"My New Checklist"
I want to take the wisdom given by God and apply it to my life so that in this life I will have greater joy and peace. James gives practical ways to follow God's checklist.
My New Check List
A. We have just gone through the extended holiday season from Thanksgiving, through Christmas, and finished with New Year’s. If you watch Hallmark TV you know it is the official “everybody is supposed to be happy and nice” season. What is normal the rest of the year? Is that the other 10.5 months where people are cranky, lots of complaining, and children don’t worry about who sees them when they’re sleeping or when they’re awake?
B. One of the good things that come from the holiday season is the idea of sharing the good things that you have been given, with others. It is a time of year when people really do seek to think about others differently. We might give our mail carrier or newspaper carrier a gift. We might leave a bigger tip when we go out to eat. We share gifts with people who are in need or help out agency that do that ministry. We give good gifts to family and friends and celebrate God’s greatest gift to us – Jesus.
C. But now that the holiday season is over, the tree is taken down, the decorations are stored for another year, what about you. What are you really like when the expectations of “being nice” are no longer as heavily placed upon you?
D. With the New Year, for me, comes the idea of self-reflection and personal growth. I chose a theme passage for me to read at least once a week and to journal about each week. While my personal passage is Eph. 5:15-21, what I found in our reading today is a great check list that touches on my attitude and actions. So let’s allow God’s word to speak to us today and examine this check list.
I. God’s Good Gifts
A. Listen again to part of our text (James 1:16-18). Dr. Dale Robbins writes, “I used to think people complained because they had a lot of problems. But I have come to realize that they have problems because they complain. Complaining doesn’t change anything or make situations better. It amplifies frustration, spreads discontent and discord, and can invoke an invitation for the devil to cause havoc with our lives.” Complaining makes us miserable.
B. Listen to a few passages:
Phil. 2:14-15 “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”
1 Thess. 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
C. A positive, thankful person is a great witness in this dark world. We shine when we are thankful. Instead of looking at the negatives in our lives and complaining, Christians look at and for the positives and give thanks.
D. Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of light. Every day I can live in gratitude for what God has given to me. I have been blessed with a growing family. I am blessed with many material blessings. But the greatest gift that I have is that my sins are removed and I live in the grace and holiness of God. We, you and me, are God’s firstfruits of creation. In essence, God is showing us off to the world that is dying so that they can see what goodness looks like. God has placed in you your workplace to show off what it means to be a Christian. God has placed you in your home to show off what it means to be a Christian. God places you in the community so the world can see what means to be light shining in dark place.
II. Quick and Slow and Put Away
A. While I am working on this new check list of how I ought to live my Christian life, James continues to give me some practical steps. He does so with three short statements. Listen again to verse 19.
B. Sometimes the simple advice is the best advice. The first teaching is for “everyone to be quick to listen.” The expression here is not given in the broad generic term of “all people” but in the singular idea “each individual.” James is trying to make this personal. You, forget everyone else and their actions for a moment; you be quick to listen.
C. It begs the question of what are we to listen to? James has given us that answer. The Word of truth. Both verse 18 and 21 give us that answer. We don’t need to listen to gossip, teachings of men that are contrary to God, or even to wise sounding human thoughts. Listen to God. How do you do that? James says “be quick to listen, slow to speak.”
D. Then James continues about being slow to anger. Look again at our text (READ Vs 19b-20). Anger that I have is very rarely the same anger that God has. I get angry at sin, but generally at your sin, not mine. I get angry and let that anger sit in me until I become bitter and even my looks are evil. I have to deal with my anger, release it, but in a way that is godly not harmful to others.
E. Keep reading (Vs 21). The holidays are over it is clean-up time. Time to “put away” those decorations. James says, “It’s personal clean-up time. Time to put away all the filth and wickedness and fill myself up with God’s word.
A. James gives us a step program to work. It starts with gratitude, extends through listening to God’s word and speaking less. It removes the anger within me that often drives me to sin and has me put away the sin I used to go to, and turn to God’s word to find fulfillment in life.
B. Will you humbly accept God’s word and let it be implanted into your life? Will you open up God’s letter to you, read it with his joy wrapped around you, and let go of things this world binds you with?
C. It is a great way to live – free from anger, free from wickedness and basking in God. If you would like us to pray with you, teach you, or need this church to simply embrace you as you walk with God, then come as we stand and sing.