From Pastor Johnny

Our Dependence Day - James 4:7-10 Part 2

Picture One: Submitting (4:7a)   submit to God”

            The first step in walking dependent on Christ is submission to Christ.  Submission is the way down and the way up to salvation.

            When I was in college, I took a lifeguard certification course.  We were taught that, if someone were drowning and fought against us as we tried to rescue them, then we should move away.  If the lifeguard attempts to save the drowning swimmer, as he kicks, flails, and tries to save himself, then both will drown.  As that drowning person becomes exhausted, he/she will give up.  It is at this point of yielding (submitting) that the swimmer can be saved.

            This is true with us. If you are going to continue to do things your own way, God will allow you.  Once you are tired and submit to Him, it is then that he will save you.

 Picture Two:  Resisting (4:7b)  Resist the devil and he will flee from you”

          To Submit and resist, for the born-again believer, seem to be two sides of the same coin.  Resisting will not happen, if submitting to God has not already taken place.  The resisting depends on the submitting. Submission to Christ puts a person in place to resist the enemy.

         You may desire to provide pest control at your house.  The pest control company comes out, lets you know the prices and plans, and you submit to the contract for the pest control people.  Once you have signed (submitted) to their contract, then they partner with you to resist the bugs.

       In a submissive position in Christ, we stand able to resist the enemy. Resisting the enemy is really the impact of Christ in us as we submit to Him.

 Picture Three: Drawing (4:8a)  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”

          According to Jesus in John 6:44, God draws us first before we can come to him.  If that is the case, then how can James call us to draw first? Remember, James is a man of action.  From the human side, he calls us to draw near to God through His Word, through repentance, through obedience.  This is all with the understanding that God has already made a way to Himself for us.

          When a piece of metal is put near a magnet, the energy pull of the magnetic draws it.  The magnet was already drawing before the metal arrived close by.  It is the nature of the magnet to draw.  It is the nature of God to save and redeem, and while the magnet illustration may not be perfect, it is true that God does the drawing while we are responsible for moving toward Him.

ARE YOU?

           

Our Dependence Day - James 4:7-10 Part 1

          A Daily Bread daily devotional once recounted a story of Booker T. Washington, the renowned educator and founder of Tuskegee University. He was taking a break and walking one day.  He passed by the home of a wealthy woman from that community.   By this time, Washington was well known across the country.  Not knowing the famous Mr. Washington by sight, she asked if he would like to earn a few dollars by chopping wood for her.  Because he had no pressing business at the moment, Professor Washington smiled, rolled up his sleeves, and proceeded to do the humble chore she had requested. When he was finished, he carried the logs into the house and stacked them by the fireplace.

            The woman’s daughter recognized him and later revealed his identity to the lady.  The next morning the embarrassed woman went to see Mr. Washington in his office at the Institute and apologized profusely. “It’s perfectly all right, Madam,” he replied.   “Occasionally I enjoy a little manual labor.   Besides, it’s always a delight to do something for a friend.”

          She was blessed and encouraged by the greatness and humility of Professor Washington.   Not long afterward she showed her admiration by persuading some wealthy acquaintances to join her in donating thousands of dollars to the Tuskegee Institute.

            The power of humility can be quite dramatic.   How many know, in this world, that going up must first require going down?  This is a biblical paradox.  If one is to be great, he must be a servant.  If one is to be powerful, he must be surrendered.  If one is to be free and independent, he must be dependent on Christ.  If the church will rise up, then it must first and definitely yield and be TOTALLY dependent on God.

            In James 4:7-10, multiple pictures of dependence on Christ are on display.  The book of James contains 46 imperatives in five chapters.  That means that each chapter averages 9 imperatives (commands or calls to action).

          The theme of James is displayed in 1:22 “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” and in 2:17  “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”   Action is what James is about, and putting faith to work in the real world.

          The passage under consideration (4:7-10) is speaking to a church full of possessors (truly born-again believers) and professors (those claiming to be born-again but are not).  Many who are professors are not possessors, but all those who are possessors will be professors.

          Too often, many in our churches who claim salvation are lost.   Many of you might be asking, “Pastor, don’t you think that sometimes saved people can be out of God’s will but still saved?” I would say that that is certainly true but it is the vast exception to the rule.

          If we have 1000 people who claim to be saved, but 500 of them are living like lost people, what does that say about God’s ability to sanctify someone if they are actually converted but living like lost?   A saved person living like he’s lost is the exception to the rule. I am going to suggest that the vast majority of people living like lost people are just that…they are lost.   James is speaking to both the lost and the saved in the church of Jesus Christ.   As we read, consider some of the pictures of dependence James paints for us.

 

Does Your Church Have the Right Signature? Part 8 - Regular Conversions

          Conversions happen on two levels within the church body.  The first level is with the individual believer.   When the Holy Spirit is working in and through your life, you will simply love and obey God moment by moment.  This love for Him will do two things.   One, it will compel you to tell lost people about Him.  Two, it will draw lost people to you because of the evidence of God in your life.  If you are not sharing your faith with others, the lack of sharing your faith is not the problem.  The problem lies somewhere in your love relationship with Christ. 

          As you love Him more, you seek to yield more fully to Him.  As you yield more fully to Him, He expresses Himself more fully through you.  As He expresses Himself more fully through you, you not only seek to tell lost people, but they are also drawn to you.

            The second level where conversions happen is with the body as a whole.   As the church body as a whole manifests the character of Christ, which is signature of the Holy Spirit, then we are compelled to get out in the world and the world is drawn to the love, worship, and service we display.

            The late British pastor and theologian, John R. W. Stott,in his book Keeping the Right Company, shared this story,

          “Many years ago I used to lead a thing at St. Peter's called The Children's Church.  There was a little girl who was a member many years ago.   Jillie was 10 at the time.   We had been studying Matthew's gospel, and in those days at the end of the year we set these poor kids an examination--a written examination.   Having asked them 30-odd academic questions, I permitted myself a final personal one. This is what I said, because we'd been studying the Gospel of John, chapter 1: "Andrew brought Simon to Jesus.   Philip brought Nathaniel to Jesus.   Whom have you brought to Jesus?"

        Do you know what Jillie answered?   "I have brought myself to Jesus." She was quite right.   Have you?   You cannot bring anybody else till you've brought yourself.

            When each one of us has truly been brought to Jesus, we will begin to manifest lives that reflect Him. As we do, some without Him will be drawn to Him. As they are drawn, the conversions will happen.  

FINAL THOUGHTS

          When a local church is filled with the Holy Spirit, there is a clear signature of His power and presence.   We will display the characteristics of the One who controls us and indwells us.

            My dad passed away in 2010, but he worked on cars much of his life.  As a result, one of the things I notice most about him was his hands.  Broad, thick hands with short fingers was what I noticed about him.  That was a signature of my earthly father.   Some years ago, I looked down and saw something interesting.   Guess what I saw?  I saw my father’s hands.   I had seen those strong, mechanic hands on my dad much of my life.  Those hands are a signature that I belong to John W. Ellison.  His DNA is in me, and my hands display that genetic signature.

            When the church of Jesus Christ is filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit, his spiritual DNA signature will be expressed through us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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