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Presentation 17. The Structure of the Book Introduction and Trials in the Christian Life (1: 1-8) Happiness in our Circumstances(1: 9-11) Trial, Temptation.

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Presentation on theme: "Presentation 17. The Structure of the Book Introduction and Trials in the Christian Life (1: 1-8) Happiness in our Circumstances(1: 9-11) Trial, Temptation."— Presentation transcript:

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2 The Structure of the Book Introduction and Trials in the Christian Life (1: 1-8) Happiness in our Circumstances(1: 9-11) Trial, Temptation and Gift (1: 12-18) Hindrances to Fruitfulness(1: 19-21) Doers and Hearers (1: 22-25) True Religion (1: 26-27) Favouritism (2: 1-7) The Royal Law (2: 8-12a) Showing Mercy (2.12b-13] Faith and Works (2:14-26) Teachers and the Tongue (3: 1-12) True and False Wisdom, (3: 13-17) Peacemakers (3: 18) Defeat Through Lack of Submission(4: 1-6) Victory Through Submission(4: 7—10) Judging One Another (4: 11-12) Boasting of Tomorrow (4: 13-17) The Misuse of Wealth(5: 1-6) The Need of Patience (5: 7-12) Appropriate Responses (5:13-16) Restoring the Wanderer (5:17-20) Presentation 17

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4 Introduction We are all engaged in some form of forward planning. Keen gardeners read their seed catalogues in the winter and place their orders early. Those who are entertaining a large number of guests will begin their preparations days before they are due to arrive. Perhaps you have a year planner on the wall at home into which you enter future engagements for the months ahead. Planning ahead is part and parcel of all our daily lives. And yet James introduces a cautionary note concerning a wrong spirit that can creep into forward planning. Presentation 17

5 The Presumption of Man What is it that James is condemning? He addresses the businessman. The Bible never condemns honest initiative, hard work, or profit making. He is not saying it is wrong for businessmen to set out long term goals and strategies. James has a particular businessmen in mind. The man who arrogantly and presumptuously lives and behaves as if there is no God. He has pinned his flow chart to the wall, and arrogantly believes nothing can thwart his objectives. He believes nothing can stand in his way for he is in control of local, national and international events. The danger of that kind of arrogance is that it fails to recognise that God is in charge. Presentation 17

6 The Presumption of Man James addresses the successful who are opening up new markets in other cities. Spiritual danger can result from material success, for we have a tendency to forget God when things go well. E.g. After describing the Promised Land, Moses told Israel, “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God...You may say to yourself, “My power and my strength and my hands have produced this wealth for me". But remember the Lord your God for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”” Deut ]. A presumptuous arrogance can invade our thinking persuading us we can achieve whatever we plan and that all of our success is due to our own skill and power. Presentation 17

7 The Presumption of Man James wants us to understand why such an approach to life is so foolish. First, none of us know what is going to happen tomorrow never mind next year. We are not the lords of history. The writer of the book of Proverbs put it this way: "Do not boast about tomorrow for you do not know what a day may bring forth.“ Prov. 27v1 Think of the look of surprise on the face of the Shah when he left Iran for good. He didn’t plan for exile for he did not see it coming. Presentation 17

8 The Presumption of Man Secondly, James reminds us of the brevity of life. None of us can draw a breath without God's permission. We do not know how long we have to live. A man's life may be full of show, noise, activity and boasting but in a pathetically short time it is all over. In the words of Thomas Gray's famous poem, "The paths of glory lead but to the grave." The Bible uses helpful illustrations to describe the brevity of life. Our days are like a shadow, [Ps. 144v4] swifter than a weavers shuttle, [Job7v6] swifter than a runner, [Job 9v25] a mere handbreadth, [Ps.39v5] they vanish like smoke, [Ps102v3] they wither like grass. [Ps102v11] Presentation 17

9 The Presumption of Man Someone has said, “man is not here to stay but here to go.” During a hospital visit a minister noticed a patient lying in a bed – not a member of his church - he had a little lapel badge on which read, "Built to Last". The tragedy of the situation was that the man had a terminal illness and had only weeks to live. When we are young we think time drags its feet. Children cannot imagine what it is to wait a few months till their next birthday. But as we get older the years seem to be concentrated to the blinking of an eye. How does James describe life’s brevity? - its like a morning mist..! Presentation 17

10 The Presumption of Man Thirdly, the presumptuous individual James has in mind has also failed to learn the lessons of history. Previous setbacks and disappointments due to events outside their control. The presumptuous man is often stubbornly and wilfully blind to the past. Think of the man who invests all his wealth in the stock market because he refuses to believe that it will ever crash again. He has not learned the lesson of history Presentation 17

11 The Sovereignty of God James isn't saying, planning ahead is wrong. Individuals, families, businesses and churches all need to engage in forward planning. However, what would be the height of arrogance, what would be dreadfully wrong would be to make our plans without any reference to God. To boast of future success because we have confidence in ourselves, our gifts and abilities and in our ability to shape history in order to ensure our success – and to do all this without any reference to God. Presentation 17

12 The Sovereignty of God James wants to instil in us a right attitude to life. This involves recognising that God is in charge. And so our lives should be lived in humble submission to God's will. Do you believe that God has a plan for your life? Heb12v1 speaks of life as "a race marked out for us". Paul describes Christians as "God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." [Eph.2.10] Wilful arrogance cannot coexist with humble submission to God. We cannot claim that God is in charge of our lives if we are not looking around for his directions. That is James point. Presentation 17

13 The Sovereignty of God We see this submission worked out practically in the life of Paul, who recognised the providence of God, which must overrule any plans of his own. In Acts he promises the church in Ephesus, "I will come back if it is God's will”. He wrote to the church at Rome, "I pray that now at last by God's will the way may be opened for me to come to you” [Rom. 1v10]. He promised the Corinthians "I will come to you very soon if the Lord is willing." [1Cor.4.19] Paul recognised that all his plans had to pass through the filter of God's will. Presentation 17

14 The Sovereignty of God This attitude has a positive benefit. It is God's answer to fretting anxiety. Jesus said, "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself [Matt.6.24]. People often reply, "Its easy to say, "Don’t worry", but if you knew my situation....." But this command becomes sane rather than simplistic when we realise that our worrying cannot change the future; which future is in the hands of an all wise all loving God. To grasp this is to steer clear of two dangers. One is planning recklessly without reference to God and the other is living carelessly in the hope that "things will work out all right in the end". Presentation 17

15 The Sin of Omission So important is it for the Christian to place God in the centre of his planning that James says quite plainly, "Anyone then who knows the good he ought to do but doesn't do it sins". This verse might strike you as out of place but this is far from the case. Remember James is addressing professing Christians some of whom were living like practical atheists. They knew about the Lordship of God. They knew the importance of placing God at the centre of their thinking and their planning- but chose to disregard these things. Presentation 17

16 The Sin of Omission It is possible to be so consumed with our plans and furthering our prospects that we are blind to the need of others and deaf to the voice of God? “Anyone then who knows the good he ought to do and does not do it sins”. V17 James knew that there were those in need around his readership, whom they could have helped but they chose not to do so. They could have advanced the cause of Christ’s kingdom but chose not to. The sin of omission, not doing what we know deep down to be right, is surely the one we are most guilty of. Presentation 17

17 The Sin of Omission Jesus speaks of those whose lives have been marked by the sin of omission when they face him on the day of judgement. “For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me." They also will answer Lord when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or in need of clothes or sick or in prison and did not help you? He will reply, "I tell you the truth whatever you did not do for one of the least of these [my brothers] you did not do for me.” Matt 25.42ff Presentation 17

18 The Sin of Omission What was their great sin? Not that they were murderers, rapists, bank robbers or adulterers but that they failed to do what they should have done for others. The sin of omission is what is being described! Here were people who left God out of their lives and out of their planning. And because God was relegated from his rightful place, they failed to live, as God would have them live. These people had lived self absorbed lives. Presentation 17

19 Conclusion Has James challenged your heart? Have these verses caused you to ask what reference you make to God when you think and plan for the future? When we begin to see that God controls our personal histories then we become more sensitive to the situations and needs around us. Instead of being self – absorbed and grasping out to benefit only ourselves, we become increasingly sensitive to others needs. That’s what James is aiming for through this passage! Presentation 17


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