Just want to take a sec and tell y’all how awesome God is.
“Now you, man of God, run from these things; but pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the faith; take hold of eternal life, to which you were called and have made a good confession before many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:11-12
Ninja Warrior is our theme for camp, learning how to be a warrior for Christ by giving ourselves to proper training, good nutrition, having the right gear, having the right mindset, and ultimately accepting the challenge. In all of this, we have to trust God. WE HAVE TO TRUST GOD!!!
I learned that in two ways already at camp. If you know me, I plan to the highest degree. When stepping in as Camp Director for Week 1 of Camp Lela, I wanted one thing: I don’t want the kids to just have a good time, I want them to have something to take home with them. And I would like for that thing to be centered around hearing and sharing the Gospel. I spent a lot of time in prayer about who to have as our speaker and who to have as our missions presenters. The Lord led my heart, naturally, to my good friend, Drew Ray, and some missionaries connected to our church, Ryan and Michelle Tankersley.
Let me tell you how cool God is. I wanted one thing for the kids to take home with them. Drew called me a few days before camp and said “Brother, I thought I had nailed down what the Lord wanted me to say, but I keep coming back to the 3 Circles gospel presentation.” I thought to myself that is something tangible that they can take home. As a further affirmation, Ryan and Michelle had been asking me to provide three hula hoops for them. I asked them when they arrived at camp what they were for and they said “We are going to show and teach the kids the 3 Circles gospel presentation on Thursday.” Such a God thing to do, right?
I was also desiring that in every part of camp that the Gospel would be present and available. Tuesday at lunch, salvation came at the lunch able with a young lady. GOD IS GOOD, Y’ALL!!!
– Pastor DJ
“Maturity: Be able to stick with a job until it is finished. Be able to bear an injustice without having to get even. Be able to carry money without spending it. Do your duty without being supervised.” Ann Landers
I love this definition of maturity from Mrs. Landers. Her actual name was Eppie Lederer, but she used her pen name for her famous column writing “Ask Ann.” She was also the identical twin sister of Pauline Philips, aka Abigail Van Buren, who wrote the great “Dear Abby” columns. My favorite quote from Ann is “Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.” Its a good reminder for us dog folks.
But back to the main point here. Her definition fits so well with what we have seen in the book of James when it comes to spiritual maturity – “And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:4.
- Endurance – stick with the job until it is finished. Remember, we never retire from following Jesus.
- Complete – be so wholesome that injustice rolls off your back and forgiveness wins the day.
- Lacking nothing – be so content and wise that “things” never get in the way of pursuing Christ.
And finally on a pastoral note, like Mrs. Landers says, do your Christian duty without having to be coddled. The pastor’s role is to “equip the saints to do the work of the ministry…to maturity” according to Ephesians 4:12. True maturity in the life of the believer is reflected by his ability and willingness to evangelize and disciple others without being prodded to do so. As we come to the end of James, let us strive for maturity, knowing that Christ is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.
– Pastor DJ
My first ever full time job was with a company called Emtec. I was a Service Technician/Salesman on the “termite” side of the pest control business in the OKC metro area. In all honesty, I kinda loved that job. It was hard work and long days, but it was fun to get to meet all sorts of people and spend my day in the dirt with a bunch of bugs (sorry, that’s the southern Creek county raising I had). Something else I often enjoyed was coming up the turnpike to the main office and spending time with the owners and my main supervisor. The technicians in Tulsa were a riot. The main reason is because there were three of them by the name of Will. That made for some interesting conversations and some hilarious moments.
One of those moments happened on a training day. An inspector for the state walked into the shop and without introducing himself asked “Who’s Will?” As we all looked at each other, he followed that question with “Who’s in charge?” We all began to laugh (he was not amused), but we all pointed to one of the owners over in the corner, who’s name was…Will.
Who’s Will? Who’s in charge? Those were two synonymous questions on that day, but according to James 4:15-17 those two questions are synonymous for the believer as well…WHOSE will? and Who is in charge?
“Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So it is sin to know the good and yet not do it.”James 4:15-17
So whose will are you following today? Who is in charge in your life? For the believer, the answer always rolls off of our tongue so easily “Well I am in the Lord’s will.” But notice James’ warning in verse 17, it is sin to know good and yet not do it. We may all claim to be in the Lord’s will, but doing it is a different story.
It’s the difference between looking around at each other and pointing to the man in the corner. Whose will? Who is in charge? We all may be claiming to follow the will of God, but are we committing sin by not doing so. Let’s repent for our lip service and lack of action when it comes to the will of God. And let’s declare together “if the Lord wills, we will do this or that.”
– Pastor DJ
Notice the stark contrast in the columns of the chart below. In James 3:13-18, he wanted them to get the picture of how Godly wisdom exceeds and excels above earthly wisdom. See for yourself…
|Wisdom From Above||Earthly Wisdom|
Works done in gentleness…
Full of mercy and good fruits…
Denying the truth…
Every evil practice…
I find this whole line of thought from James interesting. Especially considering the final verse of the paragraph and the following theme in the paragraph after. You see James was moving the people toward peace. And he knew that peace came from righteousness, which ultimately comes by wisdom from above.
“And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.” James 3:18
To find peace in our lives, we must be righteous. And to be righteous, we must use wisdom from above. So what are you sowing today so you can reap peace tomorrow?
– Pastor DJ
James chapter 2 gives us some interesting things to think about…especially considering the overarching theme of James is that we mature in Christ. The first 7 verses of James 2 has a tendency to be overlooked, but it calls the church on the carpet when it comes to the sin of favoritism.
“My brothers and sisters, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.”James 2:1
James would then go on to illuminate the practice of many then, and may now, of choosing only those that we desire to be with and around to come have a place in worship, to come and have a place in the presence of Christ. One of the the great tragedies of modern Christianity is our tendency towards cliques and our tendency to not only gather with those who look, act, and think like us, but to only share the Gospel with and invite those familiar people to church.
Spend enough time in any middle school in America and one of the first things that you will notice is…cliques. Cliques are often associated with immaturity because of the lack of depth in the reasoning for them and because they, for some reason, are always in conflict with each other. Replace “middle school” with “church’ in the first sentence of this paragraph. The reality: nothing changes about what is said. And this is what James seeks to tackle in the beginning of chapter 2.
Common response from modern believers – “I am accepting of everyone, and I am not in a clique.”
A proper response from modern believers – “Lord, make me more like Jesus in being loving, accepting, and Gospel forward with everyone, even those who don’t act, think, or talk like I do.”
– Pastor DJ
Have you ever spent a day with a bunch of 12-15 year old boys? Let me give you some insight…
- everything is funny, nothing is serious
- nothing is out of play when it comes to inappropriate comments
- impulsive behaviors and speech is too common
- food is a top priority and work is definitely not
- if it has to do to girls, games, or grossness, then it is the main focus
Now…have you ever spent a lot of time with immature believers? You will find similar behaviors…God is often not taken seriously…properly following Jesus is difficult…self-control is a foreign concept when it comes to sin or to speech…taking in all that you can of God’s word becomes a priority but doing what he has called us to doesn’t…if it has to do with self-preservation, self-pleasure, or self-preferences, then it is the main focus.
“Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you become mature and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4
As we venture through the book of James in the coming weeks, I believe you fill find out a lot about your own personal walk with the Lord, much like I did. And it all begins with observing our own faith, endurance of that faith, and if we are truly mature in the faith. As for me, I found a few spots where I needed to grow up, and let endurance have its full effect. I am praying that you will not only read this with an open mind, but will approach the next few weeks of worship and the Word with an open heart as well, willing to let maturation happen within your life.
– Pastor DJ
“Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here. For he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has risen from the dead…” Matthew 28:5-7
The following verses tell us that the women left with fear AND joy. Easter brings those two expressions to light for all of us.
We fear the impossible (Jesus LITERALLY raised from the dead).
We fear the improbable (not only raised, but did it in 3 days).
We fear the uncomfortable (I’ve never been around a recently dead and now alive person, but I’m sure it would make me uncomfortable).
We fear the consequence (if Jesus rose from the dead, it legitimizes everything He has ever said, which means we are sinners in need of a Savior)
We find joy in the triumph over death.
We find joy in the security of His word.
We find joy in the overwhelming feeling of hope.
What is so satisfying is that both feelings, fear and joy, are settled within the person of Jesus Christ himself. A few verses later in what we call the Great Commission, Jesus would put fear to rest by proclaiming “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me…” He would then reinforce our joy, “For I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” This Easter, remember that there is no fear that cannot be overcome in Christ, and no joy that can be found apart from Him.