May 17 – How to Let Wisdom Guide You James 3:13-18
When we think of Wisdom, what comes to mind? Someone who is well respected? Someone Older? Someone well educated. Is wisdom learned, trained in us, or is one just born with wisdom? Where does wisdom come from? How do we find it?
In the scripture for this week we read that Wisdom is from Above. James 3: 13-18 talks about wisdom from above, and also addresses earthly wisdom. Rick Howerton in his illustration that we watched this week in RNM, gave us insight on Mining for Wisdom versus Advice Giving. Every one of us has given advice to another. Howerton cautions us regarding advice giving. Advice giving is when someone gives their opinion or tells what someone else told them to do. Might that be earthly wisdom? On the other hand, Howerton says together we should journey towards wisdom learned from the scriptures, that’s wisdom from above.
In the message this week we heard Pastor George explain that having knowledge is good. In hearing, listening, learning, we gather knowledge. Let us be cautious in who or what we are gathering our knowledge from. It is taking what we know, the knowledge and applying it. What flows out of us is our true wisdom, he said. Pastor George referenced Matthew 7;15 ….it’s our fruit from the tree of our life that we are known for. We are told to get a picture of what Jesus is like. As Jesus tells us, Follow Me. Sunday, we sang the song “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”, that is what we need to do Lord, turn our eyes to you. Another way of saying this is, Lord teach us your Word. The Holy Scripture it is there that we find the wisdom to guide us.
Another RNM series we watched this week was “Wisdom Literature” by Tim Mackie. He shared his insight on the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job. These books are books of wisdom. Wisdom says Mackie, is a moral law of the universe, a force that everyone can access. Wisdom is used to develop the skill of a good life. He began with the book of Proverbs. He classifies Proverbs as a brilliant young teacher. In reading through Proverbs, we learn about living, about God’s definition of good and evil, learning those boundary lines and not crossing them. Ultimately Mackie says that wisdom begins with the Fear of the Lord, a healthy respect for the Lord. That God is wise and just. Then we looked at what the book of Ecclesiastes offers. Mackie refers to this book as the critic. The book begins with a lot of gloom and doom. Life is referred to as meaningless, life under the sun is meaningless. Life is short, here today, gone tomorrow. Soon we will all join the dead, but until then we are in what is referred to as the Race of Life. We will live through life’s random chances, uncontrollable, confusing, the meaning of life is never really clear. Through the end of the book Mackie asks the question, “What does it look like to live well in this world? His answer was, the right thing to do is Fear the Lord, as we learn in Proverbs, and from Ecclesiastes we learned that we can’t control life, one only has control over one thing – your attitude towards the present moment. We are to be humble; all is in God’s hand anyway. Life has meaning even when you cannot make sense of it. Fear the Lord and keep His commandments. Then Mackie goes on to the book of Job. He likens the book of Job to a weathered old man who’s seen a lot in his day. Job, a friend of God, living the good life but then loses everything. Why? Was he obeying God just to get what Job wanted in life? Did Job finally get what he deserved? Job defends his innocence – Job is humble – he lives in the peace and Fear of the Lord. No matter what comes he knows that he can trust God. God says I am in control of the universe and its complexities. Trust Me. Combining all three of these books together we learn of lessons of Living the Good Life.
God’s Word is for us. Reading it, learning from it, applying it, mining it for How to Let Wisdom Guide You. The Bible gives us wisdom on all aspects of our lives. Regardless what you want to know more of – growing up, adulthood, marriage, child rearing, finances, relationships, friendship, stewardship, anything……. The wisdom you need to know can be found in God’s Word. One of those topics we viewed this week was Financial Wisdom by Alex Cook. Yes, there is a right way to handle money and Alex addressed those wisdom points. In summary he gave the Foundation of Wise Management of Money. Some of his points were to have a right attitude towards money; a heart right thinking; right priorities with goals and visions; simple living, finding contentment; and most importantly having an Eternal Focus. Cook references Matthew 19: 29-30… “Eternity is our reward for what we’ve done in this life.” As Pastor George referenced, what fruit are you offering to the world, in this life? Another verse reference often is Hebrews 12: 1-3 … “don’t grow weary, run the race, fix your eyes on Jesus.” We all can use that as a focal point for life
As we find ourselves doing life there will be times that we embark on a new adventure, nervous, not really sure how to proceed, or we may find ourselves in the middle of an adventure struggling through, then there is a time when one door closes so to speak, and we’re awaiting another to open. What are we to do? Wisdom is necessary in every stage and age of life. Looking for some earthly advice? Or are you now going to take the time mining for wisdom. As we asked in the beginning, when you think of Wisdom what comes to mind?
Larry & Darlene
5/10 The Heart of a Mom James 3: 1-12
This Sunday is recognized nationwide as Mother’s Day. A day to give special acknowledgement to our Mother. Moms are special people. They are special to their children, to their husbands, and to God our creator.
Honoring Mothers is honoring those who mean the world to us. Time with our young people this past Sunday talked about how do you Show Your Love? We demonstrate it by showing her through smiles, hugs, gifts made and/or bought. As well as the words we speak to her and about her. Actions that show your love as well as words that tell your love.
In this week’s RNM video by Jill Savage we listened to No More Perfect Moms. Mom’s want the best for their families and work hard to try and reach a level of acceptance not only by what she wants for her family, but by what is perceived from others outside the family on what she does for her family. Jill referred to this as mom’s perfection infection. All moms have struggled with meeting their expectations of what a mom should be. This video series has a cute and truthful skit showing that a mom wears so many hats in any given day, there is much demands upon her. She has such a going’s on in her head because she wants to meet the needs of her children, home, and husband and some even add a career into the mix. Leaving women with a fear of insecurities of meeting those expectations. She shared and every mom will attest to, that things don’t always go as planned. Jill Savage said that Moms need to have a pliable heart to go with the circumstance. To ready our hearts, for any given moment, for motherhood is a ministry of interruptions. And that is okay and expected. People need to feel loved in the place they live, within the home. Every woman works to make a house a home. A place her family enjoys to be. Stay focused on heart keeping versus housekeeping Savage said, and every mother would agree with this, that’s why moms work so hard towards being a perfect mom to win the hearts of their children. Jill wants all moms to know that “you are the perfect mom for your kids; we as moms learn through raising our kids how to be the perfect mom for them; it’s works with a reward!
Pastor George this past Sunday stated that: We are a faith family, parents, and children. It’s two jobs you cannot get fired from. We sang the song Cornerstone this past Sunday. Through all of life Christ is our cornerstone. One of the lines in the song says “…from life’s first cry to final breath, here in the power of Christ I stand.” That is the desire Christian parents have not only for themselves but for their children. To raise up a child in the way that he should go. Raising a child, preparing them to be the man or woman that God created them to be. It’s character development Pastor George said that moms work on in their children.
Sunday’s scripture is from James 3: 1-12. This passage addresses Taming the Tongue. The tongue is powerful. We are to recognize the importance of words said that we use the tongue for. In David Platt’s RNM video on Faith Works, on the topic of Faith Speaks he said, “From the same mouth can come blessings and cursing; words that abuse, distort, or words that heal, and encourage. Your words are an indication of your heart and therefore your true spiritual condition.” Pastor George credits moms with guiding their children in taming the tongue. To better manage the tongue is a lesson preparing their children to be the man/woman they are created for. It’s their growth process towards character development. The tongue with what we say and our actions what we do, will be the evidence of how we live out our life. A follower of Jesus is watched by others in how we speak – serve – love. A mother’s love for her children is teaching them throughout all stages of their growth. Much the same as God’s Love for each of us. He teaches us as we continue to grow our faith. Pastor George said that as we celebrate God’s Love, on this Mother’s Day we also honor moms who lead the way in showing God’s love, who help children grow to maturity. Showing grace when necessary as her children grow. We celebrate the heart of mom and mom’s sacrifices for her family, as a reflection of God’s Grace and ultimate sacrifice for us his children.
In Matthew 21:16 it says “…from the lips of children and infants Lord, you have called forth your praise”. Nothing warms a mother’s heart more than knowing that her children are praising our Lord with their tongue. We, as someone’s child, need to continue to warm our mother’s heart with praises to our Lord through our tongue.
Happy Mother’s Day to all moms!
Larry & Darlene
5/3 The Feet of Jesus James 2: 14-26
This week we again visited the Book of James. We know that James is the half-brother of Jesus. James’ ministry hadn’t really started until after the death of Jesus. We heard Sunday from Pastor George that James was the pastor of the first church in Jerusalem. During that time there was extraordinary persecutions going on. Much hardship for the people, lacking food, and material things. James in his writings wrote of what being a true Christian means, what it looks like, and how we are to live out our faith! Sunday’s sermon message asked if we’ve taken our faith the twelve inches from being an intellectual ascent, to the heart? Even the devil knows of God. What makes us different than him? Are we living what we claim to believe? As Pastor George talked about during Children’s Time, “Talk the Talk & Walk the Walk”, are we?
Our RNM video that we viewed this week was from David Platt titled Faith Works, Living What We Claim to Believe, he said that faith in our hearts is evident in the fruit of our lives. Within the message from David Platt we learned that our acts of mercy are necessary evidences and natural overflow of salvation. To ignore the need, is to ignore Jesus. He said this not to put guilt upon us, but to arouse faith within us. Faith creates works, sacrificial works. The more that our faith matures, says David, obeying God brings honor to Him. To disobey is our lack of trust, our lack of faith.
Remember during Sunday’s service Pastor George gave us a visual of our sins being nailed to the cross. The lies, even half-truths, when we ask for forgiveness is nailing it to the cross; anger, when we blow it, ask forgiveness is nailing it to the cross, pride, when we want the glory to bring us honor instead of God, nail it to the cross. The more our faith matures, we want to obey God, bring Him honor and declare it, we are then righteous before God. We trust in Him. We are obedient unto Him. David Platt says that Faith produces radical action, radical trust, radical obedience for the spread of the Gospel.
Sunday’s scripture in the book of James Chapter 2 beginning in verse 14 says -…”faith in action as it relates to caring for the poor.” And ending in verse 26…”faith without works is dead faith”. Faith works. We walk with God as a friend of God. A radical obedience before God. David Platt said that “faith creates works and works on the Day of Judgement will be evidence faith was real.” How do you live out your faith?
David also reiterated that our Salvation is by faith – faith in Christ. We have no other work to do for our salvation. He in his series Faith Works, shared The Confirmation of the Christian’s Life. Christ is the basis of our justification. Sin stained us. He, Jesus, is the Righteous One. He lived the righteous life that we cannot live. Faith is the means of our justification. Turning from self, submission to and trusting in Jesus as Savior and Lord. Works are the evidence of our justification. Fueled by faith not by flesh. All three of these realities are only possible by the Grace of God. Living grace, grace at work in our lives.
“Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling”. Sunday’s song The Old Rugged Cross, I am Free, claims that in song. It’s in the cross that we’ve been redeemed. We remember His sacrifice for us, us the needy, in need of a Savior. It’s this same sacrificial love, sacrificial care that we need to live out to the needy around us. We are to see through the eyes of Christ, be devoted to the law of Christ to love your neighbor as yourself. David Platt shared The Manifestation of True and Acceptable Religion... Faith always expresses itself through love.
Pastor George gave us an acronym to remember that the Feet of Faith reveal:
F - I am FORGIVEN by grace through faith, faith necessitates works
E – I am ENERGIZED to thank God through my actions, Romans 5: 1-5, suffering produces endurance which produces character, character claims this Hope
E – I am EQUIPPED to do good for God and his people. In Ephesians 2:10, to respond and do something with our faith.
T – I am working TOGETHER with Christ to live out my faith. Hebrews 11:16, Jesus nudges us.
Pastor George encourages us to be known by your feet!
Larry & Darlene
More Th>n a Presence Acts 1:6-8 Vs. 8 “… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the farthest part of the earth.”
Sunday’s sermon message had a different scenery, Pastor George spoke to us around a burning fire, with the smoke rising upward. Was this just a comforting scene on a cool Sunday morning? Or is there more to this picture?
In the message we read about receiving power when the Holy Spirit comes, and to be a witness. Have you given much thought to the power of the Holy Spirit? We hear much about God, and his son Jesus but what about the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit?
One of the video’s we watched this week in RNM is titled Earth – Wind – Fire, learning from and listening to the Holy Spirit by Jason Nelson. He addressed the nature of the Spirit, a separate essence of God. God three in one: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. First Jason addresses EARTH – We have all read and/or heard the Genesis account of creation. God created. Did you also catch in reading, the Spirit of God hovering over the Earth? We are referred to as mortal clay, earthly vessels of which God breathed life into, the very breath of God, the Holy Spirit breathed life into us, filling people with the power and presence of God. We are temples of the Holy Spirit. Jason Nelson then addressed WIND – His daughter, when asked to describe the Holy Spirit saying, “I see something invisible, I see air, but I know He’s there”. The Divine Wind. We can see, feel, or hear the effects of wind. Jesus, in his Word confirms the Divine Wind, the Holy Spirit. There is no life apart from the Spirit of God. How do you receive it, Nicodemus asked? Jesus replied by believing. Place your faith in the Son of God. Be Born Again, Born of the Spirit. The Spirit of God swirling within the depths of our soul. We can hear this wind, the Spirit, be still and know. It is through the Spirit giving us wisdom, insight, guidance that we can also breath this message of faith into our family, neighbors, strangers. A breath of fresh air in a spiritually polluted world.
A second video we watched this week was Working for the Man Upstairs by Rev Tim Radkey. He quoted Martin Luther who said “Our occupation is a mask behind which God hides himself, working through our lives – our hands, our feet, our head – doing great and wonderful things for people He placed around us.” Martin Luther also said, “God does not need good works but your neighbor, community, family do”. Rev. Radkey wants us to think on the work that we do. Do we enjoy it? Or do we put in our time looking forward to clocking out for the day? We can look at our jobs as an occupation – earning a living – filling up with stuff that could fill a U-Haul. Or we can look at our jobs as a vocation – living your life for God. Striving to do what the creator of the universe wants you to do – that which fills into the lives of people that God has placed in our paths. Rev Radkey went on to say that each of us have a part within God’s society. Colossians 3:23… “whatever you do, do for the Lord”. We are conduits that God works through, to love and serve. As we interact with others, we can tell of all that Jesus has done for us. We have Ten Thousand Reasons for our heart to sing! A song that we sing, with words that hold so true. We show a fire that is burning within us.
FIRE is the last attribute of the Holy Spirit that Jason Nelson addressed. We are all familiar with fire. We see its presence and know its power. Jason stated that with a fire you need heat, fuel, and oxygen. Without one there is no fire. In referring the Holy Spirit in relation to fire, there is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Without the three there is no Trinity. Is there a fire burning within you? Have we caught on fire with enthusiasm? He said the fire of the Holy Spirit will never go out. Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, God in three persons, Blessed Trinity, all powerful, all knowing, ever present wants to work in and through our lives. On Sunday we sang Soul of Fire. Burning for Jesus? Pastor George talked around the fire on Sunday as we witnessed the smoke rising. The smell of smoke. That smell gets on us, our hair, our clothes. The Aroma that identifies. In burning for Jesus are we emitting an aroma? The same aroma as that of the Disciples? Are we part of the Gospel wildfire? Referring to Sunday scripture passage, to be a witness in Jerusalem, where you live, work and play; in Judea, our surrounding communities, our state; in Samaria, people who we tend to avoid, don’t like to be around; even to the ends of the earth. Let’s spread the wildfire!
The aroma of fire, the aroma of Jesus, is what lingers on…………………. As we live for Jesus, we want to be More Th>n a Presence. We want to smell like Him!
Larry & Darlene
More Than By-standers John 21:15-17
Living life is being anything but a by-stander. Seems like there is always something that needs tending too. Errands to run, kids to get somewhere, meals to prepare, work to finish, work to start, laundry, on and on this list can go.
From Sunday’s message and this week’s RNM we focused on what is means to be More Th>n By-Standers. Pastor George described a by-stander as having apathy as an attitude, in other words an indifference or unconcerned. A By-Stander just watches things go by, not really encouraging or supporting anything or anyone. The scripture he referred to from John 21:15-17 reads the account of Jesus restoring Peter to his discipleship focus. Three times Jesus asked, “Peter do you love me”? To which Peter replied: “yes Lord you know that I love you”. Then Jesus replied with “Feed my lambs; Shepherd my sheep; Feed my sheep”. Be more than a By-Stander Peter! Invest yourself into the little one. Invest yourself into those who never heard of Me. Buildup, encourage, lead, teach, shepherd the people. Pour into all those who believe, the children of God, feed them what I fed you Peter. Give them what they need, the hope of Scripture. Do this now, don’t be a by-stander, do this before it’s too late and they go back to the old way, to what they knew.
The video this week titled Never Too Late by Rob Rienow was a focus on the family. Today so many mid-teens to 30 something and beyond have checked out from the church they once were a part of. Why, how could this happen? Rob said that in a world of delegation training, (meaning delegating to something or someone else the parental duties in relation to their children’s learning and understanding and investment into their lives). In a world of delegation training, even in our faith, we’ve delegated that responsibility to another. There’s been a decline of family worship and talking about spiritual things. In the family, Rob says, spiritual training cannot be delegated to anyone else. Deuteronomy 6:7 says “…. Press them on you children, talk about these things when you sit at home”. You, parents, grandparents, family members, you have the keys to their hearts like no other. This series went on to explain that family is the most powerful small group. Discipleship, spiritual formation, family worship is needed to spread the gospel. To feed the lambs, to shepherd the sheep, to feed the sheep.
We also studied in this series that It is Never too Late for God to use you – to set your heart and mind back to the goal of bringing others back to Christ. To be right with God, Loving God with all their heart, fully trusting Jesus for their present and their future, and arriving safely home (in heaven) together. God can use the influences of your life to bless others even for future generations to come. The power of righteousness is boundless. The devil wants to take our heart out of it all – God, Family, Church, World. He wants you to be a shell of a Christian – a hollow person. Where are our hearts now? What’s most important to us, Money? Stuff? Fun? Worldly things? In John 15: 19 Jesus says….”but I chose you out of the world”. There is only temporal satisfaction from worldly things. To find real satisfaction we claim hold of the love Jesus has for us. The hurting asks, who will love me? Jesus says, I will.
When we claim hold of all that Jesus is and has done in our lives, it’s with that passion and eagerness that we go! No longer be by-standers, be a “ more than”. Because of the love we know, we must share what we know. Share the Good News! Take the risk! The power of sharing your faith with another is not in and of yourself, but it’s in the power of the Gospel!
The power of salvation to all who believe is worth the risk to share with others. Look for opportunities to have meaningful conversations with our adult children, with others that cross our life’s journey. Admit your fear to talking to them about spiritual things, talk openly. Invite them to be honest to talk with you about spiritual things. Thank them for talking with you openly. Seek to understand before seeking to be understood. Let them talk, you listen. Ask them, do you feel I understand you? They are sharing with you their heart.
Each of us has a testimony to share, a reason for the hope we have within us. We have a story to tell, a story other people need to hear. Jesus is inviting us to feed his sheep. Find ways to bring Him up, letting others know the difference Jesus makes in our life. Be Jesus with skin on to somebody. We are to love all people, to help to take care of their need. Their need is not only physical. Just as important, even more so, it is their spiritual need they have to hear of, the personal relationship Jesus wants with them. How are they going to hear unless we are More Th>n By-standers?
Larry & Darlene
It’s Resurrection Sunday, Christ is Risen, Indeed!
He conquered sin and death – Up from the grave He arose!
HE LIVES! HAPPY EASTER!
Easter, we’ve come to know Easter as Christ’s Resurrection, the third day from Good Friday where he suffered to the point of death. He conquered death. Believing in Jesus Christ we too conquer death. One day we will be absent from the body present with the Lord to eternally live forever with Him and with all believers in Christ, and we sing Hallelujah!!
More Th>n Conquerors! Our work isn’t finished in just claiming what Christ did for us. It isn’t conquered in the sense that we have nothing else to accomplish. Our belief in Jesus, our faith walk is a journey happening now in this life as we live it out. We are the more, we are active, we are involved in this victory. We are conquerors, overcomers, because our sin is washed away in the blood of Jesus. We are conquerors, the victory is ours because of Christ’s love for us he conquered death’s sting.
We’ve been studying in the book of James and have learned these past weeks that Easter People….
*Find Joy in the Midst of Trials – Joy is a good feeling in the soul produced by the Holy Spirit as Christ lives in us.
*Focus on Building others up – we pour into another’s life as God pours into ours.
*Have a Missional Identity in Jesus – we are His ambassadors, a people for God’s own possession.
*Are Good Listeners – to what God is saying to us and listening more intentionally to others.
*Are both Doers and Hearers – taking our head knowledge to heart, putting our faith into practice.
*Don’t have to tell others they are Christians – they’ll know we are Christians by our love, for all God’s people.
And now *Easter People are More Th>n Conquerors- we celebrate in the Risen Christ, the reason for our faith.
Christ is alive, He lives in each one of us! This is the ultimate partnership. WE are on a mission with Christ so that the world may know him. And this we do ‘til our dying day.
Easter Sunday’s sermon we heard about Living Hope! Our recent trials through this Covid-19 virus can lead us to anxiety-despair-denial-a feeling of being out of touch with reality. We want to assume the worst. Sometimes we make incorrect assumptions. We heard that we are to be aware of how we are responding to our fears. Sunday’s scripture reminds us in Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good”; Romans 8:31 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us”? vs 35 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulations, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword”? Pastor George said when we are feeling those anxious emotions, we should ask ourselves two questions during whatever trial we are going through. 1. What good is going to come out of this? 2. What good is God going to bring out?
This week we’ve viewed the RNM video on “Overcoming Life’s Challenges” by Steve Baird. This series took us through the book of James also. We learned to Seek God First. Pursue Jesus, he is priority. We learned that trials will always be with us. We are to surrender ourselves to God’s Power, give our trials over to Him, but also to look at the trial from God’s perspective. Trials, Baird says, God uses to demonstrate the genuineness of our faith and to develop us into the maturity of Jesus Christ, Christlikeness. He says, and we know, to take our trials to God in prayer. We can trust Him; we can know that He loves us. Baird referred to Ephesians 2:4-6 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved-and raised us with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Baird says to claim, to think on our position with Jesus our Savior, we sit with our Father. His love for us, the good that he wants for us, the work that he does in our hearts and minds and lives is all for our good. We only see part, but God sees the whole of our lives. He in us and we in Him...our task through these trials are to mature in our faith, to put His words into practice so that we become more Christ-like.
More Th>n Conquerors. The last passage from Sunday’s message in Romans 8: 37-38 reads “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We can Overcome Life’s Challenges because we have more than we need to conquer them through the love of Jesus. Remember whose you are!
Steve Baird spoke of the Crown of Life that is for those who love Christ. It’s for us who pass the test of trials, showing maturity of our faith. James 1:12 reads “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trials, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” In Revelation 2:10 Jesus said….”Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life”. We are more, we can deal with life challenges, we can be faithful unto death. We want to be awarded the Crown of Life when we come face-to-face with our Lord. Let’s live life through the promise of Easter and be More Th>n in faith.
Larry & Darlene
4/5/2020 Easter People…Don’t Have to Tell Others They Are Christians James 2:1-13
This date marks Palm Sunday this year. Palm Sunday, Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. During Children’s Time we heard of “A Victor’s Parade”. The people lining the road into the city were shouting Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
That’s how Jesus would like the reception of his church, we the people who make up the church, to be announced. Blessed are you…you remind me of Jesus. Pastor George said that a vital key of a church is the love for others, it’s a sign of spiritual maturity. Verse 8 of today’s reading is where we read of the Royal Law “Love your neighbor as yourself”.
We’ve been studying in the Book of James for the past several weeks. It’s a short book being able to read it through in about 20 minutes or so. Written by the oldest of Jesus’ younger brothers, James wrote to the church at large, to Jewish Christians, to God’s people scattered everywhere. Those who teach on it say it’s a short course on Christian’s world view, the Christian response to the world. How we as Christians should be conducting ourselves. A Christian isn’t as much known by what he/she says as by what he/she does, our lifestyle.
RNM has a couple of series on the Book of James. First, we viewed The Book of James by Francis Chan regarding James 2: 1-13 . He referred to it as sin of favoritism. Chan went on to say, “don’t count partiality as a small sin”, “act everyday as if you are going to be judged” “evaluate your life as sinners, God loves you anyway”. Robert Emmett in his RNM series on The Book of James, refers to this scripture passage as Discrimination. He says it’s a pre-judged set of rules on somebody’s set of standards. It’s no difference if it’s judgement by evil motives, evil thoughts, or favoritism of one over another. In Sunday’s message we heard that we are to judge yes, but don’t judge with evil thoughts. Pastor George said God’s message is for ALL who trust in Him, we are to get beyond our partiality, to treat everyone with equal respect.
The passage goes on to talk about Mercy. Robert Emmett stressed that a sin is a sin. The sin of adultery or the sin of murder isn’t any more of a sin than the sin of discrimination or favoritism. Each soul will have their day before God. You will be judged by the Law that sets you free, that face-to-face meeting with the Lord. Robert went on to say that when we have mercy towards others, we get mercy from others. God will be merciful when he judges us. Rewards in heaven are different. Like saying, you will reap what you show. No mercy receives no mercy; have mercy, get mercy. To have mercy is to live with kindness, forgiveness, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, isn’t that what we say through the prayer Jesus taught us to pray?
Sunday’s sermon ended with encouraging us to pray to be the Easter People that Jesus empowers us to be. What He did to make us Easter People, Resurrection People, people of love. They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes, they will know we are Christians by our love! May God help us to love all people in a way that’s appropriate for their need.
Maundy Thursday’s reading in the Book of John Chapter 17, vs 23, "The Prayer of Jesus", from the New Living Translation, reads in red print….”I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”
Easter People, it’s your faith, live it out – that’s faith in action – that’s love in action. Make clear what you believe.
Larry & Darlene
Easter People….Are BOTH-AND People James 1:22-27
The scripture passage from Sunday’s message begins in James 1:22: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only”………... then verse 27 ends with …”and to keep oneself unstained from the world”. During the Children’s Time message Pastor George shared with the young people and us older people listening, that it’s not just enough to know what we need to do, it’s to do it – be a doer. To do what you know you need to do. How do we know? It’s an instinct, an inner prompting, a conviction of the mind telling us to, it’s hearing of a need, it’s seeing that need out there, and so many other just knowing promptings. To be a doer of the word, we must know what the word says. Quoting from D.L. Moody “The Bible was not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives.” Anonymously someone said that “All the good maxims have been written; it remains to put them into practice”. Being hearers, we know what the word says, being a doer, we are then putting into practice what the word says. Taking it the 12 inches from our head knowledge to our heart knowledge.
The scripture passage also ends with “to keep oneself unstained from the world”. Unstained is not stained or spotted, unsoiled, without moral blemish…. from the world. With the current news of today our emotion, our thoughts, our lives are very much in the world. These are anxious times. I’d go on to say that our minds are stained by the current happening in the world. This pandemic that has taken over has placed anxiety into the lives of everyone. As we heard Sunday, if you’re a human being and you’re not anxious – there’s something wrong with you. Anxiety is like sand in the gear of a perfectly working system. RC Sproul in his RNM series of “Dealing with Difficult Problems”, said anxiety refers to a spirit of worry or apprehension of something that lies in the future. Intense and paralyzing, anxiety can arise to the status of a phobia that paralyzes us in one way or another. RC went on to say, we may worry about the consequences of yesterday, but our focal point of anxiety is always about the future. Pastor George has given good counsel when he shared that when we feel anxious, don’t be, when it strikes, listen to it but don’t let it take residence, don’t live there, but turn to God. As mentioned, to do what you know you need to do. The greatest simple cure is that we need to immerse ourselves in the word of God. RC Sproul reminded us of God promises, God’s presence and his grace to sustain us in our most difficult times. God says trust me for your entire life, for the future. Sometimes our faith doesn’t get us past the anxiety of what will happen. We’re afraid God will not do what he promises.
Listening to Sunday’s sermon we heard Pastor George say that Anxiety and Faith are incompatible. The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety. Jesus comes from the outside into the situation when we ask him in. Finding that place of inner calm, that place of inner peace, from there you can lead during anxious times. Anxiety causes restlessness. Our hearts are restless, our lives are out-of-whack if we are estranged from God versus welcoming His presence, a calmness of spirit that comes when you are in relationship with God, receiving His peace. We are to listen to God like your life depends on it, because it does.
We as Easter People should be living in His presence daily. How many times did Jesus said do not worry, do not be afraid, fear not. Reading the Book of James, we are reminded whose we are, we are adopted, we are loved, we are a new creation, we are secure, we are the Lord’s. To know this is a three phase process: 1. Hearing, getting into that deeper relationship with our creator and redeemer; 2. Receiving the Life, accepting the invitation into the family of God and all that it means for us; 3. Doing it, living by Faith, in Trust, being used by Him.
RNM came out with a new series this week titled: Overcoming Anxiety during Covid-19 by Jonathan Pokluda. He addressed 4 key areas of anxiety we are facing right now.
Anxiety About the Uncontrollable
We cannot control our current situation. He posed the question What is the source of the majority of the content you are taking in? Fear and Faith, whatever you feed grows. Feast on God’s word and your faith will grow. God has always been in control and we can trust him.
Anxiety About the Economy
Is life only all about storing up wealth here on earth? He suggested that we take attention off ourselves, and trust in God who provides for us. Trust and Believe. We are to be rich towards God and his purposes, rich towards good deeds.
Anxiety About Isolation
As followers of Christ we can turn our worries into prayers. In Philippians 4: 6-7 it says “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests by made know to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. What this is saying is pray, pray, pray – the God of peace will be there with you.
Anxiety When a Church Can’t Meet
We are to encourage one another to BE the church now more than ever. Find ways to connect, to encourage, to bring the love of God to others. The enemy wants to move to a church that’s ineffective. As we read in Hebrews 10:25 …”encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near”. We are the church, Christ in us, let his light and love shine through you. As Easter People…. We are doers and hearers, Amen!
Larry & Darlene
Easter People … are Good Listeners James 1:16-21
This week we’ve been going deeper into listening. Sunday’s message invited us to think on how well we listen to self, to others, and to God. To be intentional about listening. In James 1 verse 16 it says “…let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” Listening is hard work. In our study this week it was said that in order to listen well you need to shut up well. (lol) But isn’t that true. During the message Sunday we were asked to give thought to our listening minutes versus minutes you talk. We’d like to add listening versus mind wondering while someone is talking; or really listening versus already thinking on my immediate response to what is being said. This all takes discipline.
Listening to self: Sunday’s message suggested that we ask ourselves, what do I need? If we keep going a mile a minute, never slowing down, do we even know what we need? Don’t fill every minute of the day with busyness and noise. Pastor George suggested that we slow down. In his example of a cup full to the brim with water, much like our lives can get, remove some, let your cup lower, allow room for yourself. We are called to love others as yourself. Loving yourself is taking care of you and your needs so that you can be there for others when needed. The scripture passage for Sunday, James 1: 21 tells us that we are to “…receive with meekness the implanted word,” Meekness means quietness, humbly, submissiveness, compliance, fearfulness, the implanted word, means the Word, the Bible. What’s happening in my soul? It’s in the quietness that we can get a handle on the F.O.G. of life acronym that Doug Fields tells us to use. The F is for feelings – what emotions are going on inside at the moment. It can be us or it can be another. O is for others – what are we hearing from others? As to our self, or them. What others tell us about ourselves could very well be what God is trying to tell us, but we’ve been too busy to listen. Or others can confirm what we are feeling, seeking guidance from someone possibly older and wiser, to what we feel that God might be calling us to do. The G is God – are we spending some time in silence? Reading scripture? Quiet, on our own alone. We need moments of silence to hear God.
Listening to others: In our RNM video series this week we were given an opportunity to listen regarding listening. Active Listening by Bill Search means just that, active. Be there with eye contact. Don’t interrupt while the person is talking. Listen, seeking to understand. A great way show that we are listening is to ask follow-up questions to keep them talking, possibly to say it again in a different way. It will help us to understand a little bit better. Listening, by Henry Cloud, tells us to listen with humility, it’s not about me only. To care, it’s when the person talking understands that we understand. He says the first 5 minutes of your remarks will send the message of your listening. You may not have answers, for some it’s simply to know that other people know what’s on their mind. Also, we learn that it’s not always best to give a pet answer to everything. Quoting scripture, throwing out a bible verse that they need to study, pray over, as their cure-all. Winston Smith in his video of Becoming an Expert Listener, says we need to listen to understand their suffering. What are they saying? Where are they coming from? Get their suffering, show empathy, it’s a bridge from you to them to show that you understand.
We need to discipline our listening. Paying attention to old behavior patterns of interrupting or minimizing what they are saying. We may want to get on the defense when we are feeling attacked. We need to manage our reactivity as to what someone is saying. If you don’t, the consequence is that you lose. You lose the person that was talking because they are not being heard. A lack of listening creates a division. Then there won’t be any results. We need to discipline ourselves to listen. Listen to understand, then find the right time to say something.
Listening to God: It’s hearing from God. We heard during the Sunday message that it’s that voice on the inside of us. What is he saying to us? Then we need to act on what we hear. Don’t mute it, don’t turn it off, hear God’s nudges then respond, be a people who listens to the still small voice. God may be talking to us personally, or he may be talking to us to act in another person’s life. It’s our responsibility to personally submit to God’s authority. God also uses personal stories, personal struggles to minister to others. It’s our willingness to be open and honest. It’s our testament as to how God worked in our life.
Listening to God, receive with meekness the implanted word, so that we can minister to others in their time of need. To Impart grace to the need of the moment, by our discipleship, our words, our actions we impart Christlikeness. Move towards people in mercy. Connecting people to the Savior Redeemer, we Easter People, show what we know. We are to live life vertically with others and horizontally with God, showing grace, with people, with God – called Reconciliation. We as Easter People are to be better at loving people well, and better at being good listeners.
Larry & Darlene
Missional: an important goal or purpose that is accomplished by strong conviction; a calling; the business with which such a group is charged.
Identity :character as to who a person is; the qualities, beliefs, etc., that distinguish or identify a person.
This week RNM video series from Brody Jespersen titled “Gospel Identity” asked us the question: Who am I in relation to the Gospel Message? All people have the same response, we are all born into sin, needing to be rescued from our sin, because our sin separates us from God. Brody explained that Adam & Eve wanted their own control. We are all motivated by our own self-interests, those things that control us or that we want to control. He went on to say, in your pursuit of control you have welcomed a power struggle into your relationship; fighting and garnering control for ourselves, is our struggle with God, called Free Will. God’s desire is not to control us. True relationship with God is given freely, not forced. Because God loves us, he met us in our brokenness, offering a way back into relationship with him. We chose to be rescued. By accepting and believing in who Jesus is, our Savior, our Redeemer, the one who rescued us from our sin, we are no longer seen as broken or sinners. He is giving us a new identity.
Todd Brooks spoke during his message Sunday of our Identity in Jesus and how we should lean into that identity. In the scripture reading 1 Peter 2:4-10, we read that Jesus is our Cornerstone, we are like living stones, to be holy priests. Verse 9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priest, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession”. You were chosen to tell about the wonderful acts of God, who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. We no longer are just people, we are God’s people, a new identity is given to us because we believe.
We are a rescued people. Brody Jespersen stated, living in our brokenness is death not life. Now, we are a rescued and a redeemed people with a purpose, for something. 2 Corinthians 5: 17-21 in summary says, through Christ, God made peace between us and himself, and God gave us the work of telling everyone about the peace we can have with him. So, we have been sent to speak for Christ. To be his Ambassadors, to be missional. As Todd Brooks said, to take this new life everywhere we go. To proclaim, to declare, to proclaim the excellence of Him who called you out of darkness. We are now the temple, the church, living stones in Him, our Cornerstone, Jesus. We as Easter People sometimes don’t realize the impact we make, accomplishing more than you can see or know.
Matt Chandler, in his RNM video on Identity, Go therefore… be a Mission church, a Gospel centered church. It’s through his church, his people that His Glory shines to all people. Every maturing follower of Jesus Christ is a disciple of Christ. We are to be Gospel Centered in Worship; Gospel Centered in Community; Gospel Centered in Service; Gospel Centered in Multiplication. We are called to be Ambassadors for Christ, as if God is making his case through us. To study, to pray, to share the gospel with others, just as another has prayed for us and/or has shared the gospel with us. It’s what we do every day with the gospel on our minds. In worship, our growing relationship with Jesus. In community, the crew we are running with, edified in Jesus. In service, how are we serving? Generosity? Joyfully? In multiplication, interacting, praying for those whose life intersect with our own, especially those who don’t know Jesus, pouring into others.
Our identity as Easter People in Jesus is something that God has given his church, the members of his church. Our Missional duty, corporately as a church is to stand between the lost and the Savior and mediate between God and people. We are to be a life lived in this identity every hour of every day. To be ready to give a reason for the hope and joy within us. To be a people being about God’s business and not our own self-interest. Sharing the gospel through our actions, words, our character. As people watch us, we don’t live to their standards, we live for an audience of one, God.
We have our future inheritance, let’s be Ambassador’s for God, used by Him. Missional, with the love of God pouring out of us. Identifiable as a Christ follower, allowing God to use us to call others to be Easter People who too want to share the Gospel message.
Especially through these difficult days that we are experiencing, Pastor Paula White, in an article titled ‘God Is Your Resting Place’ in This Age of Coronavirus, wrote: “God is your resting place. When there are things that feel so out of control in our life, we need each other, we need encouragement. And most of all, we need to call upon God.” “But I’ve always said that the church has never been a museum for saints. It’s always been a hospital for those that are hurting”. “We are praying for our first responders and our medical doctors, for CDC, for our president, for everyone. Not everyone has health centers, some do, and some have now become testing centers and are using the churches. We’re helping in all different ways”. (White is President Trump’s spiritual advisor and close friend.)
May we too find a way to help. It’s part of being missional. God help us, God use us, God be good and gracious to us. In his name we pray, Amen
Larry & Darlene