Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

2. Test 1: The Identity Test – Part 2

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James 1:1 “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.”

After seeing our identity in the World James now reveals the second aspect to our identity, our identity in

  1. JESUS

James doesn’t stop by giving us his name, he goes on to identify himself as a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. What does he mean by that? He means that after all that the world had identified him for, he really is identified by his relationship to the Lord. But notice how he describes that relationship, a slave. Slavery was very common in James’ day but what most of us don’t know is that there were actually two kinds of slaves? One is the slave we always think of, the one who is bought or sold on an auction block and forced to serve. But that is not the word that’s James uses here. The word that is used here refers to a person who upon being set free chose to willingly continue in slavery. The Jewish Christians that James was writing to understood what he meant because they knew about Deuteronomy 15:12-17 where the Law that required that after six years of service slaves were to be set free. Yet if the slave loved his master he could choose to stay and become a slave forever. Verse 17 tells us that the ones who did were marked with a hole in their ear by an awl. This is the kind of servant James called himself. One whose body is permanently marked as a willing slave of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. So how did that happen? What transformed him from being offended at Jesus and calling him crazy to calling Him Lord? Look at 1 Corinthians 15:1-7 with me, “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.”It is here as Paul gives the Corinthian church an overview of the gospel that we discover what happened with James. James saw the resurrected Jesus. No longer was He just his physical brother but the one who came to save him from his sins. No longer was Jesus just that weird one in the family. No longer was Jesus offensive to him because the offence of the cross had turned to fellowship and freedom in Christ. James didn’t just see Jesus he said yes to Jesus and we see evidence of this transformation in Acts 1:14, “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.”There we see him gathered together with the disciples in one accord, in prayer and supplication as they waited for the promise of the Holy Spirit in obedience to Jesus. If you find yourself today just like James was before the resurrection you need to know that you can be saved the same way he was. Believe that Jesus not only died for your sin and rose again but that He ascended and lives to interceding for His kids. Jesus saved James and He can save you. But He didn’t just save James to give him a place in heaven, He saved him to give him a purpose here. This is the third aspect to our identity, our identity in the:

  1. CHURCH

When you look at who James wrote this letter to, you might not think that has much to do with his identity. But this doesn’t just reveal who James was writing to, but why. While we know who James was before he was saved and we know that God saved him, what did He save him to do? For those of you who are saved have you ever ask yourself that question? What did God save me to do? Because if you are saved and you’re still here God has a purpose for you. Not only has He got something for you to do but you need to know that it is connected to His church. We were not saved to be selfish but to serve. You see when we were saved, we were given certain gifts that God intends for us to use in our service to Him through His church. We were not saved to be Lone Ranger Christians; we know this because the gifts that He gives you aren’t for you. They are for the building up of His body, the church. God gifted James to be a pastor not for James benefit but to bless the body. Of all the books written in the New Testament, James is really the only one written by a full-time, long-term pastor. Even Paul wasn’t really a pastor, the longest time he was in a church was at Ephesus which was only three years. Paul was really a church planter who started a church got it going and handed it off to a pastor. James was the pastor of the church in Jerusalem. While Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 started the church, James was the one who became the leader using the gifts that God gave him to pastor the people through thick and thin. He pastored them through times of plenty as well as poverty. Through the phenomenal growth in Acts 2 when the church was growing by the thousands upon thousands, as well as through the pain and persecution, when Stephen, one of the first deacons was martyred and many of the believers fled from Jerusalem. James is preaching to the persecuted here, those who have been scattered abroad. He had a pastor’s heart and with it he carried a pastor’s pain, even though they weren’t right there in his congregation, he still cared for them. Because he cared about their spiritual well-being, he wrote them this letter. God saved James for the purpose of pastoring His church in Jerusalem. Every time he is mentioned in Scripture after the resurrection, it is in regard to his involvement in the church. God saved James to serve Him by serving His church, gifting him for the particular way He wanted him to serve the church. Which means God saves everyone to serve Him by serving His church. He might have blessed you with the gift of teaching, preaching, encouragement, administration or mercy. But regardless of however He’s has gifted you, you need to use it in His service. James did and his service to the Savior became his identity. His service to the church was so legendary that history gives him two nicknames, both of which reveal his pastor’s heart, James the Just and my personal favorite “camel-knees.” Because James spent so much time on his knees praying for his congregation that his knees became callused to the point of looking like the knees of a camel. What about you how fully are you using the gifts God has given you? Are you too busy to serve Him? Are you too distracted by all the business around you to serve Him? Are those the things you’re identified by, because Scripture calls those things wood, hay and stubble which all be burned up by fire. Or are you identified by your service to God by serving His church. What is your identity today? Is your identity wrapped up in the world? If it is, you need to see Jesus for who He is and turn from your sin. Or is your identity in the Lord, but not in His church? I’ve got news for you, heaven is not just going to be you and God, but His body the bride. Being a Christian means being a part of His church, so are you an active, living, working part of the body? Or are you withered and atrophied from lack of use? If you are saved, you need to realize that God has gifted you for His service. He expects you to use the gifts He’s given you. So, what is your identity wrapped up in?

 

 

 

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