Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Steady and Unchanging

Natchez Trace Trail:  

Whew!  It's been a wonderful trip so far.  We have seen the man in the mirror and found out about temptation.  Knowing now God never tempts us.  We also saw what wisdom looked like up close and personal. 

I need to share this picture with you.  This is what I see our journey into James-land as.  In my minds eye, not only are we studying together, we are meandering down this path that leads to somewhere, to a time past when it maybe wasn't simpler but it was meaningful.  The Natchez trail was an important trail, those who took the Mississippi down river could not float their boats back up river, so they broke them apart, sold the wood and walked back home to Memphis or Nashville from Natchez MS.  So, as we go through this book, lets float our boat down the trail and break every chain that holds us back as we walk through the woods and let your journey be of greatness in the end.

We will find rest and comfort at the end of the journey, maybe we will find a little place to rest along the way though.  Maybe sing some old hymns that touch the soul. 

Church in Natchez, Mississippi.: So, as we begin into James-land 2, we know that God has place His Words in the Scriptures, they are inspired by God to teach us what is true.  James is for believers, if you have not asked Jesus to live and dwell in you, it's time.  It's as easy as ABC.  Admit that you need a Savior, Jesus, that you know He died on the cross for you, Believe that He died and rose again on the 3rd day, he came to seek and save you.  Confess that you are in need of a Savior and that you want to make a U-turn and give it all to Him to deal with.  The pray it.  Believe it and know it. 

Before we dig into this, let us pray.  Heavenly Father, open our hearts, minds, and ears to hear your Word. Speak to us through your Word and let it soak us with truth and love.  Let all your anointing in the Word come down on us and help us to remember important stops along the way.  In Jesus mighty Name, Amen.

 Are you ready for the first part of this journey?  This chapter is a bit shorter and yet contains much. 

James 2Amplified Bible (AMP)

The Sin of Partiality

My fellow believers, do not practice your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of partiality [toward people—show no favoritism, no prejudice, no snobbery]. For if a man comes into your [a]meeting place [b]wearing a gold ring and [c]fine clothes, and a poor man in dirty clothes also comes in, and you pay special attention to the one who wears the [d]fine clothes, and say to him, “You sit here in this good seat,” and you tell the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down [on the floor] by my footstool,” have you not discriminated among yourselves, and become judges with wrong motives?
Did you catch that?  It doesn't matter what we look like on the outside, it's what we are in the inside.  Don't look at the outside appearance, look at the inward man. 
 Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters: has not God chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and [as believers to be] heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you [in contrast] have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress and exploit you, and personally drag you into the courts of law? Do they not blaspheme the [e]precious name [of Christ] by which you are called?
Natchez Trace Parkway:
If, however, you are [really] fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself [that is, if you have an unselfish concern for others and do things for their benefit]” you are doing well. But if you show partiality [prejudice, favoritism], you are committing sin and are convicted by the Law as offenders. 10 For whoever keeps the whole Law but stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of [breaking] all of it. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you murder, you have become [f]guilty of transgressing the [entire] Law.

I know I am not perfect and I have to work at this, what about you? 

12 Speak and act [consistently] as people who are going to be judged by the law of liberty [that moral law that frees obedient Christians from the bondage of sin]. 13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; but [to the one who has shown mercy] mercy triumphs [victoriously] over judgment.

Those were big stops weren't they? Now let us ask these questions. 

Question 1: Jesus spoke of a rich man and Lazarus, where can you find that passage in the Bible?
Question 2: James refers to the “royal law” in verse 9 above. Where is this “law” first introduced in Scripture? (hint: you can search for The Greatest Commandment)
again this is borrowed: It is true that the faith of a person is between them and God. That is to say that no one really knows if a person is truly a Christian but God and the believer. However, true Christianity produces fruit and that fruit is always to the glory of God.

Read more:
Spanish moss along the Natchez Trace Parkway:

Faith and Works

14 What is the benefit, my fellow believers, if someone claims to have faith but has no [good] works [as evidence]? Can that [kind
of] faith save him? [No, a mere claim of faith is not sufficient —genuine faith produces good works.]
15 If a brother or sister is without [adequate] clothing and lacks [enough] food for each day, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace [with my blessing], [keep] warm and feed yourselves,” but he does not give them the necessities for the body, what good does that do? 17 So too, faith, if it does not have works [to back it up], is by itself dead [inoperative and ineffective]

18 But someone may say, “You [claim to] have faith and I have [good] works; show me your [alleged] faith without the works [if you can], and I will show you my faith by my works [that is, by what I do].” 19 You believe that [g]God is one; you do well [to believe that]. The demons also believe [that], and shudder and bristle [in awe-filled terror—they have seen His wrath]! 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish [spiritually shallow] person, that faith without [good] works is useless? 21 Was our father Abraham not [shown to be] justified by works [of obedience which expressed his faith] when he offered Isaac his son on the altar [as a sacrifice to God]? 22 You see that [his] faith was working together with his works, and as a result of the works, his faith was completed [reaching its maturity when he expressed his faith through obedience].

23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and this [faith] was credited to him [by God] as righteousness and as conformity to His will,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man (believer) is justified by works and not by faith alone [that is, by acts of obedience a born-again believer reveals his faith]. 25 In the same way, was Rahab the prostitute not justified by works too, when she received the [Hebrew] [h]spies as guests and protected them, and sent them away [to escape] by a different route? 26 For just as the [human] body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works [of obedience] is also dead.

See, you made it through... That wasn't so bad was it?  Did you learn anything new?  What did you get out of it? 

Here is one man's thought on it.

Cycling the Natchez Trace Parkway | Star Tribune: As we saw in the previous passage anyone can have faith, but faith without works is dead. We need faith to believe and please God (Ephesians 2:8-9; Hebrews 11:6) but faith also produces fruit (Galatians 5:22-25) and the things that we do as a believer should show evidence of that fruit in our life. It is that fruit (works) that continually add to our faith, growing it. When we quench the Holy Spirit (Who produces that fruit) our faith will not grow and therefore it becomes “dead” faith.
In the closing verses James drives his point home by giving some examples of Old Testament people who “proved” their faith by works. He uses a great play on words in the ending verse “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also”. The “spirit” of the body is the breath of life that we have, when that breath leaves us our body physically dies. Likewise, to keep faith alive we must always defer to the power of the Holy Spirit to produce good works so our faith grows. Read more:

So, you have made it through James 2.  So far so good.  Only a few chapters left.  We will savor these two for a day or so and then walk through 3 tomorrow.  Are you ready to continue to soak in God's Word? 

Here is some more to ponder on from Into Thy

Abraham was saved by his faith in God (Gen. 15:6; 22; 26:4-5). What Abraham did was prove his faith by trusting in God and then backing up that trust by his obedience to God's directive, even though it seemed irrational to offer up his only son, for whom he had waited so long.
·        Justified normally means to be reconciled to God as Paul uses this term. James uses it as a proof. It is not just the profession of faith that is important; it is the possession of faith that matters. James is using this term to indicate being aligned with faith, as Paul does. We are justified; this means God declares us righteous before Himself by the merit of Christ's redemptive work alone, by our faith alone. No meritorious deeds are worthy or necessary from us to receive salvation (Eph. 2:8-9). However, as Martin Luther pointed out, not by a faith that is alone.
·        Made perfect. The perfect is when true faith is visible and produces fruit. Faith and works are separate definitions and ideas, but they go together synergistically and are never separated from a true follower of Christ.
·        Rahab trusted in God and she was saved. She then hid the spies sent from Joshua. She knew the city was judged and doomed and that the Hebrews were God's own. She was willing to sacrifice herself so that God would be honored and so that perhaps her family could be saved too (Josh. 2:1-21; 6:17-27; Heb. 11:31).
·        Paul also was saved by trusting in God. Then, his life was radically transformed, so he put the same, if not more, energy into equipping the church as he had in trying to destroy it (Rom. 4:1-5). Paul and James do not contradict. Paul tells us outright that faith will have a response to it; thus, Paul and James do not contradict, but rather complement. Salvation is a gift, not a reward (2 Cor. 5:10)! Salvation is by His grace, condemnation is by our works. Thus, Paul places the focus of faith on its root saving force while James emphasizes its results. Paul describes the fire of faith and James the smoke; they complement one another well! 
·        Faith without works is dead/Not by faith alone. Here is the statement that brings the controversy. However, it is misunderstood. James is not saying we are saved by works! He is saying, you are saved, but big deal if you do nothing with it! None of our deeds can save us; salvation comes only by what Christ has done. The point here is there is an evidence for it. In theology, this is called "Antinomianism" meaning to say, Jesus is my Savior, but not to trust in Him, and I do not need to obey His precepts and morals. The balance is that we are saved by Christ alone, by faith alone. However, it will be demonstrated if it has taken root in us.
For us, Christianity is not a once for all simple prayer we pray at a crusade or church. It is not to be just an intellectual acceptance or idea. Rather, it is a lifelong, purpose-driven lifestyle as Jesus as Lord over all (John 3:16-30). The prayer may enter us in our new life-not the prayer itself, but the focus of our faith in Christ. This leads to effectual commitment. If no commitment is shown, then we may not have the real faith and trust in the Lord, or at the very least have never ventured any further in our faith journey than when we first received Him. There is a relation between faith and works. One proves the other. All too often, the focus switches to how faith is to be used for salvation, when it is the Bible view that faith is not academic, but needs to be a part of our daily life.
It is purely by His acceptance of us that we are saved (Rom. 3:23-28; 6:23; 7:18; Gal 3:11; 5:17; Eph. 2:8-9; 1 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:5). There is nothing that we can add to it, such as good works or clean living. Justification means that God's righteousness is covering us, protecting us from His wrath and punishment as a blanket! It is like getting a speeding ticket, going to court, and having the judge declare you innocent, even though you were speeding. To God you are clean, covered by what Christ has done for you. This creates our reconciliation to God; we were in perfect relationship to Him before the fall, and now we are again in harmony. Take great comfort; this does not happen overnight. Our faith has grace to it. We will make mistakes and have setbacks, but He is there for us, carrying us through. Allow Him to do so!
The Essential Inductive Questions (for more Inductive questions see Inductive Bible Study):
To be used as a guide for Bible study and journaling, along with our Grace in Our Town devotional of the book of James, found on our website.:  
1.      What does this passage say?
2.      What does this passage mean?
3.      What is God telling me? How am I encouraged and strengthened?
4.      Is there a sin in my life for which confession and repentance is needed?
5.      How can I be changed so I can learn and grow?
6.      What is in the way of these precepts affecting me? What is in the way of my listening to God?
7.      How does this apply to me? What will I do about it?
8.      What can I model and teach? What does God want me to share with someone?
Additional Questions:
1.      Do you consider yourself a person who just thinks, or a person who just does? Do you base your comfort on what you do, or your works? How so?
2.      The classic question is if you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Think about your faith; how genuine is it? We will have ups and downs, but our faith should show growth.
3.      How does real, impacting, effectual faith have a result to it? Why does faith not just stand alone?
4.      Do you believe that James was reacting against Paul, or that they contradict? How so? Why not?
5.      Faith is demonstrated by substance and connection. What has that meant in your life? What can it mean for you and your church?
6.      How does your faith answer James' question to "show me?"
7.      How would you answer this question from a traditional Catholic: When we say by faith alone, "what good would your salvation be without being transformed from His precepts and into His character?"
8.      James is saying that when we do not demonstrate our faith, we are as a lifeless, dead body where the spirit/soul is gone! If we have faith and do nothing with it, it is illogical and absurd. How does this make you feel, or convict you?
9.      Faith can easily become just an intellectual exercise. So, what can you do to make sure that you are applying far more to it, such as trust and obedience?
10. If James asked you, "What have you done with your faith?" how would you respond?
11. Remember the WWJD craze a few years ago? What would Jesus do? I did not like that much, because we are not Jesus. It should have said what would Jesus have me do? Thus, what will He have you do about your faith development (Gal. 3:2-6; 5:16; Eph. 3:16)?
12. God asks us to demonstrate our Christian life by helping out others in need, especially the poor. What can your church do to be more obedient to this precept?
                                             © 2004 R. J. Krejcir Into Thy Word Ministries  

 I would use these questions if I was teaching face to face, because I believe we can get help from others who have been just as passionate about studying the Word as we are.  When I was teaching in the church, I would find so many sources to bring into helping teach what God had placed on my heart.  Sometimes, we have to.  I gave credit where it is needed. 
Em - how about scripture on some of your portraits?...a pinner said.:) I think this is beautiful!

Trust and VIPKID travels!

Update:::::4/30/2019 -530 pm!! Now four shocks have to be replaced!!!!!! Uhhhhhggggghhhhh--ouch!  The workers came over at about 2:20 and sa...