The Book of James
Imagine you grew up in the same house as Jesus. He was your older brother. You played games with Him—like kick the dirt clod, and hide and seek. What a frustration it would be to play hide and seek with Him—He would always win, because He always knew where you were!
Remember when you were little, how you used to get hurt? How many of you have permanent scars on your body from childhood injuries? I got in a lot of scrapes, and have the scars to prove it; I wasn't very careful and was a little too adventuresome for my own good.
It is difficult to say no to temptation, but long-term effects follow if we yield to a lot of little temptations. When we are tempted to sin, we don't always see the short- and long-term consequences. We slowly but surely spend the good resources in our life on things that will ultimately leave us depleted emotionally, physically and spiritually. Some of you today may have even totally spent your resources and all you have left are some worthless items.
I read once of a teacher who quizzed a group of college-bound juniors and seniors in preparation for a "Bible as Literature" course. He planned to teach in one of the better high schools in our nation. The results revealed what we all know: our nation is biblically illiterate.
- How important is it that we treat new people in our services with respect, honor, love and mercy?
- How important is it that we look beyond their outward appearance?
- What would happen if everyone who came felt love and were shown mercy, not judgment?
- How does my greeting others affect my own standing with God?
James 2:14-26Soren Kierkegaard tells the story of a make-believe country in which only ducks live.
"One Sunday morning all the ducks came into the church, waddled down the aisle and into their pews, and squatted. Then the duck minister took his place behind the pulpit, opened the duck Bible and read, 'Ducks! You have wings, and with wings you can fly like eagles. You can soar into the sky! Use your wings!' All the ducks yelled 'Amen!' and they all waddled home."
If there was ever a member of the body that needed to go to obedience school, it is the tongue. It doesn't need exercise, it needs control—it needs to be tamed. The tongue out of control might say anything. I read with tears of laughter a series of statements given on insurance forms by people involved in car accidents. In times of stress, we often say things in a confused way. Let me share a few of these statements with you.
One of the great tragedies in the church world today is what is commonly known as a church fight. It is nothing new, however; Paul had to deal with this kind of situation in Corinth. He had made two visits to this community, had sent emissaries, and had written two letters in order to correct the sins of that community.
Years ago Eric Berne wrote a best-seller entitled Games People Play. In it he exposed the subtle ways people manipulate others without those people even being aware of what's happening. Three years after this book was published, another one, Games Christians Play came out, taking readers behind the scenes in the Christian community to reveal the games played beneath a religious veneer.
Finding and Doing God's Will—James 4:13-17
Trying to fill God's shoes will always be a bad fit. Wearing our own shoes and walking in His steps is always a better way to live. Many people live with no thought of God's steps in mind. The culture is filled with statements that declare people's rights to do this and that, as if they were the final authority for their lives. "We have a right to decide our own destiny and choose what is best for us…" so the line goes.
When I was growing up, I had a dog named FuFu. He was named after my mom's best friend whose nickname was Lulu. My brother and I couldn't pronounce the letter "L" at such a young age, so Lulu became FuFu.
Have you ever known a believer who has wandered away from the clear teaching of Scripture? How about you; have you ever done so? People may be active in a local church, and yet over a period of time slowly, almost imperceptibly, wander away from the truth. At the beginning of their journey, they would never have imagined where their trek would take them, but eventually it was apparent they were wandering from the right path, the way of truth.