Saturday, October 15, 2011

Walk It Out - James, Week 2 Part 2

Jesus is remarkable. His ministry turned the world upside down. His teachings and concepts were so different from world concepts. We will see an example of this from this section of Scripture. I love how radically different Jesus was. The people were looking for someone who would come and free them from Roman rule. That is what they understood the Messiah to do. However they had it all wrong. Jesus came to save the world alright from oppression but His way of salvation was not what they expected. Down is the way up in God's kingdom. Jesus death and resurrection were what changed the world and made us right with God through faith in Him. This was not what was expected. His death looked weak and like defeat yet it was actually the opposite. It is what rocked the world as they knew it. Nothing would ever be the same. His teachings fit this same unpredictable mold. 

In this section we will look at James 1:8-12. Remember we just got finished talking about our need for wisdom and how it comes from God. He desires to give it to us when we ask in faith. If someone doubts they are double minded. They love the world yet love God and these two cannot mix. Verse 8 picks up in describing this person, "Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do."

I know I do not want to be unstable in what I do. I want to be like the man who built His house on the rock. I want to stand when storms hit. As we walk out our faith we learn that we can trust God fully. He shows us this over and over. In the parable of the house on the rock it tells us how to stand strong. It says, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock." (Matthew 7:24). Do you get that? We must not only hear God's word and receive it as knowledge but we must apply it to our lives. We must put it into practice.

So here is the upside down part of this section of Scripture.
 9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they 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 will fade away even while they go about their business.
 12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. 

Talk about an opposite philosophy from the world! If you are poor or in humble conditions in status, depressive state, or with grief you should rejoice. This position places you in a high station or rank in God's kingdom. Yet in contrast the person who is abundantly supplied is considered in a lower estate in God's kingdom. This is a concept that the world cannot understand. It is of the same language of the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus preached. 

Essentially it is saying that no matter our circumstances our faith and identity should rest in God. Worldly riches fade as quickly as wildflowers. Though riches are not bad in and of themselves they are not to be trusted for security. This life is temporary. Everything will pass away except our relationship with Jesus. That is all that will matter in the end. Whether we have had plenty or not. It all fades away. God is in control of all things and we must trust Him in all this. We must continue to run the race put before us to the finish. At that time we will receive that precious crown of life and hear the words Well done my good and faithful servant. God wants us to be complete in maturity. Our stations in life are part of what makes us into what we are meant to be. How we live determines what kind of treasure we store up for eternity.

In this letter James was addressing those dispersed from their homes. In an instance they had to leave all they had. These unexpected things can happen at any moment. They needed to be reminded that true security is only found in Christ. Nothing in this world is secure. A message that is good for us to hear and be reminded of as well.

So let us run together encouraging one another on so that we will all finish well. This is a team race not an individual competition. How can we pray for you at this stage in life? Where are you in this race? Don't give up keep going and finish well. We are in this together.

God allows trials to mature us, He gives us wisdom, and He rewards a race well run. Isn't it great to know God understands completely and wants us full and complete in Christ? So let it encourage you to walk it out.

1-How have you been in a humble state? How can you count it as a blessed situation?
2-How have you been in a rich state?  How do you keep free of the temptation of depending on it?
3-Where are you storing your treasures? The Bible says, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21). What is your heart most focused or devoted?
4-Are you running alongside others? Are you tempted to be a lone ranger?
5-What steps do you have in place to be sure you finish well?


Cherie said...

Angela, I will catch up next week once my conference is over. Logistics have put me back on my time line and I still have so much to do..

Thinking about you and praying for you.. Can't wait to dig in with you and the rest of the ladies.. I love the book of James!! {{hugs}}


Shelley said...

It is so true that we live in an opposite world mentality - what the world deems success is not success at all. Bigger is not always better and sometimes this mindset can creep into the church as well - a mega church is a blessed church - small churches - not so much. It's like the verse I was just teaching the chicklets this past 'The Lord does not look at what man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance - but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

I did not seem my 'humbled' state as a blessing at first - it was hard and it hurt - but I do look back and thank the Lord for knowing we could come through it even though we felt like we couldn't. It is HE that perfects the work in ME ... sweet relief.

I consider myself in a rich state right now - I see Gods hand moving in our ministry lives and I feel blessed BUT I am quick to not think the blessing is all about me - it's about His kingdom work and that alone keeps me humble.

Right now my heart is focused on the Word and knowing it for myself! And TRYING to pass along to others the small bit I know.

I am VERY tempted to be a lone ranger. I tend to walk of the side of introvert - that is my natural tendency - but I see how the Lord takes us out of our comfort zones and makes us walk in places where we NEED Him and where we recognize our low estate without Him. So all that to say that even though my tendency is to be alone I am walking beside His people and I do enjoy them.

My steps are simple - stay in the Word!! and act on it!!

Thanks friend.

Robin said...

Shelley I agree with everything you said.
The smaller churches are just as important and atelier the ones I prefer. There were small cluster churches in Biblical days also and look at what God used them to do.
I also used to get frustrated that the wealthy keep getting wealthy and that the poor struggle so much.
James reminds me how it is only temporary and our focus should be on God and His Word.
Every time my husband and I go through a trial God comes through as His Word promises, He's so faithful.
As for walking alone, I tried that, lol it doesn't work. We're meant to serve God as a body, not just a finger. I'm over our counseling ministry but we work together as a team.

Shelley said...

Oh Robin your comment about the churches in Jesus day is right on. And God is SOOO faithful to His Word - it's the only way we survive our trials - thanks for commenting :)

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