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Believers must hear the gospel well and turn it into actions. The church James was speaking to was acting contrarily to equality found in Christ but now they must show mercy because they been given mercy.
In the midst of cultural challenges and interpersonal conflict as Christians, James steps in to give us guidance from the gospel of Jesus. Much of our strife comes from the recurring pull to think too highly of ourselves, to be quick to give our opinions, to even be angry in giving them at times. This creates division among people and James calls us to 'be quick to hear, slow to speak' and he encourages us to do two things 1) Listen to one another and 2) Listen to God through his gospel and scriptures. In this text James calls us to devotion to God, rather than to devotion to ourselves. He shares how we deceive ourselves and the damage it causes, and he calls us to be devoted to what God is devoted to, to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. Through all of this, he calls us to remember the gospel, the implanted word, able to save our souls.
For centuries people have wrestled with the book of James, trying to reconcile it's focus on works as evidence of faith and Paul's seeming focus on faith without works being what is necessary for faith. James was the leader of the Jerusalem church at a time of socioeconomic conflict, social conflict and religious factions within the church. It is into this context that James is writing and seeking to instruct. In this sermon we look at how hard it is to be a Christian, even without all the external strife. We also look at how hard we try to be good Christians and how it shakes our faith when we aren't. We look at that challenges of looking to ourselves and looking to God. Ultimately we look at what happens when we finally stop trying and start trusting instead.
In this final sermon in the Dinner With Jesus series we examine what makes for a great dinner conversation. There is so much richness around the table, it is our hope that from time to time the richest thing isn't our food, but the conversation. So what makes for a great conversation at a dinner with Jesus? Conversation that 1) reveals who we are, 2) reveals who our guests are and 3) reveals who Jesus is. In this sermon we look how these conversations can happen and the riches that await us if we will have them.
Last week we looked at who Jesus is inviting to dinner. This week we look at some of the fear and anxiety people have about opening their home for dinner, and how Jesus changes it for us. In this text we read about the calling of Levi, an outcast to his Jewish brethren, as he follows Jesus, leaves everything behind, throws a party for Jesus and invites everyone he knows to meet Jesus. And while some will accuse us of hanging out with the 'wrong crowd', Jesus stands between us and our accusers, calling us all to repentance.
From time to time I hear the question, "If you could have a dinner party with any three people throughout history, who would you invite?" Invariably near the top of many invite lists would be Jesus. But what if Jesus was throwing the dinner party, who would he invite? Would he invite you? Your neighbor? The drunkard down the street? The rich guy? The poor guy? What would keep you from attending the dinner party? And how hard would Jesus and his followers work to make sure you got the invitation and made the party? In this sermon we look at who Jesus invites to dinner, and how we might make sure to receive the invitation.
Mark 10:35-45, John 13:1-17 For many of us, we equate our roles in life with our worth. As a result we often end up pursuing more powerful roles where we can use our new positions to have authority over others. This happens in the workplace, as well as in our relationships with family and friends, and is the result of us serving ourselves rather than others. But Jesus changes this for us. Even while being the Creator King of all things, he shows us a different way to use our power, as he serves the disciples in the washing of their feet. In this sermon we that because we are the messengers and Jesus is the sender, we are actually serving Jesus when we serve others, because that is his call to us. We learn some things that might stop us, and ways it can bless all involved. Beautifully, because of Jesus, we learn that our roles don't determine our worth, but Jesus does.
For many people there is a tension when we start talking about money in the church. But Jesus didn't seem to feel that tension, he actually talked about money more than most anything else. Additionally there are multiple scriptures that show how the early church understood and used money. In this sermon we look at how the Macedonian church was a blessing to the Corinthian church through their financial blessing. In this message we discuss how everything belongs to God, how everything we have is from God and how everything we've been given is to be stewarded toward the gospel going forward. We also learn that good stewardship requires that we be intentional in setting our affections and trust on Jesus.
When discussing prayer we hear a lot of people asking, "Is prayer effective." But what if that's the wrong first concern? Prayer at it's core is an expression of a longing within us. When we ask, "Is prayer effective.", we are questioning whether we should take that longing to God or whether we should trust ourselves, someone else or something else with our longings. In this sermon we start with James, the brother of Jesus, who calls us to pray for another and that our prayers can be effective. We also look at some ways we are to pray for another, 1) that love may abound (hearts), 2) that knowledge and discernment may grow with it (head), and 3) that we might grow as a people who live well and fruitfully in the declaration and demonstration of the gospel (hands).