Summary: To get to the right place in life, we must understand some of the Kingdom Principles and the Biblical map that guide us.
Understanding the Journey
* My sister and brother were born with web fingers. Sis had 3 fingers webbed while my brother had 2. To separate these fingers would require expensive surgeries and we were not a financially wealthy family. The obvious answer to this dilemma was to have them seen at the Shriner's Children Hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana. When my parents took my sister, they always found me a place to stay because as a little kid, I didn't ride well. But one time I begged them enough that they relented what they knew was best and allowed me to go. Here is what I'll tell you; I didn't understand the journey we were about to take. It didn't matter how many time Mom and dad attempted to tell me how long this trip was, I simply didn't know. Out of THIS trip, I became the original author of those famously repeated words, “Are we there yet?” The truth is, even though I was on the journey and had been told about the travel, I didn't have a good perspective on all that was entailed in that 'pre-I10 trip.' Today, after having even lived in the Shreveport area for several years, I not only understand the journey but I know the best way to get there.
* Of all the journeys that we take, the journey of life is the most critical to understand. Most people never discover the best path for this journey. How do I know this? Because the wide way, which most folks choose, ultimately leads to destruction; while the way or journey to life is narrow and few will actually find it. The starting point for real life is found in a personal relationship with our creator, Jehovah God. And no one begins this journey EXCEPT by coming through Jesus, His only Son. Now, we’ll try other methods, but they never work. Candidly, to begin our journey on the right road we must understand the starting point which is Jesus.
* Once we trust Jesus with our soul’s salvation, we have only begun a journey which seems to make little sense to this world. Almost everything in the journey of a believer is opposite of what our humanistic thinking tells us. Human reasoning tells us that we need to be all about self that is, we need to take care of our own; while the journey of a believer is to become like Christ and ‘think more highly of others than self.’ Everything about walking in and toward the Kingdom of God is in direct opposition to our thinking. If you want to be first, be last. If you want to be exalted, become humble. Kingdom principles are not the same as human reasoning. Also, Jesus teaches us about CHOICES. Adam made the choice about the fruit, David about Bathsheba, Nicodemus about eternal life, and Jesus (in His humanity) about the cross. Never forget that God’s ultimate goal for our journey is spiritual maturity, which is becoming like Him.
* Our text today lays out some of these values in term we can understand. Admittedly, we may not like it, but we get a clear word about it. When James uses the words ‘humble circumstances’ and ‘rich’ there can be little doubt that he is speaking of our earthly wealth. And he has much to say about our money, our earthly wealth, and our view of it. (3 thoughts)
1. The Delights of Poverty – Does this seems a little beyond reasoning? It is for human reasoning. What delight could be found in poverty? Exactly how can we be exalted? Let’s remember the first reader of James. He wrote to the ‘scattered saints’ who had basically lost everything because of their faith. Literally many had gone from ‘Riches to Rags’ because they trusted Jesus. Paul is the poster boy for this. He was well off as a Pharisee and as a believer he was supported by churches. Yet, he found solace because of his inner peace. No longer did he depend on His earthly wealth for his security, his security was found in his inner peace. Now, he knew where he was headed, knew how to depend on God, and knew God’s blessings.
* For the person who lives in an impoverished state, ‘up’ is the only way to look for help. From around 1850-1955, this country went through one struggle after another. Out of those years, today we are the recipients of some of the greatest songs dealing with ‘heaven’, “Beulah Land”, and eternity. Why is this? Because everyone was looking for a better place. Just take one song writer, Albert Brumley and see his list of popular songs. “I’ll Fly Away”, “I’ll Meet you in the morning,” “This World is not my home,” “I’m bound for that city,” and many more. In the sad state we found ourselves in, we were looking for God to ease the suffering and pain. We were looking for that blessed hope.