Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"Flourishing in God's Generosity" (James 4:1-12)

I am constantly amazed at how relevant and timely God's Word is for those who honestly and genuinely engage it.  As we read the letter from our brother, James, how much more applicable can this message be?  James, in these few short verses, deals with:

  • How divisive the false teachers and gossips are in the church
  • The temptation every disciple faces to follow the world's approach to happiness 
  • God's view of us when we flirt with the world's temptations
Of course, the main point of the message is to highlight the insights from James on how we can flourish in God's Generosity.

Well...I hope you will be blessed by this message from James.  Let me know how Holy Spirit speaks to you!  I'd love to hear.  To help you follow, see the outline below.

God bless, Kirk McCormick

Flourishing in God’s Generosity
James 4:1-12

Habit 1 - Insatiable Addiction to things.

James 4:1 - “Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from?  Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you.”  (Note:  Verse 2 is much like 1) 

“You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder.  And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts.”

Proverbs 10:3 - “The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.”

Habit 2 - Unfaithful Flirting with the World.

James 4:4  - “Adulterers!  Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?
  Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” 

** This image of God’s people being unfaithful flirts is consistent throughout the Bible, specifically, in the Old Testament. 

Example:  Hosea

Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”  (Matthew 6:24, NIV)

POINT:  Our hearts are a battleground for Love…

…in this battle, you cannot be a “Double Agent” (“double-minded”)…

…either be a Lover of God or his Enemy.

Flourishing Tip #1 – Prepare for take off.

** Very few of us are natural submitters… yet… to prepare to flourish in God’s generosity, James says -

James 4:7 - “Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Action Word #1:  “Submit” = to “arrange under”

…voluntarily place ourselves under God’s care because we know he loves us…

Action Word #2:  “Resist” = to “set oneself against”

…simultaneously… Satan wants to influence/rule our lives through temptation, so we resist him because we know he wants to destroy us.

Flourishing Tip #2 – Snuggle up to the Source.

James 4:8 - “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”

Action Words:  “Draw Near” …has the sense of getting close to the fire to gain warmth…

Point:  Proximity = Power…

…i.e.: being close to God = Power to flourish.

** But to have that intimacy in which we discover the Generosity of God’s blessings, we Draw Near…

…cannot find it far away.

Example:  Prodigal Son

Flourishing Tip #3 – Go low to finish high.

James 4:10 - “When you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on him, he will lift you up and give you honor.”  (NLT)

Augustine - “God is not greater if you reverence him; but you are greater if you serve him.”

Action Words:  “Bow Down”  (or, “Humble” in some translations)

Jesus said (Matthew 5:3) – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

III.  Conclusion

Bruce Wilkinson, A Life God Rewards -

“Jesus wants you to know that the consequences of your actions and beliefs today can change your eternity in astounding and wonderful ways - and He doesn’t want you to waste another minute believing otherwise.”

** Today is a good day to Flourish…

…the good news is that God is ready to bless those who:

1.    Prepare their hearts to be blessed
a.    by Submitting to him
b.    by resisting the temptations of the world
2.    Draw near to him
3.    Bow before him

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