What a challenge we receive when we dig into the book of James. The phrase, "people of faith" is a common phrase heard in almost any media outlet daily. Yet, what does it really mean to be a "person of faith", and even more, what does it mean to be a person who expresses and lives out FAITH in JESUS CHRIST?
James doesn't mince words. From the very beginning it becomes clear that living out our "real faith" in our "real world" will be counter-cultural and will not come easy.
What does it mean to "Count it all Joy"? What does partiality show us about our faith? How does our tongue reveal what's real about our faith?
On Sunday, we dug in and I'd like to remind you of five keys that may help in creating some sort of "measuring stick" for your own faith. How REAL is that faith when faced with REAL LIFE? Real faith in Jesus, meaning we have placed our entire hope and life in His hands, and meaning that we have believed that we have "died and are now hidden with Christ" (Col. 3:3) will be born out by the following:
- When we face "trials of various kinds", we may be taken aback at first, but ultimately, our FAITH that Jesus is alive in us, and our FAITH that HE is ultimately being glorified as our flesh is being brought into line with HIM and HIS purposes, will lead us to "count it all joy" because we know that HE is at work IN US and that we are alive IN Him!
- When we are tempted to show partiality to others based on their "worldly success" or outward appearance, our FAITH in JESUS will remind us that WE are NOTHING apart from HIM, and neither is anyone else. On the other hand, EVERYONE is significant because JESUS loves them and gave HIS life for them. REAL FAITH in JESUS ... trusting in HIM will lead us to face this very real test with humility and love.
- When we speak, we will constantly test our words against the life of JESUS. Our REAL FAITH in Jesus will remind us that grand speeches about ourself, tearing down others, boasting about what we'll do tomorrow have NO PLACE in our lives, because life is NOT about us ... Life is all about JESUS ... that's what REAL FAITH does when it comes out in REAL life.
- When we are drawn into coveting what others have, REAL FAITH (The belief that this life is just a stepping stone to ETERNITY with JESUS) will lead us to live our lives with a view to see others have MORE rather than less ... or to demand much less FAIRNESS! REAL FAITH looks at others and, because Jesus has given us everything simply by grace, desires for them to have more and to be blessed more than they could ever imagine so that God is seen and God is glorified.
- Finally, James sums up his letter reminding us that trials can sometimes last a long time. REAL FAITH is patient, always looking ahead and recognizing that the trials we face here are simply a part of preparing us for a glorious eternity WITH GOD! REAL FAITH in REAL LIFE looks at every daily situation and uses it as an opportunity to talk to God (pray).
Yes, James brings it all down to those "rubber and road" moments. James is all about the practical implications of living out what we say we believe.
As for me, I can go down the list and find lots of room to bring REAL FAITH into my REAL LIFE. How about you?
May JESUS be glorified more and more as we continue to embrace HIS grace and live for HIS glory as we journey through this REAL LIFE!
Be Very Blessed IN Jesus,
Pastor Kevin Strite