Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Luke 2:1-7

TEXT: And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, be-cause he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

INTRODUCTION: Giving birth does not make a woman a mother. It takes a special woman to be a mother. A mother is a person who is willing to take the responsibility of investing her life into another human being who is totally de-pendent upon her to do so:


2 Timothy 1:3-5 I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, 4 greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, 5 when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.

A. Mary Was A Person Of Spiritual Integrity

Luke 1:30 Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

B. Mary Was A Person Who Enjoyed The Presence Of God

Luke 1:46,47 And Mary said: "My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

C. Mary Was Woman Hungry For God

Acts 1:14,2:1-4 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplica-tion, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.


A. Mary Supported Her Husband’s Leadership

Matthew 2:13,14 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him." 14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt,

Matthew 2:19-23 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead." 21 Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.

B. Mary Taught Her Children Discipline In Honor Of God

Luke 2:51,52 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

C. Mary Was Faithful To Her Children

John 19:25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.


Luke 1:38 Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

Deuteronomy 10:12,13 "And now…what does the LORD your God re-quire of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 "and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?





Saturday, May 4, 2013


(Hebrews 9:27-28)

Saturday, May 4, 2013
6:00 PM


Hebrews 9:27-28

“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second  time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to  those who are waiting for him.”
27 जैसे एक बार मरना और उसके बाद न्याय का सामना करना मनुष्य की नियति है। 28 सो वैसे ही मसीह को, एक ही बार अनेक व्यक्तियों के पापों को उठाने के लिए बलिदान कर दिया गया। और वह पापों को वहन करने के लिए नहीं, बल्कि जो उसकी बाट जोह रहे हैं, उनके लिए उद्धार लाने को फिर दूसरी बार प्रकट होगा।

As we look at this passage of Scripture, we are reminded of three truths:

1. Death is a Certainty
2. Final Judgment is a Reality
3. God’s Eternal Salvation is a Possibility


“Just as man is destined to die once…” Death is a certainty. In Ecclesiastes 7:2 the Word of God tells us that, “Death is the destiny of every man.”

It doesn’t matter how well you feel or how in shape you might be. No one can escape the certainty of death. That’s why it’s so important that we live each day to the fullest. We need to live each day as if it’s our last. How are you living out your life? Are you living each day as if it could be your last or are you taking this life for granted? My friend, I hope you take advantage of everyday God gives you and that you use each day to make an eternal difference in someone’s life.


The Word of God tells us that after death each of us will certainly face judgment. God’s Word speaks of two different types of Judgment. First, there’s the Judgment Seat of Christ which we read of in
2 Corinthians 5:10. It’s important that you understand that this Judgment is for Christians. Here we read,
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” Paul was not saying that Christians should not enjoy certain wholesome, earthly things, but that they should glorify God in them and spend most of their energy and time with what has eternal value.

Speaking of the Judgment Seat of Christ, look at what Paul said beginning in 1 Corinthians 3:13 concerning the Judgment Seat of Christ. The Word of God says,

“Our work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.”

Which brings us to the second type of judgment the Word of God speaks of and that is the Great White Throne Judgment and we read about in Revelation 20:11-15. As you turn there, please, understand that this judgment is for those who never committed their lives to Christ. For those of you that are here this morning or maybe watching by television and you have never asked Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins and to come into your heart—if you die without Christ, you will stand before God at the Great White Throne Judgment.

In Revelation 20:11-15 we read these words,

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Wow! What a terrible day that will be for those who stand before God at the Great White Throne Judgment. You see, on that day it will be too late to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

Matthew 25:41 tells us that if you stand before God on that day you will hear the words, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” He did not prepare it for you but because you were ashamed of Him, He’ll be ashamed of you.


28so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

Did you notice that God’s Word says, “Christ was sacrificed once (that He died once) to take away the sins of many. Underline that word many. You see Christ’s death doesn’t take away the sins of all. Not everyone receives salvation through Christ’s death because not everyone believes in Him. That’s why eternal salvation is only a possibility.

If I could receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior for you I would, but the reality of the matter is that each person must decide for themselves to either accept Christ or reject Him.

In Romans 10:9 the Word of God says, “That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him form the dead, you will be saved.” Not you might be but that you will be saved!

“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people;

Please don’t put Christ off any longer. Heed the words of

James 4:14, which tells us that our life is like a vapor, that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


(John 6:16-21)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

“With Or Without"
(John 6:16-21)
( PART I )
The passage we just read is preceded by the familiar story of Christ feeding the 5000. It is at the climax of Christ's popularity as a preacher. At this point, multitudes are flocking to Christ, hoping to either have a miracle performed for them, or else, at least, to see a miracle performed by Him.
John 6:2 says a GREAT MULTITUDE followed Him.
John 6:15 says they were going to attempt to force Him to become their king. THAT'S SOMETHING!
We have all heard of people who tried to force their way into power or prominence. HERE, THE PEOPLE WERE GOING TO ATTEMPT TO FORCE CHRIST TO BE KING, EVEN IF HE DIDN'T WANT TO BE! He was VERY popular. But, by the time this chapter is finished, the popularity is over. No one, except the disciples were left to follow Christ. Popularity is a fleeting thing! If you base your life on the popular thing, guaranteed, you will be in for a roller coaster ride!
Anyway, this story is one of the very last events in the life of Christ, while He was still considered popular to the multitudes. I have given this message the title WITH, OR WITHOUT CHRIST.
The story begins with the disciples out, in a boat, without the Lord. That is never a good position to be in!  Without the Lord. Notice, while they were without Christ:
1. IT WAS DARK vs. 17 There is nothing as dark as being without Jesus! He is the true light that lightens the world!
In heaven, there is no need of the sun, because Christ is the light of it! He is a literal light! Remember when Saul of Tarsus met Christ in Acts 9? It was noon, but the presence of the glorified Christ was brighter than the noonday sun. So bright, Saul was thrown from his horse. And even blinded by the brightness. Revelation 1:16 says the countenance, or overall appearance of the glorified Christ is as the sun shines in strength. So, to be without Christ, a person is really in the dark.
A. They have no hope. All the hope of heaven and earth rests upon the person of Christ. He gives us the hope of a purposeful life. He gives us the hope of forgiven sins. And He gives us the hope of an eternal home in heaven. Take away Christ, and all a person has to hope in is whims and wishes. With Christ, there is a solid hope, based on the fact that Jesus died AND ROSE AGAIN!
B. They have no truth. All that is Christ is true, all that denies Christ is false. The educators of the world, the scientists and great scholars, are ever learning, but without Christ, never coming to the knowledge of the truth.
C. They have no direction. Jesus said, "I am the WAY, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the father, but by me." Jesus provides directions in life. He also provides the only directions to heaven. You take away Christ and a person is really in the DARK!

2. The Winds Blew. Vs. 18. Wind is an "invisible thing" that holds great power. You can't see it. Yet you can feel it. And if it is strong enough, it is as dangerous as anything this world knows. It reminds me of
A. The winds of doubt and fear. You can't see doubt and fear, but you sure can feel them. And when they are strong enough, they can cause great problems. Imagine a person, lost, without directions, and in the absolute dark. At first, some doubts begin. "I don't know if I can find my way out of this." And then the fears begin, "I am going to die!" That is exactly what happens to a person without Christ. There are the doubts. "Can I ever pay for these sins? Is there really a hell that sinners go to? " And pretty soon, panic sets in " I HAVE NO HOPE! I CANNOT GET OVER MY SINS! I WILL SUFFER IN HELL!" Bring Christ into the picture and those doubts and fear are all wiped away!
B. There are the winds of False Doctrine. Without Christ, the way is open for every type of false doctrine imaginable to blow up! At someone’s house, they only have little trees. Eventually they will be big enough to protect them from the winds. But not now. Because they have no trees, and they sit up on top of that hill, whenever the wind blows, they really take a beating! There is nothing to stop the winds. Listen, Christ stops the winds of false doctrine, but without Christ, those winds have nothing to slow them down and they go crazy! And without Christ, and because of the winds,

3. The Sea Arose Vs 18. The turmoil of life we face. All of them, ARE    BECAUSE WE ARE SO OFTEN WITHOUT CHRIST!
A. Illness is because we are without Christ. When Jesus was on this earth, He healed the sick. And when we get to heaven, those of us who are saved, the Bible says there is no sickness, death or pain there.
B. War and Rumors of Wars are because we are without Christ. James 4:1-2 >From whence come wars and fighting among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain; ye fight and war; yet ye have not because ye ask not. Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss that ye may consume it upon your lusts. How different the world will be when Christ is the KING! All of the fighting that goes on between nations is the result of a world without Christ! All of the fighting and crime and turmoil we see within our country are the result of a nation without Christ. Even the fighting we have in many of the churches is a result of the fact that we live in a world where Christ is not always present.
C. The Trouble we have with family is because we are without Christ. Oh what a wonderful day it will be when Christ is with us in body, and not just in spirit! Children WOULD obey parents then! Husbands and wives would get along right! You see, all our problems are directly attributed to the fact that we are so often without Christ!
 ( PART II )
But notice with me now, what happened to the disciples when Christ came:
I have found that many people are afraid when they first find out about Christ! The first time they hear Jesus preached. The first time a soul winner comes to their home. The first time they are invited to accept Christ as Savior. A lot of people are afraid!
A. They are afraid of the changes they might need to make. Most of us know we do things we shouldn't do. And most of us would like to forget that we do them! We are afraid to have to try to quit. We know that no wrong habit, no sin practice, none of that gives up easily in our lives! We are afraid that we will have to change those habits and sinful practices, and that will not be easy to do! All I can say is, Jesus will desire you to "go and sin no more." But He will also give you the grace to change as Time goes by.
B. We are afraid to face death and hell. Jesus brings us face to face with the fact that we are going to die someday. He doesn't let us get away with the fact that we are sinners. He tells us straight out that after we die we face the judgment. And He goes on to tell us that our sin will send us to hell if not forgiven! None of that is pleasant news! We are afraid to face it!
C. We are afraid of what our friends will say. I wonder how many people are in hell today because they were afraid of what their friends would say if they became Christians? I imagine the number is large! I think that because I know so many people alive today who are not Christians for that very reason!

D. We are afraid of the commitments that Christ will ask us to make. Everybody who is lost knows that Jesus not only asks us to get rid of our sins, He asks us to do some things for His service. When the disciples first saw Christ coming to them, they were afraid too! But, notice with me secondly that
And, I am confident that even those who are the most afraid, if they knew who Jesus really is, would not be so afraid! We are talking about the Only Begotten Son of God the express image of God the Father The way, the truth and the Life. We are talking about the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world The first and the last, the alpha and omega, the beginning and the ending. When we talk about Christ, we are talking about the Lion of the Tribe of Judah the lamb slain from the foundations of the world the bright and morning star the lily of the valley the rose of Sharon
A. Jesus Christ is God! That means He is all mighty! He is able to do anything he desires to do. He is able to bring water out of the rock Bring manna down from heaven Bring quails from the east wind He is able to part the Red Sea stand up the Jordan river hold still the sun and moon, and turn back the clock And, Jesus is able to forgive sins rescue a lost soul from hell, and make each one of us a mansion in heaven! That also means He all knows. Jesus knows the number of hairs on your head the thought and intents of you heart the deeds you do in this life whether good or evil. Jesus also knows every need you have every fear you have every concern you have I am telling you HE IS GOD!
Not only that

B. Jesus Christ is Good. And that means that the One who hold all knowledge and all power. Plans to use it for all good!
Romans 8:28 says And we know that all things work together for good, to them that love god, to them who are the called according to His purpose.
Think about that! When you have received Christ into your life, He promises that ALL THINGS WILL WORK TOGETHER FOR YOUR GOOD! Whenever there is a storm in your life, he'll use it for good. Whenever there is a problem in your life, He will turn it out for good! I think about Joseph, in the Old Testament. You talk about a guy who had a string of bad things happen to him! First, his brother caught him and threw him into a pit. Then, they sold him as a slave to Egypt. From there, the master's wife got angry with him for wanting to do right and had him thrown into prison. While there, a man he had helped forgot about him and left him there to rot. But, while none of those things were good in themselves, they were a part of God's plan. And, because Joseph stayed true to the Lord through it all, God eventually made him the second in command of Egypt, at that time the most powerful nation in the world, and used him to save the whole nation of Israel. Later, when talking to his brothers, who had originally sold him as a slave, he told them to relax, that he was not angry with them, for they had meant those things for evil, BUT GOD MEANT THEM FOR GOOD! Jesus Christ is God and And Jesus Christ is Good Why wouldn't you then receive Him? Every fear you have about Christ will be settled if you will only ask Him into your life! But see that they willingly received Him in, He won't force His way into your life! YOU must choose to ask Him in!
When Jesus the moment you let Christ into your life, three things happen:
A. We are safe from the storms. That does not mean no more storms will come. Nor does it mean you won't suffer some in this body from them. But it means that none of those things can hurt us eternally. And none of them will be used for anything BUT your good! Romans 8:28 becomes a promise to US immediately after we receive Christ into our life!
B. We are secure from your sins. 1 John 1:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. As soon as we receive Christ into our life, He becomes our LEGAL COUNSEL before the throne of heaven. Christians ought to quit their sins. Christians ought to live soberly, justly, righteously, and godly in this present world (Titus 2:12) But we are not perfect. And sometimes we mess up! When we do, Jesus Christ is right there to make things right with God the Father! That verse right there proves a real Christian cannot lose his salvation!
C. We are settled in heaven. Ephesians 2:6 says God has; "... raised us up together, and made us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." That verse is all written in the present tense. It does not say that we will some day sit together with Christ. It says we are already sitting together in heavenly places in Christ. If Christ could ever be kicked out of heaven, then we would have a chance of losing our place up there. But, since that isn't going to happen. The very moment you ask Christ into your life, YOUR PLACE IN HEAVEN IS ALREADY SETTLED!
Without Christ it is dark, the winds are blowing and the seas are rising. With Christ it is safe, secure and settled - Which are you? Which would you rather be?

Monday, May 21, 2012

What Gave Jesus Joy? (Luke 10:1-21) MAY 22, 2012

What Gave Jesus Joy?
Luke 10:1-21

OPEN: Comments by several people about what they felt would make someone happy.

ILLUS: The Jewish Encyclopedia tells us that no language has as many words for joy and rejoicing as does the language of the Old Testament Hebrew. In the Old Testament there are 13 Hebrew language roots, used in 27 different words. They are primarily used for some aspect of joy or joyful participation in worshipping God. (Kaufmann Kohler)

There is NO OTHER LANGUAGE like the Hebrew language that has as many words for joy. And that’s because God’s people were meant to be a joyful people. A thankful people. A people filled with rejoicing.

So, the question is this: How do I lay hold of that joyfulness?
What do I have to do to be filled with joy in my life?

The interesting thing about the text we read this morning is that we find 2 instances of joy listed.
The first of these is found in verse 17 - “The seventy-two returned with joy…”

And the 2nd is in verse 21 “At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit…”

What caught my attention here was the fact that JESUS was full of joy!
Now, in this series of sermons I’ve been trying to deal with situations that moved Jesus.
Situations where Jesus cried.
Where His heart was touched.
OR He felt a certain affection for someone.

And what’s unique about this passage is that it’s the ONLY place I could find where Jesus is said to have experienced Joy. And we have a bonus in this text because not only does Jesus experience Joy BUT so do the men He sent out on their mission.

So, I want to start with the 72 men Jesus sent out on a missions’ trip.
Now, they had a simple job. They were the “advance men” for Jesus’ ministry. They were to visit the different towns Jesus would visit over the next few months and prepare the way for Him to come in and speak.

First, Jesus told to pray TO God: "Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Luke 10:2

And then they were to work FOR God. They were to do miraculous things like heal people & cast out demons in Jesus’ name, and they were to preach one simple message: “the Kingdom of God is near.”

In that simple message, they were warning the townspeople that something dramatic was going to happen. Someone was coming that would tell them God’s will for their lives and share the thrilling news of the coming Messiah.

When they got back – these 12 were excited!!!
Luke 10:17 tells us “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name."

They’d never had anything like this happen before.
They were changing other people’s lives!
AND they were doing something important with their own lives!

They’re excited!
They’re pumped!
They don’t think anything can stop them now that they follow Jesus!

But then Jesus does the oddest thing: He rains on their parade a little bit.

He says “do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." Luke 10:20

Now, why would Jesus say that?
Why would He tell them they were rejoicing in the wrong thing?

Well, because they were.
Jesus wanted them to understand that there were two kinds of joy:

Joy of this World
And Joy of the Lord.

The “Joy of this world” is based on what “I” can DO.
How much money I can make.
How much position or fame I can receive.
How attractive I can make myself.
How much pleasure I can enjoy.

Joy for people of the world is based on “ME”
Look at what “I” did.
Look at what “I” accomplished.
Look at what “I” attained.

That’s exactly what Jesus is trying to get at.
“Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to YOU”
BUT rejoice that your names are written in heaven." Luke 10:20

Don’t rejoice in what you have done.
Rejoice in what God has done for you.

Jesus said they should rejoice in the fact that GOD has written their names down in “the book”.
Ephesians 2 tells us that – as Christians saved by the blood of Jesus – our name is written down in that book. And because we’ve been saved by the grace of God:
“… we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

Since our names are written down in Heaven, we now have the power to do good works which God prepared in advance for us. When we became saved, God gave us access to the all the power of heaven. We have literally been ‘plugged in’ to the power of Heaven.

ILLUSTRATION: (pull out a clothes iron)
This is an iron. It’s really a great little invention. You pour a little water into the reservoir, you plug it into the wall socket and you can make wrinkled pants and shirts look almost brand new.
It works really well… as long as it’s plugged in.
But what happens when the iron gets unplugged?
It isn’t going to iron very good anymore is it?
Without electricity will make a nice paperweight. But without that electricity, it can’t do what it was designed to do. Its power is derived from the electricity it gets from the wall.

In the same way – our power is derived from being plugged into the resources of Heaven. And we got that “plugged in” when our names got written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Jesus tells the 72 men – YOU got your power from me. “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” Luke 10:19

So don’t rejoice (Jesus is saying) in what YOU have done.
Rejoice in the power God has given you by your name being written down in the heaven.
Rejoice in God, and what He’s done for you.
Because Joy is NOT a man/woman thing… it’s a God thing.

Now I want to switch from the 72 disciples to the next two verses that tell us about Christ’s joy. What was it that made Jesus joyful?
“At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit”
Where is Jesus getting His joy? (through the Holy Spirit)

Now notice what Jesus does once He’s filled with joy through the Holy Spirit
He begins to pray.
In fact, it’s not just a prayer… it’s a praise.
(He) said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." Luke 10:21-22

The first 9 words out of His mouth were praises:
“I PRAISE you, Father – Lord of Heaven and Earth”

Jesus is receives His joy from the Spirit
And because of that joy, he praises the Father.
He receives His joy and reflects His joy to God.
Because Joy Is A God Thing, not a man thing.

Joy is not about what YOU can do.
It’s about what God can and will do through you.

Of all people on earth… we ought to be the most joyful people in town
We ought to be singing about that joy all the time.
In fact, if you know this song, sing it along with me:

“I’ve got the joy-joy-joy-joy down in my heart.
Down in my heart, down in my heart.
“I’ve got the joy-joy-joy-joy down in my heart.
Down in my heart to stay.

And I’m so happy, so very happy,
I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart
And I’m so happy, so very happy,
I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart

I’ve got the peace that passes understanding down in my heart
Down in my heart, down in my heart.
I’ve got the peace that passes understanding down in my heart
Down in my heart to stay.

And I’m so happy, so very happy,
I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart
And I’m so happy, so very happy,
I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart”

That’s the kind of song we need to be singing ALL the time. Because it is the will of our Father that we be a joyful people. That’s why the Hebrew is so filled with words that describe joy. And joy is a repeated theme in both the Old and the New Testaments.

But sometimes, that’s not so easy to do.
Are there times when you just don’t feel “joyful?”
Times when you don’t feel like “rejoicing?”
Of course there are.
There are times I don’t feel like it either.

That’s why God makes such an emphasis on the power of Joy.
For example, in Philippians 4, Paul says
”Rejoice in the Lord always, again I’ll say rejoice.”

Now, why did Paul repeat himself? Why say “again I say rejoice?”

ILLUS: How many of you have children/grandchildren?
Have you ever had to repeat yourself with them?
Because they don’t pay attention the first time!

Paul repeats himself on this because Rejoicing doesn’t come naturally to us. He repeats himself because we’re too distracted by the toils of this world to focus on the real power that rejoicing can give us in our lives.

Nehemiah 8:10 tells us “… Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."

Where’s that joy come from?

You see, that kind of Joy isn’t OF the world. It’s of the Lord.
The world didn’t give me that kind of joy… God did.
And since the world didn’t give it to me – guess what? - the world can’t take it away!

Now – this is important.
If you miss this next point you’ll have missed the WHOLE point of the sermon.
The joy of this world will fail you.
If my joy is focused on what I can do, what I can accumulate, what I can possess, what I can brag of… then I can lose that.

If my joy is in my possessions… and I lose my possessions –
(guess what) I’ll lose my joy.
If my joy is in my house… and I lose my house –
(guess what) I’ll lose my joy
If my joy is in my health… and I lose my health –
(guess what) I’ll lose my joy
If my joy is in a loved one… and I lose that loved one –
(guess what) I’ll lose my joy

AND when I lose my joy…
The world starts falling apart on me.
I can become depressed, discouraged, demoralized.
I may even wonder why I want to live!!!
And when that happens… I’ve literally lost my strength.

And when that happens a lot of people begin to get angry with Jesus.
They say “Jesus, why did you allow me to lose that which I found such joy in?

And Jesus will say
“Didn’t I tell you?
Didn’t you listen?
There is nothing you have on this earth that you’ll ever keep.”

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19

Everything you are attracted to in this world is going to get broken, stolen, rust or die.
If your joy is wrapped up in those things you’re destined for disappointment.

BUT Nehemiah 8:10 tells us “… Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."

The people who understand this can weather any storm
They can survive any tragedy.
They can heal from any heartache.
They can handle any hardship in this world.
Because they Joy of the Lord is their strength

And that was what Jesus was trying to teach us in Luke 10
You (as Christians) don’t get your joy from this world… you get from the Lord.
And since the world didn’t give it to you, the world can’t take it away

CLOSE: While on a short-term missions trip, Jack Hinton from New Bern, N. Carolina, was leading worship at a leper colony on the island of Tobago. There was time for one more song, so he asked if anyone had a request. A woman who had been facing away from the pulpit turned around.
“It was the most hideous face I had ever seen. The woman’s nose and ears were entirely gone. The disease had destroyed her lips as well. She lifted a fingerless hand in the air and asked,
‘Can we sing Count Your Many Blessing?’”
Overcome with emotion, Hinton left the service. He was followed by another team member who said, “Jack, I guess you’ll never be able to sing that song again.”
“Yes I will,” he replied, “but I’ll never sing the same way.”

Now why was that woman - so misshapen by disease - able to sing that song?
Because she had learned that the Joy of the Lord was her strength.
She had learned that without Him (Jesus) there was nothing worth anything to her.
But with Jesus she had a joy the world could not take away.

The Day Jesus Wept (John 11:1-45)

The Day Jesus Wept
John 11:1-45

OPEN: Back in March of 2008, the mayor of a city in SW France had a problem. It seems his village was running out of space. Not in housing, nor in the retail district, nor even at City Hall. It seems they were running out of space… in the cemetery. There was no room for any more graves. It was full. And apparently (wait for it) people were just dying to get in.

Now the mayor tried to purchase land that was next to the cemetery, but an administrative court ruled that his village couldn’t do that. And so the mayor - having no space in the cemetery, and unable to purchase more land to bury people - did what any politician would have done… he passed a law. And he had this law posted in the city building informing the 260 residents of the town that they are no longer allowed to die.

The ordinance read, in part, "[A]ll persons not having a plot in the cemetery and wishing to be buried in Sapourenx are forbidden from dying in the parish…. Offenders will be severely punished"
(From an article by Patrick D. Odum)

APPLY: Of course, everybody knew that was a silly law.
You can’t stop people from dying. All you can do is to determine what to do with them when they do die.

In ancient Israel, the bodies of the dead were washed and wrapped in winding cloths. The Jewish historian Josephus tells us that corpses were usually perfumed with various spices. The perfume was partly to honor the dead, but mostly it was used to disguise the smell of decay that set in after a few days. They had none of the advance embalming techniques that we have to stop the body from decaying, so bodies were generally buried a day or so.

Now, poor families would take the deceased out into a field and drop it into a hole dug in the ground. But richer families could afford to use tombs - caves that had been hollowed out and blocked by a stone rolled in front of the entrance.

John 11:38 basically informs us that Lazarus and his family were relatively wealthy people. “Jesus… came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance.”

Of course, we all know the rest of the story…Lazarus dies, he’s buried, and 4 days later, Jesus raises him from the dead.

But there are some oddities to this story that make it intriguing.

The 1st oddity is this:
Jesus could have been there BEFORE Lazarus died.
From the way this story plays out, there’s no mistaking the fact that Jesus knew Lazarus would die. Jesus KNEW – before Lazarus even got sick – that Lazarus was going to die.

As I said last week, Jesus did great miracles/healings, I doubt that EVERY miracle/healing Jesus did was pre-planned. However the way Jesus responded when He heard that Lazarus was sick tells me that this miracle was arranged ahead of time in the very courts of Heaven.

Notice - before the disciples knew Lazarus had died Jesus told them:
“‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.’… Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.” John 11:11, 13

And then, Jesus waits 2 more days (knowing Lazarus HAD died) before returning to Jerusalem.

Vs. 6 tells us: “Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.”

So, Jesus could have prevented Lazarus from dying.
If He had just shown up a few days earlier… Lazarus WOULD NOT have died. And that’s what both Mary and Martha say to Jesus when He arrives. They both tell Him the same thing: "Lord… if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:21

And they were right! They knew that Jesus had already healed dozens (perhaps 100s) of people up this point in His ministry. They also knew that Jesus had raised at least two people from the dead. And so, the moment they realized Lazarus was deathly sick they IMMEDIATELY sent for Him, because they KNEW that if Jesus came… Lazarus wouldn’t die.

But Jesus didn’t come. And Lazarus (pause) died.

The other oddity about this story is how Jesus responds to the funeral. He weeps!
“When Jesus saw (Mary) weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled… Jesus wept.” John 11:33,35

Now, if Jesus knew Lazarus was going to die (it was all pre-arranged), why weep? And if He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, even before he arrives at the grave, why shed tears?

Why would He weep? Well, He wept because He SAW Mary and the others weeping. Their grief tore at His heart. And He shed tears for their sorrow.

So, what does all this teach us?

Well, first – it teaches us there will be times when Jesus won’t show up when I want Him to. There will be times I’ll pray, and pray, and pray, and it will feel like Jesus just isn’t there.  Like Jesus … just didn’t show up.

Kind of like when He didn’t show up at Lazarus’ sick bed.
And allowed Lazarus to die.
And allowed his family and friends to mourn.

We don’t like that.
We are not comfortable with that.

Truth be told: We want A GOD that will do what I want done, when I want it done and how I think it should be done. And if God doesn’t do it the way I think it ought to be done then something’s wrong…. God’s not showing up.

I’m hurting.
I’m suffering.
I’m losing.
And when that happens there’s a part of me that wants to say: “Jesus… if you’d only been here this wouldn’t have happened!”

It hurts.
It’s uncomfortable
I don’t like it.

ILLUSTRATION: It’s kind of like having a fever.
You ever had a fever?
Do you remember how it felt?

Ø Your forehead is hot.
Ø In fact your whole body can be hot
Ø Your muscles ache
Ø Your head aches
Ø You shiver,

Ø You sweat
Ø Your entire body feels weak
Ø And all you want to do is lay around the house and do nothing.

And, if you’re anything like me - you get irritable.
You don’t want to be around me when I’m sick like that.
I just want to be left alone.

How many of you like having a fever?
Of course you don’t
It hurts, it’s uncomfortable… we do NOT like it.

Now, it used to be that doctors did everything they could to bring fevers down.
In fact, many over the counter medicines are designed to do just that. If you go to your local pharmacy, you’ll find several products with the phrase “FEVER REDUCER”, or “REDUCES FEVER” on the label.

But about 30 years ago researchers began to discover that moderate fevers were a necessary part of the body’s arsenal for fighting infections. Now these physicians were NOT talking about the really high fevers (which can be very dangerous, and which indicate you need to see a doctor --- NOW).
But with most moderate fevers (which is what most of the fevers we have are) researchers found that it was better just let the fever run its course.

Illnesses caused by bacteria thrive on iron. And when you have a fever, your iron levels drop. This in turn deprives the bacteria of much of their food source. (Readers. Digest 5/83 p.28)
In addition, new research indicates that a high temperature also boosts the immune system’s ability to function. When

your fever spikes, the body goes into overdrive in producing t-cells that attack the source of the disease.

So, fevers - which I do not like; which hurt me; which make me uncomfortable – were actually designed by God to help me. They were designed to fix that which is wrong in my life.
God created fevers to serve a purpose in my life.

And there are times that God does that in my spiritual life as well.
There are times when He allows the “fever” to run its course.
There are times He allows us to be uncomfortable.
Sometimes – EXTREMELY uncomfortable.

And He does that because He has something He wants to change something in my life.
He wants to fix something in my life.
He wants to heal something in my life.
And sometimes there are even times when He allows me to suffer to bring about a GREATER purpose for my life.

And that was what Jesus did for Lazarus.
Jesus brought suffering into Lazarus’ life to give his life a greater purpose.

Up until this time in his life Lazarus was just a friend of Jesus.
Everybody knew this was the one of Jesus’ closest friends.
When the sisters sent their message to Him they said: “Lord, the one you love is sick." John 11:3

Lazarus and his sisters may have financially supported Christ’s earthly ministry, but for the most part, Lazarus was simply Jesus’ friend. BUT, from the day Jesus raised him from the dead… Lazarus went from being a friend to becoming a partner in His ministry!

It was when Jesus came to Lazarus grave that He declared His most powerful statement of His ministry: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25-26

In about a week, Jesus was going to prove that He’s the resurrection and the life.
In a few short days He was going arrested, tried, beaten, crucified, buried… and on the third day He would rise from the dead.

But before that happens, Jesus let’s Lazarus become something of dry run test.

Before Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, He’s already resurrected two other people:
· The 12 year old daughter of Jairus
· And the son of the widow of Nain.
But they’d only been dead a few hours.

According to Jewish theology, a person wasn’t REALLY dead until after they’d been in the grave for 3 days. According to a 2nd century Jewish rabbi named Bar Kappara:
“Until three days [after death] the soul keeps on returning to the grave, thinking that it will go back [into the body]; but when it sees that the facial features have become disfigured, it departs and abandons it [the body].”

Now granted, that was a bizarre theology, based upon a very creative rendering of a verse out of the book of Job. But to the Jewish way of thinking it was very obvious: people weren’t really dead until they’d been in the grave long enough for the body to decay.

So Jesus was using Lazarus’ death as a proving ground.

A proving ground that declared that Jesus really was the resurrection and the life.

Jesus was very careful to make sure that Lazarus was REALLY, REALLY dead. He didn’t allow his body to lie in the grave just 1 day. Nor for just 2 days. Nor just 3 days. How many days was Lazarus in the tomb? 4 whole days.

As far as any critic could ever be concerned… Lazarus was REALLY, REALLY dead.
His body has been there long enough to be disfigured by the ravages of death.

That’s why, when Jesus ordered the grave to be opened, Martha protests:
"But, Lord, by this time there is a bad odour, for he has been there four days." John 11:39

No one had ever been raised from the dead after four days.
No one in the Old Testament… and no one in the New Testament. No one had EVER come back from the dead after four days in the grave. But Lazarus did.

And we’re told that – because Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead: “Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.” John 11:45

In fact, the effect of Lazarus’ resurrection was so powerful that “… a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him.” John 12:9-11

So when Jesus didn’t SHOW UP at Lazarus’ sick bed… there was a reason. The reason: to bring about the faith of

those He was going to die for.

But still, Jesus wept. Why?

Because God takes no pleasure in our suffering. Because God knows our pain and sorrows. And even when He allows us to suffer for our own good He knows it hurts us… and He’s saddened because of what we endure.

That’s why Jesus wept.
And that’s part of the reason Romans 8 reassures us that when we pray “… the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Romans 8:26

That verse is saying that part of the Spirit’s job in our lives is to communicate the depths of our emotions to God the Father. There will be times in our lives when we may not know how to express our pain and suffering. And even if we could put those feelings into words – it wouldn’t begin to touch how deeply we’ve been hurt. But that doesn’t matter!
Because, once you’ve become a Christian. Once, you’ve believed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God; Once you’ve repented of your sins, and confessed that Jesus is now the Lord of your life; Once you’ve been buried in the waters of Christian baptism and been risen up to a new life…Once you’ve become a Christian, God promises that His Spirit will live inside you. And because God’s Spirit is inside of us – we have a direct line to God. We don’t NEED to put our sorrows into words, because God’s Spirit intercedes for us with groans that words couldn’t even express. God KNOWS precisely how you and I feel at every moment in our lives.

He cares for you.
He understands you.
He loves you so much He wants you to know that He feels

your deepest sorrows.

CLOSE: Legend of Lazarus
It told of a time in Lazarus’ life when he’d grown old. All thru his life Lazarus had told and retold the story of his resurrection. Now, in that day, there was a cruel and evil Roman emperor named Caligula. He ruled with an iron fist… and he relied on executions to keep him in power.
“They do not have to love me,” Caligula said, “as long as they fear me.” He kept the people in fear, because he kept them in fear of their deaths by his hand.
But there was a new faith in Rome. A faith that Caligula grew to hate. These Christians had a faith in a God that caused them to not be afraid of death. And one of the most powerful preachers of this faith was Lazarus. Soon, Lazarus’ stories reached Caligula’s throne and he decided to make an example of him.

He brought Lazarus before him in chains and demanded: “Renounce your faith in this Christ”  But Lazarus refused.
In anger, Caligula shouted “If you don’t renounce your faith, I’ll have you put to death.”

For a moment Lazarus said nothing… then he began to laugh. Caligula became even more angry and he shouted. “Don’t you realize I have the power of life and death! I have the power to put you to death!”

But Lazarus only laughed longer and louder.

Then he looked the emperor and finally says
“You cannot hold me in fear, Caligula—death is dead!”
I’ve been there.
I’ve done that.
You can’t scare me.

That’s a great story!
Unfortunately, it’s not true.

It’s a fictional account of Lazarus life found in a play by Eugene O’Neil’s called, “Lazarus Laughed.”

In a way – the truth about this story of Lazarus was even more powerful than I had realized at first… because the writer of the play (Eugene O’Neil) was an unbeliever.He was a humanist who refused to accept the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

But even this atheist was struck by the power of the Biblical story of Lazarus. He wrote of his play “Certainly it contains the highest writing I have done. Certainly it composes in the theatre more than anything else I have done”

And he also wrote: “Certainly, I know of no play like “Lazarus” at all, and I know of no one who can play ‘Lazarus’ at all—the lead, I mean. Who can we get to laugh as one would laugh who had completely lost, even from the depths of the unconscious, all traces of the Fear of Death?”

Think about it.
Even in this atheist, there was an understanding of the power of Lazarus being raised from dead. Even though he rejected Christ… O’Neil understood the central message of this story. Death had been defeated. Christ offered the promise of life and the hope of resurrection.  It was an atheist who wrote Lazarus’ defiant cry:

“You cannot hold me in fear—death is dead!”

The Marks Of A Mature Christian (An Overview of James)

The Marks Of A Mature Christian
(An Overview of James)

Without a doubt the biggest problem that we have in the church today is that of spiritual maturity. We get ourselves into all kinds of problems by saying immature things, by making immature decisions, by acting in immature ways. We need to become spiritually mature. We need to grow up.

Did you know that it is God’s will that every Christian become spiritually mature? It’s true! God wants us all to grow to spiritual maturity. In fact Paul scolds the Corinthian church for their lack of maturity. He treats them as if they are babies in Christ. Look at what the Bible says in First Corinthians chapter three:

“I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” 1 Corinthians 3:2-3 (NKJV)

Paul tells them to grow up! God wants them to grow up – because spiritual immaturity causes all kinds of problems. God’s will for your life is spiritual maturity. One of the purposes of the church is to help you grow to spiritual maturity. What is spiritual maturity – let me start by telling you what it is not:

A. Spiritual maturity is not a matter of AGE.

Let me say up front – spiritual maturity does take time. It takes energy and it takes effort. No one becomes spiritually mature overnight. Even Jesus grew – as he grew up. Look at what the Bible says in Luke chapter two:
“Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Luke 2:52 (NKJV)

But, (here is the warning), you can get older and not grow to spiritual maturity. It’s like the bumper sticker that says, “I may be getting older, but I refuse to grow up.” Some Christians refuse to grow up. I’ve seen 50 and 60 year old spiritual babies. Spiritual maturity involves much more than just aging.

B. Spiritual maturity is not a matter of APPEARANCE.

Some people look and sound spiritually mature – they know how to talk the talk – but question is – do they know how to walk the walk? Some people look holy – they seem to have heaven hovering around them – but that may just be appearance and not reality. Appearances can be deceiving. Spiritual maturity is not a matter of what a person looks or sounds like on the outside.

C. Spiritual maturity is not a matter of ACHIEVEMENT.

You know you can be recognized by all kinds of organizations but that does not make you spiritually mature. You can have all kinds of degrees and diplomas hanging on your wall but that is not spiritually mature either. Achievements are not a sure sign of spiritual maturity.

Spiritual maturity is a matter of ATTITUDE and CHARACTER.

Attitude and character make a difference. It’s attitude and character that count. D. L. Moody said, “Character is what you are in the dark.” Recognition is what people say about you. Character is what God knows about you. God says it’s your attitude and your character that determines who you are.

In the book of James we have a manual on spiritual maturity. James is a manual on how to become spiritually mature. Today we’re going to look at six marks of spiritual maturity. Let’s look at the first mark:
1. A spiritual mature person is positive under PRESSURE.

Let’s look and see what James tells us in chapter one:

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4 (NKJV)

Do you seek spiritual maturity? Do you seek to be complete in Christ? If you do – James tells us to have a positive attitude when it comes to pressure. He tells us to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”

All of us have problems – all of us have trials – all of have situations that are not good. How do you handle them? How do you deal with being dealt a dead hand? Do your problems blow you out of the water? Do you get up-tight? Do you grumble and gripe? Do you get negative or nervous? The first test of spiritual maturity is – how do you act positive under pressure? Remember the Bible says: “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”

Folks here is a fact. Life is full of problems and a big part of life is – problem solving. The question to ask is, “Do I have the right attitude as I approach the problems of life?” Remember the Bible tells you to, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”

You can know the Bible backward and forward – but you can also be rude and obnoxious as well. What is your attitude toward life? A spiritual mature person is positive under pressure.
Point two is:

2. A spiritual mature person is sensitive to the needs of PEOPLE.

Follow along with me as I read from James chapter two:

”If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well.” James 2:8 (NKJV)

A spiritually mature person is sensitive to the needs of those who are around them. A spiritually mature person doesn’t just see their own needs, they are also aware of the needs of others. They understand that there are many around them that are hurting and have needs. When children are young they say, “I want this or I want that. I don’t care about what you want – I want … I want … I want … and I should get my way.” (Some people are still children in their thinking.) Spiritually immaturity says, “It’s my way or the highway. I want it all – give it to me.”

God tells us that love – being concerned about other people – is a sign of spiritual maturity. James tells us not to show favoritism, don’t be a snob, don’t be rude, don’t look down on other people, don’t judge by appearances, don’t insult people, and don’t exploit people. You see the second test of spirituality maturity is how I treat other people.

Paul said – “I can build churches, I can write theological articles, I can put out Christian CDs, I can give all my money for international mission work – but if I don’t have love – all I’m doing to tooting my own horn. It really doesn’t amount to much – in fact it is worth nothing.” You see the second test of spirituality maturity is how I treat other people.

3. A spiritual mature person is master of his MOUTH.

Follow alone with me as I read a verse from James chapter three:
“For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.” James 3:2 (NKJV)

In World War II there was a saying that went – ‘Loose Lips Sink Ships’. Loose lips not only sink ships they – destroy lives. Here’s a twist on “sticks and stones”. Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will hurt my feelings. What we say is important. That is what James tells us. We should be very careful in what we say and if we can control what comes out of our mouths – we can control the whole body.

One of the most destructive things we can do is gossip. Here is a definition of gossip.

Hearing something you like about someone you don’t.

Gossip is a mouth-to-mouth disease. Self control starts with tongue control. We get ourselves into much trouble by what we say. James gives us several illustrations of how much the tongue can get us in trouble. He says the tongue is like a rudder, a horse’s bit, a spark, a wild animal, and a spring. He says that when you put a small bit in a horse’s mouth – you can control the direction that the horse goes. A small rubber on a boat is designed to control the direction of a boat. Your tongue is small – but it has a huge impact on your life. What you say can destroy your life. You can use your mouth for words of encouragement – or you can use your mouth to spread words of discouragement.

Have you ever heard someone say, “I just say what’s on my mind.” As if they are proud of it. But what if there mind is in the gutter. What if there is not much very much in their mind or on their mind. What if what they’re thinking is mean and nasty? It is better to say nothing than to say something stupid, rude or crude. The Bible tells us in Ephesians:

“Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word (is) a gift.” Ephesians 4:29 (MSG)

Circle the word “each”. Each word you speak should be a gift to someone else. If it doesn’t build someone else up – don’t say it – even if it’s true – don’t say it. That’s a mark of maturity. You are learning to manage your mouth. Managing your mouth is the third test of spiritual maturity.

Our fourth mark is:

4. A spiritual mature person is a peacemaker not a TROUBLEMAKER.

James tells us:

“Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves.” James 4:1 (MSG)

James is talking about conflicts and quarrels. He says that we fuss, fight, and fume because of our own inner desires. You want something and you don’t get it – so you get mad instead. When you get mad you take it out on others. You kill and covet but you still don’t get what you want.

The questions to ask are: ‘Am I a peacemaker or am I a troublemaker? Do I like to argue? Do I like to debate? Do I like to stir the pot? Do I hurt other people’s feelings? Am I a peacemaker or am I a troublemaker?’ The mark of a spiritually mature person is the lack of conflict in their life. Look at what the Bible tells us in First Thessalonians chapter four:
“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands.” First Thessalonians 4:11 (NASV)
Why is there so much conflict in the world? Why is there so much conflict in marriages today? Why is there so much conflict among Christians? James gives us two reasons.



James says:

“Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” James 4:11-12 (NKJV)

We are not to judge one another. That is not your job. All that does is create conflict. By judging others you become a troublemaker. Being a peacemaker is the fourth test of being spiritually mature.

Our fifth mark is:

5. A spiritual mature person is PATIENT.

James tells us:

“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” James 5:7-8 (ESV)

Patience is another mark of spiritual maturity. The word ‘patient’ is used three times in these two verses – that tells me that being patient is important. Being patient is a quality of character.
James gives an illustration of a farmer who plants his fields and now has to wait for the harvest. If there is anyone who has patience it’s a farmer. He plants the seed, he cultivates, he sprays, he hopes, he expects… he waits. There are no overnight crops. Just like a farmer – sometimes we have to wait. We wait on God to answer our prayers. We wait for a miracle. We wait for God to move in our lives. We wait. Patience is a mark of maturity. The only way to learn patience is by waiting. Many times God says, “Not yet.” That does not mean no – it means not yet. We need to wait. We need to be patient. You see patience is the fifth mark or spiritual maturity.

The sixth mark of spiritual maturity is:

6. A spiritual mature person is PRAYERFUL.

James says:

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16 (NKJV)

Prayer is talking to God. It is bringing Him your requests. It is praising Him. When we pray we acknowledge that He has control in our lives.

James uses the story of Elijah to show us that there is – Power in Prayer. Elijah prayed that it would not rain and God stopped the rain for three years. Elijah prayed again and the heavens opened up. Elijah did not manipulate God – but he acknowledged Him and believed that God controlled the elements of nature.

You see those who are spiritually mature – understand the power of God. There are things in your life right now that you think – no one can fix. Guess what – God can. God can take that which is broken and mend it. He can take that which is bent and straighten it out. He can take that which is shattered and make it whole. God is that big. God is that powerful. If there are problems in your life – go to Him in prayer.

How do you handle your problems? Are you positive under pressure? Are you sensitive to the needs of others around you? Are you mastering your mouth – keeping control of what you say? Are you a peacemaker rather than a troublemaker? Are you patient and are you prayerful? These are all marks of a spiritually mature Christian – commit yourself today – to growth as a Christian.