Rather than “Corrosive Faith”, which’ to be frank, sounds a little bit depressing … a better title for today’s message would be:The secret power of the early church, OR the secret power of the persecuted church, OR the secret power of the prevailing church, OR the secret power of the victorious church.In the next two weeks we are going to be talking about what has encouraged and motivated the church at crucial points in her mission down through the millennia.And, we’re going to talk a bit about money, because that is what the passage is about this morning!So, I’m going to start with three short storiesThe first of which is a story about James … and this will bring us up to do date with our series …
James, a leader in the first Church ever, based in Jerusalem.Jesus came, in ‘stealth mode’ … it was bit different than people had expected.The Messiah was meant to be this conquering King who would kick out the Romans and sort out all the problems.2. Not just the Apostles. Others too! The Holy Spirit has been poured out.It’s great … amazing … a bit freaky … and it’s not always clear what’s going on.3. I mean, three thousand on the day of Pentecost alone and loads of others, including, disturbingly for some, many priests.4. There was organized opposition to the growing Jesus movement … not least from the people who had arranged to kill Jesus!5. To Jewish enclaves about the place, both inside and outside of the Roman Empire.6. Poverty, exploitation, suffering and abuse … for many.James is writing to these people … and he wants to encourage them … but what’s he going to tell them … how can he encourage them?What is the secret power that will help sustain them, that will encourage them to keep going … even when everything is hard? But just before I answer that I want to get to my second story … it’s a story about Paul the Apostle … a murderous persecutor of the followers of Jesus.
There are people alive today, that if they thought they could join us this morning, they would count it a privilege. Taliban believers.
Well, I shared with them the secret power of the early church, it was the message of Paul to the Thessalonians, and of James to the Scattered believersIt was also the message of Jesus, John and the other apostles … so what was it?Jesus is coming back!It’s not enough to know that God is with you in the midst of it all … he is … but Judgment is coming and Jesus is returning soon.
Most of the letter from James is written to people having a really hard time … because they are following Jesus.Before Easter Nik gave the one exception to this … some of the believers who had fled Jerusalem, had good money, possessions and even property outside of Jerusalem. They were ran businesses and traded … but they were relying on their wealth to keep them out of trouble … they were being arrogant and not trusting in God.This passage is not talking about them. These are not rich Christians acting arrogantly. These are rich inhabitants in various places who are taking advantage of the poor … and particularly these Christians.Do you see yourself in this passage? Probably not. Maybe a bit?
1. Corrosive Faith [James 5:1-6] (11/14) 7th April 2013
2. James … brother of Jesus …1. Messianic fulfilment of the Ages has happened!2. Signs, wonders and miracles from the Apostles.3. Explosive growth of the church.4. Serious, murderous opposition and persecution.5. Many believers flee, and scatter around Empire.6. … but trouble keeps coming. How does he help? … a leader in the Jerusalem church.
3. Paul, an unexpected convert …1. He can’t shut up about Jesus.2. He always get’s a reaction … positive or negative!3. What happened in Thessalonica. [Acts 17]4. Escape, persecution and the ‘model church’.5. “out of our intense longing we made every effort”6. Q. What does he say to encourage them ? … and ‘least’ of the Apostles.
4. A chilly Easter Sunrise service1. Last Sunday, ‘Churches Together’ in Redhill2. Redhill Common, 6:00am, - 4oC3. Will, frozen fingers … and an out of tune guitar4. Communion and a message of hope.5. Q. What did I say to encourage them ? … and only 5mins to speak!
5. Handling troubles in life …1. God IS at work – Get wisdom … it’s available.2. When things are bad – Watch your tongue.3. Seriously, trust in God – Don’t be arrogant.4. Life’s not fair – But … Judgement is coming.5. And Jesus is coming back – So … Live ready. … what do we learn from James?
6. James 5: 1-3Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail becauseof the misery that is coming on you. 2 Your wealthhas rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosionwill testify against you and eat your flesh like fire.You have hoarded wealth in the last days.
7. James 5: 4-6Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers whomowed your fields are crying out against you.The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears ofthe Lord Almighty. 5 You have lived on earth in luxuryand self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves inthe day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned andmurdered the innocent one, who was not opposingyou.
8. … so, about the money …1. Get it honestly – It’s OK to have money!2. Don’t hoard – Spending it is good!3. Don’t cheat – Treat people well, win friends.4. Don’t indulge yourself … Wealth can corrode.5. Don’t abuse your influence … Pursue humility. … what’s the deal ?
9. AND FINALLY…Jesus IS coming back … … what do you think about that?