Sermon:  God's Mirror

Summary:  True religion is not merely about doing some religious rituals and acts, 
nor is it merely about listening to, knowing, and reciting scripture and various 
doctrines.  It is about transformation of temperament which can only come about by 
allowing the word of God to transform your character, which will lead to a change in a
ctivities and behavior, including ministry to the helpless while continuing in holiness 
and purity.   

Know:  True religion is one that begins with inner transformation that can be seen in 
daily attitudes and behavior

Feel:  A desire to allow the word of God to change you inside and out

Do:  Reflect on the place of God's word in your life.  List the changes that the word 
identifies should come about in your life, including attitudes and actions.  Share or 
formulate a simple plan to incorporate the word of God into your life.

Text:  James 1:19-27

Scripture Reading:  Rom 12:1-2

1.  Do you consider yourself a religious person?  What does that mean?
	a.  Read the Bible, talk religion all the time?  Or is it more?
	b.  Various rituals regularly?  Pray, meditate, fast, etc. Or is it more?
	c.  In James, have seen that "real" Christianity is one that endures under 
 	    trial and trusts God
	d.  Text goes on to talk about "real" Christianity
2.  (Jas 1:19-27) - Talks about religion, the tongue, temper, etc.
	a.  Overarching thought in this passage - Be "doers" of the world
	b.  Many people think themselves to be religious
		- Wear clothes, certain types of hair, no hair
		- Practice rituals, read religious material, do religious things
		- All is said and done, they say, "I am a religious person"
	c.  Question should be - What does God say?
		- Does doing religious things make you religious?
		- Are religious things you do what God has instructed you to do?
		- Not about what you think to be religious, but about God's religion
3.  A Real Christian is one who practices true religion

I.  By controlling our temper v.19-20, 26
	A.  We to be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, bridle our tongue
		1.  Listen, keep your mouth shut
		2.  Don't be quick to get angry
	B.  Anger does not "achieve" the righteousness of God
		1.  Anger is not on the list of ways to achieve righteousness
		2.  So think about it, what does anger achieve?
			a.  Negative effect on your body
				-High Blood Pressure
				-Headaches, sleepless nights
				-Medical studies show angry people greater risk of 
				 heart attack on other health problems
			b.  Negative effects on relationships
				-Abrasive Obnoxious Sarcastic Behavior
				-Hurt Feelings
				-Screeching halt to beneficial communication
				-Arguments, fights, violence, broken relationships
			c.  Regret - People will often later regret their actions
		3.  Not a blanket prohibition of all anger
			a.  Anger is a characteristic we see in God
			b.  But his is a righteous anger - It is appropriate anger
				- God becomes angry at oppression, murder, etc.
				- Jesus overturned tables in the temple
				- Jesus was angered when death took Lazarus 
				   (a literal translation of "deeply moved" in Jn 11)
			c.  (Eph 4:26-27) - Tells us that anger is not always bad
				- Be Angry, but do not sin - Can be angry without sin
				- Do not let the sun go down on your anger - Let it go, 
 				  doing so is an act of faith, God will make it right
				- Do not give the devil an opportunity - When angry, 
 				  can be vulnerable
			d.  Means we not lose control
		4.  Anger of Man and Righteous Anger have different origins
			a.  Righteous anger when see exploitation  
				- Someone who uses God's name for greed
				- Like Evangelist exploit people, promising healing
				- Powerful taking advantage over poor, defenseless 
			b.  Anger of man stems from pride and ego
				- Never see this kind of anger from Jesus
				- Jesus never said, "You know who I am?  How dare 
 				  you speak to me like that!  I strike you dead!"
	C.  ILL:  Challenges come for temper everyday
		1.  Someone treats you like dirt at work, in the family.  
			a.  Do you get angry?  What do you do with it?
			b.  Find a way for revenge, gossip, insult them?
			c.  Or do you give it to God, give him control?
		2.  Does your husband or wife ever make you angry?  Your kids?
			a.  What do you do with it?
			b.  Do you belittle them?  Saying things like...
				- You so stupid, call you stupid insults stupid people
				- Did you eat paint chips when you were a kid?
				- You always stupid, or is today a special occasion?
		3.  I know sometimes it's hard
			a.  When teen argues about getting a tattoo, piercing, etc.
			b.  When your spouse forgets something important
			c.  There are many occasions for anger
	D.  But remember the exhorations
		1.  Control your anger, if not, then your religion is worthless
		2.  What should you do?
			a.  Be slow to anger
			b.  Do not sin in your anger
			c.  Do not let the sun go down on your anger
			d.  Do not give the devil an opportunity
		3.  How?  Ask yourself
			a.  Is this righteous anger, or is this the anger of man?
			b.  If it is the anger of man, pray about it
			c.  If it is righteous anger, STILL pray about it
				- When angry, is when you are vulnerable
				- Sometimes it seems so hard
		4.  *But if you cultivate heart, God will change you from inside...

II.  By cultivating your heart v.21
	A.  Language of farming and planting - receive word "implanted"
	B.  What does the image of receiving the "implanted?" convey?
		1.  When you encounter the word, what should happen?
			a.  Should to memorize it, recite it, know it?
			b.  Should you to analyze it, study it, understand it?
			c.  These are good things to do, but there is more
		2.  (Jer 4:3-4) - It is about the heart
			a.  Break up the fallow ground, do not sow among thorns
			b.  Circumcise your heart
			c.  In other words, God wants a change of heart from us
			d.  Not just about doing a few rituals here and there
		3.  (Jer 7:1-7) - God wants a true change of heart
			a.  Amend your deeds and your ways
			b.  Practice justice, do no oppress helpless
			c.  Do not shed innocent blood, do not follow other gods
			d.  Not trust deceptive words - This is the temple of Yahweh
				- I go to church, church, church
				- Not just about a few rituals here and there
		4.  God is interested in the word "implanted" into us
			a.  It becomes a part of us
			b.  It grows within us
			c.  As it grows, it transforms us
			d.  It changes the way we think, attitudes, values, actions...
	C.  ILL:  In order to receive word implanted, need to cultivate our hearts
		1.  It is like what you do in order to put in a garden
		2.  Till the ground with a shovel, soften it up to receive the seed
		3.  Remove weeds, keep watered, fertilized, God causes growth
		4.  Then you begin to see the fruit grow - change in your life
	D.  What sort of cultivation do you need to do to implant the word in your?
		1.  Text says,  "In humility" receive word implanted
			a.  Clear away pride, arrogance, self-centeredness
			b.  Pride closes your heart, shuts down learning and maturity
			c.  Word will not grow in soil filled with rocks of pride
		2.  God's word grows in the soil of humility
		3.  Humility allows the growth of holiness, love, compassion
		4.  *It leads to a change in your behavior and activity...

III.  Visiting the helpless in their distress v.27
	A.  "Visit" orphans and widows in their distress 
	B.  What does this mean?
		1.  Greek words
			a.  Greek: "Episkeptomai" - To look in on, to go see
			b.  Greek Noun form is - "Episkopos" 
				-  Means Overseer 
				-  This is what elders are called in 1 Tim 3:1
				-  1 Pet 2:25 translated "guardian" speaking of Christ
				-  Means to look after, to care for
		2.  Orphans and Widows were the most destitute in ancient times
			a.  This was before the days of children's homes, foster care, 
 			    assisted living, social security, etc.
			b.  If widows not have family care for them, they on their own 
			c.  Most not have a trade, became homeless, died in winter 
			d.  Truly, would be in "distress" and we are to "visit" them
		3.  Ps 68:5 - God is defender of helpless, so we are to be as well
		4.  Calls this pure/true and undefiled religion
			a.  Grk:  "religion" describes outward acts of worship
				-  Performance of various rituals, prayers, singing, etc.
				-  Pharisees had many such washings and rituals
			b.  When think of being "religious" isn't this what we think of?
				-  Going to worship religiously
				-  Pray, give, sing, fast, communion, etc.
			c.  (Is 1:11-17) - God not concerned with mere outward acts
				- They were being very "religious" with acts of worship
				- But their daily lives were unchanged
				- Worship with right motions, still displeasing to God
				- v.16-17 - Want changed life, defend orphan & widow
	C.  ILL:  Have you ever seen worship that seemed really phony to you?
		1.  Perhaps a person just sitting and going "ommmmmmmmmmm"
		2.  Life not really changed, but sure can go "ommmm" in meditation
		3.  That is all God sees when we worship yet ignore the helpless
	D.  Are you practicing pure and undefiled religion?
		1.  It is not just about what you do hear on Sunday morning
		2.  It is also about what you do when you leave here

IV.  Keep yourself unstained by the world v.27
	A.  About being holy, dedicated to God
	B.  Occurs in an odd place in context - visiting orphans & widows, WHY?
		1.  Notice what he didn't say... stay away from the world
			a.  Often get wrong idea about holiness
			b.  Holy means "set apart"  but not completely removed from
			c.  Holy means "different" or "dedicated" to God
			d.  Jesus was holy, but not removed from the world
		2.  Ministry implies you will be out in the trenches among the people
			a.  God is in the people business
			b.  The church is also in the people business
		3.  Somewhere along the way, Christianity came off the streets and 
 		    into the Cathedral 
	C.  But God doesn't merely call us out, he sends us to
		1.  God send Jesus
		2.  Jesus sent the Spirit
		3.  The Spirit empowers the church that is sent to the world
		4.  We are a holy yet sent people

1.  James' illustration in comparing "real Christian" to a "reel" Christian  v. 22-25
	a.  Don't be "hearers"  - But don't we need to hear?
	b.  Grk: "hearers" - listened to philosophers but never became disciple.  
	c.  The hearing became an end in itself
2.  What is a "hearer" today?  
	a. Go to church, listen to sermons, classes, take part in discussions
	b.  Want to hear favorite doctrines pounded on week after week
	c.  Because he comes and listens, and can expound on it, thinks he okay
	d. Text says the "hearer" deceives himself
3.  A hearer is like a man looking in a mirror
	a.  Ever look in mirror? When? Morning? First thing say?  What you do?
		- Go to work and fix it, make sure everything is in place
	b.  But, if you do nothing - You become a complete mess
		- People might say, "Have you looked in the mirror?"
	c.  That is what the hearer is like
4.  We need to be doers (v.25)
	a.  Means looking "intently" into the mirror of God's word
	b.  We abide by the law of liberty - We become "doers" not just hearers
	c.  You will have the blessing of God
5.  What does God want you to "do?"
	a.  What do you see as you look in the mirror?
	b.  Are you right with God?  (inv)
	c.  If already obey Gospel, how about temper, time in word, visit, holy


Sermon:  God's Mirror

Summary:  True religion is not merely about doing some religious rituals and acts, nor is 
it merely about listening to, knowing, and reciting scripture and various doctrines.  It 
is about transformation of temperament which can only come about by allowing the word of 
God to transform your character, which will lead to a change in activities and behavior, 
including ministry to the helpless while continuing in holiness and purity.   

- What do you think of when you hear the word "religion" or "religious?"

Explore  (James 1:19-27)

1.  Why does anger not bring about the righteousness of God?  

2.  What does bring about God's righteousness?  In what ways does the passage describe the 
relationship of the Christian to the Word of God?

3.  What attitude(s) are necessary in order to receive the word as God intended and why?

4.  Describe some of the changes that are to come about as a result of receiving the word 
of God.

5.  According to this passage, how would you describe what true religion is that pleases God?


6.  Describe the place God's word occupies in your life.  How does it compare to what we have 
discovered in this passage?

7.  Identify the things that make it hard for you to receive the word of God in a way that 
transforms you.

8.  Formulate a simple plan to incorporate the word of God into your life.