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091101 How To Live Your Faith 01 Grow Up!


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Sermon 1 in a series on the Book of James, presented November 1, 2009, at Palm Desert Church of Christ, by Dale Wells.

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091101 How To Live Your Faith 01 Grow Up!

  1. 1.
  2. 2. Folks who grow old don’t always grow up<br />Difference between age and maturity<br />The older we are, the more mature we should be<br />Often the ideal does not become the reality<br />The result is interpersonal problems<br />In personal lives<br />In homes<br />In churches<br />Cause: Immaturity more than anything else<br />If we’d grow up, we’d be victors, not victims<br />
  3. 3. James wrote to help us understand & attain spiritual maturity<br />James 1:4 NIV Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.<br />J.B. Phillips translates this: “you find you have become men of mature character, men of integrity with no weak spots.”<br />
  4. 4. We’re beginning a series of lessons from the Book of James<br />Beginning a study is like preparing for a like to know ahead of time:<br />Where you are going<br />What you can expect to see<br />The best way to launch our study is to answer some basicquestions<br />
  5. 5. Who was James?<br />There are several men by this name in the New Testament<br />
  6. 6. Who wrote the Book of James?<br />
  7. 7. James, son of Zebedee and brother of John<br />A fishermancalled by Christ<br />Matthew 4:18-22 NIV As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. (19) “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” (20) At once they left their nets and followed him. (21) Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, (22) and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.<br />
  8. 8. The brothers were nicknamed “Sons of Thunder”<br />Mark 3:17 NIV James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder)<br />Luke 9:51-56 NIV As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. (52) And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; (53) but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. (54) When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” (55) But Jesus turned and rebuked them, (56) and they went to another village.<br />
  9. 9. Killed by Herod in 44 A.D.<br />Acts 12:1-2 NIV It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. (2) He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.<br />
  10. 10. James, son of Alphaeus<br />Another of the apostles<br />Matthew 10:2-4 NIV These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; (3) Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; (4) Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.<br />Little is known about him<br />No indication that this James wrote the book<br />
  11. 11. James, the brother of Jesus<br />Likely candidate as author of this book<br />Even though he doesn’t claim the honor of being Jesus’ brother<br />James 1:1 NIV James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.<br />
  12. 12. Jesus had a brother named James<br />Matthew 13:55 NIV “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?<br />Jesus’ brothers did not believe in him<br />John 7:5 NIV For even his own brothers did not believe in him.<br />
  13. 13. But after the resurrection & an appearance, he became a disciple<br />1 Corinthians 15:7 NIV Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,<br />Acts 1:14 NIV They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.<br />
  14. 14. James became a leader of the church in Jerusalem<br />Galatians 2:9 NIV James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.<br />
  15. 15. When Peter was delivered from prison, he sent word to James<br />Acts 12:17 NIV Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the brothers about this,” he said, and then he left for another place.<br />
  16. 16. He played an important role in the conference at Jerusalem<br />Acts 15:13-21 NIV When they finished, James spoke up: “Brothers, listen to me. (14) Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. … (19) “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. (20) Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. …”<br />
  17. 17. When Paul visited Jerusalem, he brought greetings to James<br />Acts 21:17-19 NIV When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers received us warmly. (18) The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. (19) Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.<br />
  18. 18. What kind of man was James?<br />Tradition says he was a man of prayer<br />His knees were as hard as a camel’s<br />Explains his emphasis on prayer in the letter<br />Tradition says he was martyred in 62 A.D.<br />Thrown from temple & beaten with clubs<br />“Forgive them, they know not what they do”<br />Most likely this man wrote the letter<br />
  19. 19. To whom did James write this letter?<br />James 1:1 NIV James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.<br />
  20. 20. Who were “the twelve tribes”?<br />
  21. 21. “Twelve tribes” most likely refers to people of Israel, the Jewish nation<br />Acts 26:6-7 NIV And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our fathers that I am on trial today. (7) This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. O king, it is because of this hope that the Jews are accusing me.<br />
  22. 22. Who was “scattered among the nations”?<br />
  23. 23. Jews were scattered throughout different nations<br />Acts 2:5-11 NIV Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. … (9) Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, (10) Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (11) (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs …”<br />
  24. 24. James wrote to Jewish Christians<br />Nineteen times he calls them “brothers”<br />Brothers “in the Lord” and not “in the flesh”<br />James 2:1 NIV My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.<br />He envisions them as “firstfruits” of God’s creation in James 1:18<br />
  25. 25. These Jewish Christians were poor & oppressed<br />As Jews, they were rejected by Gentiles<br />As Christians, they were rejected by Jews<br />The letter indicates most of them were poor& some were being oppressed by the rich<br />James 2:6-7 NIV But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? (7) Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?<br />
  26. 26. Why did James write this letter?<br />
  27. 27. People were having problems in their personal lives & in the church<br />They were going through difficult trials<br />They were facing temptations to sin<br />They were hearers, but not necessarily doers<br />Some catered to the rich; others oppressed by the rich<br />Some competing for positions in the church<br />Improper use of the tongue was a problem<br />Worldliness was infecting their lives<br />Some were straying from the faith<br />
  28. 28. These problems plague the church in the 21st Century, as in the 1st<br />People suffer for one reason or another<br />Christians talk one way, but walk another<br />Worldliness is a serious problem<br />Some can’t control their tongues<br />James deals with “up-to-date” problems<br />
  29. 29. But these are not unrelated problems<br />Their common cause: spiritual immaturity<br />These Christians needed to “grow up”<br />The problems James dealt with are characteristic of little children<br />
  30. 30. Impatience in difficulties<br />James 1:2-4 NIV Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, (3) because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (4) Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.<br />
  31. 31. Talking but not living the truth<br />James 2:14-17 NIV What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? (15) Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. (16) If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? (17) In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.<br />
  32. 32. Lack of control over the tongue<br />James 3:1-2 NIV Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. (2) We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.<br />
  33. 33. Fighting and coveting<br />James 4:1-3 NIV What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? (2) You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. (3) When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.<br />
  34. 34. Collecting material “toys”<br />James 5:1-5 NIV Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. (2) Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. (3) Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. … (5) You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.<br />
  35. 35. The first & most important theme of James is the need to grow up<br />James uses the word “perfect” several times<br />James 3:2 NIV We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.<br />Teleios when applied to a person, means “mature” not “perfect”<br />James did not mean a sinless man, but one who is mature, balanced,“grown-up”<br />
  36. 36. Spiritual maturity is one of the greatest needs in churches today<br />God is looking for mature men and women to carry on His work<br />Sometimes all He can find are little children who cannot even get along with each other!<br />“Too many churches are playpens for babies instead of workshops for adults.”<br />James’ letter is very relevant today!<br />
  37. 37. How can we get the most out of this letter?<br />
  38. 38. First, we must be “born again”<br />James assumes his readers have been born again<br />James 1:18 NIV He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.<br />This assumes obedience to the Word of God<br />1 Peter 1:22-23 NIV Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. (23) For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.<br />
  39. 39. First, we must be “born again”<br />It also assumes water baptism<br />Titus 3:4-7 NIV But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, (5) he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, (6) whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, (7) so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.<br />
  40. 40. Second, we must honestly examine our lives against God’s Word<br />James compares the Word of God to a mirror<br />James 1:22-24 NIV Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (23) Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror (24) and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.<br />We’re looking into the divine mirror to see ourselves, “warts and all”<br />We must be honest about what we see and not merely glance at the image and walk away<br />
  41. 41. Third, we must obey God, whatever the cost<br />We must be “doers” of the Word, and not “hearers” only<br />The “blessing” does not come in studying the Word, but in doing the Word<br />James 1:25 NIV But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.<br />
  42. 42. Fourth, we must be prepared for some trials & testing<br />If you want to grow up, expect some trials<br />James 1:2-4 NIV Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, (3) because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (4) Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.<br />In the end it will be worth it!<br />James 1:12 NIV Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.<br />
  43. 43. Finally, we must measure our spiritual growth by the Word of God<br />We should not measure ourselves by comparing ourselves to other Christians – <br />2 Corinthians 10:12 NIV We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.<br />But by the Word of God & the Son of God<br />
  44. 44. Not everyone who grows old grows up<br />Just because a Christian has been saved 10, 20, or 60 years does not guarantee that he or she is mature in the Lord<br />
  45. 45. Mature Christians are:<br />Happy Christians, despite trials they face<br />Useful Christians, overcoming temptations<br />Encouraging Christians who build their local churches<br />As we study James together, may we, with God’s help grow and mature together<br />