Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Saturday, June 26, 2010
How do you respond under pressure?
It has been suggested that who you are under pressure is revealing of who you really are. I tend to believe that.
You must keep in mind as you read and study James that these are Christians under pressure. Pressure most of us have never known, the pressure of persecution.
As James describes what faith should look like and how people of faith should live, it is being lived out under pressure. Faith is giving your best when life deals the worst! Do you return mercy for malice?
In these verses he reminds you that you will be judged and your faith will be judged based on how well your actions and attitudes match those of the Savior. If you say you have faith but do not demonstrate love your faith will be judged as insincere.
The context for faith in this instance is within the meeting of believers. How do you show love to a guests who comes into you meeting? Do you size them up or do you serve them? Do you act differently to a wealthy looking person than to a shabbily dressed one? Faith looks for what it can give rather than what it can gain. Here's an example:
In his autobiography, Mahatma Gandhi wrote that during his student days 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 ought to 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.” That usher’s prejudice not only betrayed Jesus but also turned a person away from trusting Him as Savior.
Your faith is being continually judged by how you treat others. You will be ultimately judged by how you treat others. If you want to be judged mercifully, give mercy. Show kindness and love to whoever comes into your fellowship. Start tomorrow at church!
Friday, June 25, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Verse 1: Partiality contradicts faith in Jesus Christ as the Lord of glory.
2. Verses 2-4: Partiality reveals a judging heart and behind it evil thinking.
Members of a healthy fellowship relate to each other and guests based on Scriptural principles and not on superficial personal preferences.
3. Verse 5: Partiality to the rich contradicts God's heart, because he has chosen many of the poor for himself.
4. Verse 6a: Partiality dishonors people created in the image of God.
It is not for us to choose whom we will minister the grace of God. It is our calling to love whomever He leads into out fellowship. If we focus on the superficial we will be ineffective in developing the spiritual.
5. Verses 6b-7: Partiality to the rich backfires and becomes your downfall.
If you are preferring the wealthy because of what you think they can offer your church financially you will be building on the superficial rather than the spiritual and that always backfires.
6. Verse 9-11: Partiality makes you a transgressor of the law of liberty.
Anytime love is given with conditions there is bondage. Extending grace to everyone without regard to who they are or what they can offer creates an environment of unconditional love and freedom. People are free to be themselves without the feeling they have to measure up in order to be accepted.
7. Verse 13: Partiality is not mercy. But if you don't show mercy, you will perish.
Mercy means we believe the best of others and give them the benefit of the doubt. We treat others as we have been and want to be treated. Mercy means I offer the grace of God even to people I may have a prejudice against.
Favoritism and partiality are deadly for any organization, but especially so with a church where the love of God must operate. As human beings we will have favorites and we have have biases, but as Christians we cannot allow those human judgments to influence how we respond to those who come into our fellowship.
Love 'em or lose 'em.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Saturday, June 19, 2010
If it were easy being a good dad, everyone would be doing it.
Noah qualifies as a good dad. I think you could put him in the great dad category.
That begs the question, "What defines a great dad?"
Here's my answer based on what I know of the Bible and from what I see of Noah:
1) He pleased God.
2) He prayed
Friday, June 18, 2010
It isn't easy to be a dad. You dads probably know that by now. But, if you are one you'd best do it well! Here are some insights from "Focus on the Family" verifying what we know, fatherhood it crucial to the development of healthy kids.
A father is more than a "second adult."
That a mother is necessary to her child is rarely denied, but in a culture which openly questions the mother-father family structure, the role of a father is often portrayed as little more than a biological contributor, or a second adult whose gender is meaningless to child development. Fatherhood studies say quite the opposite: a father contributes uniquely to his children's lives, and he is essential to their well-being.
Fathers are essential to child well-being
Emotional and intellectual development - As a male parent, a father brings unique contributions to the job of parenting that a mother cannot. Psychology Today explains, “Fatherhood turns out to be a complex and unique phenomenon with huge consequences for the emotional and intellectual growth of children.”1
Avoiding incarceration - Studies have shown that the presence of a father strongly correlates to children avoiding incarceration. The absence of the father as an authority figure can contribute to a child’s disregard for laws and rules. A survey of youth in custody concluded that “70% of juveniles in state reform institutions grew up in single or no-parent situations.”2
No substitute - There is no substitute for a father’s love, involvement and presence in the life of his children. As noted sociologist David Popenoe explains, “Fathers are far more than just "second adults" in the home. Involved fathers – especially biological fathers – bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring.”3
Fathers are uniquely-equipped to contribute to children’s needs
Different relational styles broaden a child's experience - Dr. Kyle Pruett explains that fathers have a distinct style of communication and interaction with children. By eight weeks of age, infants can tell the difference between their mother or father interacting with them. This diversity, in itself, provides children with a broader, richer experience of contrasting relational interactions — more so than for children who are raised by only one parent. Whether they realize it or not, children are learning at the earliest age, by sheer experience, that men and women are different and have different ways of dealing with life, other adults and children. This understanding is critical for their development. Dr. Pruett says "A father, as a male biological parent, brings unique contributions to the job of parenting a child that no one else can replicate."4
Verbal patterns teach different communication styles - Mothers will simplify their words and speak on the child’s level. Men are not as inclined to modify their language for the child. Mother’s way facilitates immediate communication. Father’s way challenges the child to expand her vocabulary and linguistic skills — an important building block of academic success.5
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
One of the most dramatic moments in the amazing account of the Creation is when God had completed His masterpiece, looked it over, and pronounced it "good". A perfect God had combined His creative genius with His incredible power and spoke the universe into existence.
So, how bad would it have to get for God to change His mind about the "goodness" of this creation?
Real bad. Check this out:
"5The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 7So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them." Genesis 6:5-7
What an amazing portion of Scripture! It reveals a God Who had found such delight in His creation now grieving over what it had become. What He had created for His pleasure now brought Him great pain. Think about that! Think about how destructive sin is! Think about how it breaks the heart of God!
This condition could not continue. Something had to be done to make this right! How would that happen?
God had it in His mind to destroy everything and start over. But amid the degradation and disgrace there was one beacon of hope - Noah, a righteous man.
You have to understand the circumstances surrounding this statement - "Noah found favor with God" - to fully appreciate what "favor" means. To grasp grace you must understand the alternative of disgrace.
In a world filled with men who were disgracing themselves, Noah found grace. Grace refers to God's "unmerited favor" offered to us. This means that God is looking for reasons to extend His kindness and goodness toward us and Noah's righteousness brought favor on him at a time when God was ready to destroy everyone and start over.
Consider the powerful difference one person can make when God's favor rests upon them.
Over the next few posts I want to explore the attitudes and actions of Noah that brought God's favor upon his life.
But this morning I want to ask you, "Is your life bringing God's grace or His disgrace upon you, upon your family? Are you living in a way that brings God pain?"
Monday, June 14, 2010
A second big theme of the first chapter of James is your approach to the Scriptures.
I think there are three common approaches to the Word.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Monday, June 7, 2010
I was a little wierd when I was growing up through the ranks at Claypool High School and later at Warsaw Community High School. How was I wierd? There are probably a number of answers but the one I am thinking about right now is how I used to like taking tests. Being an athlete and loving to compete I looked at a test like I looked at a ballgame, it was contest between me and the test. Those days of class lectures and textbook reading and note-taking were like practice and a test was like game day. I loved game day but good practices led to good performance in the game! Passing the test was like getting a win!
FAITH EXERCISES CONFIDENCE, Vv. 2-4
“2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
How can there be joy in trials?
Confidence In His Provision – In good times we tend to focus on what we want God to do for us but in suffering we tend to focus on what He has already done for us!
Confidence In His Promises – Once we realized He has promised we will make it through the trial we can stop doubting and start watching how He will lead us through.
Confidence In His Presence – We don’t really know God until we know Him in our suffering.
“1He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." 3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. 9 If you make the Most High your dwelling— even the LORD, who is my refuge- 10 then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. 14 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 5 He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."
Confidence In His Purpose
If you are going to suffer isn’t it good to know that your suffering is going to accomplish something useful and beneficial? This testing has been allowed by God to develop some spiritual maturity and spiritual depth in your life.
Suffering is a fact of life. It is not a matter of if it is a matter of when. Illnesses, relationship struggles, financial disasters, government oppression, accidents, etc. Those things will happen whether you are a believer or not. Believers and non-believers will suffer. So, given the fact that you are going to suffer – would you rather suffer with or without Christ’s presence in your life?
Confidence In the Price
In the case of these believers that James is writing to they were suffering BECAUSE they were Christians. I am afraid those days are not far away for us……….
When struggles and trials come you can face it with confidence! YOU CAN FIND JOY!
FAITH EXERCISES COMMITMENT, Vv. 5-11
“5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. 9The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.”
In order for work-outs to help you you must commit to a work-out routine and schedule. Commit means you are loyal to something – dedicated to something – you take responsibility for something.
What should I commit to in my spiritual work out?
Faith Works Out With Wisdom, Vv. 5-6
GOD’S PERSPECTIVE – Big View Of Life – Eternal View
Faith Works Out God’s Way, Vv. 7-8
Faith Worths In God's Worth , Vv. 9-11
FAITH EXERCISES CHARACTER, Vv. 12-18
CHARACTER = GOOD + PERFECT + UNCHANGING
BECAUSE HE IS GOOD HE IS COMMITTED TO WHAT’S GOOD FOR ME!
BECAUSE HE IS PERFECT HE CAN PERFECT ME!
In Short, He Is Everything He Says He is! And More!
In Short, He Can Do Everything He Says He Can! And More!
FAITH IN HIS CHARACTER ALLOWS US TO DEVELOP OUR CHARACTER DURING TIMES OF TRIALS AND TESTING.
I am going to commit to God’s character because He is committed to what’s best for me. HE IS GOOD! HE IS PERFECT! HE IS PERFECTING ME!
Why Does This Matter?
GOD CAN CHANGE THE WORLD THROUGH PEOPLE WHO CAN HANDLE STRUGGLES:
NOAH –ABRAHAM –MOSES -JOSEPH –DANIEL -HEBREW CHILDREN -DAVID
IT MATTERS IF YOU WANT JOY IN YOUR LIFE!
James tells us that joy is the result of:
FACING LIFE’S TRIALS WITH CONFIDENCE – ARE YOU CONFIDENT IN GOD?
FACING LIFE’S TRIALS WITH COMMITMENT – ARE YOU COMMITTED TO GOD?
FACING LIFE’S TRIALS WITH CHARACTER – ARE YOU TRUSTING HIS CHARACTER
IT MATTERS IF YOU ARE WILLING TO EXERCISE YOUR FAITH
IT MATTERS BECAUSE THE WORLD NEEDS TO SEE JOYFUL CHRISTIANS & CHURCH
CAN YOU SEE HOW MUCH MORE IMPORTANT FOR THOSE OF US WHO MAY WELL BE THE “LAST-FRUITS”?
YOUR CAN FIND JOY!
Sunday, June 6, 2010
James's epistle is incredibly important and practical! It was written to believers who had dispersed throughout the Roman Empire. Some of them had been part of the great Jerusalem Church and now they were starting over in a new place with new people. James, the brother of Jesus is trying to rally these dear brothers and sisters by reminding them of who they are and how they should be.
A theme of James is "practical Christianity" and he paints word pictures of how faith should be lived out and what a church should look like. These early believers are living under the pressure of persecution that had dogged the Church since the martydom of Stephen.
So, does James try to diminish the pressure on these Christians? Not at all! In fact, he adds some pressure by reminding them that they are the "firstfruits" of Jesus Christ. What is that about?
Throughout the Old Testament, which established the Jewish culture, the idea of the firstfruit is very important. The firstfruits of everything belonged to God, whether it was from the flocks or from the fields. The firstfruits were the best because they received the most attention, the most care and preparation.
When applied to the emergence of the Church in the Roman Empire, James is challenging the believers as the first look the world would get of the church to make sure it was a good and healthy one. The rest of his Book is devoted to instructing them how to do that.
Why does this matter to us?
First, we are the current generation of the Church and need to carry on the legacy of these believers. We represent our Christ and the Faith in 21st Century America. It is incumbent upon us to demonstrate to our culture what the love and grace and power of God looks like.
Second, as they were the first look that the world got at the Church, it is conceivable that we could be the last look the world will have if we are to properly interpret the times. No one knows for sure, but if we are the last generation of believers before the end of the age, how should we live? What should a healthy church look like?
This is what I will be sharing over the Summer as I lead you through a detailed study of this powerful and practical Book.
What if it is true that you are part of the "lastfruits" of God's plan for the world? How then should you live? How should you do church? If this is the last look the world gets at the Church, don't you want to make sure it is an accurate glimpse of the love, grace and power of God?