Summary: Pentecost 16(B) - Our God graciously gives goods gifts from above which include ears to hear, minds to think, and lives of action.
OUR GOD GIVES GOOD GIFTS (FROM ABOVE)
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,
OUR GOD GIVES GOOD GIFTS (from above).
Those good gifts are: I. Ears to hear,
II. Minds to think III. Lives of action.
I. EARS TO HEAR
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.
How were they born of the word of truth? James writes: "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen." They had ears to hear. They heard God’s word and God worked faith in their hearts. Their lives were changed.
It is the exact same with us today. God does not require the believer to be able to read or write before he can believe, does He? God says if we have ears to hear, we hear that message and his Holy Spirit works faith in our hearts. Children come to faith, not because they can open up the Bible and read it; but they come to faith because they hear their Sunday school teachers tell them about creation, sin, redemption and salvation. They believe. Paul says: "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). This is God’s gift to us, a good gift from above, the word of truth which works faith in our hearts.
The Lord gives us ears to hear, and we gather together on Sundays to hear. Amazing grace it is that we have these ears and that we have listened. God alone has worked faith in our hearts. We may notice the world does not always listen to God’s Word, does it? Even when Jesus walked on the earth, the scribes and Pharisees who were the leaders of the church, kicked Jesus out time and time again. Some claimed that Jesus was possessed by a devil. Not everyone has hearing ears. Jesus spoke to His disciples in parables and to the believers in parables so that they would see the deep meaning of the truths of God. They listened and heard. Sometimes Jesus had to explain it to them. But there were others who did not listen, who did not want to hear. Jesus said: "In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ’You will be ever hearing but never understanding, you will be ever seeing but never perceiv-ing’" (Matthew 13:14).