(This message may be used as an individual sermon or as part of the series.)



It is not wrong to be religious if you are a born-again Christian

James 1:26-27If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. [27] Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. 

We return to the Life of Christ. Our Lord visited Mary and Martha, and some time after that was invited to the home of a religious person, a Pharisee. 

Vs. 1 – In fact this Pharisee was a chief Pharisee.  He was high ranking, and important, and very religious.  The Pharisees made it a point to be outwardly religious, and put more stock in their religious adherence to the law and their man made interpretations of the law than they did faith. 

This invite was on the Sabbath Day.  Jesus was invited because of religion.  These men were so religious that they wanted to watch him to see if they could find a reason to accuse Him and discredit Him. Jesus did not agree with their brand of religion, and they wanted to condemn Him. 

It is in this situation that Jesus gives a message to the “religious”.  It is a message still applicable today for all who are religious.  Jesus basically tells these “religious” men four things: 


Vs. 2 – There was a man in front of Him who had dropsy. 

His body was retaining water. He was obviously swollen, and probably terminally ill. 

Because of the open nature of banquets in those days, this man could have come of his own accord.  But remember the “religious” people were watching Jesus.  This man was probably invited there on purpose in order to see if Jesus would violate their understanding of the Sabbath. 

Vs. 3 – Jesus asked a loaded question “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”  There is no such restriction in the Old Testament Law.  But the additions that “religious” people made to that law made it unlawful. 

Jesus had them in a dilemma.  If they said it was lawful they would have violated their own teachings.  If they said it was unlawful, they would have been viewed as narrow and uncaring. 

Vs. 4 – So as not to incriminate themselves, the Pharisees said nothing. Jesus went ahead and healed the man. 

Vs. 5 – Jesus then reminded the religious people that if one of their livestock were in jeopardy on the Sabbath Day, they would be helped.  

Of course, if it took work to rescue a farm animal, and that was acceptable, how much more acceptable was healing a sick man on the Sabbath Day! 

Jesus’ message is clear.  Don’t shun good works in the name of religion.  Don’t let your religion keep you from doing good, and don’t let your religion cause you to shun those who do good. 

Both the Jewish religion and Christianity are religions that stress good works.  If these good works can relieve human suffering we should not let anything stop us. 1 John 3:17, James 2:15-17  

Vs. 6 – Notice that the religious people were again silent.  They had nothing to answer because they were guilty of helping their own on the Sabbath.   


Vs. 7 – Seating was supposedly according to who was more honorable or important.  The closer one sat to the host, the more honorable the person was.  These “religious” men were seeking the best seats for themselves! 

Vss. 8-10 – Jesus told these religious people not to seek the best seat a wedding feast. They should take the lower seat. It was likely that one could be “bumped” from the highest seat, and could be moved up from the lowest seat. 

Jesus did not want them doing this with the wrong motives.

He wanted these men to be truly humble.

He wanted them to learn to put others ahead of themselves. 

Vs. 11 – Jesus is saying that the proud will be humbled, and the humble will be exalted. 

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 – In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus gave three examples of what some religious people did to get honor from men.

They gave.

They prayed.

They fasted. 

It was their habit to do these things so they could be seen.   

Jesus was telling them that they could seek and get their reward now from men, but if they humbly went about their business, they would be rewarded later by God.

Jesus is telling the religious people not to seek their own honor.  Sometimes honor does come even when we are not seeking it.  Let the honor come if it comes but don’t seek it. 


Vss. 12-13 – It was the habit of these religious people to invite their family, friends and those of high social and financial status. Most of these people will be able to invite you in return.  Jesus was saying, “Don’t invite people to dinner so you’ll get invited back.” 

Jesus was not excluding the invitation of these people.

He just wanted others included who could not pay them back.  The poor and the handicapped were to be invited. 

When was the last time you invited anyone over to dinner who couldn’t return the favor or who were not on the same level socially as you?  We generally feed those who don’t need it and never think of those who do need it. 

Vs. 14 – Meeting the needs of those in need is a quality of the Christian.  When the Christian is resurrected, then he will be rewarded for the kindnesses shown to the ones that he could not pay back. 

The bottom line is that we should not do favors for others so they’ll do them for us.  Instead we are to show favors to those who can’t repay us.  This is what is pleasing to God. 


Vs. 15 – Some sanctimonious person said, “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.”  There were probably “Amens” from many.  The implication was that these religious people were all planning to be in God’s Kingdom. 

Jesus cared too much for these men to let this statement go without comment. 

Vs. 16 – A man made a great supper.  Many had been invited.  The custom was to have two invitations.  The first invitation would give the day.  And a person was to R. S. V. P.  

On the day of the dinner servants would go to the guests again and tell them that dinner was ready.  Those who were bidden to come on the day of the banquet had already accepted a first invitation. 

Vss. 17-20 – So, on the day of the dinner, the servant went to get the guests and every one of them had an excuse for not coming. These were all lame excuses. 

A man bought a piece of ground.  He had to go see it. But the man would not buy a piece of property without seeing it. It was just an excuse for missing the banquet. 

Another man had purchased 10 oxen.  He now wanted to “prove” or check them out.  Again, the purchase of that much livestock was a major purchase.  The man would have tested them before buying them. 

The third man had just gotten married. And although Jewish men were excluded from having to go to war after just being married, they were not banned from going to banquets.  He was using his wife as an excuse. 

What is the meaning of this?

The Jewish people said they wanted to enter the Kingdom of God.  By virtue of their Jewish religion they had accepted an invitation to enter God’s Kingdom. 

But now the King was among them and they were rejecting him.  He was there and they didn’t want Him!  They would, in a short time, crucify their king. 

They were snubbing the invitation. 

Vs. 21 – The servant returns home and reports to his master.  Those who had been invited and accepted an invitation had made excuses and would not attend the dinner.  He was rightfully angry. 

He told his servant to go out into the city and bring in those who were the social rejects, the poor and the handicapped. 

Vss. 22-23 – This was done and there was still room. So the servant was sent to the highways and country lanes and he was to compel them to come! 

The Jews had refused God’s invitation.  So the socially and physically unacceptable were to be invited to the feast.  Those in the highways and hedges represent the Gentiles.

The Jews rejected Jesus, and the Gentiles have been invited! Ephesians 2:11-13 

Vs. 24 – The ones who were bidden to the supper and turned it down would not partake of the supper.   

The point for today is obvious.

There are religious people today who are too wrapped up in other things and use them as excuses for not accepting Jesus’ invitation of salvation. 

It is Jesus Christ who died for our sins.

It is Jesus Christ who is risen from the dead.

It is Jesus Christ who will change your life and give you a new life now and heaven later.

Many have snubbed the invitation.

Have you? 

John 3:16-18For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. [17] For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. [18] He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 

If you have not snubbed God’s invitation, that’s great.

I’m so glad that you have accepted it and are going to Heaven.

Accepting the invitation puts you in another category, however.   

You are now a servant who has the invitation in your hand so to speak.  You have the message of the Gospel to share with others.  Mark 16:15, 1 Peter 3:15 

If you, as a Christian, do not share your faith, you are in a real sense snubbing God’s invitation.  You are helping to keep people out of Heaven instead of helping them in.

You know the way to Heaven. Shame on you if you don’t share it with others who need it.    

Jesus message to the religious applies to us. 





(This message may be used as an individual sermon or as part of the series.)



We all face trials and troubles often.  It is what Cole Porter called “Stormy Weather” in a song that he wrote.  

There were a couple of times when the disciples faced storms on the Sea of Galilee.  

As we look at this story about literal storm, we also learn lessons about the figurative storms that cause trials and troubles in our lives.  Let’s see what lessons we can learn this morning about stormy weather. 


Vs. 23 – Think of the boat as our lives.

Although God is present everywhere, there is a special sense in which God is present in our lives.  When He indwells us, He has taken up special residence inside of us. John 14:16-17 

God the Holy Spirit dwells inside of the Christian.

He is there to guide us, protect us, keep us, teach us, and comfort us.

And God has promised the Christian that this presence is unending! Hebrews 13:5-6 

You have heard people say, and might have said yourself, “I wouldn’t want to face this problem without the Lord!”

How true!  If God is willing to take up residence in our lives through his Holy Spirit it would be dumb not to avail ourselves of His presence. 

When you trust Christ as your payment for sins, you are what the Bible calls, born again, by the Spirit of God.  And God the Holy Spirit takes up residence in your life. Romans 8:9    

If you have truly trusted Christ as your Savior, you have God’s presence in your life no matter what the storm may be.  Make sure that you have Christ in the boat that is your life!    


Vs. 23 – The Lord Jesus entered the boat.  The disciples followed Him into the boat. It was the Lord Jesus who decided where they were going. Luke 8:22 

The disciples ended up in a storm on the Sea of Galilee because they were following Jesus in obedience.

Of course, being obedient to God as a Christian and following Jesus’ leadership in our lives is the right thing to do. Luke 9:23-24 

Following Jesus after trusting Him for forgiveness does not mean that it will be an easy life.  In fact, we will have storms. 2 Timothy 3:12, James 1:2-4 

The storms that Jesus leads through will make us strong and mature.  And I’d rather follow Jesus in the middle of a storm than to not follow Jesus.  Being in the center of the Lord’s will is always the safest place to be. 

But you’ll also face storms if you’re not obedient to God. 

Would you rather face storms being in the center of God’s will, or out of God’s will? Which makes the most sense?   


Vs. 24 – I don’t have to tell you how dangerous storms can be.  Just consider last year’s tsunami and hurricanes Ivan and Rita.

This storm was a very violent storm, and even seasoned fishermen like Peter, Andrew, James, and John were having trouble with it. 

The storms of life which we face are also dangerous.

Sometimes we will be in physical danger because of persecution, accidents or illness.

Other times we are in emotional danger with our “storms” threatening to overwhelm us with fear and/or depression.

Other times we are in Spiritual danger, with Satan’s attacks challenging us to give up or to sin. 

And this verse alludes to another danger.  We might be concerned because in the midst of the storm God appears to be asleep.  He does not seem to be responding to our problems during the storm.  He seems to be silent. 

Our Lord Jesus was able to sleep because He had a human body that got tired.  He was also able to sleep because, being sinless, He had a clean conscience.  He was also able to sleep, because He quietly allowed Himself to rest in the hands of His loving Heavenly Father.

If you are doing what is right before the Lord, confessing your sins as a Christian, and striving to live for Him, don’t panic when God appears to be asleep. He’ll show Himself to be very much alive at just the right time. 


Vs. 25 – When storms come we tend to fear. And sometimes when storms come we will go into a panic.  The situation seems to be absolutely hopeless! 

Humans tend to be fearful.  If we didn’t tend to be fearful, God would not have put so many verses in the Bible telling us not to be afraid. I’ll just give you two samples, but there are many more “do not fear” verses in the Bible. Psalm 27:1, Isaiah 41:10 

We tend to fear and worry about what might happen but hasn’t happened.

We tend to fear and worry about the future.

We tend to fear and worry about the opinions of others.

We tend to fear and worry about our children, our parents, our spouses. 

Then comes the times our problems are so real to us that they tend to overwhelm us.  We hit the panic mode. 

Yes, many fears are justified.  But there is a proper way to handle fear.

These seasoned fishermen were literally in over their heads and they knew it, coming to Jesus in panic. 


Vs. 25 – The disciples awoke the Lord Jesus.

Their anxious prayer was an indication that they had come to the end of themselves, and that they had at least a little faith that Jesus could help. 

I personally think that they waited too long to ask Jesus for help.  The moment things got a little stormy, I think they should have come to Him. 

We are like that.  If things seem to be just a little stormy or troublesome, we’ll just worry over it and try to solve it ourselves, instead of bringing it to God right away.

But when problems get full blown, we come in a panic with a little, but not much faith that God can help. Philippians 4:6, James 1:5-8 

Vs. 26 – Note that Jesus did not rebuke the disciples for waking Him up.  Like I said, I feel that He would have welcomed being woken up sooner.    

Notice our Lord’s calm rebuke in the midst of the storm.

He was not in a panic. He’s totally under control.  He can even take the time to rebuke the disciples before He did anything.  He is master of the situation. 

Let’s remember when we give our stormy problems to God He is not in a panic.  He can solve the problem leisurely if He chooses to.  There is no reason to get in a dither or bent out of shape. 


Vs. 26 – Jesus said the word and there was perfect calm. It was like there had been no storm. There was no rocking of the waves that normally follow a storm. There was perfect peace. 

When Jesus speaks the Word there is perfect peace.

Sometimes the problem totally disappears, but more often than not the place where the greatest miracle has occurred is inside of us. 

We are at peace.

God has calmed the ragging in our souls. 

Vs. 27 – The disciples were absolutely amazed!  The Lord Jesus had done what they had never seen before.  A human being told the storm to cease and it did.  The winds obeyed Him! The waves obey Him. 

They had a new appreciation for the power of Jesus!

They had a new appreciation for the glory of Jesus!

And when Jesus calms our storms, we too, should have a new appreciation for the power and glory of the Lord Jesus.

We should be amazed!

We should be filled with praise and worship.

We should be ready to trust Him when an even bigger storm comes.