Practical Christianity: Prescription: Prayer!

Practical Christianity: Prescription: Prayer! Sermon Audio Here

James 5:13-20

To prescribe medicine, doctors need to know 1) how the body works; 2) how types of medicines affect the body; 3) how various drugs interact with each other; and 4) what new medicines are coming into use. They have to keep up on this all the time, because pharmacology is one of the main tools to address symptoms of sickness. But what if you’re SPIRITUALLY sick?

Prayer Can Be Effective When:

We Lean on The Work of the Spirit
Num. 11:24-29

  • v24/26 The Spirit empowers us to pray!
  • v27/29 Don’t block God’s Spirit; Beseech God for it!

We Link with Each Other
James 5:13-15

  • v13 Connect With God No matter the circumstance!
  • v14 Pray with others
  • v15 The LORD meets the need, not the prayer itself

We Learn Our Actual Needs
James 5:16-20

  • v16 confess our sins = admit to each other that we NEED each other
  • v17/18 Elijah just like us? YES; difference in connection to God
  • v19 warning: we wander!
  • v20 cover multitude sins = cf. 1 Pet. 4:8 LOVE IN ACTION

=>A “testudo” of Roman Shields – much more effective when used in a group

We are to take up our Shield of Faith, proof against the flaming arrows of the evil one, especially when linked together!

Prayer isn’t just talking to a God in outer space; Prayer is baring the soul to the Spirit. We need each other for encouragement, support, and defense!

Practical Christianity: Top Shelf, Good Stuff

Practical Christianity: Top Shelf, Good Stuff Sermon Audio Here

James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a

In America, the meaning of Top Shelf refers to high quality merchandise that needs to be specifically referenced to purchase. It started as a bar term for expensive liquor stored on the top shelf, but now has broadened to refer to anything of high value that needs to be ordered by name.

Want to Live a Top Shelf Christian Life?

Your Contents Have to Match the Label
James 3:13-18

  • v13 show what you know about God
  • v14 ALSO if you’re selfish, keep it inside
  • v15 SELF-focused wisdom ISN’T WISDOM
  • v16 “self-wisdom”, filtered through flesh = chaos!
  •      cf. Jud. 21:25 “right in their own eyes”
  • v17 attribute checklist; “submissive” = ONLY HERE; easy to be entreated
  • v18 James focused on here & now: righteous harvest NOW, not just in eternity

Your Conduct Shows Your Motivation for Life
James 4:1-3

  • v1 notice the emphasis on the INNER battle
  • v2 “want” = Set Your Heart; on what do you set your heart?
  • v3 James’ answer to “you have not because you ask not”;
  •      Why do you ask? What motivates your prayer?

You Are A Channel for Ministry
James 4:7-8

  • v7 “submit” in middle voice = be submitted to; live as a receiver from God;
  •      “resist” = stand against; ACTIVE opposition
  • v8a ref. OT priests; take deliberate steps into God’s presence

God, the Master Craftsman, is making something beautiful and complex out of your life. You might feel “unfinished” or “in process” right now – but remember, you wear Jesus’ name!

Practical Christianity: The Most Dangerous Church Member

Practical Christianity: The Most Dangerous Church Member Sermon Audio Here

James 3:1-12

Rabies, the viral disease, is treatable if caught BEFORE symptoms show; once symptomatic, the disease is almost always fatal. Once that virus takes hold in the flesh, drastic measures are needed.

Those Fixed On The Flesh

Ignore A Shortage of Self-Control
James 3:1-5

  • v1 judged BY GOD (remember last week- we don’t judge)
  • v2 we’re all in this together – there are many ways of stumbling
  • v3/4 control is the issue; who’s really in control?
  • v5 small things can get out of control quickly

Believe Personal Superiority Is Sufficient
James 3:6-12

  • v6 “course of life”=wheel of nature; left unchecked, can throw your whole world off course
  • v7/8 man tames animals because of superiority; who is superior to man?
  • v9/10 what do WE do with speech?
  • v11/12 “flow” – GUSH, under pressure. What comes out of you when you’re under pressure?
  •      SALT – Dead Sea spring – is your water dead, or Living Water?

When we fill our lives with the Living Water, what comes out of us is life-filled. Our speech becomes the means that others are refreshed, and drawn to God at work in us.

Practical Christianity: Who Chooses The Poor

Practical Christianity: Who Chooses The Poor Sermon Audio Here

James 2:1-17

In June 2013, the Rev. Willie Lyle, the newly-appointed pastor of the Sango United Methodist Church in Clarksville, Tennessee, spent four and a half days living in the streets in the guise of a homeless man. He then transformed back into his role as pastor as he delivered a sermon: The Least Used Parts of the Body.

As Believers in Jesus,

Be Careful of your choices
James 2:1-7

  • v1/4 snap judgments are not godly
  • v5 God *loves* the poor
  • v6/7 judge this: how is Jesus’ name treated?

Be Cautious with your judgments
James 2:8-13

  • v8/11 failure to love your neighbor is sin
  • v12/13 mercy WINS over law!

Be Caring in Your Actions
James 2:14-17

  • v14/16 what is the proof of your faith?
  • v17 faith is like yeast; if it’s not alive, it has no power

Why important to not judge others? Because when we pass judgment, we override God’s job. We put OURSELVES in God’s place – that’s idolatry, and it breaks the First Commandment. You shall have no other gods before Me. INCLUDING YOURSELF.

Practical Christianity: From the Ear to the Hand

Practical Christianity: From the Ear to the Hand Sermon Audio Here

James 1:17-27

Nerve from the brain to the pinky

Ulnar nerve entrapment occurs when the ulnar nerve in the arm becomes compressed or irritated. The ulnar nerve is one of the three main nerves in your arm. It travels from your neck down into your hand, and can be constricted in several places along the way. Depending upon where it occurs, this pressure on the nerve can cause numbness or pain in your elbow, hand, wrist, or fingers.

When that path is blocked, pain, numbness, even feelings of electric shock can happen!

To Open The Path of Practical Faith:

LOOK for God’s Gifts ~ James 1:17-18

  • v17 “gift” 2 words= “act of giving” & gift itself;
  •      God IS giving (which is good), and what He gives is good
  • v18 He gives US as a gift to Himself!
  •      (that makes us good; cf. Genesis IT IS GOOD 5x)

LISTEN to Others ~ James 1:19-21

  • v19 Listen for God’s gifts in others
  • v20 anger blocks our hearing!
  • v21 “Superfluity of naughtiness (KJV)” anger overflows;
  •      humbly let the Word work in you (shalom)

APPLY the Word ~ James 1:22-25

  • v22 actively listen for God’s Word
  • v23/24 Scan vs. Search
  • v25 blessed IN THE DOING (not a wage)

HOLD ON to Holiness ~ James 1:26-27

  • v26 rein in whatever is not good or true
  • v27 “to keep” keep on keeping on

The gift of faith that God gives is good, but not meant for display only. We are to take our faith out of the showroom, and onto the highway!

Bread From Heaven: Derailed by the Details

Bread From Heaven: Derailed by the Details Sermon Audio Here

John 6:56-69

On July 24, 2013, a train carrying 218 people in eight carriages derailed in northwestern Spain, killing 79 people and hospitalizing another 66. Shortly after the wreck, the driver, Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, told officials, “I can’t explain it. I still don’t understand how I didn’t see …. I just don’t know.” He said the journey was “going fine” until the train hit a curve. At that point Garzon said to himself, “Oh my God, the curve, the curve, the curve. I won’t make it.”
Despite Garzon’s initial confusion and surprise, there is a simple explanation for the crash. Video footage revealed that the train was going as fast as 119 mph before it hit the deadly curve. That’s more than twice the speed limit for that section of the track. So it wasn’t just the speed that caused the accident. It was the combination of the speed and the location of the track. The train was designed to reach speeds of over 130 mph. But Garzon, who was a 30-year employee of Spain’s national rail company, simply ignored the boundaries in which those high speeds were to be used.

To Keep From Being Derailed By The Details

Remember It’s Not SUPPOSED to be Easy!
John 6:60-64

  • v60 It IS hard, make no mistake!
  • v61 Jesus KNOWS it’s hard for us
  • v62 What kind of proof do you require to trust?
  • v63 fleshly “proof” doesn’t count; trust the Spirit
  • v64 Not all will believe; Jesus knows this

Don’t Fight God’s Direction
John 6:65-69

  • v65 God enables us to follow Jesus
  • v66 if it’s merely our idea, we’ll fade away
  • v67 remember: Jesus takes our belief PERSONALLY
  • v68 What’s our alternative? NOTHING
  • v69 Reaffirm our faith: Jesus is the Messiah

Let us reaffirm our faith by using the Apostle’s Creed, a short-hand summation of what was taught by the Apostles about Jesus the Messiah.

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
     creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
     who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
     and born of the virgin Mary.
     He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
     was crucified, died, and was buried;
     he descended to hell.
     The third day he rose again from the dead.
     He ascended to heaven
     and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
     From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
     the holy catholic* church,
     the communion of saints,
     the forgiveness of sins,
     the resurrection of the body,
     and the life everlasting. Amen.

*that is, the true Christian church of all times and all places

Bread From Heaven: Sustenance of the Savior

Bread From Heaven: Sustenance of the Savior Sermon Audio Here

John 6:51-58

Last week’s challenge: eat with your mouth AND eat with your soul. How does one “eat with the soul”? Soul Food, a term commonly associated with African-American and Southern cooking, refers to inexpensive foods that were readily available to the poorest of the poor. Soul Food is comfort food; reinforcing family and community. Jesus provides us “soul food” as well; He offers sustenance for our soul, way for us to stay connected to the Father through faith.
What Is “Soul Food”?

  • John 6:51 we must take in Jesus’ sacrifice for us – It’s PRIMARY
  • John 6:52 a good question! How DO we “eat” – it’s PURPOSEFUL
  • John 6:53 incorporate Jesus sacrifice into ourselves;
    • must become core part of us – It’s PERSONAL
  • John 6:54 Christ in us, the hope of glory!
  • John 6:55 rabbinical warning: don’t go TOO symbolic it’s PLAIN
  • John 6:56 remains in me; don’t take this too literally;
    • Christ abide in us, and we in Him it’s a PICTURE
  • John 6:57 Jesus models life through submission;
    • expects it of us – it’s PROMISING
  • John 6:58 dependence upon God to sustain leads to eternal life; remember it’s a PRACTICE

Have you ever had a meal that was so good, you thought it should be the last meal you’d need to eat? As if to say, that was so good, I don’t ever need to eat again? However much we may feel that way after a great meal, we recognize that it’s not true… in a few short hours, you’ll need to eat again. It’s how our systems are designed to work: we consistently need to provide our bodies with fuel to continue to function. Our spirits have a similar need as well. We are saved by the work of Christ, and that is a finished task. However, we need to continue to “eat”, to allow God’s presence to satisfy our spirit, to take in “soul food”. That’s why we come to church, it’s why we read Scripture, it’s why we pray and live and love and fellowship with each other. It is all part of partaking of the Bread of Life – Christ in us, our hope of glory: the Mystery made manifest among us.

Pastor Ed Backell

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