The Finale, God Has an App for That!

The Finale, God Has An App for That!

James 1:2-5 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

To our fleshly nature, joy and trials do not go together. However, this joy from the Holy Spirit is not giddiness, but a deep, pure joy from the confidence that God loves us regardless of what is happening, and that God has a plan to work out trials for our good. He is developing something in us, called perseverance. The only way to develop it is through trials.

Why is perseverance needed? We need it to become mature, complete in Christ, and to develop Christian character. Otherwise, we remain immature and unspiritual, unable to help anyone else going through a trial. Furthermore, we need perseverance to withstand our enemy’s attacks and the advancing rule of the anti-christ in this world.

When we are in a trial, ask God for wisdom. Most of us forget to do this. God wants us to make right decisions. He wants us to ask Him for wisdom. He wants us to quit making our own decisions and messing up our lives. If we are already in a mess, He still gives His wisdom to those who humble themselves, repent, ask, read His Word, and obey it.

ISAIAH 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Trials are stressful, but if we take our problems to the Lord, seek Him, focus on Him, obey Him, and think on the things His Word tells us to think about, God delivers us from stress. The trial will still be there, but the stress will be gone. In its place, there will be the Holy Spirit’s joy and peace, which will witness to other people of God’s grace in our lives. They will wonder how we do it. Be prepared to tell them.

James 1:13-25 When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Satan tempted Jesus as he tempted Adam and Eve. He tempts us the same way: to exercise our rights, to do God’s work our own way, to be independent. The possibility of giving into temptation is so likely that the only safety is to look at Jesus, instead of the temptation.

Hebrews 12:2 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith …" We fix our minds on whom or what we love. The primary way to discipline our mind against the tempter is to learn to focus our thoughts on Jesus, His ways, His Word, and His character. The more we gaze upon Jesus, the more we are drawn to Him. As we quit focusing on ourselves and the temptation, and start fixing our eyes on Jesus Christ, there is a growing dissatisfaction with anything that distracts us from seeing Jesus clearly.

Jesus urged His disciples to watch and pray, “that you enter not into temptation.” Our Lord was led into temptation; therefore, it is possible and He taught us to pray—“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Many of us suffer from temptations from which we have no business to suffer, simply because we have not asked God to deliver us.

Heb 4:15-16 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

When tempted, we have the privilege of prayer that fixes our attention on God and enables us to do battle in the spiritual realm. Pray and rely on the Holy Spirit for power and grace to resist and rebuke the tempter. We have the Lord’s authority, as God’s children, to rebuke satan in the Name of Jesus Christ. Pray continuously, pray for one another, and never give up. As long as we are in the battle against satan, we are not his captive.

James 2:1 My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.

Favoritism is judging others solely on externals, like career, clothing, or skin color. When we judge by external appearances, we are applying the wrong values. Subconsciously, we are determining who is and who is not acceptable to God. That is something only God can do and He looks at everyone’s heart, not the outward appearance.

Rom 15:7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

James 2:14-19 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-- and shudder.

The proof, of whether we are a Christian, is not according to what we say. The proof is what we show with our life, what is visible, what is on display for the world to see. A deep faith and love for Jesus Christ will cause us to act like Him, deny ourselves, pick up a cross, and share Jesus with everyone by what we say and do. Furthermore, true faith is not something we turn on and off, depending on what we want to do. Faith is not a part-time, Sunday activity. It is a full-time lifestyle.

The church needs to discover once again that we have an unchanging God. We need once again to experience the power of the Holy Spirit. We need to be filled with the Spirit and use His gifts to edify the Body of Christ. We need to see people’s lives turned around. We need to see people healed physically, emotionally, relationally, socially and spiritually. We need to experience the unity of the Spirit as the early church did. We need to be living in genuine love for each other, and when we fail at that, then we need to seek reconciliation. We need to have the fire of the Spirit to fall and the people of God to rise up, because the weak, apathetic, dying faith of the Church is making it irrelevant to society!

When God sends forth the Holy Spirit, amazing things happen: barriers are broken, communities are transformed, unity is established, disease is cured, addiction is broken, races are reconciled, hope is established, people are blessed, and revival happens. If this is going to happen in our church, we must realize the Christian life is not about keeping rules, but about knowing Christ intimately.

As long as we think that Christianity is something that WE do, we are missing the point. It is not about what we do, but what God, the Holy Spirit, does in us. Being a Christian is not doing the right thing or believing the right doctrines, it is knowing the right Person. It is not about being a member of the church, feeding the poor, or reciting creeds. It is not about baptism or communion, although those are very important principles of our faith. It is about surrendering our life, our body, our mind, and our heart to Jesus Christ and desiring Him to take up residence in us daily by His Holy Spirit. It is about confessing our sin and turning from it. It is about banking everything we have and are on Christ and loving him with our whole heart. That is the work that faith produces!

Admittedly, we resist the process of brokenness and dying to self. It is hard to give up our agendas, objectives, aspirations, desires, and interests. But that is what we must do to revive a dying faith to become authentic Christians.

When we are broken, humble, full of the Holy Spirit, and Christ-like, God can use us to make disciples. When we are like Jesus, we become His ambassadors and people can see Jesus in us. As a result, the Church will multiply like it did in the first century.

James 3:2 We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.

God can take the foulest heart and mouth and make them pure and eloquent for Himself. Surely, one of the most amazing things about the transforming grace of God is that a born-again person loses their filthy language, their lying tongue, and the desire to gossip after they are filled with the Holy Spirit.

Eph 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

With every word we speak we are making a choice. We are either choosing to bless God or grieve Him with what comes out of our mouth.

James 4:1-4 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

James indicates that because of our sin of pride, selfishness, and a determination to rule our lives, we leave God out of our decisions and live emotionally. A prideful person does not realize, nor does he care, that he is an enemy of God and separated from Him.

Furthermore, pride causes us to desire worldly things to satisfy self so we can appear better, more successful, and more important than others. In our selfish pride, we want other people to fulfill our desires rather than try to please them. This is why we get our heart broken in our relationships and why we break others hearts in revenge. When people don’t do as we expect, we retaliate or we leave. Yet, it was never God’s will for us to have a broken heart. Therefore, He set up logical, loving, limits for relating to others, especially the opposite sex.

Jesus has another app to mend our broken hearts. It is called forgiveness. When we choose to forgive those who hurt us, we take away their power over us. If we don’t forgive, we become bitter, angry, and miserable while the one who hurt us goes on with their life unaffected. Also, if we don’t forgive their sin, our Heavenly Father will not forgive us of our sin and we remain unhealed.

Matt 6:14-15  For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Because of the redemption of Jesus Christ, being hurt or heart broken does not make us damaged “goods.” God never wastes a hurt. He uses it to make us better people. The experience enhances and magnifies our testimony of what God can do.

James 4:13-15 Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."

A priority is something we put ahead of something else. Without clear priorities, we will get caught in the busyness of life and cheat our family. Establishing priorities means that we are going to cheat by design. Learn to say “no” to a lot of good things so you can say “yes” to the best things, which are God, your spouse, and your kids! If you don’t make your family a priority, nobody else will!

God wants us to invest in relationships for the benefit of each other. Relationships aren’t just about what we get out of them, they are about what we can give. Invest time with people. If today were your last day or their last day on earth, what would you like them to know? Tell them how much they mean to you. Tell them about Jesus.

Rom 14:12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

God has given all of us a limited amount of time. We will be called to give an account of ourselves before a holy God for how we invested His gift of time.

Col 3:23-24 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Make sure your plans are from God. Whatever we do should bring glory and praise to God; point people to Jesus, reveal His love, His grace, His mercy, His power, so others may know Him and become His disciple.

James 5:7 Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming.

When Jesus returns, He is going to reward all those who have faithfully served Him, and He is going to remove all the results of the curse on sin. There will be no more cancer, no more dying, no more crying, no more separation. Sin will be absent. We will never be tempted again. We will get to enjoy the presence of Jesus for all eternity. All those things that seemed so unfair during our life here on earth will finally be set right. Therefore, as we patiently anticipate Jesus’ return, we can endure anything in this world when we remember that heaven is forever and earth is temporary.

James 5:13-16 Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

In Jesus Christ, we have the privilege of prayer where we can go to God at any time, in any situation, with whatever is on our hearts. As God’s children, we can tell our Father all our troubles and receive His comfort, strength, wisdom, and direction.

The Bible is clear that affliction is the normal expectation for every believer. 1 Peter 4:12 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.”

Although we know this truth, we are still tempted to self-pity, resentment, and discouragement. That is why James says, “Pray.”

We are also to pray and sing songs of praise when we are experiencing happy times, because these carefree times can cause us to ignore our relationship with God. Praising and singing to God keeps our relationship intimate, just like when we sing to and praise those we love.

When we are sick and we call on the elders to pray over us and anoint us with oil, we are not relying on the elders or the oil. We are responding in faith in the One who told us to do this. We are acknowledging that God is our Healer. We are dependent on Him and Him alone. He is our Lord and He is sovereign. God loves us and has a perfect plan of blessing for our life that glorifies Him. If physical healing is part of that plan, then obedience to his command and faith in Him will glorify Him. Otherwise, we have not because we ask not. So, obey God’s commands for healing and leave the results to Him.

Sickness can be the consequence of unhealthy or sinful living. In such a case, forgiveness is our greatest need for healing. Furthermore, confession and repentance are necessary for God to hear our prayers. We should not expect healing until we confess our sin, repent, and change our lifestyle that causes us to be sick.

Although we are to pray earnestly, we are to pray humbly and submissively because God’s understanding of the total situation is much greater than ours. Just because we think physical healing would be best doesn’t mean that God agrees with us. We should ask for what we want without telling God how to answer our prayers.  We should listen for His response to our prayer so we know how to continue praying according to His will.

Part of our problem is that we have lost our faith in God’s will to heal and ignored how the Church is to pray for healing. We need to repent, ask God to forgive us, and to restore our faith in Him and His Word. Then we need to do what He said. We need to wage aggressive warfare against the enemy of our spirit, soul, and body. This war is not against flesh and blood, but against the satanic realm. Prayer, the Word of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit are the weapons we fight with in this war.

II Cor. 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

The promise of God is not a life with no afflictions, but that we will never be alone. Jesus said, “in this world we will have tribulation”, and He also said, “I will be with you always, even to the end of the world.”

The bottom line is this: There’s a battle for our lives, and we cannot be passive spectators assuming that God will take care of it all - while we do nothing. God is already doing His part to convict, expose, and bring healing. He has committed Himself to give us victory if we will follow His instructions, His apps, in His Word.