James 3:1-12

12/7/09 V. 1, Teachers speak. They use their tongues. And just as he’s about to launch into cautions concerning our tongues James gives us the warning to think twice about becoming a teacher because teachers will be more strictly judged. So considering the power of the tongue to do wrong, one must weigh carefully the thought of becoming a teacher where our words are that much more important.

V. 2, Everyone has his struggles with sin, but if one is able to overcome his tongue he has gone far, and will be able to bring his whole body into submission.

V. 3-6, The tongue is such a small thing that it goes unnoticed as an object of sin often, but like a bit steers a horse and a rudder steers a ship, though small, the tongue governs the spiritual life. This small thing has the potential to destroy great things

V. 7-8, Tame what you will but no one seems to be able to completely tame their tongue.

V. 9-10, We are hypocritical in our words and our lives. We are swayed by spiritual winds and our words merely give indication of this.

V. 11, Just as a stream of water isn’t salty and fresh neither should the mouth stream forth mixed good and evil. This is wrong.

V. 12, Jesus said a good tree brings forth good fruit and a bad tree brings forth bad fruit and the opposite simply doesn’t happen. So our tongues aren’t the problem, it’s the heart that moves the tongue. We don’t need merely to restrict our tongue. Cutting it out wouldn’t solve the heart problem. We must pay attention to it and realize it shows us the heart work that still needs to be done.

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James 2:14-26

12/6/09 V. 14, In this passage James doesn’t claim that a form faith cannot exist without works, only it’s a useless sort of faith that won’t save. It’s not really faith.

V. 15-17, Then by way of example he gives a situation where someone shares “faith” with someone who needs food and clothes instead of helping them. That faith is useless, it’s a dead faith, not a living faith. And it’s dead “by its own standards.” In other words, real faith has a standard of requiring action based on that faith. Without that it’s a counterfeit, a lie.

V. 18-19, Some see a separation between the two. One may say, “I have faith,” and another may say, “I have works.” But John says, “I have both. Indeed one cannot be separated form the other. I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that three parts of God still equal one. That’s good, but even demons believe that.”

V. 20, Why is it so hard to believe that two parts, faith and works, make up one?

V. 21, Abraham’s faith was justified (shown to be living and real) by his deed of willingness to sacrifice his son.

V. 22, And the happy result was that his faith became more real and more alive by his trust in God to obey in deed.

V. 23, Abraham’s faith, as demonstrated by his deed, was reckoned to him as righteousness. It showed his faith as real.

V. 24, Two, faith and works, are one.

V. 25, Rahab is another example.

V. 26, The body and spirit are one, and Three are One. Take any one out of those combinations and they don’t separate, they cease to exist altogether. That’s how it is with faith and works.

James 2:1-13

12/5/09 V. 1, In the family of Christ we must learn to see everyone as equal before God and do away with our internal caste system.

V. 2-3, The rich must not receive special attention and the poor less, not just in the matter of time spent, but in the matter of our attitude.

V. 4, If it’s the heart that matters then we are unqualified to judge who should receive different treatment.

V. 5, Because frankly, the poor often have spiritual things more prioritized anyway. From a heart perspective the poor man may well be the rich one.

V. 6-7, Besides, it’s the rich who so often cause trouble for God’s people and have no room for God.

V. 8, Instead, obey the law that says to love your neighbor.

V. 9, Don’t sin by being partial. It is a sin.

V. 10-11, It’s as bad as adultery or murder, and to commit partiality is to commit all sin.

V. 12, Live by the law of love, which see every person as equally valuable.

V. 13, Because judgment will be fair. If we are merciless we receive in kind. Not because God is vindictive but because that is the natural result of our deeds.

James 1:18-27

12/4/09 V. 19, So in this perfecting of our character by trials and suffering part of it is to become a person who loves others in a way that causes us to listen with concern for their good, careful in what we say, and not be easily angered.

V. 20, Because anger never achieves righteousness.

V. 21, We must decide to put away the filthiness of malice or anger and put on gentleness so that we will be able to receive the word that has been engrafted into us. In other words, we will be able to hear and respond to Jesus abiding in us.

V. 22, It’s possible to be onlookers and bystanders to the word while believing we are participants simply because we don’t object. But real belief includes not just mental assent to a fact but obedience to the word (v. 23).

V. 24-25, It happens all the time that during the preaching or reading of the word one will be convicted at heart, but upon leaving he quickly disregards the conviction and continues in the way of death.

But if we will look to the law and pay attention to the reflection of the true state of our lives that it will show, and if we will turn from our evils ways permanently, then we will be blessed in all that we do.

V. 26, One strong indication that the appearance of our faith is not real is our tongue. If we say hurtful and angry things we have deceived ourselves concerning what changes Christ has made in us.

V. 27, An indication to the opposite, that Christ really has begun to change us, is two things according to James. 1) We visit widows and orphans: those in need. 2) We keep ourselves unstained by the world–the world without God, that is.

James 1:1-18

12/3/09 V. 1, James writes to the “twelve tribes.” But he was not writing to Jews, he was writing to Christians. He understood the concept of spiritual Israel.

V. 2-4, The next time we come up against a difficulty or temptation purposely enjoy it, not as fun but (v. 3) in the knowledge that it is a faith-stretcher, which will result in spiritual endurance. And this endurance (v. 4) will result in perfection of character. The word “perfect” is also translated mature.

V. 5, But, says James, meaning that he is about to qualify the previous statements. “If any of you lacks wisdom…” Perhaps he means to say, if you aren’t able to find the joy in trials, let him ask of God the grace to do so. And God will give it gladly.

V. 6, For our part we must believe that such a request is one that will positively be given and we must not doubt it.

V. 7-8, One who is unsure about this fact has deeper problems of faith and trust and reliance on God. In other words, he is not spiritually grounded and won’t even recognize the grace he receives.

V. 9-11, If we are blessed with difficult circumstances in life we should consider ourselves highly-exalted before God and if we are comfortable we should humbly realize that this will pass away.

V. 12, So if we endure trials and temptation faithfully we are blessed and should be joyful because in the end we will be fully rewarded with a crown of life. A crown is a symbol of kingship. And the kingship means a kingdom and responsibility. This is our reward. For to whom much is to be given much is required. In other words he who will be entrusted with great things must be faithful in the small things now.

V. 13-14, So should we say that God is responsible for what we endure? Is he himself tempting us to sin? No, he simply uses the temptations that come to us from the lust within us. Our fallen nature is enough on its own to drag us away from God.

V. 15, When we give in to the lust within us we sin, and the wages of sin is death. Death right now, because we are living in darkness separate from God, and death physically soon enough.

V. 16, Do not think of God wrongly. Do not think that he is responsible for evil. This is not God.

V. 17, Instead, God is the author of everything good and perfect. In him is no darkness at all. If we perceive something is darkness about a particular belief or understanding of God, do not believe that of God. Better to mistake light for darkness because of misunderstanding than to accuse God of darkness in anything. If a belief is in fact light, wait until you see that light before assigning it to God.

V. 18, These good gifts of God in the midst of trials and temptation he uses to accomplish his will, which is to refine us by the word of his truth as it is in Jesus. Jesus is the word and the truth. And if he abides in us, which is to be perfect in character, then we will be the first fruits among all his creation. We will have reached a standard of character unsurpassed in all creation, because we will have been perfected through suffering.