Sunday, May 30, 2010

James 5:7-12 Patience and Endurance

Don't try to escape that trial! If God has put you there, remain right where you are. The word endure in the Bible is hupomone, and it means to remain under the pressure of (Romans 5:3). I want to ask you today what kind of pressure you are facing. First off, are you where God wants you to be? If so and you are facing trials and problems, stay firm and endure. Today, we will be learning about the importance of patience.

(vv7-8) PATIENCE: I believe that over the last nine months God has been using my circumstances in order to teach me patience amidst other things. In truth, the last nine months haven't been enjoyable and the thought of going home is ever present. Although this is true, I am called to be patient and endure, just like the farmer who waits until the harvest. In life we are going to go through hard times. We as Christians are going to go through many months, possibly years, wondering where God is, asking ourselves why He has deserted us. During these times strengthen your hearts. Yes, strengthen your hearts, but how? We strengthen our hearts by reading the Word, pulling out the promises of God, and standing on them. Let's stand on God's promises and trust in Him. He is highly glorified in this.

(v9) DON'T COMPLAIN: Don't complain? But I'm going through a really tough time, how can the Bible ask me not to complain? It advises us so that we might be pleasing and honoring to Christ. Listen to this: A master has many servants working in the field, he selects one and gives him the hardest work in the field but secretly plans to pay him the best out of all the other workers. The master expects his worker to have a good attitude hoping that the worker will trust in his faithfulness and fairness. When the master tells the worker that he will return, he hides in a bush and watches the worker. The worker complains and curses under his breath all day long. He even cursed at his fair master, being very short-sighted, the only one he damaged was himself. When the master returned he was very disappointed with the servant. He told the wicked servant about the wonderful pay he had for him but how his complaining lost him his wages. In the same way we must trust our Good Master. We must trust that He loves us dearly and has the best in mind for us.

(vv10-11) BIBLICAL EXAMPLES: Let's follow the biblical example that have been left for us. How many of you have read the story of Job and learned about the suffering that he faced. What happened? This man Job went through horrible trials, and not once did he curse God. After years, Job was blessed by God double, double than what he had before! Because of his endurance and faithfulness God blessed him abundantly. We also have the prophets, faithful men who loved the Lord and proclaimed His Word. They went through some hard stuff but were still faithful to God; they now have their reward in heaven. God is full of compassion and mercy, so let's conduct ourselves in such a way that is pleasing to Him.

(v12) BE TRUE TO YOUR WORD: Finishing up, we are told not to swear. In other words to affirm, promise, threaten with an oath, or invoke. This passage is very often misinterpreted but all the James is saying here is to be true to your word. When you say something, do it! If you say yes, let others know that that is what you mean.

CONCLUSION: I don't know what you are going through right now, but know that if you are where God wants you to be and you're going through some tough stuff , it's good for you. Trust in God, strengthen your hearts, and stand on the Word, knowing that God will take care of His faithful servants.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

James 5:1-6 Stewardship of Wealth and People

What's more important, people or wealth? Today we will deal with the stewardship of our wealth and the people in our lives. I believe that this passage will deal with all of us as we read it today. The heart issue is our greed or love for material possessions which unfortunately is normally bigger than our love for others.

(vv1-3) THE RICH: "Come now you rich, weep and howl...", actually means, burst into tears. Why would a rich man cry? He should have all that he could ever need or want. Well... not actually. As we see in verses 1-3, wealth is temporary, it might make us happy for a moment but then it rusts and fades. Just like James says, "...your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted." As you all know, when we first get something new it's really cool... for the first week. The things of this world don't satisfy. This is why James tells the rich to burst into tears, because they have put their trust, their love, and even their very lives into their stuff, and upon seeing the vanity of it all, and how it doesn't last, their reaction should be that of sadness. They've wasted their lives on collecting worthless junk and now the rust and decay of their stuff is a witness against them.

(v4) WHAT REALLY MATTERS: What really matters in this life? Is it money, cars, houses, stuff, or maybe the Kingdonm of God? Maybe it's the people that God has placed in our lives. Just as the rich here have invested their lives in things that don't matter, they also have rejected the thing that really does matter, the Kingdom of God, that which is unseen. Many times in this life we reject that which is really valuable for a cheap plastic imitation. Let's reach out for the Kingdom of God and not be like the rich man who refused to pay his workers their salary. The Lord desires that we might be giving, not hoarding. He desires us to invest in His eternal Kingdom, in the lives of those who need Christ. These are the works that will last, the things that won't rust or fade away.

(v5) BE AFRAID: James recaps here, talking again about the life of wanton pleasures that the rich live. James' comparison is very short but should inspire a healthy fear inside of those that are living a life of wanton pleasures and neglecting the Kingdom of God. He compares the rich as a fattened calf ready for the slaughter. This was probably a good expression for the Jewish audience who might have seen many fattened calves slaughtered in sacrifice. This is an example of what a greedy life will earn us.

(v6) PUT YOUR LIFE INTO WHAT COUNTS: Again recapping, James puts more emphasis in how the rich oppress the righteous. Their world view is twisted and instead of pursuing riches they should be helping those whom God has placed in their life.

CONCLUSION: Today we've learned some tough spiritual truths. One thing I don't want you to hear is that money is bad. There is nothing wrong with money in itself, but we must take care of our motives and greedy attitudes. We must use our stuff to please the Lord and advance His Kingdom, not to hoard it and spend it on our own desires (James 4:3). God doesn't give us things for our own pleasures, but that we might use them for His purposes. Let's seek the Kingdom first and also seek to honor the Lord with all the things He has blessed us with.