Summary: Introductory Comments 1.
1. To be a Christian may not always seem easy. But being a believer has its benefits as well. As James indicates in vs. 25 - a believer can live in freedom and the fullness of God’s blessings.
2. This evening I ask you, do you have freedom? Do you have the freedom to live as you really want to in order to please God? Or do you feel bound up - bound to sins and habits and worries and concerns that lead to discouragement and continuous struggles? Do you feel controlled by infections that are deeply rooted within us? Things like pride, as we discussed this morning, or anger or lust? Are you as free as you could and should be as a Christian?
3. A second question. Are you experiencing the blessings of God? Can you say on a daily basis "I am truly blessed"? Can you say "God is so good to me"?
4. If you don’t live in this freedom and blessing, do you want to? This evening we consider how to experience freedom and blessing in our lives.
5. James tells us they are available to us and, as always, he tells us in a just a few verses, what we are to do and then how we can do it. He tells us that we can be free and blessed by being doers of the word and not just listeners. And after that he tells us how to become doers.
1. First we are to be doers not listeners. Last week James told us to be quick to listen. This week he says don’t just listen, but act upon what you have heard.
2. So many of us Christians are listeners. We focus on hearing, reading and learning the word rather than doing the word. We give Sunday School awards to those who memorize the word rather than those live according to it. We come to church to hear word but do we go home to live the word? Someone said that "many Christians want to enjoy the thrill of feeling right but are not willing to endure the inconvenience of being right."
3. Chuck Swindoll gives us a good illustration of this, in his book, Improving Your Serve:
"To make the value of obedience just a practical as possible, let’s play ’Let’s Pretend.’ Let’s pretend that you work for me. In fact, you are my executive assistant in a company that is growing rapidly. I’m the owner and I’m interested in expanding overseas. To pull this off, I make plans to travel abroad and stay there until a new branch office gets established. I make all the arrangements to take my family and move to Europe for six to eight months. And I leave you in charge of the busy stateside organization. I tell you that I will write you regularly and give you directions and instructions. I leave and you stay. Months pass. A flow of letters are mailed from Europe and received by you at the national headquarters. I spell out all my expectations. Finally, I return. Soon after my arrival, I drive down to the office and I am stunned. Grass and weeds have grown up high. A few windows along the street are broken. I walk into the Receptionist’s room. She is doing her nails, chewing gum and listening to her favorite disco station. I look around and notice the wastebaskets are overflowing. The carpet hasn’t been vacuumed for weeks, and nobody seems concerned that the owner has returned. I asked about your whereabouts and someone in the crowded lounge area points down the hall and yells, "I think he’s down there."
Disturbed, I move in that direction and bump into you as you are finishing a chess game with our sales manager. I ask you to step into my office, which has been temporarily turned into a television room for watching afternoon soap operas. "What in the world is going on, man?" "What do you mean, Chuck?" "Well, look at this place!
Didn’t you get any of my letters?" "Letters? Oh yes! Sure! I got every one of them. As a matter of fact, Chuck, we have had a letter study every Friday night since you left. We have even divided the personnel into small groups to discuss many of the things you wrote. Some of the things were really interesting. You will be pleased to know that a few of us have actually committed to memory some of your sentences and paragraphs. One or two memorized an entire letter or two - Great stuff in those letters." "OK. You got my letters. You studied them and meditated on them; discussed and even memorized them. But what did you do about them?" "Do? We didn’t do anything about them."