Series: James

Your Sin and Your Church

Sermon Passage: James 5:12–20

12 But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Sermon Notes

What allows me to have lasting spiritual fruit?

Answers to prayer are gifts, not rewards. They are given at the discretion of the Giver, not out of obligation.

How does sin deceive us?

  1. We say, "It's no big deal."
  2. Sin convinces us we're winning.
  3. It distracts us by focusing on other people's sin.

When sin deceives us, sin gets to stay and fruit does not grow.

When we compare ourselves with others, we're making people the standard. We envy another's growth or strength, but they waver as well. The only solid rock is Christ. The difference between stability and instability is being anchored in Christ.

What comes to mind when you see someone stumble? Judgment or thankfulness for the grace you have received?

How do you have lasting fruit? Stay focused on Christ as your anchor, not yourself or other people. In the midst of life, with its trials and difficulties, stay focused on the grace that is changing you, not on the sin that distracts you with excuses.

JOIN US FOR WEEKLY FASTS

Please join us as we fast once per week on the day of your choosing during October. We are committing to do this as a church for the purpose of vividly reminding ourselves that we prefer the eternal over the temporary. We are dedicating ourselves to leaving an eternal impact.

Learn How to Start Fasting >>

Impatience and Complaining

Sermon Passages: James 5:7–11; Philippians 2:14–15.

7 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

Sermon Notes

We're impatient, but the pain of today isn't forever.

James says our life is like farming: today's pail leads to tomorrow's fruit.

"There's no way any good can come from my situation," we say as we see the wasteland of our lives.

But the rain makes the harvest grow. Everything and everyone in your life is put there by God to make you grow. God brings fruit from the wasteland just as he brings the dead to life and just as he turns sinners into the saved.

We're impatient when people or situations don't change as fast as we want them to, but God's schedule is the best schedule. We think we're in control and get angry when irritating reminders snap us out of this delusion that the best life possible for us is the one we define for ourselves.

Complaining only draws attention to the evil and darkness in the world, but we're the to be the light of the world, pointing people to the gospel (Phil 2:14–15).

Hold onto this: You don't understand God's plan for your life, but you know God is good. Cling to God's good character and trust that his plan is better than yours. His plan will be revealed when Christ returns.

Our heart grows weary of trusting that God's plan is the best plan only when we don't have our anchor cemented in something permanent: the good character of God. An established or strengthened heart has unimaginable patience because it is okay with God's plan. It knows that everything in life is watering the future harvest.

Don't complain about the rain that's producing your future harvest.

How much is too much patience?

You only run out of patience when you forget that God's plan is better than yours.

Challenge: Have irrationally bold confidence in God's character. What if your patience never ran out and you never complained again? What if that person never changes and you never lost patience? This won't happen tomorrow, but you can grow a little bit every day. You can stop complaining and grow in patience because of the strength of Christ that is in you to overcome sin. Where are you most likely to be impatient? You can say, No.

JOIN US FOR WEEKLY FASTS

Please join us as we fast once per week on the day of your choosing during October. We are committing to do this as a church for the purpose of vividly reminding ourselves that we prefer the eternal over the temporary. We are dedicating ourselves to leaving an eternal impact.

Learn How to Start Fasting >>

The American Dream and the Slaugheterhouse

Sermon Passage: James 5:1–6; 1:9–11; 2:1–7; Matthew 6:19–21.

1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. 4 Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.

Sermon Notes

We set our desires and goals on things of this world, things that will perish as you age or when you die.

What you leave behind reveals what was in your heart.

Jesus told us to value eternal things, not temporary things (Matt 6:19–21).

But we are intentionally spiritually nearsighted. We want to be comfortable and entertained in the here and now. We prefer the temporary at the expense of the eternal.

American consumers are excellent disciple-makers, advertising their favorite possessions and interests to their friends. Yet, we don't care nearly as much to invite our friends to church or challenge them spiritually.

Slaughterhouse: Cows see the previous cow get slaughtered and still walk forward, following what everyone else is doing, oblivious to the doom they're walking into.

American Dream: You can only dream the "American dream" of success if you've fallen asleep to the dangers of worldly pursuits, oblivious to the doom you're walking into.

If you die today, what would you leave behind that impacts eternity?

Application:

  • "Every Christian has everything they need to help someone else take their next step" is one of Crossing's value statements. Jesus calls ALL Christians to be disciple-makers.
  • For some of you, helping in thankless ways at church already does leave an impact on eternity beyond what you can see.
  • Rubric: If it touches eternity, pour yourself into it. If it is temporary, don't let it be an obstacle and don't prefer it.
  • The Elderly: Instead of spending your retirement on yourself, spend your last few months impacting eternity.
  • Parents: Anything that prevents you from empowering your kids from impacting eternity, get rid of it.

JOIN US FOR 3 WEEKLY FASTS (OCT 11 – NOV 1)

Please join us as we fast once per week on the day of your choosing for the 3 weeks of October 11–November 1. We are committing to do this as a church for the purpose of vividly reminding ourselves that we prefer the eternal over the temporary. We are dedicating ourselves to leaving an eternal impact.

Learn How to Start Fasting >>

Planning to Waste Your Time

Sermon Passage: James 4:1317

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

SERMON NOTES

The clock is ticking.
Have you planned for the future?
We plan for the future based on the predictable pattern of our lives, but who knows what tomorrow will really hold?

90 years –  Your Age x 12 months x 60% = # of waking months left in your life.

Today only happens once.
Will you waste it?

When things don't go our way . . . 
1. We thought we were driving our life.
2. We thought we were giving the directions.

We're God's backseat drivers.

We plan our lives without considering him then tell him to bless us. That's functional atheism. We've got our retirement 401k plan where we make a deposit every Sunday morning so we can retire in our great Time Share in the Sky.

Every minute of your life tells a story and takes you somewhere.

How much of it invites God's presence?

If you are at the center of your own life plan, you're planning to waste your time.

When you plan . . .
1. Don't assume you're calling all the shots.
2. Ask God how you should spend your remaining life.

Jesus doesn't say you're on your own to make this plan. God acknowledges Jesus is the main planner of your life. Remember Proverbs 3:5–6:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.

Grace for the Humble

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Sermon Passage: James 4:412

4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

Sermon Notes

The Problem: Your passions and friendship with the world cause fights and conflicts among you.

"Friendship with the world": Anytime the world's priorities become our priorities. For example, we can still adopt the world's priorities of self-fulfillment and private happiness, scoring the dream job, or recognition from others while acting religious and withdrawing from "worldly" activities.

God rescues us from our natural state of wickedness, turns us to Christ, and we still continue to sin . . . . 

"But he gives more grace" (James 4:6).

When conflict arises, what should we do? We preach to ourselves . . .

The Wrong Sermon: We tell ourselves we have a right to our desires. We preach reinforcement of our passions, and the Devil say the same thing, only telling us what we want to hear as well.

The Right Sermon: Submit your desires to God. "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you" (James 4:7–8).

You have 2 choices:

  • Exalt yourself before God by affirming your desires above everyone else's and continuing to cause quarrels and fights.
  • Humble yourself before God by turning his priorities into your priorities.

How to Start a Fight

Sermon Passage: James 4:1–3.

1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

SERMON NOTES

You've never been in a fight where you were completely innocent.

How to Start a Fight:

  • Step One: Prioritize Your Pleasures
  • Step Two: Identify & Eliminate Obstacles

In our selfishness, we treat others as vehicles for our pleasures. Once they stop helping and start hindering, they become obstacles we try to eliminate in any way possible.

We take this selfishness to prayer (James 4:2–3), and that's why God doesn't grant our prayer. Conform your heart to his to find more prayers answered.

What do you need to find peace instead of frustration? 

God's Way:

  • Step One: Prioritize God's Pleasures
  • Step Two: Identify & Eliminate Obstacles

Zealously seek the pleasures of God. Make his passions yours and make his delight your greatest delight.

Are You Judgmental?

Sermon Passage: James 2:1–13

Select Notes

  • James 2:1–4
    • After we make a judgment, we only see what confirms our judgment. We have confirmation bias.
  • James 2:5–7
    • When we judge who is valuable according to wealth or other worldly standards, the evidence doesn't support our judgment. God uses the weak and poor. You think being partial to the rich or other group will help you advance the kingdom, but God doesn't work that way. James is saying that the rich have a bad track record, and God prefers to use the weak and poor so it will be more obvious it wasn't their doing.
  • James 2:8–9
    • Instead, we should love our neighbors as ourselves.
  • James 2:10–11
    • Partiality is a sin that transgresses the whole law. Obedience is a pass or fail grade. God doesn't grade on a curve.
    • There is no middle ground of "I slip up from time to time, but I'm generally a good person." Again, God doesn't grade on a curve.
    • What kind of law do you want to be judged by? A merciless and strict one or mercy alone?
  • James 2:12
    • If you speak and act as one under the law of liberty, how will you act?
    • None of us were picked because we had skill or talent but because of God's perfect mercy and wisdom.
  • James 2:13
    • Don't judge people without mercy.
    • We don't live up to the standards we impose on others.
    • Main Point: "Mercy triumphs over judgment."
  • Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment
    • Type 1 Judgment (Bad): Judgment of worth of an individual.
      • Type 2 Judgment (Good): Judgment of the truth of a statement.
    • "Homosexuality is a sin" is Type 2.
    • There is nothing merciful about lying to people saying that homosexuality is okay in order to win them as a friend. That condemns them.
    • Partiality: A sin where you can't get a statement (Type 2) out of your mind when relating to someone. When you look at them, you can only think of that statement. You commit type 1 sin, which is bad as being a homosexual.
    • If all you can say is "You're wrong," and don't proclaim mercy, you sin. Anyone can be brought under the law of liberty, just as you were. Mercy triumphs over judgment. Don't stop with "That's wrong." or you'll be an angry mob. Finish the story with a proclamation that God is merciful and offers salvation to those who don't deserve it.
    • Our possible responses:
      • (1) "That's wrong."
      • (2) Call something evil good (like calling homosexuality good).
      • (3) "Mercy triumphs over judgment." Don't judge value based on one statement or sin. Their main problem isn't homosexuality, it is sin. They are in peril of eternal death and separation from God.