Understanding your role

I did a sermon on the first chapter of James last week which I will break up into 2 sections. One will be here, which will be about half of the sermon, since it is a bit long. The second part will be at my other site, thelivingmessage.com. I pray that those of you who read this will take the lessons of it in stride because it has much to say about how we are supposed to live as Christians.

Faith responds with practical godliness under testing (1:1-27).

James uses the description of himself as a servant or in some other translations “a bond servant” of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ to show that he willingly and lovingly served. He could’ve claimed status since he was the Lord’s half-brother, according to history. But, he didn’t. A bond servant serves out of love not because of being bound. This is the service that we should be giving unto Jesus and to our faith!

Your faith and your Christian life is no good if the people that you are around can’t tell that anything has changed in your life. Testing is like polishing a car or a piece of jewelry, it needs to be done from time to time so that your life reflects Jesus more than it does yourself. Sometimes the testing or pruning in your life may not be very enjoyable, I mean look at Job! In the first chapter of Job, God actually brags to Satan about him. Yet, when Satan challenges God on this he is given permission to do anything he wishes EXCEPT take his life.

Will we be tested quite that hard? It is possible, I mean when you are given a diagnosis of cancer or some other disease which can kill you, that is pretty hard testing. Sometimes the test is just getting through one day at a time, getting past the treatments and the medicine and the side effects of that. Lean on God’s strength when yours fails you and He won’t let you down. Because, James used the word “when” to say that we will go through testing because we are His servants in this world and this world hates Him.

A. Faith responds with joy when it faces testing (1:2-4).

This one is tough, especially when you may not be in the midst of testing right now. But, if you ever have been I am sure it didn’t seem like a joyful time. Our joy comes from knowing that Jesus is also God and He won’t let you down, no matter what. “Joy comes in the morning” is something which I turn to almost every day when my legs and hips hurt and when my spine feels like it won’t flex at all. (Psalm 30:5)

God is there with you in your pain and in the joyful times. He is near when tragedy strikes and when a child is born. In all things give thanks that He loves you and is working the best out in your life so that others will see Him in your life! Trials will cause you to develop patience and endurance in Him, if you will stay close to Jesus during your trials. Don’t think or even consider that your strength is enough to get you through any trial, regardless of the hardness of the trial, because if you do Satan can make the trial hard enough to make you look to Him even though he isn’t trying to turn you toward Jesus our Lord.

B. Faith seeks God for wisdom in times of testing (1:5-8).

In our trials, whatever they may be, we truly should seek God’s wisdom during these times. Trying to lean on your own understanding and your own wisdom will bring more problems and even harder testing because you think that you can get through without God! God’s Word contains all of the wisdom that you need to get through trials. Prayer and fasting can increase your faith to bring you even closer to God and His Wisdom. Even Jesus said that “when ye fast”, it was not a command but He knew that even in our time, there will be days and problems which require fasting to bring the solution to our knowledge from God!

Irrational belief

“If there is a textbook example of being irrational, then irrationality believes in something without any evidence.” – Atheist reference to Christianity

What about the seemingly universal belief, in most of academia, in evolution? Do they truly have proof of something evolving into another type/kind of animal? Is there a fossil of an evolutionary form that anyone can recognize as being between (transitional form) from one animal and another?

The most famous claim that I am aware of is that whales came from hippo-sized land animals many millions of years ago, and yet there is not one fossil that has been found that shows such a transformation. It didn’t happen overnight, because evolution takes millions of years, right? This “hippo” just didn’t jump into the ocean and its legs automatically shrank to the size of flippers?! Irrationality and insanity go hand in hand it seems. Thinking that just by belief and the so-called “fact” that there is no evidence for such a thing happening automatically makes evolution the correct assumption! Really?!?

Come on, if there was a shred of evidence that I could look at and perceive that one animal is changing/evolving into another, then I would believe it. But, there isn’t!

The statement at the beginning of this article is really a definition for a type of faith, so this person is not talking of irrationality it is really a jab at Christianity. Actually, it is a definition of “blind faith”, the kind which goes along with things like theories that have no proof but if enough people teach it for long enough it is taken as fact.

Christian faith is not blind faith, it is backed up by history and by eyewitness accounts from historical documents, so the recorded stories in the Bible (Old and New Testaments) can be traced to historically documents and other proofs. Can anyone show proof positive that evolutionary processes took place to create man or are those skeletons just skeletons of apes from thousands of years ago?

I don’t think that there will be any such evidence because it doesn’t exist! Many of the biological life that has been on earth since its creation are still in the same forms that they always were to begin with, so where is the proof of evolution?

Belief in evolution is backed up by this phrase: Insanity that is backed up by enough people to make it acceptable to all.

If you don’t want to believe in Christian beliefs or an afterlife or anything to do with the Bible, then do what most people do when they find something that they don’t like…change the channel! Don’t listen to Christian radio or to television programs that have things which you don’t agree with in them. That is exactly what Christians do! We try to tell people what our faith tells us to say, just as Muslims or Mormons do, but when we do it we are called insensitive, irrational, and narrow minded. Any other religion in the world is tolerated except Christianity.

So, if you want to be irrational then go ahead. I just want to ask one simple question: “What if my faith and its beliefs are right?”

Inconvenient Christianity

There are many in this new year who have turned their backs on what they view as old-fashioned faith-based Christian values. Why is that? Mainly due to the media and their portrayal of Christians as intolerant hypocrites, but it also has to do with many other indoctrination efforts in our educational system as well as our culture.

People seem to want a personal faith, one that is based on what they want to believe and not on what their parents or grand-parents may have believed. This is especially true of younger people, those under forty years old. They have been shocked into the culture of college and the beliefs or lack thereof of the educational system. What can be shown to them about Christ and following Him that will draw them back? The only possible thing is Truth and Christians who are modelling their faith genuinely. Other than those two things, being genuine and not pushy would be other ways to not alienate people from the Truth.

I know that Christianity is considered a “narrow-minded” faith but so are other faiths such as Islam. In many ways we may need to get away from being labelled as Christians altogether and be followers of Jesus. Since Christianity has been around for a long time it seems to have become so plain until it is hard to distinguish it from other religions except in name.

Of course, this is fine with Satan who is the ruler of this world only because God allows it. As long as we are doing the same things day in and day out and nothing changes, then he is fine with it. It is only when true followers of Christ begin to make a difference in their community and in the world that he will take notice. Regarding Satan, he will take notice of any movement that is bringing God more glory which is exactly what is needed in this world today.

I know that there are many who think that those of us who follow Jesus are narrow minded but there just happens to be only one way of having eternal life whether you choose to believe it or not.