Steadfast – Week 2

Steadfast Obedience (pages 37-63)
James 1:19-2:13

Lisa: Welcome to week two. Julie Antioho will be sharing with us about Steadfast Obedience.

Julie: It is my joy to be able to be with you. I think I have Lauren-itis where I have more to share, James is a wealth of information. Last week we looked at the full effect of steadfastness. Trials will come but God will use them. This week we will look at steadfast obedience – this is not a once and done but continual. Our memory verse is be doers of the word not

James gives us rapid fire advice. Not just to one church but to the believers of the early church as a whole. The first book of the New Testament chronologically and James being Jesus’s half brother and closely tied to Proverbs. This is a very practical book. We studied this week the passage of James 1:19-2:13.

“Faith is a gift that is accompanied by action. If we’ve heard and believed the Word of God, then our lives will accurately, consistently, and increasingly reflect the One we profess to follow. How we work, speak, react, respond, interact, love, consider, and care for those around us matters.These works either negate or confirm the believability of our professed faith” Courtney Doctor (pg 41)

So let’s jump in… I will be reading from the amplified version of the Bible. It is one of my favorites. V 19 – understand this my beloved brothers. The ESV says “know this” There are over 1300 references to “know” in the Bible. It is really important. It isn’t just knowledge but it is understanding. To perceive. The facts but regard for it. You may remember when a teacher before a test would say “you may want to remember this.” That was a signal to take note and write that information down. James is doing that. He is telling us to remember this and think about these things. When I watch my grandchildren when their mom drops them off – I want to know what the schedule is. I want to set my day up for success. As we read the book of James we want to set up our lives for success to be holy & devoted to God. James is saying my beloved brothers and sisters, united believers by the bond of affection. He is saying pay attention, my people. So pay attention, women of Village Church.

Let’s finish v 19 & 20. “Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving] for the [resentful, deep-seated] anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God [that standard of behavior which He requires from us].”

I love to look at the verbs, the actions we want to do to grow closer to God. This time I was struck by but, for, and so. These are conjunctions and these connect the thoughts. These words in these verses tell us the why to what James is saying. James contrasts these to anger which does not lead to righteousness, FOR it leads to resentfulness. This idea of righteous living. The righteous life God desires is not to be confused with the righteousness of Christ. Paul writes about the righteousness of Christ which is given to us by God – credited by our’s, Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection where He paid the penalty for our sins and it is because our sins are covered that we can stand before a holy God. God looks at us and declares us righteous. It is nothing that we have done.

James is talking about a righteousness that we have a part in producing. It is a righteousness that is lived out, knowing we have been covered in Christ’s perfect righteousness. It is our response. The blue letter bible defines this as integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correct thinking, feeling and acting. That reminds me of our last study – This I Know. Where we had correct, thinking, feeling and acting as a result of remembering God’s character in the midst of our dailies.

James doesn’t just say to act like this but he tells us what righteousness looks like lived out.

In verse 21 it starts with “so” or “therefore” – what is it there for? In order to have righteousness lived out, “get rid of all uncleanness and all that remains of wickedness, and with a humble spirit receive the word [of God] which is implanted [actually rooted in your heart], which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word [actively and continually obeying God’s precepts], and not merely listeners [who hear the word but fail to internalize its meaning], deluding yourselves [by unsound reasoning contrary to the truth].” James 1:21-22

Another action that makes my words believable – “be doers of the word” God’s Words is meant to change us not meant just for us to read it. First we read the Word of God and then it is implanted in us. The Blue Letter Bible says “implanted is rooted in our hearts by other’s instructions or things spoken of God. to keep us safe, to keep us sound. Keep us from danger and destruction.

James 1:23-25 “For if anyone only listens to the word without obeying it, he is like a man who looks very carefully at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he immediately forgets what he looked like. But he who looks carefully into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and faithfully abides by it, not having become a [careless] listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he will be blessed and favored by God in what he does [in his life of obedience].”

We look in the mirror every day. There used to be this crazy mirror in the women’s bathroom at church, here. If you looked in it, it would make you look a little taller and more slender than you really were. That was not a good mirror to see your true self. As an OR nurse we would stand at the scrub sink and look in the mirror and the first thing we would do before we scrubbed our hands was to check our hair and make sure to tuck it all in under our hat and to make sure our mask was on the right way, we would look and make those adjustments. Sometimes if you hold a crying baby up to a mirror, it is interesting how their perspective changes. Just like we look into God’s Word when we are in a miserable place or frustrating position but we look into God’s Word – the mirror – and all of a sudden their countenance changes. The baby starts to smile and laugh. Just like God’s Word can show us what needs to be fixed – we need to read, think it, memorize it, ponder it, and talk about it with other people. We need to be active doers. We see the connection, we see the Word of God, it is implanted, we hear it, there is a response, we have humility in our spirit as we see that something needs to be changed and then that change – the Holy Spirit works in our live – and the change happens.

Wait there is more, James 1:26 “If anyone thinks himself to be religious [scrupulously observant of the rituals of his faith], and does not control his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person’s religion is worthless (futile, barren).”
A controlled tongue – is it true, is it kind, is it necessary? Before we say those things. An unbridled tongue resulting in a deceived heart – worthless religion.

Imagine this – Army Trail Road was a gravel road when I was young. We had a horse named Tony Bushel. He got out and he was found at the neighbor’s house. They called and told us and their son hopped on him to ride him home – no bridle. So when we think about this illustration, we need to have a bridle tongue. This is what I think about. This boy hopped on him and Tony galloped down the gravel road back to our home. And he came to the barn and instead of stopping at the door, he continued at the full gallop through the open door. It was wide enough for him to fit but there was a foot cement beam and this boy ducked just in time to miss his head hitting it. When I think of an unbridled tongue I think of a tongue that is not controlled like TOny Bushel. Sometimes, or often, my tongue can get out of control by what I am saying.

V. 27 – Practice pure religion, here James tells us how important it is for us to meet the needs of widows and orphans. Also to look around us to see those loved ones in assisted living or nursing homes that we haven’t been able to see but how can we reach out and encourage them.
Keep unstained by the secular world. Ponder how can we do that.

James 2:1 – 4 “My fellow believers, do not practice your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of partiality [toward people—show no favoritism, no prejudice, no snobbery]. For if a man comes into your meeting place [b]wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in dirty clothes also comes in, and you pay special attention to the one who wears the [d]fine clothes, and say to him, “You sit here in this good seat,” and you tell the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down [on the floor] by my footstool,” have you not discriminated among yourselves, and become judges with wrong motives?”
So most of the believing Jews were poor and didn’t have a lot of things. There were wealthy merchants that had a lot of things among them too. The Jews had a tendency to look at those who could do something for them with more respect and cater to them than the person that came into the church and had nothing.

James 2:12-13 “Speak and act [consistently] as people who are going to be judged by the law of liberty [that moral law that frees obedient Christians from the bondage of sin]. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; but [to the one who has shown mercy] mercy triumphs [victoriously] over judgment.”

We can’t show love and partiality at the same time. We will do one over the other. Mercy triumphs over judgment – this means the believers acts of mercy will be vindicated at judgement. As believers our acts of mercy show we are grateful recipients of God’s mercy. This has been rapid fire. There is hope, we don’t have to do this on our own.
I want to share this quote with you from this book – A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson

“The Christian life is going to God. In going to God, Christians travel the same ground that everyone else walks on – the poor or the rich. The same air they breathe, they drink the same water, they shop in the same store, they read the same newspaper and are citizens under the same government they pay the same prices for groceries and gasoline. They fear the same dangers and are subject to the same pressures and get the same distresses and are buried in the same ground. The difference is that each step we walk, each breath we breathe, we know we are preserved by God. We know we are accompanied by God. We know we are ruled by God and therefore no matter what doubts we endure or what accidents we experience the Lord is there with us and guards us from every evil.”

So Whats?
  1. How are you implanting God’s Word in your life?
  2. Get out your mirror. Where are the gaps in your life that the Holy Spirit is showing you where you are not whole-heartedly devoted to God? Be not just a hearer but a doer. Be one that acts not forgets
  3. How do we become more intentional listeners to people in our lives?
    • Lisa, there are so many distractions in the world so it is work to be an intentional listener. For me the main thing is putting my phone away. Also looking people in the eye. Going in and being present. And then my response to hearing what they say and being perceptive and pursuing. Having a listening ear and eye.
    • Julie, when the Holy Spirit nudges us to pursue or check in on someone.
  4. What triggers cause you to respond in anger?
    • Julie, Tired, overwhelmed, not getting your way. Be aware of triggers and what God wants us to respond in place of it.
    • Lisa, hangry – hungry. Physical needs that I am not taking care of myself. When someone checks in on me – receiving that well.
  5. Putting things away/ Ask God what behavior He wants you to put off?
  6. What are the opportunities in our community to help widows and orphans?
    • Bartlett Community Care Collective – BC3
    • Share the Care
    • Community – ministries that care for orphans
  7. Ask the Holy Spirit to point out what He wants us to change?
What does steadfast obedience mean…..

Steadfast – ongoingly implanting God’s Word in my heart and life, asking the Holy Spirit to open my eyes to opportunities – being sensitive to the little things/nudges, be a doer of the Word

Links From This Week:

In This Week’s Video:

Julie Antioho
Julie Antioho
Lisa Lewis
Lisa Lewis