Utah Motorsports Campus
September 10 – 11, 2016
The Book of James
“Going Against The Flow”
We are moving up to part six (6) of the Book of James. It is titled “Going Against the Flow.”
I am sure that you have figured out that James is a pretty simple and straight forward message that doesn’t necessarily take anyone else to help you figure what the bottom line message is. If we simply sit down and spend a little quality time with the Lord by asking Him to reveal what we need to understand in James, we will get it.
As I stated from the beginning that James is a power packed book on how to “live and do the Christian faith.” Yeah, I said that James is not only relevant to his day, but also today, and the future of all mankind. It is rock solid, period!
God speaks His Word through His servant, or Prophet as He did through Isaiah 55:11:
“My Word always accomplishes what I desire, and they’ll complete the assignment I gave them. My Word will never return to Me unfinished.” Therefore I believe we can expect that He will accomplish everything within us that He wants us to at this time in our lives.
“Going Against the Flow”
Our Scripture basis today is James chapter 3 verses seventeen through chapter 4 verse twelve:
17 Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, is first of all pure; beginning with a holy life characterized by getting along with others. It is peace loving, gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, impartial and sincere, not two-faced. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
4 What do you think causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from wanting your own way feeding your desires that battle within you? 2-3 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to have. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.
4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means hostility toward God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning or God doesn’t care? They say that God is a passionate, fiercely jealous lover about the spirit He has placed within us thereby giving us the ability to be faithful to Him. And what He gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. 6 But He gives us even more grace when He says: “God opposes the proud, but He gives favor and grace to the humble.”
7 So submit yourselves to let God work His will in you. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet. 9-10 Let your tears flow for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief, sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Then He will lift you up again when you are humble before Him.
11 Brothers and sisters; do not bad-mouth and slander one another. That breaks God’s law and if you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. 12 God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor? (GBB Bible)
Once again James doesn’t beat around the bush. James goes right to the point and to the exact root of the issue. He takes on the forces of desire that define our lives. We must stop living for ourselves and lay down our lives for the sake of others and for the glory of God. But… How and why would anyone do that because this world will eat you alive!
You noticed that last time in chapter 3 James dealt with our words we speak and their power. He closes with verse 17 and 18 defining Godly speech and the fruit and huge harvest we will receive from it. That’s obviously the church and community we want to have; but now James turns and pointedly shows us the church and community we have instead. What we have is because we tend to live out what we want instead of dealing with what we have. I can almost just stop here and let us read the reasons, the motives and the solution. But, let’s go on a bit.
The point of the title “Going against the flow” speaks directly to the fact that we are trying to live out our Godly, Christian values and His directives within a culture and a world that is hostile to the Gospel.
So far we don’t live in a nation that is experiencing persecution of believers in the Gospel but we do live in a nation nonetheless that is increasingly moving AWAY from GODLINESS and becoming GODLESS and looking at Christianity as ridiculous, ignorant, misinformed, and highly prejudiced and arrogant.
Our American culture increasingly is looking at independence, …or “rugged individualism” as the way to live our life. More and more we think “I’ve got everything stocked up and ready for whatever comes and I can handle it. I don’t have to depend on anybody.” James here is describing anything but that here. He’s describing a group or community of people who are interdependent with one another.
There is a question that arises here: If this is becoming true that our culture is becoming more and more independent and if the individual is now his own king and dependant on nobody; then who gives us our identity? Who are we as a people, community, or nation? If we are not one person and one community and one nation under God; but instead are one person, one community, one nation independent of everyone else; then who are we? Let me put this in another perspective that may strike home a bit more:
Consider our NASCAR family for a few minutes here. Our little family is the NASCAR K&N West. But we are related to our NASCAR Sprint Cup, Xfinity, K&N East, and yes, even the two Whelen Modified Series and each of our NASCAR Home Tracks. Look how often when something bad happens, teams around you pitch in immediately and help. Look at how after the ThorSports Racing truck series team had the terrible fire team after team came to their assistance in all kinds of different ways. How many times have you or your team had an engine issue …or any kind of issue, …and other people and teams came with parts, tools, time to help at their own team’s expense? That’s what we are talking about here. That’s how God wants us to operate and treat each other. Even when we buy engines, chassis and parts we do it from NASCAR family up the line most often. Scripture clearly tells us to choose our brothers and sisters to work with instead of the unbelieving world when we do business so we support each other. Our NASCAR family is precious examples of how a church and Christian community of individuals are supposed to work together. This is something we can be proud of family and I know God honors us!
Let’s put this one more way: All of us have worked with a group of Type A individuals that were supposed to be operating as a team. Did that work for you? It sure didn’t for me! In a group like that no one will submit their needs for the group needs. Eventually there is a blowup or complete disbanding unless there is change. The very word “team” doesn’t connect with the word individualism does it.
Today too many people get independence and liberty mixed up. Here is a good example to chew upon for a while. In a Supreme Court case a few years ago Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote this: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” He is saying that I, ALONE, have the right to define what is the meaning of these things; including what is the meaning of life and imposes that meaning upon yours and my life also. That is called INDEPENDENCE. Well, yes, God had given His creation called “Mankind” the ability and freedom to think for himself and choose between who sits on the throne …himself or God, his Creator. However, now speaking to that exact quote by Justice Kennedy, let me add a quote by John Piper whom I often am blown away by his brilliant, simple understanding of scripture and God’s design. “For this principal to hold, liberty being the right to define one’s own existence, God MUST be excluded from the picture, because what it means to be God is that God defines FOR US the nature of our existence.”
Throughout history every generation has changed because of their social input and changing belief system they are exposed too. Unfortunately, few students like to study history and certainly nobody seems to look at history as a teacher and use it to not repeat past mistakes by societies. That drives me nuts and always has especially when I look at the Old Testament Prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah etc., and their obedience to God delivering His messages to Israel about their sin and the consequences coming because of it and comparing America today with the same things.
While we might say that we have adopted our own opinions and life standards from those around us, we are still shaped by far too many wacko viewpoints forced upon us by the media, educational systems of today, and their philosophies in the name of independence and liberty. We have come to exalt the individual that exalts themselves in America today and for far too long. And we wonder how we have wacko’s leading our nation and running for office today? I know that for years I have been sick and tire of our young generations being subjected to wacko’s from around the world speaking to our high school and college kids about everything that America DOESN”T stand for! All the way through our daughter’s education when they came home and told us about what they heard, I would respond in the same fashion as the late newsman Paul Harvey and say: “And now let me tell you the rest of the story” and deal with the truth mostly left out to make their wacko point look right. Okay, sorry to get off on a rant, …but not really. I am appalled at where America stands today and the leadership’s values we accept as okay today.
Go back to what James says in James 4: verses 4–6. James is NOT speaking to an individual but a community of believers who are trying to do the Jesus life together but they kept tripping over things in each others’ character and in their own that created friction like sin, selfishness, and all kinds of other things. James is connecting the problems of that day to people wanting to be there but also have their own way and not God’s way at the same time. James says that will not work. The concept that we can serve Jesus alone within a community whether it’s NASCAR K&N, your home church, neighborhood, city, state or even nation cannot work. Like it or not we are all together in one and have to work things out on how to get along, love one another, and live together. Only God’s way will work but nobody wants to submit wanting their own way for the good of all. Because of that only through God’s resurrection power working within us so much that we are willing to lay down our lives as a whole body can this ever happen.
That fact then moves us to the point that in order for any of that to happen is to be DEEPLY INVOLVED in that COMMUNITY. That actually means involved with every community… your local church, your family, NASCAR, your work, and all the areas affecting your life here in the United States. That means we need to show up regularly at these areas and have our heart right when we do. Yes, church, family, our racing family here in NASCAR, is the place to learn and practice best because these are most of our focus. That’s where we can set an example and help change happen in others. It sure will not be easy, but then life isn’t easy, is it. Besides that there likely will not be much reward because of the state of our world today, but there WILL be reward in eternity in God’s Kingdom waiting for you and me.
That’s certainly hard to even think about is it not? Go back to what James says in verse three (3). Basically, God is saying “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you spend what you get on your own pleasures.” James is describing the typical point of view and the worldly view that life is here, God is here, and all these things are here, to serve ME. But God is saying that’s because you have things backwards. We have lost this connection with the Head of everything. That’s a Cross-less Christianity, or at least one that never makes us pick the Cross up ourselves as Jesus requires each of us to do.
Question then: That means that shouldn’t we show up on time and ready to minister to others around us? That word “ministry” in effect means “lay down our life” to someone else around us that we come in contact with. That’s not just a concept for Kathy and me here at this race track today. Hey, it’s each of us here. Even if we are here as more less the point of the show, like the Driver, Car Owner, or on the other side of the fence like the Official, …I don’t care what role we carry …we each need to come ready to lay down our first priority to serve someone else a moment in some way. That even may mean to race a competitor squeaky clean at a time when we have the opportunity to take an advantage by a simple but unfair or slick, tricky way…maybe we could call it “games-man-ship.” Yipe! …Did I just say all that? Oh yeah, I remember all too well from back in the day!
So then, IF, we did all this today, what are the results? Well, consider verse 6: God gives GRACE, and shows FAVOR, while opposing the proud. I don’t know about you, but that works for me when I am on God’s side! But, once again that doesn’t mean I will see it immediately as I said back a few paragraphs.
God is calling us to grow up and take up our cross. It’s up to each of us. That opportunity comes to us every day, hour by hour, even one minute to the next in our world and nation today. Our pride, and that is the root in us, is being tested each day more and more as our nation, and world becomes deeper in Godlessness. Let me leave you with some statements on our enemy inside us …pride:
- Pride leaves you more aware of others’ faults than your own.
- Pride has a harsh spirit and contempt toward others.
- Pride causes us to be offended and quickly separate from others.
- Pride is dogmatic and sure about every point of belief. (That’s religion at it’s worst form)
- Pride takes great notice of opposition and injuries.
- Pride loves to confront in order to win, but escapes confrontation to avoid being found wrong.
- Pride fills us with self pity because it deserves a better life than this.
Those are statements we can check ourselves on daily if we catch ourselves thinking or acting that way.
This message follows along with the message and Series on James by our home church Pastors:
Bruce Stefanik and Jason Treadwell
Church On The Hill in Salem, Oregon.
That can be heard and viewed at:
Bible Version: GBB