Embedded Faith

The New Covenant letter by James, a letter that emphasizes obedience, is embedded with faith. 

In connection with the previous post...below is a study guide/sermon outline for your consideration. If God wills, this outline will soon be published in a collection of sermon outlines. 

1. What is faith? Taking God at His Word...(see Acts 27:25). 
2. Need more faith? Greater faith? Faith grows by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

I. Faith Tested (James 1:2-4). 

      A. Steadfastness and Promise (James 1:12).       
      B. Suffering and Patience (James 5:7-11).

II. Faith Talks (James 1:5-8). 
      A. Purpose (James 4:1-3).
      B. Power (James 5:14-18). 

III. Faith Turns to the Book (James 1:18-21).
      A. Birth (v. 18).
      B. Behavior (vs. 19-21b).
            1. Wrath (vs. 19-20).
            2. Wickedness (v. 21a). 
            3. Word (v. 21b).
      C. Blessing (v. 21c). 

IV. Faith Takes Action (James 2:22-27). 
      A. Explanation: Saved (v. 21) vs. Deceived (v. 22).  
      B. Illustration (vs. 23-25).
      C. Examination (vs. 26-27). 
            1. Partiality (James 2:1-13; cf. 1:9-11; 5:1-6).
            2. Practice (James 2:14-26). 
            3. Prudence (James 3:1-18; cf. 1:5-8; 4:11-12; 5:12). 
            4. Purity (James 4-5).

Conclusion: How can my faith improve? 

A "Building Prayer": Philippians 1:9-11

"And this is what I’m praying: that your love may overflow still more and more, in knowledge and in all astute wisdom. Then you will be able to tell the difference between good and evil, and be sincere and faultless on the day of the Messiah, filled to overflowing with the fruit of right living, fruit that comes through King Jesus to God’s glory and praise" (Philippians 1:9-11, The Kingdom New Testament: A Contemporary Translation by N.T. Wright).

"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God" (Philippians 1:9-11, English Standard Version).

Have you ever considered the "building" flow of Paul's prayer* for the Philippian holy ones in 1:9-11? It begins with an overflowing love, a deep love that is channeled through knowledge and profound insights gleaned from learning/living God's reign. Is your love overflowing and flowing through the rivers of a knowledge of God's Book and principles gleaned therein? How much will your love grow in 2016?

But notice the "building" or leading phrase, "so that you may be able" or "Then you will be able to" (v. 10a). Our immense love for Deity and for one another provides us with the ability or skill to discern between right and wrong, to determine the best decisions to make in our daily lives (v. 10b). The popular philosophical expression, "Just always do the loving thing" may actually ring true, if we are using the Divine definition of "love." It has been noted that this prayer is about practical love, discerning love, righteous love, and glorifying love. 

So then, this educated love enables us to live lives that are pure and upright before our Master (v. 10c). The result of this channeled love and discernment is that we produce the fruit of proper behavior in this present world (age) of sin and foolishness (v. 11a). Are you standing today in purity and holiness before the One who holds your breath in His hands (see Daniel 5:23;Job 12:10; Acts 17:28)? If not, why not? 

Of course, all of this only occurs because of Jesus, His birth, His life, His blood, His resurrection, and His ascension to the throne (v. 11b). Without the anointed One (Messiah), none of the above is even possible – Christianity is "inanity" (ianity) without the "Christ." However, all of this is working toward and for one chief goal or purpose: the glory of Deity (v. 11c;). God's glory is a grand purpose indeed (see Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14). Will you choose to glorify Him daily in the coming year? 

Summary thought: Philippians 1:9-11 is a Pauline prayer for loving and holy growth in Jesus that glorifies Deity. Let us give ourselves to this end in 2016! 

For His infinite worth,



*By the way, you can find a similar type of flow in some of Paul's other prayers for congregations. Look at Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21; and Colossians 1:9-14, and note the use of phrases like "so as to" and "that you may."