James

The same place of salvation for all

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James 1:9–11

9 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation,

10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away.

11 For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.

At salvation, the rich and the poor must meet at the same place. While this act of humility is not difficult for a poor man, it is very difficult for a rich man. Even for the poor humility is a challenge. The poor must acknowledge their life sin and the emptiness of their religious efforts to come to God. Coming to God is always an act of humility for in coming to God we must leave all of our own efforts and sin aside trusting Christ alone to save us.

 

The rich man must come to the exact same place. The rich man has a harder time for he or she has lived in their success, their opulence, even their own religious ideas and leave all of that to come to Christ. In essence, the rich have more to leave behind to come to Christ. It is therefore more difficult for the rich to be saved as Jesus Himself taught that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it was for a rich man to come into God’s kingdom.

 

James makes a necessary point in verse 11. For while the rich of this world think themselves better than the poor of this world, the rich will fade as the grass and will come to the same place of nothing at death. In death all share the same weakness, the same corruption, and the same dishonor.

 

So be concerned for both the rich and for the poor in this life. Pray for both to come to Christ before it is too late. Do not envy the rich, especially if they in their pride are against God. Look to the poor of this world who are rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom of God for those are the ones you will be with forever.

 

Thank you for your prayers for our trip. It was a wonderful time with family. We played, we sang, we prayed, we played, we ate, we hiked, we ministered, we talked, we loved, we rejoiced in the blessings of God upon us. God has chosen us to bless us and He has. Oh how I long for all of my friends in Christ to enjoy the fullest blessings that come from the hand of God to those whom He saves to bless.

 

1 Peter 3:8–12

8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;

9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.

10 For “He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit.

11 Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it.

12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

As I read these verses this week I thanked God for giving us His blessings and prayed that all of you would know the same blessings that we have come to enjoy in Christ.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

 

Act always with godly wisdom – it is available

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James 1 (ESV)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

 

The act of asking for wisdom by faith is and should be a daily prayer of every follower of Jesus Christ. We live in a world that is devoid of godly wisdom.  Everyone wants to know how you feel, or how you think about a given situation. Pardon me, but how I feel and think has gotten me into trouble more often than not.  No, you don’t want to know how I feel or think about a given situation, you want God’s wisdom on that situation.  If you come to me for counsel, we will pray together, open the Bible together, and seek God’s wisdom together.

James lets us know that when we ask God for wisdom we are asking the One who can give wisdom generously and without holding back.  God wants us to act with His wisdom in all areas of our lives.  For instance, is it godly wisdom to go to church or to miss church?  Is it godly wisdom to speak in harsh truthfulness or to speak with gentleness and meekness giving His truth?  Is it godly wisdom to stay up late and get up early or would God have us take better care of our bodies, His temples?  Godly wisdom needs to be sought every day by every child of God.

James also tells us that this plea to God for wisdom needs to be by faith without doubts in our minds that God will give us the wisdom that we need.  When we doubt God’s ability or God’s wisdom we are like the waves of sea driven wherever the wind takes them.  When we follow the wisdom of the world instead of the wisdom of God we too are tossed to and fro by the winds of change and chance.  We become double-minded and unstable in all that we do.  God’s wisdom is the key to unlock the stability that we long for.  Seek His wisdom by faith today and then fully follow the wisdom that He gives to you.  In fact, if you are not sure what to do, wait on God to show you His wisdom in the matter.

Bobbi, Jared, and I are going to California today to see Ben and Anna’s new baby girl, our newest granddaughter.  We are so looking forward to seeing little Emilia Grace!  I will be sure to send pictures of our time with her.  We will be staying with our son Justin, his wife and their four boys.  It is always a blast to be around our California family. 

Mike Sell is bringing the message this Sunday so be sure to be there to support Mike.  I am not sure how many devotionals I will be able to get out while I am gone.  There are a thousand on the website if you want to scroll down a few months and find one that fits your need any day, please do.  That website is www.graceforlifebc.com

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Joy in trials?

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James 1 (ESV)

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

 

I have just finished the book of James in my personal reading.  As I am going through the Bible in the ESV this time I  will be using it for this book.

This verse of Scripture has been one that has been used often in times of trials, and rightfully so.  James is writing to the believers of the early church who had been scattered from their homes because of persecution. They were living in trials every day on account of their faith.  (Please do not consider a cold or the flu or something trivial as the trial of your faith. These were life-altering, never go back to normal trials that James is addressing.)

To these who had lost much on account of Christ James tell them to count the loss that that trial brought as joy.  How can great loss be counted as joy? Great loss is just that, it is great loss.  We grieve over great loss, we do not take joy in great loss. But this is exactly what James is teaching them and us.  When God brings trials of great loss into our lives, He is doing so to strengthen our faith in Him and to develop our steadfast confidence in His goodness.

What have you lost that God used to strengthen you?  At the end of the trial after you had been strengthened and made more steadfast in your faith, after you saw how the trial perfected you as a Christian and as a person, were you thankful for the lesson?  Could you have learned the lesson apart from the trial?  The old saying “hindsight is always 20/20” is true here.  When the trial is past we can see what God was doing through it.  God wants us to realize in the middle of the trial that He is in full control and that He is using this very trial of our faith to produce within us a steadfast faith and confidence in Him.  Therefore, count the trial as a joy before it ends.

What a great time we had in church yesterday.  I am thankful for our church and for those of you who come and make Grace for Life an important part of your week.  The service exalted the Lord, the Lord’s Table drew us to the Savior, and the message brought us again to Mount Zion God’s heavenly home for all who come to Him through Christ. 

We had fun with the McNiffs and the Schroeders during the Super Bowl last night.  Our house loves people and we had a great time watching one team get way ahead and then fall behind. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

How important is spiritual restoration?

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James 5

19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

There are people we all know who are basically good people. They work hard, they love their families, they are friendly, and might even be our friends. We think well of them and don’t often think of their spiritual needs.   Can someone fit this description and still be wandering away from the truth of salvation?

What about the church member who comes most of the time, is always friendly to us, talks openly about the Lord, but is slowly wandering from the truth of God in their lives? What do we do about them?

James describes anyone who wanders from the truth of God’s word and then uses a generic word, “someone,” to describe anyone who goes after a wandering one in an effort to bring them to salvation from their error. Let me suggest that ‘we’ are that “someone.” We who know the truth and have turned from the error of our ways and have found our sins forgiven at the Cross are to be the “someones” who go after those who are still trapped in error.

Think of those you know who need the Savior. Who is caring for them at that level?   If they won’t listen to you then commit to praying for their salvation. Ask God for His opportunity to point them to Him and to His truth. We who have been converted have the answer for those who are still wandering. Then, when we have the God-given opportunity to point them to Him we will see them saved from eternal death and we will see their sins taken away from them. Their lives will change before our eyes and they will thank God for His grace in bringing us to care for their souls. What a great opportunity we have to help the lost find their way.

Adults, Saturday evening is our annual adult Christmas party at the Molefe’s home. Their address is 5s 746 Timberlane, Naperville. Come at 6:00, bring fingerfood and a white-elephant gift for our exchange. Bring friends and relatives if you can. This is a highlight event of our Christmas season.

 

Then, Sunday morning is our annual Christmas program here at the church. This is always a blessed time of exalting our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Be sure to be on time as you won’t want to miss any of the music or readings that will be presented.

 

Pray for Sandy Saltzman as she is having thyroid surgery today.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Criticism Criticized

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James 5

Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!

Having grown up in a pastor’s home and having now been the pastor of a church for over sixteen years, I can tell you that one of the greatest enemies of the Christian church is a critical spirit.  I have known people who felt they had the “gift” of criticism.  No, that is not what they called it, but that is what it was.  When someone develops a critical spirit no one is free from their critique.

Solomon said that there were six things the Lord hated and the seventh was an abomination to Him.  The seventh thing was one who sowed discord among the brethren.  Know this: God is not impressed with anyone’s ability to criticize anyone else.  In fact, Jesus said that before you take the splinter out of your brother’s eye be sure to remove the beam out of your own eye.  Since all of us have our own glaring faults, which of us has the right to criticize another?

Look at James’ admonition.  He says that when we grumble against one another we will be condemned by the Judge who is standing at the door hearing all that we say.  Can I really stand before God and tell Him how bad my brother or sister are?  What is God going to do?  Is He going to agree with me?  No, God is not going to agree with me He is going to turn the mirror back on me and remind me that He saved me in spite of and from all of my sin therefore I am to be patient and loving with others as He was patient and loving with me.

A church without a critic is almost a perfect church.  But, you say, what about the need to critique our ministries?  There are times and places for that.  But, you say, what about when someone sins against me or against another?  There is instruction for that, go to them in the spirit of meekness and confront them so that they may repent and move forward in their faith.  No, I am sure that there is no place for the spirit of criticism in the church of Jesus Christ.  James criticized the critic and tells them to stop being critical.

Men, our study from the book, In the Grip of Grace has been a rich study on Wednesday nights.  If you want to be encouraged with us do join us.  The ladies last night started a new book, The Cross Centered Life.  This is another really challenging and encouraging book study. 

The concert season is upon us.  Tonight we have concerts at Aurora West and Matea Valley.  Tomorrow night we have a concert at Waubonsie Valley and Sunday there is a concert at Nequa Valley.  Saturday and Sunday the Glee Club has concerts, which you are invited to attend.  It is a busy time but a fun time.  Many of our teens are involved in concerts so it is a fun time for each of them. 

Keep our students in your prayers.  This is a busy time for all of them. 

Men, don’t forget the men’s prayer breakfast this Saturday.

Have a great day in the Lord, PS

Wait, Wait, Wait

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James 5

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

Most of us would not make very good farmers.  When I was a child and we planted a seed in a cup, before it could break the soil I was digging it up to see if it was coming.  Not much has changed, I’m afraid.  We just aren’t very good at waiting.

In today’s verses we are taught about the farmer who plants his seed and patiently waits for the early and latter rains to come and bring the seed to full crop.  Impatient people wouldn’t make good farmers.  But that is not the point here.  A farmer has no choice but to wait for the crop to come to full fruit.  So, what is the lesson?  Just as the farmer is patient so we are to be patient.

However, there is one phrase here that we should look at, “Establish your hearts.”  While we are awaiting the return of Jesus Christ, which the church has been awaiting for 2000 years, we are to be establishing our hearts.  In other words, when we get saved we are not called to just sit and wait for Jesus.  On the contrary, while waiting we are to be establishing our hearts.  We are to be “growing in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”  We are to be “making our calling and election sure.”

So, while we are learning patience, taking lessons from the farmer, we are to be in the Word of God and studying Him, His person, His will, His grace, His love, His glory, and more.  Yes, we want the Lord to return and today would be great!  But if He tarries until tomorrow what are you doing today to establish your heart in Him?

Tis the season of colds in my house.  It started with Bobbi and has worked its way finally to me.  I hope your house gets a pass on this one. 

This coming Saturday night and Sunday afternoon the Naperville Men’s Glee Club, which, as you know, I sing in, is having its Christmas concerts.  The Saturday night concert is more serious in nature and the Sunday afternoon concert is more light-hearted.  If you want tickets I have some available.  They are $15 with a discount for students and seniors. 

 

Tonight is our prayer and Bible study, Kids4Truth and Youth group.  See you at 7:00. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

How do we accumulate? Are we content?

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James 5:1-6

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth- eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.

Here James teaches us to be careful with what we accumulate and with how we accumulate it.   This is not a condemnation of riches but it is a condemnation of rich men who acquired their riches unfairly on the backs of others.

When riches are gained by making others suffer, those riches will be a witness before God against the ones who attained them. Woe to the men and women who live in luxury by committing fraud in any way. James speaks particularly to those who acquired riches by not fairly paying those who worked for them. We have known people who would work for a promised wage only to be given less at the end of the job. With no recourse, they took what they were given. Be careful to pay what you agreed upon.

Money is an interesting thing. When we have a lot we are happy, when we lose a lot we are sad. When someone else gains a lot we are envious. God would have us to be content with our wages and to learn to live within them. Let us not be envious of those who have more for we do not know their standing before God. I would prefer to live moderate to poor in this life and to have treasures in heaven than to live rich in this life, rejecting God, and to wake up in hell.

Money does not make people with no character to have character. No, nor does money make people better. We are who we are whether we are rich or poor or in-between. Be the woman, be the man that God created you to be and be content with His position for your life and treat people fairly at all times.

Once again I am thankful for our church. Sunday was such a wonderful day. We rejoiced in all parts of the service exalting the Savior and His desire to be with us. What a thrill that teaching is. God wants to be with me. When God is with me He brings all of His love and power with Him and dwells, temples, within me. This is indeed a life-changing truth.

I am thankful for the people the Lord brings each week. We pray for Him to fill His house and to multiply His word. God is hearing our prayers. 

Thank you for being a part of His work.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS