A faith that works: a faith that knows the end of the story
How do you stay positive when so much negative news is going on in the world? If you’re a follower of Christ, you can remain hopeful because you know the end of the story. Jesus is coming back someday. You’re not going to live right today until you understand your future. And the more you understand that Jesus is coming back, the more motivated you will be to do what God asks you to do.
Something To Talk About:
In this message, we continue our study through the Book of James by providing six ways you can prepare for Jesus’ second coming:
- Clean out the garbage in my life: Jesus is coming, and you want to prepare your life for that event. James 1:20 and 21 says, “Getting angry at things will never help you live the righteous life God wants.“ Getting angry at whatever’s going on in the world, going on in your life, all stuff happening, he says, none of that will help you live the righteous life God wants. In your past evil life, you also did these things.” But He says, “But now that you’re a believer and know the end of the story, put these things out of your life. No more anger, no bad temper, no doing or saying things to hurt others, and no using evil words when you talk.” What do you need to change because you know the end of the story?
- Stay connected to Christ: The spirit that God gave to live in us wants us for Himself alone. Give yourselves completely to God, draw close to God, and He will draw close to you. The apostle John says this in 1 John 2:28, “…remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame.” We can’t even imagine what we will become when Christ returns. But we know that when He returns, we will become just like Him, for we will see Him as He is. You’ll see him face-to-face for the first time. This hope should want us to stay connected to our Savior. You don’t buy into the world system. You don’t buy into the world’s biases. You don’t buy into everything that culture says is important because He will come again.
- Use trouble to become spiritually strong: While waiting for Jesus to return, use trouble, problems, stress, and difficulties to become spiritually strong. God uses everything to help our character grow. He uses problems to help us mature. James writes, “My brothers and sisters, be very happy when you are tested in different ways. You know that such testing of your faith produces endurance. Endure until your testing is over. Then you will be mature and complete and won’t need anything” (James 1:2-4 GW). Use the problems in your life to grow spiritually, develop endurance, and to become more and more like Christ in character. Use your problems. If you’re out of work or health is a challenge, use every problem in your life to grow spiritually stronger and more spiritually fit. He said that’s what you need to be working on.
- Practice loving everyone: We are to love everybody else as much as we love ourselves. This is especially important in our world today, because our world becomes increasingly hateful. It’s becoming less loving less patient. This means if you do what God tells you to do before He comes back, learn to love everybody. You can’t stigmatize people. You can’t stereotype people. You can’t dehumanize people. He said all those people you disagree with, you got to love them. The Bible says the same thing in 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13: This is how you get ready for the end of the story. It says, “And may the Lord make your love for one another and all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows. May he, as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and holy as you stand before God our Father when our Lord Jesus comes again with all his holy people. Amen.”
- Invest in the bank of heaven: You say, “There’s a bank in heaven?” Oh, yeah. There’s a bank in heaven. Five times in this short, five-chapter book, James emphasizes the generosity of God for us. He says everything you’ve got is because of God’s generosity. You’d have nothing if it weren’t for God. Every good and perfect gift comes from God. It’s all because of God’s generosity. And then he points out that not only everything in our life, including life itself, is a gift of God. In Luke 12:33, Jesus says, “Sell what you have and give it to those in need….” Is there something you could sell and help others? In light of the story’s end, do you really need everything you’ve got? Jesus suggests that maybe you might be able to sell some of it to help people who have a lot less. And He says you store treasure in heaven every time you do that. It’s the only safe investment for eternity, and they will also be living a fruitful Christian life down here.
- Use the gifts God has given me to reach others: When God created you, He gave you useful gifts, talents, abilities, and skills. There are certain ways that you think, certain things that you do, that you’re just naturally good at it. Your gifts are for the benefit of everybody else. And their gifts are for your benefit. How should you use that gift or talent in the time left before Jesus comes back? Well, you should use it to reach others for Jesus. You should use it to be an ambassador of love in the world. If you don’t use those unusual gifts that you’ve been given and you’re not using them the way God intended, then you’re just wasting them. Who are you serving? Who are you helping between now and when Jesus comes back? God expects you to use those gifts to serve Him by serving others.
- What do you find troubling about the fact Jesus is coming back? What do you find encouraging?
- Does the Second Coming of Jesus make a real impact on your everyday life?
- What will happen when Jesus returns? How do you think the world will respond to this event?
- How does knowing that your difficulties prepare you for heaven help you endure them?
- How have difficult times helped you or someone else you know grow?
- How have you experienced the hope that only comes from God?
- Think of someone you know who loves others well. What marks the way that person treats others in everyday interactions?
- How did Jesus show His love for others? How can you do the same?
- If love is a skill, it must be practiced. What are some specific ways you can practice loving others this week?
- What can we do to further the gospel while awaiting Jesus’ return?
- What was your main takeaway from this week’s message?
Take One Thing Home with You:
For the Christian, Christ’s return is not something to be confused by or frightened of; it is something to be excited about. 2 Peter 3 confirms that Christ’s return is a very good thing. In verses 12-14, Peter uses the words “look forward” several times. And why not? Jesus will be back. This day will be all about Him. This will be the day, as Philippians 2 10-11 says “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Titus 2:13 adds “while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.” The day when everybody recognizes Jesus as He deserves to be recognized: as the rightful king and creator and owner of the universe. And everything will be made perfect.