The Truth About the Believer and the Word

The Book of James: Walk the Line

In our study of James, Todd shows us that God doesn't want us to deny our desires; he wants our desire to be informed by wisdom. But we need to put aside our filthiness and wickedness, and instead be filled with humility and receive the word of God. "Daaaad!" video used by permission | Igniter Media

Todd WagnerJun 15, 2014James 1:18-27; Ephesians 4:11-14; Ecclesiastes 5:1-2; Proverbs 19:2-3; Isaiah 66:1-2; Matthew 11:28-29; James 1:22-24; James 1:25; James 1:26; James 1:19; James 1:20; James 1:21

Dad: Good job, Lauren!
Lauren: Okay, I got it. Daaad!
Dad: Okay. Don't forget to carry the 1.
Lauren: Daaad.
Dad: That was delicious. Thank you. Hold on there, kiddo.
Lauren: Daaad.
Dad: Say "Cheese."
Lauren: Cheese.
Dad: There you go. Okay, just one more. Hold your trophy up a little bit higher.
Lauren: Daaad!
Dad: Good morning, good morning, good morning! It's time to rise and shine.
Lauren: Daaad.
Female friend: I love it.
Dad: Um, no.
Lauren: Daad!
[Dad stops to watch TV with Lauren and her friends]
Lauren: Daaad!
Dad: And…they were here first.
Lauren: Daaad!
Male friend: So you want to go catch a movie at, like, 7:30 or something?
[Dad looks in on the conversation]
Lauren: Dad!
Dad: And one more. Okay, one more.
Lauren: Okay, let's go.
Dad: Wait, wait, wait! Come on. Just one more. One more.
Lauren: Daaad!
Dad: [Texting] "How are finals going?" "Get some sleep." "Hit the books." "Drink lots of water."
Lauren: [Texting] "Daaaad! "
Dad: I'm so proud of you. Now you just gotta get the job.
Lauren: Daaad!
Dad: You look beautiful.
Lauren: Aw, Dad.
Dad: And stand just a little closer together, and move just a little bit to the left. My left. A little more.
Lauren: Daaad!
[Caption]"No matter the moment, you were always there for me. I'm so proud to call you Dad! Happy Father's Day."

[End of video]

Well, that "Daaad!" changed throughout life. Welcome. Happy Father's Day. Welcome, Fort Worth. We are glad to be here on this Father's Day. We have a perfect text for what we're going to talk about on Father's Day. We are making our way through James. James is a book written to a young church, trying to get them to grow up and be mature.

A lot of people when they read the book of James think it's in contradiction to some of the other Scripture, the preponderance of the New Testament, where Paul writes that you're saved by grace through faith. It seems sometimes when you read James that he's telling you, "Listen. If your faith doesn't do something, you're not saved."

Let me just tell you again James is not at all in contradiction to Paul. James wrote before Paul. James isn't trying to make you insecure in your faith; he's trying to let you know, "If you have a faith, this is what it looks like." He's also writing to people who are being overwhelmed with trials and persecutions and are tempted and being overcome by sin and lust and desires.

James is a loving father. He is a patriarch, an elder of the church, and he's communicating to young, immature believers. The church had just started, and he's trying to grow them up and explain to them, "This is what it's like." You can almost hear young believers or even seekers, people who are learning to move through this life with a right understanding of who God is, not going, "Daaad!" but going, "God! God! God! God, again?" You look in the mirror. "God!"

All through our lives we sometimes do that. We just go, "God!" But as you grow, you start to go, "God." As you get more and more mature, you know more of what your heavenly Father is like, if you're not buying into the lie that's in the world. The world is going to tell you, "Your old man is out of touch. Your dad doesn't love you. You should listen to your peers. They know more than you. They know more than your dad. Your dad is out of touch. He grew up in a different day and age."

Have you ever heard people say that? "How could a book written 2,000 years ago be relevant today?" Have you ever heard your peers say, "What do your parents know, man?" You see, there's an Enemy and a liar, and he doesn't want you to listen to your Father. He wants to tell you, "Your Dad is not good. His Word is not true. You can't trust him. Disobeying your Parent is not that big a deal." It is the original lie in the book of Genesis.

A lot of times we go, "Daaad!" and we don't like what our Father is saying to us because he's directing us toward life, so we rebel and go away and try to find life on our own. I want to tell you something. The world has a board for every behind, and if you want to escape the discipline of the Father, the world will discipline you.

I was speaking to a group of men being disciplined right now, anywhere from 24 months to 60 months, down there in Hutchins State Jail not long ago, who went, "Daaad!" Who went, "God, what do you know?" I am here to tell you this morning you have a loving heavenly Father. I know sometimes you hear some things and you go, "Oh man! God!" but you have to believe no matter how screwed up or absent or abusive your earthly father was you have a perfect and loving heavenly Father.

I don't know any kid who has ever had a perfect father, but I know one God, one Lord, one Savior of all men who wants to re-parent and shepherd you. This Father's Day, I'm going to invite you to listen to him, because this is a world where you're constantly being beaten down with trials from without and drawn away and discouraged by desires from within.

Children always act according to what they feel. That's immaturity. That's what children do. If it feels right, they do it. If they feel like hitting you, they're going to hit you in that nursery. "You have a toy I want?" Bam! "You have breast milk I want?" Waaaaa! "There are six cookies there? I'm not going to eat one and maybe another one after dinner; I'm going to wipe them all out. I have a chance to choose between a sno-cone now and a Ferrari later? Give me the sno-cone."

There's no delayed gratification. Children are impulsive, and they act according to their desires. Adults act according to knowledge. That's what makes you an adult. You have the ability to not be a slave to impulse. God doesn't want you to deny your desires; he wants your desires to be informed by wisdom. He loves you. He said, "I made you. I'm not against sex. I'm not against a desire for glory and greatness, but the way you get them matters."

Satan doesn't give you anything for free. Lies are never free. There's always a cost at the end, but the perfect law, the law of liberty, leads you to greater and greater freedom. It says, "The way of the righteous is like the light of dawn; it grows brighter and brighter until the new day comes." Until finally you quit going, "God!" and you just go, "God, I know you're good. I know you're there, and I love you."

This is the book of James. It is a perfect message for today. Let me show you how James is not at all contradictory to Paul. James is trying to grow up a young church. What I want to do is read to you, as we get ready to read in James this morning, from Ephesians, chapter 4. It's why we come together. It's why older believers teach younger believers, why you must have spiritual fathers and mothers.

We know a lot of folks at Watermark are new to the faith or are learning about "Daaad!" and those of us who have walked with him longer, to use an illustration from last week, know our Father is good. He's not trying to rip us off. He wants to pick us up and show us stuff that 3-year-olds can't see. It's where the good stuff is. We shouldn't listen to our friends who are 3 like us or 30 like us or 60 like us, but let's listen to our eternal Father.

This is the purpose of the church. It's why we gather. The purpose of the church gathered is to equip the saints so when we walk out, as a family dispersed into the world we live in, we who are blessed can be a blessing. If we don't learn more about our Father we won't be a blessing; we'll be just like the rest of the world, trying to figure out where knowledge and life come from.

But if we gather, equip, teach, remind, shepherd, and disciple, when we disperse as God's family in smaller communities, we'll go out there, and we can tell them who God is. Ephesians 4: "He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service…"

In other words, Paul is saying the same thing James is. "There's a reason we teach you this stuff: so you would do something with it." There is no such thing as a be church that's not a do church. Every church that believes something, that belief takes effect. People say what they think; they do what they believe. The question Paul has, James has, Jesus has is, "Do you love me? Then let's go."

"…for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ." Watch where Paul gets this idea from James.

Do you remember in James, chapter 1, where it says, "When you lack wisdom, ask of God who gives to all generously and doesn't hold back. He gives it without reproach." It says if you don't, if you go to and forth asking other things, then you're like a man who is double-minded. It's like the one who's standing on the surf of a sea, blown here and there by every wind and wave.

Look at what Paul writes. "As a result [of being anchored in the truth of who God is] , we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in [evil] scheming…" Do you get that? It's the exact same message. Ephesians 4 is Paul starting to apply what you do if you believe. Paul says, "If you believe, walk this way."

James just goes right into it. The early church was full of people who said they believed in Jesus. He goes, "Great. Let's walk this way." There's no doctrine at all. It's the doctrine of "Jesus is Lord. He was crucified and raised for you just a decade ago. You guys were all here in Jerusalem when it happened. You know who he is. Now let's walk with him." That's James. Such a great book.

Let's read what we're going to cover this week. We're going to cover the rest of the chapter, and you're going to see the centrality of the Word of God. When some people read the book of James, they think the book of James is this little disconnected New Testament Proverbs, where there's this idea and this idea and this idea and this topic. James is great, because he covers all kinds of topics, but I'm going to show you a flow that's going to make complete sense.

This is an elder. This is the papa of the church telling you how to grow in your faith. "Follow Daddy. He's good." He starts by saying, "I know you're getting beat up." It's a tender bedside chat. "I know it's been hard here in this first decade of life as a believer. I know what's going on. There are still these things that are alive in your body, and hormones are pulling you all different kinds of directions, but don't follow your desires without having those desires informed by the God who gave you those desires." That's basically verses 13-18.

He's going to say, "You were brought forth from God. You were conceived by a heavenly Father. Your good name has been given to you by Jesus. So don't squander the good name Jesus has given you." That's verse 18. He says, "I want you to walk this way. You're the firstfruits. You're going to carry on the family lineage. God brought you forth."

If you conceive with your desires with a lie, it's going to lead to death, but if you let God do the work in your heart he wants to do to you as his boy and his Word conceives in your heart, it's going to lead to life, and you'll be just like your Daddy who brings light in the midst of darkness. You'll be just like your Daddy who takes what others intended for evil and uses it for good.

The rest of the world is going to bail out on trials. They're going to get angry at God. They're going to intoxicate themselves. They're going to get on all kinds of meds to not have to deal with things in reality, but not you. You face them head-on with a great hope, and you let God do a refining work in your heart. Don't you dumb yourself down. You stay fully engaged and listen to what your Daddy says about why trials are here.

You need to go tell people why trials are here. It's because of sin and death. You need to let them know about what God has done about sin and death. By the way, that little raging bull of sin in your heart is because all of us come from a human daddy who rebelled against God, but God is rescuing us from that lineage of a human fallen father. You're going to break that chain by grace and faith in Jesus Christ. Do you see all this? It's so amazing and so beautiful. I'm going to read through the end of this, and we're going to come back and study a little bit at a time. Verse 19:

"This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world."

This is so amazing. I read that very quickly. If you're a kid and you hear your dad talk a lot, those words kind of go in one ear and out the other and don't really take root. You have to go back over them. That's why great dads repeat things all the time. Every one of us has "dad-isms," don't we? When you hear them you go, "My dad used to always say that."

My kids have a bunch of them. I repeat them all the time, because I know how desperate they are to have truths embedded in their little corrupt, fallen, immature, childish, "follow my desires," "throw a fit" heart, because I had one of those, and by the grace of God I've been matured by a loving heavenly Father and shepherded by an earthly dad.

This is why you want to read everything in context. Verse 19 is not just telling you, in a conversation with your buddies, to make sure you listen to them before you speak. That's wise. Proverbs talks about this. "A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind." That is not a cross-reference to James 1:19.

It's okay if somebody says to me sometime, when I'm in a conversation just waiting for somebody to take a breath so I can dive in, "Todd, be slow to speak, quick to hear," even though that is not at all what this verse is talking about. There are other verses that talk exactly about that. I already mentioned one to you in Proverbs 18. They're filled with that.

But this, in the context of what's going on, is you being beaten down by this world and being constantly wooed by a liar and by your flesh and by the current of all that's around you that you should move another way, that if God loves you and gave you these desires, why wouldn't he let you satisfy them this way? James is just saying, "Follow your Father. Don't ever meet a God-given desire in a God-forbidden way. It'll lead to death."

What he's going to say to you is in the midst of all that's going on around you, watch your tongue. Don't go, "God! God! God! Clueless, unloving, distant watch builder who wound us up and walked away, where are you? Why don't you love me? Why don't you pay attention?" That's what he's telling you not to do. He's telling you that you have to be an individual who is quick to hear. And what do you hear?

You hear your Father's voice, because your patient heavenly Father is there ready to teach you. "Be slow to speak and slow to anger." What do most of us do when our parents are telling us, "No, you can't go. You have to study tonight. No, you shouldn't eat that now. You have to wait. No, you shouldn't begin to give your heart away at this stage. You're not ready to covenant in that way. No, you shouldn't go running in with… I don't care if everybody else is doing it."

You can just go, "Ugh! You don't know anything!" and storm out and be quick to tell your daddy you know better than him and lecture him about how to live and speak about how much you hate your parents. That leads to a lot of trouble, especially when that parent is a loving, infinite, eternal, perfect Dad.

James in the midst of all that's going on is saying, "Be very slow…" Let me give you some good cross-references to James 1:19. One of them is in Ecclesiastes, chapter 5. It says, "Guard your steps as you go to the house of God…" In other words, be very, very slow when you approach God. "…draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools…"

Don't you think God is just here in churches wanting you to show up, say something… If you're in one of those houses of worship that gives you envelopes, they want you to stuff it. If you're one of those people who think God just wants your 10 percent, God doesn't need your money. God wants you to invest your money in a way that will bless you, that thief won't steal and rust won't destroy and moth won't eat.

He wants you to invest in a way that you're going to be so happy you invested that way. If you come in here thinking God is a God who's going to tax you and wants to tase you for your sin, that is the sacrifice of fools. They don't know they're doing evil when they make God out to be this God who has to be appeased, this God who has to be served, and you have to do what he wants you to do or he's going to beat you down. This is the truth.

Ecclesiastes 5:2: "Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few." Before you tell God what's going on, you'd better remember what Isaiah 55:8-9 says. We've talked about this verse before. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways… For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts."

"Don't come in here and lecture me with your little five-decade-old life to my eternally perfect being." Don't you do that? I have, at one point, in my house five teenagers. Every single one of them is like, "Are you kidding me? Have you got a clue? Do you understand anything about what it's like to be my age?" By the grace of God, my kids aren't on the wild extreme at all, because I've built a relationship with them and they know me and love me, but everything inside of them sometimes is pulling them a different direction. Their friends are saying some things to them.

It's so funny. This week I was taking my kids… We were talking about the whole issue of human beings and life, and the topic of abortion came up. We had a couple of kids we're building into who were in our car as we're driving along, and I just asked them, "What's inside a mother's womb?" One of them goes, "A fetus." I go, "Okay, good. A fetus. That's what we'll call it. And what would you say about that little fetus? What is that?"

"I don't know."

"Would you believe it's okay to kill a fetus?"

"Well, I'm pro-choice."

"Are you really pro-choice?"

They had heard that's a good thing to be. I go, "So you think people should be able to do whatever they want to do because they call it a fetus. Do you know what a fetus is? A fetus is just an old zygote. Do you guys know what a zygote is? A zygote is what you were before you were a fetus. Is it okay to kill a zygote?

Let me tell you something. It sounds to me like a zygote is okay to kill. It's like a cockroach. It's easy to step on. I want to get rid of any of those zygotes. Just crush it. I don't want it. Do you know what a zygote is? It is just a younger fetus. Do you know what a fetus is? It is just a younger newborn. Do you know what a newborn is? It's just a younger infant. Do you know what an infant is? It's just a younger child, toddler. Do you know what a toddler is? It's just a younger baby, adolescent, teenager."

I said this to them. I went, "Let me just tell you something. If you think it's okay to have the choice to kill a fetus because it's troublesome, bothersome, and a source of guilt and shame, let me tell you what's troublesome, bothersome, and brings me guilt and shame. It's a teenager. If you think a fetus isn't really human, meet a teenager. Are you still pro-choice?" They go, "Well, maybe not."

Just because you label something doesn't mean that something isn't fully human and valuable. As a parent, sometimes you have to look at them and go, "Man!" and as a teenager what you have to do is look and say, "You know what? I'm a teenager. They've been here before. They have lived this life." God has been tempted in every way as you have been. He has endured every trial you've endured.

He knows what it's like to be human. That's why he's not angry toward you, but he does want to keep speaking to you. What you don't want to do is start railing against God about what he doesn't know. Not very wise. You're nothing like him. His thoughts are higher than your thoughts than the heavens are above the earth. By the way, this is what a lot of us do. A lot of us get in our own trouble.

This is another good cross-reference: Proverbs 19:2-3. It says in that little section of Scripture, "It's not good for man to be without knowledge. He who makes haste with his feet errs." In other words, if you run off not knowing what real wisdom would have you do, just following your desires in all your youthful, immature, "not fully aware of who God is" personage, it won't go well for you.

Watch. This is what always happens. Verse 3: "The foolishness of man subverts his way [or ruins his way]." Then what do we do when things don't go well? "God! How could this happen?" "Well, do you want to review? You weren't quick to hear. All I wanted to do was talk to you. I wanted to hold you in my lap. I wanted to teach you from the time you were young stories about who I am, about how I'm the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Have you read their stories? I've been a perfect dad to them. They were idiots along the way, but their direction was toward me, and it worked out well for them. Jacob had a really hard time until he learned to not go 'God!' but 'God.' Then his life was blessed, when he finally walked with humility, and every step was a reminder of his need for me. You're the same way, and I love you, and I don't want you to be wounded.

You made haste with your feet and it was in err, and it cost you, but you're still my boy, you're still my daughter, and I still love you. I can restore the years the locusts have eaten. I can take what you intended for evil and make it for good. I didn't need you to go do that stuff so you have a testimony of my deliverance.

I wanted to deliver you from the very beginning of all the sin and death and pain and scars that come through sin, but that's what it is now. I can take what you intended for evil and make it for good. I can bring healing and hope into your life, but you have to listen. You have to quit telling me who I am. Let me speak for myself, and don't be angry, because your anger will not accomplish what I want you to understand."

Have you ever noticed that the anger of man doesn't accomplish the righteousness of God? God is saying, "Don't be angry at me. Listen." It says in verse 21, "Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness…" That is a continuation of verse 20. It's not just moral disobedience. Somewhat of it is there, but you need to be reminded there's really only one sin in God's mind. Everything else is a secondary sin.

It's obvious that most of our secondary sins are going to be that which gives us the greatest amount of pleasure and meets our greatest need, which is to be loved. So where are most of us really struggling in some form or fashion in some area of sin? It's always our sexuality. That is why in Romans, chapter 1, when it starts to list secondary sins, the primary secondary sin is always sexual, because it's the first place we go when we don't believe God loves us, because it gives us incredible gratification and meets a deep need of the human heart…to be loved, respected, wanted.

Sex isn't the sin; it's a symptom. Homosexual sex is not the sin; it's a symptom of a broken life. Heterosexual immorality is not the sin; it's a symptom of sin. That's why it starts there, and then it goes all the way down to disobedience to parents, anger, malice, gossip, jealousy… Those are all secondary expressions of one thing: you don't believe your Father's way is a good way.

The primary sin is that even though they knew God and saw God revealed in creation they did not honor him as God, and professing to be wise they became as fools. They lived like teenagers. What do you think a land that is run by teenagers looks like? Read Lord of the Flies. No, no. Turn on the news. Our nation still has "In God We Trust" on it. We still have the family name, but we don't act like we are from our Father. We're not a Christian nation anymore, because we didn't listen to our father James.

What he's saying is, "Put aside all filthiness…" That is this idea that "God isn't good. The way of man is good. The way of my flesh is good. The way we're going to figure this out is good." "…and all wickedness." What is the only source of wickedness in this world? It is the very first choice. "Hey, man. You don't really need God. His Word is not really that big a deal. Disobeying him isn't really going to matter. God is not good. If he loved you, would you really have to not be able to eat that?" That is wickedness.

What he's saying is, "Don't get angry, and don't follow filthy, wicked lies, which is that your Father is trying to rip you off, that he made you full of these desires just to deny you so he could laugh with his other God buddies up there and go, 'Watch. They can't do that. I'm going to smack them.'" That is a lie from the pit of hell. It is a filthy, wicked lie. James is saying, "Put all that aside, and in humility…" Oh man. Don't we love that word? Blech. Humility. That is a word I'm using constantly with teenagers, which is to say young churches. You have to be humble.

This is what the Scripture says in Isaiah 66. This is when he's teaching Israel. Isaiah 66:1-2 says, "Thus says the Lord ** , 'Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool.'"** Does this sound like anything else we read already today? "Remember who you are and where I am. You can't build a house I'm going to really dwell in. I'm not really there. I'm not indwelling this place. I don't care how big you make your duomo, your church. It doesn't give me enough room."

"And where is a place that I may rest?" God would even tell you he doesn't need rest. He said, "My hand makes everything. Everything came into being by me, so you're not going to impress me by anything you do. Do you know what's going to impress me?" Watch this. "But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word." This is what the fear of the Lord means.

It's like you know God is so good and so wonderful and everything that comes out of his mouth is such a blessing you're like, "Shh! Shh! Shh! What? What? You're going to speak, God? I don't want to miss a word. Shh!" I don't want to miss a word he says, because God is going to tell me something, and everything God tells me leads to life. When the Word of God comes into my soul, it brings forth life. I'm a firstfruits of blessing. I get all that God intended for me, and God is good.

Do you know how good God is? God made a place that was perfect and wonderful, and it was called Eden. It was paradise. We got filled with filthiness and wickedness. We believed God wasn't good, his Word wasn't true, disobeying him wasn't that big a deal, and that's why we have this world full of trial, and that's why our bodies now are constantly pulled toward evil, even though the desires in them are not the problem; it's just we think we know what the right thing is to do with those desires. Man, we have to go back to our Dad and ask him.

James is going to tell the young church, "I know you're getting overwhelmed by beating down from the outside. The Enemy is going to tell you, 'God is not there. God doesn't care. You're a fool for believing in him.' I know that inside you want to be overcome with lust, overcome with what children are always overcome with: following their own desires, but don't do it. You need to be humble."

By the way, the word humble… Some of your Bibles might say meek. Some of them might even say weak. It says, "Receive the word implanted in your heart with meekness." This is the exact same word that is used of Jesus about himself. Now you might want to say a lot of things about Jesus, but he is not weak. The word humility, the word meekness is the idea of strength under control.

I've talked about this before. It is like a stallion that is still a stallion, but it knows why it was made, not just to neigh and kick and run wild and be desperate for food and life but to live nobly and beautifully and run ably and to be guided with just a slight little direction from a master who brings forth all its glory, who, by the way, cares for it, feeds it. It's strength under control. That's what Jesus says he is.

In Matthew 11:28 he says, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest…for I am [meek] gentle and humble in heart…" It's that word gentle he says. He's saying, "I'm not going to treat you like men treat you. I'm going to treat you like a loving, perfect Father will." This is going to be the strength and power of God under control. "I'm not here to wear you out," Jesus says. "I'm here just to shepherd you and guide you. I understand what it's like to be tempted."

There's a sense of that humility right there. Again, the word humility here is "Just receive this." God doesn't want you to stop being a powerful, insightful person. He wants you to love him with all your mind, all the gifts he has given you. Just give him your gifts. Give him your mind. Give him your tongue. Give him your passions. Give him your energy, and let the Word of God be implanted in it. If you let the Word of God get implanted in your brilliant, gifted…

I was with some people from Watermark on Friday night. We had a surprise birthday party for one of our friends who has been here from the very beginning. I looked around that room, and I couldn't believe all of the stallions who were in that room. I really mean that. I look around here on Sundays, and I see so many gifted people, folks who are leaders in industry in Dallas, folks who are leaders in their families, in their communities, in their high schools. It's amazing.

Do you know what's going on here? This is not just a church full of really gifted people; it's a church full of really gifted people who are humble. They are directing their resources, their brains, their careers, their lives, and their hearts toward the kingdom, and that's why something is happening here, because the Word of God is implanted in them.

This is what it does: it's able to save your souls. I could teach you so much on this, but let me just say this. A person who takes the Word of God, who lives like Psalm 1 said… "How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord** , and in His law he meditates day and night." This is what it says in verse 3:"He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water…"**

I'm going to jump from Psalm 1 to Jeremiah 17. Jeremiah 17 takes up that idea. It says, "For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream…" Why is that important? "…and will not fear when the heat comes…" Every other tree is going to be dried up in seasons of drought when there are trials and torture from without, but not the man planted by the Word of God, because his roots, even when it stops raining, go toward a stream, that never-ending power of the Word of God that will refresh you when everybody else wilts.

If you listen to your Daddy, you will be what nobody else is: a bountiful, plentiful, fruitful blessing when everybody else is shriveling. That's what God says we should be. That's why it says in Proverbs 24:10, "If you are slack in the day of distress, your strength is limited." May it never be said of the people of God that our strength is limited. When everybody else is going, "What are we going to do?" the Christian should go, "I'll tell you what we should do. I have a word. I can remind you of things that are true."

When everybody else is shriveling up and shaken, we're firmly planted. The whole forest should be lying down, the whole world should be vapid of any kind of productivity, but not the church. Ever. " [We will] not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit." That's Jeremiah 17:8. That's James 1. That's Psalm 1. Ever wonder how all of those books are the same thing even though they're written by different men in different generations? Because there's one Author, and he's trying to tell you the same thing, like a loving father does. He's just reviewing.

Sometimes you hear it when you're an adolescent, sometimes an adult. Sometimes you're reminded. Sometimes a teenager. Sometimes when you're a little toddler. He says, "But prove yourselves…" In other words, it's the same word there. "Show yourself to be verified that you really are a person who knows the Word of God, who knows Jesus and follows him, by being a doer of the word, not merely a hearer who deludes themselves."

James is telling them, "For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was." The word here is not anthropos. That's the word for humankind, for humanity. That's the word for man. This is the word aner. It means male.

A long time ago, I taught on James, chapter 1. I literally had a tackle box bought from Bass Pro Shop that a friend's wife had that is her makeup kit. Some people might say, "How do you know James is married?" You might say, "Well, I know James is married because in 1 Corinthians 9:5 it says, 'Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Peter do?'"

We know from 1 Corinthians 9 that James, a brother of the Lord, was married, but no, I know James was married because of James 1:23. He lived with a woman, and he saw, "She goes to a mirror differently than me." A woman goes to the mirror with foundation, blush, eyeliner, eye shadow, hairspray, hair gel, lipstick. I don't even know what else y'all have, but you have a tackle box. When you go there, you're there to do business.

By the way, if you're a metrosexual, this verse is completely confusing to you. I was walking out of the house this morning, and my wife said to me, "You're not wearing that." I go, "Yes, I am." She goes, "No, you can't wear that." I looked in the mirror and went, "What's wrong with that?" She goes, "Well, first of all, idiot, your white shirt underneath it is too long. It's going to be very distracting to everybody who's out there."

I go, "I don't care," and I walked out. My wife just went, "Oh goodness gracious! Tell the people I'm not responsible for how you dress." My wife is not responsible for how I dress. What I'm here to tell you is that a woman goes to a mirror and goes, "That mirror is going to change me. I'm going to stay here until I'm okay with what I see. I look different because of what I see."

We're not supposed to paste a bunch of stuff on; we're supposed to be changed from within. That's what the Word is. It's supposed to show us "This is what God looks like. This is your Father. Be conformed into his image. Don't be like a guy who goes, 'Ah, it's good enough.'" James is saying, "Don't be like that, because that'll really be distracting to people."

You go there to do business. You don't forget what you're supposed to be. You're a child of God, a firstfruits. You're the visible image of the invisible God, as the Spirit of God dwells in you. You're the hope of the world. Christ in you is the hope of glory. Look at verse 25. "But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty…" That's what it is. He's telling you you're so blessed to have this Dad.

I love what it says in the book of 1 John. "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome." This is what Solomon wrote centuries before: "It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it." Do you remember what he said? Satan will sell you stuff, and it's not free. It always has a cost. But no, your Father freely gives, and there is no sting that's going to come back around. It's the law of liberty.

If you look intently… It's the word that was used of Mary when she walked up to the tomb. She stooped. She humbled herself and looked in. She goes, "What am I supposed to make of that?" It's the exact same Greek word. You're supposed to go, "What am I supposed to make of that? This might change everything. Maybe I'm not supposed to weep and cry and be overwhelmed. Maybe there's hope. Maybe there's a way I should respond."

That's the Word. Look intently at this Word that tells you this world is not spinning out of control. This is God revealing himself in the context of darkness that one day he's going to judge, but he has called you out for a moment. It says, "…the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed…"

Why is James writing this? Because he loves you, church. He wants you to be blessed. He wants you to be the hope of the world, a city set on a hill that will not be hidden. He wants you to make people thirsty. He wants you to preserve society. If you don't do it, no one is going to do it.

I grabbed my son… I sent him away today for two weeks to an awesome place to go get some training and stuff. I just grabbed him last night and said, "Son, I'm going to pray for you. I love you. I have given you, as best I could, a good name. I want you to walk in it, not because I care about my name, my name is going to be okay, but because I want you to experience the blessing I've experienced with the little bit of obedience and attentiveness I've given to the Word of God.

I pray it bears fruit in your life, that you walk in dignity and you don't follow your desires to death. I know how strong they are when you're 18. I know how discouraged you can be from the trial of persecution and isolation and friends who have no clue why you live the way you do. Don't be overcome. Experience the blessing of your loving heavenly Father, of which I am a small shadow of."

Let me show you how this thing all turns together. Right now you get to verses 26 and 27 and you go, "This has no real context," but it does. It has perfect context. What James is going to say is, "Do you want to know what belief that is appropriately practiced looks like?" I'm not a big fan of the word religion because of what it has come to mean today, but the Greek word just basically is life application from a belief that is firmly held.

What James is going to say is, "As your elder, I'm telling you, this is a life application if you firmly hold to who Jesus was." Do you remember what the two problems were so far in James? First of all, our tongues just go shooting off about how our Dad doesn't have any clue what's going on, doesn't know anything about what it's like to live this way. So we're going to run off about how we know better than God and God doesn't really care about us. "He said he was going to come back quickly. He hasn't come yet. We can't trust him."

James is saying, "That's not the tongue of a person who knows what I've told you. If you don't bridle your tongue and you deceive your own heart, then your religion is worthless." In other words, anybody who's filled with the Spirit (now I quote Paul) speaks to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. In other words, you share with each other words that are true. You don't do what the world says; you do what the Word says.

James is wrapping up all of chapter 1. "Watch your tongue." This is not the message about how we talk to one another. That's coming two chapters later. This is about how we talk about God in the midst of temptation and trials. If you are abusive in your speech about God and if you are somebody who doesn't become a herald of righteousness and tells others about the worthiness of God because of your temptation and your trials, that means your belief is not the belief of God.

James is saying, "May it never be, because you are his evangelists." Euangelos, messengers of good. If the messengers of good don't say good things, what hope does the world have? What was the other problem? "We don't like the way it has gone for us. We want to be like the rich people." Application: "Pure and undefiled [appropriate life practice for belief that you hold] in the sight of our God and Father is to stop worrying about yourself and envying wicked and covetous people and look around you. There are people who are worse off than you. Go love them."

The message of the Bible is not "Stop sinning!" You have not met Jesus if all you do is stop sinning. The message of the Bible is not "Quit stealing!" The message of the Bible is not "Quit living in immorality!" Here's the message of the Bible. Do you want to know when you know you've really met God? It's not that you stop stealing; it's that you start giving. You are radically changed. It's a 180.

It's not that you stop having illicit sex; it's that you love and give yourself away. You serve people and don't live for your own pleasure; you live for their good and their pleasure. It's not that you stop being lazy and playing Xbox all the time; it's that you serve and you exist for the glory of God. See, the purpose of the Bible is transformation, not information.

All James is doing is saying, "There's somebody worse than you. Go love them. I know it's tough, but there's somebody worse than you. Go love them." That's how you know you really know who God is. God is not trying to keep his church from evil; he's trying to remind them, "You are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which he prepared beforehand that you should walk in them." Do you see that?

I'm going to show you a picture of what happens when you do, and it is beautiful. I found this ad a while back, and it was from a life insurance company. In other words, what they're trying to do is say, "Hey, work with us, and we'll ensure your life is going to be well invested." This is a loving Father saying, "Walk with me, and I will ensure that your life is blessed. Invest with me."

I'm not asking you to do random acts of kindness. I'm asking you to be people on your knees who know who the true God is and follow his example. You serve as he served and give yourself as light to darkness the way he did, and you will be blessed. You will receive the crown of life. That's what the word happiness means. It means blessed, if you use it correctly. Blessed in the name of God the Father, who shows you that in this world where there are trials, don't curse it. We're going to figure out how to make this thing work for the glory of God.

When people ask, "What is the source…?" The world is going to wag their head at you and say, "Who are you? What are you doing?" Then they're going to see the beauty and the glory of it and go, "Where did you learn that?" You're going to say, "From the Word firmly implanted in my heart that I have received with humility. I'm not living as some arrogant teenager who knows better than my Daddy. He's perfect, and he loves me. Let me tell you his story. Let me give you his résumé. Let me invite you to follow him with me."

Are you all ready? That's my message to the early church of Watermark, just 10 to 15 years into this thing. Let us be doers of the Word, because we are believers in Jesus Christ. Amen? If you're here this morning and want to know how you can ensure to have a blessed life, it's with Jesus Christ, whose life was more beautiful than anything you'll ever see and who gave it for you, that you might be reconciled to the Father. Will you come to him? And if you've come to him, will you live for him?

Father, bless my friends. Help us to be your church, firstfruits of your glory, who follow in the steps of our Father and pursue light in the darkness and take what the world intends for evil and use it for good, just like our Daddy. We thank you that you love us and gave yourself for us. May we follow you. In Christ's name, amen.