Men's Workout #49 - June 16, 2018

OPENING SONG AND PRAYER

We started our time together by singing hymn #385 - "More Love to Thee, O Christ."

REVIEW

We spent our time together in a general review of James chapter 4.

Verses 1-3:

  • The source of quarrels and conflicts among us is our own desires apart from God's will.
  • Quarrels and conflict occur between members of the church, not within our own bodies. Context points the way to this understanding. For instance, James 3 sets the groundwork understanding of interpersonal conflict.
  • Not only ought we to let go of our own desires, but we should replace our own desires with the desires of God and Christ our Lord. We should pray to the Lord without holding onto selfish motives, not expecting an answer to prayer so that our will would be done, but rather that the Lord's will would be done.
  • "We should pray for the ends rather than the means." We should pray for the result of Lord's glory, rather than praying specifically for the mechanisms of how we might think this will should be carried out. If we pray for the means, we will likely end up with an attitude of discouragement or even disappointment in God if or when events don't transpire in the way we expected.

Verses 4-6

  • Friendship with the world would be to align with their philosophy to do whatever it takes to get your own way. When we engage in this kind of selfish mentality and action, we become enemies of God.
  • Verse 5 refers to the man's inner spirit, not the Holy Spirit. The Lord desires our inner man. He desires for our full obedience and worship. God doesn't desire outward or hypocritical acts of religion, but He desires our entire being in devotion and submission to Him.
  • When we engage in conflict with others in pursuit of our own selfish desires, we become just like the world and enemies of God. Rather, we must submit to God willingly in full obedience, not holding fast to our own selfishness, but drawing near in full and humble trust in God's will for our lives.

Verses 7-10

  • To be humble is to submit to God's authority and obey His Word.
  • To resist the devil means to resist his temptations to seek after your own glory and authority apart from God's glory and authority.
  • When we feel distant from God, it is not God who has abandoned us, but rather we have wandered and failed to draw near to God. We can only draw nearer to God when we realize our own sinfulness and respond with humble repentance. We ought to truly mourn over our sins before our holy God. We ought to cleanse our hands and purify our hearts from our sins, actively turning away from them and instead turning our hearts and minds back toward God and His will.

Verses 11-12

  • In the context of interpersonal conflict, we must not judge our brethren according to our own selfish desires. When we judge or condemn our brethren, we place ourselves at the same level or even above God, and we give ourselves the authority to place judgment on others for what we evaluate as sinfulness. This is foolishness and sin, for only God can judge, and we have no power or authority to save and destroy.
  • We should seek to edify and bless others. We should seek to help and ease others' burdens, bearing them as our own. We ought to confront others of their sins, but not just abandon them there with a judgmental attitude; we should love them, care for them, pray for them, and help them to repent and overcome their sins.

Men's Workout #48 - June 7, 2018

OPENING SONG AND PRAYER

We started our time together by singing hymn #17 "O Father, You Are Sovereign."

REVIEW

We spent 3 minutes reviewing James 4:13-17, after which we recited the passage together.

  • Even in planning for positive things in life, we should submit all things and circumstances to the sovereignty of God.

MEMORY PASSAGE

We reviewed James 5:1-5, spending:

  • 3 minutes to memorize verses 1-3;
  • 2 minutes to memorize verse 4

DISCUSSION

James 5:1-3

  • James warns the rich to weep and howl, for their hoarding of riches ultimately ends up in a wasted result (e.g., gold and silver rusting. Gold and silver don't actually rust, but is used as a demonstration to show their ultimate worthlessness when esteemed in inappropriately high value vs. having a godly attitude toward wealth).
  • In the past, wealth was very visible and tangible. For example, wealth was found in physical currency, property, cattle, etc. But in our digital age today, our wealth may not be very visible, and so our attitude and value toward wealth must be more honest before the Lord.
  • What are some examples that demonstrate hoarding our wealth today?
    • Putting into retirement before giving to the Lord.
    • Building a real estate empire to amass personal riches.
    • Excessive spending, even when amassing debt against resources we never had. "Hoarding against the future"
  • Did Jesus tell everyone to sell all of their wealth and possessions and live in poverty instead? No! The Lord knows the hearts of every person, and calls them to respond and obey accordingly.
    • Example: Zaccheus (Luke 19). Zaccheus was a tax collector who defrauded people, and hoarded his riches. In his repentance, Zaccheus he gave away half of his wealth to the poor, and making up to the people he defrauded. He may have had more riches left, but the Lord didn't demand that he give up the rest of his wealth also.
    • Martha, Mary, and Lazarus seem to have a house, in which they host the Lord.
  • These are some good questions we can ask in order to evaluate our hearts regarding wealth and hoarding. What should we do with the wealth that God has given to us?
    • Who do we serve: God or wealth? (Matthew 6)
    • Are we caring for and helping the needy? (Job 31:16-23)
    • Are we conceited about our wealth? (1 Timothy 6)
  • God's purpose is not for us to live in poverty. Rather, God desires for us to be in a position where we can use our resources to help others.

James 5:4

  • Lord of the Sabaoth = Lord of Hosts. Referring to the Lord of the hosts of angels who is coming. This is why the rich have their miseries coming upon them, because the Lord's return will bring judgment upon those who are rich but withhold fair wages from their employees.
  • We must deal honestly before the Lord in all things, even in the small things. For example, it is not worth lying in order to save any amount of money, while compromising our conscience and righteousness before the Lord.

Men's Workout #47 - June 2, 2018

OPENING SONG AND PRAYER

We started our time together by singing hymn #143, "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name."

MEMORY PASSAGE

We reviewed James 4:13-17, spending:

  • 3 minutes to memorize verses 13-14;
  • 3 minutes to memorize verses 15-17;

DISCUSSION

James 4:13-14

  • James is addressing the attitude in the heart. James doesn't call this attitude foolishness, but arrogance. We literally do not know what will happen to us tomorrow; we are not sovereign, and thus we don't control our own destinies.
  • Life is unpredictable. We encounter things in life that we don't anticipate and cannot control.
  • The Bible is not telling us not to make plans at all. We ought to submit our plans for the future to the Lord's trust and care. He is sovereign and He is in control. But we sin if we proudly and arrogantly plan according to our own arrogance and expect outcomes of our own control. We must live with the understanding that we are all living under God's sovereign plan and control.
  • The principle of humility vs. arrogance is general and not only tied to the specific example of enterprise or making money. We could replace "make a profit" with "make disciples of Christ," and in either scenario a boasting and arrogant attitude that doesn't submit plans to God's sovereign is still foolish and sinful.

James 4:15-17

  • James is not saying boasting and arrogance is merely foolish, but that it is sin.
  • Verse 17 generalizes the sin of omission. If you do not follow through with what God wants, that is clearly sin.
  • "The right thing" in verse 17 is geared toward God's commands. We ought to live practically under the sovereignty of God, acknowledging His control in all things.

DISCUSSION OF NEXT WEEK'S MEMORY PASSAGE

James 5:1-5

  • James addresses those who are rich in life.
    • The rich hoard their riches and resources, only to have them waste away.
    • The rich are abusive, holding back wages from those who have fairly earned them.
    • The rich are self-indulgent, relentlessly pursuing pleasure without restraint, but having and end result in judgment.
    • The rich exploit their power and evade their own judgment on earth, but they cannot escape God's judgment.
  • Hoarding
    • Saving for the future can be a good thing, but be on the guard against greed. We ought to be rich toward God unto good works, not saving them up selfishly for ourselves.
      • Luke 12:13-21
    • We can avoid being hoarders by making a habit of being generous, even if they are relatively small things.
    • Instead of hoarding, we can be diligent to address and take care of the needs of our households and those around us.
      • 1 Timothy 6:17-18 (in context of verses 6-19)

Men's workout #46 - May 26, 2018

Hymn: We started off our time singing hymn #129, "Crown Him with Many Crowns"

Memorization/Review: We then spent time reviewing/reciting our memory passage together, starting with James 4:11-12

James 4:11-12 Discussion

  • It's one thing to confront someone about sin for the purpose of coming alongside one another to build one another up.
  • However, this passage is talking about those who have no intent on helping them to grow but are pointing out one's sin for the purpose of  condemning them.
  • James not only points out that we should not judge others, but points out that  there's serious audacity when we judge and condemn one another.
  • Jesus's right to judge is a great and serious claim (John 5:21), and when we judge others we are trying to play God
  • The bible clearly states that there is judgment for unbelievers, but as fellow believers, we should never speak out against one another, and this is something that we need to be very careful about
  • As you read scripture and decide how to apply it into your life (conviction), we cannot start judging everyone else based on how you have decided or been convicted, to apply scripture in your life.
  • Some can get legalistic about it (how much you read, how much you pray, how many people you evangelize to each week)
  • While illustrations like "the wheel illustration" can be helpful, that should never be a standard to judge others - the only standard is the standard of God, which is to let the word of Christ richly dwell in you, and for us to set our minds on things above.
  • It has to do with mentality, not quotas or made-up standards.
  • What are some ways we can compare with others?
    • How we do church (style of music, how the service is conducted)
    • There is no need to judge other churches - we all want to be like Christ
    • However, we should not sweep the sins of cults under the rug.
  • How can you deal with people who are confrontational when you try to help them? What if someone asks why you're judging them?
    • First, don't come down hard on someone
    • It requires wisdom and tact, to say the right words and to express that you care about them and want to come alongside them.
    • If someone tells you that you have sin, be humble, don't get defensive but as the person who is bringing this to your attention to pray for you.
    • If you're pointing out people's sin, you need to be willing to invest in helping that person.
    • Before you say something to someone, ask how you'd feel if someone said the same words to you
    • Always be on the mode of thanking God for people
    • Point out how others are blessing you
  • While we need to point out sin for what it is (don't be fuzzy about sin or sweep it under the rug), there is no need to condemn or speak against others

 

Then, we turned to James 4:13-17 and read it together.

James 4:13-17 Discussion

  • What's a good Silicon Valley version of the statement in vv13?
    • I'll go work at a top tech company, progress in my career, life a comfortable life
    • I'll start working on an idea, make a company of it, go IPO, be an influential person
    • Stock portfolio - I'll create a financial model that will allow me to retire at such and such an age and life such and such a lifestyle
    • Real estate - will buy houses and create an empire
    • A version that we may relate to more - I will acquire this new skillset,  that will enable me to do this thing, then I'll use that as a building block, and in that way we chart out our future in that way
  • The problem with this mindset is that you are living without the sovereign God as an Atheist
  • Vv17, this is sin!
  • While Vv17 talks about the sin of living without God's sovereignty, applies in the general sense
  • This is not telling us to not plan, but submit your plans to the Lord (vv.15)
  • We are a vapor, but a vapor with a great purpose - to bring glory to God
  • One example of a boasting, or a pride, out of arrogance, "I'm not so concerned whether God wills, I'm going to do this!" - boasting is not only arrogant, but it's evil, it's sin
  • While we may look at the example and think that we're not like that person in vv13, in many cases the manifestation is a lot more subtle/insidious than it initially seems.
  • We need to take on the mindset of:
    • Praising God, even when what expires doesn’t happen according to our plans
    • Recognizing that whether we make profit or not, God is sovereign and God is all good.
    • When a project gets cancelled, we ought to look forward to what God has in store for you next, rather than being upset that it is cancelled.
    • If/when your spouse dies, we should focus on the truth that God has a purpose here.
  • Even in the most dire of circumstances we should recognize that God has a great purpose for this
  • God has given us the privilege of service, of work, so ask God to help us do the work that is before us
  • There's so much frailty baked into life - if you do anything well, that's the grace of God
  • Living like an atheist is not just foolish, but evil
  • Some examples of God dealing with sinful, arrogant men in the bible
    • Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar bosting in himself; later is turned into a beast
    • Herod, struck down
    • Not just a figment, or nebulous theology, but a real God, who deals with real Sin
  • Set plans, have a resolve, and trust your plans and will to God

Men's Workout #45 - May 19, 2018

Opening Hymn

We started off our time by singing hymn #407, "It is Well with My Soul"

Memory Verses

We then recited our memory verses (James 4:1-12) and discussed them together.

Memory Verse Discussion

  • Looking at vv.7-8, the “therefore” in vv.7 connects these verses to the previous section.
    • We see God's promise of grace to the humble.
  • We also see that this is in response to our becoming friends (chummy) with the world.
  • God is never away from us, but is always ready to be near to us - the reason why God is not near you is that you are not near to God
  • There's no such thing as a dry spell, if you're truly walking consistently in the Lord
  • What does it mean to be miserable? It means to mourn over your sin, specifically friendliness with the world.
  • When we confess our sin, we need to go to God with a contrite attitude, a lowliness, because we have committed sin against the almighty God.
  • In what ways do we become friends of the world?
    • How we view our finances - some place too much emphasis on, find too much security on retirement
    • How we view our career - thinking that we need a job so much that we are willing to do anything to try to keep the job
    • Entertainment/comfort - prioritizing this
    • Family influences - Can't love father and mother more than me
  • Be careful, else your love for the world will cause you to compromise and disobey God
  • What are some forms of entertainment that can cause a believer to struggle?
    • Too much engagement in sports (cult-like following)
    • Wanting a comfortable life, that causes you to be anxious about losing a level of comfort
    • Over-emphasizing fitness or health, seeing it as the most important thing
    • Social media - can cause us to be envious of those who live for this world
  • "Let your laughter" could be translated "stop laughing"
    • God wants to give you His grace, you need to actively humble yourself
    • When you offend someone, you can't glibly go to someone and say that you've sinned against that person - you need to come humbly
  • Vv11-12 fits when you when you zoom out and see that James talks about interpersonal relationships throughout this letter.
    • Vv11, prohibits us from speaking about others behind their backs, which is slander
    • One subtle way that we need to be careful about is talking bad about someone when you're praying about them - we must never speak against anyone, and if we have an issue or concern we need to speak directly with that person.
    • Rom 14 - we are not the judge of anyone else

We then turned to our new passage for memorization this week - James 4:13-17

Men's Workout #44 - May 12, 2018

OPENING SONG AND PRAYER

We started our time together by singing hymn #102, "Jesus is Lord."

 

MEMORY PASSAGE

We reviewed James 4:1-8, spending:

·        4 minutes to memorize verses 1-3;

·        3 minutes to memorize verses 4-5;

·        4 minutes to memorize verses 6-8

 

MEMORY PASSAGE DISCUSSION

James 4:1-3

·        James focuses on one’s own pleasures. This is where we deal with our own sin. We might instinctually reason that it is “the other person’s fault” that there might be conflicts, fighting, and sin amongst us. But in reality, the source of sin is our own pleasures. This is emphasized in verse 3, where James urges us to humbly realize that we sin because of our own selfish pleasures.

James 4:4-5

·        You can’t have intimacy with God and yet also be simultaneously committed to worldly desires. God wants our hearts to be committed and devoted to Him alone. Our love should be solely given to God, not to the world.

·        Practically, a sinful love for the world can be manifested in both subtle and non-subtle ways. For example, it can be found in a pursuit of professional accolades or notoriety, in seeking acceptance from the world, or in wrongly assigning excessively high value to possessions or personal life goals. These examples remind us of the parable of the seed (e.g. Luke 8), where Jesus tells us that the worries, riches, and pleasures of this life choke us away from faithfulness and growth in the Lord, resulting in a fruitless life.

·        God desires genuine righteousness from our hearts. Isaiah 1:10-20 is a passage that clearly tells us that God wants our hearts, not lip service or empty rituals (Psalm 51:16-17). God desires for us to be committed and faithful to Him.

James 4:6-8

·        God is willing to give us grace, even though we have sinned against Him in these ways. God gives grace to the humble.

·        The first sign of humility is submission (“submit therefore to God”). This means to place yourself under the authority God. We can’t stick our noses up to God in pride and also stick our hands out expecting to receive His grace. We must have a posture of surrender and submission to God. “God gives grace to the humble.”

·        James brings up the devil in verse 7. It is obvious that the devil is at war with God’s people, trying to bring them down by drawing them away from humble submission to God. The devil is in the habit of focusing on man’s desires and not God’s (e.g. Matthew 16:21-23). We must stand against the devil, resisting his temptations and lures, not giving him any opportunities to lead us astray from drawing near to God.

·        In contrast, God does not push us away from Himself. Quite the opposite: God desires us to draw near to Him (verse 8)! James tell us that when we do, He draws near to us.

Men's Workout #43 - May 5, 2018

OPENING SONG AND PRAYER

We started our time by singing "At the Name of Jesus" (Hymn #140).

 

DISCUSSION

·        James 4:1-3

o   "Waging war in your members." This is not referring to internal conflict within an individual, but rather interpersonal conflict between individual members. The source of the conflicts between members is one's own pleasures that we tightly hold onto. We ought to let go of our own personal desires and preferences, and rather cling onto Christ. Oftentimes, the quarrels we go through are symptomatic of some other deeper self-centered heart issue that may not have been previously surfaced or identified.

o   "We don't have because we don't ask." When we come to God in prayer, our own selfish pleasures are exposed. When we realize that sometimes we pray to God for things that stem from selfish motives and pleasures, then it is obvious that God won't give  those things because God is not interested in fulfilling our pleasures apart from His own will and glory.  Perhaps a better way to pray is to pray for the ends and not the means. Pray for the objective to be fulfilled in submission to whatever God's will may be, not according to our own will or expectations of fulfillment. Other times, we may mean well in our prayers, but God may not answer in the way we expected. We shouldn't be disappointed in God, but rather be humble in accepting God's will and outcome.

·        James 4:4-8

o   "Friendship with the world." James is not introducing a new context of relationships with unbelievers. This is continuing the topic of dealing with your own pleasures. When we hold onto our own pleasures and worldliness, we become hostile enemies of God. We must pursue holiness and not be like the world.

o   "He jealously desires the spirit which He has made to dwell in us." God jealously desires us and who we are on the inside. This deals very directly with religious hypocrisy. God is not interested in a mere outward display of righteousness and religion. God doesn't care about our tithes, our record of faithfulness, or other acts of service if our hearts are rotten and selfish. What God wants is our entire being with a pure heart that loves and worships God in obedience and devotion.

o   "Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." Oftentimes when we feel distant from God, it is because we have stepped away from Him, not because He's pushed us away. God wants us to draw near to Him. We need to be contrite and also practically submit to God in repentance and obedience. We need to humble ourselves before God and be actively remorseful of our sins.

o   "Be miserable and mourn and weep." Sin is a serious offense to God, and we should properly react to it with grieving and mourning. Repentance is both a remorseful attitude and active changing of behavior and action.