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Harnessing Faith (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
April 16, 2024 6:00 am

Harnessing Faith (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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April 16, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the letter of James 1:2-5

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They just put Jesus' name and they just encourage them, but it's not about righteousness and holiness and dealing with sin and blocking out the leaven. That's what the world does not have. The only place you're going to get that is from the church, the local and the universal church, the true church, true believers, which Jesus wrote to the churches in Revelation. You're not doing what you're supposed to do. You'll just like the world.

You're dirty like the world and you have no problem with this. We are in the book, or should I say the letter, of James chapter 1. We will read verses 5 through 11, but we will comment on that. We'll go on verses 6 through 11 and sneak some 5 and 2. Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because, as a flower of the field, he will pass away, for no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass, its flower fails, and its beautiful appearance perishes.

So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits. Now we do understand James throws a really mean fastball, and if your head gets in the way, you are going to regret it. But faithful are the wounds of a friend, deceitful are the kisses of an enemy, and James is going to do what he has to do, what he has been assigned to do by the Holy Spirit, and that is address aberrant behavior in Christians. A reminder, the epistles, they are letters that correct behavior in Christians.

That is where the emphasis is on the letters. We are going to address harnessing the faith, harnessing my faith, taking hold of it. We need to be refreshed with these things often. I want to go back a little bit to verse 5, and there he said, If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given him. Read that first clause, If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, then the second clause with it.

That is everyone. But as we discussed last session, this is the kind of wisdom that has to do with right choices and righteousness, to know how to live and behave righteously. The idea is not so much that God wants us all to be a bunch of sagacious Christians and you can ask us anything and we have the answer because we are wise. That would be nice and there is some truth to that, but that is not where James is going with this when he says, If any of you lacks wisdom, he is talking about the understanding of righteousness and its application.

And I hope we brought that out in last session. This wisdom is God's contribution to saved souls, to Christians, to born again believers, helping us to not only recognize but also gain God's rule of calling in our own lives. We have some control over the flesh through faith, according to the Scriptures, much deeper than insight. Insight is beneficial. We need that kind of wisdom also.

This runs deeper because this is not limited to just giving sound advice to someone. This has to do with conquering my own appetites to sin, to be less than Christ. This righteousness that I want to be very much a part of my life so others can say, There is a brother in Christ, there is a sister in Christ, to walk like them. Or that they would be more like them in the body of Christ.

Is that not a fine goal? And so with our words towards others, about others, with others, our personal conduct and decisions that we make, that's the wisdom that James is saying. You need to ask God for this. It's not going to just show up in your life.

No one drifts into salvation and no one drifts into righteousness. It is a work. You have to harness it. You have to lay hold of it and once you've got it, you've got to keep it. And there are going to be many things trying to steal it from you, inside and out, the traitor that lives within our own heart called the flesh. And then there is the world.

There is Satan. And so this wisdom and righteousness in the context that James develops throughout this letter, James 3.17, the wisdom that is from above is first pure. Blessed are the pure in heart, they shall see God. Does it mean we shall see God if our hearts have been purified in the blood of Christ? What does that mean? Is He going to materialize in front of me?

Well, He can do that, but that's not likely going to happen. Statistics show. What it is to see God is to see His will in any given situation, to see that He is always present, that His word is true, that God is dependable regardless of what He permits in my life. I need that if I'm going to out-serve the world. So many churches, they're giving the congregations nothing more than what the world gives them. They just put Jesus' name and they just encourage them, but it's not about righteousness and holiness and dealing with sin and blocking out the leaven. That's what the world does not have. The only place you're going to get that is from the church, the local and the universal church, the true church, true believers.

What Jesus wrote to the churches in Revelation, and He says to some of them, you're not doing what you're supposed to do. You'll just like the world. You're dirty like the world and you have no problem with this. I have a problem with it.

You're making me sick. That's what He said to Laodicea. Sardis, He says, you play good religion, don't you? You have a good name, that you're alive.

It's my name, but you're dead. And of course, the darling church Ephesus. What church was so blessed as Ephesus to have Paul and Timothy and John and Apollos? So many of those great saints preached at that church only for them to leave the love of Christ and boast about other things.

Well, if you're going to pull it off like Smyrna and Philadelphia, those two churches, you are going to have to harness your faith personally. As Jesus said, don't worry so much about that little speck in your brother's eye when you've got this long piece of timber sticking out of your own eye. This wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle.

I could use some work there. Willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, without hypocrisy. Righteous. Righteous moves. That's what I want to learn. I want, I'm not looking for ninja moves, I want righteous moves. So that others will say, what is it with you that is letting your light so shine that you glorify your Father in heaven?

I want some. That is supposed to be the bride of Christ. I've never seen an ugly bride. Brides always take the time to make themselves look even more beautiful.

It's not by mistake. Jesus refers to the church as the bride of Christ. She is supposed to be beautiful. She's supposed to take the time to make herself appealing when it comes to things of holiness. Faith is to characterize our lives. What Christian would dispute with that? What Christian would say, no, it's not? Habakkuk 2, the prophet says, the just shall live by faith.

So simple. When the church departs from her simplicity, when Christianity begins to get complicated and becomes theatrical, she's no longer living by faith so much. She's drifting into dangerous waters where it's very shallow and she can run aground and suffer shipwreck. Faith is something we must think about. You've got to think about your faith. You cannot again just suppose that because it's you whom Christ died for and loves in spite of your sin, that therefore you are a strong castle of faith.

You're going to have to think about it, ponder it, reach for it, keep on reaching for it if you're going to develop it and that's what it needs, development. There are degrees of faith in all of us. You find some old saint that is time tested and faith tested and we admire them and so we should and we should aspire to be like them. Every Christian should have another Christian in their life that they look at and say, I want to be like that. That's where I want to go. Too many Christians are so full of themselves they would never do that.

They think other people should look at them and say, be like me. Well, we've got to think about these things. Joshua chapter 1. I know we've got some verses to get to.

We're going to get to them. Joshua 1 verse 8, this book of the law shall not depart from your mouth but you shall meditate in it day and night that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. But then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success versus common success versus bad success.

Good success. But he says you shall meditate in it. The word of God. You need to think about the word of God. This word meditate is not TM, Transcendental Meditation that comes from Hinduism and the ancient writings and techniques of trying to get into some supernatural altered universe of some nonsense and repeating the question over and over and over, um, um.

I don't even know if that's a question. This is not what the Bible means when it says meditate. It simply means to ponder, to think deeply about something. And that's why it is a repeated directive of the Holy Spirit. Psalm 4, 4. Be angry and do not sin. That's a righteous indignation. That is a seriousness against evil. Just look at this parade of evil over our president's nomination for the Supreme Court. You look at this and you have a righteous indignation.

I've just, without even trying, I picture myself sitting in the seat of the candidate. And taking off my belt and cleaning house. I take a can of spinach with me and put it on my day as a warning.

You see me eat that spinach, you better watch out because I'll be flipping alright anyway. That's why a guy like me would never be there. But you're a pastor. You're not supposed to think like that. I do.

And so do you. It's a righteous indignation. Anyway, back to this word.

Meditate. That is so important. 1 Timothy chapter 4. Now here he tells Timothy, I want you to give attention to the reading. That is the scripture. That is the letters that the apostles would send. And he wanted him to pay attention to the teaching and the doctrine. And then he says, meditate on these things. Give yourself entirely to them that your progress may be evident to all. Do you think that is only for a pastor?

You're supposed to pastor the word and your life and your heart, what comes out of you. Meditate on these things. Melito. I don't expect you to remember that.

I won't remember that after this morning's message myself. I don't need to, but I bring it up just to make this point that it is a distinct word in the Greek. To meditate, to have something revolve in the mind, to concentrate your thoughts, to plot in a good way.

How do you plot in a good way? Against the gates of hell. To bring down those things in your own life.

How am I going to deal with this thing? What happens if I wake up tomorrow and it's still with me? I will formulate a plan. I will be determined to face this thing as long as it takes, trusting in God. Think deeply. Focus one's mind for a period of time. Go to bed thinking about scripture, what it means. Dig deeper, Psalm 119 verse 15. I will meditate on your precepts and contemplate your ways. I will give time to this. I will apply myself. I will behave as though this were very special to me. Acts 2 25, for David says concerning him, concerning Christ, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken.

There David, Stephen, Peter quoting David, Psalm 16, and he's saying that he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. How do you get there? How do you get there when the boogeyman is on your heels? You're going to have to be trained. You have to depend on your training. But if you don't train, if you don't practice, it won't be there.

Very likely it won't be there. Not as much as those who apply themselves. Jesus said, you are the salt of the world. You're the light of the world. But without truth, without faith, you're not.

Just like that. Without the truth of the word, without trusting in the truth of the word in its application, no matter the setbacks, without love as Christ teaches us to love, you can't be the salt of the earth. You cannot be the light of the world. That's again what's happening in churches so many places. They're not preaching the word.

They've abandoned it. They want everybody to feel good about themselves so they can come back next week. We want you to feel good about the faith you have in Christ. We want every Christian to adore Jesus Christ even more. Every single time we are exposed to Him.

Through the years, through the decades. So again, when James says if any of you lacks wisdom, ask God and He will give it. Do you believe that? Or maybe you haven't harnessed the faith. Verse 6 now, but let him ask in faith with no doubting for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. You see what happens, I think, I'll use myself as an example. When I read the letter of James, it is challenging all the way through.

It is a forced march. There are no seats in this experience, no place to rest because he's hammering the flesh. He's using the Sermon on the Mount as his outline. You can clearly see that if you know the Sermon on the Mount and you know his letters. He is a student of the Sermon on the Mount and he's not letting up. He's not apologizing for faith. He's pushing the believer forward because if he doesn't, forward the believer will not go.

And they had demonstrated that already, that's why he's writing this letter. And so if you want it, come and get it by prayer and practice. Those two have to go together. You cannot just pray for something and think that's the end of it. It's not a rabbit's foot that you just carry around with you and it's going to keep you safe magically. It requires practice.

Here we go. Take up your cross and follow me. Faith, trust in the person of Christ and not his power. I don't need to see his power to trust him.

I've seen enough of him to know him. That is what is most important. Now of course you cannot see Christ without seeing his power.

But I mean in its application. Christ does not have to save me from drowning in the sea to be my Lord and Savior. He does not have to save me from poverty. He does not have to save me from anything to be my Lord. He has saved my soul. This is hard core.

So it should be. Trust in God. It shields us in this life. It is the shield of faith.

Trust in God. Moses when confronted with crisis in his ministry. This evening we'll be talking about some of the plagues he had to deal with. Those were still getting him ready to deal with believers. Moses had to face the fierce Egyptians and Pharaoh just to be ready to deal with those whining Israelites in the wilderness.

At Marah. The water is bitter. We can't drink it. It was not a polite approach. Moses this water is bad. Can we seek the Lord on this?

That was not how they went about it. Moses we hate you. We've got to gouge your eyes out. The undrinkable water on the heels of the victory of the deep sea when the Pharaoh's army was gobbled up by the water. You'd think they'd come out saying yeah they were on the shore dancing you know Miriam with the tambourine and the women you know I will celebrate. And then they run into some difficulty and all their faith is gone.

Sounds like me. Then at Rephidim where they were tested twice. Again no water. Exodus 17 4 so Moses cried out to Yahweh saying what shall I do with this people they almost are ready to stone me.

Occupational hazard of being a shepherd of the flock. This of course God dealt with but the point that we're trying to pull out of this is calling on the name of the Lord. But let him ask in faith doubting nothing and then at Rephidim again the Amalekites attack them. And there Aaron and a man named her.

I wish we could find out another name for her. But anyway we can't. There they held up the arms of Aaron until the victory was won. And so James says with no doubting. But doubt confronts all believers how can you say that James are you telling me James that you never doubt. I don't think he'd say oh yeah never doubt of course he every one of us is no way around it is what do you do with it.

That's what matters. What are you going to do with the doubt. And as you begin to deal with the doubt you will doubt less.

Because you'll see beyond whatever it is you're asking for getting or not getting answered the way you hope you see beyond those things. So what we can't cure we endure. Well that's an old saying but that's that's not enough for me as a believer. I want to shoot back at doubt when it shoots at me. Every place that the sole of my foot steps on I'm going to have to fight for it.

That was the Israelites that's one of the lessons from the book of Joshua they had to fight for this promised land. We're going to have to fight to live in the spirit. We're going to have to lay hold of faith to do it. So it is about how we wage war against doubt biblically trusting God not not being disappointed with God.

Determined, determined to come through this with a performance that only one can have by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ in the filling of his spirit. What Christian would say I disagree with that. What Christian would say no no I need him to do what I tell him to do. If he wants me to follow him. I don't think any Christian would say that. I don't write.

I don't write the text I read it. Let him ask in faith with no doubting. Now that makes me either say okay let me get to the bottom of this because I want to find this in my life. I want to be on the right side of scripture not the wrong side. Not the dangerous end with no doubting. Same word used by Paul when he wrote this about Abraham. He says and not being weak in faith. That's what he says in Romans 4 19 not being weak in faith. Well that just counts me out.

No it does not necessarily have it does not have to be that way. He did not waver at the promise of God. That word waiver in the Greek is the same word used by James for doubting. He did not doubt at the promise of God through unbelief. But was strengthened in faith giving glory to God.

Look once we get through with James. We still have Peter to deal with and then first John. And those blessed men they didn't look for ways for your flesh to be comfortable. Again Peter writing for you know writing to Christians being persecuted. A natural man would want to do something anything to make them stop feeling the persecution. Peter says you need to deal with this. You need to endure it and go through it faithfully as lights and darkness. What a task to write a letter like that.

I would have felt so so inadequate so hollow and encouragement. Thanks for joining us today as we took a deeper look into the book of James here on Cross Reference Radio. Cross Reference Radio is the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville in Virginia. We're blessed to bring you God's word with each broadcast. If you'd like more information or want to listen to additional teachings from Pastor Rick. Please visit our website CrossReferenceRadio.com. If you've been blessed by this program we'd love to hear from you. When you visit the website simply click on the contact us link at the top of the page and leave us a message. That website again is CrossReferenceRadio.com. Please join us again next time as we continue our study through the book of James right here on Cross Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-16 08:40:02 / 2024-04-16 08:48:48 / 9

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