Victor’s Crown through Temptation

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him,” (James 1:12).

Louisa Stead stood on the beach with her four-year-old daughter and watched her husband drown as he tried to rescue a child in the waters off Long Island, New York.  The loss of her husband and persistent health problems kept her off the mission field and brought a testing time in her life. Left without sufficient support, she and her daughter experienced poverty and hunger.  One night, she sent her daughter to bed, knowing that there was no food for breakfast. She prayed for a miracle. The next morning someone left food and money on her doorstep. The Lord answered her prayer. In joyful response, she wrote these treasured words:

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His word;

Just to rest upon His promise, Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord.”

I’m so glad I learned to trust Him, Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;

And I know that He is with me, Will be with me to the end.

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!  How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!

Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!  O for grace to trust Him more!

Riches and worldly security may fail, but Jesus never fails!  Every time you win a victory over temptation, there is a victor’s crown awaiting you.  But more than that, there is a loving Heavenly Father who watches and provides for His own.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,” (James 1:17).

Genuine Healing

The Book of James deals with genuineness in the Christian life.  In his final instructions, James addresses three groups of people: the persecuted, the happy, and the sick (James 5:13-20).

The word translated “afflicted” refers to the hardship of persecution (v. 13). The apostle instructs the persecuted to pray.  There is no promise that the suffering will stop, but as a saint prays, the persecuted receives new strength from the Lord to endure the hardship faithfully.

To those who are “happy,” James says they should “sing psalms of praise.”  Notice that psalms are not “blue-bird-on-my-shoulder” songs, but songs about the faithfulness of God.

The word translated “sick” does not refer to colds or the flu, but to a disabling illness.  Notice that it is the sick person’s responsibility to call the elders!  The elders do not possess the gift of mental telepathy; they cannot read our minds!  A literal translation of verse 14 is important: “having anointed him with oil, let them pray over him.”  There are two different words often translated “anoint.”  In this verse, the word refers to applying medicine.  Taking one’s medicine precedes time spent in prayer!  The results of healing are then left in the Lord’s hand.

Notice that healing in this passage is more than physical.  It includes spiritual and psychological healing as well.  Often there is a direct relationship between personal sins and physical diseases, e.g. smoking and lung cancer.  The prayer of faith first of all cleanses one from sin within before healing.

James gives four principles for healing.  First, confession of sin is healthy—do it.  Only full confession can lead to full restoration.  Second, praying for others is essential—practice it.  Third, medical assistance is imperative—obey it.  Fourth, when healing comes, praise God for it.

Saint Patrick

Patrisaint_patrickck was born Patricius in Roman Britain to a wealthy family.  When he was a teenager, Patrick was kidnapped and sold as a slave to an Irish warlord.  Six years later, he escaped.

After he returned home, Patrick started studying for the priesthood.  But his six years of slavery put him permanently behind his peers in school.  During his studies, Patrick received God’s call to evangelize the Irish, who still practiced human sacrifice and slavery.

Patrick preached the Gospel for thirty years in Ireland.  By the end of his ministry, the Irish abandoned human sacrifice and slavery.

Patrick became the saint of the downtrodden and the excluded.  Patrick preached against slavery when the Pope refused to condemn slavery.  While his contemporary, St. Augustine, spoke of women as the personification of temptation, Patrick honored women as persons of great worth to the Kingdom of Christ.  Thomas Cahill said, “Patrick is the first male Christian since Jesus to speak well of women.”

Patrick first gave himself to Christ.  Then Patrick followed Christ by giving himself to those who enslaved him.  Through his love and life example, Patrick led the Irish to Christ.

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen,” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Genuine Riches

“Your riches are corrupted,” (James 5:2).

The Book of James teaches that genuine wealth is not found in money (verses 1-6).  The Apostle is not condemning making or accumulating wealth, per se.  What the Apostle condemns is ill-gotten gains on the backs of the poor and a person’s absolute trust in those riches.

First, hoarded wealth is destructive.  When the accumulation of wealth is one’s ultimate goal, it will be a hollow victory.  Wealth has a way of corrupting a person or of disappearing like rust to metal.   The Great Depression, the Great Recession, Runaway Interests, the Mortgage Meltdown, etc, all point to the fact that material wealth can disappear in an instant.  If all you’re trusting in is your financial portfolio, where will you be if it all disappears?

Second, tainted wealth can be confiscated (verse 4).  Even Christians can get caught up in the whirlwind of fraud, all to accumulate that million-dollar portfolio.  The Bible teaches that Christians who get their wealth by fraudulent means will be judged by Him.

Third, self-indulgent wealth is enjoyable for a season, but God will be the judge of whether you deserved it or not.  The Apostle does not condemn vacations or retreats.  What God condemns is wasting His blessings solely on self.  God blesses us to bless others, not indulge ourselves.

How we accumulate and spend our finances is important.  The Bible extols hard work and God blesses honest labor.  God will not bless get-rich-quick schemes.  God wants us to depend on Him, not just our ingenuity.

Where is your trust?  Is your trust in God, or in cold, hard cash?

Genuine Relationship with God

“Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God,” (James 4:4).

The fourth chapter of the Book of James concerns the genuineness of one’s relationship with God.  A right relationship with God teaches us how to relate to others differently.   We no longer act the way the world taught us to act.  Changing a behavior pattern learned over tens of years is difficult, but not insurmountable.

Instead of fighting, we pray (verse 3).  God teaches us that it is better to wrestle with Him in prayer than to wrangle with men.  God can do more through prayer than we can through fighting.

Instead of lusting and envying after worldly things, we can find contentment where we are in our journey with God.  That does not mean that we stop and retreat forever.  It just means that we enjoy the scenery as we journey through life.  God’s Spirit will not dwell where there is worldly lust (verse 5).

Instead of being conceited and looking out for number one, we need to be more interested in God’s Kingdom and will (verse 8).

Instead of criticizing and tearing people down, we should encourage and build people up (verse 11).

Instead of living our plans, we should live and do God’s will.

Genuine humility is swallowing my preferences to obey God’s will.  “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (verse 17).

Genuine Wisdom

“[The tongue] is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison,” (James 3:9).

A hotheaded woman told John Wesley, “My talent is to speak my mind.”

Wesley replied, “Woman, God wouldn’t care a bit if you buried that talent.”

Our tongue reveals a lot about us: what we think, how we spend our time, and where we live.  James deals with the tongue in his chapter on wisdom.  Why wisdom?  Proverbs 12:18 says that “the tongue of the wise brings healing,” and in 18:21 that “death and life are in the power of the tongue.”  Words have the power to heal or destroy.

The tongue guides life (verses 2-3).  A small piece of metal in a horse’s mouth can guide and make a horse turn.  A farmer once said, “Horse sense is seldom hitched to a waggin’ tongue.”  A small piece of wood or metal can turn a massive ship around.  And our little tongue can change a person’s life.

The tongue harms life (verses 5-8).  The tongue is like a tiny spark that can destroy a whole forest in flames.  The tongue can rip a person to shreds, as surely as a wild animal.  A tongue lashing can poison a person’s whole life.  A sharp tongue is no indication of a keen mind.

The tongue blesses life (verses 11-12).  Words can refresh a person like a fountain spring on a hot day.  The tongue can give encouragement and strength, like the sweetest fruit from a tree.

Did you ever notice that it takes a child two years to learn to talk, yet it takes a man his whole life to learn how to keep his mouth shut?

A wise person’s words are not laced with profanity.  Rather, they are laced with purity, peace, gentleness, mercy, friendship, and integrity (verse 17).  What do your words reveal about you?

Genuine Hospitality

“If ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin,” (James 2:9).

The Book of James is about genuineness in the Christian life.  Chapter two deals with hospitality in the church.  The ushers kowtowed to the “needs” of the rich and powerful.  

They could not see beyond the superficial, “the goodly apparel.”  A person may wear the latest fashion, yet his soul may be clothed in filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).  An evangelist illustrated this point.  He said, “I look pretty good,” as he showed his new suit.  Then he took off his shoes to reveal that his socks had holes.  He removed his coat and revealed that the back of his shirt was torn and ripped.  From appearance, he looked good, but a closer inspection revealed that his rich appearance was riddled with holes and tears.  It is more important to be clothed with spiritual apparel: the robe of righteousness, the garment of praise, the clothes of humility, the whole armor of God.

The ushers also could not see beyond the material, “the gold ring.”  A person may be rich in material possessions, but poor and pitiable in spiritual treasures.

The ushers also could not see beyond the temporal, “sit in a good place.”  A person may have all the right connections today, and be indicted for fraud tomorrow.

Let’s examine our own judgments about people.  How quick are we to size someone up based on their appearance or speech?  I was born in the South and my accent is thick.  My resume often rises to the top for a job interview until they call me on the phone. When they hear my southern accent, they assume that I am dumb, slow, lazy, and not intelligent.

But thanks be to God.  He does not look on the outward appearance or hear the southern drawls.  He looks at the heart, and He wants us to look deeper into the souls of people.

Genuine Religion | Dr Alan Holden

genuine_religion

“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world,” (James 1:27).

The Book of James deals with genuineness in the Christian life.  In his summary of chapter one, James says that genuine religion is demonstrated by godly conduct: quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to wrath (verse 19). Genuineness is a tough standard to achieve in today’s world. But it is a discipline we need to develop.

First, genuine Christianity is quick to listen.  We all know people who engage their mouth before they engage their brain.  This only makes the devil happy and makes us look ridiculous.  Whatever happened to the Christian grace of courtesy?  Everyone is yelling at each other, but no one is listening.  Remember the adage: “It’s better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

Second, genuine Christianity is slow to speak.  That doesn’t mean we never talk or respond to criticism.  It means that we give an answer seasoned with both grace and intellect, not emotion.  Emotion demonstrates our insecurity in our position.

Third, genuine Christianity is slow to wrath.  Notice what James says, “The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God,” (verse 20). Remember that the next time you fly off the handle, no matter how much we declared that we’re expressing righteous indignation.

How genuine and secure is your Christianity?

Genuine Faith | James 2:18

“Shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works,” (James 2:18).

The Book of James teaches that one’s actions and lifestyle reveal genuine faith.

Many often accuse fundamental Christians of being so heavenly-minded that they are no earthly good.  Sadly, many times we have earned that criticism justly.

Faith is not just a statement of doctrines that we believe.  Even the devil believes the same things we do about God (see verse 19)!  Faith is not only a systematic theology.  Instead, faith that is genuine is a lifestyle.

Genuine faith changes or tempers our actions.  Abraham heard God and obeyed God’s directions.  Even though he did not understand or have all the information or explanations he wanted, Abraham acted on what God said.  That earned him the title, “Friend of God.”  Rahab was an alien from God and a prostitute. Yet her belief that God was able to conquer the land changed her life.  So she hid the Israeli spies, protected them, and made provisions for them. However, she believed that God would save her from the day of destruction.  She too was a “Friend of God.”

Our actions or lack of action betray our beliefs.  What do your actions say about your faith in God? Do they reflect Christ in you or the “old sinful man”? Are you a “Friend of God,” or just an acquaintance of God?

Remember, faith without works is like a car without gas.  It may be pretty and shiny, but it won’t go anywhere.