“Heavenly Wisdom’s Peace”

Date: 9-25-14

Text: James 3:17-18 — 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: This heavenly wisdom is so other worldly it is truly hard for us to get a handle on it.

My Thoughts: 

While the “wisdom from below” brings chaos and discord (accompanied by a lot of brash noise), the “wisdom from above” brings a pure, undefiled peace that yields righteousness. This heavenly wisdom is so other worldly it is truly hard for us to get a handle on it. Oh, we may taste it, even sip it, but do we fully appreciate this heavenly wisdom’s peace?

Lifestyle worshipers, you remember that our Lord Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives…” (John 14:27a) This is the peace that surpasses all understand (Phil. 4:7). Do you think that the heavenly wisdom that brings this transcendent peace is also beyond us? If so, how do we appropriate the heavenly traits of this heavenly wisdom noted in James 3:17 above? Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end. — Proverbs 29:11 (NIV84)

But I tell you who hear Me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

— Luke 6:27-28 (NIV84)

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.

— John 7:38 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, as You become my heavenly Wisdom, transform my mind to mirror these heavenly traits and fill my soul with Your surpassing Peace. You are my Prince of Peace! Bless Your Holy Name. Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Messy Relationships: Opportunities for Peacemakers”

Date: 9-21-14

Text: James 2:8-11 8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.  [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Your BFF became your BFF because you worked through the mess.

My Thoughts: 

As you look around and ‘analyze’ your relationships, you may noticed that it was a rare relationship in which you didn’t have to work through a mess. Even with your BFF, there were messy times—times you didn’t think you’d stick it out….

Lifestyle worshipers, every relationship is an opportunity (a trial) to produce perseverance within us. And many, if not all, are very,  very messy, aren’t they? This is why James exhorts us: “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4). And one major way perseverance (aka patience) will be able to ‘finish its work” in us, is if we stick it out…. This is how your BFF became your BFF: you worked through the mess; you hung in there; you stuck it out. And as the farmer works hard throughout the growing season, he sticks it out to receive a bountiful harvest at the right time….

Have you found this to be true in many of your relationships, especially those in which you worked through the mess? Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

— Hebrews 12:11 (NIV84)

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 

— Matthew 5:9 (NIV)

 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

— 1 James 3:18 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, I put You on as my Slippers of Patience: The Right Slipper of Forgiveness and the Left Slipper of Forbearance. Continue to make me an instrument of Your presence to bring healing and not harm,  In Your Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“The Wealthy’s Social Responsibility”

Date: 9-20-14

Text: James 5:1-6– Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.  [NIV84]

The Big Idea: James, like his Brother, Jesus, is very, very concerned how the scattered believers use their wealth.

My Thoughts: 

Have you read the above passage yet? If you have, give it a read again. How does it make you feel? (a) “Right on! Give it to them!” or (b) “Hey, wait! That’s not fair! I worked hard for my money”? Whichever side you come down on, we have to admit that James does come at the rich pretty hard. James is tell the wealthy that they have a social responsibility to use their wealthy righteously: (1) because it is temporary (vv. 1-3); (2) because it is right to pay those a fair wage who do a fair day’s labor (v. 4); (3) because righteousness is not self-indulgent nor does it selfishly corrupt justice in the courts (vv. 5-6)….

Lifestyle worshipers, lest you think James is just flying off the handle, he is actually remembering a sermon his older Brother once gave. Jesus preached stuff like this? Yep. It was in a sermon called, “The Sermon on the Plain,” (the cousin to “The Sermon on the Mount”) In it our Master says this: “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets” (Luke 6:24-26 NIV84).

The word, “woe,” is an intense word denoting a deep sense of compassionate concern for the dire outcome of one’s actions. James, like his Brother, Jesus, is very, very concerned how the scattered believers use their wealth. How do you feel about this? Do the wealthy have a social responsibility? To what degree? Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

— Matthew 6:24 (NIV84)

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 

— Matthew 6:21 (NIV84)

 But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

— 1 Timothy 5:6-10 22 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, be Wisdom in me as I use what You have blessed me with to bless others. Continue to make me an instrument of Your presence to bring healing and not harm,  In Your Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“The Test of Envy Through Relationships”

Date: 9-18-14

Text: James 1:9-11  The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10 But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For 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. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Our true Love being test with regard to material ‘stuff’.

My Thoughts: 

This may seem like a simplistic argument, but if we all had the same ‘stuff,’ we would never be tested with envy or jealousy or stealing…. Why do we need to be tested? To demonstrate true Love; a Love that springs from a heart that freely chooses to embrace, commit, sacrifice… for another. …

Lifestyle worshipers, maybe some of us have ‘burped,’ “It’s not fair. Why would God do such a thing?” This is a good question. Yet it appears He started this test pattern in the garden with the two trees. Oh, there were many more trees in the garden, but He pointed out two, and He gave expressed instructions not to eat from one of the designated two: “Don’t eat the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil.” (Don’t you find it interesting that He did not command Adam or Eve, “You must eat from the tree of Life”?)

Just like Adam and Eve’s true Love for the LORD was being tested through obedience, so is our true Love being test with regard to material ‘stuff’. This test reveals whether or not the “Have’s” will look on the “Have not’s” with distain, etc., and the “Have Not’s” will envy (stealing in their hearts) what the “Haves” have. What are your thoughts on this? Do you see a Christ-like response to the disparity between the rich and the poor? Do you see this as a test at all?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

— Luke 16:10-12 (NIV84)

You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

— Revelations 3:17:18 (NIV84)

 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

— 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, empower me by Your Holy Spirit so that I may have a response to the disparity between the rich and the poor that will honor Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  In His Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Another Test Lab for Growing Up”

Date: 9-16-14

Text: James 2:1-4  My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? [NIV84]

The Big Idea: The test lab of relationships reveals your heart’s prejudices.

My Thoughts: 

The first test lab for growing up James presents is trials, those general challenges of life that are more than slivers. But he also presents a second test lab: Relationships. He brings up the subject in 1:9-11, and speaks about social status particularly between the rich and the poor. But he hits it head on in 2:1-4: The test lab of relationships reveals your heart’s prejudices. …

Lifestyle worshipers, we know we should not favor the rich over the poor. And perhaps this is easy for some, but what I find more difficult not to favor is the ‘lovelies’ over the ‘unlovelies’. Now, my definition of these two words may be somewhat different from yours, but a shared aspect is going to be something like this: the ‘lovelies’ are those I am comfortable with and click with versus ‘unlovelies’ whom I find very, very difficult embarrassing, and draining to be around.

I know that this test lab has a lot more revealing to do in my life. How about in yours? Any thoughts….

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

— Matthew 9:12-13 (NIV84)

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

— Romans 12:16 (NIV84)

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

— Philippians 2:1-5 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, forgive me for favoring the ‘lovelies’ and ignoring the ‘unlovelies’. I know Your Son mostly hung around with the ‘unlovelies’ of society, and I want to be more like Him. Cleanse me from this unrighteousness so that I may reflect His Life in me more clearly to those You truly Love far more than I can in my own strength. In Your Jesus’ Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“If You Lack, Ask”

Sermon Title: “The Testing Lab for Wisdom Part One: Trials”

Series: Families Grow Up In Wisdom: The Book of James

Date: 9-11-14

Text: James 1:5-8  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, Who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But 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. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.  [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Instead of asking, “Why,” perhaps asking “What, Lord?…”

My Thoughts: 

If you are like me, it is hard not to doubt when someone gives me advice. But the more I trust the expertise of the one giving the advice, the less I doubt. …

Lifestyle worshipers, the same is true with the Lord. Too many times we project onto the Lord His children’s unfaithfulness or poorly offered  counsel. But when we seek His Face through His Word and prayer and the counsel of those who do the same, their counsel/wisdom is just as trustworthy as if it came from the very mouth of God Himself… Oh, it did, when it comes from His Word….

 So the next time you are in a trial, challenge or difficulty, instead of asking, “Why,” perhaps asking “What, Lord? What would You like me to yield to You this time? What aspect of my life am I not trusting Your Life to empower me in?” So if you lack, ask. … Then trust the expertise of our Heavenly Father’s Wisdom….

Do you think these questions will be answer more readily than the “why”? Your thoughts….

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

“Let all who are simple come in here!” she says to those who lack judgment.

Proverbs 9:4 (NIV84)

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

— Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV84)

Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord,…

Jeremiah 29:12-14a (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, as I encounter these various trials, I ask the Lord Jesus Christ to make clear to me what aspects of my life He would desire me to surrender to Him. I realize that this journey with Jesus often goes deeper the second and third time around. May His Peace guard my heart and mind by the power of Your Holy Spirit. In Your Jesus’ Amen.

Pastor Mike

 

 

“He Called Him ‘Messiah’”

Date: 9-6-14

Text: James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: James uses this title with significant importance.

My Thoughts: 

Some say it is too early in the young church’s history for James to use the title of “Christ” connected to Jesus’ name. But I am convinced it is not, especially in light of James’ awkward past with Jesus. The word, “Christ,” is a transliteration of the Greek word for “Anointed One,” which is the word for Messiah, in Hebrew. And for James to use this title is of significant importance.

At first, James thought Jesus was “out of His mind” (Mk. 3:21 NIV84; “beside Himself” KJV). But now he calls Him the Messiah. This is a pretty monumental change, don’t you think?… James finally sees that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah. True, at first, He is the humble  servant of the Holy One, riding on a lowly donkey rather than a white charger, but remember, James was personally visited by the Resurrected One?

Lifestyle worshipers, have you had a truth staring you in the face, but it isn’t until much later that you see it? A passage you have memorized, can quote it without thinking, suddenly comes alive with deeper insight—and at just the right time? Or a relationship of significant importance? Then you know how James must have felt. The light bulb has come on: Flash! A brilliant light blinds our eyes. We shield them with our hand, but the brilliance penetrates right through. Slowly, but nonetheless steadily we see Him more clearly…, and He had been there the entire time…. Do you see Jesus more clearly today than yesterday? Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

   In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. — John 1:4-5 (NIV84)

For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. — 2 Cor 4:5-6 (NIV84)

As [Saul] neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” He replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.  — Acts 9:3-9 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, I put You on as my Helmet of Salvation. Continue to transform my earthly thoughts into heavenly ones as You become clearer to me every day. In Your Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Practicing What He Preached”

Date: 9-2-14

Text: James 1:1  James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: James uses a word that represents the lowest of the lowest slave: doulos.

My Thoughts: 

As you read through the book of James, can you sense his humility? He could have started off his book with, “James, the Oldest brother of our Lord Jesus and my older brother…,” but he doesn’t. Instead, he uses a word that represents the lowest of the lowest slave: doulos. Now, in the Christian community we have given this word a much ‘greater’ meaning. This is because of what our Lord said about this in Matthew 23:1: “The greatest among you will be your servant.” He chose a word that represents a position lower than the word for servant here….

What does this mean for us, Lifestyle worshipers? I see at least one lesson: James practiced what he preached. He exhorts his fellow believers to  not take pride in our high position (James 1:9) and not to show favoritism (2:1). In his case, do not give him any adulation for being the brother of our Lord Jesus. None. And in this lesson, I take comfort that it doesn’t matter what position or title I  carry in the Christian community, I am still but a doulos of the Lord Jesus Christ, washing the feet of the saints and shining the spot light on the Master, who alone is worthy.

What lessons from James do you see in this ‘title’ of doulos?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

  Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.— Matthew 24:45-46 (NIV84)

And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.
 2 Timothy 2:24 (NIV84)
 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. — Romans 12:10 (NIV84)

 

Lord Jesus Christ, be my gloves of Kindness and my Socks of Gentleness as I serve my brothers and sisters in humility and Love.  In Your Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Seeing Jesus More Clearly”

Date: 9-1-14

Text: James 1:1  James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: The resurrection has a habit of doing this: That flash of white light first blinds, but then reveals, when they can see Jesus more clearly.

My Thoughts: 

Yes, James is the older of Jesus’ siblings. No, he—with them—did not believe what Jesus  was teaching about Himself; at least, not at first. They scorned Him, mocked Him and ridiculed Him—and James probably led the way….

Lifestyle worshipers, has this happened to you in your family when you first came to faith in Jesus? Each step you took in following Him was so scrutinized and challenged and doubted…? But then something changed. They began to see Jesus more clearly, just as James had—but only after the resurrection, for James, and only  as your life began to change. The resurrection has a habit of doing this: That flash of white light first blinds, but then reveals; then they can see Jesus more clearly. …

…and then they, too, like James, can become one of His dearest followers. Remember, the flash first blinds, but then reveals. Wait for their eyes to adjust….

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

   In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead. Then He placed His right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.”

— Revelation 1:16-17 (NIV84)

And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

 1 Corinthians 6:11 (NIV84)

  For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I [Paul] persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.

 Galatians 1:13 (NIV84)

 Lord Jesus Christ, be the Slippers of Patience in my Life as I wait on my family to see You more clearly in my Life. In the meantime, continue Your transforming work by Your Holy Spirit so they can see You all the more clearly.  In Your Name Amen.

Pastor Mike