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