Summary: Getting the best from life means being the person God wants you to be.
HOW TO DO LIFE
Getting the Best from Life
* One of the largest sections in any bookstore today is the “self-help” section. In this section, you will discover titles like “how to become a millionaire”, ‘how to do woodworking”, or even ‘how to build your own house.’ Self-help or ‘how to’ are seen on TV as ‘infomercials.’ The thought is that knowledge is power and empowerment leads to success. Today we begin a journey through THE “How-to” book in God’s word. We will call this “how to do life.” Over the course of our journey, we will cover 108 verses which contain over 50 imperative about everyday living and life.
* If you will join me in this journey, we will discover what God’s word has to say about trials, temptation, talking, responding, praying, receiving people, works, and much more. James is the original pragmatist. Martin Luther didn’t like the epistle of James because he saw it as a contradiction to the letter to Rome. However, it is not a contradiction rather it is a complement to the message. The book of Romans tells us that we are justified by faith not by works. James follows with, “by our works, our faith is identified.” In other words, we can say we have faith, but until that faith leads to godly works, we do not have a saving faith.
* As you can tell, James will hit us where we live (that is exactly where we need to be touched). If we stay with this journey, you and I will become better. We’ll become better men and women, children and parents, workers and bosses, as well as ‘believers and church members.’ That is the power found in the book of James.
* Quite honestly, my desire was to begin this trek by taking the first 12 verses and I discovered too much and too many truths which we need to deal with. So I moved to 4 verses and still sense we would miss so important truths. So today, let’s consider verse 1 of Chapter 1. (Read the Verse)
* At first blush, you may think this verse is a little ‘ho-hum’ and lacking in spiritual teaching, but I submit that in these few words we can find the secret to living the practical, personal, and powerful life of an authentic believer in Christ Jesus. The last word gives us the attitude of the writer. “Greetings” in the original language is the word from which we get our word “GRACE” from. It is a happy, glad, and cheerful greeting. Grace to you!
* James gives us 3 pictures to show us how to get the best from life.
1. The Servant that is Sold Out – He begins by identifying himself as “James.” While there are many man named James (at least 4) in the New Testament, suffice to say that the evidence is indeed the half-brother of our Lord. James grew up in the same home as Jesus, followed in His shadow in those formative years, & did not come to faith UNTIL after the resurrection.
* No doubt he endured the talk, innuendo, and general attitude of having a family member who ‘thought’ he was the Son of God.
* Yet, when he saw the risen Jesus and trusted in Him, an example of unparallel influence was born. He identifies himself as a ‘slave’, a ‘servant’, or a ‘bond slave.’ The Greek word is ‘doulos’ which means ‘one who gives himself up wholly to another’s will’ like a ‘bond slave.’ When James got it, he got a bad case of it. What I am saying is that when he finally committed to Christ, he sold himself lock, stock, and barrel to the risen Lord.
* You may ask, “How did that work for him?” As opposed to tracking his accomplishments in life, let me simply say that we see James in Acts 15 leading the church in Jerusalem through what is known as the council of Jerusalem. The issue (oddly enough) was whether white people could be saved and a part of the church. The church didn’t split and the arguments didn’t continue because, as leader of the Elders at the church in Jerusalem, James listened to the problems and gave godly leadership through the process and the people trusted his leadership. They recognized James as one who was completely sold out to Jesus & the gospel.
* In California several years ago, an atheist attended a Bible Study with a friend and came to faith in Christ in a glorious salvation experience. After the study he’d heard some folks mentioning the concept of becoming a fool for Christ. This impressed the new believer so deeply that he went home, got a sandwich board, and has an artist friend paint these words on it; “I’m a fool for Jesus.” Imagine all the smirks and comments he heard as he walked the street the next day. Not liking it, he changed the sign on the back of the board. When he approached it still read, “I’m a fool for Jesus” and when he walked by the back read, “Whose fool are you?”