James as he close his letter, goes back to the theme of patience in the trials. And the reason that we are to be patient is that it is nature of our faith. Jesus had conquered the death and he brought the new life to us. And this is completely done on the cross. There's nothing that we can add to it. However, it is not fully completed because we are to grow in knowledge and relationship. Until Jesus returns we are to wait patiently.
It is much easier to grumble than to be patient. However, James prohibits it by giving us the same urgency. Jesus is at the door. He will come and judge. Moreover, we are not supposed to take an oath. Swear often happens when people lose patience. So James urges his readers to be patient instead of grumbling and carelessly swearing.
Then how does the patience look like? It is shown in form of a prayer. Prayer requires a lot of patience but at the same time prayer is the explicit form of patience. So if we meet a situation or a hardship, it's a reminder of prayers. If someone gets ill, he is supposed to ask the elders to come and pray. They can use medical remedy (anointing oil), but prayer comes first. And this prayer is not the least way, but the most certain and powerful way because it connects us to God. We pray not to bring God's power to us, but to bring us to God's presence. Therefore, we should pray in each situation. And why do we pray? It is a dump question. Why don't we pray is the right question because God who answers our prayers is our father. If we don't pray, that's weird. It's not weird to pray. And for Christians, if we don't pray each other, it is a sin (1 Samuel 12:23). Let's pray.
Next Sunday we will meet at 11:00am for the church-wide joint worship. (Not meeting at 1:30pm)
In a capitalist society, the subject of economy is each individuals, since each person has their own responsibilities regarding their finances. Therefore, people tend to seek accumulation of their own possessions. In this sense, people say investment is better than saving. But this is true only under the one condition. It is that investment should be made in the right thing.
Today's passage is not about finance, yet reminds us the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:19-20. Jesus told to lay up treasures in heaven, not on earth. This means invest your possessions in heaven. Likewise, James is warning the riches who stacked up their possessions on this earth. The reason is that they are temporary. They will be rotten and corroded, which means they become useless on the last day. Also, James warns the riches because they exploited their employees. That is against God.
Therefore, we should invest what we have in things eternal, that is much better than saving a lot on this earth. How to do it? The answer is in Matthew 25:40. 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'
By looking after the needy around us with what we have given from God is the best investment.
The fool says in his heart that there is no God, but the wise knows God and admit his sovereignty. And the wise live under God's authority. James describes it in three ways. First, do not speak evil against one another nor judge them. Evil speaking is prohibited by the law. If someone think it's okay to break it, it means he is the judge of the law. But there's only one judge and lawmaker which is God. Everyone else is the doers. So we are not to speak evil against our neighbors.
Secondly, we are to seek the will of God. Everyone makes plans and often times forgets God's approval. Instead, we want to use God's power and mercy to achieve our goals and executes plans. This is arrogant boasting and James says this is evil. However, the wise know that we are like a mist. Therefore, they seek the will of God first, in all situations.
Thirdly, the wise live under God's authority by doing the right thing. Our definition of sin is a sin of commission in most times. However, James talks about the sin of omission. If we know the right thing to do and don't do it, it is a sin. Jesus in this sermon on the mount, turned the negative prohibitions in the law to positive injunctions. It not enough not to speak evil against brothers. We should do more than that. We should love them. It's not enough to stop making our own plans, but we should make plans in accordance with the will of God.
That's how to live a life under God's authority.
1. Next Sunday, our EM service will be a church-wide praise worship service at 1:00pm.
James points out that the quarrels and fights among us are from the 'pleasures' that we seek yet cannot obtain. Therefore, we do fight and even kill. The world that we are living drives us to seek our own pleasure and they say it is legitimate. However, according to James, it is not, because we cannot be satisfied by seeking pleasure. Our satisfaction only comes when we ask (to God for wisdom).
Those who do not have wisdom become adulterous and seek to be a friend of world, without realizing to be the enemy of God. So we should seek the wisdom in a given situation instead of seeking pleasure.
Wisdom comes from seeing a far, and seeing the result. And we have to know that some day we will stand before the Judge. If we know and believe it, we would live in a different purpose and pace. Our decisions would be changed and our focus will be redirected.
In order to do that, we need to be humble. God gives grace to the humble. We have many examples in OT. Even to the two worst kings, Ahab, the seventh king of Northern Israel, and the king, Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, God gave graces when they humbled themselves. But to the ones who were proud, God brought judgments on them. And our humility shows in submitting ourselves to God, resisting the devil, drawing near to God, cleansing our hands (not literally), purifying our hearts, and mourning. And God is the hope to those who humble, because he will exalt the humble at the end.
Grain offering is the second offering comes in Leviticus and Hebrew word for it is Minha, which means a tribute. When the Israelites were in the wilderness God told them to give grain offering and it assures that God will provide the land to cultivate and the grain to offer. And this grain offering is going to be a tribute to God who is their sovereign king. By giving this offering, they recognize that God is their Lord and provider. And this is what we should have in our worship. We worship God who is our sovereign king and ultimate provider. And this worship is not only referring our worship service on Sunday. Every thing in our life should be a form of worship.
And the priests were supposed to take only a handful amount of what is brought to them. And by taking only small portion as memorial God receives the whole offering. And this is a picture of Jesus' ministry. By taking Jesus to the alter, those who were brought with Jesus will be accepted. Also, this is a picture of our life. By giving our memorial portion of life, God accepts our whole life, as he did to Cornelius in Acts 10:4.
God allowed the Israelites to bring fine flour with oil and frankincense. in order to be fine flour, the grain must be powdered and pass through a sieve. In order to be oil, olive must be squeezed and extracted. It shows our death. In order for us to be given to God, we should die. Only through it, Christ will live in us. And to bring frankincense, one must make financial sacrifice.
If the incense is too expensive, the Israelites can cook the flour, without yeast, which makes the flour ferment. It reminds them of Exodus, and symbolize that they offering needs to be kept from being rotten. They can bake, fry, and boil.
In the example of grain offering from priests, God ask them to burn all of the offering without leaving anything behind. But in people's grain offering, God allowed his priests to have food. By doing so, God become the provider to the priests as well. People bring grain offering to confess that God is their provider, and the priests were able to confess the same thing by taking the leftover food.
Also, the priests were supposed to give their grain offering every morning and every evening. It means that they also need grace to live. They also should be the worshipers.
God delivered the people of Israel from Egypt and it was not mere deliverance. God's purpose was to make them a nation that serves God. So the salvation of Israel is not coming out of Egypt but it is becoming the people of God. In order for them to be, they need to know God and how to live. This is where the Leviticus comes. This book teaches about the sacrificial offerings and feasts, and through those the Israelites were able to keep their relationship with their Savior.
Leviticus 1 talks about the burnt offering. And we can think three things from this. One is that our salvation is not an one-time event but a continual relationship. God made this regulations about the burnt offering is not to receive the offering itself, not to be respected. Rather, God is teaching this in order for the sinners to be able to approach God. This is a huge thing. These regulations are not for God's own sake but for the sinner's sake. In fact, God did not want the meat sacrifices and smell in the first place. That's why God nullified through his precious son's blood.
And secondly, our center of worship is God. The center of the sacrifices to the idols are the desires of those who give sacrifices. They give their offerings to their chosen god in order to receive what they wanted. To whom, with what, and how to give sacrifices are determined based on their desires. However, here God determines what would please holy God.
Lastly, God wanted them to burn all of it, unlike other sacrifices. This is the shadow of what Christ would do to open the gate for the sinners to approach God. It was through complete death. So by burning all of it, they can know how holy God is and how serious our sins are. And based on this rules, Christ completely died. He burnt all of himself. And now God asks us to burn all of ourselves for God.
1. After service, we had a BBQ at Mr. Eugene's new house! Thank you for everyone coming!
In our passage James is talking about the wisdom. Generally wisdom is different from knowledge. Knowledge is about what, while wisdom is about how. Therefore, wisdom in and out of itself cannot be apart from our life. Wisdom can only exist when it is applied. And James asks a question in verse 13, who is wise and understanding among you? This question reminds us those who want to be teachers in verse 1. And James addressed them with this question and challenged them to show their wisdom. And this wisdom is supposed to be wisdom from above.
There are other wisdom which is not from above. It is motivated by jealousy and selfish ambition. This is the wisdom of this world. It looks like wisdom and it seems to be beneficial. And sometimes it even brings wealth and comforts. However, no matter what the result looks like, it will produces disorder and evil in the end.
But wisdom from above has the opposite ending. All the words used in verses 17 and 18 are not individual but communal. This kind of wisdom produces good fruits to the community. It builds up the relationship.
One of the good examples of this is David. While he had chances to kill king Soul twice, and he was able to kill him, with pure heart, peaceable and gentle mind, submissive to his God, with full of mercy and to eager to produce good fruits, with impartial and sincere judgment, he concluded that killing the man who was anointed by God is not right. This is the wisdom from above.
How can we get it, then? According to James 1:5, we have to ask God. It means we should ask wisdom instead of asking solution. Also, it means we have to ask God not someone else.
1. We will have BBQ on next Sunday (September 30th) at Mr. Eugene's new house
Today we had a church-wide outdoor worship service and activities.
Thank you for those who come and participated every programs.
We will have regular worship service next Sunday.