Oh how the book of James spoke to us today! And we were with Jesus through the garden, the arrest, his false trials and judgment by Rome and the Jewish leaders. Have a listen if you have the time (www.hiswayonline.org). Or view similar lessons on the church Facebook site The Connection His Way Church.
The study on the last chapter of this short book of James (Chapter 5) was amazing! It was a combination of godly advice for 'right living', end-times prophesy which applies directly to us, and salvation. James started out with a topic all to common in our society today- folks living for wealth on earth with no regard to others, capital gains, serving the world, and missing Jesus. What drives folks like this? That's easy....greed and pride. As we learned last week it' the 'lust in our hearts' taking us far from the Lord making us subjects of the world. He then goes on to talk about Jesus waiting patiently for salvation of those who come to Him and we should patiently await His second coming and endure suffering. The Judge 'standeth at the door' (yikes!). Time is short. So we need to be ready to receive Him and in the mean time work for Him by keeping our word, encouraging the saints, and spreading the gospel message. Its' critical that we represent Christ daily, and speak the truth of God to all we know, for their sake and for Jesus our Lord and Savior.
The sermon was on John Chapter 18 where Jesus goes from the Passover meal to the garden where Judas betrays him and He is arrested, but not before He identifies himself as 'I AM'. This caused the troop of temple guards (who knew what that meant) to fall back in fear. As He gave himself up He was taken to judgment and falsely accused and sentenced by Pilot. In the process of the false trails, Pastor Peter denied even knowing Jesus...THREE TIMES! Realizing his sin (conviction), Peter went out and wept bitterly (repentant heart), and was later forgiven by the Lord- the Lord knew Peter's weakness and his heart for Him. The discussion with Pilot was most interesting- Pilot could find no fault in him and tried to have Jesus released three times. But all this was not about Pilot or the wicked Jewish leaders.....neither of these killed Jesus. All of this leading to the cross was arranged for by the Holy Spirit so that Jesus would be crucified as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. By His own words, the Son of Man must be 'lifted up' in order to 'draw all men to him'. This was the plan of salvation, like it or not, and we are most grateful for it. Salvation only comes by having faith in the sacrifice of the Son of Man/Son of God, and professing his name as your personal Savior.