Monday, March 31, 2014

More Than Moved

Our revival theme was (is?) to be more than moved. The music group, "No Other Name" sings a song with this title (originally written by Michael Boggs (originally of FFH). The song challenges us to basically live out the idea that James, the brother of Jesus, espouses - to be doers of the Word, not hearers only (James 1.22).

We often hear things but don't act on them. Many times that can be good, but when God speaks (through His Word), we are not to be passive in our response - but rather are to be active in living out what God intends for our lives. Imagine James...He often heard Jesus talk (certainly while growing up, but likely as an adult too), but he didn't believe - and therefore, He didn't act. But something touched Him (perhaps the resurrection of His dead brother!) and his life changed. Now, James was the one telling others that if God says something it is worthy of paying attention.

The book of James is so rich in how to live our lives. Some have called it the Proverbs of the New Testament. Five short chapters do pack a lot of wisdom - and a lot of memorable verses, even if used out of context. But a book so full of wisdom should indeed be worthy of our attention. And in order to act on any of the principles in James (or any other book) must start with being doers, not hearers.

Very simply, a critical component of James message is that we should not be deceived. We should not think our faith is authentic if we do not have works ( James 2 - from salvation, nor for salvation). We should not be deceived that God tempts us (James 1). We should not be deceived about the importance of our life (James 2 and James 4). But we should not be deceived that hearing is enough...we must also do. 

So, briefly,

Be doers of the Word... (James 1.22)

In the verse just before this, James wrote that we should receive the implanted word. In fact, v. 22 begins with the word BUT.

James is saying that the Word has been given. It has been implanted. What will you do? Receive it? Reject it? And if you receive it, will you act upon it.

This reminds me a bit of the parable of the four soils. The seed (the Word) was scattered among all types of soils, but only where it was absorbed into the ground (implanted) did anything get produced.

Yet, some of what grew did not take root. It grew quickly, but without rooting itself b/c of the rocks.

Other seeds grew, but eventually were choked off by weeds (the concerns of the world).

Only the seeds that took root, and were properly maintained bore fruit long term.

And bearing fruit is a part of what James is saying we are to do by being doers of the Word. Faith w/o works is dead. Maybe it didn't take root. Maybe the world choked out the faith. Either way, deception came into play, which is what v. 22 guards against.

...not hearers only,...

It is so interesting here that James talks about hearing and immediately shifts the focus to the eyes. Honestly, I have no idea why he does this (maybe there is some hidden meaning that we will never know), but after mentioning hearing, he talks about sight (and remains here awhile).

James mention of mirrors here is more than about the outer appearance. In this context, and often in the ancient world, mirrors were used to represent the idea of character. Peering into a mirror wasn't just a reflection of what is on the outside, but what is on the inside. (God looks at the heart!) That is what James refers to here. He compares someone looking at the mirror to someone who reads, or hears the Word of God, realizes what it is working towards, and then walks away from it, forgetting the promise it holds. Forgetting the promise of wisdom, of hope, of joy.

Go back to v. 19. - Being quick to hear. The word picture James is painting here is not just about sound waves passing across your eardrums. It is the incorporation into your life that God is looking at here. And notice the promise. Acting on what He reveals to us in His Word means we will be blessed, which I believe takes us back to 1.12 and the blessing of the Crown of Life.

Think of it this way. God does what He says. His promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. His promise to Moses. Etc. And if God does what He says, He wants us to do what He says too.

When we don't, we deceive not only others, but we also deceive ourselves.

...deceiving yourselves.

Again, look at the verses just before v. 22. In v. 16, James has just told his readers not to be deceived – DO NOT BE DECEIVED.

He went on to say that every good and perfect gift is from above.

Then, in v. 21 he stated, that because the Word has been implanted, we should not be deceived by thinking God doesn't want fruit.

So, logically, it would go like this... Do not be deceived BY OTHERS that God is tempting you.

God gives good and perfect gifts.
One perfect gift God has given you is His Word – implanted in you.

Do not be deceived – He wants fruit from this implanting.
And just for good measure: If you think you are religious, but can't tame your tongue (slow to speak), you are deceived.

The point of this is not just to show what true religion is, but to show what true religion isn't. True religion isn't about deception – by others or by ourselves. Jesus said, I am the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life. John 17.17 says to sanctify them by your Word. Your Word is TRUTH.

Well, the truth of our faith (or true religion in the parlance of James) requires us to do something. God has invested in us. We have heard truth, now we must act on it.

Being fruitful requires us to do something. Be not hearers only. DO SOMETHING!

Again, this is not to earn salvation, but because of it. It is because we have received the word, and wisdom, and every gift God has given us (all from earlier in Chap 1).

So, don't deceive yourselves by thinking that I am good because I come to church. Because I sing. Because I give money (although all those things requires us to do something). But in the context of James words, will you do something with what you have heard today? Or last week? Or during the revival services? Etc.

Notice the bold and underlined words above: Be Not Deceiving (or Deceived). 

In helping each of us to not be deceived and to be a doer of the Word this week (but do it every week), consider the following:

  • Do one thing for God this week – using a skill or talent He has given you.
  • Do one thing for God this week – because of a passion/interest He has given you.
  • Do one thing for God this week – relying on the Spirit and the gift He has given you.

But whatever you do, be a DOER, not a hearer only. And whatever you do, do it in love!

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