Archive for August, 2008

September 7th, 2008 – Family Chats

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

September 7th, 2008
Family Chats
Deuteronomy 6:4-6

Communication within the home and among family members
Creating an environment of openness and honesty
Goal: developing skills/ strategies to improve communication

Read through Deuteronomy 6:4-6 several times and in different translations and write down some of your thoughts…


One Big Priority, Listening
This really familiar scripture still guides individuals, couples and families in their day to day living. Jesus also used it in his answer to the inquisitive lawyer about which is the greatest commandment. Truly it summarizes and simplifies the myriad of OT laws but it doesn’t make them any easier to keep. It may sound simple but that doesn’t mean it is easy. The same idea is true about marriage and family; it sounds simple to love someone but it may not be easy.

The title of this book, Deuteronomy, means “second law” or a repetition of the law. One can read the book as a reminder to be faithful to the original commandments. Some scholars also consider the structure of these speeches by Moses reminiscent of many treaties between a conquering king and a defeated nation. So we have Moses acting as the messenger between God and Israel describing the parts of the contract. In a similar role Moses takes the lead for the nation in a kind of covenant renewal because they have seen God do many miraculous things since they left Egypt and now they are ready for their next step.

Marriages and families are based on commitments, covenants and vows. As a part of a family we each have a vital part to play in our relationships and there are times that a renewal of those original plans may lead us to a new level in relationship. Relationships grow from tiny seeds to sprout into a plants with branches sticking out everywhere. Sometimes we forget where we’ve come from or we fail to give a familiar relationship the attention it needs. When that occurs we each need to listen and truly hear from God’s heart and those closest to us.

  • How is your family’s health?
  • Read Ephesians 3:14-19 and notice God’s plans…

Has someone ever asked you “Are you listening to me?” Or maybe you’ve said, “Did you hear what I said?” A favorite of parents is, “Do I have to repeat myself?” Or has someone had to say, “Put down the remote and look at me when I’m talking…” (nope? me neither)

Moses starts to recount the law as God had revealed it and he begins with, “Hear O, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” This verse would have been a dramatic attention getter for what follows, “Hear!” For communication to occur we must hear what God says. It is a matter of priorities. “God, our God, is one.” The declaration, that “God is one,” settled religious matters for Israel in the midst of their polytheistic culture. As the only “One” he is self-existent and self-sufficient. Therefore, religion must move from duty to delight. Religion shouldn’t be that something that is boring or dull. One should just go through the motions hoping God will check it off for them. Knowing God and loving God should be a great motivator. Making your relationship with God a priority of the heart lays the foundation for other earthly relationships to be built upon. As God created marriage He also mapped out a plan for intimacy, companionship and family and all of those things involve deep communication.

Read Genesis 2:20-24; Ecclesiastes 4:12 and notice how God enters the equation of a marriage and family.

What amount of time do you spend talking to:

  • Your spouse?
  • Your children?
    (Studies show that the average couple spends less than 4 hours a week in true conversation. Another study showed that children between 6th and 12th grade had not had a conversation with a parent lasting 10 minutes in over a month. Also, fathers and teenagers average about 35 minutes a week!)
  • God, in prayer?

When was the last time you spent 10 minutes being quiet before God? Make a plan this week to block out that kind of time to be quiet. Then, listen…

Most couples have probably heard that there are some glaring gender differences when it comes to communication. Generally speaking, ladies use about 20,000 words in a day and men about 7,000. That may not be totally accurate but gender differences are perceived to be a major issue. Maybe it’s the way we are wired, women would like personal details and the men just pass on the facts. A couple must find a balance point here and not settle for less. Another factor is tone in conversation and how one translates the message being sent. Dr. Emerson Eggerichs has written a book, Love and Respect, which looks to Ephesians 5 to find one of the keys to good communication between the two genders. He believes men and women hear “differently” as if men have a blue hearing aid and women a pink one. In summary, men as they listen “hear” words in terms of respect or disrespect. For women they “hear” similarly in terms of love or apathy. Basically he finds that most communication problems happen when we aren’t clear about communicating love and respect to our spouses.

  • Read Ephesians 4:29 and Colossians 4:6 and reflect on your own communication style.

Hearing generally implies communication but one must act on the message to demonstrate that it was received. So, Moses follows with “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Knowing God has spoken/is speaking, the next step is a response of love on our part and it involves all of who we are. The areas of our heart and mind capture who we are and how we make decisions. While these may be considered private, internal matters they become public through our actions or “strength.” The first persons to visually observe those actions are our families. If there is a disconnect between what we say we believe and what we actually do then there may be trouble with communication in the home. Remember, simple but not easy… This kind of love for God requires everything so that our spiritual relationship guides our homes.

  • Read 2 Timothy 1:5, 6 and reflect on who passed on spiritual truth to you.

The Work of Communication
Communication and love take work. Don’t forget that even in the perfect environment of Eden there was still work to do. Marriages and families require the same whole-hearted effort of love. With a foundation of love for God, the family unit is addressed in verses 6-9. Each one of these verses highlights the daily necessity of talking about the spiritual nature of life. Pastor/author Rob Bell is known for saying “everything is spiritual.” Parents in particular, must put forth this effort in their home. These commands are to be “upon your hearts.” One must know God’s word in such a way that it becomes like an internal compass guiding us towards righteousness. As a result communication within the family is affected.

Notice the word “impress” in verse 7. Some early translations used the word “whet” as in to sharpen your children. When one is whetting a knife they are keeping it sharp for use. So, the commandments become of means of shaping the family to see that God is at work in the little things of life. Keeping those “little” things holy is what creates character. In family life events happen everyday that a mom or dad can point out that highlight the work of God. When a child sees a parent consciously aware of God at work they learn to recognize God, too.

Moses reminds parents to talk about these things often: when you “get up” or “lie down”, walking/riding down the road or “sitting at home”. These everyday situations draw attention to hearing from God. God clearly uses his word but he also uses people, nature, circumstances and many others. When one attempts to listen to God in these daily things they grow to recognize his voice. As a result we can be immediately obedient. When we aren’t listening to God but instead following our plans we miss the work of God. Our focus becomes us or stuff and we short circuit our heart’s conversation with God. We also cheapen the conversations within our family. They become temporal instead of eternal about schedules and stuff instead of ministry and mission. Moses’ instructions are to use those daily, basic circumstances as reminders to talk to God. Imagine if you said a prayer every time you walked though a door.

What are the subjects that are talked about most in your home? What would your spouse says is most important based on the conversations? What would your children say is most important?
Read Matthew 6:19-24 what is your treasure?

Try an experiment this week, every time you touch a door handle say a quick prayer…

Husbands, if you are really daring, read 1 Peter 3:7 what does that say about the importance of the relationship with your wife and its effect on your prayers?

August 31st, 2008 – Family Business

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

August 31st
Family Business . . .
Genesis 1:26-28 and Proverbs 29:18

God’s design, purpose and mission for home, marriage and family
What is it and why is it important for a healthy church/community/nation?
Goal: discover and implement God’s design and mission for home/family

Gen. 1:26-28 Read through these verses and write down several thoughts



God is Relational
The Bible just begins with God, “in the beginning God…” When we read that sentence we can know God takes the initiative. Then, as we read the description of creation and the timing of the days we find God bringing order out of chaos, that He works with purpose and that His creation is “good.” As we arrive on the 6th and final day of creation it is as if God has saved the best for last.

The author writes in verse 26 that God says, “Let us make man in our image…” Who is God talking to? Scholars give support to several possibilities: 1) the author may have in mind the cultural influence of other creation stories that refer to many gods in conflict or warring as the cause of creation; 2) the Hebrew language has several nouns that are only found in a plural form (heavens, God-Elohim, majesty, water, etc. words kind of similar to our English ones for deer, fish, which are both singular and plural) so the author is being grammatically correct; 3) this could be a reference to a Divine Assembly or heavenly court similar to other parts of the OT (1 Kings 22:19-22; Isaiah 14:13; Job 1); so perhaps “us” and “our” references other angels conversing with God. This thought would believe that God is speaking rhetorically and then acts without help or assistance. 4) it is a reference to the Trinity at creation (Genesis 1:2, John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:15-18).

Whatever the case, the theme of these first chapters proclaims that creation at its foundation begins with relationship. Ultimately as God creates man and woman he infuses them with this powerful sense of fellowship and connection to Him. Moreover, “in our image” refers primarily to this relational nature not a physical description. Humanity’s creation supersedes that of all of the other wonderful creatures because mankind was created in His image, specifically our souls and its relationship to God. No other created thing enjoys this privilege.

For further study: Psalm 8:6-8, 104:24-35; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 4:22-24.

Another sense of being created in His “image” means we are God’s representatives, beings who declare God is present. Like an ambassador in a foreign country represents the president or king, we are God’s image in this world. As such we can act like God to those around us.

Think about how that principle could affect your relationship within your family: your spouse/mom/dad/child is one of God’s representatives.

  • How should they be treated?
  • How should they be loved?
  • How should they be spoken to?

Being made in God’s image also relates to the sense of purpose and power God gives people over the earth. He reigns as supreme Creator but we are to tend the land, be good stewards of the air, rule or have dominion over the animals. Take this idea of mission to your life, your family, your marriage or future marriage.

What is your life mission?
How do you see this sense of mission in the family you grew up in?

  • What is your family’s mission?

In verse 27 God acts, He makes male and female. Two different individuals were created but both are the result of being made in God’s image. There is the potential for greater depth in this relationship with God through these differences (remember in v. 31 God called all that he created “good”). Later in Genesis 2 we discover the kind of free flowing fellowship they had with God walking in the Garden. In a marriage and family each person brings their spiritual personality to participate on an interpersonal level and a spiritual level. God knew this and you may see another sense of the Trinity in a marriage, God-husband-wife. So we can see that the marriage and family foundation is being formed by God on this day of creation as well.

Dan Allender and Tremper Longman write in The Intimate Mystery, “Marriage is the key human relationship designed to make known who God is. Because that is true when a marriage goes bad it not only affects the couple but also the nature of reality.”

  • What truths do you see in that statement and in the beginnings of the marriage relationship?

For further study read: Genesis 2:20a-24; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 5:21-33

God’s Blessing and Purpose
Made in God’s image, mankind enjoys even more special blessings, verse 28. Knowing that God created us is quite a blessing but life is given meaning in God’s presence and purpose. This divine destiny drowns out the drudgery of duty before the Fall. The blessing God bestowed upon the married couple was the privilege of being the right environment for new life. The committed couple, in God’s plan (God blesses His plans not always ours), would be blessed to raise children with a right understanding of their “image” and relationship to God. As God intended, marriage and family is the environment for growth of love, forgiveness, individual uniqueness and identity, serving and suffering; salvation and more.

  • What else would you add that the marriage environment expresses?

Another privilege found in the blessing is the subduing of the earth. God says to, “rule over…” The jurisdiction given to mankind comes with a great responsibility. In our handling of this charge there should be some sense of order and care reflecting God’s character. After the Fall, arrogance and ignorance has taken hold at creation’s expense. Satisfying humanity’s need should not be the sole purpose for nature. Man was to responsibly take care of the earth and as a result show God to the world. (Romans 8:18-22 makes one wonder how deeply the result man’s sin, affected the rest of creation, too.) Care for the earth continues to be a part of our mission passed on to our family as a result of our relationship with God.

  • How involved are you in being responsible for the earth as God’s representative?

The Family Plan
Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no revelation the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.

The context of this verse relates directly to the family and the home. Before and after verse 18 “children” and “servants” are discussed. Some translations of verse 18 use the word “vision” instead of “revelation” but it is often misunderstood. The Hebrew word for vision/revelation would have reminded the Old Testament audience of prophets and the “revelation” of the word of the Lord. The prophets often described this word as a result of a vision. Therefore, in this verse “vision” cannot simply be relegated to 5 and 10 year business plans with a bunch of action steps. The writer has more in mind when he speaks of “revelation.” God’s word spoke creation into existence and now it guides people, created in His image, to an abundant life. The word of God remains vital to the community and the individual. Here the truth points out that without such a “revelation” there is nothing to guide the people and they are out of control or “cast off restraint.” What can be done for the family without a “revelation” or mission?

There remains a way to live so that such a circumstance doesn’t happen. The verse concludes with a comment about one who “keeps the law.” God’s written word is the “law” which is singled out to replace the lack of revelation. “Keep[ing] the law” refers to a lifelong mission of being God’s representative here. To do that individually one must be in constant contact with their Creator. As a home each member must make loving God their priority.

  • How do you live by God’s revelation in His word?
  • How does your life reflect your need for His word?
  • How would you grade your family as a whole?

For further study: Deuteronomy 6:5-9, 8:3 (Jesus quoted this in his response to Satan and the temptations!); Jeremiah 31:33-34; John 1:1, 14; Colossians 3:16

If mankind is a biological accident then we have no need for a word or revelation and we are robbed of a sense of purpose. If the foundation of the family is merely coincidence then we don’t need a plan. However, God gives a revelation of Himself and His purpose for our lives and homes. In this verse we find a reminder that God blesses His plans, this time through one keeping the law. Being a Christian, and even a Christian home, is more than rule keeping, it is being and becoming what God planned at creation: the capacity to reflect His image and to do so throughout the world as individuals, as couples and as families, Psalm 64:9.

Resources used in preparing this guide:
The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis, (2001) John H. Walton
Hard Sayings of the Bible, (1996) Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Peter H. Davids, F.F. Bruce, Manfred T. Brauch
The Intimate Mystery, (2005) Dan B. Allender, Tremper Longman III

August 24th, 2008 – Know, Grow, Go

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

Know, Grow and GO
Mark 1:14-20

Read this passage a couple of times and then write down some things that God draws to your attention:

Timing

One of the subjects that may have caught your attention is the issue of timing. Jesus doesn’t begin to preach until John the Baptist is arrested. Seems odd since they could have made a good team; cousins, powerful teachers, they could have been traveling evangelists… But that wasn’t a part of God’s plan or timing. How many times have you said or heard it said, “It was right time,” “it was perfect timing,” or “I was in the right place at the right time.” God is a God of perfect timing. And for John and Jesus one left the scene and the other took center stage.

There are several Greek words for time; two of them are kairos and chronos. Chronos speaks of the duration of a period of time, and it also marks quantity of time. Kairos is used to define a fixed amount of time marked by certain features; it also marks the quality of the time.

Kairos is used here by Jesus in verse 15. In this sense of time Jesus is referring to two ideas. The first is that of history that had already occurred; creation, the Patriarchs, the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, the exile and leading up to his birth. The second idea is that of God entering history at just this moment marking the nearness of the kingdom of God. The timing couldn’t be more perfect.

Think back through your life’s circumstances; can you see God’s hand in the timing of events? Think about your salvation experience… What about decisions made at certain crossroads? How about relationships that resulted in prosperous opportunities of some kind? There may even some missed opportunities because of choices or bad timing but there are no coincidences. Timing is in God’s hand and His timing is perfect.

In this passage the timing has John exiting and Jesus beginning his ministry and preaching as He ushers in God’s kingdom.

For further study read Galatians 4:4 and its context. What do you notice about time here?

Read Matthew 26:18 and its context. What is unique here?

Read Proverbs 15:23. How powerful is our sense of timing even in conversation?

Jesus’ Preaching
The message for the beginning of the Kingdom of God is Jesus’ preaching. The silence between the two testaments is broken by John’s message that the Messiah is coming and then Jesus begins to preach. The gospel writers use the word euangelion which is translated good news or gospel. You can see where we get our English word, evangelism. In verse 14, Mark uses that phrase to describe Jesus’ content and again in verse 15 he speaks of belief in the good news.

  • What is the good news?
  • What is so good about it?

For thousands of years people had tried to be good enough to relate to God. They offered sacrifices and kept commandments without much effect on the heart. In Jeremiah 31:33-34, God declares that there will be a time when a new covenant will be in place and the law will be written in a person’s heart and they will know God. As God in the flesh enters history, OT prophesies become reality and God’s redemptive plan for His people is fulfilled in Jesus. There is a way to God and that is good news.

  • What are some other OT prophecies Jesus drew upon for his preaching?

The emphasis at the heart the kingdom of God is, God. God the Father is taking the initiative to reach mankind. He is creatively using all of His power to redeem man who strives to alienate himself and rebel against his Creator. The kingdom dawns with Jesus arriving on the scene and Jesus sets in motion more kingdom things through his ministry.

Repent and Believe
The theme of Jesus’ message found in Mark 1:15, is “repent and believe in the gospel.” Both of the words repent and believe are imperatives which imply a command, “you repent…you believe.” The focus becomes the heart instead of the external action of keeping a list of rules.

Repentance is critical to salvation. To repent, metanoeo, meta means implies change; noeo is the Greek word for the mind. This kind of change requires going a different direction or changing one’s life goal. Anything less is selfishness. One cannot combine your way and God’s; it must be God’s way. The centrality of repentance in salvation is linked throughout the New Testament to preaching and the good news. Read the following scriptures and note their use of the word: Matt. 4:17; Mark 6:12; Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38, 3:19, 17:30; Romans 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9.

Today many preachers and churches are slow to tell people they are sinners and about the need to repent. Instead they often point people in the direction of self-fulfillment or improvement. If we go down that road, doctrine becomes irrelevant. However, Jesus preached both “repent and believe in the gospel.” The doctrines of the gospel are: Who God is, The truth about mankind, Jesus is God’s son and why he came, The Cross, The Resurrection, the Bible…all must be taught and learned. The FAITH strategy is a brief outline of the doctrines of the gospel that can be shared in 5-10 minutes (you may have someone share the outline in class this Sunday).

To believe meant to the New Testament Christian, to act. If one only has a belief that is not acted upon that could be construed as make believe or a creative imagination. Belief as spoken of in scripture requires action; it is not merely an intellectual exercise.

The Call to Follow

Having introduced Jesus, the kingdom of God and the good news, Mark turns his attention to followers. As we have read about the historical timing, the message and Jesus’ purpose the next step is to call followers, v.17. To become a follower meant that they left their way of life to follow a teacher who would show them how to live like he lives. Notice Jesus calls these brothers, Andrew and Simon, from their work of fishing to become (not just “do”) another type of fisherman. They are to join Jesus in the work of the kingdom, preaching repentance and faith.

In the process of following Jesus, he “will make” those who respond, disciples. That process requires something, time with Jesus. Lots of people make a decision that has been described as mere “fire insurance.” Clearly that is not the call Jesus had in mind. For that early disciple it required leaving what was known for the unknown, what was comfortable for the uncomfortable and what may

  • Is that still true today?
  • How do you see that in your own life?
  • What kind of cultural effect do you see in relation to discipleship?

Being “fishers of men” becomes their mission. The mission wasn’t only to spend time huddled around Jesus but to become instruments that advance the kingdom. The disciples learned from Jesus’ words and life what was important and slowly they got it.

Fishing was an everyday vocation, so is our mission. It is BIG, we all want to be a part of something bigger than we are and something that will last longer than we will. These 4 men had likely heard bits and pieces about Jesus and his vision of the kingdom. Mark describes their response as immediate, v. 18, 20.

Our culture and society values options. Think of all the ways you can have a burger, or choosing the options for a new car or upgrades for a house… Many tend to weigh out the pros and cons prior to making a decision. We check the contingencies and forecasts. Some may even flip a coin. For these 4 disciples and disciples everywhere the options for their life must have seemed simple, follow Jesus and participate in his mission or settle for something less with your life.

To wait to make the decision to follow Jesus as a disciple is to delay God’s plan. The time for us is now. For the church the time is now, for our community and world the time is now. How will you respond to the call to follow Jesus?

August 17th, 2008 – James 5:13-20

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

The Book of James
How Deep Are You Willing to Go?
James 5:13:20

Introduction

James has given some very clear instructions about how to live the Christian life. The goal is maturity and completeness. The process involves an evaluation and response to the various issues of life (tests of faith) on the basis of the principles and precepts of the Word of God. It is our proven faith that results in maturity and completeness.

To successfully complete the course takes steadfast endurance (hupomone mental toughness – the ability to hang in there when the going gets tough) and self-restraint (makrothumia, patience toward people). James began with these qualities and has ended with them. But we do not all move along the track of life at the same pace, nor at the same level of conditioning. Therefore, Christians evaluate and respond to life in different ways, and this is what provides the opportunities to minister to one another.

In Chapter 5, verses 13 to 20, James addresses some of the states in which we might find ourselves from time to time, and how we should conduct ourselves in them.

Our Study of the Text

  1. VARIOUS STATES OF CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE (5:13-16a).
    1. The one who is suffering (5:13a).
      1. The state: suffer is kakopatheo„ “to suffer misfortune, evil” (see 2 Tim. 2:9).
      2. The response: pray. cf. Phil. 4:4-7.
    2. The one who is cheerful (5:13b).
      1. The state: cheerfulness.
      2. The response: “Sing praises.” The term praises is psallo„ which means to sing praises (See Rom. 15:9; 1 Cor. 14:15; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16).
    3. The one who is weak (5:14-18).
      1. The state: Weak. The term is astheneia.
        1. Primary use: to be weak/without strength (See Rom. 6:19; 1 Cor. 2:3; 15:43; 2 Cor. 12:9; Heb. 5:2; 11:34).
        2. Secondary use: to be physically sick (See Matt. 10:8; Luke 3:11; John 4:46; 11:1, 3, 6).

          Which does it mean here? (Verse 15 will make it clear)

      2. The response: Call for the elders: church leaders, pastors (5:14b).
        1. He needs help (prayer – and perhaps, counsel and forgiveness).
        2. Oil in that cultural context was symbolic of consecration the presence of the Holy Spirit.
        3. The prayer of faith will: restore [lit. save] (Save is the term sozo which means to deliver; here it is to deliver from in the sense of “gaining victory over.”) the one who is WEAK (The term is kamno: to be weak, weary, discouraged (see its only other use in Hebrews 12:3).

          Note: The term kamno is used only on rare occasion outside the New Testament for physical illness.

    4. And the Lord will raise him up (5:15b).
      The term is egeiro„ which means to raise or lift up (See Matt. 3:9; 12:11; Mk. 1:31; Ac. 13:22).
    5. His sins will be forgiven (5:15c).
      This person is no doubt suffering a great deal from the negative consequences of his poor choices. He has not been living on the basis of faith. He may have sinned against others in the process. Therefore James tells us to . . .
    6. Help one another by:
      1. Confessing
      2. Praying

        That such a one might be healed. The term is iaomai: lit. to heal; fig. to restore (See Matthew 13:15; Luke 4:18).

        The picture here is clearly one of restoration to fellowship within the Body of Christ.

  2. THE PRAYER OF A RIGHTEOUS MAN (5:16b-17a).
    1. Elijah was a regenerate man in a body of flesh with passions like ours (homo + pathos). Evil passions have to do with the flesh (they are not a part of our essence as a spirit person). They are a part of the programming of our fleshly mind, which is why we are to put them aside.
    2. We were once sinners (offspring of Adam), but now we are righteous (offspring of God). We sin because of our “programmed mind” i.e., the false beliefs that we have about who we are, what we need, how we are to feel, etc.
    3. The point James is making is this: Elijah was no different than we are. What we have is a lesson in how powerful our prayers are because we are righteous – even though we are still in a body of flesh and in the process of growing-up in Christ.
    4. Elijah’s prayer (5:17b-18).
      1. He prayed according to God’s Word (See Lev. 26:18-20).
      2. He placed his faith in what God had said (correct interpretation and correct application).
        1. Disobedience brings judgment (specific in this case).
        2. Repentance brings restoration and blessing (See Lev. 26:40 ff).

    The situation that James now brings before us is that of a fellow Christian who has “strayed from the truth” and as a result is experiencing “death.” This situation calls for a direct application of the Law of Christ: love one another.

  3. THE CONCEPT OF SPIRITUAL RESTORATION (5:19-20).
    1. The problem and the corrective (5:19).
      1. The problem: The condition of the “if” looks to a more future probability. This Christian is one who “strays from the truth.” The term is planao„ which means to wander from the path of truth (See Matt. 27:64; Rom. 1:27; Eph. 4:14; 2 Thess. 2:11; Jude 13).
      2. The corrective: “He who turns him back”; the verb turns back is the term epistrepho„ which means to return to a point where one has been, turn around, go back (See Lk.1:16; Mk. 5:30; Jn. 12:40)
        Note: this does not explain how; it is simply stating what will be accomplished if it is done.
    2. The results (5:20).
      1. “Will save his soul from death;” that is, he will deliver such a one from the experience of death – separation from Christ because of sin, being out of fellowship with Christ.
      2. “Will cover a multitude of sins;” the verb cover is the term kalupto„ which means to cover, hide, conceal. This process of restoration will bring to the offender a sense and realization of his forgiveness in Christ (See 1 John 1:5-10).
  4. POINTS TO PONDER.
    • Be aware of the needs of those around you, and do not be afraid to intervene if it is clear to you that someone is wondering away from the Truth.
    • Whether you are suffering or cheerful, make the proper godly response to your life circumstances.
    • Pray at all times and about everything expecting God to supply what is needed to do His will.

The Uses of Oil in the Bible

  1. Commercial: an important commodity of trade in the ancient world (Luke 16:5-6).
  2. Illumination: (a) oil as fuel (Matt. 25:3-8); (b) as oil for the continual light in the tabernacle (Ex. 27:20).
  3. As food: olive oil was the main source of fat in cooking (1 Kings17:12-16; 2 Kings 4:2).
  4. Cosmetic: the body was usually anointed after bathing (Ruth 3:3); was also poured on the hair (Eccl. 9:8).
  5. Medicinal: oil was a common remedy for wounds (Luke 10:34).
  6. Hospitality: guests were anointed when they arrived for a banquet as a sign of honor (Ps. 23:5; Amos 6:6).
  7. Religious: as an act of consecration (a) a king (1 Sam. 10:1); a priest (Lev. 8:30); (c) a prophet (Isa. 61:1); the Tabernacle and its furnishings were anointed (Ex. 30:22-33); (a) in the lamp (Ex. 27:20); (b) as a part of the burnt offering (Ex. 29:40); (c) as a part of the grain offerings (Lev. 2:4-6).
  8. Figurative: as a symbol of plenty (Deut. 32:13), as a symbol of luxury (Prov. 21:17). Its lack was evidence of God’s displeasure (Joel 1:10); its abundance was proof of God’s blessing (Joel 2:24). Figuratively it was used as a symbol of God’s provision and blessing upon an individual.

August 10th, 2008 – James 5:1-12

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

The Book of James
Am I on Trial?
James 5:1-12

Introduction

In a conference held in Dallas in 1975, Dr. Francis Schaeffer said that the goal of human nature, particularly as it manifests itself in America, is personal peace and affluence. By personal peace he meant “I want to be free to do what I want to do when I want to do it.” By affluence he meant “the accumulation of things, things, and more things.”

The Bible has a word for this kind of motivation, and we saw it twice in James 3: 14-16. It is eritheia (selfish ambition, self-seeking, or simply, self-gratification).
As we begin Chapter 5, James shifts to another sub-group within his readers, the rich. In essence, their problem is one of selfish ambition – and it is interesting to see what a person motivated by selfish ambition will do to satisfy his or her own lust patterns.

Our Study of the Text

  1. A STATEMENT OF WARNING (5:1-2).
    1. “Weep and howl for your miseries” refers to their response when they have a clear understanding of what is really going on in their lives.
    2. “Riches are corrupted . . . garments are moth-eaten” relates well to the words of our Lord in Matthew 5:19-21. (Read it).

      The clear implication is that they see material things as being that of which life consists — that which gives it meaning and value. What they fail to see is that such a belief issues from the goal and motivation of self-gratification!

  2. THE END PRODUCT IS CORRUPT BECAUSE OF THE CORRUPT WAYS IN WHICH IT WAS OBTAINED (5:3-6).
    1. Their wealth will actually witness against them – wood, hay and straw (v. 3).
    2. Their wealth came through fraud and dishonesty (v. 4).
    3. Their goal: personal luxury and pleasure (v. 5).

      pleasure = gratification of their fleshly lusts.

      luxury = their material possessions which gave them a sense of power, security and fulfilled approbation lust (symbols).

    Note: At a time when they should have been living in momentary expectation of the Lord’s return, they were living as if He was never coming at all – as if how they live now has no relationship to the future!

  3. BE PATIENT UNTO THE COMING OF THE LORD (5:7-11).
    1. Be patient like a farmer (7-8).
      1. Consider how the farmer waits (7).
      2. Establish your heart (8).
      3. Don’t grumble (9).
    2. Be patient like the prophets (10).
    3. Be patient like Job (11).
  4. YOUR WORD SHOULD BE YOUR BOND (5:12)

    It is interesting to listen to the way many Christians talk about life. It is very common to hear statements like: “God led me to do so-and-so;” or, “God told me to do so-and-so;” etc. But the Bible has a lot to say about how we use God’s name, and in both covenants we have clear instruction and warning about its use.

    1. Using names to add weight to our statements.

      “Do not swear, either by heaven or by earth.”

      1. This phrase is referring to the practice of the Jews of using frivolous oaths making reference to heaven, earth, Jerusalem or one’s head on the ground that the name of God was not actually employed.
      2. This is not a prohibition of all oath taking. It has no reference at all to courtroom procedure. The prohibition is against the flippant or careless use of God’s name to guarantee the truth of one’s statements.
      3. Look at what the Scriptures say: cf. Exodus 20:7. (cf. Lev. 19:12; Deut. 10:20 w/ 2 Sam. 2:27; Jer. 4:2).
        YHWH was the only living reality to Israel. That is why His name is involved in oaths, usually in the formula “As God (YHWH) lives….” To use such a phrase, and then to fail to perform the oath, was to call into question the reality of God’s very existence.
      4. cf. Matthew 5:34-36. Jesus taught His disciples to dispense with such statements in ordinary conversation.

        A major problem in our present culture is that words no longer carry the force that they once did. One must now use adjectives like “Awesome,” or, “Fantastic,” or, some four-letter word to give the necessary force to a statement. Loud volume is another devise used for that purpose. And for many Christians, adding “God’s name” to their statements makes them sound “spiritual” and gives the listener to sense that the speaker is “close to God.”

    2. Adhere strictly to the truth – aim for simplicity and straightforwardness in speech.

      “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No.’”

      1. The point is that one’s word should be as trustworthy as a signed agreement attested by legal witnesses.
      2. It is an aspect of the SECOND GREAT COMMANDMENT: cf. Ex. 20:16; Rom. 13:9-10; Eph. 4:25, 29.
  5. POINTS TO PONDER.
    • Monitor your own heart attitude toward your material possessions to be sure you are not prompted or motivated by a love for things.
    • A desire to keep up with those around you may indicate a problem with selfish ambition. Such desire most often results in some form of self-destruction.
    • Being patient is a fruit of the Spirit (see Gal. 5:22-23). Being impatient with others may indicate an area of relative immaturity to which you need to pay attention.
    • Be careful how you use God’s name. Using God’s name in vain means to use it in empty ways – such as attaching God’s name to our own plans to give them the appearance of creditability.