Mike Martin - 2/2 - Northeast Baptist Church

August 10, 2014

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James 2:1-13

This particular passage goes hand in hand with Matthew 22:37-40. In those verses, Jesus is asked a question about the greatest of the commandments. Understand that the Law given to Moses is bigger than just 10 Commandments. The Law is contained in the first five books of the Old Testament, and Jesus picked two that are not listed as a part of the 10 Commandments. However, the 10 Commandments are naturally divided into the two commandments that Jesus shared. We are to love God and make Him first in our lives, and we are love one another.

Turning to James 2:1-13, remember that James is writing to Christians. He may not use the same terminology as Christ, but he means the same thing. Here, the writer teaches us to 1. honor and glorify our Lord Jesus Christ in 2. the way we respect and treat others.

This became a reality to me this last week during a teacher in-service meeting. I listened to a speaker discuss how we as teachers get along with others. One comment that the man made was, “the problem is people, and the solution is people.” As a teacher, I have to get along with children, parents, other teachers, administration, kitchen staff, janitors, and the list goes on. Sometimes we divide the list into categories of certified and classified; or professional and support staff. Regardless of how we divide it, the reality is that we are all people.

While I sitting there, listening to the speaker, I could not help but think of a Biblical example. I begin to reflect upon Luke 7:36-50. In the passage, Jesus has been invited to Simon, the pharisee’s home. While eating, a woman approaches Jesus from behind. Can you imagine Jesus as He sat there, and warm tears began to drop on His feet? One by one, each tear would trickle down and across His feet. Eventually, He feels the strands of the woman’s hair as she begins to wipe up her tears. Next, she sacrificially anointed Jesus’ feet. She brakes open the most expensive thing she owned, a bottle of perfume. She pours it on the Lord’s feet, and the room is filled with the aroma. The odor is everywhere. It has saturated every fiber of the room.

Simon thinks to himself, if Jesus could just know what kind of a woman she is, He wouldn’t even let her touch Him.

Know that we serve a mighty God. He knows us; He knows our struggles; He even knows our thoughts, and He knew Simon’s too.

Jesus teaches the Pharisee an important lesson. Using a parable, Christ says, “one who has been forgiven much, loves much.” The truth is that unless you have been through what someone else has experienced, sometimes, it’s hard to understand that person.

James 2:1-13 reflects upon the same idea. Only, this time he uses an example from church. His illustration involves two men visiting the same church for the first time. One is obviously very wealthy. He has on very expensive clothes and rings. The other is a very poor man. He is not wearing any rings, and his clothes have holes in them.

The church’s usher greets both men and shows them to their seats. The wealthy man is guided to a place in the front of the room. The usher wants everyone to see who just came in. He wants to make sure that the pastor sees this man. On the other hand, the poor man is shown to an obscure place. His place is “out of sight, out if mind.” It’s probably somewhere in the back. James suggests that he sat on the floor beside a footstool.

James wants you and me as readers to know that it’s not the material things that we have that measures our spirituality. He even writes, “Listen, my beloved brothers: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and the heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?”

In the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3) Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” The poor in spirit are those who have come to a place where they recognize their need for God. Their possessions do not matter, they simply know that they need a relationship with God.

If you and I are guilty of showing favoritism, then according to The Bible, we are committing sin. In James 2:8, the author reminds us of Leviticus 19:18, but the verse is more familiar as a quote from Christ in Luke 7. James writes, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

The truth is that we are all guilty of sin. The Good News is that Christ died on the cross, was buried in a tomb, and then He was gloriously raised from the dead to save us from our sins. Ask God for His forgiveness, invite Christ into your life, trust Him to save you, and begin a new life.

Today, like our Lord Jesus Christ and James, I want to encourage you to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all you mind.” And, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

July 27, 2015

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James 1:12 is a pivotal verse upon which the previous verses and the following verses hinge.

The verse begins with the word blessed. Jesus used the word repeatedly in the first 11 verses of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. The kword means happy, and why wouldn’t those mentioned in Matthew 5 be happy? For example, verse three says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. They should be happy because they have come to the realization of their need for God and His generous kindness. Or, verse four says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” These have come to the reality that they are sinners, and they need a Savior. One more example comes from Psalm 1:1, and the man in this verse has learned that he will be happier if he avoids bad company.

Going back to the text, James 1:12, we read, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial…” The idea is that he has overcome it. And, he should be happy, he has just experienced victory in a trial in the furnace of adversity called life.

Know that God allows us to go through difficult situations to prove us. Yes, He wants us to know that He is always faithful, but He wants you and me to recognize how much faith we have too. The more we go through, the more we grow in our faith and the closer we grow toward God.

According to the verse, we will receive a reward for our perseverance in trials. The Bible calls it the Crown of Life. The Bible describes various rewards or crowns that will be given to believers in Heaven.

The crown is not a kingly crown. After all, Heaven does not need another king because Jesus Is called the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Rather, it is a wreath that is placed on an olympian’s head after he has won an event.

In 1 Cor 9:25, the apostle Paul compares the Christian life to Olympians in a race. He says that their reward is only temporary, but the believer’s reward is eternal. Know that as those who have over come, we are winners. We have stuck to it. We have persevered. We have been faithful to the end. We have trusted Christ and received eternal life.

James continues. He notes that the Lord has promised this Crown of Life to those who love Him, and God keeps His promises.

Sunday, August 4, 2014

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James 1:19-27

Understand that James is writing to believers, and in verse 19, he says, “This you know.” You and I have to ask ourselves, “What do we know?” The author is reminding us of what he has already said.

We know about the trials of faith. We know that if we persevere through our struggles, they will end in a perfect result, and we discover that we have lacked nothing. We have also learned to trust God for the wisdom and strength that we have needed.

We know that we do experience temptations. These are temptations to do evil, but while God give us trials, He does tempt you and me to do evil.

Our temptations to do evil come from three sources. The devil is described as a “roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” And while Satan and his devils do tempt us, we are also tempted by the world that we live in and our own fleshly nature.

We have learned through scripture that temptations follow an order. We look; we like; and we lust. James 1:14-15 says it like this, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

Again, James 1:19 says that we already know this.

The author continues. He tells believers to be quick to hear (the Word of God), slow to speak, and slow to anger. What James is teaching you and me is to live our faith. The place where we will learn about our faith is in the Bible. And, the writer wants us to live in a way that will win others to Christ.

Sad to say, but the way we live our lives, talk, and show our anger do not always demonstrate God’s righteousness. So in James 1:21, we read, “Put aside all filthiness and wickedness.” We are to humbly receive God’s Word, and it is to be implanted or applied in our lives. The reality is that as Christians, we know that hearing and applying the Word of God will lead to salvation.

James continues, he encourages us to not only read the Bible but to practice our faith. To do this, verse 25, says, “Look intently” into the Word. When we do this, we will learn about God’s perfect law and liberty (the freedom that can only come from a relationship through Christ).

A simple way to remember this is:
Look into the Word of God.
Listen to the Word o God.
Learn from the Word of God.
Live the Word of God.

James’ suggestions for practicing your faith include visiting the orphans and widows, and keep yourself from the influences of the world.

July 13, 2014 Sermon

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James 1:1-12

Introduction:

The author of the book of James in my opinion is the half brother of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are aware from scripture that Jesus did indeed have half brothers and sisters because Joseph was not Christ’s biological father, God is.
Concerning the Lord’s half brothers, we find them with Mary looking for Jesus in Matthew 12:46-50. In Matthew 13:55-56, the people of Nazareth say that they know His brothers and sisters, and they even name the brothers (James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas).

John 7:1-10 teaches that His brothers did not believe in Him as the Messiah. In this passage, it plainly says that they did not believe in Him. What I come to understand from a study of the Bible is that they probably did not believe until after the resurrection when the Lord appeared to James. Read 1 Corinthians 15:7. We also find the brothers and Mary in the upper room with the other believers following the ascension of Christ in Acts 1:14.

James went on to become a leader in the church at Jerusalem (Acts 12:17; 15:13-21). Paul calls him The Lord’s brother in Galatians 1:19 and later discusses the Acts 15 account in Galatians 2. In Galatians 2, Paul identifies James as a leader in the church. The apostle calls James a pillar along with Peter and John in 2:9.

1. James is a slave to God, Christ, and the Jews.

Identifying himself as a the author of the book, James calls himself a slave. He is a slave to God, to Jesus, and to the Jews.

To be a slave means that one has a master. Many times when we hear the word slave, we have a negative reaction. We immediately remember what we have heard, and what we have been taught about slavery and America’s past. The slavery that James is talking about is one that he has placed himself into voluntarily. He gives his Master complete and full control over his will and spirit. He surrenders to God. Why wouldn’t he, think about all that God has done for him. Why wouldn’t you, think about all that God has done for you. Without even considering all that God has done for you, just think of one incident. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

In that one verse, Jesus voluntarily surrendered His will to the will of the Father. He became obedient to the point of death that you and I might have life. We owe God the Father and Jesus ourselves too.

James ministered to the Lord by serving others. Remember, he was a leader in the church at Jerusalem. There he prayed, preached and taught, gave leadership to the people, and served God by ministering to others.

2. As a believer, James’ life was not easy.

Know that James’ life was not without hardships. After all he was the younger half brother of Jesus. He probably spent his early years speculating about who his older brother was, and he may have spent the later years regretting the fact that he did not accept Christ earlier. The rest of his life was spent dealing with the persecution that began in the book of Acts and continued after the stoning of a man named Steven.

During James’ hardships, he learned an important truth. Trials of faith produce endurance; and endurance (perseverance, or patience) ends in a perfect result. What this means is that you have grown in your own faith. You have discovered that in Christ, you are made perfect and complete; and that going through your trials with God, you will lack nothing. Tradition teaches that during his hard times, James spent so much time on his knees in prayer that they became as callous as the knees of camels.

3. James was a man of faith.

In the first chapter of his book, James uses verse 5-8 to teach his readers to have faith. He writes, “If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask God.” He reminds you and me of one reason why he has decided to be God’s slave. He writes that God is gracious, and James knows that God is so good to give you and me what we ask for.

The writer continues saying ask in faith. His illustration is one of the sea. Think about the sea as the wind begins to roar. Waves are tossed in every direction. There seems to be nothing but chaos and indecisiveness. This is what James uses to describe you and me when we don’t put our faith in God. He says, “a double minded man is unstable in all of his ways.”

Have you ever prayed about something that was really burdening you? Perhaps you got down on your knees in an attempt to leave the burden with God, but after you finished praying, you stood up and walked away with the burden. The reality is that you didn’t trust God to handle your situation. You were putting more trust in yourself or something tangible that you could see instead of God. He wants you to trust Him.

Trusting God is a learning experience. As you grow in your faith, you may have to lay your burden down daily or even hourly. Regardless, keep laying them down.

Learning to trust God during you trials requires faith and patience. During your tough time, ask God for wisdom and strength, and faithfully wait on Him. Your faithful patience will cause you to have a joy that springs up from within. It will cause you to continue trusting in God for every circumstance. It will lead to a perfect result. You will be perfectly complete and lacking nothing.

James concludes this passage writing, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

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