A sermon podcast of Hope Alliance Church
Listening and Doing
If we are going to grow and mature in our faith, then the gospel must be central. And we must not only hear it, but we also have to do it - live by faith on the basis of it. But James understands there is an often overlooked reality that makes this possible. We must embrace the gospel - literally welcome it in. Pulling on Jesus' parable of the sower, James calls us to do the hard work of making space in the soil of our lives to implant the gospel within us. It is the implanted seed of the gospel that ultimately bears fruit.
While life is certainly filled with external trials, it is even more full of internal trials. James calls these temptations and warns us that they only lead to death. Our only hope in the face of this death is the good gift of new birth that God offers through the gospel. It is the joy of this salvation that sustains us when we meet trials (external and internal) of various kinds.
Perseverance in Trials
The reality of trials and struggle in life is a "when" not "if" reality. And James tells us that only way to sustain ourselves in them is to fight for a stabilizing joy that comes from our hope in the gospel. Single-minded maturity is the product of seeking and acting on God's wisdom. And in this race of life, single-minded means to fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith.
James is a prominent leader in the church at Jerusalem writing to a scattered group of believers on the heels of great persecution. In this difficult season, he is calling them away from arrogant self-dependence and to single-minded maturity that comes from a dependence on God and his wisdom.
Jesus Brings God
At Christmas we celebrate that Jesus Brings God; Emmanuel, God with us...in our flesh and in our struggles. Jesus is full life and brings light into our lives. When we make room in our hearts, he and the Father come and make their home in us, giving us light and life now and forever.
Jesus Brings Victory
Sometimes the idyllic nature of the Christmas story, distracts us from seeing what is actually happening. A king is arriving to inaugurate his kingdom and that is a threat to many. When we see Jesus for who he really is, we are left with two choices: either we kill him or we crown him. Herod shows us what those gripping to power are inclined to do, but the magi show us the right way to receive our victorious king - in worship.