Our Pastor continued his new sermon series: When Faith and Life Collide – a series based on the book of James. The first week (which I will cover another morning) discussed James 1-8 which encourages a single-minded focus on God. This week covered James 9-18. (References today are from the New Living Translation, NLT.)
The poor may boast that God has honored them and the rich can only boast if God humbles them. (James 9-11.) James notes that “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation.” (James 12.) ‘Every good thing comes from God... and we are His most precious possession.’ (James 17-18.)
Without testing we are unproven. How can we know how fully committed we are if we do not have to deal with temptation? God never promised that life will be easy. In fact, His Word tells us that everyone must deal with temptation. James 14 and 15 state “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.” (Also see Matthew 15:19, Mark 7:21 and Luke 6:45.)
But, there is a reward for doing God's will. Are you the type of person (as our Pastor and I are) who wants to be around those who exude sunshine and joy in their spirits? We are drawn to the light of good.
Sermon Point: We are God's prized possession. We've been given everything we need to pass the test, endure temptation, and win the battle.
Where a garden or park are carefully tended, the grass is cushy, the terrain clear and the flora attractive. When a garden or park is left to grow wild the grass is scraggly, the trail is rocky and the flora is likely to be unhealthy and chocked with weeds, maybe even poison ivy or other undesirable things.
God has assured us that we will not be tempted beyond what we can bear and when we are tempted, He will provide a way out. 1 Corinthians 10:13. There are weapons we can use to fight against temptations that we all face.
The best weapon we have is the same weapon that Jesus used when tempted: the Word of God. We need to learn that we cannot prevail by our own “will power”, which is an oxymoron since the evil comes from the will or within – how can it defeat itself?
A second weapon is our relationship with God- as we seek and rely on His strength.
A third weapon is our fellowship with other believers. We need to learn to trust and to seek support from each other.
The enemy, Satan, challenges us each with the greatest of temptations: to live our lives as if God doesn't exist. Do not fall to the lies of the evil one, but always allow God to help you defeat temptation by being on guard, being prepared with the Word, the Spirit and prayer, and knowing to call on God’s strength.
Your life can be an example to those watching. Remember: you are a prized possession!
I looked at several videos but came back to this old hymn.Verses for Today:
James 17-18 (NLT)
17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. 18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.
Lord, I give thanks you provide me a way out of temptation if I stand on Your Word and seek Your strength.