Summary: Pentecost 16(B) - Our God graciously gives goods gifts from above which include ears to hear, minds to think, and lives of action.

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James 1:17-27 - September 4, 2005 - Pentecost 16

Dearest Fellow-Redeemed and Saints in the Lord:

About eight months ago in a country far, far away, half way around the world, we heard about the disastrous tsunami. We probably did not think about it too much. After all, it was quite a ways away. Tens of thousands or more were killed. As Christians we had some compassion but did not know too many people touched by that disaster. Almost eight days ago and closer to home we could not escape the news of the hurricane which was approaching our own shores. Probably thousands will end up losing their lives. Now we see the outpouring of Christian compassion. We are compelled as believers to be concerned and show our love. We are reminded as believers that this disaster is not to be laid at the feet of God. We cannot blame the Lord as some are tempted to do. But it all began at the beginning, didn’t it, when Satan deceived Adam and Eve? The perfect world became imperfect and we live now in a world that is imperfect.

Today, we are going to be reminded of the fact that every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. That is why we are here today. God has given us that most perfect gift, the gift of faith, not because we went out of our way to find it, not because we deserved it or earned it, but purely and simply by divine grace. Paul writes in Ephesians: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8,9). As the letter of James tells us in our text for today,


Those good gifts are: I. Ears to hear,

II. Minds to think III. Lives of action.


Here James writes to these believers and he reminds these believers in a changing world, God does not change. He says: "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." They heard of shifting shadows, and they may have thought of Satan. The devil was that deceptive serpent in the Garden of Eden. They may have thought of Satan’s shadowy lies and deceit.

The heavenly Father is not like that. He is the one who provides every good and every perfect gift. James describes that good and perfect gift. It is faith. Verse 18: He chose to give us birth through the word of truth. These believers were born again. Their lives were dramatically and drasti-cally changed, because they had once lived in the excesses of the world. They once lived as people who did not care about God and cared only about themselves. But now "God gave them birth through the word of truth, he says, so that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created." Now they were to be the examples. These believers were to be the examples because they had ears to hear, eyes to see, minds to think, and lives of action to be the firstfruits of God’s creation. These believers’ lives were lived as firstfruits to God.

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