August 30, 2009?
Proper 17
James 1:17-27

Bibles are everywhere. You can find them in grocery stores, bookstores, motel rooms. Every year the Bible outsells every major bestseller. In America we are glutted with the Word of God on the airways, radio, TV, books, magazines. Yet millions of people still miss the benefit from the Bible.
James offers four ways we are to respond to the Word of Truth.

I. Receive the Word (James 1:19-21)
God’s Word, according to James, has been planted in us like a seed sown in a garden. Given the right conditions, that seed will take root, grow and bear fruit. The same hope is the intention of God’s Word rooted in us.
How do we prepare our hearts to receive the seed of God’s Word? James gives us four attitudes that need to be present. We are to be careful to give the Word our full attention (be quick to listen and slow to speak). We are to be calm (slow to become angry). We are to be clean (get rid of the filth). We are to be compliant (humbly accept the Word).

II. Live the Word (James 1:22-25)
When I was young, my mother would often give me some instructions as to what she wanted me to do. Then, to make sure I understood and would comply, she would add an insightful question with a stern tone: “Do you hear me?” It was her way of saying that she not only wanted to know that I was listening but that I was going to do what she was asking.
James is advocating the same principle. We aren’t just to hear the Word, we are to practice the Word. Doing the Word of God is at the center of the theology and practical teaching of James. It is not enough to hear the Word; we must apply it.
It has been said, “Too many Christians mark their Bibles, but their Bibles never mark them.”
One of the great deceptions of modern Christianity is that we have merely listened to God’s Word without living out His Word.

III. Reflect on the Word (James 1:23-25)
God’s Word is like a mirror. The purpose of a mirror is to evaluate. In the morning, I look in a mirror to assess the damage from the night before so I can do something about it. What good is a mirror if we don’t do anything about what we see?
God’s Word reflects what we’re like on the inside. Have you ever been reading the Bible and seen yourself?
Many years ago, Queen Elizabeth, who was beautiful in her youth, ordered that all of the mirrors be removed from Buckingham Palace because she couldn’t stand to face that she was growing old.
A lot of people don’t read the Bible because they’re unwilling to face themselves and see themselves as they really are. They don’t want to look in the mirror of God’s Word.

IV. Share the Word (James 1:26-27)
As religious people, we go to Bible studies and hear sermons from the Bible; but if we are practicing the pure religion that James is advocating, we will be sharing God’s love and mercy. Religion could be defined as the outward practice or expression of one’s faith. And, pure religion is the practicing God’s Word and sharing it with others.
James identifies three ways to share the Word: One, in our speech by keepinga tight rein on our speech; two, in our service by responding to the needs of others with the love of Jesus Christ; and three, in our separation from the world by not being contaminated by the sin and evil that is so prevalent.
If we receive the Word, live the Word, reflect the Word, and share the Word, what is the result? James says we will be blessed (v. 25). The benefit of practicing obeying and living the Word is that we will be happy and experience the good fortune that comes from God.

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