The Perfecting of Our Faith

Scripture: Hebrews 12:2, James 1:2, 1 Peter 1:6-7
Date: 10/11/2014 
Lesson: 2
"We need to believe in a loving Father, rely on His wisdom, and act on the basis of His Word. We can safely entrust our future to Him."
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Hello friends. Welcome to Sabbath School Study Hour. My name is jëan ross. I'm one of the pastors of the Granite Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church. If this is the first time you're joining us, you might notice that things are a little bit different than maybe what you're used to.

For a number of years, amazing facts filmed this Sabbath school program at Sacramento central Seventh-day Adventist Church, but recently Pastor Doug Batchelor joined the pastoral staff here at the Granite Bay church. Now the Granite Bay church is in the process of moving to a new location and when we move to our new location, we'll be able to record and broadcast our services on a regular basis. But in the meantime, we're recording this program here at the Amazing Facts studios in rocklin, California. Now, if you'd like to follow along with our Sabbath school study, we're currently looking at the book of James. This lesson's quarterly is all about the book of James.

You can download today's lesson by going to the Granite Bay church website. It's simply ''. You can click on the link that says 'Sabbath school lesson' - we're looking at lesson #2 - and you can download that and follow along with our study today. I'd also like to welcome our local church members here from the Granite Bay church. Thank you for joining us for this very special program.

Now, before we open up God's word, let's just bow our heads and ask for the Holy Spirit to guide us. Dear Father in Heaven, we thank you for the opportunity we have to gather together to study your word. And we do recognize the Bible is your book, so we ask for the Holy Spirit to come and guide our hearts and our minds. Lead us into a deeper and fuller understanding of this very important message contained in the book of James, for we ask this in Jesus' Name, amen. At this time I'd like to invite Pastor Doug Batchelor to come up and lead us in our study for today.

Thank you Pastor Ross. And I'm saying 'good evening, friends' - this is a Sabbath school study time, but it's actually evening here in California. I want to welcome those who are watching via the internet - our extended class that may be watching all over the world on satellite - and we're glad that you've joined us for our study hour together. In a moment we'll get to our lesson on the book of James, but as our custom, we have a free offer we'd like to tell you about. This is a classic book by Joe Crews that will help enhance today's study.

It's called, 'the brook dried up: why do Christians suffer?' It's based on the experience of Elijah and, sometimes, when you go through trials - and our lesson talks about that today. If you'd like a copy of this, all you have to do is call the number 866-788-3966 - that should be on your screen - that's 866-study-more. Ask for offer #161 - it's free. Once again, just please read it and then share it with a friend. Now, if you have your lesson - and you might want to join us - we're going to be going into lesson #2 that's talking about the book of James.

We've just begun our study and, as our custom, we'd like to start out with a memory verse and the memory verse is one of my favorites. It's from Hebrews 12, verse 2. And this is coming to us from the new international version. This is one of the few places where I prefer what the niv says here, as the lesson writer did. Hebrews 12:1 and 2 and it says, "let us" - didn't give you a chance to find it.

You ready? "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Now, I like the way this is worded: "let's fix our eyes" - it's like fastening our eyes on Jesus. There used to be a tightrope walker who was called 'the great blondin' - he's one of the few that died of old age. Many of the tightrope walkers met unpleasant ends, but this one, he actually was very successful and on several occasions he crossed niagara falls and he did it with a wheelbarrow and he did it freehand and a number of ways. And someone asked him one time, 'aren't you terrified when you start getting out there in the middle and the line is starting to wobble and you feel the wind and the mist is billowing up?' You know, niagara falls actually used to have much more water going over back when he did this, than it does now.

Most of it's redirected now for irrigation and for power. And he said, 'I don't look at any of that.' He said, 'I fix a silver star at the opposite end and he said, 'I don't look down, I don't look at my feet.' He said, 'I fix my eyes on the star and that's how I get through the storm.' And that's really the secret to the Christian life. We need to fix our eyes on Jesus. How can we lay aside the sin and the weight that besets us? By fixing our eyes on Jesus. And so, that's our memory verse and that's one of the themes that James has here for us.

And with that, maybe just a little review of some of what we talked about last week when we introduced the lesson. Who was the author of the book of James? We've got four Jameses in the new testament. Remember lesson 1? "James, the brother of Jesus." And so this was probably the oldest of Joseph's original sons. And, at first, he was not a believer. He didn't seem to have a lot of confidence in what Jesus was doing.

He seemed very confused. But somewhere along the way he had a real change of heart and we showed you the verses where, even after the resurrection, at one point, Jesus personally appeared to him like he did the two on the road to emmaus, like he did with Peter, and like he did with mary magdalene. I would have liked to have heard that conversation. But with the death of James, the brother of John, you notice that James, the brother of Jesus, seems to transition into a patriarchal leadership, especially of the church in Jerusalem. He may have been one of the more sage and senior members of the church but, you notice, he's sort of chairing the board for the Jerusalem council on several occasions.

And the letter he wrote was probably written somewhere between 45 and 48 ad, making it one of the earliest new testament epistles, or letters, to the church. It's also not written to a specific person. It's not written to a specific congregation, like Corinthians or Thessalonians. It's written to the saints that are everywhere. And so, this is a letter really written for anybody who is seeking to live the Christian life.

It is true that, at the time James wrote his book, the percentage of Jewish Christians outnumbered the percentage of gentile Christians. By the time Paul wrote some of his books and, certainly by the time John had the vision of Revelation, things had flipped and the majority of the people in the church were now gentiles. And talk about immigration. I mean, it was - all of a sudden they started welcoming a few gentiles, when Peter talked to cornelius, you know, and his household. And then Paul began to invite gentiles to come to the synagogue, but it just went like fire.

And the jews were the first evangelists. So when you think about it, why did God call the Jewish people? I just want to tie off this point and then we'll get into the lesson a little more. One of the principle reasons that Jesus called the Jewish nation: through them the Messiah was going to come. God told Abraham, 'through your seed all the nations would be blessed.' And he wanted them to be instrumental in announcing and introducing the Savior. Did that happen at pentecost? You know, as much resistance as he had from his own people, God's will is always fulfilled.

And there was a remnant of faithful in that upper room and he used them to proclaim and announce and introduce Jesus. And then, because they poured out the Holy Spirit on pentecost - it says in acts chapter 2:5, "and there were dwelling in Jerusalem jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven." That means jews that were living and doing business all over the roman empire, as far away as tarshish, spain. And I think you've probably heard me tell you before my grandfather's name was 'tarshis - tarshis' that was the farthest - that was the Jewish way of saying 'timbuktu' because it was, you know, when you get to the border of spain - it was by the gate of hercules by spain - then they kept sailing. They went off into no man's land and, not until beyond columbus did they really know what was in the west when they kept going. And so they had jews - they've seen evidence of Jewish settlers that were in north africa, in spain, through germany - so when it says, 'throughout the roman empire,' they were everywhere.

So when Peter preached to those jews and they accepted Jesus, after the feast what did they do? They took this knowledge back and it just, almost instantly, went viral, as we would say. That's how things went viral back then. It was a brilliant idea for God to do it the way he did. So, when James writes this letter, he expected it to be circulated widely. And we showed you last week, many of the early church fathers read from the book of James and believed it to be part of the sacred canon.

Now, something I didn't say in our introduction, what does the name 'James' mean? Now, when you say a Hebrew name with a Greek pronunciation, you're going to sometimes come up with something different. That really mixed me up when I first started reading the new testament - king James. Some of the modern translations adjust for that - and you read the name 'Noah' in the Greek and what does it say? Noe. And you read 'Elijah' and in the Greek it's 'elias.' And you read the name 'yashua,' it's Jesus. Yeah, well they - or they say 'Joshua.

' But then you also take the name 'James' - you know where James is? The name James is one of the very famous Hebrew names. It's 'Jacob' or 'iakobos.' That's more how a jew might say it. And so, when you say the name 'James,' you're really saying 'Jacob.' It's just because, you know, we read it more in the Greek - coming from the Greek than - how many of you know what your name is in a different language? Like my dad's name and our son's name 'george' is 'jorge' in spanish, you know, and so as you go from country and country and - like in russia we met a lot of people named 'Michael' - it's 'mikhail' or 'mischa' and it's interesting when you go from language to language, how a Bible name, kind of, is pronounced differently. Well, when we say James, you really - it's 'iakobos' or 'Jacob.' And so, that's what the name means. Alright, first section under Sunday 'faith lasts.

' Now, we're going to have some of you read some verses. It'll be a moment or two before I get to it, but the first one is job 23:10. Let me just locate who has that fortune cookie. Okay, we'll get you a microphone. Go ahead, hold your hand up for a second so they can see where you are.

Okay. And you'll be the first one we read - that reads for us - in just a moment. I'd like to begin by delving right into James. James 1, verses 2 and 3, "my brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience." Now, how many of you've ever prayed that God'll test your faith? Does that ever sound pleasant? How many of you want joy? We all want joy? But, notice, he said, "count it all joy." How much joy? Complete joy - the best joy. "When you fall into various trials.

" I still haven't gotten to that point yet, but I know this is something the Bible clearly teaches. Why? Because you can't be saved unless your faith is perfected and he says that these trials test your faith and it produces patience. There is a sanctifying, purifying, transforming influence that we experience as we go through trials. How do you get a pearl? By placing an irritation in an oyster and the oyster takes that irritation and works it over and covers it up and eventually it turns into something beautiful. Very rarely, while you're going through trials, do we appreciate it.

But how many of you can now look back on something that you went through, maybe in your youth or at some point in your life where you said, 'that was really difficult.' But now you look back and you say, 'you know, I'm a better person because of that.' At the time you didn't enjoy it. I thank the Lord that I went to military school. Now, I'm not recommending other people, but compared to the way I was growing up, because I was with a single mom in New York city and my brother and I were running the streets. We had no discipline, no self-control - we were out of control and spending a couple of years in New York military academy was tough. I cried - homesick - and when you're new there the discipline was - I'd never gone through anything like it.

It was a shock for me - to have that much discipline - compared to a very indulgent mother. And I called and begged her to take me home and she wouldn't do it. And now I look back and I think, 'praise the Lord I went to military school.' I can make my bed. I can shine my shoes. I got out of military school - I came home vacations, I called my mother 'sir.

' They just drill it into you. But, you know, the discipline and self - control they make you learn, now looking back, I didn't enjoy it at the time but now looking back I think, 'that was really good. I really needed that.' And so - and, you know, there's other trials we go through. And then the Lord can work those things together for good. James actually is quoted by Peter.

It's very similar, anyway, Peter 1:6, "in this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith," - notice the connection again - faith and trials? - "Being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the Revelation of Jesus Christ," now, you notice again in that you greatly rejoice, though for a little while, you're grieved by trials. Greatly rejoice. This was a constant theme they had. You know, I think we're ready now. You're going to go ahead and read for us job 23:10, I think.

Job 23:10, "but he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I shall come forth as gold." Yeah, that sounds very much like what Peter said, 'gold that perishes, though it's tested by fire.' You know, when you mine gold, very rarely - now here we are in California and we've all heard stories, especially in this area, around Sacramento. This was the epicenter of the gold rush - this and Sacramento. They didn't find much gold in Sacramento, that's where the ships came in but, you know, from Sacramento was, sort of, the launching ground for a lot of gold discoveries around here. And you might find a nugget laying on the ground. We all would like to do that.

Matter of fact, I heard about a pathfinder group that was up in feather falls walking down the river and the pathfinder leader told the kids, 'they used to get gold out of this creek.' And right after he said that, one of the kids looked down and he said, 'does it look like this?' And he picked up a nugget and they couldn't believe it. They said, 'yes, that's gold.' And the kids spent the rest of the day scouring the creek and nobody else found any gold. But just at the very moment that someone said that, the kid looked down and he said, 'is that what it looks like?' But usually when you get gold it comes out of the ground dirty and it's mixed up with other things and they've got to pulverize it - I don't know if you've ever seen how they do this. They grind it down to powder, they separate it with water and they sometimes use chemicals and then they use heat and they smelt it and skim it and there's a whole refining, purifying process. Now today they've got a lot more sophisticated techniques and they have chemicals that they use but, in Bible times, one of the things they used was it was beaten and it was burned and then you had your pure gold.

And so - even job said that. That 'you'll try me. When I'm tested I'll come forth like gold.' And, by the way, job is the oldest book in the Bible so this refining of gold goes way back. Now, did Jesus tell us that we might expect to encounter tribulations and trials as believers? A couple ways that comes. One is, you can have trials just because rain and sunshine comes into every life.

It might take the form of a financial reverse. It might be a health problem. It might be a problem with someone you love or within your family. But then there's problems of being persecuted because of your faith. There are outside things.

And Jesus was also talking about those kind of trials. Peter was too, I think, partly. "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven." Blessed. Now, what does blessed mean? Happy. Joyful.

"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely" - notice, you're only blessed if they say it falsely. If you're getting bad things said about you because you deserve it, you're not blessed. Now sometimes we think it's false. It may not always be. But when they say it falsely "for my sake.

" He said, "rejoice" - and what kind of glad? - "Be exceedingly glad." What stronger words can Jesus use? Be exceedingly glad for "great is your reward in heaven. For so persecuted they the prophets that were before you." So even Jesus said that, you know, you may go through trials in life. Don't be discouraged by this. If you're being persecuted for righteousness' sake, rejoice. Again, acts 5:40.

Did the disciples experience that? Did James himself go through that? You read in acts 5 - and after the disciples were tried, the apostles, in particular, and the sanhedrin, "and they agreed with him," - with gameliel - "and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. So the disciples left moaning and complaining" - is that what happened? "They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing" - they had just been beaten - "rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer shame for his name." Any of you ever get any medicine? Now they've got, you know, sophisticated chemicals that try to diffuse things better, but I remember I used to pick up this medicine for my mom and my brother and maybe even me at times and it always said on it 'shake well before using.' And I think that God puts that label on most believers. He can't really use us until he shakes us up a little bit. Look at some of the people that God has called into leadership. Did he shake them pretty good before they were used? Before David could be king, what did he go through? Oh, it was wonderful as a boy on the hills of Bethlehem, but after he killed Goliath, man, things got really bad.

He was hiding out and running for his life and having all these near-death experiences. What about Joseph before he came to that zenith of leadership? Did God shake him well before using? And then you look through history at people like lincoln and many others I could name, the trials that they went through and the personal loss and how God was able, then to use that to, through them, be a blessing to others. Peter 4:12, still talking about this same theme that we just saw in 1 Peter 1:6 going down to 1 Peter 4:12, "beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;" - can I pause right here? There's a lot of dear, sincere Christians out there that believe something called 'the secret rapture.' These are sincere Christians. The secret rapture is the idea that the Christians are not going to go through any great time of trouble at the end of time. Virtually all Christians - pre-trib, post-trib, mid-tribulation theorists - you notice 'pre-trib, post-trib' - trib stands for tribulation - 'mid-trib' - all of the main groups of Christians believe in tribulation.

They just are saying, 'when is the rapture going to take place? The second coming? When are we caught up?' Now we believe, with many other good Christians, that the Lord comes at the end of the tribulation. Jesus said, 'he that endures to the end, the same will be saved. And, at that time, Michael will stand up and there's a great time of trouble such as there never has been' - this is Daniel chapter 12 - 'ever since there was a nation, even unto that same time.' So the Bible clearly foretells there's going to be a great time of trouble. But those who believe that the church is going to get 'caught away' before Jesus comes, and that doesn't happen, they are going to be amazed at the fiery trials that are trying them as though some strange thing has happened to them. It doesn't mean they can't be saved, but I think they're going to be shocked.

By the way, what's the safer of the beliefs? To brace yourself in your faith that you might be here for the trials and then be wrong? I'll be happy if all of a sudden I'm caught up. Yeah, but - that's exactly right, prepare for what could be a serious problem and if the best happens, great. But we know from the Bible that - let me put it to you this way: the seven last plagues, they're synonymous with the great tribulation, right? Were the children of Israel in Egypt when the ten plagues fell? You notice, many, if not all, of the seven last plagues are parallels of the plagues that fell on Egypt. The Israelites were still in Egypt when the plagues fell but he protected them through the plagues. Did God feed Elijah during the drought? Can God feed his people in the wilderness? So I'm not worried about the seven last plagues, I just want to be faithful and God'll take care of us.

But a lot of believers are going to be amazed. I didn't finish reading that verse. "As though some strange thing happened to you" - still in 1 Peter 4:13 - "but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when his glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy." Won't we be thankful when Jesus comes if we have faithfully and patiently endured suffering for his sake? I'm working on it. I don't know about you but, you know, if I've got any little ache or pain, I want everyone to know about it. And we all know somebody that, when you ask them how they're doing, you're sort of sorry you asked.

The people who have strengthened my faith the most are when I meet and talk with Christians and I know they're struggling and I know they're suffering and they don't complain. You know when a Christian's light shines the brightest? Through trials. And, typically, Christians are the best witness in trials. So when you're going through a trial, you may not understand right away why, but just trust him. Paul and silas - acts 16:25 - "but at midnight Paul and silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

" They were listening. They knew they just got beaten because they beat them right there at the jail - put them in the stocks - innermost cell - they heard all kinds of moaning and crying from that cell before and now there's singing and prayer and praise. What in the world? And what did God do then? Opened everybody's doors. And so, when we are faithful witnesses through trials, God can use our faithfulness to liberate others. So if we learn to rejoice and be grateful and praise God through our trials, people are going to look at us and say, 'how can you be happy in your trials? I am not happy even when I don't have trials.

What have you got that I'm missing? It's a tremendous witness for the world. Philippians 1:6, "being confident of this very thing, that he who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;" so salvation's a process, isn't it? And it's one that is being completed. Now, we're going to talk more about this in our next section - under Monday - dealing with perfection. The word 'perfection is really talking about a process of completion and if you want to turn over there, we're now reading from James 1:4. You notice that we're very slowly making our way through the book of James.

There'll be five chapters in James and we got through one last week and now we're going two and three - now we're in verse 4. You notice that? There's actually a method to what's happening here. Verse 4, "but let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." If you're like me, the word 'perfect' can scare you. Anyone else here? And when I first started reading the Bible - when I read there in Matthew and Jesus said, 'be ye therefore perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect' I thought, 'be perfect like my Father in Heaven? That's God. Be perfect like God?' I didn't have a very good concept of sin back then, but I knew I was a long way from that.

And I thought, 'wow, I may as well just throw my hands in the air right now because who can be perfect like God?' But, you know - and sometimes things are lost a little bit in translation. You and I say 'perfect' - at least in english - and we often think of something that is just sterile, factory fresh - it's been inspected upside down and, you know, microscope and there's no flaws and doesn't - operates perfectly - the way you want a new car to operate, right? You don't want anything wrong with it. And if you're going to buy a new car and you see a blemish, you go back to the salesman and say, 'I want a different one.' Right? So we're thinking that God is looking us over that way and he's saying, 'I'll take you home when you're perfect.' And it scares us. You know, it's hard for me, sometimes, to explain to people exactly what God is saying and meaning by 'perfect' but are there examples in the Bible of people that reached whatever they needed to reach to make it to heaven? Did Elijah make it? James later talks about Elijah and he said, 'Elijah was a man subject to like passions as you and me, but he prayed.' And where was Elijah subject to like passions? Did Elijah get discouraged and ask to die? Did he get scared and run from an angry woman? Yeah. I mean, after he stood up to the prophets and yet it says he prayed and it didn't rain for three and a half years - and he went to heaven in a fiery chariot.

I'm not sure exactly what a perfect Christian looks like. Probably something like shadrach, meshach, and abednego who, when they were tried - they loved the Lord so much they'd rather die than bow down. Or like Daniel, when he loved the Lord so much he'd rather die than close his windows and not pray to God. So it's loving the Lord so much that we're willing to stand up for him and if we faithfully endure trial now, then when big tests come, like the ones that Daniel, shadrach and meshach all faced, then we'll know what to do then. So you've got that - you've got that example, in the Bible, of the - the different patriarchs and people that we know are in the Kingdom - that walk with God, like Enoch, and it frightens us.

But it really means, 'to be complete.' So the Greek word for 'perfect' is 'teleios' and it simply means 'spiritual maturity' or 'completeness.' And it's something that you are growing into. Philippians 2:13 - someone look up for me - who's got Ephesians 4:13? We'll give you the microphone next - that's Ephesians 4:13 - I'm going to read Philippians :13, "for it is God who works in you" - you know, he says, 'work out your own salvation with fear and trembling?' And then you read in verse 13, "for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for his good pleasure." You know, that ought to make us feel better. Is it us working when it says 'working out our salvation with fear and trembling? For God works in you.' When God's Spirit is in you, he will speak to you and he will guide you and he will give you the strength. If we're seeking after him, he'll give us the strength we need to resist the temptations and to be victorious. Okay, I think we're ready, go ahead.

" "Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of The Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;" well that's a pretty high ideal we just read there in Ephesians 4:13, "till we all come to the unity of the faith" - are we perfectly united? "And the knowledge of The Son of God." - Eternal life is knowing him - "to a perfect man" - or woman - "to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." A loose translation would be, 'coming to the place where we allow Jesus to live out his life in us. Now would you agree that's probably - you've arrived - if you've come to the place where you trust the Lord to let him live out his life in you. It's like that song, 'live out your life within me.' Now, how many expect Paul to be in heaven when we get there? Didn't he say, 'I fought the good fight. I've finished my course. I've kept the faith.

Hereafter there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.' Timothy, before his execution, Paul speaks with great confidence that he has assurance that he's going to be in the kingdom. I think at that point his faith was probably sealed. I mean, he'd been through so much. You read about what Paul went through. Talk about trials, you know? In the sea for three days, shipwrecked, stoned - what, two or three times? - Beaten with rods and - it just - in terror in the country and terror in the city and fastings often in cold and nakedness.

I mean, it just goes on and on - the trials that he endured. And then he always says, 'I thank the Lord for this and I thank the Lord for that.' And he's writing from prison. And you think, 'wow.' He just learned to trust the Lord whatever he was going through. 'I've learned in whatever state I'm in, to be content.' Whether it's even California. Whatever state you're in you can be content.

Philippians - what did Paul say? Did he count himself perfect? Philippians 3:12, "not that I have already attained, or am already perfected;" - that's that word 'teleios' - "but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me." Now didn't Jesus call Paul? "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended;" - 'I have not arrived.' He's saying - "but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind" - when you look back at your failures do you get discouraged? Don't spend a lot of time doing that. Do it long enough to acknowledge it, confess it, repent of it, and move on because, you know, the devil - if you've got to learn from past experience, you might consider how it ended last time. Don't let the devil get you to keep reviewing and rehearsing your past. I mean, how did God use someone like mary magdalene when she had her sordid reputation and cast seven devils out and if she wanted to she could have stayed depressed forever, looking back. You have to look forward and if you're born again you're really a different person, aren't you? So you don't have to keep looking back at who you used to be.

I don't remember who it was, I've heard several pastors quote this but 'I'm not what I ought to be and I'm not what I'm gonna be, but thank God I'm not what I used to be.' And so, it's, you know, showing progress. "Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature" - now that word 'mature' there is that word 'telios' again. Notice it doesn't say 'perfect,' it says 'mature.' Same word. "Have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.

" So it's talking about this maturity - this growing in the faith - and it's just like a plant, if it's taken care of. You know, a baby doesn't worry about growing. If a baby is breathing, if a baby is being fed, and if a baby is regularly being cleansed, the baby doesn't try to grow. The growing will happen automatically if the baby is getting the natural things of breathing and food and fresh air and sunshine, some exercise and love, it'll grow. And if we're feeding on the milk of the word - not always milk, if you're growing you need the meat of the word too.

If we're sharing our faith - exercising - if we're breathing in prayer will we be growing towards that completeness that Jesus talks about? So don't worry. Now, there's a time - if you see that you don't have the fruits of the Spirit, you have the fruits of the flesh in your life, then you can say, 'Lord,' - the Bible talks about - what is it - 2 Corinthians 13? That we should examine ourselves. Don't spend all your time scrutinizing yourself, but periodically you should do an inventory and say, you know, am I growing? And - alright, next section - under Tuesday. 'Asking in faith.' Now we're going to read James 1:5 and 6, "if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

" Now we'll be repeating this verse a little more later in the lesson, but the first thing I want you to know, if anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask of God. What did - can you think of a Bible story of someone that lacked it and ask for it? Did he get it? Does God give you wisdom always before you need it or sometimes when you need it? Do you think Solomon always knew what he was going to do with two women both claiming to be the mother, or did God give it to him when he needed it? Can you be a student and ignore doing your homework, and then when the time of the exam comes say, 'Lord, please give me wisdom?' That's not how he wants us to claim that promise because wisdom is different than knowledge and God wants us to take advantage - that's right, we've got to study to show ourselves approved. God wants us to take advantage of the time he's given to acquire knowledge and then wisdom is something - the gift he'll give you - the Holy Spirit will bring things to your remembrance, that you've studied. So if you've studied and crammed for a test, pray the Holy Spirit will help you remember it. He will.

I've seen that. And then, in addition, the holy spirit will tell you how to incorporate the knowledge - how to apply it to your life. You read verses in the Bible and you say, 'what do I do with this? And then you meet someone during the day and, if you've prayed and asked for wisdom, God'll help you know how to apply the spiritual knowledge that you've received in those situations. So someone look up for me, please, Mark 11. I think we gave that out to a person.

Who's got Mark 11? You've got that katrina? Okay? Let's get you a microphone over there.I'm going to read Matthew 21, verse 21 - talking about asking and asking in faith. "So Jesus answered and said to them, 'assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, 'be removed and be cast into the sea,' it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.'" Well that's a pretty big - sometimes we think that Jesus maybe overstated that. Did he really mean that? Now, I think - you've probably heard me say this before - I read this, that if you've got faith you can move mountains, and when I first read that I thought, 'that'd be a pretty good trick. I could go on the road and make a lot of money if I could do that.

' You could pray and tell mountains to relocate. Change the geography. It'd really mess up Google earth if you could do that. But is that really what Jesus was talking about? He said, 'you can say to this mountain, 'be plucked up and cast into the sea.'' But what does the Lord - what other thing does the Lord tell us might be cast into the sea? Our sins. What is the mountain that most of us have problems with? Isn't it a mountain of guilt and sin and that is a burden? You've read 'pilgrim's progress.

' He had this burden on his back. And if you have faith - what's the most important thing we can pray? What's the mountain that'll keep us out of heaven? That blocks - isn't it sin? That's the only thing. It's selfishness and pride which, sort of, summarizes what sin is. And if you faith - if you have prayer - if you have faith, Jesus says, you can pray and that can be removed. Faith in what? Whoever believes in him shall not perish.

Alright, go ahead and read for us Mark 11:24. "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them." How important is faith to Jesus? Yeah, it's crucial. For him it was a non-negotiable. Even when he hung on the cross, you had two thieves that both of them asked for deliverance. One of them said, 'if you are the Christ, save yourself and us.

' Didn't he ask to be saved? And the other one said, 'Lord, when you come into your kingdom, remember me.' One said I believe you're a Lord and I believe you're a king and when, not if, you come into your kingdom. One prayed a prayer of faith. Jesus turned to him and said, 'you will be with me in paradise.' The one who said 'if' did not get the gift. You remember there's a story in Mark chapter 9 where a young father came to Christ and, just so you won't feel bad, even the disciples did not have all of their prayers answered. This - nine of the disciples were left down in the valley.

Jesus went up the mountain with Peter, James, and John. When he came down there was a big crowd gathered around the disciples. This father had a boy that was demon possessed and the demon sometimes cast him in the fire and cast him in the water and they brought him to the other nine apostles and said, 'please help.' Well, they had gone out before casting out devils and it worked. They'd come back from some of their missionary expeditions and they told Jesus, 'even the devils are subject unto us.' It was wonderful. But the disciples prayed and the demon didn't come out.

And so, by the time Jesus came, the religious leaders were making fun of the disciples and saying, 'well, where's all your faith?' 'Where's this mountain-moving faith?' 'Nothing happened when you prayed.' 'Maybe it's not real.' And they - Jesus, he cast out the devil out of the boy. Great convulsions had happened. The disciples came to Jesus later and said, 'why couldn't we cast them out?' He said, 'this kind comes forth only by prayer and fasting.' But, you know, the important part of that story I left out - when The Father came to Jesus he said, 'Lord, if you can do anything to help my son.' And Jesus said, 'if you believe, all things are possible.' He said, 'Lord, if you can do anything.' Jesus didn't answer his prayer until he corrected him. He said, 'if you believe.' So is an 'if' acceptable to Jesus? No. You've got to come in faith.

Faith's very important. Now that doesn't mean we'll never be tempted with doubt. Alright, who has job 28:28? Someone here? Alright, we'll get you a microphone. Jesus said, 'if you believe all things are possible.' Now, what is it that we are to pray for in faith? James says, 'if any of you lacks?' Wisdom. Do we all need wisdom every day? What is the source of wisdom? Proverbs 9:10, "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

" Now what does it mean to fear the Lord? Does it mean 'be afraid of?' Well, I used to say, 'no, no, it doesn't mean that at all.' But you can love someone and still feel awe. The Bible writers - who in the Bible saw God face to face - or at least very close? Moses, Ezekiel, Daniel, John the apostle, talk about the glorified Christ, Abraham, and many of them were terrified. When Moses saw the Lord at the burning bush he fell down and Ezekiel fell down and Daniel fell down and John fell down at an angel. MaNoah and his wife - and so, when people saw the Lord, it frightened them. And so, to fear God, I think, it means, among other things, 'to revere' but it's a respect recognizing how awesome he is.

And so, it says - you're going to go ahead and you're going to read job 28:28, I think. "And to man he said, 'behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.'" Okay, so how do you show your fear of God? By turning from evil. So when the Bible is telling us to pray for wisdom, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Well, one wise thing to do is to depart from evil. Now, if you look in James 2:15 - James 2:15, "if a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'depart in peace, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?" So now he's talking about some practical teachings about, you know, not just saying, 'oh, I've got faith and I've got wisdom.

' He's saying, part of real Christianity is also doing something. Just saying, 'be warmed and filled. I'll say a prayer for you.' And I used to pick up a lot of hitchhikers and I vowed when I got my first car, actually I vowed on the road that if I ever got a car that I would pick up every hitchhiker I saw, which was a foolish vow. But, you know, you're young and you're bored and you're on the road and you're desperate and you pray those things. I think the Lord's forgiven me for that.

I did pick up quite a few and David's here with me and he and I did some hitchhiking together and, matter of fact, I remember one time we hitchhiked for miles where we walked backwards - hitchhiking - and the next day we couldn't stand up because the muscles in the backs of our legs were so sore. I think we even hitched a ride on a plane part way on one of those trips. Yeah we did. That's hard to do. But yeah, it was good.

But I used to say, 'if I get a car I'll pick up everyone.' But, you know, as time goes by and you, sort of, go from being a hippie to a yuppie and you're a little more discriminating. You go from a volkswagen that barely runs, into a car that's fairly new and I noticed that I wasn't picking up every hitchhiker. Sometimes I thought, you know, I'm only going a little way and they had three backpacks and a dog and so I'd drive by them, but I'd pray for them. I'd say, 'Lord, please send somebody to pick them up.' And I thought, you know, maybe I get credit for praying for them. But James said - and there may be times - how many of you have gone by an accident on the road? You maybe can't do anything - it's not wrong to say a prayer.

And I remember our kids used to say, 'could we pray for them?' They'll see the ambulance, you know, and that's the tender heart of a child. But real Christianity doesn't just drive by and pray - kind of like the parable of the good samaritan - the priest and the levite that went by, they just stopped or they just went on by. They didn't do anything, but the good samaritan actually did something. Psalm 111, verse 10, "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do his commandments." - Again, notice the connection - fear of the Lord, wisdom, do his commandments - "his praise endures forever." That's the key to real happiness. 'Great peace have they that love thy law and nothing will offend them.

' James 1:19 and 20 - we're jumping around a little but, just trying to stay with some of these themes. James 1:19 and 20, "so then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak," - good, practical ideas here - "slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls" so James says faith comes by hearing - that's saving faith - and hearing by the Word of God. So this, the faith and the word, saves your souls. And somebody said one time - I think it was george mueller - yeah, I got his name here - "faith doesn't operate in the realm of the possible, there's no glory for God in that which is humanly possible.

Faith begins where man's power ends." And again it says, "faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, receives the impossible." Augustine said, "faith is to believe what we do not see and the reward of faith is to see what we believe." And f.b. Meyer, "unbelief puts circumstances between us and God, but faith puts God between us and our circumstances." I thought that was a good quote. Alright, we're going onto the next day. I want to try and cover as much as we can. James 1, verses 6 through 8 - you notice in some of these others we're using James to interpret James.

And someone is going to look up for me 1 John 3:22 and who's got that one? Oh you got it? Okay, you'll be next. So James 1:6, "but let him ask in faith, with no doubting," - I told you we'd be repeating that because this section's talking about the flip side of faith - "let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind." - Now some people, their faith is at the mercy of circumstances, just like a ship without a rudder is blown about wherever the wind and the waves carry it. Faith is not controlled by external circumstances, faith is controlled by the engrafted word. It's what Jesus says that determines our faith. When Jesus says to Peter, 'walk to me on the water.

' Do logistics control Peter's doing that? No, logistics and science and reason has absolutely nothing to do with obeying a command like that, or to March around Jericho for six times on the seventh day and blow a trumpet and shout. You've got to have faith because that's not normally the strategy for winning a battle. And so you can go through a hundred examples in the Bible where you can't let your faith be controlled by circumstances or you'll never get there. And he goes on to say, "for" - here's the flip side of faith - "let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." So when God says, 'I want you to do this and move forward.' And you go, 'well, but that doesn't make much sense. I know you said to do it but it doesn't seem very practical.

' And then it uses an example in Numbers 13:30 - and this is in your lesson. When the children of Israel came to the borders of the promised land, they sent out twelve spies. We know the names of two of them. Most of you probably could not name the other ten. But we know Joshua and caleb.

And after they looked over the promised land, two of them were looking through the eyes of faith. Ten of them looked at the obstacles - and there were obstacles anyone would have seen - big cities, big walls, fortifications, large people, large enemies - but two of them said, 'God said this is our land. He's going to lead us in. We believe him and so we're just going to bring back a report as if it was going to be ours.' Notice, they looked at the promised land as if it was going to be theirs and out of those twelve spies, the only ones who ended up getting to the promised land are the ones that looked through the eyes of faith. They brought back a positive report.

The twelve - or the ten spies that said, 'I don't think we can make it' - let me read this for you here - Numbers 13:30, "then caleb quieted the people before Moses," - they were beginning to moan after the ten spies gave a bad report - "and said, 'let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.'" Notice, you've got one report, 'well able to overcome.' And then the other spies, they come back and they retort, "we are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.'" One was looking at faith and one was looking at the consequences. Unstable - the flip side of faith is if you don't believe. Jesus said, 'be it unto you according to your faith. Be careful what you pray for. The children of Israel, they said, 'would God that we had died in this wilderness.

Why did he lead us out here?' And did God answer that prayer? The generation that said, 'would God that we die in the wilderness,' died in the wilderness. Joshua and caleb that said, 'we are well able,' they made it to the promised land. They got to rest in their inheritance. And so, that's why faith is so important, because Christ said, 'all things are possible if we believe.' John 15:7, "if you abide in me and my word abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." If His Word abides in us, we're not going to ask for the wrong thing - and it'll be done. Alright, you're going to read John for us.

"And whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do those things that are pleasing in his sight." Thank you. So here he says, 'and my word abides in you' and then John says in 1 John 3:22 that whatever we ask we receive because we're - basically, he says we're walking in his will. And so, if we're walking in the light and if God's Word is in us and we're in tune with his spirit, our prayers are going to be in harmony with the mind of Christ and will he answer those prayers? If they are prayed persistently and patiently and in faith, he'll answer our prayers. He really does. Luke 17:5 and 6 and the apostles said to the Lord, 'increase our faith.

' So the Lord said, 'if you've got faith like a mustard seed you can say to this mulberry tree, 'be plucked up by the roots and planted in the sea.' And it will be done for you.' Now, a mustard seed was just one of the smallest - almost a microscopic seed in the plant kingdom and so Jesus picked that out because it could grow into a big bush. And if you've got faith - what makes a mustard seed a big bush is it hangs on - it's nourished. If it's getting the sunlight and it's getting the water, it will grow. And so the good news about this - Christ said, if you have faith - if you've got that seed of faith - keep walking with him and it will grow and all things become possible. At one point he talks about a mountain being thrown into the sea and here he talks about a mulberry bush.

So you've got vegetable and mineral. And it says if we deny him, better for us that a millstone were placed about our neck and we were cast in the sea. That would be animal, mineral and vegetable, wouldn't it? You do it that way. Last section - I'm just about out of time but I want to read James 1, verses 9 through 11, "let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes.

So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits." James is telling us do not become preoccupied with the cares of this life. Don't become distracted with riches and Jesus said, 'it's a hard thing for a rich man to get into the Kingdom. We've run out of time, listening friends, so I want to encourage you once again, we do have a free offer. 'The brook dried up' - we'll send you this. It's a wonderful book by joe crews.

Just call 866-788-3966 - ask for offer #161 and, God willing, we'll study together again next week. Did you know that Noah was present at the birth of Abraham? Okay, maybe he wasn't in the room, but he was alive and probably telling stories about his floating zoo. From the creation of the world to the last day events of Revelation, '' is a free resource where you can explore major Bible events and characters. Enhance your knowledge of the Bible and draw closer to God's word. Go deeper.

Visit ''. Throughout recorded history tales of ghosts and spirits could be found in folklore in nearly every country and culture. Egyptians built pyramids to help guide the Spirits of their leaders. Rome sanctioned holidays to honor and appease the Spirits of their dead. Even the Bible tells of a king that used a witch to contact the Spirit of a deceased prophet.

Today ancient folklore of spirits and apparitions have gone from mere superstitions to mainstream entertainment and reality. Scientific organizations investigate stories of hauntings and sightings, trying to prove, once and for all, the existence of ghosts. Even with all the new-found technology and centuries of stories all over the world, there is still no clear-cut answer. So how do we know what's true? Why do these stories persist? Does it even matter? We invite you to look inside and find out for yourself. Visit 'ghosttruth.

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