For almost a month J and L Ministries has been teaching a series called: Having the Compassion of Jesus. For those who've been watching, reading or have read these teachings, I hope that you've been blessed as much and learned as much as I did preparing them. We want to first thank all of you who've joined us here in the J and L Ministries Paltalk room and also thank the site owners who have allowed Leanna and I to post on their sites and also thank those who support us by reading, watching, sharing and commenting on these messages.
This morning we're going to continue our study from the book of James. We want to find out what little things impact you and I and how they can change our lives forever. Do the little things in your life impact the big things in your life? They absolutely do. But I want everyone to take a few minutes to think about this question and then see how you feel about this question after this study.
Little things have a tremendous impact on destinies. They have a tremendous impact on all the big things of our lives.
Please open your bibles to James, chapter 3. I want everyone to listen carefully to these verses.
James 3:1-5 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. (2) For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. (3) Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. (4) Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. (5) Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
Here's what the amplified says:
James 3 Not many [of you] should become teachers ([a]self-constituted censors and reprovers of others), my brethren, for you know that we [teachers] will be judged by a higher standard and with greater severity [than other people; thus we assume the greater accountability and the more condemnation]. 2 For we all often stumble and fall and offend in many things. And if anyone does not offend in speech [never says the wrong things], he is a fully developed character and a perfect man, able to control his whole body and to curb his entire nature. 3 If we set bits in the horses’ mouths to make them obey us, we can turn their whole bodies about. 4 Likewise, look at the ships: though they are so great and are driven by rough winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the impulse of the helmsman determines.5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and it can boast of great things. See how much wood or how great a forest a tiny spark can set ablaze!
When you stop and think about these verses, it's very powerful. He uses a lot of metaphors showing us examples of how little things can make a big difference in big things.
I love horses, and because I owned them when I was younger and learned how to break wild horses, I can relate to what James is saying here. Because of their size, let’s use the Clydesdale horses as an example. You know the kind of horses I'm talking about? The ones that pull the Budweiser wagon? They're huge. Here are horses of significant power, and yet with the little bit in their mouth and over the course of teaching the Clydesdale's, they can make them go right or left, stop, go forward and even backwards by these little tiny bits in that huge horse’s mouth.
Ashton, our grandson, used to get me to sit down and watch cartoons with him when he was younger. I never liked cartoons, even as a young child. This is still not my favorite thing to do, yet it gives another example of how a little child can get a big grandpa to do this because of the influence he has on my life (a small mass influencing a larger mass).
A tiny little seedling with proper care can make a difference in how a tree grows. What James is telling us in this, the tongue is a very small member, but the tongue has significant impact over all your life. So if little things can influence great power, imagine what the tongue could do. The tongue can be used to put nations at war. Example, how Hitler did. Or the tongue can convince people to stop war as Churchill did.
Let’s take a moment to think of some of the quotes from presidents.
John Quincy Adams: All men profess honesty as long as they can. To believe all men honest would be folly. To believe none so is something worse.
Friends, if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
Abraham Lincoln: A house divided against itself cannot stand.
Again I ask you my friends, am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?
Ulysses Grant: Hold fast to the Bible. To the influence of this Book we are indebted for all the progress made in true civilization and to this we must look as our guide in the future.
George Washington: If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.
Think about this one. Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions.
One little letter, whether you realize it or not, sent to a senator, representative, or congressman might change a vote. Your one little thank you note to a pastor could make the difference in his next sermon or bible study. Husbands, I hope I’m right here; our words can bring a smile that lasts all day on the face of our wife, children, or grandchildren.
Little things have great impact over big things and James wants us to understand what we say has a significant impact on how other people respond to what we say. There's more here he wants us to know. Little things influence great destinies as well as great power. Your destiny where things go in your life is changed by what you say.
James 3:3 talks about little things influencing great power. You put a tiny little bit in a great powerful horse’s mouth and you can make that horse do pretty much what you want it to do.
Verse 4: Look at the ships: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds they are guided by a small rudder.
So if verse 3 talks about little things influencing great power, verse 4 talks about influencing great destinies, that one little rudder can change the direction of a huge ship.
It can change whether you go to South America or North America. It can change whether you go to the west coast or the east coast. It can change whether you go to Asia as a person seeking a new route to India or end up in America.
Now, I think what James points out in this verse is he's saying that little things like decisions in our lives can have a huge impact later on in our lives. But just think about the little tiny decisions. The decisions where we go to church, or where one might go to a college or university, decisions on who to marry or where to work. A huge one for Leanna and me was whether to grow J and L Ministries to where we would be holding services in our home. It was a decision where we needed to trust in God, because I've not gone to theology school to do this and neither has my wife. I have to rely on God to give me what I teach you. I praise Him for this opportunity to be His mouthpiece.
As I’m writing this study, all the while I’m thinking of examples that might give you a greater understanding where I’m going with this. I like to paint pictures in people’s minds, so they can see what I want to say.
Before Leanna and I bought this house many years ago, we looked at a small restaurant. I'd always liked to cook for the public, and from a friend who is gone now, I learned the restaurant business. I knew that there was money to be made. After we looked at it a couple of times, I knew that it would be a wrong decision, because I knew me, and I knew health issues that we both have, and that wouldn't have been the right choice.
Another example – After asking my wife one morning, many years ago, after never talking about God together, if she would go to church with me the next Sunday and the words that she spoke, and the way she spoke those words was definitely a big decision with a huge impact. That yes answer may have been our final time to begin a relationship with Jesus, as neither of us were serving Him back then.
Tiny decisions can affect significant changes in our lives. Now James is saying this: It’s necessary to balance things in our lives. You and I have a tongue that we can say good things with and we have a tongue that we can say bad things with. If we find ourselves wondering whether what we have to say is valuable or not, balance the effect of what we have to say.
If you can put a little bit in a horse’s mouth and control great power, if you can put a tiny rudder in the water and control great direction, great destinies, is it possible that you can control your tongue and control great power and control great destinies at the same time?
I've seen parents speak to their children with their tongues in such a way that they can change the destiny of that child. When they say to that child, “You’ll never amount to nothing…….. you’re not as good as your brother or sister is…….. you’re never going to be smart……. You’re ugly……. You’re an idiot……… You’re dumb” or worse. Those words can actually scar that child and change the whole direction of their life. On the other hand, when parents talk to their children in a loving, nurturing way, that changes their direction too, plus it teaches the child to be a good example with his or her friends and their children when they grow up.
What James wants you and me to know today, is that we have to balance our words because our words are very powerful. We need to balance our words because our words can change destinies in people. The whole point of these verses is, you and I have to control our tongues, because if we don’t control our tongues, everything in our lives gets out of balance.
Let’s go to verse 5, where James talks about fires. I've been through some fires. The one that really triggers my mind, and I think sets an example of how James is describing this whole chapter was while I was working at a dairy farm. A grain truck was blowing grain into the grain bin way too fast, and whether it was because of static electricity or the friction, no one will probably ever know, but it caused the grain bin to start burning, which then spread to the barn as we were milking, and then to the attached house where a 3 month old infant died. That one little spark destroyed a metal grain bin, it destroyed thousands of dollars of grain, some of the young calves didn’t survive being thrown out available doors or windows into sub-zero temperatures. The barn was so badly burned that it had to be completely rebuilt from the ground up. Part of the house had to be rebuilt, and the whole inside was redone because of water and smoke damage.
As I mentioned before, there was a baby that lost its life. Now we get into the power of the tongue in that whole situation. Through the building and rebuilding and getting through the insurance garbage, the husband and wife didn't handle this situation as they should have. It was a horrific situation as one can only imagine. The wife wanted nothing to do with farming, the husband had done nothing but farming, I witnessed words thrown back and forth at each other on numerous occasions. Sadly they divorced and the husband, after the farm was up and running, couldn’t deal with the loss of his wife and losing an infant child. He sold the farm, and that meant three employees also lost their jobs.
James 3:5 KJV Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
The point James has to make in this, it doesn’t take much of a spark to set an entire forest ablaze, like it doesn’t take much of your speech to set ablaze a whole family or to ruin a whole family. The great Chicago fire started with Mrs. O’Leary’s cow. It didn’t take much of a cow to burn down a great deal of Chicago. And what James is indicating here is, little things have great impact on big things.
We have to take care of little things before they are able to make big things out of little things. The tongue is a very small member. Look at the members of your body. Your hands and your feet are all bigger than your tongue. Though the tongue isn’t the smallest part of your body, it has great power, and compared to the damage that your tongue can do, or the good that your tongue can do, it is a very, very small member.
James wants us to understand that little things can influence great disasters. Marriages are often ended by the sharp words that can come from a person’s tongue; kingdoms sometimes go to war over statements made by a dictator or a leader who simply didn’t know how to control his tongue. Here's something that you may not have thought about, but churches have split right down the middle and destroyed, their testimony in the community is destroyed simply because of a wagging tongue. Someone who preferred to gossip rather than keep control of their tongue.
The tongue is there to encourage us, it’s there to lift up hope for the rejected. It’s there to comfort those who are sorrowing. It’s there to soothe those who are dying, but all too often we don’t balance our tongue with those things, we balance it on the opposite side by cutting words, by hateful words. We balance our tongues by saying things that later on we regret and everyone else regrets.
James wants you to know this: Faith without works is dead. But, if you take your faith and out of your faith you work the wrong thing, you kill your faith. So, you have to learn to balance your faith and works, you have to learn to balance your words so that your words aren't killing your faith. It’s one thing for me to tell you I believe God. I believe God is gracious. I believe God is good. I believe God is righteous. I believe God is always right. It’s one thing for me to tell you that, and then to speak in a way that shows God has no influence on my life at all. To speak in a way that I have no interest at all in serving a God who is righteous, who is good, God’s character is great.
Life is lived in a balance, and in order to have the kind of balance we need, because the tongue can be used both for good or bad, we need to make sure that we use our tongue to build people up, and not to tear them down. James says “A big forest fire is set on fire by the little spark of our tongue.” So be careful little tongue what you say.
I don’t want to let my words kill my faith, and we didn’t read these verses, and this is where I get the chance to say how important it is for each and every one of us to read God’s Word daily. It's where I can put emphasis on how important it is to be in prayer daily. This is where I urge everyone to pray for their families, friends, this country, the world and for those who don’t know Jesus.
James 3:6-9 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. (7) For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: (8) But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. (9) Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
Did everyone catch this end and see why the bible and prayer are so important? Knowing that, it sounds like that’s something we should be turning our attention to daily. It says, “No human being can entirely control the tongue," so I have to recognize first of all that I’m not fully capable of making sure I only say the right things. I do however know someone who is fully capable and that’s the person I need to go to every day, and that’s the Spirit of God. I need to pray to Him every morning, “Lord, I’m going to say a lot of words today, and I’m gonna speak to a lot of people. May what I say and what I speak always please You.”
Now if I know what pleases God, I can say what pleases God and benefits others at the same time, that means that I have to have some mouthwash every morning, and my mouthwash is right here in the Bible. This mouthwash enables me to control the tongue and at the same time use the tongue to benefit other people. That’s a daily process just like brushing your teeth is a daily process.
I've found sometimes, when I was active with the American Legion, or like when I met with the couple living a life of adultery that I might have shared with some of you, about saying this quick prayer: “Lord, let me be wise in what comes out of my mouth. Give me the words to help this person out. Help me with the words in this situation. Father, help me speak Your Words, and not those of my own, as You know the hearts of those I'll be seeing.” I have often said, “Lord, don’t let me make a fool of myself by what I say." As human beings, our tongues can get us into trouble all the time.
I think often about what Joseph went through. Here he was 17 years old and went the extra mile as asked by his dad, to go where his brothers were. What happened? He was thrown in the pit, then sold as a slave.
I think there are times that God allows us to go through things to make us trust Him more. To toughen us up, if you will, so that when we go through trials, we're more prepared to overcome them. Joseph trusted God, and look how it prepared him and the Israelite's at a later time. After the events I just mentioned, he was slandered by Pottifer’s wife and thrown in a dungeon. He volunteered to explain a dream of a butler also in prison and was promised that he would be remembered, yet not for 2 years was he remembered. In a message I did on Joseph some time back, I mentioned that Joseph never complained, according to the Bible. It's as if the harder that Joseph tried to live a Godly life, the more trials came up.
Psalms 105:17-19 He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: (18) Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: (19) Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.
I want you to catch this. When you read from the Gill’s commentary on these verses, and I'm only going to read a short part, I think it might teach us something about Joseph and maybe have a better understanding of this part of the message and what Joseph went through.
Whose feet they hurt with fetters,.... For it seems Joseph was not only cast into prison, upon the calumny of his mistress; but had fetters put upon him, and his feet were made fast with them; and these were so close and heavy, as to pinch and gall and hurt him; which, though not mentioned in his history, was undoubtedly true; see Gen.39:20.
He was laid in iron: or "the iron" (or, as the Targum, "the iron chain") "went into his Soul" His body; it ate into him, and gave him great pain: or rather, as it is in the king's Bible, "his soul went into the iron chain His body was enclosed in iron bands. In all this he was a type of Christ, whose soul was made exceeding sorrowful unto death: he was seized by the Jews, led bound to the high priest, fastened to the cursed tree, pierced with nails, and more so with the sins of his people he bore; and was laid in the prison of the grave; from whence and from judgment he was brought, Isa. 53:8.
In writing this part of the message, I want to remind everyone about what scripture tells us when we go through trials.
Acts 16:23-36 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: (24) Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. (25) And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. (26) And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. (27) And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. (28) But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. (29) Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, (30) And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? (31) And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (32) And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. (33) And he took them the same hour of the night, and washedtheir stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. (34) And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. (35) And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go. (36) And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace.
Paul said in Philippians 4:11, "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."
I John 4: 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
Psalm 50:15 "Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.
Friends, we must praise God in every situation. No matter how bad it looks or feels, praise is the answer. God always delivers. He always comes through. Maybe His timing isn’t ours but He always takes care of business. We need not worry.
Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
In closing, let me close with this scripture. If today you're going through something hard, just remember you must endure hardness as a good soldier and keep on going on.
2 Timothy 2:3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
I know there was a lot to digest in this, but I pray it helped all of you and that you may be blessed by this message.
Leanna and I want to thank each one of you that has joined us this morning and also those that read, or watch this later. Also thanks to Pastor Jeff Earls of A Far From Normal Faith Ministry. Marshall and Trina Blake, owners of My Look Online, Nell Porter of the Lokey Sisters sites and the many others who have graciously let J and L Ministries share prayers, the Words of Wisdom videos and these sermons on their sites.
We love you all and we do hope that you encourage other brothers and sisters in the things of the Lord.
To have the Compassion of Jesus part 3
Good morning friends and welcome to the J and L Ministries room here on Paltalk. It's been an exciting week as there have been doors opened to share God's Word. I've started sharing mini teachings via u-tube and various websites, both secular and Christian. Glory to God. A brother in the Lord directed me to a video recording platform that allows other things that the program I had been using didn't.
This morning, let’s continue our study in James. Last week we looked at faith and how to balance faith into our lives, according to what James said in Chapter 1. This week, I'm going to show you about balancing faith and works. Many people get confused with this topic. Faith and works are the 2 most important things of living the Christian life. If you have one without the other, you only have half of a life. So today we want to find out how to balance your faith with what faith does. Everyone excited?
There are lots of people who think faith and works are opposites of each other. Many Christians bump heads over this topic. I'm in hopes that through this study, God will reveal what He's revealed to me in a way that's easy to understand. Faith and works are actually complementary to each other. I see faith and works the way I see french fries and ranch dressing. They're both good, and they're good apart, but they're a lot better when they're together. Leanna says yuk, but I love those two together.
Today we want to look at what James has to say from James 1 and James 2, about balancing your faith with your works. Let’s dig into God's Word, shall we?
James 1:21-24 KJV Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. (22) But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (23) For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: (24) For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
Now I love the mirror image because we can all identify with that. There are three possible responses to looking into a mirror that I can think of. My wife is continuously looking in the mirror or a reflection to make sure her hair isn't out of place. In recent days, she's looking at her ankles, because she now has them. I think it's a woman thing to look in the mirror when they pass one.
Friends, picture this. You’re at one of those places and you get one of these mirrors that are curved where you either look extremely tall or extremely short. You're fooled by what you see looking back at you. You know the mirrors I'm talking about? You look in that mirror and it makes you slender; it makes you tall, and you say, “I think I'm losing weight. I think I'm getting taller”. But you aren’t. It’s the mirror that's doing that. There are lots of people who fool themselves with their mirrors.
A second response is that you can get an accurate assessment by looking into a mirror and become discouraged by it. You get up in the morning, you look in the mirror; you have an accurate assessment and you say, "Man, this day is going to be terrible! Look at my hair. What can I do with this?” Another woman thing. That's getting an accurate assessment, but not coming away from looking in the mirror with any great help.
The third response is you can get an accurate assessment and make a positive change. You can look and say, “Look at this hair, something has to be done. I'd better get to work on it right away." And when you come away from the mirror, this time not fooled, and you do something about it. Have I painted a picture?
So what James is telling us, is this: Faith without works deceives us into believing we're something we're not. We think we're very gracious people and we think we're very faithful people. We think we're very spiritual people, but we don't do anything about our faith. And it's like looking in a mirror and saying, “I'm a good person." But it's deceiving ourselves. So he starts out by saying faith without works can deceive you.
Look at James 1:25 KJV But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
Here's the contrast: Faith without works deceives some people, but faith with works blesses everyone who makes an adjustment based on what you see in the mirror.
Leanna and I have been listening to a series on blessings. It's a 6 part series and if anyone is interested, I can send you the CD's, but you should really read the book. If you remember the message I shared about a year ago on what we should say or not say, this series goes much deeper.
James talks here about the perfect law of liberty. At first they don't sound like they go together. The perfect law of liberty? But I want you to keep your place in James and go to Psalms 19:7.
Psalms 19:7-11 KJV The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. (8) The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. (9) The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. (10) More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Ok , listen (11) Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.
What's the perfect law of liberty? What are your thoughts on these verses? We have it in our hands. This Bible is the perfect law of liberty. What he says here in Psalm 19 is the “law of the LORD," verse 7; it's a synonym for the Bible. "The testimony of the LORD" is a synonym for the Bible. The precepts of the LORD. All these words are just simple synonyms for God's Word.
So when I look into God's Word, I can either fool myself and not believe what I see there, or I can look into God's Word and know what I see there and know something about myself and be so discouraged and say, “I might as well just give up." Or I can look into God's Word and say, “I need some positive changes in my life.” And so He says when you look at faith and works together and make the changes that are necessary from your faith, you work out your faith by making those changes and Praise the Lord; you will be blessed by that.
This book that we're reading from is the perfect law of liberty, perfect in the fact that you need nothing else. This Book doesn't tell me what I ought to do, it tells me how to live so that I please God and benefit other people. So I'm freed by the law of this Book. Again, this series that we've been listening to, Power of Blessings, discusses this too.
This Book doesn't say, "You shall not do this," But when it does, it says, "You shall not do this because it will harm you in this way." What the Bible does is it shows me the way to live that benefits other people and pleases God at the same time. So it brings to me liberty. Only God's law truly can set me free. Keep your place in James, but turn to John 8:32.
John 8:32 KJV And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Do you want to know the truth? Do you want to be free from those things that have bound you?
James 1:25 KJV But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
Glory to God!
This is where you get the balance between faith and works. You look into the Law of God, the Word of God in faith. You come away from the Word of God acting on what you learned from God's Word. So I'm blessed when I do something as a result of looking into God's Word. I'm not blessed simply because I looked into it; I'm blessed because when I looked into it, I learned something and I acted on what it said.
I remember a couple of years ago, Leanna received what could have been a very discouraging report from her doctor. Without going into details, there could have been some very negative consequences if some of her numbers didn't change within those next 3 months. I remained believing God still heals today and that she was already healed. Now did that mean she was to just sit around and just hang on to that promise? No, she needed to do much more than that. Diet and exercise would play a big role in her recovery. Faith in her healing would play a big part. I believe speaking scriptures and praising God was a big part of why the doctors can't explain why her numbers on her kidneys are better. Glory to God.
What James wants you and me to understand is pretty clear. He says you need to not only see yourself clearly, but you need to respond to what you see. You need not only to know who you are and get a right assessment of who you are, but if there are changes needed to be made, you need to make those changes.
It doesn’t help us to look at God’s Word and say, “Yep, that's me. I'm a miserable failure. I can never be what the Bible says.” If you do that, you're no better off than those who never looked at all. But when you and I look into this Book and we find ourselves in the pages of this Book and we see the positive changes we need to make in our lives and then we go out and we make those changes, we change the way we live. We change the way we treat other people. We change the way we treat the neighbors, the family and the kids. We change the way everything is in our lives when we make positive changes as a result of getting a good picture of ourselves in the mirror of God's Word. That's the balance of faith and works.
And it takes both of those. You can't just work making changes if you don't know what those changes ought to be. And in order to know what the changes need to be, you have to look into God's Word. But when you look into God's Word and you make no changes, there's no balance between faith and works. Is everyone understanding this?
Through writing this study, I have to remind everyone that every time you open God's Word we should pray “Lord, show me in this reading I do today, who I am. Show what I need to do. Show what I need to change." When we do that, we may get a difficult assessment of who we are. Other times we may have a better picture, but if we want to be the light of Jesus and to have compassion like Jesus, that’s where we need to start.
James is absolutely right here. The most difficult thing in the Christian life is the balance that's necessary to live the life that pleases the Lord God. And the great balance in the life of the believer is the balance between faith and works.
James 2:18 KJV Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
While we do God’s good will, He abides with us still, and with all those who trust and obey.
I came to this conclusion while studying for this. When we think about works, we have a tendency to think of works with deeds. These are the deeds you and I might do. I help the little old lady across the street. Call an older person and ask if I can help them go grocery shopping, or things like that. Those are good deeds, but I think more than that, it’s the work of understanding God's Word. It’s the work of applying God's Word to my own life; and if I do that correctly, and I do it consistently, it's going to filter out to the little old lady who needs help to cross the street, or the person we take shopping.
Let's go to James 2:14. Remember last week I mentioned that there were times that the disciples had disagreements, but how they looked to God for the answers? We may see that here.
James 2:14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?
I want to stop here because this is where a lot of people think there's an issue between Paul and James. Paul constantly, in the Book of Romans, and Galatians, and elsewhere, constantly is saying it is faith that brings salvation to us. James entirely agrees. One cannot be saved apart from faith, but the key here is this. He says, "What good is it my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?" Not, "Can faith save him?" Can the kind of faith that looks into God's Word and says I have faith, but doesn't do anything about it, James says that's not the kind of faith that saves. There's no difference between James and Paul on these issues.
James 2:15-16 KJV If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, (16) And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
Now what can someone who's dead do? Let's just take a few minutes and get a pen and a piece of paper out and list all the things a dead person can do. I'll give you about 15 seconds to figure this out. That sounds foolish doesn’t it? But look what James says. Faith that does not activate itself is not activated by God's Word. That kind of faith is totally useless. James describes it as being "dead."
Now, there are three issues he brings up here. The first one is found in verse 14. What good is it my brothers if someone says he has faith, but does not have works? What he's talking about here is the difference between deeds and creeds. Now, some people believe all the right things; they just don't do all the right things. And what he's doing here is making a distinction between those who say, “I have faith”, and those who actually live out their faith.
What he's saying isn't easy for us to hear. But what he's saying is the absolute point of James in this chapter. James 2:14 tells us that if we have creeds, we believe things, but if those creeds don't lead to deeds, those creeds are dead, our belief system is dead. It's of no value whatsoever.
Verses 15 and 16 tell us that words without deeds are as bad as creeds without deeds. You can believe something and not do something about it and that's not good. But you can also believe something and talk about it and never do anything about it and that's not good either. So he says in verse 15, if a brother or sister is poorly clothed, lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, listen to the good words here. Go in peace, be warmed and filled, without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
In the first verse he's saying there's a distinction between deeds and creeds. In the second verse he's saying there is a distinction between words and deeds. We talk about what needs to be done, but we don't do it. We talk about how we need to be in God's Word every day, but we don't go to God's Word every day. We talk about sharing our faith with our neighbor, but we never share our faith with our neighbor. Or, ready for this? Sharing our faith with a perfect stranger. There are times that we may be led to share God’s word with someone we've never met…………………. Is God speaking to someone?
What he's saying is, “Your faith is dead. It's lifeless. It's useless." You have to exercise faith, and exercised faith produces you doing something about it. In verses 15 and 16, the contrast is between words and deeds. You can say to a person, “Oh! You're so poor. You're in such pathetic condition. I wish somebody would help you.” But if you don't help them, you haven't lived out your faith. You haven't helped them at all. And then notice verse 17. This is the key of the whole argument.
James 2:17-18 KJV Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. (18) Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. I think this is the key to James’ argument in the entire book. Faith is designed to work.
In closing my friends, I want to look at a parable Jesus told and I think from this, it will sum the whole thing up. You all have heard the parable Jesus told of the good Samaritan?
Luke 10:30-37 KJV And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. (31) And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. (32) And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. (33) But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, (34) And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. (35) And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. (36) Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? (37) And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
This my friends is faith and works working together. And what did Jesus say to do?
Verse 37 Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
Faith is not designed to be a body of truth that you have memorized and you hold dear. Faith is not to be something that you inculcate in your life, you put it in your mind, you hide God's Word in your heart, and then you see a person in need and you're not moved at all by that. You do nothing to help that person. That isn't faith. And what James is saying is the only kind of faith that matters is the kind of faith that acts upon what it believes.
My beloved brothers and sister in Christ, I do hope that each of you came away with something from this message today. I know there were reminders for me, and that's good. You know, we can never get enough of God's Word. There have been times that when I listen to someone else teach a message, and they can be using the same scriptures that maybe I've been studying, and the approach they use is exactly what I needed to hear at that very moment to get a revelation. Praise God!
We want to thank you all again for visiting us here in the J and L Ministries room here on Paltalk. Also a huge thank you to A Far From Normal Faith Ministry for sharing these messages. Also MyLook Online, Lokey Sisters and you my friends who view them on U-tube, Google+ and our faithful members on both Cross Roads Fellowship sites and J and L Ministries on the Weebly platform.
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Have a great week in the Lord.
Good morning. This morning we're going to continue the series on having the compassion of Jesus and discussing wisdom and how we can use it to balance our life. I'm in hopes that we can learn from this series to better our lives and that all of us can truly have the same compassion as Jesus in every area of our lives. For me it's a daily process. I struggle at times with not having enough patience with circumstances, but I know that Jesus can help me there. Hopefully it will help in some of the issues that you face?
Leanna, the L of J and L ministries and I want to say thank you for joining us here in the J and L Ministries room on this Paltalk network and hope this message speaks to each of your hearts.
In this study we're going to be looking into the book of James. We have to know how to balance the wisdom that we find around us in the world with the wisdom that comes from God. I hope that in the next few weeks we can learn through these studies just how to do that.
I love the Book of James because it's such a balancing act. When I first thought of the title of this study, balancing, I had a vision of gym class back in 4th or 5th grade. It wasn’t a pretty site if you were to watch me on the balance beams. I had the strength and balance to do what we were taught, but I had a fear of heights, as it hadn’t been that long before that I fell out of a huge pine tree. And as I was studying this book of James, it reminded me that life is like that. You have to keep your balance or you fall off and you become a casualty. So today we're going to begin looking at the Book of James. Let's read James Chapter 1.
James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greetings.
Now, let me stop there because first of all, James is a man who is one of the pillars of the church at Jerusalem. James, Peter and John were all missionaries to Jewish people. He's writing to Jewish people here. Jewish people of what is called the Dispersion.
Dispersion – Webster’s dictionary: The state of being scattered or separated into remote parts; as the Jews, in their dispersion, retain their rites and ceremonies.
So that would be those Jews who were driven out of Jerusalem, lived perhaps even outside of the country of Israel. And it's great that this happened because many of those people became believers in the Messiah, Jesus. And the great way that God used to spread the missionary Gospel, the Gospel message around the world was through this act of Dispersion. So James, speaking to people who were living outside of Jerusalem--and he has a great message of comfort and hope for them. And these people really needed it because they were facing significant trials. We'll see about that in verses 2 and 3.
What I also want you to notice is that James, who is the half brother of the Lord Jesus, doesn't bank on the fact that he's related to Jesus. He doesn't even bring it up in this conversation. James called himself a servant of God. Literally a slave of God. That was an expression Paul used often. And he uses the Lord's name only twice in this little epistle, here and again in chapter 2, verse 1.
It doesn't appear in any one of James speeches, the idea that he's related to the Lord Jesus. You can check those out in Acts 15, or again in Acts 21. From what I get from all of James writings is he simply wants to say, “I am following the same Savior you are following. I've come to know the same Messiah that you've come to know. I've come to know Jesus of Nazareth who is my half brother, but more than that, He is my Savior”. And that puts James in a very unique category. There aren't many people who can write about Jesus from the perspective of James.
Well, he says, "Greetings," to them, verse 1, also an important word. It's a word that's used by James, and for a few years now, I've been using it when addressing people in e-mails and sometimes in my replies on some sites. It's the Greek word (chario) which includes joy and fellowship and happiness, and it seems to be the signature word for James, just like Paul always says, "Grace and peace”. This is the word that James uses.
James 1:2-5 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations; Now, let's get into what he's talking about here in this verse. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations; (3) Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. (4) But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. 5 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.
James is talking about the balancing act. And the balancing act in these verses relates to the balancing act between our need and God's ability to fill that need. Church, notice what he says here. He says, "You people are going through severe trials and you don't understand these trials. And that's OK because of this reason, verse 5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."
Now the question immediately comes to our minds. Why would he even say this? What wisdom is it that they lack? And you have to connect this to verses 2 and 3 because in verses 2 and 3 he says, you’re going through deep, deep waters here. You're having incredible difficulties, great troubles. And you don't understand these troubles. And you know what? These people are just like you and me. Every time we go through deep water, every time we might backslide to live on the dark side of life and we can't see up and don't understand what's going on, we need answers. I go through those times in my life. I sometimes lack the wisdom on my own to provide those answers. So I need a place to go to find that wisdom. I find the answers through prayer and trust in Jesus.
You see my friends, there are so many books and shows on TV and the list goes on of places that so many go to for answers. TV hosts that claim to have the perfect answer for everyone's life. Many even have the title of doctor before their name. People spend a fortune on books, fortune tellers, and other gimmicks to find what's going wrong in their lives. They search all over for the answers. What is the perfect answer, brothers and sisters in Christ? Have faith in God. That's the answer, church. Brothers and sisters in Christ, there isn't one single thing that you or I could ever go through that Jesus didn't already take care of for you and me. Not one thing. His finished work. Glory....
Back to James and his letter. James is very tactful here. He doesn't say, "Look, you people are going through deep waters, and you don't understand what you're talking about. And you need to consult God here." Look what he says. He says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God." Very, very tactful approach. So there's a very common need here. James is saying, our common need is, we need the wisdom of God, but there's a very sensible solution to our common need.
Yes, I need God's wisdom, so what do I do about that? Well, look at his answer. "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God." You know, sometimes it's so evident, so close to us, so immediate, so understandable as the nose on our face. Many times what is the most understandable, most logical, most likely response is the last one we think of. If you're going through a tough time right now and you don't have answers, if you lack the wisdom to appreciate the difficulty of your life, James says to you, "Just ask God." The simple solution to a very common need is just simply to ask God. Now when you don't understand what's going on, you can get advice from all your friends. You could get advice from the advice columns (Dear Abby when I was a kid). Some go to Pastors for advice in figuring out how to solve tough life choices. The simple response and I tell everyone in every blog I post that God inspires me to write...the simple solution to our need for knowledge is just to ask God. Either find out in His Word, or in prayer, or both. Halleluiah!
Friends, I've found when sharing the gospel with others in the past few years, scripture comes up so much faster now. I may not be able to tell you the exact chapter and verse number, but because I'm more quicker to ask God for His words when dealing with a situation that someone is going through, He does it. Praise God!
Now, God is very available to us. Notice in verse 5 it says:
James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."
Now, what I want you to see here is how God gives wisdom. I mean, just think about the character of God. He's very available to us. He gives wisdom these ways. First of all, He gives it generously. There's no limit to the amount of wisdom God has. God can give you wisdom and not be depleted at all in His wisdom. He can give wisdom to me when I need it and He's still not depleted. He's very, very generous. Unlimited is how God gives wisdom.
Remember the old nursery rhyme Old Mother Hubbard? "Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard to fetch her poor doggy a bone. And when she got there the cupboard was bare and so the poor doggy had none." That will never happen when it comes to seeking wisdom from God. There is an unlimited supply of wisdom with God. All we have to do is ask.
So first of all, He gives it to us generously. Secondly, notice He gives to all. Wisdom is not just for the chosen few. Wisdom is not just for the super spiritual. Wisdom is not just for your pastor, or not just for your husband or just for your mother or father. Wisdom is for you, too. God gives generously to us. "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God who gives generously to all." So there isn't a single person on the face of this earth needing answers to the issues of life.
"So brother Jim, why am I going through such a tough time?" There isn't a single person on the face of the earth today who can't go to God and find wisdom from Him.
Now the issue is will we recognize the wisdom of God and go to Him or will we try to figure it out ourselves? Or what often is the case, will we simply blame God and say, nobody can give me wisdom and why I'm going through such a tough time?
Now there have been times when I've asked for wisdom when I feel God has really put something on my heart like putting these sermons together and the past few weeks. And other times where I've asked for wisdom. Then there are times that I don’t seem to sense any sort of response, and so I'm not quite sure. So how do we make sure that we're receiving wisdom and that we're hearing from God and not just our own minds? Any of you go through the same thing?
That's a very legitimate question, because that happens to all of us. We ask and we don't seem to know. Let's remember first of all that our asking and not getting a response doesn't reflect on God's ability to respond. It may be that we aren't ready to receive the response. Maybe we haven't come to the point in our lives where we're willing to trust the response. You ask God for wisdom and He says OK, but this is what wisdom is going to mean for you, and He knows you're not there yet. So we need to wait a little bit. It may be that we're not quiet enough to hear that still small voice. I speak for myself in saying this, we need to be quiet. I struggle with this when I'm in prayer for certain things and there are noises and distractions around me. And the best place for me to be is where I have no distractions. For me, I can escape to my garden and even though I may be weeding, planting, or picking, I can speak and hear His voice.
Sometimes the response is the response that God knows is best for us, but not at that time best for others around us. So He'll ask us to wait. And the worst thing is having God ask us to wait, because we want answers and we want them right now. I raise my hand. But it doesn't work that way. So we should never assume that God isn't listening. We should never assume that God isn't able. We need to assume that God will provide the wisdom as He says He will in the time that it's best for us to have that wisdom.
Then there is another possibility and most don't want to hear this one, but remember these aren't my words. This comes from James being led by the Holy Spirit.
James 4:2-8 KJV Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. (3) Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (4) Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (5) Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? (6) But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (7) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (8) Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
Wisdom is available to us. Wisdom comes from God. God gives wisdom unlimitedly. I mean, He has all the wisdom there is. This isn't just for the intelligent, not just for the spiritually elite. God gives wisdom to everyone. He gives it universally.
And notice the last thing there. He gives it uncritically. He doesn't give it with reproach. If you don't understand what's happening to you right now, and you're going through a tough time in your life, and you say, "Lord, help me. Please let me understand," God doesn't say to you, "Well you dummy, you should understand." You know, that's not the way God responds. He doesn't do it with reproach. He doesn't find fault in our needing wisdom. He simply provides the wisdom necessary in the way it's best for us to receive it.
James is writing to people who are going through tough times. They don't live in Jerusalem. They're on the outskirts of the land God gave them and they're being persecuted for their faith. They just lost their teacher Jesus, and they're having trials of all kinds. And in the process of that, they don't know what to do. And James says, "Here's what you do. Ask God to help you understand."
Let's study the next 3 verses. James 1:6-8 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. (7) For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. (8) A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
So James says, "Look, you've got to ask of God. But when you ask of God, you have to believe God exists. You have to believe that God is good. You have to believe that God will answer you." So he takes a very positive approach. First of all he says, "You need to believe and don't doubt." It's easy for us to say, "I doubt whether God can help me at all in this situation." But if you want help from God, you have to believe that God will provide that help for you. And you have to believe that God will provide exactly the right kind of help you need.
I read a story one time about a woman whose little daughter was ill with a fever. And the daughter was getting worse all the time. So she called the babysitter and said, “Would you watch her while I run to the store and get some medicine for her?” So she did. The babysitter watched the little girl while the mother ran off to the store in her car. She went in, got some medicine to bring the fever down, and when she got back to the car she discovered the horror of all horrors. She locked her keys in her car. Well she prayed quickly, “Lord, send somebody by quickly to help me." And she looked down and there was an old rusty wire coat hanger on the ground. Now, she'd seen this on television so she unwrapped it, and she's trying to get this door open with a coat hanger. And she's praying the whole time saying, “Lord, please send somebody by who can help me.”
And just then a guy rode up on an old motorcycle. Scruffy looking guy, long hair, greasy-looking kind of dude and he said, “Can I help you ma'am?” And she said, “Well I've locked my keys in the car.”
And he says, “I can help you" and gets off his bike. In a matter of seconds, he opens the door.
And she says, “Oh, you're such a nice man.”
He said, “No ma'am, I'm not a nice man at all. In fact, I just got out of prison today for breaking and entering automobiles.”
And immediately she hugged the man and she thanked the Lord and said, "Oh Lord, thank you for sending me an expert!" You know, when God provides for our needs, it's never less than we need. We need to ask Him though, and we need to believe that He'll provide and we need to believe He'll provide an expert.
Secondly, notice in verse 6 it says we need to believe and not waver. You know, don't be like a wave of the sea driven and tossed. It's kind of like a cork in the water, you know? You've seen a cork bobbing around in the water. He says first of all, "Believe and don't doubt."
Secondly, When you believe, don't begin to waiver. Don’t' begin to weave back and forth in your belief system. Just believe that God will do what He says He'll do.
I think the reason most people change their mind so often is that they never find one worth keeping. They believe God one day, and they don't believe Him the next day. And they believe Him again, and they don't believe Him again. You need to be convinced of the righteous character of God before difficulty comes into your life, because if you're wrestling with that issue when difficulty comes into your life, you're going to lose that battle every time.
Look at Peter when he saw Jesus walking on the water during a storm. What happened next? What did Peter say and do? Let's turn to Matthew 14: 28 to see what exactly what was said and done.
Matthew 14:28-31 KJV And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. (29) And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. (30) But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. (31) And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
So James says, number one, You need to believe and not doubt. And number two, You need to believe and don't waiver on your belief. Stand strong, even if the answer doesn't come directly from God, even if it doesn't come immediately from God. Believe and don't weave. And then notice in verse 7, He says, For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord. Believe and not doubt. Believe and not weave. And he says then believe and you will receive.
He's talking about people who are having a tough time in life. They're being persecuted for their faith. They need help in understanding how they could go through what they're going through. So he says, "Look, if you believe, God will provide for your needs." And the needs in this case are just needs to understand what God's doing.
John 15:7 If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Abide in Me; My words abide in you, then you've met the qualifications to ask of God. See, a lot of us want God to respond to our needs without living a life that pleases Him. Jesus says, "First of all, you have to find your life in Me. Every day. The days that are good, you still find your life in Me. The days that are bad, you find your life in Me. You abide in Me. You stay in Me, and when you stay in Me, then you ask whatever you will and God will do for you whatever He wills."
This isn't a promise that God will provide all of our wants. It's a promise God will provide all of our needs. And if you're having a tough time today and don't understand why you're having such a tough time, ask God. Let Him have the opportunity to explain to you why He wants to bless you, and that blessing doesn't seem to be coming.
I sometimes struggle with this verse because without the doubting part, not because I think I'm doubting God's ability, but because when I'm asking for wisdom, I so doubt my own ability to hear it, than about these verses. It's important to keep James' words and Jesus' words in proper perspective. That's why I read John 15:7 “Abide in Me and My words abide in you, then you ask whatever you want and I will give it to you."
We may not doubt God's ability to respond. We doubt our ability to hear His response. And the reason we doubt our ability to hear His response is we don't know where He's responding, and here it is, right here. So we abide in Jesus and His words abide in us, we spend time in God's Word. And the result of that is while we're in God's Word, God's showing us His response. Halleluiah!
Many times I don't think we get a response from God because we're looking for a lightning bolt like I was expecting when I said the sinners prayer, because that’s what I heard from others. But it doesn't always come that way. You and I friends probably won't see a bush burning that the flames don't consume. We may not while on earth ever hear an audible voice from God. God ordinarily doesn't speak to us out of heaven. He speaks to us through His Word. So any time you're going through a difficult situation, and you're asking God the why question, you'll find the response in God's Word. Abiding in His Word.
Many of us come to God looking for solutions. But we're not asking Him for solutions. We have a solution we're presenting to Him. We want His spiritual stamp of approval on it. "I'm having trouble and this is what I think, God. What do You think?" I don’t believe this is the way we approach God. Our belief system is not a belief in why things happen or how we can handle the things that happen to us. Our belief system is in the character of God who promises us that.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
If we believe the character of God has our best interests at heart, then every time we face difficulty in our lives and we say, “Lord, help me understand this," and we don't get an immediate response, we don't automatically assume that reflects on God's character. It automatically helps us to understand it reflects on God's timing. And timing is very different from character. So the more we read from God's Word, the more we understand God's character. The more we understand God's character, the better we are able to trust Him.
When we come to verse 6, it says that we need to ask in faith with no doubting. A lot of people have shaky faith. They're doubting. They're wavering back and forth. So if that's the case for someone today, what should we say to them so they can get correct in their faith to be able to ask for wisdom? You know, I'm new to this, but I would suggest saying, the good thing about God is God wasn't born yesterday. God didn't come on the scene yesterday. God has a record and that record is recorded in God's Word. So, when questions of faith come up and you waiver in that faith, you can go back to God's Word and find out what other people who have had those questions who have wavered did. Look at Abraham. I'm in hopes to include some of his life in this series. Here’s a man who had great faith in God one day, and a little less great the next day, and back to great faith. I mean, he's a perfect example of where all of us are.
Friends, I've enjoyed this time with you and I do hope that the words shared today have helped you. We also want to thank all the ministries that have allowed Leanna and I to share these messages and also thank you, brothers and sisters for being here in the J and L Ministries room here on Paltalk.
We love you and we do hope that you visit us again next Sunday at 11:00AM EST time. Blessings.
To Have the Compassion of Jesus Part 1
This is from a 5 part series that J and L Ministries taught on a few years ago, but I think it will touch someone as we bring it back again.
We want to thank all those who are here in the J and L Ministries room here on Paltalk and for those reading, listening and watching on all the social sites. We encourage you to take notes as we dig into scriptures.
What should we as Christians be doing in this day and age to mirror Jesus in His time in the 1st century? What are the keys to sharing Jesus Christ today? What kind of mindset or perspective do we need? That's what we're going to look into today.
The first step is to adjust our perspective, to see the world as Jesus saw it. One of the things we want to do today is see how Jesus views the world around us, because the way Jesus views the world is exactly the same way we want to view the world. The world view that we have is really the way we see the world around us and the lenses through which we view everything that happens in the world. If you take a look at how people view the world today, their lens is really different.
A friend sent me what I'm about to read and I think it fits with this message, although I doctored it up a bit.
Here are examples: How do politicians see the world? It depends on what their frame of reference is. It depends on what country they come from. For example: If a man had two cows, a socialist would say, "Give one of those cows to the neighbor who has none." That's the way he views the world. A Communist would say, "Give milk from the cows to a neighbor; keep the cows yourself." A Nazi would say, "Kill one of the cows. Use the money to buy a guard to watch over the other cow." A Fascist would say, "Kill both cows; take the money and run." A Capitalist would say, "Sell one cow and buy a bull." It's the way you view the world that determines how you're going to get along in the world.
That's true in religion too. Just think about the way various religions view the world around them. A Hindu sees the world as us all being a part of God's creation. Everything is sacred. Don't step on a bug, because it's a part of God's creation. A Humanist would say, "No, no, no. We're all products of evolution, and no one is any more special than anyone else." A Muslim would say, "It's part of our responsibility to be true to Allah, the one faithful god. Infidels must die because they're not true to the one god." That's a world view. New Age people would say, "Now, there is no one true god. I am the one true god. I, myself, am the sum total of all that the world is." Hollywood would look at the world and say, "Well, all we need to do is be entertained."
But how does Jesus view the world? That's the question I want to address today. I think Matthew 10:16 will show us the answer to that.
Matthew 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. (17) But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; (18) And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
Let me stop here, because I think that's sufficient for us to understand that the view Jesus has of the world is not looking through rose-colored glasses. Jesus doesn't look out at the world and say, "You know what? This is a beautiful world. My Father did such a wonderful job in creating this world and it's just such a wonderful place to live." You can almost hear Jesus singing with Louie Armstrong about how wonderful this world is. It is a wonderful world. But Jesus was not naive in the way He approached this world. So He says to His disciples, "I'm going to send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves." His take on the world was that the world was filled with wolves and you and I are sheep. And you say, "How could a loving God send you out as sheep among the wolves?" The answer to that is: He goes with us as the Shepherd among the wolves. Praise Jesus.
So how did Jesus view the world? First of all, He did not view it as a wonderful place in which to live in which there are no problems. He didn't look at this world through rose-colored glasses. He recognizes that the world is made up of wolves. But isn't it interesting that He says that you, as sheep, have to be as wise as a serpent and as harmless as a dove? You have to be smart in the way you approach the world. You have to have insight in the way you see taking your message of salvation to the world around you. And at the same time, I think you have to be pure. You have to be guileless. You have to be like the dove, harmless. And when you and I do that, we find ourselves talking to a world that isn't all that happy about the message of Jesus and salvation. But we can take it, because that’s the world for which Jesus died for.
So here's the key word. When you think about Jesus going out to the world, you think about Jesus taking the message to a world filled with wolves, but He does it because of His significant compassion for the world. This is the thing I want us to think about as we study this passage.
The key word here is compassion. Jesus has compassion on the world, and that's why He sends us out into the world. It would be so easy for you and me, once we come to know the Lord as Savior, just to hang out with others who know the Lord, spend time in the aquarium with the other fish, and be fed by our pastor week after week as he drops a few flakes into our aquarium. But the Bible says that Jesus had such compassion for those who were outside of the aquarium, He told us we need to leave our comfort zones and go out to them. But when we go, don't be misled into the fact that everything will be fine for you. Church, everything won't be fine. This world is filled with wolves. But compassion is the key. You even have to love wolves. You have to love those who don't love you, and that's a hard thing to do. Amen, someone?
According to Webster's Dictionary, the word compassion means "to suffer with." Compassion "with suffering, to suffer with."
So basically, if I'm going to have compassion for the world around me, I'm going to see their needs and suffer with them in their needs. Their needs are going to become my needs, and my answer is going to become the answer to their needs. And brothers and sisters in Christ, that only happens though, if I'm willing to go out into this world and to suffer with them.
In a Bible study that brother Jeff did here a few weeks ago here on Paltalk in A Far From Normal Faith Ministry, we discussed learning about those that we share God's truth with. Learn their lives and what they suffer from.
Some people are naturally compassionate. Brother Peter Stanway is the first that comes to mind. Peter and his wife Nancy have a ministry in Scotland called The Way Christian Ministries. Peter stayed with us for a few weeks a few years ago and the love of Jesus poured off this man. He's a man of such compassion for those in this dying world.
As we talk about compassion, I think it's something that we can develop. I do think there are some people who are more compassionate than others by their very nature. Perhaps they just have a softer heart. But the more we allow the Spirit of God to work through us, the more we are vessels in God's hand. The more comfort and consolation we're able to bring to those who are hurting, I think the more compassionate we become. So can we develop more compassion? Yes. The way we do that is not to stay aloof from people who need us. We should ask God to use us as His conduit of compassion. The more that happens, the more we come to crave opportunities to become compassionate.
Here's where many of us struggle. I spoke earlier about getting "out there" to engage the world. But for some of us, that world is right where we live each day. We have family members who don't yet know or understand what Jesus came to offer. You can always begin; in fact, you should always begin with the closest people in your life.
Leading a small group on witnessing many years ago, I found that everyone had issues on sharing their faith with others. Since then, I've seen some who attended become much bolder. Praise the Lord. Just ask Jesus to give you eyes to see the hurt and then to show compassion to whoever you see and to give you the words. It's that easy.
As we grow in the Lord, we find that things that we used to do important to us, or that should be the case. We find ourselves with Christian brothers and sisters in Christ and the things that we should be doing. Now in saying that, should we stay away from those who are non-believers? No! We shouldn't shun neighbors or co-workers, people in class with us, or people wherever we find them. Perhaps they need to see the compassion of Christ even more than our church family does. So we're to show compassion, to see the world as Jesus saw it. But if we want to see things the way He did, we have to be as realistic as Jesus was. Our key verse this morning in this study is Matthew 10:16. Jesus says to His disciples, "Behold I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves."
Don't think of these as literal wolves wandering around the neighborhood about to eat you up. Jesus is talking about the world as it is. And Satan has a great deal of influence on the world as it is. Let's remember that sin does not come from God. Sin comes from rebellion against God. That's the original sin. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, that was mankind's original sin.
If you want to trace sin, don't trace it back to your grandparents, although they were sinners. Don't trace it back to generations in the past. Trace it back to rebellion against God. That's where sin always originates.
In our rebellion against God, suddenly we're paying a hefty penalty for rebelling against God. What you see in the world today that's all messed up, everything that's wrong in the world today. All the evil that we see around us today can be traced not to God and His compassion, but to Satan and his rebellion.
Let me give you some examples of the kind of world that you and I will go into. This is a world that's filled with poverty. Many of us experience that poverty in every food cupboard. And Jesus told us to take the Gospel into the entire world, not just our comfortable, suburban, middle-class society.
Poverty is on the rise in a lot of places in the world. If we're going to take the Gospel to people, the Gospel in itself has to address some of the issues these people are facing. Poverty is one of those.
Beyond that, there's increased population. The more people there are, the more people we have to take the message of the Gospel to. Currently, the world's population is almost seven billion people. And the growth rate is the equivalent of four new babies born every second. This presents believers with an incredible task, and it's getting more and more difficult each day. So we have a world that's filled with poverty. We have a world that's filled with people. You put poverty and people together, you have a world that's filled with crime. We have about an 89% probability here in the United States of being a victim of a crime at some time during our life. In this country someone is murdered every 21 minutes. There's forcible rape every five minutes. Aggravated assault every 28 seconds, motor vehicle theft every 20 seconds. So, the society that's supposed to be wealthy and send people out to regions of the world in order to help them understand the Gospel is a society that's crumbling from within.
Jesus said, "Look, I want you to see the world the way I see the world." This world is not a pretty place. It's a very needy place. It's a place in which you and I are charged to take the message of the Gospel.
"So brother Jim, how do we change this world? What's the technology we use to change this world? What's my plan for tomorrow to impact the teenagers who live in the community?" Friends, that's having keen insight. It's having shrewdness, or a sharpness. It's not just saying, "Let's just take the Gospel message and throw it out and see where it sticks." We have to be as harmless as a dove; but we have to be as shrewd as a snake. Here's what I want you to notice about the world. I brought up poverty, population and crime. But when you think about this world spiritually, you and I are going out into a world filled with spiritual wolves.
What that shows me is this: This world is not only filled with wolves but with cults. They're breeding rapidly in this world. Our task is more difficult today than let’s say 20 years ago. Besides that, non-Christian religions are making roads into Christian places like they never have before. Most of us here in the United States think we're a Christian nation. But after looking in the Encyclopedia of American Religions today, I find that 1600 denominations are listed, of which 44% are non-Christian. So I think it would be foolish for us to say that the world is a wonderful place in which to live, that all we have to do is go out there and everyone's going to accept our message of salvation and they'll be happy that we've told them that they were sinners. It's just not going to happen. That's why Jesus says, "You have to be as wise as a serpent." You have to have the desire to make a difference. But at the same time, and I fail miserably here at times, and if you're honest with yourself, most of you do too.
Church, it is a learning process you have to be unadulterated. You have to be pure. You have to be gentle. You have to be compassionate. And everything we know about Jesus, in going to His world of wolves, was that He had keen insight about what the world was. He wasn't fooled at all by this world. But at the same time, He was very, very loving toward them.
Jesus’ view of the world was very realistic. He saw the need, the challenge, and that it would be hard. He saw the wolves for what they were. When we look at things that are real, many times our response is fear. We retreat or feel defeated before we even begin and I think the problem is that that's our natural response. We tend to focus on the hugeness of our challenge instead of the hugeness of our God and His ability to help us meet that challenge. But let's face it, our first, our natural response to the world around us is fear. Fear of failure. And that's why it's so important to remember that we do have a secret weapon, something the world doesn't have or doesn't even know about. And that's the power of God's Holy Spirit.
My dear friends, never forget, "Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world." And also “you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you”.
I've given statistics on the growth of cults and different types of churches in the last few years. How do we handle those without developing a sort of spiritual quarantine to protect our theology or practice? The last thing we want to do is quarantine our faith. Jesus calls us to share our faith, not to seal it up and protect it. That's why it's so important (I think vitally important) that we build a strong faith so we have the strength necessary to handle the cults and the aberrations of true Christianity.
That strong faith comes through getting to know God better. Friends, the only way to get to know God better and build your faith is to meaningfully engage Him. Daily engage Him in His Word and in prayer. I can’t stress this enough. I, through every Bible study that I've led and blogs that I write, when teaching how to get to know God better and to see Him work in your life isn't just to tell you what to do. It's the key to living the Christian life successfully.
If you asked people what is our greatest need, you'd hear things like better education, good jobs, more money, or maybe an end to poverty or cancer. We're all born with the same need. The need for a Savior. And Jesus is our only Savior. How do we present Jesus as the solution to mankind's greatest need?
Our view of the world should match up with Jesus' view. And He certainly saw it as needy. But He also said it would not give us a warm welcome. Instead of treating people as enemies or as adversaries, I think we need to do what Jesus did. We need to have compassion on them. This is a scary world. This is a dangerous world and becoming more and more dangerous by the day.
One doesn't have to look far to see this is a needy world. But it's a world we have to take the message to. So let's go back one chapter and today find out how Jesus saw the needs of people in this world.
Matthew 9:36-38: But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. :37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; :38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
I want you to put that on the front burner of your mind.
Jesus saw the world filled with wolves, and He had compassion for them "because they were weary and scattered like sheep, having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, 'The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.'"
Let's see some more scripture in Matthew. I want you to see the compassion of Jesus.
Matthew 14:13-14 When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities. (14) And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. What I want you to see here again is the word compassion, and what immediately happened after this, the feeding of the five thousand. Why did Jesus feed these people? Because of His compassion.
Matthew 15:30-32 KJV And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and he healed them: (31) Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel. (32) Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.
There it is again—"compassion." Only this time Jesus is feeding the four thousand, different from the feeding of the five thousand.
Let's look at 1 more.
Matthew 20:29-34: "And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, 'Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!' The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, 'Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!' And stopping, Jesus called them and said, 'What do you want me to do for you?' They said to him, 'Lord, let our eyes be opened.' And Jesus in pity [with compassion] touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed Him."
Again, notice that before Jesus did any of these things (Things that helped people in general), there is this note about His motivation. And His motivation is always compassion. The motivation for you and me to share our faith with our neighbors and our family and our friends is always compassion. But let's make sure we understand what compassion is.
Compassion isn't something people are born with. Compassion is something that's generated when we see a need and we fill our heart with the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let me just define what compassion is and compare it to something else. If you see a person who has a need and you help that person, it may be because that person is one you just simply have pity for. You see a stray dog. You take that dog in. That's not necessarily compassion. That's pity. I'm going to show you an example of this in the Bible.
Remember the story of Pharaoh's daughter when she found Moses in the bull rushes? Exodus 2:6 says that she had compassion on the baby Moses. But the word that's used there is the word for pity, not for compassion. So the reason she took the baby out was not because she loved the baby. She took the baby out because she pitied this poor little child.
Jehovah God always has more than pity on us. He has compassion on us.
Psalm 78:38, He was full of compassion for He forgave Israel's iniquities and did not destroy them.
God didn't pity Israel because Israel was so frequently in God's face and doing things that disturbed God. He forgave their iniquities because He had compassion on them. He loved them.
So compassion is more than pity, first of all. Just feeling sorry for someone is not compassion. You don't take the message of salvation to a neighbor because you feel sorry for them. You take that message because you feel compassion for them.
Secondly, compassion is more than feelings anyway. We have a tendency to relate compassion with the love songs that we've heard or the love letters that we get.
Second Kings 13:23 describes God's feelings toward Israel:
2 Kings 13:23 KJV And the LORD was gracious unto them, and had compassion on them, and had respect unto them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, neither cast he them from his presence as yet.
Graciousness and compassion in this verse have nothing to do with His feelings. It has to do with His relationship with them. In fact, Lamentations 3:32, says of God,
Lamentations 3:32 KJV But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.
Rather than say, "Oh, you poor thing, I'm going to share the Gospel with you," you may bring grief to your neighbor in telling your neighbor that he's doing something wrong, that he's displeasing to God. But you're doing that because of your intense love for that neighbor, your great compassion for that neighbor. Compassion arises more from unfailing commitment to people than it does for feelings for people.
Number one, compassion isn't just pity; it's a lot more than pity. Number two, it's more commitment. I'm going to be compassionate. It's more commitment than it is feeling.
Then here's a third thing that I think distinguishes compassion and pity. Compassion arises more from our character than it does from our concern. Why are some people more compassionate than others? If we factor out the pity factor (that is to say, some people appear to be compassionate because they have more pity), some actually do have compassion because of their character. It has nothing to do their upbringing. It has nothing to do with their station in life.
Luke 10:30-36: "Then Jesus answered and said, 'A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. [Here's the Good Samaritan—ready for this?] But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you. [Jesus asks] So which of these three do you think was a neighbor to him who fell among thieves?'"
What we have here are two religious leaders who passed by on the other side of the road because they don't care at all about this poor beaten man. Then, we have a Samaritan, who was not privileged in life, but he is the Good Samaritan because he had a character that said to him, "I cannot go on without helping this person." He had compassion on him.
Are we learning the heart of Jesus here? Compassion arises more out of character than it does out of the fluttering of the heart. So when we want to be like Jesus, we're not looking at feeling like Jesus. We're looking at having the character that Jesus had in which He saw the world as filled with wolves, and yet loved them and was willing to die for them.
Should we have compassion for just those who are sick or poor? I don't think it's wise to categorize or prioritize need. Need is need, and it's wherever we find it. One day our compassion may be needed for a neighbor who has lost his or her job. They need a basket of groceries. The day after that it may be for a woman who's been abused by her husband. She's in need of encouragement, maybe even direction to help her cope appropriately with her situation. It may be need to lay hands and pray for a brother that has an injury. The gospel is the answer to all of our needs. It's the answer to our physical needs, emotional needs and spiritual needs. Everything. And Who is the Word?
Matthew 28, the last chapter in Matthew. Let me just read half a dozen verses.
Matthew 28:1-6 KJV In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. (2) And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. (3) His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: (4) And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. (5) And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. (6) He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
Church, don't you find it interesting that this angel is so careful of his grammar when he speaks to these women? I don't see angels going to grammar school. It's just not the kind of image I have of angels. But when he talks to these women about the Lord Jesus, he says, "I know why you are here. You are here to seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here for He is risen."
In light of this; in light of what Jesus has taught (and these women were around to hear it); in light of what Jesus has done (and these women were around to see it—died for our sins on the cross); in light of that, what's the challenge given to these women that ultimately is the challenge to you and me in the this day? It's twofold, and here it is, very plain, verse 6, the challenge is this: First, "Come, see the place where the Lord lay."
I think it's important, if you and I are going to share our faith with others, we need to spend significant time in God's Word, absorbing the whole message of the Gospel, so that when we tell the message of the Gospel, we're so familiar with it, it just kind of rolls off the tongue. It's a part of who we are. Also for all of us to be prayer warriors, and used to being in communication with God the Father.
So he says to the women, "First of all, I want you to come and look into this tomb, look into this grave. I want you to see first that Jesus is not there." And that's the most important thing for you and me when we're testifying of our faith to others. We're absolutely convinced that Jesus is alive today. He's not in some Palestinian grave somewhere. We need to look into that tomb and be convinced so when the cultists come to our door, or when other religions challenge our faith in Jesus Christ, we're not saying, "Um, I’m not sure." We are sure, because we've been in God's Word.
So he says, first of all, "Come and look into this tomb. Come and see for yourself." That's the challenge of the soul, getting our soul ready to witness. That's number one.
Look at example number two, verse 7, “And go quickly and tell His disciples.” You and I cannot be effective going to tell others of the Lord Jesus until we've first come to see for ourselves. We need to be full of Him ourselves before we go and tell others.
However, coming and seeing doesn't get the job done either. You can't hang out around the tomb. You have to leave the tomb, like you have to leave church, like you have to leave your Bible study group. You have to leave that at some point and go out and tell the friends that you have what Jesus has done for you.
So if coming and seeing is the challenge of the soul, going and telling is also the challenge of the soul. It's walking away from where you're comfortable and going and telling people about the Lord Jesus. Getting out of that comfort zone - rebuking that spirit of fear.
Come and see; then go and tell. That's our challenge in sharing Gospel. How do we make sure that we cover both sides of the mission? Because some of us are really good at knowing the Word, getting into the Word, but to leave the study part and go and tell is really scary. Or there are others who are fine with talking to people but they haven't really got a foundation beyond the few things they know.
Church, we have to take both sides of this equation equally seriously. We can't just memorize a few scriptures and then just charge out into the world ready to win it for the Savior. That just doesn't work. It's also a source of a great deal of discouragement and disappointment for people who try to do it that way.
We my friends, need to fill our lives with Christ first. Not so much with answers, but with the mind of Christ. And then we'll be ready to tackle the world. On the other hand, we can't marry ourselves to our quiet time, in prayer and never leave our sanctuary, because the world doesn't live in our sanctuary. The challenge here is for us to see the world as Jesus sees it and to handle it with compassion.
I like this saying. “But the one option Jesus doesn't give us as Christians is to ignore the need or to stick our heads in the sand and do nothing. Heads in the sand only get grains in the ears. They don't get light to the world.”
So we need to adopt Jesus' strategies for engaging the world in a way that enables us to meet them at the point of their need with the compassion of the Savior and the salvation of God. Amen?
My brothers and sisters, do you want to see God really work in your life? Dig into your Bibles daily. Pray daily. Share the Gospel daily. Learn to love those that you've had a hard time to be around. Learn how to honestly walk, talk and through our actions, act as Jesus did. Let us learn to have the mind of Christ. Let us learn how to let the Holy Spirit guide us in all we do. Amen?
Thank you all who've joined us here in the J and L Ministries room here on Paltalk. We love you and it blesses my heart to see people hungry for more of God. We also thank My Look Online, A Far From Normal Faith Ministry and Lokey Sisters for allowing these messages on their sites. Also we praise God for all the ones that He's drawn to Cross Roads Fellowship to view these messages and all the other friends we have on the various social networks.
We love you and do hope you spend this week seeking God and learn to have that compassion for others that I believe Jesus wants you to have.