January 2017

The Rebuild: Remove the Rust

Remove the Rust sermon notes

Remove the Rust

Passages: James 1:19-27

Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

The Church @ Hamilton

 

Key Goals: (Know) Understand the role of responsiveness in spiritual growth. (Feel) Feel a desire to be open and responsive to instruction. (Do) Look for areas in our life that need to be changed and change them.

 

Introduction: I think there are key moments in the relationship between brothers. There is a day with my little brother that I will never forget. I was 16 and in charge. My little brother was about 3 at the time. He was fascinated by anything “shiny.” If a new car drove by, he would say, “I like a shiny one.” I was in the living room when I heard him in the kitchen say, “I like a shiny one.” I thought, “I wonder what he is up to?” So I got up and walked into the kitchen to find my little brother holding a large butcher knife by the blade. He was thrilled; I was terrified. How do you get a shiny, beautiful knife out of the fingers of a 3 year old without slicing them? I’ll never forget that day. It wasn’t fun, but it sure was memorable. I think James had a memorable day like that with Jesus too.

 

Not long after Jesus began his teaching and healing ministry, huge crowds began to form. Everywhere he would travel, the sick and infirmed would gather around him for healing or even just a touch. They traveled from all over the land of Israel. The crowds grew especially large the closer he got to his home in Capernaum, on the northern coast of the Sea of Galilee. When he reached town, his family came out to greet him. Mary—Jesus’ mother, James—his younger brother, and the others all came out to welcome him home. But they could not reach Jesus because of the massive crowds. When Jesus’ disciples saw what was happening, Luke 8 tells us that they said to Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” And then Jesus said something that I am sure James never forgot. He answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” Ouch. I imagine that the statement encouraged the crowd around Jesus, but I can also imagine how James might have felt. I bet he never forgot that day. It wasn’t fun, but I’m sure it was memorable. In fact, I know it was. Open your Bibles to James 1:19-27[1]. James repeats what Jesus said almost word for word.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. 26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

 

Our message this morning is very close to James’ heart. He will be teaching us thoughts he learned one-on-one with his big brother. Our series is called “The Rebuild,” and our premise is that this world has a strange way of wrecking our lives, but the book of James has the tools to rebuild wrecked lives. Last week we used the tool of resolve, because rebuilding a life is not easy—it only happens when we decide with firm determination to do it. Resolve allows us to endure steadfastly through trials as God grows us to completion. And if we endure to the end, there awaits us a Crown of life

 

This week’s tool is a responsive heart. If we are going to rebuild our lives or help others rebuild theirs, a responsive heart is essential. When we talk about the heart (Greek: kardia, see James 1:26) we are talking about the center of the inner life of a person—their soul or spirit. The heart is where we experience feelings and emotions, desires, and passions. The heart is also where we understand, think, and reflect; it is the “seat of our will” as it drives our choices.[2] Hearts can be open—receptive and responsive to change, or hard, calloused, and unresponsive (Heb. 3:8). The only way one makes true, significant, spiritually positive changes in their life is if their heart is responsive to God’s message of new life through Jesus.

 

There are two secrets to a truly responsive heart:

 

I. A responsive heart receives the Word (James 1:19-21)

a. With quickness “quick to hear” (19a)

Quickness communicates an attitude of eagerness to take in the Word from every angle. We should desire to read the Word, to listen to the preaching of the Word, to memorize the Word, to study it. The idea is attentiveness with the goal of obedience. Psalm 119:131 says I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments. 1 Peter 2:2 encourages: Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.

 

b. With restraint “slow to speak” (19b)

Often in our pride, or even just excitement, we have a tendency to speak before we have a chance to think and take in truth. This is why counselors spend so much time working with couples on communication. Every time we are around the truth of God, he has something for us, but we will never hear it if we are spouting off. Responsive hearts receive truth eagerly, but they also restrain themselves and give it time to sink in. I was talking with a young man this last week and I spoke straight with him about an issue in his life. Just as I finished, he took in a deep breath—like he had a big long sentence to get out—but he held it, slowly blew it out, and said, “Okay.” That young man is farther along in his walk than he knows.

 

c. With openness “slow to anger” (19c)

A responsive heart is one that has stopped fighting with God and is willing to listen. Look, often the first and most natural response to someone telling us we are doing wrong and need to change is anger. People who are ready to rebuild their lives adjust their reaction time so that anger isn’t the first response. The Greek word for slow can also mean “dull or inactive.”[3] People who really want to change inactivate their anger response when they are confronted with truth. Every married person understands this. Our spouse may, in a super gentle way, tell us something we need to change; if we are not open to change, it becomes a huge issue. But when we are open, that same spouse can bumble their way through telling us what needs to change and we still respond positively.

 

Verse 20 tells us why openness is so important: for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Very few angry people change. If you are bitter or angry with God about your circumstances or things that happened in your past, your ability to rebuild your life is greatly hindered. Ditch the anger! It is not going to accomplish in you the righteousness that you need. Instead, 21put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

 

d. With meekness “receive with meekness” (21)

The not so subtle message of this verse is this: if we are going to rebuild our lives, we need to tear off the whole dirty mess of wickedness[4] we have been involved in and start listening to the Word and the godly people around us who have been trying to help us. The Greek word translated “meekness” has the idea of “strength in submission” or “strength under control.” The word was used of Alexander the Great’s horse (Bucephalus) which was powerfully strong, but totally submissive and responsive to the master’s touch. A person of meekness can be very strong and yet completely submissive and sensitive to the Lord’s command.[5]

 

II. A responsive heart activates the Word (James 1:22-27)

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.

 

A person who listens to truth but doesn’t activate it in their lives begins a self-deception process. It is an internal conversation that goes something like this: “I should probably remove that sin and change…someday.” Or they just begin suppressing the guilt and inner voice of change. Verse 24 specifically describes a “hearing-only person” as one who sees what they need to change but they look away and quickly forget. I can watch all the YouTube videos I want on how to rebuild an engine, but it will never get done unless I activate what I know. A doer of the Word is a person who hears truth, hears the gospel, and activates what they hear in their lives. They by faith receive it, they internalize it, they let it sink in and affect their desires, their passions and their will. Then they begin making new choices and actions based on these transformed desires and will. James gives us three examples (these are not all-inclusive, we could give more) of what it looks like to be doers of the Word:

 

a. Doers activate self control over areas of their lives that were once unchecked (26) 

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Have you ever said something mean or ungodly and immediately wished you hadn’t—and then said, “I didn’t mean that?” Counselor Paul Tripp suggests a more biblical response would be, “Please forgive me for saying what I was really thinking.” We say wicked things because we think wicked thoughts. Doers of the Word are thinking and reflecting on God’s Word and actively brushing away evil thoughts and intentions, which activates self control in areas that were once unchecked. Doers change their heart, which then bridles their tongue.

 

b. Doers activate self-sacrifice where there was once self-centeredness (27a)

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction. James could have also listed the sick, the shut-ins, those in prison—they are mentioned in other places (see Matt 25:31-46). This is just an example of how a believer who activates the Word of God in his life begins to change from a self-centered person to a person who sacrificially cares for others. Selfishness is the antithesis of the gospel message. Even though she was Catholic, very few people doubt the authenticity of the faith of Mother Teresa. Why? Because she spent 68 of her 80 years building orphanages and homes for children and adults dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy, and tuberculosis in the slums of Calcutta, India. Millions of Hindus’ first encounter with Jesus was seeing how Mother Teresa love the sick and dying. Mother Teresa: doer of the Word.

 

c. Doers activate holiness where there was once immorality (27b)

…and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness.” (1:21) This gets to the very heart of rebuilding our lives. The whole reason you and I need to rebuild anything is because of sin—either our sin, the effects of our sin, or the sin of others. Broken relationships, anger, addiction, sexual sin, revenge, gossip, bitterness, slander, abuse—all of this flows from the caustic effects of sin in our lives!

 

Do you want to rebuild? Remove one key area of disobedience from your life. Search your heart. What is the one area of sin that you don’t need to hear any more information about, you just have to deal with? Be a doer! Remove it, repent of it, and activate holiness where there was once immorality. Is your heart responsive?

 

 

Community Group Discussion

1.          As a group, read through James 1:19-27. What are the concepts and phrases that jump out or are easy to remember?

2.          The passage mentions “hearing.” Discuss what hearing means beyond the mechanical process of our ears.

3.          Discuss your understanding of “receptiveness.” What about “critical thinking?” Is that useful too?

4.          Discuss a time in your life when you were decidedly unreceptive to God, his Word, or correction. How did you get through it?

5.          Discuss how hearing but not doing leads to “self-deception?”

6.          Discuss meekness. What do you understand “receiving with meekness” to mean?

7.          How does a person who has lost their desire to listen and do the Word of God recover it?

 

  

© Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to use and reproduce this material in any format for spiritual, non-commercial purposes. We only ask that you do not alter the content in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. Please include the following statement on any distributed material: by Paul L. Davis. © Calvary Baptist Church of Holland.

 

[1] All Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV.

[2] Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 612.

[3] James Strong, Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1995).

[4] Peter H. Davids, The Epistle of James: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1982), 94.

[5]Bucephalus was Alexander the Great’s horse and is considered by some to be the most famous horse in history. https://www.ancient.eu/Bucephalus/

The Rebuild: Background

Background to James sermon notes

Background to James

Passages: James 1:1-2, Various

Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

The Church @ Hamilton

Sunday, January 15, 2017

 

Key Goals: (Know) Get to know the author of James. (Feel) Desire to study God’s word deeply. (Do) Read the book of James.

 

Introduction: Some people hear a story like this and think, “No way, not me! I could never forgive my spouse if they did that.” Easy to say, until it happens to you. It was a Thursday when the call came: “He is going to kill himself!” Friends and family were rushing to help, but his grief was inconsolable. His wife had just confessed. Their marriage was a sham—the hurt and betrayal brutal, the anger and damage devastating. What do you do? What about the kids? How do you rebuild? I’ll tell you more about that family in the upcoming weeks.

 

Today we launch into our series “The Rebuild!” We will be exploring the book of James for tools that will help us “rebuild” our lives. One of the most appealing aspects of Jesus and his gospel is that when we believe and trust Christ, he gives us a new life that purges our corruption and sin and all things are becoming new (2 Cor. 5:17)[1]. Theologians call that process “sanctification;” we are going to call it “The Rebuild.” The process is not unlike rebuilding an engine. We just got it this morning, it is brand new to us, but it comes with some baggage. While it is new, it is not pristine—we have some work to do.

 

I want Trent to come and teach us a song. This song comes from The Liturgy of Saint James: the oldest surviving worship liturgy that is still used in churches today. It is a complete worship service that lasts about three hours (we are not learning all of it). At the center of the service is the hymn “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent.” The words of this hymn were written by the year 245, which makes it one of the very first hymns of the church. Many think that these words came from the church in Jerusalem during the time the church was led by James.

 

Why did we learn this? Well, it is a cool piece of ancient church history, but also because as we begin this series from a book that James wrote, I want us to get to know the man. Some people believe that first impressions about people take only thirty seconds to make. According to Malcolm Gladwell, in his book “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking,” these decisions may occur much faster—think instantaneously or in two seconds. We immediately form impressions of people based on their posture, handshake, clothing and accessory choices, how close they stand to us, attentiveness, eye contact, and facial expressions.[2] In order to understand his book, I think we at least need a first impression of who James was.

 

Who was James? The first time we are introduced to James is in the Gospels, and he doesn’t make a great first impression. Both Mark and Matthew indicate that he was one of several children born to Mary and Joseph after Jesus’ birth. Mark records an incident where people from Jesus’ hometown were ridiculing Jesus for being a local: “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. (Mark 6:3) I’m not sure how you picture Jesus growing up, but he was the oldest of five boys and at least two girls; that’s at a minimum a family of nine! Just like any family, they did not always get along; there were times that James and the rest of the family were opposed to the way Jesus did ministry. Mark 3:21 tells us that at one point Jesus’ family thought he was out of his mind. John reveals to us that James (actually all four of his brothers) did not believe in Jesus when he was alive. John 7:5 tells us point blank that not even his brothers believed in him.

 

Can you imagine growing up with Jesus as your half brother? Based on what we know, it probably wasn’t as wonderful as we would expect. The family did not understand what he was doing or why, and for his part—at least while Jesus was alive—James was not buying any of this “messiah” stuff. That is, until the resurrection. I Corinthians 15:4-7 specifically mentions that after the resurrection, Jesus appeared to James. [Jesus]… was buried, and he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Something happened to James when he saw his brother raised from the dead. His doubt immediately turned to faith, and by the time the disciples gathered in the upper room waiting for the Holy Spirit to come upon them, James was there (Acts 1:13-14).

 

The next time we see James, he is the leader of the church in Jerusalem. In fact, the Apostle Paul met with James and Peter when he first went to Jerusalem after his conversion (Galatians 1:18–19). How did a recent unbeliever become the leader of the church in Jerusalem? Clement of Alexandria, who wrote about the church between 153–217 C.E., says that Peter and John chose James for this office (Books of the Hypotyposes 6). Jerome, writing later, said that James “ruled the church of Jerusalem thirty years.” (Lives of Illustrious Men, chapter 2).[3]

 

As the pastor of Jerusalem, James was known as “James the Just” because of his incredible character. The best example we have of James’ leadership is in Acts 15 where James solves a problem between believers that came from Jewish backgrounds and believers that came from Gentile backgrounds. Some Jewish background believers thought that when you became a Jesus follower you also needed to follow the Jewish laws of purity. The Apostle Peter and Paul and Barnabas who had been witnessing to Gentile believers disagreed. Listen to Acts 15:7–11.

 

7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

 

It was just as Peter spoke the room got silent and James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. He then quotes Amos 9:11-12 and says…Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood (Acts 15:13–20).

This may sound strange to us today, but it was a pivotal point in church history. Either Gentiles were saved through faith or they were saved through faith and following Old Testament laws. James solved this issue with incredible wisdom and tact by maintaining a reverence for Old Testament law but affirming with Peter, Paul, and Barnabas that salvation is by faith alone.

 

James served as pastor of Jerusalem for 30 years. While the Bible does not tell us how he died, Jewish historian Josephus provides a detailed account of the death of James.[4] Rome was having difficulty with zealous groups of Jewish insurgents, which would eventually lead to the invasion and destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. In an effort to placate Rome, strengthen his position, and remove any who would question his authority, Ananus—a high priest appointed by Herod Agrippa II—decided to have several “trouble makers” stoned to death. So in the year 62 during a brief governmental transition period, Ananus, without permission, convened the Sanhedrin (the supreme council of Jewish affairs) and had James, along with several others of his enemies, stoned to death.[5]

 

Why have I spent so much time walking you through this? Because you need to know, as we open the book of James, that James was a real person like you and me:

 

1. He understood doubting. He did not believe in Jesus until the resurrection. So when he starts talking in James 1:6 about doubting and says, “The one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind,” he knows what he is talking about because he doubted Jesus the entire time he walked this earth. So if you have ever doubted, James will help you rebuild your faith.

 

2. He experienced trials. James watched as the Roman government and the high priest crucified his older brother and then as another high priest accused and prosecuted him. This man walked through incredible trials, yet his book begins with the sentence: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds. (James 1:2) So if you ever feel like you are going through trials, James has some tools for you.

 

3. He understood change. The resurrection radically changed James from an unbelieving little brother that thought Jesus was out of his mind to one of the most influential Christian leaders of the first century. James knew about change. So if you have ever thought you needed to change, James will help with that.

 

4. He knew about discrimination. James watched the early church struggle to include Gentiles in the fold. When we study James 2, we are going see that discrimination in the church is most often about preferring the beautiful people over the rest of us, preferring the rich over the poor, the haves over the have-nots, the in-crowd over the unpopular, the righteous over the sinners. James will challenge us that it is not about rich or poor, it is about loving Jesus! James 2:5 says Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? So if you have ever felt left out, James is for you.

 

5. He experienced conflicts. When James discusses quarrels and fights and makes statements like James 4:2, You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel; he is speaking from experience. So if you have ever struggled to work through conflict, James is going to help you.

Challenge: Start your own rebuild this week by reading through the book of James. Then come back next week as we begin “The Rebuild.”

 

 

 

Community Group Discussion

 

1.          As you begin your discussion, have your group members open and skim through the book of James. Do you have any passages underlined? Favorite verses?

2.          How does knowing more about James help us glean more from his book?

3.          Look at James 1:1. Based on your understanding of who James was and his relationship with Jesus, why do you think he introduces the letter by saying he is a “servant” of Jesus Christ?

4.          Discuss what (if anything) you learned about James this morning that you did not know before today.

5.          Did you know that Jesus grew up in a family of (at least) nine (Jesus, four brothers, at least two sisters, Joseph and Mary)? Does that change the way you think about him or James?

6.          Discuss what you hope to take away from this series.

 

© Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to use and reproduce this material in any format for spiritual, non-commercial purposes. We only ask that you do not alter the content in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. Please include the following statement on any distributed material: by Paul L. Davis. © Calvary Baptist Church of Holland.

[1] All Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV.

[2] Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink. New York City: Little, Brown and Company, 2005.

[3] Hulme, David James Brother of Jesus http://www.vision.org/visionmedia/religion-and-spirituality-apostles-of-jesus-james-brother-of-jesus/6812.aspx

[4] Antiquities of the Jews 20.197-203(c. 93/94).

[5] Mc Dowell, Sean Did James the Brother of Jesus Die as a Martyr? http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/did-james-the-brother-of-jesus-die-as-a-martyr