Sermon:  Heart Exercise  

Summary:  We need to remember that God is faithful and is therefore definitely 
coming both to reward the righteous and judge the wicked.  This is how we strengthen 
our hearts so that we can patiently persevere in our struggles and not find ourselves 
grumbling at each other.

Know:  We need to patiently persevere by strengthening our hearts through the 
following reminders about God - He is faithful, judge, and compassionately purposeful.

Feel:  Humbled and encouraged by being reminded of God's characteristics, and patient 
with life and with each other.

Do:  List and discuss the various characteristics of God in the passage and identify 
how this is to change how we think and live.  Reflect on various challenges to being 
patient and encouraging each other and what causes you to grumble.  Discuss ways put 
into practice the practical instructions of this passage

Text:  James 5:7-11

Scripture Reading:  Heb 11:35-37

1.  Ever taken weight training before?  What do you think it is?
	a.  I thought it was weight lifting
	b.  Turned out to be an aerobic conditioning class
	c.  First day, we ran a mile - Was designed to condition your heart
	d.  This morning's text is about conditioning your other spiritual heart
2.  (James 5:7-11) - Text says to strengthen our heart
3.  What do we mean by heart?
	a.  Heart was not limited to just emotions - but both thought and emotions
		- Word for emotion is "splachna" - "bowels"
		- Sometimes English text speak of a "heart of compassion"
		- Literally it is "bowels of compassion"
		- Emotions are often felt in the gut, so it makes sense
	b.  Heart is usually used for sincerity
		- I mean it with all my heart
		- I love you with all my heart
		- Rom 6:17 - We to be obedient to God from the heart
	c.  Heart refers to both your thought and will
		- Mt 15:19 Jesus said out of the heart comes evil thoughts, 
		  murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts. etc.
			= It is the source of our thoughts and actions
			= It is our thinking and our will
		- Your heart is your inner self - thought, will, intentions
		- Strengthening your heart is about transformation
4.  How do we strengthen our hearts?
	a.  By remembering three characteristics of God
	b.  What characteristics?
	c.  Three characteristics - God is faithful, Judge, and Compassionately 

I.  Characteristic #1 - God is Faithful
	A.  God keeps his word, he will not let you down
	B.  Bible tells us repeatedly that God is faithful
		1.  Text says "The Lord is Near" 
			a.  Sometimes people distance themselves from the 
			     suffering and oppressed
				- Uncomfortable, could happen to me
				- Don't want to get involved, could affect me
				- So distance self physically or emotionally
			b.  However, the Lord did so such thing
			c.  The Lord bore our pain, sorrows, misery, in the flesh
				- He didn't just wave a magic wand
				- He became one of us and experienced it
				- He came near and identified with us intimately
			d.  (Heb 2:17) Result - He a merciful and faithful High Priest
		2.  Other passages in James demonstrates his faithfulness
			a.  1:17 - With God is no variation or shifting shadow
				- He promises redemption, to help, strength
				- God will not change his mind on this
				- The only time God appears to change mind is in 
				   favor of grace and mercy over destruction 
					= eg: Ex 32 - Moses pleads with God and God 
					   changes his mind about destroying Israel
			b.  4:8 - Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you
				- No matter what you have done in the past
				- God promise to forgive if draw near and repent
			c.  5:5 - He is the Lord of Hosts
				- He will come and fight for you
				- He will overthrow your oppressors
				- Last enemy to be destroyed is death
		3.  Jn 14:16-18 - Jesus said - I will not leave you as orphans
			a.  I will send a "parakletos" - 14;26, 15:26; 16:7
			b.  Translated: comforter, counselor, advocate, or helper
				-Could also mean "encourager" or "exhorter"
				- Same word in 1 Jn 2:1 - Advocate
				-  Idea of word is "one who comes to another's aid"
				-  "Helper" is best word - The Spirit "helps" us
			c.  The Spirit's helping ministry involves several things
				- Tit 3:5 - Renews us when converted
				- Eph 3:16 - Strengthens us inwardly
				- Rom 8:13 - Power to put to death deeds of flesh
				- Rom 8:16 - Testifies we are children of God
			d.  When Jesus left, he didn't leave us alone
		4.  Point - Our Lord is faithful, he will come through
	C.  ILL:  Text uses farming analogy
		1.  Early and late rains will come - Have to be patient and wait
		2.  Ever had to be patient and wait?
			a.  Paint to dry - Will get paint on you
			b.  Glue to cure - Model might come apart
			c.  Baking in the oven - Will still be undone
		3.  You don't rush it, you are patient
	D.  Go promised he would provide results
		1.  Need to be patient, even in times of difficulty
			a.  Maybe you have been wronged
				- Someone cheated you in some way
				- Someone stole something of yours
				- Someone treating you unjustly
				- Feel stuck, can't do anything about it
			b.  Maybe have a different kind of difficulty
				- Running out money
				- Car repairs, house repairs, braces for kids, etc.
		2.  Text says - Be patient, God is near
		3.  **But no only we need to be  patient with situation, but with one 
		     another as well...

II.  Characteristic #2:  God is Judge
	A.  Think of the image of a judge - A man with a robe in a courtroom
		1.  Have seen them on judge tv shows
		2.  He hears evidence
		3.  He passes down sentences 
	B.  The text seems to indicate that this judge has a more active role
		1.  The judge is "standing at the door"
			a.  Doesn't appear to be an official court setting
			b.  Seems to indicate God is watching and listening
			c.  Seems to indicate he is about the act
			d.  Is this a judge?
		2.  What did Judges do in book of Judges?
			a.  Not just a court judge, but were leaders of righteousness
			b.  They delivered the people from oppression, and led them 
			     back to God in righteousness
			c.  That is the kind of Judge this seems to be talking about
			d.  He is standing at the door ready to judge enemies
		3.  But this text is not directed at "our" enemies
			a.  It is addressed to "beloved"
			b.  Unlike previous section, we are not "overhearing" God's 
			     judgment on someone else
		4.  Text says - Do not grumble against one another
			a.  Judge is t the door, grumblers will be judged
				 - Should cause a chill up our back
			b.  What does it mean to grumble?
				- Syn:  Complain, bellyache, find fault, whine, gripe, 
				   fuss, quarrel, bicker, etc.
				- If you ever find self doing this, this applies to you
			c.  Examples of Grumblers in scripture
				- Pharisees when Jesus ate with sinners, Lk 5:30
				- Israel while in the wilderness, Ex 15:24ffff
				- Aaron and Miriam,  Num 12:9-10
			d.  Jas 4:11 - Echoes verse - do not speak against brother.
				- If you do, you become a judge
				- Our Lord is the only true judge
				- Now the text says you will be judged if you do
				- God is watching
	C.  ILL:  Reminds me at some of our schools
		1.  Sometimes you have incidents
			a.  Somebody steals something
			b.  Perhaps a fight, argument
			c.  One student knocked over a teacher, injured her, running
		2.  Often times you get conflicting stories about what happened
		3.  Play back recordings from the security cameras around the 
		     building.  They are on all day long
		4.  That is how it is with God - He is at the door, he see it all
			a.  Not only does he see it all, he is judge
			b.  Need to be aware nothing is hidden from him
	D.  Since God is judge, we are not to grumble at each other
		1.  If we are not to grumble, what shall we do?
		2.  Turn it around to a positive (Heb 10:23-25)
			a.  Lit:  "Consider one another"
				- Consider - Think about
				- Think not about self, but about your brother/sister
			b.  Stimulate one another to love and good deeds
				- Not stimulate/provoke to anger, defensiveness, etc.
				- Motivate in a positive way
			c.  Not forsaking assembling, but encouraging one another
				- If going to motivate & stimulate, need to be together
				- This is not simply assembling - You can assemble 
				   and not motivate or stimulate
				- This is why we have Life Groups 
					= Lends itself to this more than formal service
					= Helps us to fulfill the command here
		3.  Ps 133 - How good /pleasant for brothers dwell together in unity
		4.  Not grumble, but build each other up - God is judge

III.  Characteristic #3:  The Lord is mercifully purposeful
	A.  Had difficulty summarizing this last point
		1.  Is text telling us God is purposeful, merciful, or compassionate?
		2.  Answer is "yes"
	B.  To make this point, the text uses two examples:
		1.  Faithful prophets
			a.  I say faithful because many were not faithful
			b.  Most prophets falsely prophesied peace, prosperity, 
			      success, and what the King liked to hear
			c.  Prophets who spoke word of the Lord faithfully were 
			     hated, persecuted, even killed-1 Kng 22; Jer 38; Am 7:10; 
			      Heb 11:35-37
			d.  Rev 11:1-14, (vv.3, 7, 11) - Prophets in Revelation
				- Killed, but God raised them up
				- May have seemed defeated, but God had a purpose
				- With God, we are never ultimately defeated
		2.  Job
			a.  Transnational note - "Patience" perhaps not the best work
				- Job was not patient
				- He complained and wanted to bring suit against God
				- Not 
			b.  "Perseverance" better translation than patience
			c.  How did Job persevere?
				- Persisted in his integrity - Never cursed God
				- Persisted in his desire for justice 
					= Knew his treatment was not just
					= His friends knew it had to be result of Job's 
					    sin, therefore it had to be just
					= Job never gave up on his innocence
						- Could have falsely confessed to non-
						   existent sins to get God to relent, but 
				- Persisted in his desire to confront God in a lawsuit
					= We would never dream of doing so
					= Perhaps this is the greatest faith of all - 
					   Where can you go for justice?  God
			d.  God's response
				- Double the original amount of blessing on Job
				- Job died an old man, full of days
		3.  Point:  God blesses those who persevere faithfully
		4.  But James say we see compassion, mercy, and purpose of God
			a.  Jeremiah the weeping prophet. 
				- He not understand God's purpose
				- Even accused God of deceiving him - Jer 20:7f
			b.  Job - Not understand purpose of suffering
			c.  Point:  We not always understand larger purpose, but 
			     God does
	C.  ILL:  Basic training.  Everything had to be perfect
		1.  We even had to starch underwear and socks to fold them 
		    perfectly in our footlocker
			a.  Had to be folded flat like paper - had to use starch and 
			     iron them in the foot locker
			b.  Exact 6 inch square, measure with a ruler, edges even
			c.  Had to work edges with tweezers
			d.  Night inspections, bed turned over if not perfect
		2.  We thought it was overboard, ridiculous, no purpose
		3.  Found out later there was a purpose 
			a.  Most of us would have technical jobs
			b.  Many would work on planes, bombs, radars, etc.
			c.  Training us to have an "eye for detail"
			d.  Keep from crashing and burning on the plans
		4.  It all served good purpose, even though we not know at first
	D.  Text reminds us that God has a purpose
		1.  He not out to get us
		2.  He wont push us past our limits
		3.  He will strengthen you and see you through it

1.  God is faithful, judge, purposeful
2.  Therefore, we need to be patient, not grumble, encourage, and remember God has a purpose
3.  God's ultimate purpose is redemption
	a.  Jesus death on a cross - disciples not see redemptive purpose at first
	b.  Most of them died too, but look at the redemptive purpose
	c.  We have life (inv)
4.  If already Christian, need to strengthen our heart - Read Bible
	a.  Not just for Bible facts
	b.  Like we did here - ask, "What does this teach me about God?"
	c.  Then pray about it


Small Group Questions:

Summary:  We need to remember that God is faithful and is therefore definitely coming 
both to reward the righteous and judge the wicked.  This is how we strengthen our hearts 
so that we can patiently persevere in our struggles and not find ourselves grumbling at 
each other.

- If you could pick a fruit or vegetable to describe your level of patience or non-patience, 
which would it be?

Explore:  (James 5:7-11)

1.  This passage says to be patient.  In what way(s) are Christians to be patient?

2.  Keeping in mind that "heart" is not limited to mere emotions, but includes thoughts, 
will, and intention, discuss what "strengthen your heart" means.

3.  What does this passage teach or infer about God, and in what ways does this strengthen 
the hearts of Christians?

4.  How do the prophets and Job serve as illustrations and examples of God's compassion and 
purpose?  Which prophet stands out to you as a great example?

5.  What does this teach you about the purposes of God?


6.  Which characteristic of God provides you the greatest encouragement?  The greatest 
challenge?  The greatest motivation?

7.  In what ways are you tempted to grumble against others?

8.  In what ways can you keep from grumbling?

9.  What is God calling you to do?