Summary: Fourth in a series walking through the book of James. This week’s message focuses on the need to spend time in God’s Word, and utilize it as a mirror to reflect on our lives.
When we started our series on the book of James back on the first Sunday of May, we played some Bible trivia. Especially surrounding the book of James. Well, back by popular demand, or just because I enjoy it. . .we have Bible trivia round two. On your message outline you will find a number of Bible facts. Some of which have the actual fact missing. Take 60 seconds, and take your best shot at filling in the gaps.
Okay, here we go, what do we know about the Bible. . .
Number of books in the Bible: 66
Number of promises given in the Bible: 1,260
Predictions: over 8,000
Fulfilled prophecy: 3,268 verses
Unfulfilled prophecy: 3,140
Longest name: Mahershalalhashbaz (Isaiah 8:1)
Longest verse: Esther 8:9 (78 words)
Shortest verse: John 11:35 (2 words: "Jesus wept").
Shortest chapter (by number of words): Psalm 117 (by number of words)
Longest book: Psalms (150 chapters)
Shortest book (by number of words): 3 John
Longest chapter: Psalm 119 (176 verses)
Number of times the word "God" appears: 3,358
Number of times the word "Lord" appears: 7,736
Number of different authors: 40
Number of languages the Bible has been translated into: over 1,200
Why would I open a sermon on James 1:19-27 with Bible trivia? Well, if you have been preparing for our times together, and reading ahead in the book of James, you probably have a pretty good idea. But if not, you are about to find out. Turn with me to James Chapter 1, verse 19 (read through verse 20).
Now, I would venture to say that in a group of people this size, with the number of years of church life that are represented, and the number of sermons that have been heard, some of you may have heard those verses preached before. But you may not have heard the connection that James is making.
I myself have heard sermons on being swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. Some of those sermons were actually in church, and not from my mother or my wife. Usually, they are messages that are being tied to relationships with other people. Makes sense. Sounds like good advice. Be quick to listen to people, slow and thoughtful in your responses, and don’t get easily angered. Good Christian wisdom.
However, human relationships are not necessarily what James is pointing us to in this passage. Look at the next verse, verse 21, what word does it start with? Therefore. This is that magic word that ties what was just said to what is about to be said. Verse 21 (read).
When James talks about being swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. . .he is talking in regards to what? What are we to be swift to hear, slow to speak in regards to, and slow to anger at? The Word. The Word of God.
How do we know? Well, let’s break this down. The word James uses there for “word” is logos. Used almost 300 times in the New Testament. Often with this divine sense attached to it. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In Acts, more than 20 times it is followed by the words, “of God” or “of the Lord.” The word of God. The word of the Lord.
It becomes even clearer when there is that distinct indication that we are not just talking about any word. . .but the word. Verse 22 (read through 24).
James isn’t talking about just any word, any conversation, any spoken thought. He is talking about “the” word. It gets even clearer in verse 25 (read). The perfect law of liberty. We know there is only one perfect law that is freeing. . .God’s. That is the word James is referring to.
Last week I mentioned briefly this idea of knowing the desires of God. If we are going to match our desires to God’s desires, we have to get in the word. That is right where James takes us next. Flowing through this first chapter he says, “If you want to be victorious over temptation, knowing that every good and perfect gift comes from God, knowing that you need to match your desires to God’s desires for you. . .So then, be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath. . .and receive the word which can save your souls.”
Three points and a poem for you today. First, James says you need to. . .
A. RECEIVE THE WORD
James says to be “swift to hear.” When James wrote verse 19, I don’t think he was talking about our willingness to speak and not listen to other people. He was talking about our willingness to speak and not listen to God. Don’t miss his point. We need to be more interested in hearing what God has to say to us than telling Him what we think! We need to hear the Word of God.