Message Delivered for Men of Faith – Breakfast, 9 January, 2016
James 1:22-25; Ezekiel 33:30-32
Practicing Your Faith
Well, men, as is my case, I ask the coordinator of our meetings, now Troy, what God is saying and then I work forward from there.
Well Last week, Troy emailed me this … the topic is:
PRACTICING – God’s man learns how to apply God’s Word to all areas of life. It is essential to allowing room for accountability within the men’s ministry for the purpose of consistency and obedience to God’s Word (James 1:22-25; Ezekiel 33:30-32)
Now we haven’t read the passage yet, you are perhaps familiar with it “be doers of the word, not hearers” is the way you may remember it … … and remember I didn’t pick this topic … TROY DID … Take it up with him, but remember he is a BIG GUY.
But before we break it down a bit … I sent a note to a couple of people yesterday. One a Pastor and One a Doctor. Let’s listen to their responses
First the Pastor … Here is an email response from Pastor Ken Ansell, a friend of mine from High School, a pastor for about 15 years. We regularly talk, email, tweet, iron sharpening iron. His twitter name is … @hearanddo, So, I thought it would be good to ask Ken what he thought since it is his chosen moniker. So I asked him to give me his personal “musts” and personal “pet peeves” regarding James 1:22-25 …
Not sure this helps and all just very, very quick thoughts:
James 1:22 requires intentionality. Love is the foundation: both love of God and therefore love for people.
Tangibility. Our love, the kingdom, as we practice obedience it will be tangible. So often in our heads we are evangelizing, serving, etc. but not in our hearts or with real action.
John (the Baptist) said some good stuff in Luke 3, the biggest one that I drove the stake and “did” was the 2 coat thing,(John says if we want to SHOW we are God’s people, someone with 2 Coats should give to those who have none) Ken says it’s deeper than 2 coats, and my theology on it has evolved, but I had two coats, and gave one away, still just have the one, might seem silly, but that has changed my life. Being obedient is joy. Disobedience robs us, we always focus on the sin of disobedience but some never know the consistent joy from daily obedience.
People are undeserving, love them anyway, give to the one who asks, Matthew 5:42, stop being judge all the time … Give, do it!
This is tricky but in friendships I have to have no real agenda but love. Yes I want to share Jesus or be a catalysts for spiritual growth, but I have decided to just love and be in a permanent relationship with both non and Christian people. My two new gay friends can really make me want to back out on this but I’m hanging in there I’m not giving up when they have no movement if that makes sense.
Eph. 4:1 (“as a prisoner of the Lord … live a life worthy”) following Jesus is our vocation, I just preach to pay the bills. This gives me perspective.
The golden rule compels me, if I would like someone to bring me a Starbucks, or mow my yard, or pray, or send me an encouraging card, guess what? I have to spontaneously do those things for others.
Well, that probably does not help but my thoughts are free … I had to stop being a theorists and start being a practitioner, stop waiting on others to go with me and just go and do.
Love ya brother, hit it out of the park as always!
The Red Letters have made James 1:22,
So what did he say?
Obedience is Joy
Disobedience robs us
Stop being a Theorist
Start being a Practitioner
So I told you I sent a note to a Pastor and a Doctor … Because we all know that Doctors “Practice Medicine” …
So here is the Response from my brother, Dr. Thomas Goforth, D.O. New York City, About “practicing” as a Doctor:
The practice of medicine is an art as well as a science. As a science we are responsible to practice “evidence based medicine,” doing things because they have evidence to support their effectiveness and safety, e.g. Knowing when is appropriate or not appropriate to give antibiotics, knowing which screening tests to recommend, which blood pressure medications are appropriate given unique medical conditions and demographic predispositions… We have to continually read, keep up with latest evidence, replace old practices with new based on current evolving knowledge of disease processes, safety/harm, side effect profiles, etc. if end points are not shown to improve, or harms outweigh the risks, we have to be willing to abandon previous traditional ways of practice. We are held accountable by standards within the medical community. Now, the is a paradigm shift of reimbursement based on outcomes. I am not only reimbursed based on volume, but based on whether or not my diabetic patients have good numbers, hypertension patients have BP controlled, children have vaccines, over 50y have colonoscopies, etc. we have peer chart reviews…
But medicine is also just as much an art. What works for one patient may not work for another, doses are not uniform in effectiveness… If you just shut up and listen to patients you will often find all the answers you need to diagnose and often even to find the solution. Like ministry, people often aren’t impressed with how smart you are if they don’t sense that you care and listen to them. My art of practice is to talk to each patient about “balance.” I call it the 4 legs of our chair. If all four legs of our chair are firmly on the ground, we will generally feel well. When legs are not in place, we don’t feel well. Our legs are: proper diet, daily physical activity (exercise), proper amount and quality of sleep, and the inner spiritual/emotional life. We generally feel well in proportion to how many legs are firmly on the floor…. Yada yada
So what did he say about Practicing?
Art and Science
Responsible to Practice Knowledge Appropriately
Continually Read to continue to Know
Accountable to Accepted Standards and Peer Reviews
Practicing is an Art … not every situation is the same though standards ARE
Hmmm some pretty great advice from a Pastor and a Doctor … well, what does the Word of God say … do we really want to know?
Troy picked two VERY related passages from the Old Testament and the New … because God does not CHANGE … Let’s read them … I’m going to make some application
Ezekiel 33 begins by telling Ezekiel he is a watchman on the wall.
Gentlemen my job as a Pastor is to be a Watchman on the Wall … What do watchmen do? When they see something wrong, see danger, they SOUND the Alarm. If the people don’t respond, that is on them, but if the Watchmen doesn’t do his job it is on him. So that is what Ezekiel was doing, sounding the Alarm.
Now men, that is MY JOB every week, and people come here because they WANT to hear the message …
Ezekiel 33:30–33 (NIV84) “As for you, son of man, your countrymen are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, ‘Come and hear the message that has come from the Lord.’ 31 My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. 32 Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice. 33 “When all this comes true—and it surely will—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”
V31 they come … sit … listen …
Then … what does it say? They do not put them into practice
With their mouths they express devotion – is that talking about our worship services?
But their hearts are greedy – is our lack of obedience because it will cost us too much?
One who sings love songs
Then God tells Ezekiel what he feels like … and boy can I relate … he feels like someone who sings love songs or plays great music, everyone claps … but no one leaves CHANGED …
James 1:22–25 (NIV84) Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
Gentlemen … don’t make me into a Pop singer … Oh I’m a musician and I love singing and playing for an audience, but the difference is that I have always wanted to CHANGE the World NOT Entertain the world …
Do not merely listen … WHY because that is the ULTIMATE Deception …
Do what it says … the only way to be truthful with the messages you hear is to DO it. Sometimes that takes great effort, sometimes it is simple, but it will ALWAYS COST you … that’s where we often stumble in the COST.
When you listen but don’t do you are lying to yourself, you are like the guy looks in the mirror knows he doesn’t look right but goes out confident in how good they look.
I saw a lady in the airport in Houston wearing Hot Pink wind shorts, a t-shirt, and cowboy boots … and I thought “she looked at her self this morning and said ‘This looks good’” … LIE … but she was walking confidently … believing the lie.
So how do we become DOERS?
V25 – looks intently into the perfect law
Doing without hearing, without knowing is selfishness, is arrogance. We MUST come and hear, we must read and study, we must KNOW
We won’t know by accident we won’t know without effort. He says don’t “merely listen” or ONLY listen. That is listening as to the radio but not doing. And that starts by Looking Intently parakupto two words – para meaning – beside and kupto which is – to bend stoop down near. Some of us don’t look at the word intently, come along side it, we just remember our favorite passages, our best times and think “that’s who I am” … it is like replacing your mirror with an Olan Mills Picture of yourself at your best. You walk up first thing in the morning and look at the “Mirror” but all you see is your best picture and you walk away and change nothing … We must STOOP Down Beside the Word, and take it in …
– the perfect law that gives freedom – oh the lie we have believe, that if we follow Jesus, if we obey him, if we are doers it is going to lock me up. I hate hearing the term that married men use when they call their wife an “old ball and chain”. Being in a loving relationship with my wife doesn’t bind me, because she loves me with her whole being, and I love her with my whole being then our relationship gives me the greatest freedom.
So the world is full of lies about what freedom is and where we can get it, but I’m going to look intently at God’s word because that’s where freedom lives.
Then just like Doctor Goforth said
– And continues to do this … this isn’t a one time thing, I was there when my Brother Graduated from Medical School, but he couldn’t stop reading and learning that day or any day.
How do we be people of TRUTH?
People of truth live by truth … By not forgetting what we had heard … but doing
Not DOING is Forgetting … we are called to remember to be DOING – word is poietes – to make. One who makes something, a DOER, a PERFORMER, a POET.
The Poetry, the Performer, the Singer, that we need is NOT the one on the stage, that preacher is only the WARM UP ACT … He is only the Inspiration … What we need is the singer on the street, the doer on the block, the Poet in the Workplace, the one who makes the gospel Real and Relevant in the world … that is YOU.
That’s what our friends have told us ….
Tangible Action not THEORY
Obedience is JOY
Be A Practitioner
Art and Science = that equals Faith, Feeling, and Action
Balance – like Likes on a Chair …
How about Spiritual Legs to Our Chair
leg 1 – Biblical Knowledge
leg 2 – Prayer
leg 3 – Witness
leg 4 – Service
Worship is the chairback we lean on
So how is your Balance?
Did I give you enough answers today? Did I give you a big HOW to?
Could it be that we don’t need Answers as much as we need DOING
If we would spend time doing what we KNOW, we would find more answers
The answers are in the DOING …
That’s all gentlemen … that’s my song … are you going to applaud, are you going to throw tomatoes … or are you going to make a change?
I don’t want to be a Rock Star
I want to be a Watchman on the Wall
You are WARRIORS
Rise up like Warriors
Nuf said … my guess is some we have some work to do …