"James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: but the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways."
"...Most scholars believe that the Book of James is one of the oldest of all the New Testament books. It was probably written around A.D. 45. The book was addressed to the Jewish [Hebrew, all 12] Christians who were scattered all over the known world, and it dealt with their condition at the time, as they were beginning to suffer persecution. James is perhaps the most practical book in the New Testament. Although it contains some important doctrinal teachings, it is mainly practical adice as to how to live the Christian life. The book addresses the prejudices that we are so prone to hold. It talks about money, the tongue, pride, strife, and so many other practical issues we still face today. The message that James communicates is that the Christian life should not just be a belief system and philosophy to which we give mental assent. Rather, it is a way of life. If is something to be believed, but also acted upon. If our faith doesn't result in works, and a changed life, then that faith is dead. Fruit follows faith; obedience [i.e. to God's laws] follows belief. And how important it is for us today, to be reminded that Christianity is not a belief system to hold, but a life to be lived..." parts excerpted from Pastor Chuck Smith's introduction to the Book of James, p. 1631, The WORD For Today Bible, New Kings James Version.]
If You Hear My Word And Do It, You're My Brother, You're My Sister
"Some things by way of introduction. We are undertaking this study looking at the Book of James as it is written by James the brother of our Lord. Ah, same mother, of course Jesus, his father was God. Ah, James his father was Joseph. There are different views, I don't want to spend a lot of time there. Some try to say that the brethren, the brothers and sisters of Jesus were really cousins. And of course those are people who want to preserve the perpetual virginity of Mary. Well the Scripture knows nothing of that, it clearly teaches that Jesus had brothers and sisters. When the New Testament wants to say "cousins" it says "cousins." In the beginning of Luke's Gospel is talks about his cousin, it says cousin. So, when somebody your cous' or even your cous' 2,000 years ago, the Bible is clear about that. There are others who try to say because of a third century bishop, Solomus, that Jesus' brothers were his brothers only from Joseph only, that Joseph had a previous marriage, and that he brought the brothers into the marriage with Mary, and that they were actually older than Jesus, and they try to say that's why they sometimes seem like they were asserting themselves, because of the culture if they were younger they would never do that, and that's why when Jesus was on the cross he said to John, "behold thy mother," because if they were his brothers and sisters from Mary he would have entrusted her to them. Well first of all, there's nowhere where they assert themselves in any way that would disqualify that. And Jesus when he was on the cross, none of his brothers and sisters were believers. And his "cousin", his mother's sister's son, John, who was his disciple, and was a believer, was there, and he entrusted his mother to him. That doesn't say that after James and his other brothers came to faith, that Mary again didn't live with them. But at that point on the cross he entrusted his mother to John, who was a believer. Now Tertullian tells us all the way back in the 1st century that it was widely accepted these were, in his writing, uterine siblings of Jesus, that James was his closest brother, and his younger brother. Now we don't much think about Jesus' family. But when we read this letter of James, I want to do something as we go through, so that's why I'm taking the time in a little bit of introduction. I want to see Jesus in this letter, through the eyes of his brother James, I want you to understand, or at least I want us to think about some of the chemistry that must have been between these two individuals. You know, of everybody on earth, you know, Mary, certainly again, she was blessed among women. And she was not what she's made out to be in some circles, but she shouldn't be maligned, and Protestants have done that. And again, when you get to heaven [on the Sea of Glass during the Wedding Feast], and you want to know anything about Jesus and the terrible two's, was he ever in the terrible two's? what he was like, you're going to have to, there's one woman that you're going to have to sit and talk to, she's blessed among women. God chose here to give birth to Jesus Christ the Messiah, and she raised him and nurtured him. Well of men, we have James, who seems to be the oldest and closest brother, and grew up in the household with Jesus. We're told in Matthew 13 and Mark chapter 6 that Jesus had at least four brothers. They say, "Isn't this the carpenter's son? Aren't his brothers James, Joses (or Joseph), Simon, and Juda (or Jude) with us?' Jude will write the Epistle of Jude, that we'll come to. He says in his introduction to Jude "I'm the brother of James, the servant of Christ.' So we know Jesus had at least four brothers, and then it says "Aren't his sisters with us?' Now we don't know how many sisters he had. But it's plural so he has at least two. So we know this for sure, there's at least seven kids in the house. There's Jesus, James, Joses, Simon, Jude, and at least two sisters and Joseph and Mary. So there's at least nine people in the house. And this is a carpenter's house. Ok? It tells us that after Jesus was born, in Luke chapter 2, that Mary offered according to the Law two turtle-doves. Well if you go back and you read the Law, it says in the time of her purifying, that she should offer a lamb. It says, "But if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtle-doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering, one for a sin offering, and the priest shall make an atonement for her and she shall be clean.' So what it tells us there in Luke is Mary and Joseph came and offered two turtle-doves, they couldn't afford a lamb. So Joseph's a blue-color worker. He's got seven kids, at least, living in the house. I guarantee you this, he didn't have an eight-bedroom house in Nazareth. [Nazareth was a very poor town.] Him and Mary, I bet, had their own bedroom, but I don't know what the kids were crammed into. And James is always named first amongst the brethren, which would mean that he was the oldest, next to Jesus. So imagine this, not only little Jimmy having Jesus [Yeshua in Hebrew] as his older brother. But you know the way older brothers were like, Jesus, what was he like as an older brother? How nurturing was he? How much attention did he give to James? You think of this cramped household, at least seven kids, all a bunch of little carpenters. Maybe that helps us understand a little more why when Jesus was twelve and they went up to Jerusalem at the Feast, that they left him and didn't realize that he was missing, because they had six other kids running around. You know, one of our families at church did that when we were located at the mall, they have ten children, and everybody was gone, and we were cleaning up, and there was a little kid standing around. We said "What's your name?" "Daniel," tears in his eyes, "What's your mom and dad's name?" When we finally got it out of him, his last name, and we called and we said, "Do you come to Calvary?" "Yes." "How many children to you have?" "Ten." "Do you have one named Daniel?" "Ah, yea." "Do you know where he is?" There was dead silence on the other end, you know. He probably thought we were kidnappers. We said, "He's here, he's here, you left him at church." "Oh, just keep him, we got nine more" [loud laughter] Maybe that helps us understand a little more why they returned to get young Joshua [Yeshua], who was speaking with the doctors and the teachers of the Law. James no doubt was the one who was in the bunk-bed with him, or in the bed with him, the oldest, who spent the most amount of time in proximity to Jesus. When we read this letter that James wrote, it is straight forward, it is upright, it is staccato, it is commandment after commandment. There are fifty imperatives in the grammar, and that may not mean anything to you, but let me explain what it means in the Greek. There are fifty command-verbs, it approximates to one out of every two verses is a commandment. There are probably five major themes that run through the Book of James. But James says this, there's no messing around, "do this, do this, do this, do this.' What do you expect from somebody who grew up and their older brother was God? What kind of an attitude would they have? And I think we have to understand that as we read through, he's saying "Live as mature disciples. The living Christ can be in your heart. There's no messing around. Do this, live this way. We have the capacity, you can do it,' he's very straight-forward. And there's no messing around in his life. He devastates hypocrisy, compromise, false piety, false religiosity, because no doubt he remembers Jesus with the Pharisees and the Sadducees. And it's very much in the spirit of Christ his older brother, who devastated the false religious system of his day, who challenged hypocrisy, who wouldn't put up with false religiosity. [For an article that shows Jesus doing this, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/Has%20the%20Sabbath%20Been%20Abrogated.htm and read through the section showing how Jesus kept the Sabbath, going head to head with the Pharisees and doctors of the Law. He kept it, yes, but in a very different manner and attitude than they did.] And James is very much the same way, because he doesn't want any of that in the Church. And it's very much in the spirit of his Brother. He wants reality in the life of a believer. He wants Christ-likeness in our lives, because no doubt he is a man who is overwhelmed with the fact that his own brother is dwelling in his heart (cf. John 14). And yet the letter is filled with tenderness and grace. Nineteen times in five chapters he says "brethren," brothers, dear brothers, nineteen times. Nowhere in the letter, he identifies as the servant of God and of Jesus Christ, he never employs executive privilege anywhere. He never says "I want you to listen, because I'm connected.' He doesn't have a license plate that says "God's Bro", never wrote a book "The 30 Years I Spent With God'. He didn't believe until after the Resurrection. Tradition tells us he was very pious as a young man. Maybe that was the influence of Jesus. I encourage you, as older brothers and older sisters, never to negate the influence you might have in the life of a younger brother and sister. This man James, 50 imperatives he writes, "Do this, do not compromise, do not be phony, if somebody who walks into your church who looks poor and somebody who walks into your church who looks rich,' he says, "you better not favour the rich man over the guy dressed like a carpenter, because you NEVER know who you're dealing with, take it from me. You better never use your tongue in an unkind way, because you don't know who you're talking to. I made that mistake.' And there's tremendous heart that runs through this. Now, it tells us in 1st Corinthians chapter 15, Paul tells us, when he's talking about the resurrection of Christ, "that after his resurrection, he appeared unto James.' Man, would I like to have that video. What in the world was that like? What was that like? And notice this, James didn't recognize that when Jesus was in the home, I have a feeling this was a very, very human home. James may even have heard Mary say "Why can't you be like your brother?' They understood why after the resurrection of course. But somewhere, between the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, and the forty days that bring us to Acts chapter 1, because in verse 14, Mary, the mother of our Lord, is amongst the disciples there, worshipping her Lord, her son. Remember in the magnificat she said "I rejoice, my spirit rejoices in the Lord my Saviour.' She needed a Lord and a Saviour. It says Mary was there with the brethren of the Lord. So in that process, in those forty days, somewhere, Jesus appears to James. And just imagine, James sitting face to face with his brother, risen from the dead, face to face. He had to say, "I didn't know, honest, I'd never had said those things if I'd known,' and I have to believe they threw their arms around each other and embraced. Jesus showed remarkable deference to his mother on the cross, I believe he was tender to his brothers and sisters and to his family. And imagine what this was like. James becomes the head of the Church in Jerusalem. In Acts chapter 15, he gives the final say. "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us,' James says, "to lay upon the Gentiles no greater burden than these things, to abstain from idols, blood and fornication, things strangled, and remember the poor.' Acts chapter 21, when Paul goes up to Jerusalem, and he says after he got there, the day after he got there, he went and reported to James. So he ends up in a remarkable position in the Church. Again, tradition tells us he never wore wool, he only wore linen, that he was a Nazarite, he never cut his hair, he never tasted wine, that he was called James the Just, James the Righteous, he was called Oblius, which means The Bulwark of the People. But more importantly we're told, Tertullian and others tell us, that he was called Old Camel Knees, because he would go to the Temple every day and he would spend 8, 10, 12 hours on his knees, praying to God for the people, for Israel, for the Church. Tradition says when they went to put him in a sarcophagus, he was martyred, he was still revered both by the Jews and the Christians as a holy man, that when a new procurator came to the area, there was a new high priest, they took him as a trouble-maker, and the Jews were even against it, but he ended up being stoned, some say he was thrown from the roof of the Temple first and then stoned, but in his dying he said "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do," just like Steven. And they say when they went to put him in the sarcophagus, they couldn't straighten out his legs, they were so worn from praying, they were so bent, and his knees were covered with huge callouses, because he spent more time on his knees than he did on his feet, and they had a hard time straightening his legs to put him in the sarcophagus. Here's a guy, it's hard to straighten his legs, as a pastor I find it's hard to find time to bend my knees, and I'm convicted. But more than that, I think, Old Camel Knees, what else could he have been called in a sense? I mean, I just lost my dad in July. Now I put myself in James position, of course it's ridiculous so forgive me, but imagine after loosing a loved one that you are intimately close to, someone whose godly, that you're sitting alone somewhere and he appears to you, and you realize he was Divine. Where else would I spend my time? James didn't want to spend his time anywhere else but on his knees with his Brother, and all of his treasures were in hindsight. It was after the Resurrection he came to faith. And how many things did he think back over, and just pull up in his memory, and go over, over, over and over in his mind. You know, Paul says "Henceforth we know no man after the flesh but after the Spirit.' How many times in our own families do we loose someone and it's after we loose them we think, you know, "I wish I spent more time, I wish I'd listened more closely, I wish I'd have looked a little more deeply in their eyes.' [I feel that way about my dad all the time.] Well James felt that he could still be with his Brother. And it tells us a lot about Jesus, he grew up with him, he looked into his eyes, he listened to the tone of his voice, he saw his tenderness, he saw his fire when it came to religious hypocrisy and compromise. But he saw his love for the tax gatherer and the sinner and the harlot. And James says "If you lack anything, ask him, he gives to all men liberally, and he upbraids not, he's not going to scold you. I'll tell you what he's like. Go to him.' Old Camel Knees, he wanted to spend every day alone with his big brother. He wanted to spend every day alone with his big brother, knees bent, heart-broken, wet eyes, "Lord," just imagine. And I believe it's through that, that this book comes to us, it's written. James must have heard Jesus say "A prophet is not without honour, except in his own home, in his own village," and how that must have meant more when he realized the meaning of those words, "Six or seven of us and we didn't know.' "not without honour except in his own house,' he gives him plenty of honour now. James knows there's a difference between growing up and growing old, for the Christian, the difference between growing up and growing old. Some Christians grow old and never grow up. And he desires maturity, as he writes this letter. And I think, you know, as I look at James, and I think, "Man, what would I have given,' you know, if you could go back in time, wouldn't you have liked to have grown up with Jesus as your older brother? I mean, in the carpenter shop, playing as kids, running, helping dad. You know, Jesus said when Mary and James and Joses, Simon and Jude and his sisters came, he said, "Who is my mother, who are my brethren?' He said, "Those who hear the Word of God and do it.' That's where James come from in his letter. He [Jesus] says, "Those are my mother, my brothers and my sisters.' Jesus says to us tonight, "If you hear my Word and you do it, you are my brother, you're my brother, you're my sister.' When he rose from the dead he said to Mary Magdalene, "Go tell my brethren that I ascend unto my Father and their Father and to my God and their God." He's the same yesterday, today and forever. And when I think about this, I think "We can spend that time alone with him.' I want to be old Camel Knees before I die. I want to have that intimacy with him, and it's available, he says that. But it's maturity that's part of that, growing up.
Quick Overview Of The Book Of James
Five chapters, basically a quick overview of them are this, chapter 1, he gives us a picture of the mature Christian, and he says the mature Christian is patient in trials. That's chapter 1. The mature Christian is patient in trials. Children are not patient in trials. James grew up with lots of kids in the house. And if you grew up with lots of kids, you know how kids are when they have to wait, you know, they go crazy. Kids, they are not patient. The mature Christian in chapter 1, he says, is patient in trials. In chapter 2 he says the mature Christian practices the Word. The mature Christian doesn't just talk theology, he said the mature Christian lives the Word, "You say you have faith, let me see your works,' the mature Christian, he says, demonstrates Christ-likeness, they live the Word. Chapter 3, he says the mature Christian controls his tongue. That's what the third chapter's about. If you can control your tongue, he says you can control your life, you're a mature Christian. Because kids can't control their tongue. They talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, if you've got little kids around. You know, the funny thing is, even before they learn language, if you have a little baby there, they're babbling away in baby-language you can't understand. Immature Christians cannot control their tongue. Chapter 4, he says mature Christians make peace, not trouble. Mature Christians make peace, not trouble, that's what you'll find in chapter 4. And you know, it's interesting with kids again, you know, kids have nothing to do, I look at kids, and I think "Life was so much simpler then,' when I was a little kid I didn't worry about Democrats and Republicans and tax breaks and Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and utility bills and mortgage bills, they got nothing to worry about. But if you let a bunch of them out in the yard, they fight all day long. Immature Christians are trouble-makers. Mature Christians make peace, not trouble. But immature Christians are like kids, you put them in a room together they'll fight. And lastly in chapter 5 he says mature Christians pray, mature Christians pray. [see the Prayer section at: http://www.unityinchrist.com/prayer/bibleway.htm]
A Mature Christian Is Patient In Trials
James, A Bond-Slave Of God And Of Yahweh-shua the Messiah
So he begins, "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience." (verses 1-3) James, a servant of the God...a doulos, a bond-slave, a servant. He doesn't say, "James, and you know who I mean,' I would, you know, Christians love to name-drop, I mean, I'd have played a little bit with this somewhere in my carnal nature. "Are you James?' "Yea, I am, you've probably heard of me,' [he laughs] "Yea, yea, I met Billy Graham once, of course,' Christians, just imagine, "James, a bond-slave of God, and of the Lord, Kurios, Jesus Christ,' Christ is Messiah. "I am the slave of God,' Kurios is the word that's translated 2,000 times in the Old Testament for Yahweh, the LORD. "and I am a servant of the Divine LORD Jesus the Messiah.' What a perspective. What an impression Christ made on him after the Resurrection, when he came and he appeared to him. "I'm a servant of the Divine Lord Jesus the Messiah.' And he's writing to, it says, "the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad," You hear the word Diaspora, to be scattered, it comes from two words, "spora" is "seed", "dia" "to be scattered", the idea is, you see James is looking at these primarily Jewish believers [actually only one tribe of the twelve tribes were "Jewish", from the tribe of Judah], driven out from Jerusalem, some of them under persecution, some of them having come on Pentecost, thousands turning to Christ when Peter preached, and then being spread throughout the Roman Empire. As James looks at them, he realizes, no, there's no mistake here. What you are is you are "seed, scattered throughout the world," sown, with the living Christ in your hearts. And God has taken your lives and he's spread out my brethren, he's scattered Christ throughout the Roman Empire.
Trials Come Upon Us From Without, Temptations From Within---Trials Are Mandatory Courses, Temptations Are Electives
But he's going to write to them this, "Knowing that there are trials,' and in this first chapter he's going to talk about maturity in trials and temptations. He draws a difference between them, trials are something coming upon us from the outside, temptation coming from within. And a trial is something, that we can get ourselves into a trial sometimes, because we just don't use Biblical common sense. But there are trials that come in our lives, he's going to talk about them, that come from God. He's going to say temptations never do, they come from within, when every man is draw aside of his own lust. But trials, he's going to say sometimes are allowed of God, in our lives, and they're not electives, they're mandatory courses. And they come to us because they accomplish something in our lives. Now, everybody in this room is either in a trial, coming out of a trial, or going into a trial, that's where we live. That's just this is earth. We forget, don't we? This ain't heaven [or the kingdom of heaven, which will end up on earth (cf. Revelation 21-22).] That should be a bumper sticker. "This sure ain't heaven" is what it should say. This is earth. And God is concerned with conforming us into the image of his Son, there's a great work that he's committed to in all of our lives, and he who has begun a good work, he's going to complete it, he's going to do it until that day. So, he says there are trials that come. Now he's going to use some words here in regards to these trials, he's going to say, first of all, "count it all joy" so he's going to say "count". Then he's going to say, "knowing that the trying [perfecting] of your faith produces patience [endurance]." Then he's going to say, "So let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." (verse 4) And then he's going to say "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." (verse 5) So he's going to give us four one-syllable words. He's going to say, first of all, "count", then he's going to say, "know", then he's going to say, "let", then he's going to say "ask." And he takes us into this, as he says "My brethren,". Now he doesn't claim Christ as his brother, he claims us, he claims us, knowing that if he can be the brother of Jesus, anybody can.
1. Take Inventory And See What There Is To Learn In A Situation, When You Fall Into Various Trials
"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience." (verse 3) I already don't like the book of James, [he laughs] because normally I grumble when I fall into a trial or a temptation, I like to fall out of them, not fall into them. "count it all joy" now this is, it's an accounting word, "to assess" or "to count," or "to reckon." You know, he's asking us to think, to count it all joy...now he's not asking us to be sadistic, "Oh this is great, you're going to do what!? You're going to have to do what test on me!? Oh man, you're going to have to draw how many units of blood, yes!' no, it's not, he's not asking us to be insane. He's assuming, because that's the way he's lived, that we know that our Lord and our Saviour, our older Brother is in control of our lives. So he says, "count it all joy" you need to take inventory and see what there is to learn in a situation, when you fall into various trials, the Greek is "very colored", the trials come in all different shapes and sizes, and come at us from all different angles. And he says when you fall into them, he says, "count it joy". He doesn't say "be thankful for the trial,' you know, you're chopping wood and you hit your ankle with the ax, he doesn't say "just praise it,' but in the trial you can say "OK Lord, what is there to learn here, I know the first thing to learn is, my wife told me, "you shouldn't be chopping wood using...', but what is there to learn here? Count it all joy. And he doesn't say "if." OK? He says "When." And I know some of you might be thinking, "Hey, I just got saved, this is the greatest thing that ever happened to me! I had all kinds of problems, things are going great now...' just, we'll see you, get back to us. Just keep breathing. Because it says "When" and that includes you. Not "count it all joy if,' but "count it all joy when we fall into something, we end up into something.' And sometimes Christians say, "What is this all about, Lord? Why is this happening to me? You told me you love me, you promised me a more abundant life. You said I could cast all of my cares upon you because you care for me, just consider the sparrows, and I can walk around and don't even have to worry about what they worry about, and you let this happen? Lord, maybe if a scream a little louder, or maybe you didn't realize this happened to me.'
2. Know What The Trials Are For, What They're Supposed To Produce
Well he says "count" and that we can count it as something, he says, "knowing". We can't count it that way unless you know something. "count it all joy when ye fall into divers [various] temptations" the first word includes trials and temptations, and then he says this, "knowing this, that the trying [testing] of your faith worketh patience." The testing. That's not a temptation, that's the testing, testing out, proving what something is worth. You can count it a certain way, that an unbeliever can't when you're in a difficult situation, by knowing something. And what is it that we're supposed to know, we're supposed to take inventory, we're supposed to realize? "Well, no, no God wouldn't let this happen, except for the fact that the testing of my faith right now is producing something in me.' Now patience [here in this verse] is the word hupomone, it's "endurance." It's not just "patience" now here I am sitting in traffic again, you know, just "ahhh...' No, it's not that word, it's bearing up under pressure. It's not an idle just waiting, it's an active enduring. You're not just standing at the corner waiting for the bus, "ahh, I'm going to be late,' you're standing at the corner and it's hailing, cars are splashing water on you, and you're there waiting for the bus, you're enduring. It produces something, it produces an endurance he says. You know, God may hurt us, but he will never harm us. I think Tozier said that. God may hurt us, but God will never harm us. I'm grieving, grieving for my dad. You know if you're in bereavement now, they estimate in America, for every individual at any time during the year whose in bereavement, there are a million other Americans going through the exact same thing. So if you've lost a loved one this summer, and your heart is grieving, there are at least 1 million other Americans also grieving. And the vast majority of them don't have the hope that you have. You know, I'm saying "Lord, what am I supposed to learn in this? This hurts, my dad is gone.' I know all the verses, some people tell me, I know the verses, I've been teaching the verses for 20 years, I know the verses. But I found myself saying "Lord, I need them to be deeper now than they have ever been. I need to know something that I don't know, because this really hurts." And I remember trying to get myself to bed, you know, I'd been up for 72 hours when he took his last breath, you know, Friday morning trying to get ready for Sunday and saying, "Lord, I can't go there, I need something from you, Lord. I've served you for all these years, my faith is being tested, it's being burned to a cinder here, I need something from you," and weeping, and it's clear, one of those times that only happens two or three times in your life, I heard simply "Absent from the body, present with the Lord." And it was like, fire. Oh, I knew that verse, but not the way I know it now. And he [James] says "take account", "count it all joy when you're in a testing, knowing this,' God's not sadistic, he's not allowing something to happen in your life just to give you aggida. No, if he's letting something happen in your life, it's because he's producing something in you. In that testing and the working of your faith, he may hurt, but it will never harm you.
3. Get Your Hands Off This Situation---It's A Surrendered Will
"knowing this," he says, "that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." (verse 4) Now he comes to the next word, he asks us to allow something, permit something. "let patience have her perfect work, they ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." Let patience have her perfect work, let that happen. The idea is, hands off. The Old Testament says this, "be still, and know that I am God." That doesn't mean just sit somewhere, dead still and quiet. That's a good thing to do, and I think we should do that. The Hebrew is "hands off, and know that I am God." Hands off, get your hands off of this situation, it's a surrendered will. Take inventory, count it all joy, knowing that it's not in vain, God loves you, and allow this to happen in your life, "let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." That "perfect" isn't sinless, it's "mature and entire, lacking nothing" so that you might be a "mature" Christian. James is saying, that there might be maturity in our lives, Christ is being formed in you. And he has so much confidence, Old Camel Knees, in his older Brother, he spits these things out, staccato, you know, he just spits them out, imperatives, "Do this! Do this!' and it almost seems hard, if you don't understand, he's saying this with the utmost persuasion, he's saying it with a broken heart, and wet eyes, and bent knees, it's coming from the presence of Christ, as he's there, he's saying "It's not happening by mistake, it's not happening to injure you, let it happen, and you'll see what it will produce in your life.'
4. If You Don't Understand The Trial, Ask, Ask God For Wisdom
If it's difficult, and you don't understand it, "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." (verse 5) "OK, James I tried it, I counted, I know, I let, this stinks. You know, I put the first three steps here, I am not happy. What is the deal?' Well he says if you're in that trial, and you lack wisdom, don't go to your analyst, or get your mood ring, let's try something else, "ask". What if he heard his older brother say "Ask and it shall be given, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you," and the tenses there are "ask and keep on asking, and it shall continually be given, seek and continue to seek, and you shall continually find, knock, reverently knock, and continue to knock, and it shall continually be opened to you. Because his tenses here are "if any of you lack wisdom, let him continually be asking of God, let it be a continual process in your life.' "that gives to all men liberally," that's without reservation, "and upbraideth not;" I love that. Old Camel Knees tells us, "Let me tell you something, if you get in front of him, and you ask him, you're in a difficult situation, you don't know how it's going to work out, you're trying to exercise your faith, and you're trying to trust him, but it hurts, then go and ask him, because he gives to all of us without reservation. And when he does, he doesn't upbraid you.' He's not going to say, you're not going to be praying and hear God say, "Duh, I gave you a brain, didn't I? You can read the Bible, can't you? Is it you again? I only hear from you when you're in a trial, it would be nice to see you some other time.' He says, you know, he grew up with him, he watched his eyes, with his younger brothers and sisters, he watched his tenderness, he searched over his memory, thinking "Why didn't I realize it then, I knew he was a goody-twoshoes, it drove me crazy, but yea there was more than that. And now I know why he acted that way, and I know why he did this, and then when I watched him and listened to his disciples, and the cross,' and all of that came to him, because he says "Go to him, go to him,' there was nobody who went to him more than Old Camel Knees, than James. He said, "you go to him and ask, he gives to everyone without reservation, and he doesn't scold you, that's not his nature, it's never been his nature, I grew up with him, I lived with him, I saw it in his eyes, I heard it in the tone of his voice, go to him, he's not gonna say, "You again! You think you can come here, I warned you before you got into this. And NOW, with your tail between your legs you're going to come back to me and beg me to be nice to you? Get outa here!'' He says he's not going to do that. He isn't going to do that. That isn't who he is. That's who human beings are. Micah 7:18 says "Who is a God like unto you? Who is a God like unto you, showing mercy, not holding his anger,' Again, Camel Morgan says in regards to Micah, he says "You and I see something every day that God can't see. We see something every day of our life that God cannot see, and that is we see our equals," miserable, complaining, vindictive, human beings. When God looks around the heavens, who is a God like unto thee, there is no one like him. So when we think of forgiveness and love, we measure it so much on human parameters, on human terms, on a human scale. God is offering us a love we can only receive by faith, because there's no measurement for it. He's offering us forgiveness and wisdom that we can't measure on human terms. And we think "Man, I've blown it so many times, if I go back and ask him again he's just gonna give it to me [blam!].' No, James says he's not. He gives without reservation, "he upbraideth not," he's not going to scold you, he says. "Only let him ask in faith' he says. He says "if you ask without faith, you're like a wave in the sea, driven, tossed with the wind, let not such a man think he's going to receive anything.' (verses 6-7) But he says, go and ask him, ask in faith, nothing wavering, believe, he says. "For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed." (verse6) up and down, up and down in the Word, up and down in his relationship, he says let not that man think he's going to receive anything, he's not going to be able to take hold of the things that the Lord has for him, "Is this possible?' Paul and Silas in Philippi, taken down in prison, put in the stocks, their legs spread-eagle, as far as you could spread them, and it was in agony the position they were in. And as they're sitting down there in the darkness what does Paul do? He says, "Silas, what's the words to that hymn again? I love that.' And Silas said, "What!?' And Paul starts singing. "Let's sing this one.' [he laughs] Silas was probably thinking "If you weren't here, I would not be singing, I'd be whining.' And they start singing praises to God in the midst of a trial, in the midst of a trial. And of course God thinks, "Hey, listen to that,' starts tapping his foot, and there's an earthquake, prison shakes, everybody goes free. It says the disciples, I think chapter 6 of Acts, "When they had taken them and beaten them, they let them go, and they left rejoicing, that they had been found worthy to suffer for Christ.' How do you stop guys like that? "Let's beat "em and let them go,' and they just whupped on them and beat the tar out of them, and when they left they were "Zippidy doo-da,' they went out praising God. Is it possible? Yea, it's possible, it's possible. The hard thing is being patient under those pressures. You know, you look in the Bible at people who were not patient, Abraham with Hagar, there's been trouble ever since. David, he wanted to kill Nabal, lucky there was a godly woman named Abigail that stopped him from sinning, impatient. Go through the Scripture and think of those who were impatient, and the trouble that sometimes brought, because James is saying, normally we want to get the situation, jerk it around, you know, figure out some way to get out of it. Look at all that James had been through, and he says, "Brothers,' and that word meant a lot to him, more than we can image, "brothers, brothers, brother named Joseph, brother named Simon, brother named Jude, I have a brother named Jesus, brothers, count it all joy, assess the situation when it comes, knowing that God wouldn't allow that to happen unless it was producing some kind of endurance, he's not vindictive, he's not angry, so let patience have its perfect work, let it work itself out, that you may be complete and entire, lacking nothing. If any man lacks wisdom, let him go to God and ask, he gives to all men liberally and upbraideth not. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering, for he who wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed, let not such a one think that he shall receive anything of God.'
Rich, Poor, We're All The Same
He's going to go on and say "Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: but the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways." (verse 9-11) He knows what he is talking about, he grew up one of five brothers in a carpenter's shop. And you know they ate SpaghettiO's and Fish Sticks all the time they were growing up. McDonalds was a big day out. "Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted..." my Brother is on the Throne, your Brother is on the Throne. You have no idea, our future, our hope, the glory of our calling, the family of God. "Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted [in Christ]: but the rich, in that he is made low:" he's also a sinner saved by grace. Let the rich man rejoice in that life has come into perspective. Because lots of times wealthy people have life out of perspective. "Let him rejoice, the rich man, that he also has a reality check, a sinner saved by grace,' "because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away." (verse 10b) You can buy companionship, you can't buy love. You can buy amusement, you can't buy peace. You can buy sleep, you can go to the drug store, but you can't buy peace. Let them realize the wealthy man, you know, life has come into perspective, "as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways." (verses 10b-11) Truth is, in the end, we're all the same, we're all the same. Maybe you're in a hovel somewhere, maybe laying on a dirt floor, breathing your last. At that point in time, human dignity is gone, everything you think you can hold onto is gone, what that person is holding onto at that moment is eternity, "Lord I'm ready to go.' How wonderful it is to hear somebody say "I'm not afraid, I'm ready to go.' And I'll tell you this, the wealthy man, it doesn't matter if he's in the best hospital, all dignity is gone, somebody is going to change him, somebody is going to change his diapers. Everything he thought he could hold onto is going to be gone, and he's going to be just like the poorest man in the world. You brought nothing into this world, you're not going to take anything out of this world, and you're going to take your last breath. And what a wonderful thing if before that last breath, he has life in perspective and realizes he's a sinner saved by grace, no better than the poor man, and at that last breath he can say "Lord Jesus, ready or not, here I come, here I come Lord.' I hope you can say that. Us, trials, yea there's trials in this world. Certainly we should pray for one another, we should encourage one another. But there's a certain part of those trials that are only settled on the vertical, Old Camel Knees says to us, he knows. What a great resource we have. If you're here tonight and you don't know Jesus Christ, you know, we have this great advantage, I mean, here's James, Peter, John, these guys rubbed shoulders with Christ, in Jerusalem they took note that they were unlearned, ignorant men, but they had been with Jesus. And they rubbed shoulders with the next generation. Paul says faith, and then you pass along to those, to faithful men, the Word of God, that they then may pass it along to others. That's gone on for generation after generation, the Waldensians, you know, to Huss, to Luther, to Spurgeon, to Whitfield, to Billy Graham, to Chuck Smith, to, if you have godly grandparents, a godly grandma, godly grandpa, that stuff's been rubbed off down through the centuries and passed down to us, and we stand in the truth of it, just the way James did. [Comment: to learn about the Waldensians see, http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/revivals4.htm and to learn about Whitfield and John Wesley, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/wesley.htm and to learn about Chuck Smith, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/smith.htm. To learn how the incredible divergence between the Baptists and the Waldensians took place, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/BaptistHistory.htm (mystery somewhat solved, as the early apostolic Church was Judeo-Christian, Sabbath/HolyDay observing (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htm for historic proof of that).] And if you don't have that hope tonight, you don't know if you died tonight where you'd spend eternity, as we sing this last song, we just want to give you an opportunity, if you want to make Christ your Saviour, come up tonight, we'll pray with you...[transcript of a connective expository sermon on James 1:1-11, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19116]