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Let Him Pray


James 5:13-18

As you look at this passage of scripture the general subject is prayer.

He has dealt with all these various problems and now, if these people were going to be able to over come these problems…if they were going to be as united as they were supposed to be…these people were going to have to be a praying people.

So in this passage, James tells them…but not only them…he tells us, as God’s people to pray. But James doesn’t just tell us to pray…he gives us some specific times WHEN we should pray.

Let’s look at the passage. In verse 13 James says, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.”

What should you pray for? Well, let me make a few suggestions.

When you are going through a hard time…some times you can face some pretty strong temptations.

Remember what we call the Lords prayer found in Matthew 6. Remember what Christ told his disciples to pray for?

Another thing you can pray for is the REMOVAL OF THE SUFFERING.

But then, just like Paul’s situation with the thorn in the flesh…the Lord may choose not to remove the suffering.

Also, in a time of suffering you might pray for the one who is causing the hardship.

I don’t know that they will change…you can certainly pray that they will.

These are some things you can pray for in the midst of suffering.

But now, what if you are not suffering? Well, James says: Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises.”

Now, look at verse 14. This is one of the most difficult passages of scripture in all the Bible. James says: Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.”

 This passage has caused a lot of people to feel guilty and question whether there really is a God.

So what is it that James is talking about here?

First of all, when James speaks of being “sick” here…he is speaking of a physical illness or infirmity.

So James says, “If anyone among you is sick…let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, and anoint him with oil, in the name of the Lord.”

But then there is the idea that these verses are not talking about a miraculous healing…but a providential healing.

And the one who is sick is to “let the elders pray over him.”

And James says that  the elders are to “anoint the sick man with oil in the name of the Lord.”

So what you have here is apparently a combining of prayer and medicine for the sick.

And notice James says that this is to be done “in the name of the Lord.”

And now, verse 15: …and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up,

Here is the tough verse.

I can tell you that I do not know all the answers on this verse…but let me share with you some thoughts and you can decide.

First of all, the term “prayer offered in faith.”

James says, “a prayer offered in faith will restore…or save…or deliver from danger…the one who is sick…and the Lord will raise him up.”

 Now, at first glance, this verse seems to be an absolute.

But then that brings up the question of Paul and his thorn in the flesh found in 2 Cor. 12?

And what about the old, the aged.? If this is absolute then the old would not suffer illness and die.

So the question is, IS THIS VERSE AN ABSOLUTE?

Well, let me remind you of an important principle of prayer. Look with me at 1 John 5:14.

14 And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

 Listen, you can ask for anything you want…but then trust God to grant that request…according to His will.

The point is, we cannot see the big picture…we do not know all that God is doing.

And look at the end of verse 15.  James says, “and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.”

But, more times than not the illness is not due to a person committing sin..

But, sometimes when a person is sick…especially a serious illness…that illness can cause him to sin.

Sometimes an illness can cause us to reflect on our lives and make us realize that we may have not lived the way God wanted us to in healthier times.

Verse 16:  Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.

I do not believe that is what this is talking about.

Now the end of verse 16: The effective or fervent prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

And then James gives us an illustration or example of what prayer can do. Vs. 17:

7 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit.


Wait Patiently For The Lord


James 5:7-11

This morning God, through James, is going to ask each of us to do one of the most difficult things that we, as followers of Christ, could be asked to do!

I would like for you to look with me at vs. 1 of James 5.

 Vs. 4 says, Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth (Host).

Now vs. 6:  You (the rich) have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.

Now, if someone did this to you, how would you respond?

Something like that would probably make us angry (quite evidently it did these brethren that James is writing to or he wouldn’t write what he does in the next few verses) And if something like this happened to us it would frustrate us…and it would tempt us to get even…to strike out…to retaliate.

The world would tell us to get even; to do unto them as they have done unto you…to get revenge.

Look again at verse 1, and I want you to notice that, even though it often seems that those who do these kinds of things get away with it, they really don’t.  Look what James says:

 1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!

 Now vs. 5: You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

 Those who cheat and swindle and mistreat others often think they have gotten away with what they have done; they are so proud of themselves; but God knows exactly what they did…and they will receive their just recompense.

Look at verse 7. James says:  Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.

Listen, when the Lord comes again…every deed will be brought to light.

 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.

 They may think they have gotten away with it…but they haven’t.

Remember 2 Corinthians 5:10? The apostle Paul says: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

 And this is the last verse of Ecclesiastes: For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether good or evil.

 The Lord knows the injustices; and He knows those who cheat and swindle; and He will take care of it…and as hard as it may be we must wait on the Lord.

In fact, remember what Romans 12:19 says: Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

So, it is not our place to exact revenge. The Lord will do that and we just have to be patient.

In fact, look at vs. 7again: Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.

We know what it is like to wait on rain don’t we.

But we probably had no idea that waiting for it to rain was the Lord’s way of training us to wait for His return.

And, just as the rain eventually comes; He will too.

Look at verse 8: You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

But, sometimes it isn’t easy to be patient…especially if someone is mistreating and cheating us like they were these people.

 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.

 When we are going through hardships…it is so easy to start finding fault with others, even those closest to us.

Remember the nation of Israel…how they complained against God…and against Moses and Aaron.

We do no good for anyone or ourselves when we become impatient and attack our leaders…or one another.

And if you or I think we can “grumble under our breath…murmur in such a way that no one hears us.”

If you and I think we can grumble in such way that no one can hear…well, look at vs. 9.

So James tells us to “be patient…the Lord is coming…and he tells us not to complain against one another.”

Now look at verse 10. He tells us to be encouraged by historical examples. Look at this. As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.

 James says, “Look at the prophets of old.

How do we count those men?

When people endure…and are patient…and wait on the Lord…even when they are persecuted…that is what they are.

Remember what Jesus says in Matthew 5:11.  Jesus says:

Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. 12 “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 Steadfastness while being mistreated…patient waiting for the Lord while being persecuted is powerful evidence of one’s genuine faithfulness…and constitutes an assurance of his eternal salvation.

In James 5:11 James mentions Job to encourage us. And he says: You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.

 Job suffered it all…except for death.

 And what did God do? Job 42:10

And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the LORD increased all that Job had twofold.

Now, I told you at the very beginning that what God asks us to do here would test our faith.

How we react to that kind of mistreatment will say a lot about our faith!

 It is not easy to simply let God handle it when we are cheated; swindled; and slandered.

Now, look at vs. 7 again. In vs. 7 James says that the “Lord is coming again. Just as sure as the rain eventually comes and brings forth the crops, the Lord is coming again.”

You and I do not want to be judged on our actions because no matter how good we have been we fall way short of God’s glory.


The Source of Conflicts


James 4:1-10

I have a picture that I want you to see.

Well, here in James 4, this is what is going on.

And I want you to notice what they are fighting about. James gives us some indications.

And if you go over to chapter 5:1-6 you’ll see that some of the conflict was apparently a result of unfair or perceived unfair employment practices…and the wages that were paid.

And if you look in chapter 3 you find that some wanted the “honor and recognition of being a teacher”…and there was jealousy and bitterness as a result.

Some of these Christians had come out of the Jewish religion….and they still wanted to draw on their Jewish background to make distinction between them and those who were out of the Gentile background.

So, here in James 4 the bride of Christ is fighting…and James deals with it. Look what he says beginning in verse 1.

 Vs. 1  What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you?

What James says here applies to all kinds of conflicts and quarrels.

Well, look what James says; vs. 1:

 Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; {so} you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; {so} you fight and quarrel.

 These Christians that James is writing to had different ones who were trying to satisfy their own agenda….they were seeking to gratify their own desires and lusts…

And other members were doing the same thing.

And James says they were “fighting and quarreling.”

Putting it simply, they were being selfish.

I really believe this is the source of the conflicts we see in marriages…and families…and through out the world.

And notice here, James says that they are so selfish that they are even carrying it over into their prayers.

But then some of them ask anyway…and look what James says in verse 3.

 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend {it} on your pleasures.

 You know, so many times you hear people say that “prayer” doesn’t work…that it doesn’t do any good to pray.

First of all…have the right motive behind what you ask for.

And the second reason it seems that prayer never works is because some never pray.

A petition unmade…or a petition made selfishly so you can satisfy your desires…well, you are right…in those instances prayer does not work.

Look at verse 4. James is going to mention another reason why these people are fighting.

 You adulteresses…”

He says, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship…and that word “friendship could be translated “fondness”.

He says, “You adulteresses, do  you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Three conflicts…or three wars mentioned in this passage…and these people are losing all three of them. (war with self; with others; with God)

So, what is the answer? What is the answer for these brethren and their conflicts?

Well, verse 7: Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

 I think it is interesting here that James says, “Resist the devil” in this context.

We get in these conflicts and we think our battle is against our brother or sister in Christ…or against our husbands or wives…

When we get in these conflicts we are doing just exactly what Satan wants.

And James says, “You get back in your proper rank”.

“And you resist the devil…and he will flee from you.”

Now, verse 8-10, James gives us the disposition that makes for peace; peace with God; peace in the church; peach in a marriage; peace between nations. Look what he says; vs. 8.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

 He mentions your hands here.

 He says, “purify your hearts.” That is to cleanse the inner being. Don’t just cleanse the inside of the dish, but cleanse the inside as well.

 Vs. 9   Be miserable and mourn and weep;

Let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom.

 Vs. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

And what will be the result of drawing near to God; and cleansing our hands; and purifying our hearts; and mourning over our sin; and humbling ourselves in His presence? The result will be peace: with God, in the church; in our marriages; and in our families; peace in the heart.










Let Not Many Become Teachers


James 3:1-18

Look at verse 1 again. I believe this is a verse that, in a very subtle way, is misused and let me tell you why I say that.

So, some who have the opportunity to teach…who have the ability to teach… use this verse to excuse themselves from teaching; perhaps from even trying to teach.

The only problem with that kind of thinking is the Parable of the Talents.

And remember the Great Commission: “Go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

So, I do not believe this passage here in James was meant to contradict our Lord or to give Christians an excuse not to teach.

I believe what James says here in vs. 1 has a completely different purpose…I believe it is intended to tell those who do teach…and who aspire to teach…to take their teaching responsibilities seriously.

Let me explain.

To begin, turn with me to Matthew 23: 1-7.

As we read this you are going to see one of the primary reasons some wanted to be “teachers.” Watch what Jesus says:

Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, 2 saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; 3 therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things, and do not do them. 4 “And they tie up heavy loads, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. 5 “But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries, and lengthen the tassels of their garments. 6 “And they love the place of honor at banquets, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called by men, Rabbi.

 Here is the motive that many had for becoming a teacher.

Listen, in Jewish society teachers were “somebody.”

So, out of this background James says, “Let not many of you become teachers.”

And, there are some tremendous ramifications that goes with being a teacher.

Look again at vs. 1: Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment.

James makes this statement to tell us, “When you teach, take your teaching seriously because God does.

Some of the old Jewish Rabbi’s taught and never gave any thought about accountability for what they were teaching.

So, what James says here is not intended to excuse us from teaching; it is a statement that says, “When you teach, teach the right things for the right reasons.”

Now, look at verse 2. James continues to speak in the context of teachers and teaching.

And James uses several illustrations to emphasize the influence and power of the tougue.

And as powerful and influential as bit is to a horse; and a rudder is to a ship; so also is the tongue! Look at vs. 5:

  So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.

Behold, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!

6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity (James is not saying here that nothing good comes from the tongue. Many good things come from what is said. But at the same time it contains a world of iniquity. It voices every evil feeling and every sinful act. Nothing evil is beyond its power of accomplishment); the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.

7 For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed, and has been tamed by the human race. 8 But no one can tame the tongue (as hard as we try; because we are not perfect; vs. 2); it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11 Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Neither can salt water produce fresh.

 Listen, because of the tongue…and the difficulty of controlling the tongue…and because of the inconsistencies we manifest through the tongue…teachers, but not only teachers but each of us, have great potential to do damage.

Teaching for the Lord is not a trivial thing…

But still we need and must have teachers…and so in verses 13-18 James gives instructions to those who, in spite of the accountability…and the potential to do damage, have opportunity to teach.

Look at this. Vs. 13:  Who among you is wise and understanding?

He says: Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.

 Those Old Jewish Rabbis… many of them weren’t morally or doctrinally sound.

Well, here James says that a teacher should show “by his good behavior…by his conduct that he is guided by wisdom…and thus qualified to be a teacher.

You/I may want to teach…but understand, our life style must manifest that we are credible enough to teach….because if our walk doesn’t agree with our talk we will destroy the credibility of what we are trying to teach.  .

 Look at verse 14:  But if you have bitter jealousy (Pharisees and Sadducees were extremely jealous of one another)  and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.

15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.  For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.

And sadly, today, many congregations have failed to learn this.

So, what is a teacher for God supposed to look like? James 3:17

17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

 Look at a man’s life….and if this is what you see…then he is a good candidate to be a teacher.

This is not a passage that gives us excuse to not teach. This is a passage that tells us to teach for the right things for the right reasons.

For all of us: There are many good ways to use our tongues; prayer, praise; encouragement; instruction. Let us all make a point to use our tongues with wisdom.



You Meant Evil God Used For Good


James 4:13-14

Unless you have been out of the country or have been in total seclusion we each know what happened this past week in Uvalde, Texas.

And one thing that came to my mind immediately, and I don’t mean to be depressing or discouraging, but my intent is to remind you of what God has told us and what the event in Uvalde confirms to us and that is: no one has a guarantee of tomorrow.

And it doesn’t have to be a mass casualty situation; it can be an accident; or a health issue; or even the “return of our Lord”;  but the reality is, none of us has the assurance of tomorrow.

 If I read my Bible right, if tomorrow doesn’t come for you or I, there are only two possibilities (heaven – 1 Peter 1:4) and (eternal punishment – Matthew 25:46) those are the only two possibilities and whichever it will be all depends on what you/I have done with Jesus.

Now, one of the things that has happened since Tuesday is a lot of finger pointing: “Whose fault is it?”

Let me ask you this and think carefully before you answer: Did God create this world?

This world that we live in today is not the world that God created. The world that God created, you can read about it in Genesis chapters 1-2.

But then the “serpent” came along and deceived the woman and the man and they sinned against God and everything changed.

And so, because of the “serpents” deception; and because of man’s rebellion and his propensity to sin the world that God created was cursed; man was driven from the garden; and paradise was lost.

And for you or I or anyone else to blame that on God and turn away from and abandon God because of what “the serpent” did; and because of what a rebellious and sinful man did, is to do just exactly what “the serpent” wants us to do.

Paradise was lost a long time ago but it is only because of God and His grace and mercy and love that any of us can find that paradise again.

Now, some will ask, “Why does God allow these kinds of things to happen?” Why doesn’t God stop it?”

Remember in Job 1, Satan accused God of building a “hedge” around Job and protecting him.

So God does. He allows Satan “to put his hand on Job” and Job loses his sons and his daughters, and his livestock; and eventually Job is plagued with “sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.”

God allows Job to suffer severely all for the purpose of proving Job’s devotion and faithfulness to God.

And you read basically the same thing in James 1; and God allows trials and tribulations to come up in our lives so that, just like Job, we can prove our faithfulness too.

Second reason why God allows tragedies to come into our lives is found in Luke 13:1-5.

 Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And He answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered this fate? 3 “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 “Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem?  5 “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” 

 God often allows tragic events to get people to realize their spiritual situation; their need to repent and turn to Him; so that they will not perish.

Third reason why God allows tragedies to come into our lives is found in Romans 8:20-21. The apostle Paul says, “20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope (this is God’s hope) 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”

 These tragic events, large or small, are horrible and we can only imagine the heartbreak and pain that goes with them.

Now, what about the children? 19 children were killed. Is there any consolation? Any comfort for those who have lost a child? Look at Mark 10:13-16.

And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all.”  16 And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands upon them.

 We grieve over the children who were killed and most of us cannot imagine what that would be like as a parent.

But we should not turn away from God when tragedy strikes because it is God alone who gives hope, and comfort, and assures us that those children will be in His kingdom.

So, as we deal with the news of a horrible tragedy, as God’s people, what do we do?

There are many verses that we could turn to but there are two that come to mind. Look with me at Matthew 5:13. Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth;”

Our world is not going to get better.

But until that time comes we can slow down the decaying process.

And look at vs. 14: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

Tragic events often turn an individual’s world completely dark.

What took place last Tuesday in Uvalde was nothing but pure evil. It has devastated many families; an entire community; and shattered lives for many years to come.





Do Not Speak Against One Another


James 4:11-12

Here in James 4, the “bride of Christ” is in a bitter brawl.

So, here you have the church in this bitter fight…and in verse 11 James mentions the primary weapon used in the fighting. James says: “Do not speak against one another, brethren…”

And they aren’t using sticks…or rocks…or boards…or knives…to beat each other with.

The tongue is so convenient to use.

And what is said is not always easily traced back to the originating source.

And as far as effectiveness is concerned, a rock or a stick will cut the skin or break a bone…

In their fighting, these brethren were using the most formidable weapon of all.

And “one another” is an “allelone” phrase which means it was going back and forth.

And notice, James equates their “speaking against one another with judging one another.”

Christ in Matthew 7: 20 says that we can tell a lot about a person “by the fruit he bears.”

But when James speaks of “judging” here he is talking about forming and expressing opinions and criticisms based on supposition, and prejudices.

And so James tells them to stop! “Do not speak against one another!”

But I want you to notice why James tells them to stop.

And that is the lesson for us.

Look what he says you do when you speak against a brother or sister. Look at verse 11 again. He says:

 Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother, or judges his brother, speaks against the law, and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge {of it.}

 What does he mean here when he says that “you judge the law when you speak evil of a brother?”

 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin {and} are convicted by the law as transgressors.

 Now, if you will check verse 8 you will find that what James says here comes from Leviticus 19:18.

When you do this you are saying, “I know what the law is but it’s not that important.”

In Texas, it is illegal to exceed the speed limit.

In Texas, it is illegal to cross the double yellow line on the highway.

You see, our actions demonstrate what we think about a law.

And thus, notice the end of verse 11: “…if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge of it.”

So the first thing you do is you judge the law.

But now, notice the second thing you do when you speak against a brother or sister in Christ. Look at verse 12: There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy.”

 When you judge the law…you also judge the Lawgiver.

Look at this in Matthew 15: 1-14…and notice how God feels about judging Him and His word as unworthy.

 1 Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem, saying, 2 “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”

3  And He answered and said to them, “And why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 “For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 5 “But you say, ‘Whoever shall say to {his} father or mother, “Anything of mine you might have been helped by has been given {to God,} 6 he is not to honor his father or his mother.’

 Now, notice the end of verse 6:  And {thus} you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.

 By their actions they were saying, “the word of God is not right…it is not valid.”

And because they do, look what God calls them.

“You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, 8 ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me. 9 ‘But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.'”

And notice verses 10-14: And after He called the multitude to Him, He said to them, “Hear, and understand. 11 “Not what enters into the mouth defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?”

13 But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be rooted up. 14            “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”

 Brethren, we must be careful about judging the law…because when we do…we judge the Lawgiver….the One who is able to save and to destroy…with the emphasis on “destroy.”

Now, go back to James 4 and notice the end of verse 12. Notice the third thing we do when we speak evil against a brother. James says: But who are you who judge your neighbor?

Listen, when it comes to passing judgment on others…that is God’s business…and we better be careful about exalting ourselves up to or above Him.

Let me show you someone who did that. Look at Isaiah 14:12-14 with me.

 12 “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! 13 “But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. 14    ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’

 Who is Isaiah talking about here? Well, look at verse 4.

4          that you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon,

 And look at the consequences of exalting yourself above God: Vs. 4  “How the oppressor has ceased, {And how} fury has ceased! 5 “The LORD has broken the staff of the wicked, the scepter of rulers  6 Which used to strike the peoples in fury with unceasing strokes, which subdued the nations in anger with unrestrained persecution. 7 “The whole earth is at rest {and} is quiet; they break forth into shouts of joy. 8           “Even the cypress trees rejoice over you, {and} the cedars of Lebanon, {saying,} ‘Since you were laid low, no {tree} cutter comes up against us.’ 9 “Sheol from beneath is excited over you to meet you when you come; it arouses for you the spirits of the dead, all the leaders of the earth; it raises all the kings of the nations from their thrones. 10 “They will all respond and say to you, ‘Even you have been made weak as we, you have become like us. 11            ‘Your pomp {and} the music of your harps have been brought down to Sheol; Maggots are spread out {as your bed} beneath you, and worms are your covering.’

 When we start usurping God….placing ourselves on His level…we are playing dangerously.

So, let me close with this. It is called “Death or Life in Words.”

“A careless word may kindle strife, A cruel word may wreck a life;

A bitter word may hate instill; A brutal word may smite and kill;

A gracious word may smooth the way, A joyous word may light the day;

A timely word may lesson stress, A loving word may heal and bless.”

I think God is basically saying, “If you can’t say something good, don’t say anything at all.”

Saved By Works


 James 2:14-26

These verses here in James 2:14-26 are some of the most controversial verses in all of scripture.

 Now, to do that, one of the first things we must do is convince people that this is the word of God and to trust what the Bible says.

Well, that is what makes this passage so controversial.

In fact, this passage seems so contradictory to other passages that some of the early religious reformers were not sure that James should even be a part of the Bible…

What is it about this passage that is so controversial…so seemingly contradictory?

1          What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found?2          For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about; but not before God.3          For what does the Scripture say? “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”4          Now to the one who works, his wage is not reckoned as a favor, but as what is due.5          But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness,

In this passage the Apostle Paul says that “Abraham was justified by faith“…and likewise for us, “the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, to him it is reckoned as righteousness.”

Look with me at Galatians 2:15-16.

15        “We {are} Jews by nature, and not sinners from among the Gentiles; nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of law; since by the works of law shall no flesh be justified.

 Once again, Paul says that “no man is justified by works…but by faith in Jesus Christ.”

Now, turn back to James 2 and notice verse 24.

24        You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone.  And in the same way was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works, when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?

 So, what you have is Paul saying that a man is justified by faith…and not by his works.

Is James contradicting what Paul has said?

Which one is right….Paul or James?

Well, the answer is both.

Let’s go back to Romans and lets look at the context to understand what Paul is saying.

First, let’s go all the way back to chapter 3 and notice verse 1.

Now notice verse 21 and following.

Now, apart from law”….completely and separate from law.

Now, verse 22:

…even {the} righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;

 That is the problem here.

Basically, what they were saying is, “We can be good enough on our own to be saved.”

Look with me at Romans 10 and notice what Paul says. Now here Paul is speaking about these Jews.

1          Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them (Jews) is for {their} salvation. (the Jews are lost).

2          For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God (they are very religious), but not in accordance with knowledge. (Paul says that their knowledge is faulty.)

3          For not knowing about God’s righteousness (justification by faith in Christ) and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. (They did not accept the principle of faith in Jesus.)

4          For Christ is the end (goal) of the law…(end” here means “the point aimed at”…Christ is what the law was trying to achieve. The law showed that no one can be justified by their human performance. No one can be good enough. But Christ was. The law manifested the need for Christ)… for righteousness to everyone who believes.

5          For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. (Law keeping demands flawless obedience to every command which is impossible.)

6          But the righteousness based on faith speaks thus, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down),

7          or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” (Righteousness based on faith does not demand the impossible! Redemption is not based on human performance.)

8          But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”– that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, (Righteousness by faith says, “Just accept what God has already done in Christ. Not what you can do. It is impossible for anyone to earn salvation. It is God who initiated the coming of Christ. God makes salvation available. All we have to do is trust in what God has done.)

9          that if you confess (homolegeo – “one word” – to say the same thing about Christ that God says – this is my beloved Son..He is Lord)with your mouth Jesus {as} Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;

10        for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, (verbalizes his faith in Jesus) resulting in salvation.

 And look at vs. 11:  For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”

 These Jews were not believing in Christ…they were trying to save themselves by their works…and Paul’s point is…they couldn’t do it.

Side note: Many will take this passage and say, “Paul says you can be saved without being baptized.” That is not what this passage is about. Paul has already dealt with baptism back in chapter 6. This passage is about Jews who were trying to save themselves by human performance…which is impossible…and their need to put their faith in Jesus and His performance on the cross.

Now, Galatians 2: 14 and 15. What is the context.? Well, let’s start in verse 11:

11        But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.

12        For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he {began} to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.

13        And the rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.

14        But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how {is it that} you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?

15        “We {are} Jews by nature, and not sinners from among the Gentiles;

16        nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of  law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.

 These men from James had come to Antioch (this does not mean that these men held the same views that James held. Acts 15 indicates that James did not agree with what these men did)…and what they were doing is they were saying, “Jesus isn’t enough to save you. ”

And in verse 16 Paul says, “works of the flesh has nothing to do with it…you are saved by faith in Christ.

Paul is talking to some Jewish converts who were trying to deny that salvation is in Christ and Christ only.

Now, let’s go back to James 2:14 and see what James talking about?

 14        What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?

 Notice who James is talking to here? He is speaking to His brethren.

And notice what the situation is.

If a man says he has faith…”

But look what he is doing!

Here is a guy who is just a Christian in word and not in deed.

James is saying that a non-working, saved Christian is a contradiction in terms.

So, what is the difference between what Paul says in Romans and Galatians…and what James says here.

Look at how Paul says it in Eph. 2:8. And remember, this is Paul.

8          For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, {it is} the gift of God;9          not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

 There is no contradiction between what Paul says here and what James says in James 2.

You cannot be saved by your works…you can only be saved by faith in Christ.

For Richer Or Poorer


James 2:1-13

If you look at James chapter 1 verse 27, James says; This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Now I think it is interesting and intentional that immediately after James says that we are to “keep ourselves unstained by the world” that he goes immediately into chapter 2 and speaks of “showing favoritism or partiality.”

Look with me at vs. 1 again. First of all it is very important to understand who this is addressed to. James says,” My brethren.”

 He starts off “My brothers” and this means that James’ goal was not to address cultural or societal problems even though they were very serious in his day

He was writing to remind believers, and that’s you and me, to remind us that the prejudice, and bias, and favoritism, and racism have no place in the body of Christ.

 And he says,  My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.

And there are two very key reasons why we, as believers in our glorious Lord, should never show  partiality in the body of Christ and the very first reason is that to be IMPARTIAL IS TO BE LIKE GOD.

First, Romans 2:11:   For there is no partiality with God.

Ephesians 6 9. Paul writes:  And, masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

And then Colossians 3 25: For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.

These verses reveal to us  the heart of God and because it’s the heart of God it ought to be the heart of believers.

But there’s another very, very, very, very important reason why bigotry and partiality and prejudice should never exist within the church and that is because they’ve all been abolished at the cross of Christ.

 Now, since you are “sons of God and since you have been baptized into Christ and clothed yourselves with him,” look what he says: 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek (Jew or Gentile), there is neither slave nor free man (to you and me in our culture we might say, poor or wealthy), there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

And he goes on to say: 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Look what Paul wrote in Romans 3. At the end of vs. 22, he says, …for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

But when you and I come to Jesus, no matter who you are, Paul says in vs. 24 that “we are justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ.”.

When we’re living in a culture that is rife with racism and bigotry and hatred it’s important for us, as believers,  to remember that In the church it doesn’t matter what your income level is , or your skin color is,  or your popularity or your education level or your ethnic background is; those things don’t matter.

Showing favoritism or partiality is something the world does; but it is not something that is to “stain the church.”

Now in verses 2 and 3 James gives us an example of two men walking into the same church one of them is wealthy, one of them is poor. (there are other standards used to make social distinctions; education; position or authority; perhaps even appearance or beauty. James uses perhaps the most common standard and that is money and wealth.)

What are some “evil motives?”

 Whatever the motive or thought process is, becoming judges and making social distinctions in the church according to what we prefer and like goes completely against God’s will; it is to usurp God’s authority; and James says that to do that is “evil.”

 But look at another reason why it is wrong to show favoritism to the rich over the poor. Look at verse 5-7.

Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? 7 Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?

 Do you see what these brethren were doing.?

But that is what prejudice and bigotry often does.

It is like the man who had a heart attack and yet refused to call the doctor because the doctor was a black man.

The point is, the people of God are not to be guilty of the sin of partiality.

Christians are never to show favoritism to rich men…nor are we to carry it too far and show favoritism to the poor.

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.

 Now vs. 9:  But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

 You cannot keep the royal law and show partiality. It just won’t work.

But some will always try to excuse themselves.

They were taking the law of God and dividing it into a series of separate injunctions.

Well, James answers this notion in verses 10-11.

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not commit murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

 James says that the will of God is one great whole…all of which is to be kept.

So, when it comes to showing partiality, or making social distinctions in the church, what are we to do? Vs. 12:

12 So speak and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. (We are going to be judged by the gospel of Christ; Romans 2:16) So we need to live accordingly. We are not to live according to what we might prefer or according to what the world might prefer.)

13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy (in this context it is probably a reference to have a wrong attitude toward the poor. It is better to have mercy because; mercy triumphs over judgment.

 Whether it is caused by wealth…by race…by education…by looks…or any other thing…the temptation to show favoritism is a very real thing.













Now That You Are Gods


James 1:19-27

If you would, look at verse 19 again.

19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;

 Let’s look at verse 20 now.

…for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

 Look at verse 21: Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.

Now, we have laughed a little at what I have been doing…but did you realize that this is exactly what James is telling us not to do in this passage?

Let me show you what I mean. Notice first of all verse 18.

Now, I want you to notice verse 21. James says:

Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.

In fact, look at verse 19 again. James says: “Let every man be quick to hear.”

But after you are saved…well, that is a different thing.

So, instead of paying ready attention to the word now that they had been baptized, they were “sluggish to hear.”

Look what else they were doing. James says: “Be slow to speak.”

I believe, in the context of what he is talking about here, James is telling these people, “You be slow to contradict what the word says.”

And then James says: “Be slow to anger.”

Apparently, some of these brethren that James is writing to  were doing the same thing.

Well, if you do that, notice what happens. Vs. 20: You can never achieve the “righteousness of God.”

 Brethren, it is a dangerous thing to be sluggish in hearing…or sluggish in istening to the word…to be quick to contradict it…and to be quick to get angry when it convicts us.

So now, look at verse 21. There is something very interesting here:

 Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.

Well, James answers for us in verse 22.

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. (NIV – “deceive themselves)

Look with me at 1 John 2: 3-6.

3 And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

Yes, when you obey the word of God and are baptized for the forgiveness of your sins…you are saved.

In fact, go back to James 1. Look at verse 23-24:

 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.

He says, “When a man looks in the mirror he sees his natural face.”

But if he looks in the mirror and sees what needs to be done…and then neglects to do it…then his time looking in the mirror was wasted.

So it is with the man who looks in God’s mirror…the word of God.

But if he sees his faults as the word reveals them…and yet he does nothing about it…his hearing the word is useless…and his time is wasted.

This is our mirror (Bible)…and in it we can see what God wants us to be…and we can see, by contrast, our blemishes and faults.

But now look at verse 25:

But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.

 Brethren, it is not and has never been enough to just hear the word. We must live it…obey it…and apply it.

Now: James tells us some things that illustrate how a man may be only a hearer of the word.  Look at verse 26.

 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.

But notice, James says that his religion is worthless if it is not sincere.

We can claim to be a Christian all day long….we can come to church every Sunday…we can know all that the word tells us about coming to church.

And now, verse 27: This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

 It is not enough to know what you are to do…you must do it.

 We can claim to be as religious as we can be….we can claim to be a devoted Christian.

Here is another passage that some tear out: Acts 2:38.

And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.


Do Not Be Deceived


James 1: 13-18

If you would, look at verse 16 again. James says: “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”

 It can happen can’t it?

If Satan can deceive a Christian he has taken him captive again.

And that is especially true in reference to what James speaks of here in these verses.

In these verses some of these Christians were being persuaded to believe some things about God that weren’t true.

So let’s look at this passage and learn some things that will help us NOT TO BE DECEIVED.

Look at verse 13. James says: Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.

 Now, let me explain what was apparently happening.

Now, with every “trial”…comes a “temptation.”

We see this several times in scripture.

During the Exodus, when Israel went into the wilderness, they faced many “tests” of their faith in God.

Job’s faith was “tested”…and with each “test” Satan “tempted” him to “curse God and die.”

When the Holy Spirit led our Lord into the wilderness His faith was “tested” and with each “test” Satan “tempted” Him to disobey God.

With every trial or hardship there is a “test or proving” of our faith; and with every hardship that “tests” our faith…comes a “temptation” to sin.

Now, the people that James is writing to knew that God sometimes “tests” our faith….and allows our faith to be “tested.”

Now, I suppose there are many ramifications (consequences) to this idea, but I want to show you just one. Look with me at Genesis 3.

And the man says in verse10, “I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid myself.”

 And God says, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

 Now, notice verse 12. “And the man said, “The woman who Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate it.”

 Do you see what Adam is saying? “God, it is your fault! It’s not my fault!”

If it is God’s fault then I am not the one to blame and I am not guilty and I don’t need Christ!

“Lord, I wouldn’t have abandoned my wife and kids if you hadn’t allowed me to go through this hardship.”

If it is God’s fault…then we can excuse anything we do.

If God is the source of the temptation, we can excuse anything we want too.

And, if it is God’s fault that we commit sin; and then God turns around and punishes us for the sin we commit; that isn’t fair; and that isn’t right; and that isn’t just.

So in verse 13 James says, “Don’t you do this!”

Do you want to know where temptation comes from? Look at verse 14 and 15.

“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.”

 That is where temptation comes from.

Don’t blame God…don’t undermine His good nature…don’t accuse Him of being the “bad guy.”

In fact, notice the end of verse 15 again. James says that “sin brings forth death.”

 “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.”

Paul says in Acts 17 that God gives to all “life, breath, and all things“…even when some people stand and curse Him.

And notice this. James says that He is the “Father of lights.”

Everything good comes from God…and it just keeps coming and coming…even when we don’t appreciate it.

Don’t tell me that God is the “bad guy”, that He is unjust, unrighteous, and unfair.

And that is not all…look at verse 18.

 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures.

Don’t tell me that God is “the bad guy”…and don’t you be telling others that God is the “bad guy.”

And we say, “I would never tell anyone that God is bad.”

Someone’s baby dies and we say, “God wanted another little angel…so He took yours.”

Do you understand what we are saying in that situation?

Let me tell you who took that baby.

Death stole them away…but it is God who can give them life again!.

Maybe that is why James says what he does in verse 19. “This you know, my beloved brethren. But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”

 When we are confronted with a situation where death has come in…maybe we need to think before we speak.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above.”

Let’s sing a song…and if you have a need that we can help you with…we want you to come as we stand and sing.