Monday, May 16, 2016

Show No Partiality

 James 2:1-13
My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, "You sit here in a good place," while you say to the poor man, "You stand over there," or, "Sit down at my feet," have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called? If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

James is interested in demonstrating a living, working faith. He begins to do this by asking us, what happens at the door of the church? How do we greet the first time visitors? How do we make them comfortable or uncomfortable? How do we treat new comers? Those who are looking for a spiritual home, regardless of their status in life? The difference between us and the people of the world, is in the way we treat those we don’t know. Hence the question, how do we treat those who are searching for a spiritual community?
1.      It is possible for a Christian community to show partiality.
The amount of space Pastor James devoted to deal with this problem of partiality, favouritism or discrimination, shows that it was a problem among his readership. The word translated partiality is in the plural and it literally means ‘to receive the face’. It is used to mean making judgments about people based on external appearances or general factors such as dress, skin colour, general physical appearance, social status or class among others.
This is the scenario he presents in their assembly. He is not talking about some secular, judicial assemblies. Rather he is concerned about their gatherings like in the synagogue which is the word translated assembly here.
So two different people come to the assembly and by their dressing one can tell their social status. One is wearing a gold ring (it is interesting that the gold ring is the first one to notice) and fine clothes and the other is a man in shabby clothing. This second man is in fact stinking because he has filthy clothes – he may not have had wash for a long time. Notice that the same world for filthiness used in 1:21 is the same word here. Take the first man to be a cabinet secretary who is interested in elective politics next year: he drives into the church compound in a dark Toyota Prado, his gold ring makes his opulence obvious. He is clad in a well pressed Italian suit. The smell of his cologne is rich, and everything about him shouts ‘mheshimiwa’. Take the second man to be a streetboy: he is dressed in a stained, mismatched, torn and smelly jeans and a T-shirt. He has not known water for days and body lice are lined on his body like tiny necklaces. In God’s providence they both visit TBC for the service, the same day and about the same time, with the street guy walking in first. What do you do after they enter? You may twist your nose and wad off the street guy and very respectfully receive and welcome the weathly.
The Lord is so clear in His Word that, if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, "You sit here in a good place," while you say to the poor man, "You stand over there," or, "Sit down at my feet," you have effectively then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts. First, this passage is not prohibiting us from showing honour to whom honour is due or respect to whom respect is due (1 Peter 2:17). It does not teach that we are to take no notice of some worldly distinctions like age. It is not teaching that it is wrong for a boy to give seat to an old man. Or to accord some honour to the president if he decided to come and worship with us. Yet it is one thing to acknowledge some inherent dignity, whether of age or position, and it is another to be swayed by mere outward appearances such as clothing. When we do that we fall prey to evil thoughts and it becomes sinful for it gives robes the glory of God from God to man simply because he has possession, yet deny the same from another equally image-bearer!
Do you think that there is partiality in this church? It is likely. Do the elders call a congregation or Elders/Deacons’ meeting in which we discuss how to welcome some people better than others? I have not been to such a meeting, leave alone calling such a meeting. However, this does not mean that we have never been partial in the manner we have welcomed people. What we should do, is examine ourselves and ask how do show care and welcome everyone warmly, lovingly and show Christian affection. We must dismiss this claiming that such a sin cannot come anywhere near us.
2.      It is wrong to show partiality for God is impartial
We must acknowledge that God Himself has revealed Himself as One who shows no partiality. He looks at the heart rather than outward appearance. Besides, He is very concerned for those who could be discriminated against. For example in Deut. 10:17-18, Lev. 19:15.
For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.
"You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbour.
It first acknowledges our Lord Jesus Christ, is the Lord of glory (v.1). See how much glory James apportions to our Saviour. He is the Sovereign Lord, for He is in full charge of all His creatures and all their actions, since He created them all. His glory must not be shared with another. He is Jesus, the Son of David, the Messiah, and Redeemer of His people. It is so amazing that the Sovereign Lord became man in order to save men and make them children of God. He has redeemed men and women, boys and girls from every nation, every social class, and every tribe. Every single barrier has been thrown down by His perfect obedience to the Law (something that we could not have been able to do) and shed His blood on the cross to secure our salvation by His atonement. He is Christ, the anointed of God and so He is the Prophet, Priest and King. And finally, immortal honours go to Him because He is the Lord of glory. This means that He is the Lord from glory, who owns all glory, and reflects the radiance of the glory of God and ultimately He will deliver all His people to glory!
Partiality is sinful because it contradicts God’s purpose of election (v.5)
Discrimination is wrong and sinful, for we read, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? It is very interesting that James does not argue against discrimination by showing that God does not choose some or show His favour to anyone, but the fact that He does. He says, God has chosen but He has chosen those who are discriminated, and disfavoured by the eye of flesh. Favouritism is sinful because our carnal choices do not correspond with the choice of God. Furthermore, this is a divine prerogative, since God is the Creator who can do all that He pleases Partiality is playing God.
 In the eternity past, when all uncreated human beings had nothing, God chose some for salvation. God has generally saved the poor people in order to show that He is impartial. The doctrine of the gracious electing love of God is all over the Scripture – see what Moses told the Israelites in Deut. 7:6. Saul and David were chosen of God (1 Sam.10:24; 1 Chron. 28:4). Jesus told His disciples that He is the one who chose them, they did not choose Him (John 15;16). God chose Thessalonians to be saved (2 Thess. 2;13). This is what we read in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
The point being made is that partiality belittles the work of God in the salvation of men for it attempts to overturn what God has done. Yet let it be known that the sovereign election of God is unconditional, this is why it emphasis the choice of the poor, so that they do not boast about anything. It did not depend on what they had, it depended on what God has.
Thankfully, even if people try to contest the sovereign electing work of God, they cannot get anywhere for God has already chosen – has not God chosen…? It is done, no one can undo it. Our response should be to praise God for this wonderful work.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Eph 1:3-6
We must realize that even if the poor are discriminated in the world, they will not be discriminated against in heaven. God will continue to make them to be rich in faith and be heirs of the kingdom which He has promised to those who love Him (v.5)
3.      Partiality is sinful because of who were are
We are a heavenly family. So James begins by reminding us who were are – we not of the world, though in the world. We are different from the world because we are:
Brothers having been born again by God through the word of truth (v.18). We now belong to the family of God. God is our Father. And we live accordingly.
We hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory we have been given a divine gift that brings salvation, it is called faith. For by grace are we saved through faith, and this (faith) not ourselves lest any man should boast, it is a gift of God (Eph.2:8).
We are heirs of the kingdomit does not make sense that Christians who will spend all eternity together would discriminate against one another. We are citizens of the same kingdom. We must live as those who do not have a common destiny. After all whether you have or you don’t what you have now is temporary. Death is coming upon every. Judgement is coming upon all – it is appointed for man to die once and then face judgment. We are therefore, to love God who will give this to us and love our neighbours as He has instructed us in His Word.
Partiality contradicts the social living (vv. 6b, 7)
The rich oppress the poor: To discriminate against people based merely on social wealth or status disgraces those to whom God has granted grace. In effect, we place our standard of estimation higher than God’s![1] The believers of that day needed the freedom to proclaim and practice their faith without fear. But they were being deprived of this fundamental right by the rich. Is it not so ironic that they were inclined to practice partiality in favour of the elite when they were suffering persecution from the elite?
The rich blasphemes the name of CHRIST. James saved his worst accusation until last. Blasphemy is a transliteration of the Greek, which means ‘to speak evil of, slander, to be intentionally irreverent.’ One can imagine rich Jewish unbelievers slandering the followers of Jesus as disciples of a cursed criminal. ‘How,’ James mused, ‘could you show undue preference to those who insult the poor or the followers of Christ or both?’ James did not mention Jesus’ name but he spoke of the honorable or beautiful name of Jesus. ‘By which you were called’ is from a compound verb, ‘to put a name upon.’ The name Christian is a powerful and precious designation of one who belongs to Christ. It is a name we should take care to honor and protect. More than our own name, we should seek to honor and protect the name of Jesus. The wealthy to whom James wrote were not doing this, nor did they appear to be concerned that they failed to do so.[2]
4.      Partiality is sinful because it contradicts the Law of God
James reminds his readers of the Law of God: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ (v. 8). God gave this law to Israel at the beginning of her existence as a nation (Lev. 19:18). So James calls it, ‘the royal law’.
How is it royal law? It is the king of all the other laws. This is because Jesus himself called it the great and first commandment - loving God and our fellow-man (Matt. 22:37–40). It is royal law having been given the Sovereign King, yes its source is royal and therefore, is to be taken seriously and obeyed.
James’s charge that they were discriminating caught them off guard. They would have responded that it was concern for the law of love that caused them to minister to the rich! And the fact that they were failing to minister to the poor was not due to lack of love but lack of time. It was rather that they were so busy practicing love towards the rich that they did not have any time left for anyone else. But James uses the word ‘really’ in order to essentially tell them, ‘If you really fulfil the royal law, you must show love to the poor.’
James warns against selective obedience. He says in verses 10-11,
For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.
This selective obedience was the great failure of the Pharisees. They would be very scrupulous and meticulous about certain laws while ignoring all the rest. This syndrome fails to see the fundamental unity of the law. If we refrain from committing adultery but commit murder, we are guilty of breaking the law! The law tells us what God wants us to do and not to do. Any failure is sin, and any sin makes us transgressors and disqualifies us from standing acceptably in God’s presence.
We must remember that God did not give us the law so that we can be saved through keeping it. If that were the case, no one would be saved! God gave his laws to show us how very far short we fall of his requirements and, therefore, how desperately we need the Lord Jesus as our Saviour. The purpose of God’s law is to convict us ‘as transgressors’ (v. 9) so we will flee to Christ.[3]
The reality of the Judgement Day. We must live with constant and keen awareness of the reality of that day Kent Hughes puts it like this, ‘ “Speak” and “act” are present active imperatives: keep on speaking and keep on acting in the reality of the coming judgement.’ These people’s sinful partiality indicated that they were passing judgement on others. The cure for this is to remember that we must all be judged one Day.
On that great day we will all fully realize our sins, we will also fully realize ‘the law of liberty’ (v. 12) that is the gospel. Satan, since the incidence with Eve and Adam at the Garden of Eden, has been lying about the law of God. He wants people to think that God’s laws are designed to take the pleasure out of life, and deprive us of joy and make us miserable. But on that day, this lie will be exposed! The laws of God were not given to bring us into a miserable bondage, but rather to bring us into glorious liberty. Instead sin enslaves and casts people into a dungeon.
The reality of the Judgment Day and the free liberation in the gospel will teach us, not only to be just and impartial, but very compassionate and merciful to the poor. So that instead of discriminating them, we help them in their needs. This understanding will remove us from the bondage of partiality to the freedom of mercy and compassion so that we look like our Father in the heaven.
We are saved only by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. But those who are truly saved cannot live as if they have never been touched by the mercy and grace of God. Those who know mercy cannot withhold it from others, not especially to the poor, who God our Father is so concerned about.
ü  Repent of the sin of partiality
ü  You shall love your neighbour as yourself
ü  Speak and act as heirs of grace
ü  Thank God for His mercy, which triumphs over judgment

[1] Ellenburg, B. D., & Morgan, C. W. (2008). James: Wisdom for the Community (p. 95). Great Britain: Focus Christian Publications.
[2] Ellenburg, B. D., & Morgan, C. W. (2008). James: Wisdom for the Community (pp. 96–97). Great Britain: Focus Christian Publications.
[3] Ellsworth, R. (2009). Opening up James (pp. 84–85). Leominster: Day One Publications.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

What is your Religion?

        James 1:26-27        
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

If you examine yourself, are you religious or are you not? Many people don’t consider themselves religious because there is a negative note about religion. People understand religion to mean rituals. That is, the outward activities of religion. This is the exact word James uses here – threskeia, meaning, the ritual act of devotion, or liturgy. But we need to notice from these two verses that the word has both negative and positive connotations. There are outward rituals that could be of no use to anyone, yet there is such a thing as pure religion.
As I speak, I know that many of you come to church regularly, you spend the Lord’s day well, you fellowship with the brethren, you pray, you have your personal devotions, you give and partake of the Lord’s Supper, and so on. Yet these same acts of worship to God could very easily turn to be rituals. Done for one’s own self-aggrandizement so that other people see and consider you as a devout, holy or a pious person. But the opposite could be the truth. I pray that as we consider these two verses, the Lord will help you to diagnose your heart condition so that you will be able to distinguish the true and the false religion and neither deceive yourself nor confuse people.
We all know, acknowledge and live in a manner that identifies two types of religions. For there are only two types of religions – the true and false religions. There can’t be any confusion about the two. If you subscribe to a false religion you know, if you subscribe to a true religion, you know. But I want to make this easy for you.
1.      There is a false religion
Surely no one wants to subscribe to a false religion. But how do you know that your religion is true/genuine or false? What are the characteristics of a false religion? Unless you are able to identify and reject false religions, you may be subscribing to a false religion for all you know! Therefore listen carefully to the characteristics of false religion:
a)     Lack reality
James says, ‘If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart… This means that there is such a religion that is as good as self-deception. It lacks reality. For what would you say of a person who deceives his own heart? A self-deceived person is unrealistic. Such a person then is only a hearer of the Word and not a doer of the Word. For we have already found out that those who are hearers only deceive themselves (v.22).
There is a lot of a ‘form of religion’ yet little of the true power of true religion. Paul puts it like this, ‘having a form of religion, but denying its power’ (2 Tim. 3:5). It is like the church in Sardis, that had a reputation of being alive but you are dead! (Rev. 3:1). The form here means that the name was there, the preaching was good, the attendance was good, the giving was impressive, etc. outwardly everything was good but inside, there was deception of the heart. Any religion that is defined by the outward activities is a rotten religion; it is not Christianity at all because Christianity is a religion of the heart. It begins with the regeneration of the heart and it makes a new creation. Christianity is a true and genuine religion, delivering souls from sins, and bringing them to heavenly glory.

b)     Lack self-restraint
Tongues expose the falsity of religion. For they reveal the state of the heart. In this James speaks as the Lord did – out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matt. 12:34). A new heart implanted by the Holy Spirit ought to produce something of self-control. Something as powerful as new birth, indwelling of the Spirit has to enable its owner to be able to brindle his tongue. But person who has cast off restraint, or a person who has no ability to restrain his own members, is not controlled by the Holy Spirit. And if anyone is not controlled by the Spirit, it is because the Spirit does not dwell in him and if the Spirit does not indwell him then he does not belong to Christ – he is not saved.
The tongue needs to be bridled, just like the rest of the members of the body. You must not yield your tongue as an instrument for unrighteousness, and especially because the tongue is naturally inclined to be so wild. It is hard to tame the tongue, in fact it is easier to tame a lion than to tame tongue!
James tells us here that bridling the tongue, that is controlling and directing it to be an instrument of righteousness, is one of the litmus tests of the true religion. For where the tongue is not controlled, you will find lying, gossip, slander, malice, hateful speech, abusive speech among other things, an indication that new life in Christ is lacking. Why is the tongue so important a litmus test for religion? Because with the tongue sin is so easily committed. Almost before we are conscious, a thought enters our mind, and before long we extrapolate it to exaggeration or a lie. One of the things that we learn from God is that there is a limit to speaking.
c)      Lack results
James closes the third symptom of a false religion by saying that a religion that lacks in reality and restraint will effectively lack in result for it is worthless. The word translated worthless means ‘empty of results’, it is vain. To understand it better, it is a word Paul and Barnabas used in Lystra when the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them as gods having healed a crippled man. So Paul responded, "Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. (Act 14:15).
The worship of idols is worthless for it produces no results. What is idols?
The Word of God responds thus:
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them. O Israel, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield. (Psalm 115:3-9)
False religion is worthless to man. This is why the Lord in His word keeps on showing the worthlessness of idols.
The person who acts in these ways will get no spiritual benefit from that kind of religion. There may be a lot of activity in it, but there will be no spiritual profit out of it. Unless you apply the Word of God daily and consistently to your life you would not be profited. Unless this shows itself in godly discipline of training both the heart and the mind to follow Christ both privately more than publicly, then it is a worthless religion to you.
False religion is worthless to God. Do you think the Lord is amused by your coming to church, hearing the Word, participating in the Lord’s Supper and all the outward activities, when privately you enjoy sin? If your Christianity does not acknowledge what the reformers called Coram Deo – that is the fear of the Lord that acknowledges that we live in the presence of the Lord, then it is worthy nothing before the Lord – it does not please the Lord.
There came a time when God spoke very strongly denouncing all the sacrifices offered in Israel and said that He did not delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, instead He desired obedience:
And Samuel said, "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. (1Sa 15:22)
See also Isaiah 1;10-15 as well.
2.    There is a true religion
James now turns to the true religion that God accepts by giving two illustrations of the kind of outward service that is acceptable before God. He gave these two examples to illustrate the kind of thing the Lord expects to see when your religion is real and true. These two illustrations are not exhaustive or a definitive description of true religion. What are the characteristics of true religion?
a)     Pure and undefiled
So there are outward religious activities that God accepts because they are coming from a pure motive. They are not tinted with selfish ambitions or sin. The words used generally to describe this religion are, pure and undefiled before God. This means that it is clean and untainted or uncontaminated by any human defilement, rather it passes the purity litmus test of God, since it is done in His presence, with His blessings!
In these words, James is saying that this is a heart religion. It is not simply outward to impress people, it is of the heart, impressing God. The primary motive of true Christian religion is to please God who created and recreated us at the cost of His Son. Christians acknowledge by their actions the fact that God is near, seeing and hearing everything. He is either approving or accusing, on the basis of His moral law. Unless we live as those in the presence of God, we fail this test of true religion that is pure and undefiled.

Therefore the Lord said,
"Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. (Mat 6:1)
James sees genuine good works as being the outcome of a spiritual reality of the heart. It is the same as saying that true faith is a living faith that shows itself to be true by how it is helpful to God’s people. Where there is no heart faith, there will be false religion, but where there is a true genuine heart faith, it will produce genuine religion, that helps others.
Isaiah puts it like this:
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause. (Isa 1:16-17)

b)     Practical and helpful
There are people who are under the pressure of physical needs in the church. This is not out of their laziness, but because of their circumstances. It could be that they are sick, or orphaned or widowed or are aliens/foreigners who live in a foreign country and have nothing, people living away from their own land, or are unemployed and so unable to support themselves (although I do have serious questions about the latter!). All these circumstances put people at terrible positions where they are greatly disadvantaged. There are people who are needy and suffering.
As we think of how we can be helpful, please think of people in this church who are needy. This assumes that you know them well enough. Calvary-love of Jesus Christ is the model for a caring ministry in the church.
James simply states that true religion will show itself in seeking to alleviate human suffering. Most of the organizations on earth that deal with alleviation of human suffering are Christian – talk about Red Cross, St. John Ambulance, World Vision, Compassion Inc, etc. Many good hospitals were began by Christians, many philanthropic centers are Christian. Most of the children’s homes, and orphanages are Christian. But we are to offer even a closer caring ministry especially among the brethren. Our mercy ministry must be closely guarded.
How do you think the fatherhood of God manifests itself in the church? It is by Christians taking responsibility of fathering the fatherless by providing for their needs. Loving and caring for the needy, the sick, the aliens. We show love for each other in Christian fellowship.
One of the very best things we can do for ourselves when we are in trouble is to use our trouble to encourage someone else, instead of remaining in despondency. Let us not forget that there are people here who are hurting and aching at heart and mind – the tragic death of Peter Kivati in our midst must wake us up to this reality.
We are to speak to one another, show we care and love. There are people going through terrible mental anguish and pain – speak with them, encourage them. There are people who are discouraged and feel unloved, show them the love of Christ. Others feel lonely, without friends – be there for them as the friends sent from the Lord, who is the Friend who sticks closer than a brother. Others are doubting, struggling with mortifying sin. Remind them of the victory we have in Christ.
Don’t just come to church to gain, come to give and so worship the Lord. Caring love for the helpless is not an accidental or optional manifestation of the new nature, but part of its essence (Alec Motyer).
c)      Producing holiness
To be unstained from the world is to maintain both personal integrity and moral purity. It is to reject worldly standards and to live a life that honors God. If you subscribe to a true religion, then you would keep yourself unstained from the world. We are living in a world that is under the control of the evil one (1 John 5:19). But we must keep off it’s wicked influences and be the agents of its redemption.
The world is in a sinful stupor, it appears to be orderly but it is only ordered in sin and corruption. We can only be able to keep ourselves from the worldly stains by the strength that the Lord gives us. No one has the power to keep of the worldly influence unless aided by God.
Brethren, the first thing that happens to a sinner who has been made a Christian by God, is that his worldview is transformed, so that he embraces an eternal-perspective by the help of the Holy Spirit from the Word of God. Is this what has happened to you? It might be that there is suffering, but do you face them as a saint? Do you face this world with an understanding that the Lord is on your side and His Spirit is in you?
How are we to deal with the worldly pressure? By being sanctified by the truth of God (John 17:17). We are to take God’s Word seriously, not only to read but to study, not only to memorize but to meditate, not to only to apply but to implement. This is the way we are to receive the Word of God with meekness – to do it. Unless the Word of God is absolutely central in our lives, we have no hope of being holy. It is the Word of God that has the potent to disarm the worldly influence. The Holy Spirit who gave it, gives it the power to disarm the wicked worldly influence, and so we are to not only be hearers but also be doers of the Word.
v  Pray for God to give us strength to control our tongues
Pastor James is not requiring us to be mute, he is telling us that those who are truly justified are truly sanctified. One who is sanctified by the Holy Spirit has the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit includes self-control. Self-control involves among other things, controlling the tongue. He considers the tongue like a horse that need a bridle. James is the only NT author who employs the phrase. The phrase which is borrowed from the horse racing implies both control and direction. So control and direct your tongue as one who is led by the Spirit who does not gratify the desires of the flesh.
v  Develop a caring ministry to the needy
One of the saddest dimensions of our day is that Christians consume too much information but do not produce as much spiritual evidence. They go to conferences, watch sermons and are part of many meetings and conferences. Sometimes it does appear that we are too busy to attend to the mercy needs of other people. Our greatest problem in Nairobi is that people are too busy with their Monday to Friday, 8-5 jobs that they basically have no time to invest in care and encouragement of others. Put yourself in the shoes of the one who is suffering and ask if you would be satisfied with hearing others saying that they are busy. When you hear someone is sick please make haste to visit – visiting does not necessary mean that you have to take them some presents or money, it means that you are there for them. Even if you are too busy, can’t you send a card or a text, or make a phone call? Show brotherly affection to another… yet love each other as Christ loved you and gave Himself for us (something that you can’t do!)
v  Cultivate personal holiness
Keep yourself unstained from the world. Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind – you goal is to become like your Father in heaven, to be like His Son, your Saviour Christ. We are under the divine order to be holy, for our heavenly Father is a holy God (1Peter 1:16). This holiness is learnt from God by His Word and prayer. It is inculcated in the church where these two, the Word and prayer are held in a high position. Holiness is taught by the Holy Spirit who indwells us and makes us holy. Is this true of you? Personal holiness is seen in active love for the needy, personal purity and a sincere relationship with God. May the Lord help us.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Then the scum appears!

Few Christians see themselves and understand themselves rightfully. By trials, God reveals much of a man’s sinful self to his pious self. When the fire is put under the pot, then the scum appears. 
So when God tries a poor soul, Oh! how does… 
- the scum of pride, 
- the scum of murmuring, 
- the scum of distrust, 
- the scum of impatience, 
- the scum of worldliness, 
- the scum of carnality, 
- the scum of foolishness, 
- the scum of willfulness 
—reveal itself in the heart of the poor creature? 

Trials are God’s looking glass, in which His people see their own faults. Oh! that looseness, that vileness, that wretchedness, that sink of filthiness, that gulf of wickedness, which trials show to be in their hearts! 
“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction” 
(Isa 48:10).