Racism Is A Sin

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

James 2:8-9 (NLT)
8 Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[a] 9 But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.

In light of the recent events in our country, I wanted to share a story with you. A first grader went on her first day to a newly integrated school at the height of the segregation storm. An anxious mother met her at the door to inquire, “How did everything go, honey?” “Oh, Mother! You know what? A little black girl sat next to me!” In fear and trepidation, the mother expected trauma, but tried to ask calmly: “And what happened?” “We were both so scared that we held hands all day.” Racism doesn’t come naturally, it is a learned behavior. James is clear that looking down on someone based on the color of their skin, their ethnic heritage, or how much money they have is a sin. If you have displayed that sort of attitude toward someone then you need to repent. Regardless of who you are or what color your skin is we are all in this together! The truth is we all need Jesus!

In Christ,
Pastor Mark

The Lord Looks At The Heart

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

James 2:1 (NLT)
1 My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?

A number of years ago, when we were Pastoring in Yellville, AR, there was a tiny, but famous town just down the road from us called Zinc, AR. So what was Zinc’s claim to fame? It was the home of the Grand Wizard of the KKK. This man wondered down to our local cafe for lunch one day and made the statement, “if there are any “(expletive)” in heaven then I don’t want to go!” Since that day, it has always been my contention, that unless he repents of his attitude God might just take him up on his offer! With all the racial unrest going on in our country these days the church should be leading the fight for racial reconciliation. It’s time to stop looking at what people are on the outside and start looking at what they are on the inside. As the Lord said to the prophet Samuel, “The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

In Christ,
Pastor Mark

 

Read The Instructions

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

James 1:22-24 (NLT)
22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.

Several years ago, when Melissa and Daniel were babies, we bought a new bookcase for our living room. It was one of those one that come in a box and you have to take out all the parts and put it together. It comes with this handy document called instructions. Now being the red-blooded, American male that I am, I decided I could figure this out with out any stinking directions. You can probably see where this story is headed! As you can imagine, it didn’t go well. It ended with me putting it together wrong, and Tina told me I was never allowed to put stuff like that together anymore. There is a spiritual side to this story. We have been given instructions for life called the Bible. God gave them to us to tell us about His salvation and how to live in this life. Just like me and the instructions for the bookcase, we too often decided we don’t need God’s instructions. The results are also much like my ignoring the bookcase instructions, and we make a mess of our lives because we refuse to read the Bible. However, we can’t just read God’s instructions and not follow them. Once we read them we have to do what it says. Are you reading God’s instructions? Are you putting them to practice in your life?

In Christ,
Pastor Mark

Two Ears One Mouth

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

James 1:19 (NLT)

19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

Waiting to be interviewed for a job as a wireless operator, a group of applicants paid little attention to the sound of the dots and dashes which began coming over a loudspeaker. Suddenly one of them rushed into the employer’s office. Soon he returned smiling. “I got it!” he exclaimed. “How did you get ahead of us?” they asked.

“You might have been considered if you hadn’t been so busy talking that you didn’t hear the manager’s coded message,” he replied. “It said, ‘The man I need must always be on the alert. The first one who interprets this and comes directly into my private office will be hired.’” (www.sermons.org, “Hearing & Listening, opportunity, paying attention”).

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Dealing With Temptation

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:
James 1:12 (NLT)
12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

A number of years ago, the Douglas Aircraft company was competing with Boeing to sell Eastern Airlines its first big jets. War hero Eddie Rickenbacker, the head of Eastern Airlines, reportedly told Donald Douglas that the specifications and claims made by Douglas’s company for the DC-8 were close to Boeing’s on everything except noise suppression. Rickenbacker then gave Douglas one last chance to out-promise Boeing on this feature. After consulting with his engineers, Douglas reported that he didn’t feel he could make that promise. Rickenbacker replied, “I know you can’t, I just wanted to see if you were still honest.” (Today in the Word, MBI, October, 1991, 22). Eddie Rickenbacker claimed holiness in his hour of temptation. You know the feeling too. It may be the temptation to cheat on your tax return by not identifying all your income so that you get a bigger refund check; it may be to make promises about your product (that are false) to induced someone to buy it; it may be to watch a program or commercial on T.V. that is morally indecent; or it may be to stare at a woman that is provocatively dressed. By the way, the intent of women’s clothes designers is to entice you through their product to look–lust! The truth is that temptation is a part of our everyday Christian life. Christ was not exempt; neither are you. You will be tempted and always will be tempted. Holiness of character depends upon your resisting these temptations.

In Christ,
Pastor Mark

Money And The Church

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

James 1:9-10 (NLT)
9 Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. 10 And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field.

Here is a funny, and yet, sad story:
A well-worn one dollar bill and a similarly distressed twenty dollar bill arrived at a Federal Reserve Bank to be retired. As they moved along the conveyor belt to be burned, they struck up a conversation. The twenty dollar bill reminisced about its travels all over the county. “I’ve had a pretty good life,” the twenty proclaimed. “Why I’ve been to Las Vegas and Atlantic City, the finest restaurants in New York, performances on Broadway, and even a cruise to the Caribbean.”
“Wow!” said the one dollar bill. “You’ve really had an exciting life!”
“So tell me,” says the twenty, “where have you been throughout your lifetime?”
The one dollar bill replies, “Oh, I’ve been to the Methodist Church, the Baptist Church, the Lutheran Church ….” The twenty dollar bill interrupts, “What’s a church?”

In Christ,
Pastor Mark

Opportunity For Joy

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

James 1:2 (NLT)
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.

This verse in the beginning of James’ Epistle has always been one of my favorites. It seldom brings to mind two Christian brothers from my past. The first, whose name, ironically, is also Mark, whenever something bad would happen in your life would laugh and say, “Count it all joy, bro!” The other was my first District Superintendent, Paul Martin. Paul would walk into the district offices and ask, “Are you happy?,” to which he would always get varied responses depending on how things were going. He would then respond, “It doesn’t matter! Do you have joy?” Paul had a very good handle on what James is saying here. The Biblical concept of joy is very different from the concept our world understands. We often mistake joy and happiness, and the Bible sees them very differently. One commentator had this to say, “Happiness is a subjective state, whereas James is instructing us to make a more objective judgment when he says consider it an opportunity for great joy. “Happiness” might encourage readers to expect a carefree life or a constantly cheerful mood. Neither of these is what James has in mind. He acknowledges the presence of extremely unhappy experiences in his readers’ lives. At the same time, and with no perception of any contradiction, James counsels these readers to rejoice during those very experiences of hardship (Stulac, IVPNT: James, 35). The point is this, happiness is dependent upon circumstances which change like the wind, but joy is dependent only upon the Lord, who does not change…ever! So my friend Paul was quite correct, it doesn’t matter if you’re happy, but do you have joy?

In Christ.
Pastor Mark