this went thru my mind

 

Church: Church Steps: How People Move Through the Steps by Matt Dabbs [required reading]

“…  thinking in steps, not in programs. … All of us should be thinking … ‘how can I help someone get to the next step?'”

Church, discipleship & the missional movement: Problems With Missional by Matt Dabbs

“There have been some posts addressing the problems with the missional movement. Here are a few you may want to read.”

Church unity: The Dangerous Center Aisle of a Church by Ron Edmonson

“Would you join a church that couldn’t get along with itself?”

Football: A Conversation With James Franklin

“James Franklin … is the starting quarterback for the University of Missouri … He is the fourth child of Willie and Pam Franklin. His father, a well-known minister in the Dallas area, was once a standout receiver for the University of Oklahoma and played in the NFL for the Baltimore Colts. … “

Free will: Free Will as a Reflection of God by Neal Whitlow

“… what if our free will wasn’t just a curious experiment during God’s creative process? What if there was no highly debated executive decision on the part of the Trinity who decided to breathe life into a man who had the freedom of choice to defy the perfect and holy Creator of the Universe and go his own way? What if our free will was actually the result of being made in the image of God?”

Islam: Survey of Islam by Dr. Timothy Tennent

Legalism & Phariseeism: 6 Warning Signs We’re Becoming Accidental Pharisees by Larry Osborne [required reading]

“I’ve found that becoming a modern-day, accidental Pharisee is a lot like eating at Denny’s. No one wants to go there. We just end up there.”

Patience: Jesus as Oprah by Richard Beck

“No worries. Jack’s a Christian. His Lord commands him to be patient.”

Privacy, porn & social networking: Parasite’ Porn Websites Stealing Images and Videos Posted by Young People

“A study by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) reveals that 88% of self-made sexual or suggestive images and videos posted by young people, often on social networking sites, are taken from their original online location and uploaded on to other websites.”

Same-sex issues: Let’s Face It by Carole Lattin

“… “the opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality. It’s holiness … the goal is to lay down the lesser love of homosexuality and embrace the greater love of Christ’s atonement.”

journey thru James (18): twenty questions on James 5:7-20

 

This coming Sunday morning (Nov. 27) at MoSt Church, most of our adult classes will study James 5:7-20. This will mark the conclusion of our Journey Thru James. We’ll use the following two phrases to focus our mind on the meaning of this passage: persevering in patience in view of the Lord’s presence (5:7-11) and keeping your promises, offering your praise, praying in faith & pursuing the stragglers (5:12-20). To help you get ready for this encounter with God’s word and our discussion of it, here is the text and twenty exercises and questions.

Scripture

Therefore, brothers and sisters, you must be patient as you wait for the coming of the Lord. Consider the farmer who waits patiently for the coming of rain in the fall and spring, looking forward to the precious fruit of the earth. You also must wait patiently, strengthening your resolve, because the coming of the Lord is near. Don’t complain about each other, brothers and sisters, so that you won’t be judged. Look! The judge is standing at the door!

Brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord as an example of patient resolve and steadfastness. Look at how we honor those who have practiced endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job. And you have seen what the Lord has accomplished, for the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

Most important, my brothers and sisters, never make a solemn pledge—neither by heaven nor earth, nor by anything else. Instead, speak with a simple “Yes” or “No,” or else you may fall under judgment.

If any of you are suffering, they should pray. If any of you are happy, they should sing. If any of you are sick, they should call for the elders of the church, and the elders should pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. Prayer that comes from faith will heal the sick, for the Lord will restore them to health. And if they have sinned, they will be forgiven. For this reason, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve. Elijah was a person just like us. When he earnestly prayed that it wouldn’t rain, no rain fell for three and a half years. He prayed again, God sent rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

My brothers and sisters, if any of you wander from the truth and someone turns back the wanderer, recognize that whoever brings a sinner back from the wrong path will save them from death and will bring about the forgiveness of many sins. (James 5:7-20 CEB)

Questions

1. Would you say this section (5:7-20) is rather random in thought or do you see a connecting thread? Explain.

2. James’ original readers clearly hungered (vs. 7) for the Lord’s return (10 on a scale of 10). How about you? Why?

3. How does James’ teaching to be patient (vs.7-8) fit in with the preceding context (4:13-5:6) and consequently, what
does it mean to be “patient” here in this context?

4. What can a Christian practically do to “strengthen” their “resolve” to wait patiently for the Lord (vs. 8)?

5. It’s easy for church to become “the complaint department” (vs. 9). How can a person break their habit of complaining?

6. What statements by Jesus come to mind when you read about how to avoid being ‘judged (vs. 9b)?

7. Does vs. 8b,9b teach that James expected Jesus’ return to be quite soon? It’s been nearly two millennium. Thoughts?

8. What specific prophets and events come to mind as examples of “patient resolve and steadfastness” (vs. 10)?

9. Read vs. 11. Knowing what you do of the book of Job, how is it exactly that it can be said that Job “endured?”

10. Read vs. 11b. What evidence in life speaks strongly to you that God truly is “full of compassion and mercy?”

11. Does vs. 12 forbid the taking of oaths by Christians in a court of law or saying the Pledge of Allegiance today? Explain.

12. What have you seen happen to peoples’ prayer life when they underwent suffering? (vs. 13a) What happen to yours?

13. The word “sing” (vs. 14) could be literally translated as “psalm.” What Psalm do you like to read when happy or what song do you particularly like to sing to God in praise?

14. Which do you think the illness spoken of in vs.14-15 is, physical or spiritual? Why?

15. Does vs. 14-15 speak of an experience limited to the time of the apostles or of one that is still valid today? Why?

16. James says “confess your sins to one another” (vs. 16). Why don’t we see and practice such more often than we do?

17. Working only from 5:13-18, what would you say are some essential qualities or traits of godly prayer?

18. How can you tell if someone has wandered (vs. 19), taken “the wrong path” (vs. 20) and is headed for death (vs. 20)?

19. Whose sins are being forgiven in vs. 20, those of the restored wanderer or those of the earnest seeker? Explain.

20. What is the best thing you’ve learned or been reminded of in this Journey Thru James?

you must be patient

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, you must be patient as you wait for the coming of the Lord.” (James 5:7a CEB)

This verse will sneak up on you. It wears plain clothes, but it’s packing heat.

Keep this statement in its context and brand into your mind exactly what it is James is saying we Christians must avoid. The context is oppression (5:1-6) and what we’re called as Christians to avoid becoming in the face of oppression is impatience.

Now what do oppressed people tend to do when they become impatient with their situation? They take matters into their own hands. They cast off self-restraint and rise up to retaliate against their oppressors. Their impatience fuels aggression and violence. In short, they become like their oppressors.

This isn’t merely a hard teaching. It is nothing short of scandalous to many, many who also claim faith. James is bluntly laying down here the Lord’s expectations for his people who have it hard. And this is what he’s saying:

“We Christians are different and we must remain different in the most difficult of times. When some around us start to say, “Don’t tread on me or you’ll feel cold steel!,’ we look them in the eye and say, ‘Such are not the ways of the Prince of peace. Drop your weapon and leave it to the Lord to set things right when and how he will.’ When hotheads proclaim ‘We’re not going to take it anymore, it’s time to revolt!’, we respond by saying, ‘No, it’s time to be patient. The Lord Almighty sees and knows what’s going on.’ When the call goes out, ‘Take up arms!’, we respond, as did our Lord, ‘Enough of that!’ We will not become like those who abuse us. We will be different. We will belong to the Lord and we will be like him, come what may, and that means violence is not our way.”

As hard as it is to admit and say, say it we must. For many, many who claim to be Christians, faith is not the turnkey to living life as designed by God. No, for them, sadly, the supreme value is human freedom. No small amount of blood has been, and still is this hour, shed with that value as supreme in mind. “Give me liberty or give me death!” is the battle cry. But freedom must never reign supreme, rather faith in him who is supreme. And true faith, James says, expresses itself in patience, come what may, in him who has promised to come again. Faith that recognizes that we live not to be free in the flesh, but to live set free in God.

“Therefore, my kin in Christ, it is imperative that you patiently wait for the Lord to set things right at his return.” (James 5:7a DSV)

In the name of Jesus, Father, may I ever exercise the courage and conviction that patient waiting for you requires, no matter how hard or how long you call me to wait on you. Amen.

doing the same things

So every single one of you who judge others is without any excuse. You condemn yourself when you judge another person because the one who is judging is doing the same things. We know that God’s judgment agrees with the truth, and his judgment is against those who do these kinds of things. If you judge those who do these kinds of things while you do the same things yourself, think about this: Do you believe that you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you have contempt for the riches of God’s generosity, tolerance, and patience? Don’t you realize that God’s kindness is supposed to lead you to change your heart and life? You are storing up wrath for yourself because of your stubbornness and your heart that refuses to change. God’s just judgment will be revealed on the day of wrath. God will repay everyone based on their works. On the one hand, he will give eternal life to those who look for glory, honor, and immortality based on their patient good work. But on the other hand, there will be wrath and anger for those who obey wickedness instead of the truth because they are acting out of selfishness and disobedience. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does what is good, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. God does not have favorites.

Those who have sinned outside the Law will also die outside the Law, and those who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law. It isn’t the ones who hear the Law who are righteous in God’s eyes. It is the ones who do what the Law says who will be treated as righteous. Gentiles don’t have the Law. But when they instinctively do what the Law requires they are a Law in themselves, though they don’t have the Law. They show the proof of the Law written on their hearts, and their consciences affirm it. Their conflicting thoughts will accuse them, or even make a defense for them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the hidden truth about human beings through Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:1-16 CEB)

This passage asks three questions and anytime the Bible asks questions, rest assured, God is looking for some serious “class participation.” So, sit up in your seat and have a go at these questions with me.

“If you judge those who do these kinds of things while you do the same things yourself, think about this: Do you believe that you will escape God’s judgment?” (vs.3)

Well, my mind jumps to answer “Of course not,” but when I stop to truly think this question over, apparently at times I must be saying “Yes,” or else I would surely become a far less judgmental person!

“Do you have contempt for the riches of God’s generosity, tolerance, and patience?” (vs.4a)

Again, my “shoot-from-the-hip answer is “No way;” however, after reflection, I know full well that when I deny God’s mercy for someone else, I have become blind to his leading me to change my own ways into more of the likeness of his own – kindness!

I’m busted – on both charges! And so are you.

Which leads us to the third question:

“Don’t you realize that God’s kindness is supposed to lead you to change your heart and life?” (vs.4b)

Let’s pray.

Father God in heaven, I all too often and too easily forget that the way I look at and deal with others is a reflection on riches of your goodness. As you are kind, I must be kind. As you are tolerant, I must be tolerant. As I crave your patience with me, help me to be quite patient with others. In Jesus’ name, help me when I see others to see you, to the end that that I might act more in ways becoming of you. Amen.