Istrouma Baptist Church Podcast (James)

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Syndication

A Wisconsin bus driver is being hailed as a hero after she rescued two siblings found wandering in the snow during last week’s cold snap. Nicole Chamberlain said she found a 6-year-old boy and his 2-year-old sister in Waukesha, not properly dressed for the cold. At the time the temperature was 18 degrees, according to local news reports. The girl was only wearing a T-shirt, boots and her diaper.

 

Bus surveillance video shows Chamberlain scoop up the girl and put the two on the bus for warmth. Chamberlain wrapped her coat around the girl. "I said, 'What's going on?' and they said, 'We're looking for grandma.' I said, 'Come with me, I'm gonna put you on the warm bus, and I'll help you find grandma.' And so they came with me," Chamberlain said. "I picked them up and put them on my bus and called the police."

 

Police said the kids' grandmother was watching them but when she went in the basement for a moment, they headed outside to look for her. Within minutes, the grateful grandmother arrived at the bus and explained to police that the two had wandered away from home.

 

Chamberlain said she was glad her bus route took her past the right place at the right time. "If that were to happen to my children, I would hope that there would be somebody, a decent human being, that would stop and help my kids," she said. Police said they were not recommending charges in the case.

 

All’s well that ends well.  Those wandering children were found and brought back home.  Somebody was watching out for them!

 

Little children are not the only ones who wander.  And frigid cold is not the only threat.

 

God is a good, good father who keeps watch over his children. He doesn’t want us to wander and be lost. For that reason he sent his son to be the savior of the world.  For that same reason he sends those of us who have been rescued to bring back home those who wander.

 

He calls us to “watch out for wanderers!” That will be our theme this Sunday at Istrouma as we focus on James 5:19-20. Be sure to join us! 

 

James: Practical Spirituality

“Watch out for Wanderers!”

James 5:19-20

 

  1. A temptation to avoid

 

My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth . . . (5:19a).

 

  1. There is universal guilt

 

  1. There is unlimited grace

 

 

  1. A task to accept

 

. . . and someone brings him back (5:19b).

 

  1. God is recruiting workers

 

  1. God is restoring wanderers

 

 

  1. A truth to announce

 

Let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins (5:20).

 

  1. There is joy in service
  2. There is joy in salvation
Direct download: IBC_20191117.mp3
Category:James -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

One of the most exuberant and engaging TV personalities of recent memory was Steve Irwin—the “crocodile hunter.”  He was an Australian who grew up, literally, in a zoo that his parents operated.  When he was six-years-old, he got his first python.  By the time he was nine, he wrestled his first croc.  He loved wildlife and was an advocate for them.

 

When he was 44-years-old he was snorkeling in chest-high water.  His crew was filming a stingray.  Normally stingrays are described as docile but they do have a venomous barb at the end of their tail. When threatened it is a formidable weapon.  Something must have spooked the stingray because it began thrusting its tail wildly. 

 

Steve was hit in his heart.  Within a few short minutes he died.

 

There is so much irony in his death.  He loved animals and advocated for them.  He was young and vibrant.  Death by a stingray injury is very, very rare. 

 

But the story of Steve Irwin reminds us of how fragile and fleeting life is. We never know when our time will come or how it will end.

 

How, then, ought we to face the future?  That will be our theme this Sunday at Istrouma as we focus on James 4:13-17. Be sure to join us! 

Direct download: IBC_20191110.mp3
Category:James -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

I’m sure it comes as no newsflash, but we are living in a war-torn world.

 

Think of the serious conflicts that rage globally. Hotspots include: Turkey and Syria, India and Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and the list goes on. Not only are there are conflicts between nations, there are conflicts within nations—places like Venezuela and Hong Kong. In fact, it might be easier to list the countries that don’t have war than those that do. Recently the Institute for Economics and Peace evaluated 162 countries. Only 11 were not involved in conflict of one kind or another.

 

It’s bad enough to have conflict within the league of nations, but how bad is it when it erupts in Little League?! On June 15, 2019, a baseball game for 7-year-olds in Lakewood, Colorado descended into chaos when parents disagreed over a decision made by the 13-year-old umpire.  Spectators captured video of a shocking brawl that ensued. Authorities ultimately issued citations for disorderly conduct to twelve adults. Crazy!

 

Let me get more personal still.  What about your family?  What about your own heart?  Are you at peace?

 

This coming Sunday at Istrouma we will focus on James 4:1-10. There God gives us a prescription for peace.  We’ll see the sources of conflicts, the seriousness of conflicts, and the solution to conflicts. Be sure to join us!

 

James: Practical Spirituality

“A Prescription for Peace”

James 4:1-10

 

  1. The sources of sinful conflict

 

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? (4:1a)

 

  1. We are self-centered

 

  1. We are self-sufficient

 

 

  1. The seriousness of sinful conflict

 

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a firend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (4:4-5).

 

  1. We become adulterers to God

 

  1. We become adversaries to God

 

 

  1. The solution to sinful conflict

 

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (4:6-7).

 

  1. God offers a present
  2. God orders a prescription
Direct download: IBC_20191103.mp3
Category:James -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

If you were given one wish, for what would you ask? A lot of money? Fame? A long life?

 

I heard about a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary. They were both about 50 years old.  As they strolled along the beach, the husband accidentally kicked over a bottle hidden in the sand.  A genie emerged. “You can each have one wish,” she said.

 

The wife made her wish first. “I would like a luxurious trip around the world with my husband.” Suddenly there appeared in her hand two tickets for just such an adventure.

 

Now it was the husbands turn. “Well,” said the husband, with a mischievous look on his face, “I wish my wife were 25 years younger than I am.” The words were barely out of his mouth when, poof, he became 75 years old!

 

The reality is that, if you lack wisdom, even wishes that come true can become curses. Above all else we need wisdom! If you’re going to “make a wish,” wish for wisdom! Pray rightly for it and God will grant it!

 

This Sunday at Istrouma we will focus on James 3:13-18 and what God says there about wisdom. Be sure to join us!  It’ll be better for you than a trip around the world!

 

James: Practical Spirituality

“Wish for Wisdom!”   

James 3:13-18

 

  1. Different origins of wisdom

 

This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic (3:15)

 

  1. There’s a wisdom from heaven

 

  1. There’s a wisdom from hell

 

 

  1. Different operations of wisdom

 

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere (3:16-17).

 

  1. There’s a wisdom that is selfish

 

  1. There’s a wisdom that is spiritual

 

 

  1. Different outcomes of wisdom

 

And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (3:18).

 

  1. There’s a wisdom that produces rebellion
  2. There’s a wisdom that produces righteousness
Direct download: IBC_20191020.mp3
Category:James -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

“Stick out your tongue.”

 

That’s the typical instruction you get when you go for a doctor’s visit, right?  Have you ever wondered why? It’s because your tongue tells a lot about you. From anemia, to autoimmune diseases, to allergies, to vitamin deficiencies, to hygiene, to hydration, the tongue can be a good indicator of your physical health.

               

Did you know that your tongue can also be a good indicator of your spiritual health?  The words that we say (or fail to say) are a telltale sign of the condition of our hearts. Jesus knew this full well. Listen to what he said in Luke 6:45, especially the final phrase, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”  Our tongue is a window through which we can see the health of our heart.

               

This coming Sunday morning we’ll allow the Great Physician to take a good, long, hard look at our tongues—at the words we speak and the heart that prompts them. We’ll be in James 3:1-12 for a message entitled, “Tame the Tongue.” Be sure to join us!

 

James: Practical Spirituality

“Tame the Tongue!”   

James 3:1-12

 

  1. The paradox of the tongue

 

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!  (3:5)

 

  1. It is small

 

  1. It is strong

 

 

  1. The potential of the tongue

 

With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God (3:9).

 

  1. It can help

 

  1. It can harm

 

 

  1. The problem of the tongue

 

But no human being can tame the tongue (3:8a).

 

  1. James states the problem
  2. Jesus solves the problem
Direct download: IBC_20191013.mp3
Category:James -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

In the great flood of 2016, over 140,000 homes flooded.  A governmental organization was formed to offer help to those persons affected by the floods.  Hundreds of millions of dollars were allocated for that purpose.  Extensive efforts were made to get people to apply for grants.

 

Approximately 50,000 homeowners applied for help.  That means that, in very round numbers, only a little more than one-third of those adversely affected by the flood applied for grants.  Why so few?  Perhaps some didn’t think that they needed the help.  Perhaps some were unaware of the offer.  It is likely that some did not believe that the offer would produce any genuine help. 

 

But I, for one, believed (or at least I was desperate)! Granted, my faith was small and wavering, but I knew we had a need. I also knew monies had been allotted.  So here’s the way my thinking went: perhaps, if I apply, I may get help; but if I don’t apply, I know I won’t get any help.  So, I matched my wavering faith with concrete actions—I applied.  In fact, that small seed of faith gave birth to my actions.  You could say that the “works” of filling out the applications and engaging in the process were the evidence and the product of my “faith.” 

 

A faith that will not complete the application accomplishes nothing.  In fact any such “faith” is dead.  It is false. 

 

Genuine faith works.  Authentic faith acts.

 

In the end, we were blessed with a grant that helped us restore our home.  In a manner of speaking, faith secured grace.  And we are grateful!

               

That may not be a perfect illustration of the relationship between salvation, faith and works, but it is along the lines of what the Apostle James argues in chapter 2 verses 14-26 of his namesake epistle. He insists that faith without works is dead.  It does not save.  To the contrary, the only kind of faith that saves is the kind that works!

 

Join us this coming Sunday at Istrouma as we continue our sermon series through the epistle of James in a message entitled, “Don’t Be Fooled by False Faith!”

 

James: Practical Spirituality

“Don’t Be Fooled by False Faith”   

James 2:14-26

 

  1. Dead faith

 

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (2:14-17).

 

  1. Dead faith is announced

 

  1. Dead faith is alone

 

  1. Demonic faith

 

You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! (2:19)

 

  1. Demons have faith

 

  1. Demons have feelings

 

 

  1. Dynamic faith

 

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead (2:21-26).

 

  1. Dynamic faith serves
  2. Dynamic faith saves
Direct download: IBC_20190929.mp3
Category:James -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Micha Caiting

 

 

Direct download: IBC_20190922.mp3
Category:James -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Many of you will remember that, some time ago, we received counterfeit bills in the offering plate at Istrouma! They’re pictured here. You have to look pretty close to see the telltale signs of inauthenticity.

 

When you stop and think about it, it’s pretty audacious to give an offering to the Lord that’s fake. 

 

But, let’s be honest, we’re more than capable of doing so, aren’t we?  Oh, we wouldn’t dare to drop a counterfeit bill into the offering plate (after all, you can go to jail for a stunt like that). But when, in the process of worship, our hearts are far from him, we’re equally guilty of trying to “pass a counterfeit.”

 

I’ve kept those bills as a pointed reminder that God hates hypocrisy. He simply wants us to be the real deal.

 

The truth is that it’s possible, not only to have counterfeits show up in the plate, counterfeits can show up in the pews as well!  I’m not talking about counterfeit currency; I’m talking about counterfeit Christians.

 

It is possible to have all the outward religious trappings of Christianity—songs, offerings, prayers—without an ounce of inward reality.  God’s word warns against this ever-present danger in James 1:22, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  It is bad when you’re deceived by someone; it is worse still when you are deceived by yourself! 

 

Join us this coming Sunday at Istrouma as we continue our sermon series through the epistle of James in a message entitled, “Be the Real Deal!”  Let’s cut out the counterfeit!

 

James: Practical Spirituality

“Be the Real Deal”   

James 1:19-27

 

  1. Accept the word

 

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls (1:19-21).

 

  1. Requirements for receiving the word

 

  1. Result of receiving the word

 

 

  1. Apply the word

 

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing (1:22-25).

 

  1. Listen to the word

 

  1. Live the word

 

 

  1. Authenticate the word

 

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world (1:26-27).

 

  1. Examine your communication
  2. Examine your compassion
  3. Examine your character
Direct download: IBC_20190915a.mp3
Category:James -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

When I was in graduate school in Memphis many moons ago, a friend of mine and I decided to take a spring break trip. We planned to travel to the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee to do a multi-day hiking and camping trek in the “backcountry.”  For weeks in advance we planned our trail itinerary—how many miles we would cover in a day and where we would camp each evening.  Our schedule was aggressive but we felt that we could do it.

-

The national park required that a ranger sign off on our plan.  The ranger assigned to our case looked over our plan and promptly denied it.  She said that it was out of the question.  Too ambitious.  She implied that we were incapable of doing what we’d outlined—that the demands of the backcountry at that pace might even put us into danger.  We were ticked!

-

We insisted that we see her supervisor.  He looked over our plan and—to add insult to injury—he completely agreed with her!  Our choice was simple: cut back on the itinerary per their suggestions or tuck tail and head back home.  We reluctantly bowed to their demands. 

-

Once we got out into the back country and came face-to-face with the challenges of the trail, we realized pretty quickly that she was right!  We even said that, if we ever got back to civilization, we ought to return to the park headquarters and thank her! 

-

Turns out she knew better than we did.  We were novices and inexperienced.  We desperately needed the wisdom of someone who knew well both the beauty and the dangers of the trail.

-

Life is a lot like that Smoky Mountain wilderness.  We are on a trek through life and we desperately need the wisdom of one who knows the trail.  The good news is that, not only do we have a guide who knows the trail, he created it and us!  

-

The New Testament book of James is like a trail guide for life.  It makes the spiritual practical.  By the inspiration of God’s Spirit, James brings God’s truth to where the rubber hits the road or, should I say, to where the boots hit the trail.

-

Join us this coming Sunday at Istrouma as we hit the trail with James as our guide!

James: Practical Spirituality

“God’s Trail Guide for Life”   

James 1:1-18 

  1. Trials on the trail 

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (1:2-4).

  1. Trials are certain
    1. Trials are constructive 
  1. Temptations on the trail

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death (1:13-15).

  1. Know their origin 
    1. Know their outcome
  1. Truth for the trail

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures (1:16-18).

  1. Our good God is faithful
  1. Our good God is family
Direct download: IBC_20190908.mp3
Category:James -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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