Wednesday, October 11, 2017

James 1:18-22; 2:14-26 | Reveal Faith in Jesus' Grace Through Works of Faith that Require Jesus' Power + October 7, 2017

Book cover for Luke Timothy Johnson's Brother of Jesus, Friend of God

Prayer for Las Vegas families of the victims and murderer

+ God, You set the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6), so please compel us to seek out the lonely like You do.

+ God, Your mercy comes quickly to meet us for we are in desperate need (Psalm 79:8), so please help us to quickly plant seeds of mercy in our hearts, and in the hearts of our next generation, and may we trust that You will enable us to bear the fruit of the Your presence and peace in a time of isolation and war.

+ God, You beat swords into plowshares (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3), so please beat our capacity for hatred, retaliation, and anger into compassion, reconciliation, and patience.

+ God, You somehow prayed for the persecutors, loved Your enemies, and You even went so far to die for us (Matthew 5:44-45), so as we cry and ask "Why?!" and wail, turn to us in the ashes and dust and help our trembling lips to somehow ask to join with Your Spirit in groaning for the oppressed and the oppressor that redemption and light will come to more of Your daughters and sons despite the horror and darkness that seems to be permeating our news and crushing our hearts. LORD, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

Bible Passages | James 1:18-22; 2:14-26

Scripture Reading | Psalm 112

Previous sermons and liturgies in James

James 1:1-4, 12-18: Count It All Joy with Jesus
James 1:5-8; 3:13-18: Ask for Jesus' Wisdom  
James 1:9-11; 2:1-13; 5:1-6: Pour Out Jesus' Generous Justice  
James 1:19-27; 4:13-17: Be Quick to Hear and Slow to Speak in Light of Jesus

Extravagant grace and radical discipleship meet in the person of Jesus himself. After all, wasn't this the man who welcomed prostitutes yet who told his own disciples that to entertain a lustful look was to have "already committed adultery" (Matt. 5:28)? Wasn't this the man who dined with tax collectors yet told his own, "If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off" (Matt. 5:30)? Undiluted grace and uncompromising obedience meet in the person of Jesus. He is always full of both.

Jesus not only holds the lever of change, but he also promises that when you abide in him, through faith and obedience, his living water will flow out of your life. The power and grace are all from him. By living in union with him, we receive what John Calvin calls "a double grace." By double grace, he means (to use the Bible's own words) that both justification and sanctification flow out of our union with Christ (1 Cor. 1:30). To illustrate this double grace, Calvin uses a picture from nature in the light and heat and the sun in the Institutes"Christ, our righteousness, is the sun. Justification, its light; sanctification, its heat. The sun is at once the sole source of both such that its light and heat are inseparable. At the same time, only light illuminates and only heat warms, not the reverse. Both are always present, without the one becoming the other."

From the one sun come light and heat. Each is distinct, and yet life is not possible without both. But both are made possible only by their source, "the sun of righteousness" (Mal. 4:2). So when we are united to this Jesus, we have full access to his amazing grace that covers us and we have full access to his power that enables us to obey his commands. We can hear the high call of Christ not as a bar to live up to but as an enabling reality to live into.

+ Rankin Wilbourne, Union with Christ: The Way to Know and Enjoy God

Lord's Prayer | Praying for Jesus' Kingdom Impact in Us and in Worcester

Prayer of Confession and Assurance

Leader: Although God has given His Church the message of justice, righteousness, and reconciliation in and through Jesus Christ, we fall short of God’s call to be salt of the earth and light of the world.

All: God, our fears and prejudices run deep. Sometimes we can only see our own point of view. We stick with those who are like us, rarely venturing outside our comfort zones. We do not hear those crying for justice and true peace. We blame those who are suffering and in need, instead of standing by them. We deny the power of Your Gospel to unite us with those who are different from us. Lord, give us eyes to see and ears to hear. Open us to new possibilities of life for all of Your people, and use us to embody and enact the new life given in Christ. 

Silent Personal Reflection and Confession

Leader: God’s life-giving Word and Spirit conquer the powers of sin and death. Thanks be to God for His Good News!

All: In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven!

Most High God
By Kofi Thompson & Crown of Glory
2010 A.D.

All other gods
They are the works of men.
You are the most high God,
There is none like You!
Jehovah, You are the most high!
You are the most high God!

Jehovah, eh-eh! Jehovah, ah-ah!
Jehovah, eh-eh! You are the most high God!

You are good and Your mercy is forever, 

By Sojourn Worship
2015 A.D.

Forgive us Lord, for passing by 
When children cry for bread.
Forbid it Lord, that justice lies
In tatters, cold and dead.
Outside these walls run desperate streets 
Where greed is law and life is cheap.
We bar the doors, refuse to see, 
Or hear the words You said:

Let justice roll like a river, 
Like a river, let it roll!
Let justice roll like a river,
Like a river, let it roll!

Convict us Lord, we dance and laugh 
Ignoring those who weep.
Correct us Lord, our golden calf
Has lulled our hearts to sleep.
The gap between the rich and poor
Grows ever wider, shore to shore.
There’s racial hate, religious war
And wolves among the sheep.

Indwell us Lord, and purify 

Our hands to work for You.

Enlist us Lord, to serve nearby 

And ʻcross the waters, too.

Your image-bearers on the earth 

Will never know how much theyʼre worth

Unless we love and help them first 

And show the way to You!

By William Cowper
1779 A.D.

Heal us, Emmanuel, here we are.
We long to feel Thy touch.
Deep wounded souls to Thee we fly.
O Savior hear our cry!

Our faith is feeble, we confess.
We faintly trust Thy word.
But will You pity us the less?
Be that far from You, LORD!

Remember him who once applied
With trembling for relief.
“Lord, I believe,” with tears he cried
“O help my unbelief!" 

She, too, who touched You in the press
And healing virtue stole
Was answered, “Daughter, go in peace
Thy faith has made thee whole.”

Like her, with hopes and fears we come
To touch You if we may.
O send us not despairing home,
Send none unhealed away.

Yes LordYes | In My Weakness Gospel Medley
By Lynn Keesecker and Stephanie Robinson
1983 A.D., 1994 A.D.

I’ll say yesLordyes
To Your will and to Your way!
I’ll say yesLordyes
I will trust You and obey!
When Your Spirit speaks to me
With my whole heart I’ll agree,
And my answer will be 
Yes Lordyes!

In my weakness
You my God are strong.
In my trials, You are my song.
I fall on my knees, I can’t go on,
But in my weakness,
You my God are strong.

By Judson W. Van DeVenter
1896 A.D.

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

I surrender all,
I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Humbly at His feet I bow;
Worldly pleasures all forsaken,
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel Thy Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power,
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Now I feel the sacred flame;
Oh, the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!

By Phil Wickham
2013 A.D.

Who breaks the power 
Of sin and darkness?
Whose love is mighty
And so much stronger?
The King of Glory,
The King above all kings!
Who shakes the whole earth
With holy thunder?
And leaves us breathless
In awe and wonder?
The King of Glory,
The King above all kings!

This is amazing grace,
This is unfailing love,
That You would take my place,
That You would bear my cross!
You lay down Your life
That I would be set free!
Jesus, I sing for
All that You've done for me!

Who brings our chaos 
Back into order?
Who makes the orphan
A son and daughter?
The King of Glory,
The King of Glory!
Who rules the nations
With truth and justice,
Shines like the sun in
All of its brilliance!
The King of Glory,
The King above all kings!

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!
Worthy is the King who conquered the grave!

390 A.D.

I believe in God, 
the Father almighty,

Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ,
His only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
born of the virgin Mary.

suffered under Pontius Pilate, 

was crucified, dead, and buried;

He descended to hell.

The third day He rose again!

He ascended to heaven

and is seated at the right hand
of God the Father almighty;
from there He shall come
to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic* Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins, 

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting. Amen.

*Catholic stands for Jesus' Church
"according to the whole,"
across time, cultures, and nations,
that He established
and continues to build by His
grace, truth, and resurrection power. 


Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it. + 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Next post: James 3:1-12 | Rein in Your Enflamed Words and Release the Reign of Jesus' Fresh Words

+ Sully

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