Forged In Faith: Part 8
All right well I am excited to be with you guys today to share the word.
We’ve been in the book of James this summer and it has been a great reminder of how to do this thing called faith. Last week Rev Jim talked about the desire that we have right in our hearts and that desire was put in our hearts to draw closer to God, to walk with God, but in the garden everything changed.
Our desire became divided when we took from the tree of knowledge and good and evil and that changed
everything. We have to really understand when we come into it. This is what James is reminding us is that we
have this divided desire. That the desire was intended to be used to long for God, to desire to reach for him. But when the fall happened in the garden and now we often desire things for our own interest and for our own will. That’s where this kind of rub comes
James is passionate about reminding his church that there’s some things that we’re going to have to do in order to live this new life in Christ. We’re going to have to be understanding that we can’t go back to our old ways, right? And we can’t do it on our own will and our own power.
That’s what the Holy Spirit was sent for, to be our advocate our guide, and our counsel. To give us the wisdom and knowledge and understanding of what is a self-desired will, versus the very will of God. The Holy Spirit would help us with the struggle that we have.
That he would give us this wholehearted desire back over this divided desire. That he would help us, to love God and trust in His will, in His way.
I went to the gym this week, I’m trying to get back into it. I feel so much better when I go. It was interesting – one lady walked in and she said, “They said today was leg day.” And she literally got her water bottle, turned around and walked out the door.
Someone noticed it and said, “We have an escapee!”. So the coach went after and she said, “Nope not doing leg day it’s too hard and I don’t want to do it”. Before we even got started somebody else was complaining about the workout. The coach said, “Look I didn’t write the workout I’m just here to show you how it’s done.”
I thought to myself that’s what James is trying to do for us.
Rev Jim has set every chapter up over the summer saying these are not the words of Jim these are the words of James.
He steps on our toes a little bit because he points out the things that we’re so inclined to do that we naturally want to do. He’s kind of reminding us, listen if you have a whole heart of devotion to God, right, if you turn away from your own desires there’s this abundant life. But it’s gonna take some work. I think that’s what’s so powerful about the faith and the fitness community, is that both communities need each other. People need each other right? Because working out and trying to get healthy is hard and trying to walk in our faith in a world that is it’s throwing things at us left and right is hard. That’s why we need community, that’s why we need each other.
So James is really pretty much trying to tell us how to be forged in faith and how to walk out this thing, this new life in Christ. So let’s just go through some things. We’re getting ready to hit the last chapter next week, but this kind of sets us up for today’s teaching. At the end of chapter four.
James is taking us through: he says we’ve got to tame the tongue. He says the tongue is meant for evil. That it either speaks life or death, and we tend to sometimes speak before we think. He says to be quick to listen slow to anger and slow to speak. He tells us that we’re going to have to persevere under trial.
That’s going to happen if we walk out this thing called faith, we’re going to have to understand that we will have suffering. That we’ll have to persevere through that. He reminds us that faith without deeds is dead. So what he’s saying basically is that if you have this gift called faith, that when you go out into the world and you share it with others, it produces an eternal fruit for the kingdom of heaven.
We are saved by grace it’s nothing that we can do it’s a gift that’s been given to us, but now this beautiful gift is
meant to be shared. So that’s what he’s telling us about that.
Then he talks a lot about humility, and I really feel like that’s something that I know I struggle with and I think right now with social media we all have a platform, we all have an opinion. We all have ideas that we want to throw out there and oftentimes we need to just humble ourselves, right and pull back and realize that not everything is worth engaging in because it’s not bearing fruit for eternity. It’s just it needs we just need to let it go and that takes humility to do that. James reminds us about wisdom heavenly wisdom that comes from above not wisdom earthly wisdom that we move and breathe in. And all of these things are gonna forge us in our faith. But he talks about, in chapter four, at the very end of chapter four, he talks yet again about the tongue about the mouth and
listen to what he says this is in
James 4 : 11-12. Brothers and Sisters do not slander one another anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law you’re not keeping it but sitting in judgment on it. There’s only one lawgiver and judge the one who is able to save and destroy but you, who are you to judge your neighbor.
Okay so here it is, here’s the part where James is stepping on our toes again. Because we have to admit that we have all said and spoken things about our neighbor without truly understanding what they were going through. How many times have we pulled out our judgment seat. We look at a situation from afar. We don’t know the deep-seated details of what’s happening and we start to judge the situation.
I know as a child, I remember when I was in school there was this kid – and I’m thinking about our kids that are going back to school – that was such a bully. I mean everything she said was horrific. She picked on people and you know it was like, and I wasn’t walking with the Lord at that time. I was in church, I was in Sunday school, so I knew about Him, but I didn’t really understand it. But there was something in my heart, I believe now that it was compassion, that made me want to know her story. What made her so mean? What made her so evil in the eyes of so many people? Nobody wanted to be around her. Nobody wanted to talk to her because she just did all you know she’d flip your books when you were walking through the hall.
And so one day I did, I sat down with her and I started to talk to her. And now I know as an adult there’s a lot of people like this. I call them a “toasted marshmallow” right on the outside they’re all crusty and crunchy, but if you poke just a tiny little bit all that hurt, all that that stuff that’s buried down deep oozes out.
I began to find out that this little girl had a very hard life. That she struggled with loneliness and depression that she struggled with being alone. But she repelled people because of her behavior but deep down inside there was something that desperately needed attention.
I look back on my life and I know I’ve done that. I’ve judged people not fully knowing their hurts, their pains, their
background, their story. And maybe I’ve spoken about them in ways that I shouldn’t have. So I think James pretty
much hits an area that we all must agree that we’ve done it at some point in time in our life.
In fact, Mother Teresa says if you judge people you have no time to love them. That’s that double-minded thing right. That’s that part that motive, that if you either are gonna love, right or you’re gonna judge. You can’t sit in both. And that’s what James is telling us, he’s reminding us that this royal law, this law is to love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself. And if you’re sitting in judgment then it’s not possible to do that. So judging is a divided desire.
There’s six things that the Lord hates and I think this is a great reminder of us what James is talking about. This is a great reminder that comes straight out of scripture. This comes right out of
Proverbs 6:16-19 This is what six things that the lord hates actually seven that are an abomination to him: a proud look, arrogant, haughty, elevating one over another, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, destroy another person’s character, a heart that desires or devises wicked plans, that’s with a mouth that intends to hurt someone, feet that are swift to run to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren,
So I think it’s safe to say that James is reminding us of a pitfall that’s easy to get into and reminds us that we cannot
judge our neighbor and love them at the same time. But what I really want to anchor on today is the second part
of James 4. Towards the end he talks about humility yet once again so this is in this is what James tells us now listen:
James 4 13-17 You who say today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there,
carry on business and make money. Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.
What is your life? You are a miss that appears for a little while and vanishes. Instead you ought to
say if it is the Lord’s will we will live and do this or that. As it is you boast in your arrogant
schemes all such boasting is evil. If anyone then knows the good they ought to
do and doesn’t do it it is sin for them.
Wow, James throws down some really hard things to hear. He talks about arrogance and moving things in our own will and in our own way and he uses the word evil, actually, that if we do if we have the ability to do good and we don’t. Once again he’s trying to remind us of this divided desire that we have of a double-minded motive.
They’re just going to take humility to walk this thing called faith. I look back at what he’s trying to help us see and I see Adam and Eve. You know in the very beginning God ‘s will was for them to live an abundant life. He gave them everything they could possibly need but when they took their own will and they chose to eat from the tree of knowledge and good and evil, all of a sudden now their desire, their longing, and reaching for their Lord that walked among the garden with them. Now their desire was double-minded and even the curse that was put on Adam.
Adam used to depend on the fruits of the earth. The food the nutrients that they would have for God to provide it but now with this curse that he would have to walk through he would have to be dependent on himself and see how that further separates us from God. Adam begins to see that if things aren’t growing the way they need to be then he needs to be doing more. He’s not trusting that God is the one who provides.
I look at Sarah, you know Sarah desired a child and it was promised that it would come. And in her impatience in her double-mindedness she wanted a child and she wanted a child over trusting in God ‘s ability to provide one. So what does she do now? She involves her husband, she involves Hagar, her maidservant, and also an unborn child that would be Ishmael. So this divided desire complicates things.
I would look at Moses. Even Moses got caught up in it. When they’re out in the wilderness you know the Lord tells him to strike the rock and it will provide water for them in Meribah so he does that right but now he had had 40 years with these Israelites complaining about everything. So the next time they come to this place where they need water, God says this time I want you to speak to the rock. What does Moses do? Moses is now dependent on his own way not on God ‘s way. So Moses doesn’t speak to the rock he takes the staff and strikes it just like he did before. And at that moment we know that Moses will not enter into the promised land because Moses is no longer walking in the will of God. He’s now got this dependence on himself.
The disciples were no different they knew the coming messiah. They knew that Jesus was the coming messiah they knew that the kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven was going to happen. They knew all the oppressors were going to be tumbled down they wanted to see power they wanted to see position they asked him what place do we sit at the table? Where are we? When is this kingdom coming?
The same thing, they’ve got this divided desire to understand what’s happening, and Jesus reminds them no one
knows, no one knows but the Father. Even Jesus is aware of his place in the Trinity. He knows that the will is of the Father and he knows that the only one who has the knowledge and wisdom of when that kingdom will come into full fruition is his Father in heaven; in fact
Matthew 6 24 says no one can serve two masters for either he will hate the one and love the other or else
he will be loyal to the one and despise the other you cannot serve God and man or mammon wealth.
So what does that mean? Does that mean that we shouldn’t obtain wealth and riches. Not at all. We’ve been given the gifts and the ability to do it. It’s what we do with it through our heart. It’s a heart issue right. It’s not that we can’t obtain wealth and riches it’s what do. Do we understand that that is from the will that God has blessed us with
that. Or do we think that it’s in our own strength?
In fact the unwise builder is a great example of what that looks like. You know the story right? The farmer plants and he sees this incredible abundance of grain, and so he decides and he talks to himself. He’s actually in the scripture he’s not even talking to God. He’s not even saying God if it’s your will for me to multiply this, to have more silos for me to store the grain. If this is your will then I’ll do it. He’s actually having a conversation with himself. Just you know look at what I’ve done. Look at what I did. Oh my goodness I need more more more more and more.
And so he builds more silos and he fills them and what he doesn’t realize is that the end of the way the parable ends is that that he passes. That the Lord says your life will come you will be brought to home today so all this work that you’ve done on your own will is for nothing. And so that’s a reminder to us right that this divided desire, it doesn’t have eternal fruit. It doesn’t bear eternal fruit for the kingdom of heaven. A divided house cannot stand right.
So the unwise parable reminds me that we all do the exact same thing. We plan for our retirement, we invest money and we think okay at these certain years we can retire and live pretty comfortably. We make plans for travel, we make plans for buying a house, and then we look at just these past few years and what all that looks like. A pandemic comes and so investments are plummeting, travel is halted. And now as we’re going back into an opportunity to travel, there’s training and staffing issues and all kinds of things that are impacting that.
We look at trying to buy a house there’s a it’s an unprecedented market for the house for a house market right now. So trying to buy a house isn’t easy. and we get caught up in the fear and the anxiety of trying to control things of this world right and we fail to remember that we’ve been given a desire for one thing and that’s do the will of God. And in that comes peace and wisdom and knowledge. It comes an understanding that some of the things of this earth that will rust and the moths will eat really aren’t anything that we need to be concerned about. But see we see it. It’s right in front of us and so it’s hard to not pay attention. That’s what James is trying to remind us to look beyond that.
My mom used to say “you can’t see the forest for the trees”. James is saying you gotta look beyond the earthly treasures because there’s an eternal treasure that’s at work here now through the power and presence of the holy spirit.
John Christensen, he’s an early church father, he this is what he says he says “We are only temporary guests on earth we recognize that the houses in which we live serve only as hostels on the road to eternal life. we do not seek peace or security from the material walls around us and the roof above our heads whether we want to surround ourselves with a wall of divine grace and we look upward to heaven to our roof and the fruit furniture of our lives should be the good works performed in the spirit of love. Love first.”
I love how he tells us that that we’re like it’s like a hostel if you’ve ever been in a hostel you know it’s communal living right it’s usually tired and weary travelers are just wanting a place to kind of lay their head and rest and so it was interesting that’s what we are right. We’re all travelers, we’re on this journey towards eternity.
So in order for God ‘s divine grace and spirit of love it’s gonna take us a wholehearted approach. Now I want you to think about what does it mean to be wholehearted?
Let me see I’ve got the definition I wanted to share it with you. Wholehearted. Okay so we’ll just think about this what
does it mean to be wholehearted right. Well if you’re going into surgery you want your surgeon all in right you want
your surgeon wholehearted in what they’re doing you don’t want them thinking about where they’re going for lunch or what their evening plans are you want them focused on fixing what it is in your body that needs to be repaired.
You think about a pilot. I’m not a fan of flying which is interesting. I was going to be a flight attendant right out of
high school and now I’m just I’m not a big fan of it. But I know if I want to go places I’m going to have to do it. But I
know that I want my pilot when that pilot gets behind that cockpit, I want them all in. I don’t want them thinking
about family issues, I don’t want them thinking about investments or other stressors in their life. I want them all in getting that plane in the air and bringing that thing down.
I also think about our spouses. I think about you know in our marriages, in our family, we want spouses that are all in and committed. Even when things get difficult and challenging we want to know that they’re wholehearted and devoted. That it’s not divided.
I think about the athlete the one that we all cheer for the underdog right. We know that the odds are against them but they have a wholehearted commitment and discipline to their skill and they work so hard at it and when we see them in victory we see them win right it brings such joy because we see what the power of a wholehearted devotion can
look like. And this is what James is telling us. So what does wholehearted mean? This is what Miriam Webster says in
the dictionary: “Completely and sincerely devoted. Determined or enthusiastic,marked by complete and earnest commitment. Free from all reserve and hesitation.”
So now the Hebrew word for wholehearted is tamin and this is what this means in Hebrew: “Complete, whole, entire or sound in the sense of being unimpaired and innocent.”
So this is what’s important James is telling us to not be arrogant in our own will, in our own ways, but to have a wholehearted devotion to God ‘s will and understanding that God ‘s will is far greater than anything that we could desire.
A couple people come to mind when I think about that. My girl Esther. I think about Esther and this is what passage
Esther 4:14 For if you remain silent at this time relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place. But you and your father’s family will perish and who knows but you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.
If you know the story of Esther, it’s a true Cinderella story. She’s an orphan that is brought into the palace. She becomes the queen of Persia. She knows her role and her position. She is protected and kept away from all the busybodies of the castle. She has people with her but word gets to her that there that Mordechai has planned something against or Haman sorry. Haman has planned something against the Jews and that Jews would die and that she was a Jewish girl that had kept her identity quiet. She’s now the queen of Persia but she has an opportunity to speak to the king. And in her obedience right she humbles herself before the Lord she says the life of all of these Jews are more important than mine. If it’s God ‘s will I will not perish and if it is I have done my duty. I have shared what I needed to share. I’ve used my humility and I have had God ‘s will over my own.
And we know what happens her voice frees the Jews and they still celebrate her today. It’s a wholehearted will to God over self.
And then you can’t not think of our Lord and Savior Jesus who was the example for all of us to emulate. He was the one that that showed humility by putting on flesh and stepping out of heaven and coming to earth. He’s the one that showed humility at the cross. we know the verse in
Luke 22:42 Father if it is your will take this cup away from me. Nevertheless not my will, but Your will be done.
Wholehearted devotion to God over self Jesus spoke it he said it in fact he
says this to us as well in
John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me
Matthew 24:36 However no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen not even the angels in heaven or the son himself. Only the Father knows.
Ssee the humility and that scripture even Jesus knows that he is not aware, the angels are not aware, only God the Father. It is a devoted desire a wholehearted devoted desire for the God the will of God. And then in
Matthew 12:50 for whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother
So Jesus is saying if you do the will of God right you are part of this family, this eternal family, this kingdom come
family. So we’re left with this question: is it even possible to live a wholehearted devotion to God ‘s will over
self? And I think it is. In fact, I think when Jesus gives the disciples the prayer that’s the prayer that brings us
into this place of humility that’s the prayer that brings us from this divided desire right with mixed motives and brings us into a focused wholehearted desire and lifestyle to walk out this prayer.
But we say it so often and just from memory we don’t think of the depth of it. In fact what if the Lord’s Prayer became our anthem. I want us to say it together right now, out loud, just with every part of your being.
And I want you to think about this prayer setting the course for a wholehearted desire and life to walk out
this thing called faith that it forges us each and every day. Just like James is telling us we’re going to come up against the things that will rust and that the moths will devour, but we have our face set on the kingdom that’s eternal. And that if we walk out God ‘s will in our lives, that we’ll see an abundance that we would never see if we just live it for ourself.
In fact we’ll stop letting life live us and we’ll live life. So I want us to say this together. This time say it and with a deeper understanding that it is our anthem that it is our wholehearted pursuit of the will of God. Together:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
You see in that prayer there’s humility. We put God above anything and everyone else. In that prayer there’s forgiveness. In that prayer there’s a dependence ,not that we work the land for the food but that God is the one who actually provides it for us. In that prayer there is a cry for a dependence and an understanding that goes beyond anything that we could do on our own.
And so with that in mind today I hope you walk out understanding that a wholehearted devotion is possible. That Jesus came as a bridge for us to take this divided desire we have and to continue to reach and long and desire the will of the Father in heaven. He showed us how to do it. His brother James continues to preach it to us to teach it to tell us it’s going to rub up against the rest of the world but remember you’re just a traveler passing through.
That your eye is set on eternity. And while you’re here you might as well bear fruit for that kingdom that eternal
Let’s pray together:
Dear Heavenly and Precious Father,
Wwe are just so thankful that we have these incredible scriptures that speak to the depths of our heart it doesn’t matter that it was written so long ago because regardless of what’s happening in the culture and the world around us the heartbeat is still the children of God. And we do we struggle with this divided desire. We try to control and hold on to things and that’s when our heart hardens and that’s where our mind is blocked from growing or learning because we try to understand something that we can totally hold on to but James reminds us that a divided desire cannot stand fear and anxiety will come in to humble ourself to understand that that wholehearted desire that’s where life truly begins living for the will of God and sharing for eternal kingdom not just here on earth.
We ask that you keep this prayer close to our heart that we say it this week in a way that we understand it in a deeper level not just by memory but an anthem and a cry of our heart to keep focused on the kingdom of heaven
We ask all this in the mighty name of your precious son Jesus Christ. And all God ‘s church said
Well thanks so much I’ve enjoyed being with you I pray that you have an incredible back-to-school week if you’re
got a parent or if you’ve got kids or your grandparents I know our grandparents are all in and devoted to their kids as well so they’re anxious too so have a great week but in the name of the creator of all the world in the name of our loving savior Jesus Christ.
And in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit may you go and start letting start living life with a wholehearted desire for your creator and his will because that is where the abundant life is have a great week and we’ll see you again next Sunday bye!