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Both Sound and Sight Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
September 24, 2021 12:00 am

Both Sound and Sight Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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September 24, 2021 12:00 am

Apple trees bear apples, and Spirit-filled lives bear spiritual fruit. But if that's the case then why do so many Christians seem to bear so little fruit? In this message Stephen shows us where the problem lies.

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Ladies and gentlemen, the practice of compassion, and in this particular way, building, staffing orphanages, caring for orphans, bringing orphans into your home, has been the unique activity of believers for centuries. Why?

Why? Because the church accepted a letter from James, which happened to be the first letter written to the New Testament church. And it circulated, and James is actually challenging the believer to demonstrate the gospel in a tangible, real way. You choose a child without a home, and you give him a home.

On our last broadcast, Stephen Davey began a message that we are concluding today. It deals with the issue of fruitfulness in the life of a Christian. When we plant fruits or vegetables, we expect that plant to yield a crop. The Bible uses the analogy of fruit-bearing to describe us as well. Spirit-filled people bear spiritual fruit. But as you know, many Christians seem to bear little fruit.

There may be times in your life when you feel like that describes you. Stephen addresses that in this message. This is part two of a message called Both Sound and Sight.

Here's Stephen. James is living in a pre-Christian period of time. And I like to think of our own culture that way, not as post-Christian but pre-Christian, because this means we have great opportunity for the gospel of Jesus Christ, right? The church was birthed in a culture where the value of human life was at an all-time low. You travel back to Greece, travel back to Rome, you travel back to the first century and abortion and infanticide were universally accepted.

In fact, Seneca, the Roman historian who died around the same time James wrote this letter, said, and I quote, we drown children who at birth are weak and physically impaired, end quote. It was so common, the killing of children after birth, that one historian blamed the population decline of Greece upon that practice. Infant girls were especially vulnerable simply because they would not be able to care for their parents or carry on the family property through inheritance. So in Greece, it was rare for even any family, wealthy or not, to raise more than one daughter. One inscription at Delphi recorded the results of a second century sampling of 600 families, not way back in the BC days, second century.

Took a sampling of 600 families and found that only six of them had raised more than one daughter. The girls during the early years of the church, until Christianity took root and things changed in the fourth century, they would be left out on the porches where at night they could be carried away by wild animals or brothel owners to be raised as prostitutes or as slaves. And so the first century church began going around and collecting and raising these children.

Why? Because there's value in human life, because life is the creation of God and God, by the way, happens to have a father's heart. That's the gospel. God is saying to his servant James, he's asking, are you helping those who cannot pay you back? That's a genuine compassion. And that is the gospel because God can say to us, look what I've done for you and you can never pay me back. But when we do acts of compassion, we do them not to repay God, which we can't, we do them to imitate God, which we can. And God wants his children then to act like their father. Paul wrote to the Colossians, I read earlier, therefore as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion.

Now James specifically mentions orphans. By the way, the word visit in your text is a bit weak. It's hard to find an English word that compares to this one. It's a strong word. In fact, it's a word that is used of God visiting his people to give them encouragement and strength and help. It's the word, it's the same root word that gives us the word episkopos, a word used for the word elder, that is administrating, caring for, seeing to the needs of, as a pastor to a flock, so we are to orphans.

So it's a very strong word. In fact, Jesus used the same word when he said in Matthew 25, 35 to 36, I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me.

Same word. I was in prison and you came to me. These are all wonderful acts of compassion and ministries flourish in the name of Christ's church to all of the things we just talked about in this text that Jesus said earlier in Matthew 25. But nowhere perhaps, at least in the mind of James, is compassion seen more clearly than when a believer serves someone who cannot serve them in return like taking care of an orphan or a widow. Life expectancy during the days of Christ and for centuries afterwards was only about 30 years, which meant parents would die, often leaving children 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 years of age.

Penniless, often and parentless. Justin Martyr who pastored 50 years after the book of James began to circulate spoke of offerings collected in the churches for the orphan. Orphans were taken off the streets and reared in believers' homes.

Many homes would rear more than one, as many as they could. When Christianity was legalized in the Western world in 8313, Christians who were caring for many orphans got together and they formed a co-op, so to speak. They created what they called orphanotrophias, which is a word that simply means orphanages. And they didn't simply warehouse children, but lovingly cared for them, providing an education and training and some craft or discipline so they could care for themselves when they got old enough.

Throughout the centuries, where the Gospel was received and that nation which allowed the Gospel and the truths of Scripture to provide the foundation of their law and their philosophy, it would be that influence that would bring about this great care and Christians were always, as it were, leading the way. Many of you are familiar with the name of George Mueller. George Mueller began caring for 30 girls, 30 orphaned girls, and then that began to grow. At the time of his death in 1898, his orphanages were caring for at that time more than 8,000, for more than 8,000 orphans. In America, one pastor who was impressed with Mueller's ministry, but his bent and design and desire was to see that orphans actually were in single homes and so he founded the Children's Aid Society where he put into practice his beliefs to accomplish his objective. Hundreds of children were networked with farm families up the East Coast and into the Midwest and they were placed on trains that were dubbed orphan trains. Before they were placed on the train, they were kept for some time and they were trained and their training, including the memorization of the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments and some of Christ's parables and some of the Psalms, said that the Word of God would be in their hearts and then they were put on the trains which headed north, northeast.

An incredible success. In fact, if you want to see some pictures that are very moving in my research, I just Googled orphan train and saw pictures of children well dressed waiting to board the train and head toward a family on a farm that was going to receive them. And when this ministry ended in the early 1920s, 200,000 American orphans had been adopted. The orphan train became the founding concept behind the modern day foster care system. Ladies and gentlemen, the practice of compassion and in this particular way, building, staffing orphanages, caring for orphans, bringing orphans into your home, has been the unique activity of believers for centuries. Why?

Why? Because the church accepted a letter from James, which happened to be the first letter written to the New Testament church, and it circulated. And James is actually challenging the believer to demonstrate the gospel in a tangible, real way. You choose a child without a home and you give him a home. You choose a child without hope and you give him hope. You choose a child that's hungry and you provide for his food. You take a child without hope and you give them grace.

It's always moving to me to meet individuals. In fact, we have individuals on our church staff who were orphans, adopted, who've grown up, who now serve Christ for their lives. We have numerous people in our church who serve as foster parents, volunteers, and orphanages. Many of you have gone overseas to serve for a period of time in orphanages to bring the love of Christ to them. Many of you have adopted children and served as foster parents. Some of you have adopted stateside children.

Some of you have adopted international children. It's a profound demonstration of the gospel. And it is precious. In fact, it is the sharing of life with those in spite of the fact that they will never be able to pay you back in kind.

But let me tell you something. You will be paid. You will be paid. You will be rewarded, for James calls this visitation, this administration, pure and undefiled religion. And we will be rewarded for anything that is pure and undefiled, and you will be uniquely rewarded who are doing this. The church that cares, the church that wants to support these kinds of ministries will be a rewardable assembly because we've chosen to do what James and Paul and other biblical authors exhort us to do, show compassion to those in need. And I've got to tell you, I get to the end of a study like this and I come to the conclusion that we have yet to begin.

I am deeply convicted. I learned in my study of one payback that came unexpectedly. When believers in Holland learned that the Nazis were systematically raiding the orphanages and taking the Jewish babies and children and deporting them to the concentration camps, brave Dutch men began this impersonation where they would impersonate SS officers at the risk of their own lives. They would go in and act like they were raiding an orphanage. And they would collect all the Jewish babies and children. Then they would send them to safe houses and from there they would be taken and adopted by families that would provide for them. Great courage.

Great courage. One such safe house was the Ten Boom House. Ring a bell? You probably have heard of Corrie Ten Boom. Her family would serve as one of the safe houses for these infants, these children who would then be ferreted out to homes to be taken care of.

Peter Ten Boom, Corrie's nephew, would also play a role. When their safe house was betrayed, discovered, all of the Ten Booms were sent to concentration camps. Most of them died. Corrie survived as well as Peter. Peter went on to be an evangelist.

He was older when he was incarcerated in the concentration camp. On one occasion as an older man, Peter was in Israel speaking, preaching, and he had a heart attack. He was rushed to the hospital. Surgery was going to be needed to save his life. Just prior to surgery, this article recorded the cardiologist was talking with Peter and asked him, I see your last name is Ten Boom. Are you by any chance related to the Ten Booms of Holland that sheltered Jews?

Peter said, yes. That was my family. The doctor said with tears streaming down his cheeks, I was one of the babies your family saved, and now it is my privilege to try and help save your life, which he did. In the mind of James and our God who is also a father, it doesn't get any purer in caring for that child. Not only them, he goes on to talk about widows as well. He says, pure religion and undefiled in the sight of our God who is a father is this, to care for orphans and widows in their distress, their pressure, their need. The Old Testament had, all the way back to the law, had made provision for the widow, calling on the farmer to sow his field, but when it came time to reap, to leave the corners alone. They were for the poor and the needy.

This was a built-in course on faith, this built compassion into the nation Israel. Of course, you remember one wealthy farmer who followed the law, got a bride out of it. His name was what?

Boaz. He found Ruth a widow who'd come to forage in his field. In the days of the early church, Tertullian, a church leader recorded about a hundred years after James wrote this letter that offerings were being taken once a month to support widows. Think about the fact that the first church on the planet, in Jerusalem, had probably one of its first organizational meetings where they commissioned men. The Diaconate more than likely grew out of that, that may have been the first, we're not sure, but commissioned these men and their service as deacons was specifically tied to meeting the needs of widows. Because the early church, even though it was early and young and close to the truth and the clouds had barely come back together, that Christ split open as he ascended, already there was prejudice and the Hebrew widows were receiving financial support and the Grecian Hellenistic widows were being overlooked and the solution was not Hebrew widows deserve it all, but let's have some men selected and let them administrate the needs of these widows.

James would have been in that meeting, he would become the pastor teacher of this church, and the value of this group of people in the church was elevated, given respect and care. You see, you go around the world today, my friend, and you discover a nation or a culture that does not have the gospel of Jesus Christ and the value of a widow is next to nothing. You can go to India, where when a woman's husband dies, she is as good as dead because, again, of their religion, their theological beliefs, so to speak, even though they have 300,000 plus gods, but the Hindu saying is, and I quote it, if her husband is happy, she should be happy, if he is sad, she should be sad, and if he is dead, she also should die. So out of that culture came the sutti, this widow burning. It became the objective, the responsibility, the expectation that she was to mount her husband's funeral pyre where he was going to be burned as a corpse, she would be burned alive. If she refused, she was often put there by force and often by her own sons. If she somehow eluded this practice, she was forced to shave her head, thus becoming unattractive to future husbands.

She was allowed only one meal a day. She was never allowed to be around a pregnant woman under the belief that her glance would bring a curse. So you look at the ministry of a William Carey who brings the gospel there, and you read his biography of how he with great passion fought the sutti. He fought against widow burning. He would go to where they were going to burn a widow, and he would preach the gospel.

He begged them with tears, don't do that. It was eventually outlawed primarily because of the gospel which had taken root, but it still isn't a practice that has completely gone away. In fact, as late as 1987, Time Magazine carried the article of an 18 year old widow who voluntarily mounted the pyre holding her husband's head in her lap, asked for the pyre to be ignited. The article revealed that a throng of cheering women, if you can imagine that, supported her action.

After she was virtually cremated, thousands of women came to receive blessings from the ashes of this dead widow, believing with their religion that she had now become a goddess. The gospel delivers a different message, doesn't it? There is a future and a hope for everyone, widows included. The death of a husband is not the death of hope because it is not the death of God.

And because of our maturing walk with God, we're challenged to demonstrate the differences of Christianity in our conversation, in our compassion. And finally, quickly in our character, James ends verse 27 by writing, Keep oneself unstained by the world. The world. What does he mean? That word translated refers to the world's system, the world's way of thinking. It's a word that most often is used in the New Testament to talk of fallen and godly mankind and their ungodly morals, but also, and this is the point I believe James is making, their ungodly value system, what they consider to be of value. And that's the context of this paragraph.

Christianity is going to turn everything upside down in doing so right side up. The world would say, Use your tongue to promote yourself. Talk about yourself. Build yourself up.

Get out there. You're the greatest. Believe in whatever. And James says, Put a bridle on that kind of speech. Compassion.

Well, I'm gonna help people who belong to me. And let me tell you, that isn't some distant philosophy. That's what you and I struggle with today. And then in our conduct, he says, Don't buy into the world's value system. They've got it all wrong. Keep yourself untainted. You could render that unstained and you immediately think that's not possible. I live in a dirty world and it rubs off on me.

Yes, it does. That's why the verb tense is present tense. You have to deal with this daily. One more daily activity. One more daily discipline. That's why we take our hearts and our minds regularly to a divine dry cleaning system.

We have a wonderful cleaner, don't we? Have you ever gone around with a stain somewhere and you didn't know it? Maybe right on the front of your shirt or blouse and nobody told you about it and you wondered at the end of the day when you finally saw it in the mirror how many people saw me like that? What's even worse is if you knew it and didn't care. And that's what he's talking about. When you're stained and you know it, deal with it.

So go to the cleaner, so to speak, who specializes in stain removal. But I don't think James is talking about just any kind of stain. I think he's thinking specifically in this context.

It's easy for us to become stained with the value system of our world. That life doesn't matter. That the preborn is just a mass of tissue. That the deformed need to be shuttled away. That poor people are probably getting what they deserve.

That if I give that guy a dollar, I'm really not going to solve his problem and so he probably could work anyway. That orphans aren't our concern. That widows aren't our responsibility. They don't belong to our family. That you serve only somebody that can pay you back.

That's a business deal, it's not compassion. You see how easy it is for us to adopt the value system of our world? So how do you keep yourself clean? How do you keep your religion pure?

How do you keep your tongue bridled? Let me give you three things quickly and we'll wrap it up. Number one, we refuse to defend the slightest infraction of an unbridled tongue. In this context and what he means, we're not going to talk about ourselves. We're not going to promote ourselves. We're not going to focus everybody's attention on us. Number two, we refuse to ignore the needs of others who cannot repay us. First, we refuse to defend the slightest infraction of an unbridled tongue. Secondly, we refuse to ignore the needs of others who cannot pay us back.

And third, we refuse to accept the value system of a world that rejects God. We choose, ladies and gentlemen, to demonstrate the gospel, humility with our tongues, compassion with our resources, purity with our lives, so that if our lives were television screens, the world would be able to hear us and watch us, both sight and sound, hearing and seeing a demonstration of the gospel that has radically impacted everything about us, including our conversation, our compassion, and our character. With that, we bring to a close this current teaching series.

You're listening to Wisdom for the Heart. Stephen Davey has been teaching through the early verses of James in this series called Bringing Faith Down to Earth. Before we end our time today, there's a couple of resources I want to make you aware of.

Stephen has written a commentary on the entire book of James. In his practical and pastoral exposition of this great book, you'll find tremendous insight for your life. During this series, we've been making it available at a very special rate, and today is the last day to take advantage of that. We've also had several people use it as a guide for a group Bible study. And again, it's available today at a special rate, and you can order as many copies as you want. I also want you to know that if you want to listen to this series again or share it with a friend, you can do that as well. You can download the audio files and the printed manuscripts from our website at no cost to you. But if you prefer to have it on CDs, we can help you with that as well. The book and the CD set are available on our website, wisdomonline.org. You can also call us at 866-48-Bible. That's 866-482-4253.

And I hope we hear from you today. Our mailing address, if you'd like to write to us, is Wisdom for the Heart, P.O. Box 37297, Raleigh, North Carolina, 27627. Let me give you that once again. You can write to us at Wisdom for the Heart, P.O.

Box 37297, Raleigh, North Carolina, 27627. On our next broadcast, Stephen begins a series called Armageddon and the Fall of Babylon. You won't want to miss that. So join us next time here on Wisdom for the Heart. We'll see you next time.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-20 01:06:11 / 2023-08-20 01:15:41 / 10

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