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Practical Living | Series Recap

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The book of James is one of the most practical books in all of scripture.  Many pages could be filled exploring all that James teaches in five short chapters.  However, four major themes stand out that greatly impact how we live everyday. 

Joy in Trials 

The book of James opens with some hard teaching.  James tells his readers, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you face trials of various kinds.” (James 1:2)  Nobody wants to hear this, because it is completely contrary to our normal reaction to trials.  James goes on to say that trials test our faith and produce steadfastness in us.  Through this process we become “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”.  Basically trials produce spiritual maturity.  That is why, for the believer, there is joy to be found in hard places.  We may not always be happy in trials, but our trust in the sovereignty of God allows us to have deep joy in Him, even in hard times.   

The Law of Christ

One of the biggest themes that runs throughout the book of James is the idea that believers are no longer under the old Mosaic law, but rather a new law; the law of Christ.  Simply put, the law of Christ, also called the law of liberty or royal law, is to love God and love others.  James begins his discussion of this in chapter one by contrasting worthless religion that is without self control and pure religion that fulfills the law of Christ.  He then continues this discussion in chapter two by setting up the law of Christ in contrast with the sin of partiality. The royal law of King Jesus prompts us to love freely, and without expecting anything in return.  This is the law of Christ and it redefines everything about who we love and how we love them.

Faith and Works

One of the most well known themes in the book of James is his discussion on the relationship of faith and works.  Maybe the most recognized verses from the book of James is James 2:17, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”  What James is saying here is that true saving faith is always accompanied by works. He then says in verse 19, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!”.  James basically says, “I’m glad you have good theology, but so do the demons”.  Faith that does not change you and lead to good works is not saving faith, it is demonic faith.

Sovereignty of God 

The last major theme in the book of James is the glue that holds the rest of the book together.  The only way we can have joy in trials, fulfill the law of Christ by loving others selflessly, and produce good works is because God is sovereign over all things. In James 4:13-17 he addresses readers that have arrogantly made detailed plans for their lives without acknowledging that ultimately God is in control.  James quickly reminds them (and us) that in the grand scheme of eternity, our lives are a fleeting mist that is here for just a moment and then gone.  In light of this we hold all our hopes, dreams, and plans in an open hand before God, knowing that in the end the only life that matters is a life that makes much of Him.   

The $100 Campaign Update

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This past Sunday, we took up a special offering called our $100 campaign. The goal was to help two ministries with their financial needs. One of these ministries is called the Romanian American Mission (R.A.M.). We wanted to make you aware of a pressing need in one of the Romanian churches:

What’s Happening? 

One of the places we are partnering with is in Comanesti, Romania where there is a like-minded pastor by the name of Adrian Barzu, a faithful pastor and a trophy of God's grace, leading his people (about 100) through the Word. This is a great rarity, especially in eastern Romania. This region of the world is both financially and spiritually impoverished (only a fraction of 1% actually know and believe the gospel), and the average person won't even look you in the eye. Next summer, a team from our church is traveling to serve this wonderful body of believers in Comanesti.

Through the church in Comanesti, a gypsy man who goes by the name "Colica" came to Christ. Before becoming a Christian, Colica traveled Europe breaking in to people's houses, having immoral relationships, and spending time in prison.  Now, he’s become a solid pastor of a small gypsy church outside of Comanesti.  Each Friday, his church of poor members gather their resources to provide free food for other gypsies in the area. Through this ministry, several have begun attending the church and are hearing the gospel.

What is the Need? 

These gypsies are coming to Christ out of a background of theft. They did not attend school and have no education. They have no skills and no one would hire them even if they did. This means that they are now faced with tough decisions. How will they continue to live without stealing, especially since they can't get work?

Pastor Adrian's dream is that these Christian gypsies could have a piece of farmland on which they could grow their own crops. In this way they could provide for themselves, have food to offer freely to other gypsies as a ministry, and turn away from a life of stealing. This would be a new life for these gypsies, but there are a number of them who have told him that they long to work for their living if someone will just help them find a way.  

Pastor Adrian did not ask for our help.  But we were made aware of this need through a R.A.M representative.  He guessed that the total cost for farmland, a building, and the animals to work the fields would be $10,000.

There are many needs in Romania. The gospel opportunities here are quite astounding - to see these gypsies running their own farm and giving to others would be an absolutely amazing statement to Romanian society about the power of the gospel to transform.  It would be the exact opposite of what gypsies are known for.  The gospel has already saved these folks and given them this desire - they just don’t have the resources to make it happen.

God has given Integrity Church the opportunity to provide these gypsy believers the financial resources to make it happen. That’s what the $100 campaign is all about!

We will be collecting online gifts to the $100 Campaign until the end of this week. If you have not yet given to the $100 Campaign you can still do so online by going www.liveintegrity.org/give

Posted by Jake Sherron with

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