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Harnessing Faith (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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April 17, 2024 6:00 am

Harnessing Faith (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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April 17, 2024 6:00 am

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

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Get yourself an entrenching tool. Dig yourself a foxhole and stay there.

Stop running. We have Christians that do that. They don't flee so quickly.

We have a lot of them here. Thank you, Lord. They are entrusted to this ministry. They are part of the ministry. And arms are always opened in this ministry to receive more.

But too often, they come with a checklist that's not biblical. This is Cross Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville. Pastor Rick is currently teaching through the book of James.

Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. Today, Pastor Rick will continue teaching through the book of James chapter 1 and his message called Harnessing Faith. I would have felt so inadequate, so hollow in encouragement.

Peter doesn't do that. I'm not going to back down from this. I've been persecuted too. I've seen them kill my Lord. This is what we've been appointed to. Behold, I send you out of sheep among wolves.

That means you get slaughtered. So he says, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. Up one minute, down one minute.

The next one. Up and down my faith is, down low it goes. Okay, I don't know how to stop that.

I'm on the ship. It's going to roll. It's going to be tossed, but I don't have to give in to it. That's the spirit. I don't have to give in to it. We tell that to our children. Be strong.

We need to tell it to ourselves. If you're going to harness faith, you have no choice. God often withholds gifts. He doesn't let them activate until delay has done its work.

Delay. You remember, you know, Lazarus is dead. Alright, we'll wait two days before we go there.

And then when they go there, Lord, if you had only been here, my brother would be alive. I am the resurrection and the life. I am it. This is nothing for me. And I want you to see beyond this. I will raise Lazarus again, but he will die again. I want you to see beyond these things. They're all temporary.

Every single one of them. But glory in heaven is permanent. And it does not rot. The moth does not get to it.

The rust does not burn through it. That's where we are going. Now, 2 Corinthians. For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia. That we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.

The great apostle Paul, by this time in his ministry, he had raised people from the dead. He had done miraculous things. And yet, he said, we had no strength for this. It was above strength, the problems we had. We had to face them. We despaired of life. We could do nothing but endure. And so when he writes this, he says, we endured like believers, not like unbelievers. We did not get angry with God.

We just suffered. That keeps us dependent on Him. See, the gifts that God entrusts the believer with when they are needed, they always belong to God. They are entrusted to us.

They're not for us to show off, to prance around, to strut a gift. They are for the work of ministry, for the equipping of the saints, for the edification of the body of Christ, for the salvation of lost souls. Verse 7, he says, for let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord. It is good to have such a direct and sharp and practical message for us all, coming to us from the church in those early days.

Don't you suppose for one minute, he says, that you can pray to God while not believing in Him and not even caring to try to struggle through it. And so to preach a Christianity that is all about people is to not preach the cross of Christ. If you preach God first, everything else is covered. But if you preach to the needs of people first, you've boxed God out.

You've made a happy life the condition, the criteria for worshiping God. And again, this is what churches are doing. So many of them, they want to come and tell you it's going to be okay when they don't know it's going to be okay or not. As far as this life goes, the things that we are faced with, you're going to tell Jan Hus, is he burning at the stake? It's going to be okay. I'm going to preach a positive message to you. I don't want, he said, James just talked about being, you know, we'll get the hypocrisy without partiality, without hypocrisy. We don't know what God is going to do if He doesn't tell us, but we know what we're supposed to do because He's told us. We're supposed to trust in Him.

Well, this is kind of a hard message. Let's go to Psalms. Let's go somewhere else in the Bible that doesn't make, or maybe I'll put it this way, doesn't hold my feet to the fire of my faith, the beautiful things that we claim. So, to ask from God without caring for God works against us, James is saying. If you ask from Him, but you doubt that He's going, that you're suspicious of Him at the same time, that's not how prayer should work.

And many of them, no doubt, were doing it, and again, that is why he is addressing it. None of us like to be doubted. So, when you tell someone, you won't believe what I just saw, and they say, ah, you're seeing things. We don't like that.

It's not comfortable. Why can't you just believe me? I'm not a liar. How about when it's God? When God says, I want you to trust me.

I want you to go through this. Are we supposed to push back? We don't want our children sassing us.

Is God, or is He supposed to allow us to do the same? Well, we doubt because we don't know. And what we don't know might hurt us.

Well, that's reasonable. But take up the unknown as a victor. I don't see any other choice for you or for me.

If we're faced with the unknown, it's not pleasant, I have two choices. I can behave like an unbeliever, which includes a wishy-washy believer, or I can be determined to harness faith at that time and trust the Lord no matter what. And then that means when I pray, I pray as though I know He's standing right there with me. Subject I am to Him. And praising Him in the midst of it for not letting this be all that there is to life. And so the church is Smyrna. Again, Jesus speaks to that church and He says, I know what you're going through.

Satan's throne and all that stuff. He doesn't say this, but this is what happens. He does not say, but I'm not going to take and give you relief. But He doesn't give them relief. He tells them to go through it.

It's a limited time of struggle and you need to go through this. This is the Christian faith. What can Satan do against people that think this way?

Where do we find any evidence of people who think like this? The book of Acts. They were beaten for Christ and they came away rejoicing about it. They did not stop preaching. They made more disciples that way. That's a seeker-friendly approach.

Come get beaten for Christ with me. It worked in the New Testament. Again, we talked about Thessalonica. It worked there. It worked in other places in Scripture.

It should work today. It's working in other places in the world where Christians are being persecuted and the underground church is growing nonetheless in the face of these things. And so we, very comfortable American Christians, we cannot lose sight of this. We must not lose sight of this.

We pray for those who are shackled as though shackled with them, suffering with them. James says he's a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, the one that prays to God but actually is thinking of some other way out outside of God's plan. The Greek word is two-spirited, double-souled, comes up again. It's not found in Greek writings. That means James very likely coined the phrase.

He may have originated with him. It occurs only here in the New Testament, man of two souls. The rabbis used to say, let not those who pray have two hearts, one directed to God, one to something else. Well, that's right.

Who would dispute that? When you pray, you know, you're praying to God with your fingers crossed, throwing salt over your shoulder while you're praying to God. That is heathenism. That's paganism. It's not faith. So what can you do with those who are not dependable in the faith?

As he says here, again, look with me at verse 8. He is a double-minded man, unstable in all of his ways. Instability is our opponent. It is not an asset. It's not something we put on a resume and I like, you know, well, just come right out and say it. I'm unstable.

Could you hire me? Not a way to get hired. What can you do with those who are not dependable?

Well, there are various degrees. Some, you know, are always undependable. I'm quite offended at you for noticing that they're not dependable. Well, you have to make backup plans. Well, what about if it's me? What about if I am the one that cannot be depended upon?

Well, it depends. I mean, there's just some things I just cannot do. But I mean things that I commit to. I don't want to be unstable in my walk with Christ. Well, I find that I am and I find all the other Christians are too, to some degree, some more than others. So, my quest is to reduce it down as much as I can. Double-minded person.

I don't want to be in that group. 1 Kings chapter 18. This is Elijah on Mount Carmel, that beautiful mountain where you can see the Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Galilee at the same time from the same spot. And there the prophets of Baal are going to have this showdown against Yahweh's prophet Elijah.

And the people are double-minded at this point. He's been dealing, fighting this up in the north this entire ministry. Elijah came to all the people and said, how long? Halt you between two opinions. How long is it that God can't depend on you to say, I trust Yahweh? You're undecided about these things. And he says, if Yahweh is God, follow him.

If Baal, follow him. But the people answered not a word, because they weren't ready to commit. Psalm 119 verse 113, David wrote, I hate the double-minded, but I love your law. And what he's talking about the double-minded here, he's talking about the Israelites who are half Israelites, half heathens, half Christian, half not Christian. You understand, I'm not saying, well you can be a half a Christian, but I'm saying there are those that approach it that way. The Bible says this is not the way for us, one mind for the world or self and another for Christ. I come to church on Sunday and then on Monday I do whatever I want to do. In some religions you can do whatever you want to do, long as you buy some prayer time.

That is shameful. The antithesis to this, this double mind why prayers often are not answered, but the antithesis, the other side of having a double mind is found when the tribes came out to say, David, you are now our king of the whole nation, the northern tribes and Judah. You are our king.

And then there was the tribe of Zebulun. They marched before and the historian writes this, expert in war and all weapons of war. Is that me in my Christian faith?

You know, the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, the sword of the word, breastplate of righteousness. Am I an expert? Can I put those armaments on in the dark?

Can I use them? Do I know how to swing my sword? Am I expert in war or am I an amateur?

And then the historian says expert in war with all weapons of war, stout-hearted men who could keep ranks. I fear there are going to be a lot of Christians in heaven with not a single dent on their breastplate, but a lot of stab wounds on their back from running. I don't want to be one of them.

I'm not talking down to them either. I know I am capable of running when I'm supposed to stand. Well, if I'm going to have any success over this characteristic of faithlessness, that the just should live by faith, but I find resistance, then I'm going to have to penetrate faith.

If I'm going to be a stout-hearted man, I'm going to have to work at it. I'm going to have to think about my faith. How many times, one of the best times to meditate on the scripture is when you take a nap. Now some of you younger teens, all of you, you probably don't nap.

I don't know. When I was your age, I didn't nap. I was too busy breaking something. But when you get older, there's nothing like a nap. And to go to nap with a verse on your heart, to nap with praising the Lord, I'm telling you, it is sweet.

That is how we train. That bedtime at night, you say your prayers before you go to bed. And you must praise the Lord in your prayers. Don't just be, you know, asking for something, your hand out the whole time. I mean, there's things you have to ask for. We ought to petition the Lord to supplication, to ask for supplies.

We ought to do that, but we're also to worship and praise and adore Him. To be stout-hearted and not one of the Christians that just gets offended at everything. You know, we say about the worldlings now, you know, the snowflakes out there. The church has had snowflake Christians for ages. Oh, I'm offended I'm out of there.

Pastor, we'd like to attend your church so it can be our future ex-church. Stop it. Get yourself an entrenching tool. Dig yourself a foxhole and stay there.

Stop running. We have Christians that do that. They don't flee so quickly.

We have a lot of them here. Thank you, Lord. They are entrusted to this ministry. They are part of the ministry.

And arms are always opened in this ministry to receive more. But too often, they come with a checklist. That's not biblical. Not a biblical checklist, like for example, who do you say Jesus is.

They come with another checklist. It's disqualifying. Anyway, verse 9, let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation. In other words, the lowly brother is to thank God for accepting them in spite of their lowliness.

That's what that is. Matthew 5, verse 3, blessed are the poor in spirit. They shall be called the sons of God in their poor spirit.

They didn't say, you know what? I am very special. I am rich and wealthy and have need of nothing. That's the church at Laodicea who sickened the Lord. But the pauper of the faith, that one says, that's the one of a contrite heart. It says, nothing in my hands I bring simply to the cross I cling. God does not see him as lowly but saved and therefore exalted lifted up and eternal. God lifts up the contrite. Hannah, in her prayer. Incidentally, there were other women in Israel through her ages that were barren and God did not grant them their request and they loved the Lord nonetheless. Hannah, of course, she is granted her request but listen to her prayer, her gratitude towards the Lord. She says, he raises up the poor out of the dust and lifts up the beggar from the dung hill to set them among princes and make them inherit the throne of glory. Do you know how much doctrine is packed into that verse?

It is profound. Mary picks it up. She was a student of scripture even though she was from the line of David, King David and a pauper. We know she was a pauper because when it came time for her to go down to the temple, all she could offer were turtle doves.

The offering of the poor, the very poor, the peasants you could even say. Luke chapter 1, Mary says, my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior for he has regarded the lowliest state. Same word here that is used here of the lowly brother in verse 9. He has regarded the lowly state of his maidservant for behold henceforth all generations will call me blessed maidservant, manservant.

That's what we're supposed to be to Christ. Mary, when Gabriel showed up, he did not bring a pot of gold. He brought a word from God. He did not make her rich with money. He made her rich with a message and a directive from the Lord. And he addressed her as blessed even though monetarily she was poor.

She valued the service of the calling to serve God more than the gold. And so when verse 9 says, let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation. We have those in scripture. Peter writes about them but we got to suppress for time so we'll move to verse 10. But the rich in his humiliation, low estate, same word, because as a flower of the field he will pass away.

And so the money rich ones, those who thought that their money made them secure needed to get away from that kind of thinking. God will lift them up too. I mean, there are going to be people in heaven who are rich on earth, no question about that. Quite a few of them in scripture.

My favorite is Joseph of Arimathea. Again, there are many others. But the rich need to be checked. They have a great temptation to move away from the cross of Christ and trust in the dollars as a magic wand.

They begin to think that their money can buy their will. They do it in churches. I'll make a big donation and the pastor sells his power to people when he does that.

He better not do that. He better not be a respecter of persons, but a servant of the Lord, a man servant of God. But the rich have to learn to rejoice. Listen to Matthew 13 22. Now, he who received the seed among the thorns is he who hears the word and the cares of this world.

Stop right there. The poor are perhaps more subject to that than the rich. Cares of the world as far as, in the context that I want to use it here, as far as getting things to survive, to live with. And so he who received the seed, which is the word of God among the thorns, is he who hears the word of God and the cares of this world. And, now for the rich folks, the deceitfulness of riches choked the word and he becomes unfruitful. Within that verse, there's an application to the poor and the rich alike. The strictest meaning is the rich person who is into the world gets his riches and the word of God, again, is unfruitful to him. But also within the verse is an application because we see the poor have the cares of the world and we see the rich succumbing to the deceitfulness of riches that your money will save you. And so the cares of the world in this context mainly for the poor, the deceitfulness of riches mainly for the rich. In other words, worry and wealth can choke out the word of God.

What is the antidote? It is faith. But if you don't harness that faith, if you don't work for it every single day of your life, understand that. It's okay. You get better.

It won't get easier, but you will get better. It's called maturity in Christ. Proverbs 30 verses 8 and 9 remove falsehood and lies far from me. Give me neither poverty nor riches. Feed me with the food allotted to me, lest I be full and deny you and say, Who is Yahweh? Or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of God. And so, yeah, he's writing to the poor and he's writing to the rich. He's saying, You poor, you're not too poor to be loved by Christ. He's saying to the rich, Hey, you rich, you're not too wealthy to stumble into sin. And so he preaches balance. Jesus, it tells us in Mark 10, looked around and said to his disciples, How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God. Because they think their wealth oftentimes is an indication of their righteousness when it is not.

The Jews were strong believers of that in the days of Christ. Now we look at verse 11, For no sooner has the sun risen with burning heat than it withers the grass, its flowers falls, and the beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits. Whatever glory we suppose we possess today, a hundred years from now, won't be ours.

You buy things and you leave them to someone else. Solomon wrestled with Ecclesiastes. Who's going to get all this that I worked so hard for? Rehoboam.

Yeah, it's got to be a better choice. It was not for him. His own doing, largely. All that is in this world is passing away. 1 Corinthians 7, Those who use this world as not misusing it.

That's us. We use the things in the world, but we don't misuse them. Then he goes on, For the form of this world is passing away. 1 John 2 17, The world is passing away and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Keep these things in front of us. The phrase, and it came to pass, occurs a hundred and seventy-seven times in our Bibles. That is the story of this life. And so, yeah, James is quoting Isaiah the prophet, Surely as the flowers fade will be the ungodly, and their fate will meet them in judgment. But the lovers of Jesus in glory, how much of what we have considered this morning will we allow to make a difference in our hearts? Well, you're going to have to harness faith, brother, sister, self, if you're going to benefit from being filled with the Holy Spirit. 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 / 2024-04-17 09:40:34 / 2024-04-17 09:50:18 / 10

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