Adults: General Instructions by James

   Usually my sermons each week focus on a specific topic but today I want to give you a variety of little tidbits, kernels of wisdoms, and nuggets of gold. So, here we go.

James 1

     2My brothers and sisters in Christ, count it all joy when you fall into various trials and tribulations, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

     5If any of you lacks wisdom, then ask of it from God. He gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to you. 6But ask in faith, with no doubting, for he/she who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

     9Let those brought low by circumstances of life glory in their exaltation, 10but the rich should glory in their humiliation, because as a flowers of the field they will pass away. 11For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich people also will fade away in their pursuits of wealth.

     12Blessed is the person who endures temptation; for when he has resisted it, that person will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13Let no one say when tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14But each one of us is tempted when drawn away by our own desires and enticed. 15Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

     16Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

James 2

     1My brothers and sisters, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. 2For if there should come into our church a person with gold jewelry, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor person in filthy tattered clothes, 3and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor person, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit here at my feet,” 4have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judgmental with evil thoughts?

     5Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? 7Do they not blaspheme that noble name of Christ by which you are called?

     8If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

13For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

James 3

     13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show by good conduct that their works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14But if we have bitter envy and self-seeking in our hearts, then do not boast and lie against the truth. 15This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

James 4

     4:1Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3Those who ask and do not receive, it is because you ask incorrectly, that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

     6Yet God gives more grace to whom? It says in Proverbs 3:34 that “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”  

   Do these words I said to you sound familiar? Have you heard them before? I hope so because they are the words of the Holy Apostle James/Iakovos, the Brother of the Lord, whom we commemorate today, October 23rd. They would sound familiar if you read the Scriptures. They are from his Catholic or Universal Epistle called by his name—James, that comes right after the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament. We read these exact passages at the Vespers Service last night for his Feast Day. I made some minor changes in the text and omitted a few verses.

   So, in conclusion today, let us review quickly the kernels of wisdom and the nuggets of gold we heard from James: Be patient and joyful in trials of life. Ask wisdom from God with faith. Give glory to God in all circumstances of life. Endure and resist temptation to receive the crown of life. Every gift in life, everything we have is from God above. Therefore, those of us who are materially wealthy must be very careful to share our wealth, especially the poor, treating them with honor, dignity and respect—in order to have faith in God. Be merciful, not judgmental. Do not seek earthly wisdom which is sensual, demonic, envious, self-seeking, and confusing. Rather seek the wisdom from above, from God, that is pure, peaceable, gentle, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism nor hypocrisy. Finally, ask God in prayer with faith, pleading for guidance in order to ask for the right things in the right way. Be friends with God and enemies of the world. Don’t be proud, but be humble. Amen!