At STORYCHURCH in Durham NC we are going through the book of James. We decided it would be a summer long series dedicated to James’s point of view. James writings have been life changing and increased how we see each other and God. For me personally it has been eye-opening experience and has strengthened my walk with God. You can check out review 1 here.
Weeks 4 and 5 I was blessed to be able to speak on what James writings meant to me. It was a fun and humbling experience to be able to share what God put on my heart to His people. As any time that I am blessed to speak it is not about me but about encouraging and bringing Gods message to His people. It is a daily honor of mine to serve at STORYCHURCH. I believe the most wonderful people on the planet are there. But I might be a little biased.
Week 4 By Joel Philbrook
James likes to look at things from a practical and logical point of view. In James 2:14-26 he describes faith without deeds is actually dead. The word dead is such a strong word. Its means no more, that there is no more life. James is saying without action our faith is useless. That faith is not faith unless action is put into place. Faith is not complete without action.
Imagine your car will not start. You have it towed to a nearby garage. The mechanic, who you trust, says the car needs a new alternator before the car will start again. So you now know what is wrong with your car and all that needs to happen is action. The new alternator needs to be put in. Now instead of doing this for you the mechanic gives you back your keys leaving you with a useless car. This is what James is talking about. If we just say we know or believe in something but never do anything to establish our belief, it is dead. How can the mechanic say he fixes cars if he never actually fixes cars. He would be pretty much useless.
James uses 2 separate examples of faith with deeds from Abraham and Rahab. You can read Abraham’s story in Genesis 22:1-13 and Rahab in Joshua 2:1-11. Both are called righteous by James for they put their faith into action and saved generations of their families.
What about someone who has the opportunity to show their faith with deeds. Put their faith into action like the mentioned Abraham and Rahab. Lets look in the book of John. In John he tells a story of a man named Nicodemus. He was a Pharisee, apart of a group of religious leaders of the day. These Pharisees hated Jesus with a passion. To give quick background, the Pharisees are the guys that had Jesus crucified. Nicodemus the Pharisee, comes to Jesus at Night in John 3:1. He comes at night so his Pharisee friends do not see him talking with the enemy.
Jesus here tells Nicodemus the gospel. You might have heard about the famous scripture John 3:16? This was told by Jesus to Nicodemus. Jesus tells him that we need to come to Jesus and be saved. We can be born again so we might have eternal life. I believe this is one of the most important conversations in the whole bible. And Jesus tells this to his whole gospel to his enemy.
Fast forward to John 7:45-52. We find the Pharisees plotting to kill Jesus. They are bashing Jesus amongst themselves. Nicodemus at one point looks to take up for Jesus. Did he listen to what Jesus told him. Jesus told Nicodemus his whole message just a little while ago. Did he believe? In verse 51 he speaks up for Jesus and in verse 52 he is shot down by his fellow Pharisee. Now in this moment Nicodemus is put in a position to either put complete his faith with action by standing up for Jesus or backing down and his faith is useless just like the mechanic. Nicodemus decides the latter. He almost got it, but left lacking. How many times have we been in this situation. Where we are challenged to put our faith into action or back down and our faith is useless.
If we can live our lives with our faith with deeds verses faith and deeds we can be called righteous like Abraham or Rahab. Our families and the people around us will be better for our faith.
Week 5 By Joel Philbrook
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. We have all heard this saying before. Whoever said this was crazy. Words do hurt and they also can inspire. In James 3:1-11 we discuss taming the tongue. James describes the tongue very in-depth here. He references the tongue like a bit you control a horse with and a rudder that steers a boat. The tongue controls our lives and the people around us.
James states that the tongue is uncontrollable. The words we speak are like a fire. If you have ever seen or experienced a wild fire then you can see what he is talking about. Fires can spread fast and far just like our words. The words we speak have the power to give life or to bring death. Think about what these statements and what they mean to you:
- I love you
- You are special
- I thank God for you
- You are amazing
These words bring hope and life to someone. By speaking life we can change the world around us for the better. By being encouraging and uplifting we can inspire someone to thrive and live for God. Or we can say words like:
- I hate you
- I wish you were never born
- You are a failure
- You will never amount to anything
These words bring death and destruction. Yet we hear these destructive toxic words all the time. These words have the power to set someone on a path of depression and death. These words bruise and hurt for a very long time.
Maybe you have been hurt by words and believe their meaning. But God has a different word for you. When God speaks life happens. In the beginning there was the word and the word was with God. He was God in the beginning, John 1:1-2 tells us. Jesus is the word and his word is life. When God spoke he said “Let there be” and we got the sun, moon, stars, earth, man and women. When God speaks he speaks life and creation. Jesus is God and God through him. He came so we might have life. He was bruised and beaten. He was called all kinds of horrible names and did nothing to deserve it. He understands these toxic words better than anyone. Jesus wants to take those destructive words from you life and replace them with love and hope. Jesus loves you, he thinks you are the best thing on the planet. He knows you are special.
If you are hurting from lies told to you. Do not let these toxic words control you anymore. Jesus believes in you and has a plan for you to prosper and thrive.
I hope you have enjoyed my reviews of James so far. Will have more in the weeks to come.
Again you can check out review 1 here
To hear the original podcasts from these messages and more, click PODCAST
If you are in the Durham NC area and a looking for a community of people that likes to show you love and hope. Please come visit us at STORYCHURCH
Embrace the story you were meant to live