Follow-up from Pastor's Sermon on Oct 4 ("Recipes!")

  A) Cookie Recipe
  B) James’ Recipe
  C) Notes on James’ Recipe


Cookie Recipe

  1. Measure out 5 cups of blended oatmeal
  2. Add to it 4 cups of regular bleached flour
  3. Cream 2 cups of butter
  4. Along with 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of brown sugar
  5. Combine them and add 4 large eggs and 2 teaspoons of vanilla
  6. Mix these together with 2 teaspoons of baking soda, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
  7. After doing that, add 24 ounces of chocolate chips
  8. Grate up an 8 ounce Hershey bar
  9. And, if you like them, you can also add 3 cups of chopped nuts
  10. After mixing this all together, roll the dough into 1 inch balls
  11. Place them on a greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart
  12. Bake them at 375o for 10 minutes or until golden brown

*Taken from a web site recipe for Neiman Marcus cookies.

James’ Recipe (James 4:7-12)

  1. Submit yourselves to God
  2. Resist the devil and he will flee from you
  3. Come near to God and he will come near to you
  4. Wash your hands and purify your hearts
  5. Grieve, mourn and wail
  6. Do not slander one another

In General: Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up

The details:

  1. Humble yourselves before the Lord

James’ recipe includes 11 imperatives (commands). For our purposes, we will group them into 6 categories all falling under the general heading of “Humble yourselves before the Lord.” More on that later. For now, let’s follow the recipe:

  1. Submit yourselves, then, to God.

The sinful nature has a hard time with that word, submit, but it is a biblical word. It has as its root the idea of a soldiers lining up under the authority of their commander. We have all sorts of authorities in our lives: parents, teachers, the governing authorities, employers, managers, and the like. They give marching orders, or, if you are one of those authorities, you give the orders so that proper work can be accomplished. You can image the mess if everyone in the army decides to do their own thing instead of following the plan of the Sergeant, Colonel, or General.

Ultimate submission, though, is to God. Also, and this is a little technical, the word for “submit,” is a reflexive form meaning that this submission is something you do voluntarily. This is not God forcing you to love and obey him. This is you willingly putting yourself under his authority, subjecting your will to his. So many of the problems in our lives come from NOT submitting to God’s will and instead wanting to go our own direction, do things our own way.

  1. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

While we actively submit to God, we do just the opposite with the devil and his temptations. We resist him. We push back against him. Remember, we don’t have to take all the garbage Satan doles out. God has given us the sword of the Spirit. We have the Word of God. We can answer his challenges with the Word of Truth, just as Jesus did when He was tempted. Notice the promise: resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Just as Jesus said, “Depart from me,” so also we can, in a sanctified way, tell the devil to go to hell, to go back to the gloomy pit that is his eternal home. As our Luther hymn says, “One little word (Jesus) can fell him.”

  1. Come near to God and he will come near to you.

This one is as much as a promise as it is a requirement. The closer we come to the Lord, the more His Word is a part of our lives, the more we talk with Him in prayer, the more we will know His presence, feel His peace, and be inspired by His hope. It’s kind of like a parental relationship. The more time you spend with your parents (or you spend with your children)—assuming the parents are godly, righteous individuals—the more influence they have on the lives of their children, the better they can guide and direct their children through the shark infested waters of life, the more you feel loved and supported. When we go to church, we come near to God and God comes near to us. We are reminding of His faithful love.

  1. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

When we come near to God, even though we have this close relationship, there remains a reverent fear of God. He is still God. We are still sinners. Yes, we come in faith. Yes, we approach as children of God. Yes, we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness. But, we still sin. We still need God’s forgiveness. We still need to be renewed by the working of the Holy Spirit. We still need Christ’s body and blood given and poured out for us for the forgiveness of our sins. Wash your hands in the fountain of Christ’s blood. Purify your hearts at His holy table.

  1. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.

Grieve, mourn and wail are all synonyms. They are all calls for our contrition and repentance. It’s not that we can’t laugh or we can’t be joyful. But there is a time and a place. Remember, this letter was call for the church of the day to repent and live their lives of faith. In the same way, there are times we approach God in humble repentance over our sin and misdeeds. And there are times when we approach God with joyful prayer and thanksgiving, with laughter and celebration. Yet, even then, it is with a humble, penitent heart.

  1. Do not slander one another…

The last imperative of the recipe is “Do not slander one another.” It has to do with judging one another. “When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.” It’s not just making godly judgments or giving honest, sanctified evaluation. No, this is looking down on one another, with a “holier than thou” attitude. James reminds us. “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?” Such an attitude is not humbling yourself before the Lord, but exalting yourself over your neighbor.

  1. He will lift you up

So, there you have it. There is the recipe. Now, if you follow that chocolate chip cookie recipe, you will have a gooey, delicious concoction of chocolatey delight. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. In the same way, if you “humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

Jesus, himself, is a great example of this. Jesus “humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Therefore, “God exalted him to the highest place.” (Philippians 2:8-9) So also, if we humbled ourselves, if we submit to God, if we resist the devil, if we humbly approach the Lord with repentance and faith, the Lord will lift us up.

Ultimately, this is a trust issue. Do you trust that God knows what He’s talking about and that His way is best? If so, you’ll be rewarded. If not, well, you’ll have to suffer the consequences. For, if you mess with the Niemen Marcus recipe, you might end up with a tummy ache. But, if you mess with God’s recipe, that will lead to a real disaster. And if we follow God’s recipe, if we listen to James, He will lift you up. We will know the full blessings of our Lord. Amen.