Tuesday, September 9, 2014

"It's All about Control" - a message from James 5:1-6

I know...I know.  The church talks too much about money. But did you know that Jesus spoke more about money-related issues during his earthly ministry than he did about any other topic other than salvation/heaven/hell?  So, perhaps, the church actually needs to do a better job encouraging God's people to be faithful stewards. Well...that's what James does in this 5th chapter of his letter.

One thing is certain:  you will either control your wealth or it will control you. Money is subtle temptress...convincing us that we're in control when it actually is.  Thankfully, as we study James' word God speaks to us about the Warnings of being controlled...as well as the blessings to controlling, as faithful stewards, the assets God has given to us.

I hope you'll listen to Holy Spirit as we consider God's Word from James 5:1-6. May God bless you as you respond, perhaps even change, according to these Biblical principles.

God bless, Kirk McCormick

William Wilberforce, Money in Christian History,

 “I continually find it necessary to guard against that natural love of wealth and grandeur which prompts us always to claim an exception.”

Note: By the way…the Bible never defines what constitutes being “Rich”…

…it only describes the “Rich” as those whose material wealth is more important to them than the teachings of God.

Application: So you can be middle income, and be “Rich”

Warning 1 - Woe to the Greedy.

James 5:1 - “Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries
that are coming to you.”

“Weep” and “Wail” are words associated with judgment in the Bible.

Paraphrasing James:  Riches desensitize us to God.

Henri Nouwen - “Wealth takes away the sharp edges of our moral sensitivities and allows a comfortable confusion about sin and virtue.”

ILL: Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10, Luke 18)

Warning 2 - Woe to the Dishonest.

James 5:4 - “Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.”

Paraphrasing James:  Riches challenge us to remain ethical

ILL:  Money Exchangers in the Temple

Point: God has no problem with fair and equitable gain/profit.    

Proverbs 14:23 – “All hard work brings a profit.”

1 Timothy 5:18 – “For the Scripture says, ‘The worker deserves his wages.’”

Warning 3 - Woe to the Extravagant.

Point: It’s an age-old dilemma… “How much is too much?”

Paraphrasing James:  How much is too much when Riches allow for gluttonous habits.

James 5:5 - “You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.”

ILL:  Consider the Lilies (Luke 12)

Warning 4 - Woe to the Destructive.

POINT:  There is a fine line between being full and overflowing…having enough and more than need…

… and when we cross that line…the “Overflow” can be destructive.

James 5:6 – James says to the rich - “You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you.”

Paraphrasing James:  Riches tempt us to exploit or cause us to subtly destroy others.

ILL:  Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25)

i.e.:  So…What is God’s hope for you and me in Stewardship?

God’s Hope for you in Stewardship:  Do it…

1. …joyfully.

2 Corinthians 9:7 – “…God loves a cheerful giver.”

2. …generously.

2 Corinthians 9:8 – “…share abundantly in every good work.”

2 Corinthians 9:11 – “You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity.”

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