Summary: Part 11 of our James study goes off the text somewhat and Pastor Ryan insteads focuses on how to have faith during difficult economic times.
Part 11- Show Me The Money?
James 5:1-6 was the inspiration this morning for where I am going but I will not be spending much time there today as I felt like Wednesday morning I needed to change up my message from what it was originally going to be about. I want to talk about what is going on around us right now as Americans. We just can’t seem to escape bad news these days. Tragic deaths, high unemployment rate, trillion dollar deficits, empty political promises, wars, bailout plans, layoffs. We are being hit here in our own town as businesses are beginning to close. GM employees aren’t working, real estate agents are struggling to find closings, and new residential housing seems to have come to a complete halt. I see many of you struggling right now financially. You don’t know if you’ll be able to pay your mortgage next month. Some of you are probably nervous about whether you’ll have a job next month. Some of you are desperate for work now. It is a scary time filled with incredible uncertainty.
What is so interesting to me is that just 4 ½ years ago things looked completely different. When I interviewed to become the youth pastor here I remember Gary and Becky driving us around town showing us all the new housing going up, new businesses were beginning, there were a lot more stores at the outlet mall. Real estate was a seller’s market and population was growing. Everything seemed great.
But now everything doesn’t seem that great. I believe America is in a period of a great awakening. We are being awakened to the reality that America is not invincible. That our government doesn’t have all the answers, and that money doesn’t solve all the problems. It’s always during a period of time like we are in that church attendance begins to rise. People are searching for answers as to why they lost their job, why they lost their home, why they can’t pay their bills, why someone had to get sick or tragically die.
Sometimes I think they want me to say, “Well if you do step 1,2,3 then you’ll get your job back, your house back, your life back.” But that wouldn’t be true. There are no steps I can give you and there is no action you can take that will guarantee that your life will go back to the way it was or get better. And let me ask you this “Is that necessarily a bad thing?” Is it necessarily bad to struggle? Is it bad to feel the pressure of life once in a while? I don’t think it is. I don’t look forward to struggling any more than you and myself and Taylor have made cutbacks just like you have to save money and pay off debt quicker.
I think what we are going through is not all bad, but in fact I think it can be good for us. Here is why I think this way…when we face the tragedies of life, the difficulties of life we have to come to grips with what we truly have faith in. Do we really trust God or do we trust money? Is my hope really in him as I say it is or are all my hopes, dreams, happiness and ambitions in that next paycheck?
Americans get to live in la la land. Even with what we are going through right now we are still better off than 95% of the world. We still continue to be the wealthiest nation, we still shop till we drop at Christmas time, and we still have cars and homes or even if we lose our home will have someplace to live. We are not even close to suffering. Not even close. We are so used to such a high standard of living and being wealthy that we have developed an attitude of entitlement. We have such arrogance to believe we deserve to have what we do. We deserve to be paid a lot of money, we deserve the right to own a home or to own a car or to go to college. In reality we don’t deserve anything. Do you remember what James says we are? A mist. In the scope of eternity, in the realm of eternity we are absolutely nothing. We deserve nothing and we are entitled to nothing.
The only thing we truly deserve is hell. That is it. Why would I say that? We deserve it because we are so selfish that we only go to God when times are bad. Church attendance may rise during a crisis but once this crisis has passed and people go back to work and money begins to flow again that attendance will drop, no question. We only want God when it’s convenient and we blame God when troubles come.