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S M T W T F S
     
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Syndication

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

Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20190929.mp3
Category:Santiago -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Micha Caiting

 

 

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

Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20190922.mp3
Category:Santiago -- 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

La guia de Dios para la Vida.

 
Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20190908.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Dwane Pitre

Direct download: IBC_20190901.mp3
Category:Culture Flip -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20190901.mp3
Category:Cultura Contraria -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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