Just Do It!

 

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Episode 35

James

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Just Do It!

When I was a teenager, way back in the 70s, the two most popular NT books for Bible study were the Gospel of John and the Book of James. Several decades have come and gone since then, but the popularity of those books as not waned.

James is one of the first New Testament books to be written.  Many Scholars say it was first. I think that’s a real possibility, though Matthew may be slightly older. Both were written around the mid 40s AD.

James’ back story is every bit as fascinating to me as that of the Apostle Paul. James is from the tribe of Judah, and the biological son of Joseph and Mary of Nazareth. He is the direct descendent of King David through Solomon.  He, then, is the half brother of Jesus. Like Jesus, he would have grown up a tradesman, a carpenter.

With the exception of Mary, probably no one knew Jesus the way James did. They grew up, playing, rough housing, and working together. I would have loved to have been privy to some of their one on one conversations during their years together.

Despite, or possibly because of, their closeness, James was not a disciple of Jesus during His ministry years. In fact, as we read through the Gospels, it appears as if Jesus’ siblings took a bit of a sarcastic, if not outright cynical view of their older Brother’s ministry.

I tend to believe, though, that Jesus and James were close. I make that claim, based on the fact that James was one of the individuals Jesus made a personal appearance to following His resurrection.  You can read about that in I Corinthians 15.

The next time we meet James, he is already a leader in the Jerusalem Church. He seems to have been on equal footing with the Apostles. Obviously, his familial connection with Jesus would have given him some leverage, but his character and faith were obvious from the beginning. The legends that grew up around him, say he was so devoted to prayer, that great, thick callouses grew on his knees, earning him the nickname, ‘Old Camel Knees’.

7:227:48According to the Jewish historian, Josephus, James was martyred in A.D. shortly after Governor Festus died, and before the new Governor, Albinus, arrived.

There are two versions of James’ Death. One says that James was lured to the roof of the temple where he was invited to address the crowd. While he was preaching, some of the Pharisees threw him off in an effort to kill him, but failed. James rose to his knees and began to pray for the assassins, whereupon, they began to stone and club him until he died.

Josephus tells a much less fanciful tale, and says the high priest, Ananus, took advantage of his interim leadership, between Festus’ death and Albinus’ arrival to have a number of his least favorite people executed. James was among that number, when he was publicly stoned.

Somehow, Josephus’ account has a more ring of truth to it, but Hegesippus’ tale of intrigue and conspiracy would make a great movie. Perhaps someone should get Mel Gibson on the phone…

Again, according to tradition, James never left Jerusalem. He lived, ministered, and died in that great city.

The letter that bears his name, might be a favorite now, but has not always been so. Martin Luther and many of the early reformers disliked it because of its emphasis on good works. In fact, Luther called it, ‘an epistle of straw’, or, ‘a right strawy epistle.’

For some reason, it appeared to the reformers that James was somehow contradicting Paul’s emphasis on Grace and Faith.  A few people continue to make that mistake even in the 21st century.

Frankly, I just can’t see the conflict. It is clear from Paul’s letters that he was comparing salvation by faith, to trying to keep the law of Moses as a way to earn salvation. James is saying that if we truly have faith, it will show itself in the way we live. A faith that doesn’t shape our behavior is not faith.

The little book of James is much more, though, than a challenge to walk the walk we talk.

In Chapter one, he encourages the Church to sees their suffering as growing spiritual stamina and patience.  He finishes the chapter by reminding the readers that we need to do more than hear or acknowledge the gospel. We need to put it into practice.

In short, James says, the Gospel isn’t dressed until it has shoes on.

Chapters 2 and 3 contain the juiciest bits. These are the two chapters that have stirred the pot for centuries.

James begins chapter 2 by denouncing favoritism; especially economic favoritism. When we show favoritism for the wealthy, we look really tacky.  Examples.  But back in Exodus, God told Moses not to show favoritism to the poor OR the rich.  The truth (which is, or should be, implied in the word, justice), is blind. It doesn’t show favoritism. That’s why we always see ‘lady justice’ wearing a blindfold.

11:08 These days, we see it in other ways, too. Talent. A struggling congregation will grab a musician like a monkey grabs a peanut.  Good looks will get you a seat at the table PDQ as well.  Celebrity. The list goes on. Its so tempting. But it’s still wrong.

After his excellent words on favoritism, James returns to the subject of putting faith into action. Here he says things like, ‘it is by works a man is justified and not by faith alone. And Faith without works is dead.

Chapter 3 is all about how much our mouths get us into trouble. No man can tame the tongue.

Chapter 4, while not nearly as dramatic as 2 and 3, is deep. It reads almost like a commentary on Jesus’ statement, ‘out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. ‘  The source of quarrels, ugly words, selfish actions all have their roots buried in stony, self engrossed hearts.

In Chapter 5, James returns to the danger of riches. Coveteousness and greed are siblings and they  hide everywhere.

From there he goes back to patience, especially as we wait for Christ’s return.  And he finishes with a powerful statement about prayer. He reminds us of the power of prayer, and that every Believer has access to that Power. Prayer is for everyone, especially ordinary people.

I won’t dive any deeper into James’ letter, because I want you to read it for yourself and discover just how much is packed into it. This little letter by the camel kneed brother of Jesus is both powerful and practical. I think you’ll love it. Let me know.  For now, that’s all I got. See you next week. Until then….

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Episode 17 – The Gospel of Luke

 

God’s Route 66 Part 3

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Author: Luke – Physician, Companion of Apostle Paul, Gentile, Historian, Author of Acts

Date Written – Mid 50s – A.D. 66

Recipient – ‘Theophilus’ Probably a real individual as the name is not uncommon in the first century, but possibly a pseudonym for ‘Christian’ as the name literally means, friend or lover of God.

Focus – To establish the universality of the Gospel by identifying Jesus as ‘The Son of Man’. Since Luke is a Gentile and ‘Theophilus’ is a Gentile name, it is safe to assume that the earliest appeal was for a Gentile Audience.

Key Passages – 1:1-4, Chapter 2, 3:16, 4:18-21, 10:1-9, 10:25-37

 

Episode 13 – Prime Directive Part 4 –

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Luke 10:1-11

  1. A model for world evangelism.
  2. There’s nothing wrong with the harvest, there’s just a shortage of farmers.
  3. Step 1. Pray. Bless
  4. Step 2. Stay Remain in the same house
  5. Step 3. Care. Heal the sick. Find a need and meet it. Find a hurt and heal it. Meet physical needs
  6. Step 4. Share. Announce the arrival of the Kingdom.

Seek Heaven. Identify with community. We’re not a hit and run, one night stand kind of kingdom.. Meet felt needs. They can only be truly learned by being there and identifying. It’s only when a community can see how much care that they will care about what we say. But in the end, all the praying and caring in the world, only matters once we share the Gospel.

Here’s a link for the 1984 edition of the NIV Bible

Thanks for stopping by; Please use the comments section for questions or feedback. We love interacting.

Radio Show Episode 12

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Show Notes

Conversions in Acts

Chapter 2 – Pentecost

Chapter 8 – Ethiopian Official

Chapter 9, 22, 26 Saul of Tarsus

Chapter 10 – Cornelius,

Chapter 16 – Lydia, Jailer,

Someday will do a study on baptism, but today we want to merely show how intimately it is tied to receiving the Gospel. In the 21st century we have made conversion a private inner arrangement where we say a prayer and at sometime in the future we may, or may not, make that decision public. We have no examples of that in the New Testament. Even the commission itself says nothing about going and leading in sinners prayers, but rather going and baptizing. At it’s core, Baptism is the place where disciples publicly claim a change of allegiance. I was a follower of Moses, Diana, Apollo, myself, now I am a follower of Jesus. There are no examples of a delayed decision to baptism. It’s immediate in every case. Pentecost is a feast day, lots to do, yet 3000 people took time from preparations to wait their turn to be dunked in water. The Gaza road is a desert, the only water would have been standing pools or runoff streams. The Jailor was in the midst of pandemonium in the wee hours of the morning. Something about this Gospel demanded immediate action.

I find it really interesting that these days, we have days, weeks, sometimes even years between initial decisions and baptisms. Often, we even have classes to make sure ‘candidates’ understand what they’re doing, whereas in the book of acts, there is no such thing. They don’t have a theology of conversion, in fact, as the stories are told, baptism is virtually synonymous with conversion. My personal testimony is this. I was 10 years old when I followed Christ and was baptized. I remember the youth pastor came to visit and hold a ‘class’. I remember zero about that visit. All I knew was, I wanted to follow Jesus, so I was baptized. I got Jesus as a 10 year old. I got theology much later (and some of it was wrong).

Here’s what I want you to do. Go back and read all of the accounts of conversions in Acts. How do they look in side by side comparisons to how ‘decisions’ look today. Are we calling for radical discipleship in the same way the early followers were? Are we getting radical results?

Please share you thoughts. Go to the show notes and use the comments section. Or email me directly. I would dearly love to dialogue with you.

No Wonder There’s A War On Christmas – Scandalous, Part 5

Royal Seal of King Hezekiah
Royal Seal of King Hezekiah

Rediscovering the Bible Online Radio Show – Episode 8 is on the air.

 

  1. Royal Seal of King Hezekiah of Judah has been found. The weird part is it took 6 years to make it public… Read about it here
  2. Question from a listener related to the women in the family tree of Jesus is asked and answered
  3. Some of the things said about Jesus in the Christmas Story as told in Matthew and Luke no doubt fuel the ‘War on Christmas’. Especially the names and titles used for him;
    1. Jesus – The Lord Saves – Savior  – Matthew 1:21 , Luke 2:112. Son of God – Luke 1:35 – John 10:29-33

      3. Emmanuel – God With Us-Matthew 1:23

      4. Christ – Luke 2:11

      5. The Lord -Luke 2:11, John 8:58

  4. Each of these names and titles distinguishes Jesus from other religious leaders and points to Him as the Divine Son of God. Pretty dramatic claims.
  5. Link to Show

We Three Kings? – Podcast Episode 7 Is UP

wise_men.jpg (474×253)

Part 7 of the “Scandalous” series is now active on the “Rediscovering The Bible Online Radio Show

 

 

  1. Despite the famous song, they weren’t Kings. What is a Magi?
  2. We don’t know how many there were, and we certainly don’t know their names.
  3. They didn’t come to the stable
  4. Their appearance testifies once again to the universal nature of the Gospel.
  5. Their gifts likely changed Jesus life from one of poverty to one of relative comfort
  6. Their home countries will raise eyebrows this Christmas

 

 

(Re)Discovering the Bible Online Radio Show, Episode 2, Kooks, Crazies, Zombies and the Bible

Episode 2 is online:  Kooks, Crazies, Zombies and the Bible

Notes: Today’s Topics:

Craft Fair Crazies

Reasons Why I Created This Radio Show

Answering the Question: Why isn’t the Bible in Chronological order?

 

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