Summary: This five part sermon series explores the book of James, which is all about where the rubber meets the road, and discovers what real faith looks like in real life. Each sermon is expository and alliterated. Power point is available.
Real Faith for Real Life: James Five
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 10/28/2012
Good morning and welcome to Blooming Grove. Halloween is only a few days away—many of you may be taking your kids trick-or-treating and a few of you may even dress in costume yourself. Truth is—I think Halloween is a reminder we all wear masks at times. We pretend that we’re something we’re not. Maybe you put on a fake smile to hide how you’re really feeling. Maybe you pretend to have your act together so that people don’t see what a mess your life really is. My prayer is that Blooming Grove will be a place where you can take off the mask, just be yourself, let people see your faults, failures and foibles—and know that you will still be loved and accepted for who you are. That’s what the Grove is all about.
A few weeks ago we started this series through the book of James, which is all about real faith for real life. In the first chapter, James talks about how real faith helps us with our burdens, our battles and our Bibles. In chapter two, James goes about defining real faith for real life and he identifies three types of faith—dead faith, demonic faith, and dynamic faith. In chapter three, James talks about how real faith ought to affect the way we talk; the things we say. In chapter four, James explains that covetousness and conflicts can be overcome by drawing close to God in faith.
In the fifth and final chapter, James touches on several areas of life that ought to be affected by our faith—if we have real faith, that is. C.S. Lewis once described faith as “The art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.” That’s the truth, isn’t it? I mean moods change. Life changes. But real faith is something worth hanging onto no matter how we feel or what our circumstances may be.
That’s the kind of faith that we need—faith that weathers the storms of life and stands the test of time. When you’ve got that kind of faith—real faith for real life—not only will it bring your soul to heaven, but it will bring heaven to your soul. In this closing chapter James elaborates on three ways that real faith will affect our lives.
First, real faith results in patience. Here’s what James says about that: “Therefore, brothers, be patient until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and is patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near” (James 5:7-8 HCSB).
There are probably some farmers here today who could testify to the importance of patience. Let me touch on what’s happening here. When we read the words “the Lord’s coming,” our minds automatically jump to the return of Christ, what we call the Second Coming. But that’s not always the case. That phrase is also sometimes used in reference to a coming judgment by God. For instance, Isaiah said that the Pharaoh saw the Lord “coming on clouds” when he unleashed the ten plagues on Egypt (Isaiah 19:1). Of course, Pharaoh didn’t literally see God coming on clouds; rather, this was a judgment metaphor meaning that Pharaoh had witnessed God’s wrath poured out like rain upon the land.
When James wrote this letter, many Christians had been driven from their homes and scattered across the Middle East as a result of Jewish and Roman persecution. Jesus prophesied that God would eventually judge the Jews and Romans for persecuting his people, that the high priest would see him “coming on clouds” heralding the destruction of the temple and the end of the Jewish age of sacrifice. But those things hadn’t happened just yet. These Christians were still being persecuted and they were waiting for God to come to their rescue. They looked forward to the “coming of the Lord” because that meant God was going to show up; that he would make his presences known!
While they were waiting, James’ tells them: “Be patient.”
How about you? Are you waiting for God to show up? Waiting for him to come to your rescue or to take action in some area of your life? Or maybe just waiting for him to give some instruction or guidance?
I think James’ advice would be the same to you—be patient.
Madeline Rockwell once wrote a story for Reader’s Digest: My grandmother was a ball of fire, while my grandpa was slow and deliberate. One night they were awakened by a commotion in the chicken house. Grandma sprang out of bed, ran to the chicken coop and found the cause of the racket, a large black snake. Having nothing to kill it with, she clamped down on its head with her bare foot. There she stood, until Grandpa arrive, a good fifteen minutes later—fully dressed and even his pocket watch in place. “Well,” he said cheerfully to my disheveled and enraged grandma, “If I’d known you had him, I wouldn’t have hurried so much.”