Visible

Re:Verse passage – James 3:13-18 (day five) “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”
How do you control your tongue? (that part of our bodies James previously describes as dangerous and potentially destructive) The question that James ushers to our minds in the previous verses in chapter 3, is answered in our Re:Verse passage this week.

Answer: Wisdom.

I love James’ perspective on this seemingly abstract subject. In his teaching, wisdom is not abstract it is tangible and visible. It can be “shown”. Wait! What?  Yes!  Wisdom is meant to be seen before it is heard. There can be evidence of wisdom. James teaches that this evidence is ultimately behavioral rather than intellectual. Knowledge and understanding are important but are clearly demonstrated (according to James) by “good life” and “humility”. Wanna find wisdom (from teachers/leaders/friends?  Look before you listen.

Internal and External

Re:Verse passage – James 3:1-12 (day five) “Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires.”  The wisdom of the scripture is amazing. James gives two illustrations (bit and rudder) for the power and potential a “tamed tongue” has for the spiritual growth and maturity of a believer. A tamed tongue is not just evidence of a vibrant and growing relationship with God through Jesus Christ (life giving), it is a means to it.

James illustrates that our goal is not just to gain control of our tongues but to have balanced and healthy lives that reflect the Glory of God.
The bit illustrates all the “internal” things that must be controlled (thoughts, plans, imagination, values). All of these use internal words to formulate and arrange in our minds.  The rudder then, points to the external events and circumstances that can veer us “off course” in our thinking and speaking.
In the Lord’s economy, words are the most valuable- creation (spoken into existence) and redemption (Word became flesh).  Makes sense that He would demand that we have the same regard for words- both internally and externally.

All of the Above

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

My favorite exam questions are multiple choice (had professors call them “multiple guess”). I always thought if I had the answer in front of me, I could spot it. But then, there were the questions that had that last possible answer… “All of the Above”.  If there were a multiple choice question about our re:verse passage this week it might look something like this:

Authentic Saving Faith is:  

A) Not just mental (what you think and believe)

B) Not just emotional (what you feel)

C) Not just physical (what you do)

D) All of the Above

James teaches that faith is D- all of the above. Believing, feeling, and acting are ALL evidence of genuine faith leading to salvation. Not just one. With precision and brilliance, James builds a definition of faith by expounding on what “it is not”. A different kind of lecture. Yet, an effective way to help us test our faith to see if it is Authentic Saving Faith.

Look Intently

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

“But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.”

I am so grateful for the truth and consistency found in God’s Word. We just spent the past three months studying Judges and being reminded over and over again the problem and dysfunction of the Israelites in their relationship with God. “They didn’t remember”.   Here in James, written thousands of years later, same warning. Same truth. Brilliant illustration (mirror). We must remember- Who God is. What He has done.  What he has said about each of us.

How?  We should “look intently”. With focus. With hope. With humility. With hunger, and with honesty.

James is encouraging us to do that frequently, regularly, and intentionally.
What we learn is that we are marred with sin (no one got this better than Paul- see Romans 7) and God is the generous and gracious giver of life and freedom.

If we remembered those truths, how would that shape the way we think, act, and speak??

Each

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

“But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.”

My relationship with God through Jesus Christ is both corporate (I belong to a community of believers- body- family) and personal (God called and saved me). I had a youth worker in Dallas who wanted to illustrate this point. He handed out $5 dollar bills to every teenager who came to our Wednesday night gathering. Students were thrilled and overwhelmed (it was 30 years ago- $5 went a long ways). He began teaching about how God loves and deals with His children. He said, “In a way, I gave all of you $5. But in a more personal and intentional way, I gave each of you $5”.
pThere is certainly community and fellowship with other believers. Accountability. Encouragement. Ministry together. But there are deeply personal and individual facets of our faith as well. My salvation. My sin. My growth. My relationship with Christ.

God holds nations and churches accountable.  But He also holds EACH person accountable. Judgement is a deeply personal and individual experience. Only I will be asked to give an account for my life. Only I must answer to the Holy and Sovereign Lord for my actions and attitudes. Only I must repent and seek forgiveness for my sins. Only I can call on the Lord for my salvation.

God, give grace to each of us to consider our own sin, salvation, and sanctification.

Wisdom

Re:Verse passage – James 1:1-12 (day five)  “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”  YES, AND THANK YOU!!  Just at the right moment in this passage James gives us the hope we need to wrap our hearts and minds around his exhortation to “consider joy”.  I believe the ALL is in reference to the kinds of trials. Both big and small. Don’t be confused to think that ALL means that you should only feel joy when various trials come.  Sadness, sorrow, doubt, discouragement all come our way. So what I need most, is the wisdom to process the pain, suffering, and heartbreak in a manner that will let me look through the lens of potential joy found in the promised presence of God in the midst of trials (Psalm 46) AND the promised strengthening of my faith (James 1:3-4) which helps grow endurance to take each step of faith in my race and journey with Christ. How do you “consider”? You need need wisdom. Godly wisdom. And that is what God is willing to give. Just ask.  ISN’T THAT GREAT NEWS!!

Times and Places

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

“Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord before Eli. Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor had the word of the Lord yet been revealed to him.”

God is about to reveal Himself to the next generation. Whether Samuel is a child or teen, we don’t really know.  What we do know is that Samuel was in the right place at the right time.

Parents, it is worth the effort to have your children in places where they are near the Lord’s presence. At home- prayer times, family devotionals, modeled service and ministry to others. At church- worship, Bible Study, VBS, Camp.

Grandparents/seniors, it’s no small task to champion and encourage kids, teens, and their parents in the same kinds of ways.  Take time to pray daily and be intentional to have spiritual conversations.

The Kingdom potential and possibilities in these young hearts and lives is as limitless as the Lord Himself.

Will you pray, will you encourage, will you speak truth into their hearts? Will you create opportunities (times and places) for the next generation to “know the Lord”?

Remember

Re:Verse passage – Judges 8:18-34 (day five) “Thus the sons of Israel did not remember the Lord their God, who had delivered them from the hands of all their enemies on every side;”  One of the issues I encountered most from as a Youth Minister was teenagers saying, “I am doubting my salvation and if God is even real, Can you help?”

My first question to them was always, “When was the last time you were reading God’s Word and praying daily?”  The answer almost always was something like “Well, it’s been a while”.

A daily time with God in His Word and in prayer, helps us remember (in moments of thanksgiving, praise, and petition) God’s strength, love, and faithfulness, to name a few. Paul says to pay close attention and  constantly listen to the Lord. Here’s how he illustrates it.  “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

‭‭Galatians 5.  Moment by moment. The Holy Spirit will call out the cadence, set the gate of each step.  He has the path and pace chosen, will we walk with Him?  Daily in His Word, Weekly with His body, moment by moment in prayer.  When we do, we remember, we stay in step, our doubts or struggles find peace and power.

How’s your daily time with God in His Word  and in prayer?

Here’s extra reading/worship (if you have time). A prayer of confession and dedication. A reminder of how easy it is to “forget” and a reminder of who God is.

Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace; Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise 

Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it, Mount of God’s unchanging love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I’m come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger, Interposed His precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Honest Scripture

Re:Verse passage – Judges 7:23-24, 8:1-9 (day five)

“He went up from there to Penuel and spoke similarly to them; and the men of Penuel answered him just as the men of Succoth had answered. So he spoke also to the men of Penuel”.

“There, but by the grace of God, go I”. One of the things I love about scripture is the honest depiction of people. We see the good and bad, strengths and weaknesses, victories and failures.

Some people take longer to trust and follow the Lord. The people of Succoth and Peniel are not willing to help Gideon. Having been persecuted for seven years by the Midianites was a very real and overwhelming experience. These groups of people were not ready to trust Gideon and his (only) 300 men to wipe out that massive army. I believe that often times, delayed obedience is disobedience. I/we ought to pray consistently for the Lord’s grace to help us obey according to His timing.  Wait when it’s time to wait. Move forward in obedience when it’s time to act.

Gideon seems to have forgotten a lesson previously learned. The victory is God’s and it’s for His Glory .  Perhaps his own ego led to his angered “reaction”. I/we ought to pray the the Lord by His grace would continually remind us of the spiritual truths and insights we’ve learned from Him through His Word and through our previous experiences.

Oh how we need His Grace, His Help, His Guidance… day by day… moment by moment!!  There, but by the grace of God…

Gift

Re:Verse passage – Judges 7:12-22 (day five)  His friend replied, “This is nothing less than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given Midian and all the camp into his hand.”

It was an “aha moment”. All the pieces had been put in place. Gideon had just heard a Midianite solder say the same thing God had told him way back in chapter 6.  But the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.”  God had kept His promise.
Then comes a flood of emotions- amazement, joy, hope, certainty, courage.  Yet, in the middle of receiving divine assurance and now beginning the task of formulating a strategy for battle, Gideon worships. Maybe that was the best gift God have him that night. A time of worship. An honest response, thanking God for who He is and what He’s done (kept His promise to Gideon).

Are there promises from God (that you are grateful for) He has kept?  As the Lord brings them to mind this morning, will you pause and praise Him, thank Him, and worship Him?  Might be the best gift He gives you today.