INTRODUCTION: The prophet Isaiah is quoted or referred to over 190 times in the New Testament. The New Testament writers saw Isaiah’s prophecies fulfilled in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Isaiah saw the coming Messiah would be filled with the Spirit and usher in a new age of wisdom, justice, righteousness, holiness, deliverance and peace (Isaiah 11). Messiah would bring redemption, forgiveness and salvation (Isaiah 53). The Apostle Paul saw all these traits fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Believers “are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord’” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31). We find the recipe for joy in the Messiah.
JESUS IS THE WISDOM OF GOD FOR US.
*The coming Messiah would possess the Spirit of wisdom and spiritualdiscernment. “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—and he will delight in the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:1-3).
*The Good News of Jesus Christ is “for us wisdom from God” (1 Cor. 1:30). In Jesus we have the power and wisdom of God for joyfulliving. “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:22-24).
JESUS IS OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
*The coming Messiah would provide righteousness and justice for the poor and oppressed. “He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist” (Isaiah 11:3-5).
*The Good News tells us that Jesus the Messiah is the one that makes us right with God if we put our trust in him. “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:21-22).
JESUS IS OUR HOLINESS.
*The coming Messiah would live a life of compassion, meekness, and sinlessness. He would exemplify holiness and sanctification and perseverance in suffering. “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted…He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth…He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth” (Isaiah 53:4, 7, 9).
*We are to live our lives in the same spirit of holiness and godliness that Jesus lived. Peter quotes Isaiah and writes: “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’ For ‘you were like sheep going astray,’ but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:23-25).
JESUS IS OUR REDEMPTION.
*The coming Messiah would set his people free by dying in their place, becoming a sacrifice on their behalf, and forgiving their sins. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all…After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities…For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:4-12).
*Jesus redeems us from our sins and makes us right with God. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith” (Romans 3:23-25).
INTRODUCTION: The prophet Isaiah is quoted or referred to over 190 times in the New Testament. Isaiah looks forward to the coming Messiah with hope and anticipation. In a day when his nation faced conflict and eventual exile, Isaiah saw a bright future led by the coming Redeemer. The New Testament writers saw Isaiah’s prophecies fulfilled in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Luke wrote that Jesus declared that his mission would be to set people free and demonstrate God’s love (Luke 4). John wrote that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”(John 3:16).Messiah shares God’s love with a loveless world.
MESSIAH’S LOVE BRINGS… LIGHT OVER DARKNESS.
*Messiah enlightens those blinded by spiritual darkness. “Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:1-2).
*Jesus is the light of the world. Jesus began his ministry in Galilee and began to preach“Repent for the kingdom of Heaven has come near” (Matthew 4:12-17). Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
OVERPOWERINGJUSTICE TO AN UNFAIR WORLD.
*Messiah is the righteous Judge and Lawgiver who judges the world with fairness and impartiality. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poorof the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked” (Isaiah 11:3-4).
*Jesus called himself the Lord of the Sabbath. He healed the sick and cared for the broken in opposition to the ceremonial Sabbath laws of the Pharisees. Matthew said this fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah (Isaiah 42:1-4). Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill…This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations…A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope” (Matthew 12:15-21).
VICTORY OVER EVIL.
*Messiah came to set people free. He was the liberator. “I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness” (Isaiah 42:7).
*Jesus declared that his mission was to bring in the year of Jubilee. Slaves were to be released, property restored, and families reunited. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:16-19).
ETERNAL LIFE AND FORGIVENESS OF SIN.
*Messiah would be the suffering servant who would bear our burdens and take the punishment for our sins. “Surely, he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted…We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Is. 53:4-6).
*Messiah saves and heals us from our sins and now intercedes for us before God. Through the Savior we are healed, forgiven and made right with God. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed…Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:5-12).
INTRODUCTION: The prophet Isaiah is quoted or referred to over 190 times in the New Testament. Isaiah looks forward to the coming Messiah with hope and anticipation. In a day when his nation faced conflict and eventual exile, Isaiah saw a bright future led by the coming Redeemer. The New Testament writers saw Isaiah’s prophecies fulfilled in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. As we enter this Christmas season, we want to look at Isaiah’s Christmas Contemplations on the Coming Christ. Isaiah foresaw that God would enter this world as a human being born in the royal line of David and would bring hope and salvation to a world of darkness. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).
THE MESSIAH’S BIRTH IS UNIQUE.
*The historical context: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14).
*The prophetic importance: An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”) (Matthew 1:20-23).
*The theological significance: God has entered his creation as a little baby through a supernatural birth. God is truly present with us. “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”) (Matthew 1:23).
THE MESSIAH’S FAMILY WILL BE ROYAL.
*God promised King David that “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16). Isaiah saw that the Messiah would come from the family of David. “A shootwill come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit (Isaiah 11:1).
*Joseph was in the royal line of King David. Jesus was born a King into the family of David: Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah (Matthew 1:16).
An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21).
THE MESSIAH’S ANOINTING WILL BE DIVINE.
*The Messiah will be empowered by the Spirit. His kingdom will be spiritual and bring peace and hope to the world.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord— and he will delight in the fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2).
*Jesus Christ declared his mission and purpose in Luke 4: The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:17-19).
Jesus Christ was born of a virgin into David’s royal family and empowered by God to bring in an eternal, spiritual kingdom of hope and salvation. He is truly God with us. Has he made a difference in your life?
INTRODUCTION: In Luke 14, Jesus told a parable about God’s invitation to his family meal. Jesus was eating dinner with a prominent religious leader and noticed that people were competing for the best seat at the table. Jesus challenged the guests to invite the disadvantaged to dinner next time so that God would reward their generosity. “When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” Jesus replied: ‘A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests…’” (Luke 14:15-16). Everyone is invited to God’s banquet table.
DON’T MISS DINNER.
*The feast is ready to eat. “Jesus replied: ‘A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready’” (Luke 14:16-17).
*Excuses are not acceptable. “But they all alike began to make excuses…” (Luke 14:18-20).
Business activities: “The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me’” (18).
Possessions, hobbies and sports: “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me’” (19).
Good things including family and friends: “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come’” (20).
*The family expects you to be there. “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry” (Luke 14:21).
INVITE ALL YOUR NEIGHBORS.
*There is room at the table for more. Invite your neighbors who cannot repay you. Share your table with the disadvantaged and underprivileged. “Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame’” (Luke 14:21)
EXTEND THE INVITATION TO EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE
*There is still room at the table. Move out of your comfort zone and reach out to those who are different and distant. “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full” (Luke 14:22-23).
*Warning: If you miss the banquet, you miss everything. “’I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet’” (Luke 14:24).
“Tests that Prove Our Faith: The Evidence of Wisdom”
INTRODUCTION: Jesus said, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45). The way we speak reflects our inner spiritual state and who is in control of our lives. James warns teachers that they will be judged more strictly by what they say and teach (3:1). Therefore, we need to examine what we are being taught. How can we discern what is true from what is false? What is genuine from what is counterfeit? What is wise counsel or foolish advice? What is divine wisdom or worldly wisdom? James gives us a checklist of traits that shows if a person is trustworthy or bogus in James 3:13-18. Wisdom is known by the results it produces.
GODLY TEACHERS COMPARED TO UNGODLY TEACHERS.
*The practical and trained teacher is marked by good behavior and a gentle spirit. “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom”(13).
*The counterfeit and self-serving teacher creates division and strife. He or she is jealous, ambitious, arrogant and deceptive. “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth” (14).
EARTHLY WISDOM CONTRASTED TO HEAVENLY WISDOM.
*The traits of false and counterfeit wisdom expose their source. “Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (15-16).
Earthly (limited to earth, earthbound)
Natural (unspiritual, sensuous, or animal life)
Jealous and ambitious motivation
Results in disharmony and cruel evil
*Genuine wisdom begins with purity and comes from above. “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure…” (17).
*James organizes the six characteristics of heavenly wisdom into three categories:
Attitude: The attitude of the wise person is peaceable, gentle, and reasonable– “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive…” (17).
Action: The wise person puts the words of Jesus into action by being compassionate and doing kind deeds – “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then…full of mercy and good fruit…” (17).
Assessment – The wise person is fair and unbiased in making decisions or settling disputes and highly respected for it in the community. “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then…impartial and sincere (17).
*People of heavenly wisdom are peacemakers and they reap a harvest of righteousness. “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness” (18).
INTRODUCTION: Jesus said, “But the words that come out of your mouth come from your heart. And they are what make you unfit to worship God” (Matthew 15:18 CEV).The way we speak reveals our faith commitment. More than any other New Testament writer, James writes about our speech and the power of the tongue to do harm or good. He warns us to use our words carefully and to control our tongues. What we say and how we say it shows our true character.
Teachers are judged by the way they speak. “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (1).
Speech reveals a person’s character. “We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check” (2).
Small things can control large things:
The bit and bridle in a horse’s mouth. “When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal” (3).
The rudder of a ship. “Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go” (4).
The tongue in the body. “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts” (5).
The tongue exposes a person’s inner life:
The boasting tongue is like a fire in the forest. “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark” (5).
The tongue is a hellfire of iniquity that defiles our body and sets the destination of our life toward destruction. “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (6).
Creatures can be tamed but the tongue is uncontrollable. “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (7-8).
An uncontrolled tongue is unnatural for a Christian.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. (9-12).
Jesus said, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45).
Conclusion: The way we speak reflects our inner spiritual state and who is in control of our life.
INTRODUCTION: On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his ninety-five theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther’s protest against Catholic church doctrine and practice led to what is now known at the Protestant Reformation. The Reformation recovered the Bible as the sole authority for true belief (sola scriptura) and faith in Jesus Christ, not good works, as the means of salvation (sole fide). This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation yet the issue of faith versus works continues to be a current topic. What constitutes true faith? Who is saved and who is not? How does a person become a Christian? Does it matter how I live my life if I believe in Jesus? We all struggle to define faith and how to put our faith into action. James clarifies faith and works.
FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS USELESS (2:14-17).
The example of the unclothed and the unfed believers. What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food (14-15).
Common sense says that Christians have a responsibility to feed and clothe the needy.If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? (16).
Principle: Faith without works is dead.In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead (17).
ANOTHER COMMON ERROR (2:18-20):
Wrong assumption: All I need is works. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds (18).
Demons also believe there is one God but their actions deny him. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. (19).
Faith and works are bothnecessary.You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? (20).
EVIDENCE OF FAITH IN ACTION (2:21-26):
Abraham was justified by works.Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? (21).
Principle: Faith and actions work together to prove genuine faith. You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. (22-24).
Rahab was justified by works.In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? (25).
Principle restated: A true Christian will show evidence of salvation.As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (26).
If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
INTRODUCTION: James says the trials of our faith bring us joy (James 1:2). James lists a series of tests that each one of us go through to develop our faith. He begins with tests of character. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ changes our attitudes, our speech, and our actions. We become like Jesus in our character and our conduct. This affects our relationships. James quickly turns to the tests of love and how we treat other people. True love does not show partiality or favoritism.
THE TEST OF FAVORITISM (2:1-7).
*Partiality is an attitude of personal favoritism. My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism (1).
*A common example of favoritism: the rich and the poor. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves (2-4).
*The nature of the sin of distinction. have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? (4).
Evil motives (i.e. Greed).
Judgment (see ch. 1:13-15).
*The rich compared to the poor: Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong (5-7)?
The poor (5-6) are
Chosen by God
Rich in the faith
Heirs of the kingdom of God
Loved of God
Dishonored among men
The rich (6-7)
Oppress the church of Jesus Christ
Take believers to court
THE TEST OF FULFILLING THE ROYAL LAW OF LOVE (2:8-11).
*The GreatCommandment forbids partiality. If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right (8).
*Partiality is a transgression of the royal law. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers (9).
*Even one “little” sin violates the whole Law. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker (10-11).
*Love is the Law of Liberty. Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment (12-13).
Let your words and actions be guided by this law (12).
INTRODUCTION: James says the trials of our faith bring us joy (James 1:2). James begins his letter by explaining the difference between a test and a temptation. Trials have a good purpose but temptations pull us down. Trials are a training ground for our faith development. Endurance produces maturity. The more you persevere, the more you mature. James will list a series of tests that each one of us go through to develop our faith. He begins with tests of character. Tests of character reveal how we put our faith into action.
THE TEST OF ANGER VERSUS SELF-CONTROL (1:19-21).
*A strategy for self-control: My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (19).
Be slow to anger.
*A principle to follow: because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires (20).
*A remedy for anger: Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you (21).
Confess your sins.
Allow the word of God to grow in your life.
THE TEST OF DOING VERSUS HEARING THE WORD OF GOD (1:22-25)
*Doing the Word proves your faith is legitimate. Hearing but not doing leads to self-delusion. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says (1:22).
*The example of a reflection in a mirror.. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like (1:23-24).
*Obedience to the word of God brings blessing. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do (1:25).
THE TEST OF TRUE RELIGION VERSUS FALSE RELIGION (1:26-27).
*How can you recognize false religion? Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless (1:26).
Religionists have big talk but no action.
Their uncontrolled speech reveals their heart.
*True religion balances faith and action. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (1:27).
True religion practices compassion and acts of kindness.
Genuine people of faith practice personal purity and piety.
Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ changes our attitudes, our speech, and our actions. We become like Jesus in our character and our conduct.
INTRODUCTION: The Epistle of James was most likely written by James, the brother of Jesus (Gal. 2:9) and the head of the church at Jerusalem (Acts 15:13). James resisted Jesus’ early ministry (John 7:2-5) but became a follower of Jesus after the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:7). James probably led his other brothers to the Lord and was present at Pentecost (Acts 1:14). He calls himself a “bond-servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ” and writes his letter to the “diaspora,” fellow Jews scattered across the world (James 1:1). A main leader in the Jerusalem church, James headed the Jerusalem Council and supported Paul’s gospel ministry (Acts 15). Tradition has it that James was thrown down from the Temple gable, stoned, and beaten to death with a club. The theme of the letter is found in James 1:2: The trials of our faith bring us joy. James begins by explaining the difference between a test and a temptation. Trials have a good purpose but temptations pull us down.
*Trials provide a testing of our faith and challenge us to overcome trying circumstances. As we succeed, we experience joy and learn endurance. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance (1:2-3).
*Trials are a training ground for our faith development. Endurance produces maturity. The more you persevere, the more you mature. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (1:3-4).
*Trials often cause us to question God and ask why we are going through such difficulty. The best response is to ask God for wisdom and discernment in our time of trouble. We should not doubt God’s willingness to answer our requests but we should be bold and trust God to give us understanding. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything fromthe Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do (1:5-8).
*Our identity and status are not based on our circumstances and wealth. Our relationship with the Lord enables us to face any trial. We need to trust God where we are and depend upon him. Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business (1:9-11).
*God has promised a reward to those who persevere and remain faithful in all trials. Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him (1:12).
*Temptation is not from God. Temptation arises from our lusts and entices us to do what is contrary to God’s will and way. When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed (1:13-14).
*Yielding to temptation produces sin and death. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death (15).
*A warning: Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters (1:16).
GOD’S GOAL (1:17-18).
*God gives good gifts. God wants the best for you. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (1:17).
*God wants us to be born into his family. He wants our lives to reflect his goodness and his purposes. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created (1:18).
When we face our trials with faith and resist temptations to sin, we experience the joy of being part of the eternal family of God.