James: Encountering the Torah of Freedom – Chapter 1 part 2

My big idea today is that abiding in the wisdom of God brings us into his divine freedom. My prayer for us today is that everyone of us would find peace and freedom in the shelter of God’s holy law. If you have your Bibles today you can join me in James chapter 1, verse 2

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. 9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wildflower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

James 1:2-11

In order to help me share with you today, I have separated my thoughts into 3 sections or points.

Find Joy In All Things

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:2-4

James’ focus here is not really about trials, rather our perception of life’s difficulties or misfortunes. But before we can really look at James’ recommendation, we must first see how the first century Jews would have thought about these trials, in general. Because he is speaking to a Jewish crowd, he recognizes their cultural view of trials is primarily though of in 2 ways, internal and external. First, James is not referring to one’s act of seeking out a test to prove one’s worthiness. The type of trials that James refers to are usually unexpected and unpleasant. They can be connected to the work of Satan.

“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

Job 1:9-11

The word that’s used here is can also be seen as “attacker” or “pirate”. These types of trials are typically seen as external. While the internal enticement promotes evil thoughts or actions that stir underlying selfish human tendencies. Think of the serpent in Genesis.

“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Genesis 3:5

He appealed to Eve’s internal weakness/her utter humanity. James uses these Old Testament ideas to remind them of the wisdom of God’s word to consider these trials pure joy. Because they produce good fruit. Strengthened faith, the ability to persevere/delay gratification. These things mature us mentally, physically, spiritually.

Let’s compare Jobs response with Adam’s: Adam blamed God as if Eve was defective. And the result was expulsion from the Garden and a curse on all humanity. Job’s response was much different.

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Job 1:20-22

Job’s response was to worship and the result was a total restoration because Job did not fall to the temptation and enticement of sin and Job remained in a right standing with God.

Think about how we respond when things don’t go our way. Do we seek God’s wisdom/will for our life? Why is this so important for us to get? Here it is! Because embracing God’s will/purpose in a trial puts Him in charge of the outcome and as a result you and I become free. Free from the enticement of sin. Free from impatience. Free from immaturity. And free from the oppression of the evil of this world. Free indeed! So how do we pull all of this together?

This leads me into my next point.

Seek Godly Wisdom

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

James 1:5-8

Here we are contrasting 2 ideas, wisdom and doubt. Hebrew traditions of Wisdom are often personified. {Lady Wisdom Prov. 1:20-21}. Solomon could have asked for anything and he sought godly wisdom and God Gave it to him in abundance. James introduces a characteristic of God’s universal generosity with the caveat that we must approach God as one without doubt. With the confidence that God will hear and act on our behalf. Now James depicts this idea of doubt that manifests itself in a waffling back and forth. One who waffles is paralyzed by inaction. By contrast this person does not display a confident faith that is moved into action. The Hebrew implications behind this double mindedness speaks of a double tongue or a two face.

The Lord your God commands you this day to follow these decrees and laws; carefully observe them with all your heart and with all your soul.

Deuteronomy 26:16

Not a partial heart that can be divided but a whole heart.

Everyone lies to their neighbor; they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their hearts.

Psalm 12:2

duplicity: kindness vs. truth, justice without the one who is Just. Peace vs. non-confrontalism. As a culture we are moved by every whim of thought or desire and our children have become lost in the process.

There is so much double mindedness and instability in our world today and the only way to rise above it all is to cling to God’s wisdom so that you can begin to see things as they really are and let it manifest pure joy in your life.

I’ll move to my final point.

Understand Kingdom Values

Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wildflower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

James 1:9-11

In James’ day there was a correlation between the rich and oppressive exploitation of the poor. There were great injustices being perpetrated on the poor and slave classes by the rich. But the kingdom of God values the conventions of rich and poor in opposite positions. James is seeing the humble position of the poor as a virtue of the righteous. While seeing the rich as prideful lovers of injustice. This does not mean that God has an issue with your personal finances. You have everything because he gave it to you. God does have an idea of what it should mean to you and how you should use it. Love others be lovers of justice and give and it will be given unto you.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:3

This is really about resisting a classism system in our hearts. Where we think the we are better or more entitled than others. Paul said that we should “…not think of ourselves more highly than we ought.” But put others first. Those are the higher in the kingdom.

Why? Because they found joy in suffering for Christ. They lived in the wisdom of God. They were free from the enticement of sin and double-minded doubt. And they matured in the faith and found a reward that would never perish.

Here’s the thing, James doesn’t just pull these things out of thin air, these ideas parallel the life and teachings of Jesus. Jesus said in

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. This is why these concepts also parallel the Mosaic Law.

Matthew 5:17

Will you join me as we seek an authentic relationship united in Christ and each other? Rejecting division, embracing God’s reality in Jesus, and encouraging one another. It’s just between you and God. Here’s the thing, If we love God and abide in Christ we will find ourselves more and more loving each other. You will we more and you will love better. We will experience God in spirit and in truth and we will share that amongst each other. Share all the ways God has shown you mercy and grace. Will you allow the Holy Spirit to stir faith in someone through your testimony? Would you join me as the Holy Spirit moves on us to be unified in the spirit of Christ? These are the kingdom values. This is truly the work of God. The intentional actions of the body of Christ. Remember the devil seeks only to kill steal and destroy. Steal your freedom, kill your joy, and destroy your destiny for hope and love. But God has a plan! He’s stealing from your neighbor, your family, and your loved ones today.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

Jesus, He’s the Son of the living God, and we can receive from Him today His Righteousness, His purpose and His calling. Will you call on him today? Your salvation/forgiveness is just one prayer away. Will you trust in his ability to do what He said He would do? Will you believe today? Many of you need a fresh touch from God today. Is there some form of unbelief or a fracture of trust as it relates to God in your life today? God wants to redeem and restore those areas of your life? He wants to restore Joy and hope for you today. You’re hearing this now and the Holy Spirit has brought someone or something to mind. He wants to speak life into this today. He wants to bring healing in this area today. There are areas of deep regret when it comes to your relationship with God and you have rejected Christ as your savior …It’s not too late

It’s not too late to humble yourself before him today, hold out your arms and open your hands to receive from him today. Will you say yes to Jesus, today? Will you bow your heads with me? Some of you already know the Lord, but maybe he’s put something on your heart that you need to deal with, you need to ask his forgiveness today. If that’s you will you just acknowledge that to him today. This is just you and God here. Now someone here may not have that relationship with Jesus and today you’ve felt him tugging at your heart, you’ve been hurt, and you’re guarded, I know. Jesus is here and wants set things right in your life.

If you’ll say Pastor, I want Jesus to be my Lord and savior. Remember, it’s just you and God here. Will you pray with me today, We’ll pray here as a family and you can repeat after me?

Jesus, I know that I’m a sinner. I ask you today for your forgiveness. I believe that you died for my sins and on that 3rd day, you rose from the dead. I ask you to come into my heart today. I trust and follow you as my Lord and savior. Guide me and help me to do your will. In Jesus’ name Amen.

“‘“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’

Numbers 6:24-26