4th Sunday in Lent – Sermon 27

13th February 2011 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ



Mothering Sunday is a special day – a special day in the church calendar – a special day for families – – when we say thank you to our mothers for all they have done for us –

A day too when we give thanks to God for our Mother church – and for all the love He has shown to us

– giving thanks – is an important part of our faith –
But is it enough to say thank you – or should we be doing more?

As James says in chpt 2 v 14 – of his letter

“what good is it, my friends, for someone to say he has faith – when his actions do nothing to show it?

So how should we express our love for God ?

we are going to look at what James’ letter is telling us – and see if it helps us decide how we should respond to God’s grace –

First Point


The letter of James is thought to be one of the earliest of Christian writings – written when the church at Jerusalem was little more than a Messianic Synagogue within Judaism –

Its addressed to Christians “throughout the world”
– and thought to be written by James – brother of Jesus – who became a prominent leader in the church of Jerusalem – its main purpose is to teach the duties of discipleship – and to urge its readers to fulfill them –

Martin Luther called the book “The Epistle of straw” – because he thought – it didn’t witness to Christ in the way that Paul’s letters did – but – James wasn’t writing about how to become a Christian – but how to act like one –

In chpt 1 v 22 – James says – “ do not merely listen …………. be sure you act on the message”

He tells us that – belief alone is not enough – real life giving faith should produce action –

One way of looking at it – is through an analogy with life – and the animals and plants around us –

It will soon be spring – ( it certiainly felt like it this weekend) – and in the spring things come to life – the birds sing – and build their nests – there are new born lambs in the fields – the flowers – bloom – and show off their colours – the trees produce buds – and will soon turn into – giant bouquets of green leaves and blossom –

all around us there is – new life – new beginnings – we know it is happening because we see it –

when we become Christians we too start – a new life – a new beginning – we are born of the Spirit – and God expects that our new life to be seen – he wants us – to spring into action – show our faith – to Him and to everyone around us –

– we are to – “shine as a light in the world – to the glory of God the Father”


Point 2


 and James gives us a whole host of examples on how to do it –

“ be patient and prayerful – put God first – watch your tongue – love your neighbour as yourself” – no fighting or swearing” – “look after the poor” – to name but a few –

In our reading – James accuses the landowners of oppressing Christians – he warns them -that they are heading for misery – because they have gained their wealth by committing injustice – what they possess is tarnished – and their wealth will be a witness against them –

Micah too hits out against the corruption – and dishonesty of the rich landowners of his time –
he warns that God’s judgment will fall on them – and only after that will there be restoration –

most of us have at some time or other wished we’d have lots of money – maybe win on the premium bonds or the lottery – thinking of all the good we could do with it – perhaps give some to charity –

but if it came down to it – would we? –

– James warns that excessive affluence can cocoon us into a false sense of security – such that we no longer see the cold and poverty around us – money becomes the center of our life – not God –

Compared to many people – in this world – we are the rich – many in Africa and Asia would love to have running water and regular meals – never mind the electronic gadgets and computers that we are growing to depend upon – we were shown glimpses of real poverty and suffering in the film clips shown on red nose day –

the wealth that we have – has been given to us by God to us for His purpose – we have a responsibility to use it properly – and to give as lavishly as we can – to help the suffering of others –

James urges us to keep God at the center of our lives – to remain steadfast in His love –

Many of the Christians in the first century were struggling to do that – they were expecting – Christ’s second coming – and the apparent delay was causing problems of impatience and misunderstandings – So James urged them to be patient –

he uses the example of a farmer who has to wait for his crops to grow according to the seasons – just as the farmer has to wait – so too they must be patient – everything is subject to God’s timetable – and purpose – we cannot expect God to fit in with our plans – we are part of His –

James tells us that – in times of trouble we should pray – and in times of joy we should praise – He points to the prophets as our guides – they were able to do great things by allowing God to work through them –

Job – is our model of patience and endurance – of suffering – and its rewards – He remained steadfast even when tried with great pain and losses – but the final outcome was that God showed him His mercy

and Elijah is our example of the power of prayer – believing power is a force to be recognised with – God heals the sick and forgives sins in response to prayer – James urges us to confess our sins – and from that mutual confession and prayer – healing takes place – within the fellowship of the church –

prayer is the most powerful weapon we have against the world and its ways – we should all pray – as we can – and when ever we can – and where ever we see a need – prayer is power released at your every request – If Elijah can affect a drought – how much more will prayers from God’s righteous bring health and salvation for His people.


Point 3      but why is a response so important?



its important because God wants us to acknowledge our dependence on Him – freely – with love –

God wants us to follow the lead of His Son Jesus Christ – whom He sent to die on the cross – for our sins – so that we can be reconciled back to Him –

He wants us to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to His service –

When we pray and praise Him – He knows what we are thinking and saying – and what our concerns are about – before we offer them to Him – but He still needs our loving response before He acts –

God gives us everything we have – it all belongs to Him – and all we can do is really thank Him for it – and show Him that we mean it – by the way we live our lives

– its also important to other Christians –

In James’ time there was a tendency for many to wander away from the true meaning of the Gospel message – and bringing back these wanderers was very much a part of the churches ministry –

James’ message is just as important today – and through the church we are required to bring back the wanderers – those who perhaps heard the message at Sunday School – but are on now the fringe of our Christian family –

they need saving – and God uses us as initial contacts – to help and encourage them – until they come to meet Christ for themselves –

as James writes

“ the one who brings a sinner back from his erring ways will be rescuing a soul from death – and canceling a multitude of sins “





James was addressing a diverse audience – of rich and poor – Jew and Gentile – His words are clear and easy to understand –

“be humble” – “submit to God” – “stop sinning” – James is as forthright as an OT prophet

Few NT writers have the same clarity and punch – there is no need to look for hidden meanings – he gives us 45 direct commands – many of which have parallels with Jesus’ sermon on the mount –

action by itself does not cause life – but it does follow life – its a sure sign that life is present – genuine faith in Christ should always result in action that demonstrates the faith – by doing things God’s way –

On mothers day we make our words special by giving flowers and a card or present – or helping in different ways – we express our love in action as well as words – in response to the love we have been given –

God too wants us to make our words special – by being “doers of the word” – applying the Christian faith to today’s problems – believing isn’t enough – we have to live out our beliefs –

He commands us to give our whole lives – for His glory – not just once a year – or once a week – but everyday – and if we do that – for God – that would truly be something special – 

Prayer to Finish

 In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit