Desire

Re:Verse passage – James 4:1-12 (day six)

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Psalm 37:4

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:33

…you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. James 4:2-3

James concludes, we don’t get what we want because we aren’t really all that interested in what God wants. Or said in a different way: the key to fulfilling are heart’s desire is to desire what God desires.

That pretty much sums it up.

Heavenly

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

James describes earthly wisdom as unspiritual and demonic. That’s strong language, but he is not just being dramatic to drive the point home. Nor is he suggesting that a demon is behind every unwise decision. For James it is a matter of origin, and in that sense, earthly wisdom is indeed demonic.

Like a spring fed river, earthly wisdom has its source, stretching back all the way to the Garden of Eden. The serpent (a demon) suggested to Eve that eating the forbidden fruit would make them wise like God, able to discern between good and evil. They supplanted God, the true source of pure wisdom, with their own. Their wisdom, is our heritage.

In Jesus, we have the opportunity to shirk off our unspiritual heritage, and tap into the true source of all that is good and pure; exchanging the unspiritual for the spiritual, and the earthly for the heavenly.

Grace to the Humble

Re:Verse passage – James 3:1-12 (day six)

And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. James 3:6

There doesn’t seem to be much hope in these verses. Our tongues are deeply connected to a simmering cauldron of  infinite matches. Cheaply we flick them without thought or self-control, only to regret later the cost of easily flung words. We often will say, I didn’t mean it or I don’t know where those words came from, but the truth is our words, especially those flung so hard, hot, and fast reveal who we are in our core, and Pastor James declares, your core is a whole world of wickedness.

Left here, we are all in trouble! But James has told us from the beginning take joy in your troubles. Much like the Sermon on the Mount, these words, drive us to to desperation and humility. What can we do with a wicked heart and tongue like ours. PJ concludes, you only have one option:

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. James 4:6

Normal Faith

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

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” -Jesus, John 15:5

When you put a seed in the ground and water it accordingly, you expect after a few days time for it to sprout. If you continue to tend to the new shoot, you can expect it to grow and then eventually bear fruit.

James, Jesus’ brother, is simply saying the say thing in a different way. Faith is like a seed, the expectation is for faith to always grow and eventually bear fruit. A faith in Jesus that doesn’t grow and produce fruit (or good works), would be just as non-sensical as a tree or vine that doesn’t bear fruit.

Producing fruit is the most normal thing for a tree. Producing good works is the most normal thing for faith.

Prejudice is Real And It is in Us

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

…if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law. James 2:9

Pastor James clearly teaches that prejudice is a big deal, even if, for all appearances, we have everything else put together.

Crystal clear creek water can still be poisonous if a dead animal is stuck somewhere upstream. Or even the smallest bit of leaven effects the whole loaf. In the same way, it doesn’t matter how squeaky clean we appear to be if prejudice is lodged in the tributaries of our heart.

Here’s the thing, it is easy for us to minimize prejudice when we invest most of our time with people just like us. We can even dismiss it, “Oh, I’m not prejudice; we don’t live in a prejudicial society anymore.” When the reality is, we don’t see it because we avoid it, insulate it or compartmentalize it.

James will not let us get away with that. He says, root it out, no matter how small, or how little space it occupies on the often overlooked storage spaces of your life. We can’t afford not to.

The Righteousness God Desires

Re:Verse passage – James 1:19-27 (day six)

Stop being angry! Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper- it only leads to harm. Psalm 37:8

Human-centered anger rarely accomplishes much good. Pastor James goes as far to say, anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. It begs the question, what righteousness does God desire?

Anger often masquerades as strength.If unrestrained it blows up or shuts down, intimidates, separates, abuses and destroys. It doesn’t require strength for any of those things, only pride, self-centeredness, and carelessness. Implicit in PJ’s command is the kind of person who even when offended, seeks to understand before drawing conclusions, and never acts out of self-interest but pursues the good of the other, even at great cost to themselves.

That person embodies restraint, gentleness, tenderness, patience, forgiveness, and compassion-or the kind of righteousness God desires..

Ally

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

14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. 16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father… James 1:14-17 (NLT)

While we may be our own worst enemies, God is most certainly not; he is for us not against us. That’s the message James desires his readers to know. In this new life of faith in Jesus, we will face plenty of challenges, including our own sinful desires, but God in no way aims to throw us curveballs, or trip us up.

In fact, he desires to give us good gifts; to be our wisdom and refuge in time of need, after which, we will be strong and radiant and immovable. That’s why James encourages us not to shy away from trouble, but to face it head on knowing God will not leave us or forsake us, but help us become who he always intended us to be.

Waste Not

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

So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:4

Pastor Bryan is absolutely right, there is nothing trite or trivial about the sentiment in these verses. The hopefulness in these verses does not only point to what is on the other side of suffering, but also to the goodness of trials themselves. James is not asking us to grin and bear it, but to understand that in God’s economy he does not waste anything; for even in the moments that seek to rob us, God intends to give.

Fat

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

“…you and they have become fat from the best offerings of my people Israel.” 1 Samuel 2:29 (NLT)

Their hearts are fat and gross, but I delight in your law. Psalm 119:70 (NRSV)

Eli. What was it about Eli that was so grave?  1 Samuel 2:29 gives us two reasons.  He honored his sons more than he honored God, and he got fat off the portions of meat his sons took from the people’s offerings. Furthermore, he did not take their desecration of the Lord’s offerings and the tabernacle seriously. While Eli knew the extent of his sons’ sins, he did very little to stop them. He issued them a warning, but no more.

Although Eli was nearly blind, he enabled his sons sin with his eyes wide open. His heart had become fat and gross; rather than being jealous for God’s holiness and glory, he minimized their sin.

This account gives me pause. Do I minimize my sin? Do I enjoy the promises of my sin, more than the promises of God? Have I grown fat from the glut of my own sin?

Invite the Holy Spirit to examine your own heart.

Appearances

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

I don’t know Gideon’s intentions in commissioning the making of the ephod, or how it was used, but its affect was clear. Rather than seek God, the people coveted this religious garment. It was a step down the road towards full blown idolatry.

Sometimes a thing or practice can have the appearance of godliness, but really only serves to boost our own own ego and self-reliance. This usually happens when we fail to obey God’s Word, and take matters in our own hands (like Gideon).

Even the best intentions, if not led by godly wisdom and discernment, can result in destructive outcomes. Real godliness doesn’t come from looking the part, but by looking to him.