that you must first recognize you lack wisdom, then you must request (ask for) it!
 
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.  And God is faithful.  He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand.  When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
 
DON’T MISS THIS . . . God is already there to give us help and wisdom!  We just have to look for it (him).
 
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  
 
“ALL” here refers to all people who are dedicating their life to him every day.  God will grant wisdom to individuals if they actively desire to seek him . . .
 
Ephesians 1:15-17 (NLT)
15 Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, 16 I have not stopped thanking God for you.  I pray for you constantly, 17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.
 
God will generously give spiritual wisdom and insight to individuals who seek him generously!
 
So, how does this apply to you and me?  We need to understand that in ANY and ALL circumstances we can go to God to gain wisdom - IN OUR TRIALS - and how to get through them!
 
REQUIREMENTS TO OBTAIN WISDOM (v. 6a )
 
6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt . . .
 
Faith in God means that we DO trust and believe that God will answer our prayers.
 
Remember, the wisdom being asked for here is to help us in our particular situation / trial to remain faithful to Jesus Christ.  This is NOT asking God to do or give us any other particular thing!
So, how does this apply to you and me?  God is ready and willing to grant us our request for wisdom in faith, but we must be willing to ask that he remains with us AND is honored through our trials.  And, we cannot doubt!
 
WATCH OUR ATTITUDE ABOUT WISDOM (vs. 6b -8)
 
. . . because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
 
Note the nautical illustration that James uses here.  The surf of the sea is very unstable and controlled by the wind.  Our heart and desire for Godly wisdom cannot be driven like this . . . or when something else comes into our mind, we will change directions toward another thing!
 
This doubting puts a tear in how much confidence a person has in God.  And the tragedy is . . . 
  
7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 
 
God will not give wisdom to anyone who does not know truly if they want it.
 
8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
 
This kind of person is literally lacking principles and solid trust and faith in God and his promises.
 
We will all have trials . . . the difference is that some of us will go through them and others of us will just go into them.
 
PRAYER FOR WISDOM is our way of escape.  God did promise that he will grant it to us.  So, if you’re not receiving it (wisdom) - then check your prayers!
 
When we say that we doubt, it means that Satan is getting into our mind.  YES, we are all sinners . . . but if God has promised us wisdom through our trials, then we can be confident!
 
We can be victorious through life and we can get through our struggles.  Remember, it is the Good Shepherd himself (Jesus) that brings us through the trials of life . . . even through the valley of the shadow of death!
 
HERE IS MY CHALLENGE TO YOU:  every day this week, read James 1:5-8, in as many different versions / translations as you can find.  Think about and pray over these verses.  With God’s help, commit to live out these verses!  
 
James 1:5-8 (NIV)
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

 

July 31, 2021

“Seeking Wisdom”
James 1:5-8
    
(A sermon series on Practical Christianity)

WISDOM is one of the greatest possessions that we can have, in this world.  With it, one can achieve great things!

As we seek direction in our lives, looking to God’s Word for direction, we know that with the proper wisdom in certain situations we can overcome HUGE obstacles.

James 1:5-8 (NIV)
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

These verses are talking about getting wisdom to go through trials (vs.2-4), so that we may come out the other side the way God wants us to.  So, this is application for us as to how to get through our trials!

Today, let’s look at James’ directions for us to:

1. Recognize and request Wisdom (v. 5)

2. Requirements to obtain Wisdom (v. 6a )

3. Watch our attitude about Wisdom (vs. 6b - 8)


RECOGNIZE & REQUEST WISDOM (v. 5) 

Look again at the scripture:

5 If any of you lacks wisdom . . .

This is not just any ordinary wisdom.  This is the wisdom we need to get through the big, fat, hairy trials that we face in this life!

Remember verse 2 from last week?  2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds . . . 

I don’t know about you, but for me if trials are to be considered pure joy, I’m going to need some understanding and wisdom . . . to get this attitude about trials!
If you lack knowledge, take a class or go to college.  BUT, wisdom is an entirely different thing!

Knowledge is understanding the facts of a situation (like, understanding how to change the oil in your car).

Wisdom is the practical use of knowledge.  

WISDOM IS THE ABILITY TO APPLY THE FACTS OF LIFE TO PRACTICAL LIVING.

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God

Notice that you must first recognize you lack wisdom, then you must request (ask for) it!

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.  And God is faithful.  He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand.  When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

DON’T MISS THIS . . . God is already there to give us help and wisdom!  We just have to look for it (him).

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  

“ALL” here refers to all people who are dedicating their life to him every day.  God will grant wisdom to individuals if they actively desire to seek him . . .

Ephesians 1:15-17 (NLT)
15 Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, 16 I have not stopped thanking God for you.  I pray for you constantly, 17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.

God will generously give spiritual wisdom and insight to individuals who seek him generously!

So, how does this apply to you and me?  We need to understand that in ANY and ALL circumstances we can go to God to gain wisdom - IN OUR TRIALS - and how to get through them!

REQUIREMENTS TO OBTAIN WISDOM (v. 6a )

6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt . . .
 
Faith in God means that we DO trust and believe that God will answer our prayers.

Remember, the wisdom being asked for here is to help us in our particular situation / trial to remain faithful to Jesus Christ.  This is NOT asking God to do or give us any other particular thing!
So, how does this apply to you and me?  God is ready and willing to grant us our request for wisdom in faith, but we must be willing to ask that he remains with us AND is honored through our trials.  And, we cannot doubt!

WATCH OUR ATTITUDE ABOUT WISDOM (vs. 6b -8)

. . . because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Note the nautical illustration that James uses here.  The surf of the sea is very unstable and controlled by the wind.  Our heart and desire for Godly wisdom cannot be driven like this . . . or when something else comes into our mind, we will change directions toward another thing!

This doubting puts a tear in how much confidence a person has in God.  And the tragedy is . . . 
  
7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 

God will not give wisdom to anyone who does not know truly if they want it.

8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

This kind of person is literally lacking principles and solid trust and faith in God and his promises.

We will all have trials . . . the difference is that some of us will go through them and others of us will just go into them.

PRAYER FOR WISDOM is our way of escape.  God did promise that he will grant it to us.  So, if you’re not receiving it (wisdom) - then check your prayers!

When we say that we doubt, it means that Satan is getting into our mind.  YES, we are all sinners . . . but if God has promised us wisdom through our trials, then we can be confident!

We can be victorious through life and we can get through our struggles.  Remember, it is the Good Shepherd himself (Jesus) that brings us through the trials of life . . . even through the valley of the shadow of death!

HERE IS MY CHALLENGE TO YOU:  every day this week, read James 1:5-8, in as many different versions / translations as you can find.  Think about and pray over these verses.  With God’s help, commit to live out these verses!  

James 1:5-8 (NIV)
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
 

 
 
July 24, 2021
 
“Turning Trials into Triumph”
James 1:1-4
  
(A sermon series on Practical Christianity)
 
University of Michigan psychologist Robert Zajonc conducted an experiment.  He analyzed photographs of couples taken when they were newlyweds and photographs of the same couples taken 25 years later.
 
The results showed that the couples had grown to look more like each other over time.  And, the happier that the couple said they were, the more likely they were to have increased in their physical similarity.
 
The same principle is at work in our relationship with Jesus.  Having been created in God’s image, we are supposed to “resemble” him.  Yet sin has distorted that image.  Thankfully, God sent Jesus to restore what has been distorted.  That’s what makes Christianity - all of Christianity - practical.  
 
Just like couples in a happy, loving relationship . . . the longer we walk with Jesus, the more we begin to look like him.  Are you happily “married” to Jesus? DOES IT SHOW?
 
We will spend the next few week in chapter 1 of the book of James . . . in a mini sermon series about Practical Christianity.  Today’s scripture speaks to “Turning Trials Into Triumph.”  
  
James 1:1-4 (NIV)
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:  Greetings.  2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
 
Have you heard this statement?  “When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade!”
 
I’ll admit that this is much easier said than done . . . but the idea is pretty sound!  In fact, I’d even say that this idea is Biblical.
 
Many Bible characters have shown, that with God’s help, they did turn defeat into victory and trials into triumph.  Instead of remaining VICTIMS . . . they became VICTORS!!!  As Christians, we too have the choice to be either victims or victors.  In fact, the New Testament book of James tells us that we can have this same experience today.  Whether we face trials on the outside or temptations on the inside . . . we, as disciples of Jesus Christ, can have victory over them!
 
OK.  How?  Through faith in God and obedience to Jesus Christ - we CAN experience victory over trials and temptations!  And, just like with the lemon / lemonade deal . . . IT’S ALL A MATTER OF OUR ATTITUDE!
 
Let’s look at what James says about the process of turning our trials into triumph.
1. WELCOME TO “THE TRIBE”   (1:1)
 
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:  Greetings. 
 
What James is saying, is . . . “Hello, fellow members of the Christian family!  This writing is for ALL BELIEVERS - who are all around the world.”
 
 
2. “JOY TO THE WORLD . . . TRIALS HAVE COME!”   (1:2)
 
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 
 
Notice that James just assumes that we all WILL  experience trials in our lives.  He doesn’t say “if” but “whenever you face trials of many kinds.”
 
This is because Christians WILL face trials!
 
John 16:33 (NLT)
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.  Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.  But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”   -Jesus-
 
Acts 14:21-22
21 They had preached the gospel in that city and made many disciples.  Then they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples by exhorting them to continue in the faith, and telling them that through many trials we must enter the kingdom of God.  (Paul’s writing)
 
 
The nature of these trials are various.  Some trials we face are simply because we are human.  We all have known the trials of sickness and accidents, disappointments and death.
 
Others trials that we face are because we are a Christian:
 
1 Peter 4:12-13 (NLT)
12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.  13 Instead, be very glad - for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.
 
2 Timothy 3:11-12 (NLT)
11 You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured . . . but the Lord rescued me from all of it.  12 Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.  
 
 
So, what should the Christian response be to trials and persecution and suffering?  James says -
2 Consider it pure joy . . .
 
This was the attitude of the apostles . . .
 
Acts 5:41 (CEV)
The apostles left the council and were happy, because God had considered them worthy to suffer for the sake of Jesus.
 
This was the attitude of Paul . . .
 
Romans 5:3 (NLT)
We can rejoice, too, when we run int
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