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Back To School – Week 5 – 10/13/2019

James 4:1-6

What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from your passions that wage war within you?[a] You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and wage war.[b] You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

You adulterous people![c] Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God. Or do you think it’s without reason that the Scripture says: The spirit he made to dwell in us envies intensely?[d]

But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says:

God resists the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.[e]

Why did James address his audience, all of us, as adulterous? Our relationship with Jesus is the same as that of a marriage.  There were three stages to a Jewish wedding:

  1. Betrothal

  2. Presentation

  3. Consummation

Intimacy with Jesus requires purity of heart.  And if you have been falling astray, own it, and now get back on the right path and stay on the right path!

Has Jesus changed your life?  Spiritual adultery is when we spend more time with the things of this world than we spend with God. Loving God will come naturally to you when you want to please Him, want to serve Him, out of love for Him, not out of a list to appease Him. Will you humble yourself before God?  Jesus will begin the cleanup when you end the cover up.

Back To School – Week 4 – 10/06/2019

James 3:13-18

13 Who among you is wise and understanding? By his good conduct he should show that his works are done in the gentleness that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t boast and deny the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.

There are two different types of wisdom that are at work in our world competing for influence in our decision making – Satanic wisdom and Godly wisdom.  Wisdom is different than knowledge.  James says true wisdom is found in gentleness.  Gentleness is having our lives under control and bridled by the Holy Spirit. True wisdom comes with humility in your heart. All too often selfish ambition and envy cause us to focus on the temporary and the natural instead of focusing on the eternal and the spiritual.  The wisdom of this world says, “Do what you want to. Do what’s best for you.”  No! This world is full of sin, competition, chaos and confusion. We need lives fueled with a desire for God’s glorification over self-gratification.  We need to choose our sanctification over self satisfaction!

Back To School – Week 3 – 9/29/2019

James 3 Not many should become teachers, my brothers,[a] because you know that we will receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is mature, able also to control the whole body. Now if we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we direct their whole bodies. And consider ships: Though very large and driven by fierce winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how a small fire sets ablaze a large forest. And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed[b] among our members. It stains the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. Every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and fish is tamed and has been tamed by humankind, but no one can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in God’s likeness. 10 Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way. 11 Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers and sisters, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a saltwater spring yield fresh water.

 

Your words, your tongue has the power to define someone’s destiny.  You see, we have the power of the tongue to poison each other and bring destruction to each other when we’re supposed to give life to each other.  The heart of the problem isn’t the tongue, it’s the heart!

Do you allow God to control your mouth? It’s crucial that we let God begin to bridle our mouths and guide our words and soften our hearts.  Here are three examples of how Satan uses your words to set things on fire:

  1. Sowing division in the church.  When the body of Christ fails to walk in unity it can no longer bring Jesus the Glory!  If we agree on the essentials of faith, and we love Jesus, you are not my enemy.

  2. Lying, slandering or gossiping about others.  Gossip is where we hear something we can’t really verify.  If you wouldn’t say what you’re about to say, in the way you’re saying it, if that person was standing right there – that’s a good sign to stop!

  3. Using words as weapons.  Ask yourself: “Will it build them up, or tear them down?” “Will it impart grace to them or not?”  And if not – ZIP IT!  And if someone has talked about you, don’t throw wood on the fire!  Let’s be life-givers.  Let’s speak life!

Back To School – Week 2 – 9/22/2019

Here is a true and false quiz:

1.) Not everyone who believes in God goes to heaven.  (TRUE).

James 2:14-19

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can such faith save him?

15 If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, stay warm, and be well fed,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.”[d] Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one. Good! Even the demons believe—and they shudder.

It is not sufficient enough to simply know about Jesus.  The question is have you ever trusted in Jesus?  We can wear any denominational tag we want to but that’s irrelevant when we stand before God!

2.)  Everyone who claims to know Jesus will go to heaven.  (FALSE)

Matthew 7:21-23  21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!

It is easy to say “Lord” with your lips, but if you deny Him with your life, your lips don’t matter.

3.)  True belief in God is always reflected by obedience to God.  (TRUE)

Obedience is the reflection of your belief.  The evidence that we are truly born again is that we don’t try to claim we’re going to heaven if we’re content living like hell!

James 2:20-23 20 Senseless person! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless? 21 Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works in offering Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was made complete, 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,[e] and he was called God’s friend.

4.)  Good works are not the source of our salvation, but rather the evidence of our salvation.  (TRUE)

James 2:24-26 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works in receiving the messengers and sending them out by a different route? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

Good works does not produce our salvation, but salvation does produce good works!

5.)  You can never know for sure without a doubt that you’re going to heaven.  (FALSE)

1 John 5:11-13 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 The one who has the Son has life. The one who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

If you have Jesus, you have eternal life.  If you don’t have Jesus, you don’t have eternal life!

Back To School – Week 1 – 9/15/2019

James 2 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

The Sin of Favoritism

My brothers and sisters, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if someone comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and a poor person dressed in filthy clothes also comes in, if you look with favor on the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here in a good place,” and yet you say to the poor person, “Stand over there,” or “Sit here on the floor by my footstool,” haven’t you made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Didn’t God choose the poor in this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? Yet you have dishonored the poor. Don’t the rich oppress you and drag you into court? Don’t they blaspheme the good name that was invoked over you?

Indeed, if you fulfill the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself,[a] you are doing well. If, however, you show favoritism, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the entire law, and yet stumbles at one point, is guilty of breaking it all. 11 For he who said, Do not commit adultery,[b] also said, Do not murder.[c] So if you do not commit adultery, but you murder, you are a lawbreaker.

12 Speak and act as those who are to be judged by the law of freedom. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has not shown mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Have you ever made a snap judgment about someone?  James is going to highlight the sin of showing partiality in the church to those who are wealthy, prestigious, good looking or more powerful. Because of Jesus, as a member of Christ’s body, you’re not defined by your race, sex or economic status.

So how do we overcome favoritism?

  1. We need to view people the way God views them!

  2. Love people just as God loves you!

  3. Show others mercy just as God has shown you mercy!

Expectation – 9/8/2019

Philippians 1:20 My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all courage, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death.21 For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose. 23 I am torn between the two. I long to depart and be with Christ—which is far better— 24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25 Since I am persuaded of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that, because of my coming to you again, your boasting in Christ Jesus may abound.

We need to not only expect the great dreams, but that great pain will come with our life.  And we need to expect to need courage.  We should expect to make life and death choices, but we need to put death behind us so that we can finally have life in front of us!  It will require sacrifice and suffering, pain and hardship.  It will demand our most heroic selves, and our greatest courage.

What would happen if all of us decided that, “Saving my life isn’t enough – I’m here for the lives of others!”  Will you declare:

  • No regrets.

  • I gave it all.

  • I laid it all down.

  • I held nothing back.

  • Death, you’re nothing to me.

  • ALL I KNOW IS LIFE!