Humility

Re:Verse passage – James 4:1-12 (day two) Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. vs. 10

Humility is a powerful weapon in the arsenal of faith, and likely one of the most difficult to genuinely master. Proverbs 16:18 reminds us that “pride goes before destruction…”, so it shouldn’t surprise us that the we are called to humility. It makes sense when you read and follow the teaching of Jesus, but lived out we find ways to complicate it. Humility requires complete submission. Being right, being heard, being understood, they don’t matter. Surrender does. We can’t be humble with strings attached. It’s phony and gets us nowhere. True humility understands that our success is not dependent upon an outcome, a scenario, or a vote of confidence. Humility sees only the feet of Jesus as our gaze is fixed to him alone.

Selfless Wisdom

Re:Verse passage – James 3:13-18 (day two)

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. vs. 17

Sounds a bit like the fruit of the Spirit doesn’t it? Wisdom comes from a place that few of us access often enough. Agenda-driven motives tend to cloud the heart of wisdom. It is not enough to use knowledge when we are motivated by self-interest. To be wise is to be truly humble and submitted to a greater purpose and design. Not only do most of us not operate from that place, but we are untrusting of people when they speak to us. We often are looking for the angle, what are they trying to get out of me. This crazy cycle of selfishness and mistrust is not Kingdom-minded, and is not true wisdom. To be truly wise is to be more concerned about others than yourself. May we all pray that we act in wisdom, and receive it when offered.

Call vs. Criticism

Re:Verse passage – James 3:1-12 (day two)  Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.

We live in a fishbowl age. Our lives are lived out in real time on social media and we are constantly seeking affirmation or receiving condemnation for our choices. This is a true issue in the world today. To make it worse, some people are called to professions of even greater visibility. Teachers, politicians, and pastors all have a high degree of scrutiny which they face with every word they utter. Sounds maddening, doesn’t it? Why would anyone choose to be under such constant pressure? Frankly, if I may be so bold, the call is greater than the criticism. It has to be. We can choose to cower and withdraw from the watchful eyes of the world, but then we would be betraying what God has called us to be. The call to serve others comes with much baggage that can be difficult to carry, but Jesus has promised the Holy Spirit will be our advocate in those times. Hang in there.

Be Warm and Full of Faith

Re:Verse passage – James 2:14-26 (day two) 

If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? vs. 15-16

This is perhaps one of the most prevalent of denominational differences that shows itself clearly when talking about what we believe. It’s James vs. Paul, some say. This is a topic that many have written and debated for centuries. Let’s be clear, we believe that we can do nothing to merit salvation. In his letter to the church at Galatia, Paul says it this way in regards to the idea of keeping the law: “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” Galatians 2:21

Strong words – nothing Christ did was needless, including, and especially the cross. While it may be cut and dried to us about the placement of faith over works; it may not be as clear to others. As we go about considering our response in debate, let me ask this question: what are you doing in the mean time? It’s not enough to be right in this situation. There are hurting people living right next to you. There are needs all around. We may be on the side of faith, but we are compelled to live out that faith in a tangible way. Loving, serving, helping…doing. If we are to be salt and light shouldn’t we be bright and full of flavor?

Help Those in Need

Re:Verse passage – James 2:1-13 (day two)

If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.

Favoritism, partiality, class distinction…if we are not careful our faith begins to look like keeping up with the Jones’. As I read this passage I was reminded of our call to care for each other. When we begin to create distinctions for who gets care we have lost sight of the gospel. Why is this such a difficult lesson for us to learn? We are called to help those in need. It is the need that should be the catalyst for our help, nothing else.

Do You Really Want It?

Re:Verse passage – James 1:19-27 (day two) This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. vs. 19-20

Perhaps you’re like me: Have you ever prayed for patience, or that the Lord would help to control your anger…only to have the Lord give you an opportunity to practice patience or a tempered spirit? And if you’re like me…you blew it. I always feel so defeated when this happens, but I rarely go far enough to find out the root of my disappointment. James reminds us to put aside those things which are the root cause of our anger. We are to root out wickedness. Oftentimes I find that when I am quickly impatient even after prayer it is because in my heart I really didn’t want it in the first place. Our prayers must be honest. God’s not fooled by a cursory homage to repentance or petition. Dealing with the root of the problem is the only hope for true peace.

 

Familiar Pattern

Re:Verse passage – James 1:13-18 (day two)

Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. vs. 15

Make no mistake, sin doesn’t just happen. There are so many times when we put ourselves in positions to allow the un-natural progression of sin to take over. It is likely that you know yourself well enough to recognize a pattern. Whether it is a relationship that is unhealthy, a choice that has historically led to pitfalls, or whatever steps that you have watched yourself take in the past…this ends in only one thing…sin. In order to stop this insanity we must recognize our bent to sin, and cut off the choice before it is too late. If you are strong enough to stop the pattern, and you’re not, Jesus is. It’s time to get off the merry-go-round of sin and death, and set your path where only Jesus can lead.

All In

Re:Verse passage – James 1:1-12 (day two)

But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. vs 6

Have you ever run for an office, tried to get a job, entered into a relationship where you didn’t really put your all into it? Where you didn’t campaign very heavily, or perhaps you were unprepared for an interview. When things don’t work out it’s not a shock, and doesn’t really surprise you, but is that how we should approach life? How can we expect to move forward with anything unless we are all in? James does not waver in this statement. If you approach the Lord, you better come with your all. Don’t leave an out for disappointment. When you don’t fully invest there is always an element of excuse. Be willing to commit fully. Jesus has committed fully to you. If you answer to the Lord’s call, go all in.

When God is Silent

Re:Verse passage – Judges 2–8; 1 Samuel 3:1-11 (day two)

And word from the Lord was rare in those days, visions were infrequent. vs. 1b

I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining.
I believe in love, even though I don’t feel it.
I believe in God, even when he is silent. Anonymous

There are several periods in the Bible where God remains silent, or is perceived as being far away. Do you even feel like that? What are we to do in those times? It can be so difficult to maintain a trajectory when you feel like you are on your own. There is always a reason for the silence of God. It can be disconcerting, for sure, but our call must continue forward. It is also important during those times to remember that we have the Word of God to help shape the next steps. Don’t be discouraged if you haven’t “heard” from the Lord in a while. Trust your call, continue in prayer, don’t give up seeking after him. He is nearer than you realize.

Not Done Yet

Re:Verse passage – Judges 8:18-34 (day two)

Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, both you and your son, also your son’s son, for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.”23 But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you.” vs. 22-23

The Midianites were conquered. The tendency for Israel to want to elevate the instrument of Midian’s defeat makes sense. That’s where it gets complicated. Gideon was the instrument, yes, but he was not the reason for the victory. It was God who orchestrated all things to work for his good and glory. For Gideon’s part, he recognized this, but assumed his job was finished. There is so much to caution us in this story. If the Lord brings us to a place of victory we should rejoice and remember it was his hand of provision that made it possible. We should also not assume that once that victory has occurred that our assignment is done. As long as we have breath we should be seeking what our next task for the kingdom should be. May we never be complacent in the work.