Drop files to upload.
Faithlife Corporation

Moving Forward in Christ

Notes & Transcripts

Christianity Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Part 4: Moving Forward in Christ

James 1:16-27

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - March 4, 2012

*Years ago Paul Harvey told about a biker riding down the highway on his motorcycle, and he had this message printed on the back of his leather jacket: “If you can read this, -- my girlfriend fell off.” (1)

*IF: That little word has a great big meaning. It’s a word that can change everything. And tonight we will look at some of the progress God wants to see in our lives, IF Jesus is our Savior and Lord.

1. Christians, the first piece of progress is this: God wants us to restrain our tongues and our temper.

*So in vs. 18-20, James says this to Christians:

18. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

19. Therefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;

20. for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

[1] The Lord wants us to restrain our tongues.

*Tongue trouble is one of the most important topics in James’ letter. Chapter 3 explores tongue trouble in great detail. But here in vs. 19, James simply said, “My beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak.”

*All things being equal, we would get along a whole lot better with other people if we would “be swift to hear and slow to speak.”

[2] The Lord wants us to restrain our tongues. -- But He also wants us to restrain our temper.

*Again in vs. 19-20, James tells Christians:

19. Therefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;

20. for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

*Our tongue and our temper. I think God’s Word put these two together, because so many times they go together. We don’t restrain our temper, so we don’t restrain our tongue.

*Our selfish, sinful anger can be a dangerous and destructive thing. Anger can lead us to say things that cut like a knife. And our tongues can do damage that goes far beyond our expectation.

*Bill Tolar helps us see this in a story about a young girl. She had the bad habit of talking about other people. Then her papaw told her he wanted to show her how much damage she was doing with her tongue. He waited for a real windy day, then gave her a large bag filled with pillow feathers.

*Papaw told her to go to the top of a steep hill, and scatter those feathers to the wind. She followed his instructions, then came back and asked: “Now what do I do?” -- Papaw said: “Now go back and pick up all the feathers.” (2)

*It can be much, much harder to undo the damage we do with our tongues.

-So God wants us to restrain our tongues and our temper.

2. He also wants us to receive His Word.

*In vs. 21, James tells believers: “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”

*The AMP Bible says: 21. So get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness, and in a humble (gentle, modest) spirit receive and welcome the Word which implanted and rooted [in your hearts] contains the power to save your souls.

*Last week we saw that God’s Word can give us new birth and new belonging as part of the family of God. But here James is stressing the power of God’s Word to give us new behavior. And that’s what the Word will do, IF we will receive it.

*That word “receive” carries the idea of holding the Word, embracing it, making it your own. James is talking about us holding God’s Word in our heart, -- allowing it to mold and shape our lives. James is talking about us basing our lives on the Bible, -- allowing it to transform our behavior.

*On the night before the cross, in John 15:3, Jesus told His followers: “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.”

*And in Ephesians 5, where Paul was talking about Christian marriage, he said:

25. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

26. That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

27. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

*Those are the kind of changes the Lord wants to make in our lives.

-And He can do it! -- IF we will receive His Word.

-God wants us to receive His Word.

3. But He also wants us to respond to His Word.

*So James gives us this warning in vs. 22-25:

22. 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 observing his natural face in a mirror;

24. for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.

25. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

*Of course hearing God’s Word is great! The greatest commandment of all begins with the word “Hear.” In the Old Testament, this commandment is found in Deut 6:4-5:

4. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!

5. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.

*Jews call this commandment the “Shema,” because “shema” is the Hebrew word that means “to hear.”

-Hearing God’s Word is great!

-But just hearing the Word is a great waste.

*God wants us to take action!

-He wants us to respond to His Word.

-He wants us to apply His Word to every area of our lives.

-It’s the only way to have the abundant life Jesus wants us to have.

*That’s why in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:

24. “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:

25. and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26. Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:

27. and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matt 7:24-27)

*It’s not enough to hear. We have to do the Word.

-When God commands, we should comply. -- But how can we do that?

[1] James shows us 2 things to help. -- The first thing to do is remember the truth.

*You see, the problem in James 1:24 was that the man forgot who he was. He “immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” James is telling us: “Don’t do that. Remember the truth. Remember who you are in the Lord.”

[2] Remember the truth. -- And remain in the truth.

*Or as James said in vs. 25, “continue” in the truth. God’s Word is a mirror in these verses, and we need to keep looking into the mirror.

*We can all understand that because we all use mirrors. I certainly used one this morning. This is about as good as I ever look. But you ought to see me when I first get up!

-So we use a mirror to shave.

-We use a mirror to help comb our hair (if we’ve got any).

-And if we see a big piece of spinach between our teeth, we can do something about it.

*We see our spiritual reflection in the Word of God.

-It shows us who we are.

-Who we ought to be.

-Who we can be.

-And sometimes the mirror of God’s Word also shows us what we shouldn’t be.

*But what a mirror! -- What a book!

-It can show us the changes we need to make in our life.

-And God will help us to make every one of them.

*But we have to DO the Word.

-We have to trust in His Word, and apply it to our lives.

*God wants us to respond His Word.

4. But He also wants us to reflect the right kind of religion.

*James explained the real thing to us in vs. 26-27, where he said:

26. If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless.

27. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

[1] Notice first that real religion means controlled speech.

*Again in vs. 26: “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless.”

-If our Christianity is real, then Jesus gets hold of our tongue

-He helps us stop saying some things.

-And start saying some things.

*Lord willing, there will be a whole message on tongue taming in chapter 3. But the fact is that you cannot have Godly religion without taming your tongue. And James says if we think we can, we are just lying to ourselves.

*There is an awful lot of deception in this world. And some of the most tragic is self-deception: Deceiving yourself, deceiving you own heart. So many people in this world are deceived about what’s good and important and right.

*Melvin Newland used a little child to help us see how mixed up people can be. He said: “A child may think that a quarter is worth more than a dollar bill, because the quarter is shiny and pretty.

*A child may think that a candy bar is worth more than a hundred dollar bill, because he wants the candy more.” (3)

*The sad truth is that grown-ups can be even more deceived about what matters.

-And we are deceived if we think we don’t have to tame our tongue.

[2] Real religion means controlled speech. -- And a compassionate spirit.

*As James explained in vs. 27: “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble . . .”

*It’s easy for us to retreat back into our little cocoon, and forget the hurting people around us. But God wants us to have enough compassion to “visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction.”

*Now this doesn’t take anything away from the other kinds of contacts we make. Some of the most encouraging words I have ever received came in a card or letter from someone who wrote just what I needed to hear. And we are blessed with technology past generations never dreamed of: Picture phones -- Who would have thought?

*God wants us to use modern technology for His glory. But there is something special about a visit. The word “visit” is based on the same root word as “vision.” So God wants us to make face-to-face connections with people.

*And there are all kinds of visits to make. Here He mentions orphans and widows. From the youngest to the oldest, all kinds of people need visits.

-Sick people and shut-ins.

-New members and prospects.

-Old friends and new.

*Remember what Jesus said to the righteous in Matt 25? -- “I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came unto me.”

*They said: “When did we do that?” -- And Jesus replied, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it unto me.” (From Matt 25:35-40)

*Of course, Jesus also wants us to go wherever we can to reach the lost for Him.

-So in Acts 1:8, Jesus said: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

*Never doubt that God wants us to make visits for Him. And what a difference they can make! God wants us to have enough compassion to visit for Him.

[3] And real religion means having a compassionate spirit. -- But it also means cautious separation from the world.

*As James said in vs. 27: “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

*As Christians, we should keep ourselves unspotted from the world. And that can be hard to do, because the world is forever trying to pull us down.

*So, how is the world getting its dirt on you? -- It doesn’t necessarily have to be something immoral. Any good thing is a problem, if it keeps you from doing what God wants you to do.

*And by saying “keep oneself unspotted,” James reminds us that WE have a part. There is effort involved. We need a strategy. We need to plan. We need to be on guard.

*So guard your heart. Guard your mind. And guard your time.

-Make the effort to keep your life unspotted from the world.

*But we know that we can never do it alone. -- We need Jesus Christ!

-He is the only one who can save us. -- We need to be cleansed by the blood Jesus shed when He died on the cross for our sins.

*Jesus cleanses us when we trust in the Lord.

-Then He helps us move forward in the Christian life.

-We cannot keep away from sin in our own strength. We need help from the Risen Savior, as He works day by day in the hearts of all believers.

*Jesus is the only one who can really help us control our speech.

-Jesus can give us a compassionate spirit.

-And He can help keep us separated from the world.

*Jesus can help us move forward in the Christian life. -- And He will!

*Take heart in these words I heard a few years ago: “God loves you just the way you are. And He loves you too much to let you stay that way.” (4)

*Take even more encouragement from Paul’s words from Phil 2:13, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

*God can help us move forward in the Christian life. -- And He will!

*Let’s go to the Lord in prayer.

1. Source: “In Other Words,” Summer 1999, p. 20 - produced by Dr. Raymond McHenry - 6130 Barrington - Beaumont, Texas 77706 (800) 553-4697 - www.iows.net

2. Original source unknown

3. SermonCentral sermon “Goodness - Fruit of the Spirit” by Melvin Newland - Gal 5:22

4. Quote possibly from Buddy Green

RELATED MEDIA
See the rest →
Get this media plus thousands more when you start a free trial.
Get started for FREE
RELATED SERMONS
See the rest →