Wednesday, December 19, 2007

James 1:25

But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
(NIV)

The opposite to the man who lives in self-deception is the man who looks into the word, and does what it says.

Notice that it says that this man is looking intently. That word intently means to stoop down in order to clearly see. This man is studying the word. He is desiring to have his heart revealed.

Notice also that he is not forgetting the word. He walks away and immediately puts it into action. His heart has been revealed and he knows that something needs to be done. He doesn't forget the word, it is in his heart.

Be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

James 1:24

and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
(NIV)

This is the path to self deception. Look into God's Word. It reveals who you are. You have the opportunity to change, but you don't. You will (rest assured) deceive yourself.

This is a warning. It is a promise. If you do not change, as a result of looking into the Word, you will deceive yourself.

What is that deception?

You think that your stance with God is acceptable. You are OK. You walk away thinking that you are pretty good.

If a young teenage boy goes to the mirror in the morning, realizes that he has bed-head or maybe he sees a huge blemish on the end of his nose, but walks away without doing anything about his hair or popping the zit... He may go through the day, thinking he is OK, but everyone around him can see the problems.

Something needs to be done about the problems.

Don't go to God's word without changing as a result. Maybe even when you are reading this post (not because of my words, but because of the quote from the Bible at the top) you might realize some blemishes in your own life. Be a doer and a hearer. Don't deceive yourself. If you walk away unchanged then you are self-deceived.

In Matthew 7 Jesus tells us of a large number of people who will stand before God, ready to enter in, but Christ tells them "...depart from me, I never knew you." These people respond in a state of alarm. They are surprised by this. How did they enter into this state of self-deception? Maybe it was by hearing the Word, but not being a doer.

Monday, December 17, 2007

James 1:23

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror
(NIV)

The rest of this thought is in verse 24, so we can only look at the beginning of the thought today.

The listening is equated to the looking in the mirror. God's word reveals who you are. It is a wonderful characteristic of God's Word. Hebrews 4:12 puts it this way:
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
(NIV)

It discerns (or judges) the thoughts and intents of the heart. It is living and active. It gets down to the soul and the spirit. What an amazing book. If you look intently into it, it will tell you who you are.

Are you reading His Word? I mean really! It is THE Word of God, are you reading it?

Lord, Help me to look intently into your Word.
Help me to look there daily.
Help me to dwell on it moment by moment.
Help to bury it deep into my heart,
so deep that it becomes a permanent resident.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

James 1:22

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
(NIV)
In the original, this verse starts with one word, a command. It says become. We are to become or make ourselves to be doers of the word. James is telling us that we are to do what the word says in such a way that that is what we are. We are doers.

There is a warning here as well. If you are not a doer of the word, you will deceive (or delude) yourself. I don't know about you, but one of my fears is that I will be self-deceived. We see people like this on American Idol all of the time. They think that they are good singers, but they are absolutely horrible. We do not want to be like this in the spiritual sense. We do not want to think that we are doing a great job, just to find out that God is absolutely displeased with our lives.

If you hear the Word of God, but do not do what it says, then you will deceive yourself. It isn't optional, it is a true warning from God.

Become today. Become a doer. As you hear the word of God, start putting plans into action. Don't wait. If you have waited, then you are already in that state of self deception. Pray that God opens your eyes and allows you to see who you are. Read His word. It is quick and powerful. It is sharper than any two-edged sword. It will pierce you down to your soul, your spirit. It will allow you to see the thoughts and intents of your own heart, which Jesus has told us is deceitful and desperately wicked. Pray for His help today.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

James 1:21

Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
(NIV)
Once you are saved, and truly a child of God, the guilt of sin is washed away, but the lifestyle of sin remains. There are things that remain, that linger. James is telling us to get rid of it. He tells us to cast it off, as if by the hand. Throw it away! The word prevalent is a word that the Greeks used to refer to excessive ear wax. I am sure to a Greek this would have been picturesque speech.

At the same time as we throw off the remains of sin, we are to humbly accept the word. Accept literally means to grab hold of. So we are to throw off the old and grab hold of the new. It is important to note that what we grab hold of is the very Word of God. It is the Word that has been implanted. It is the word that can save you.

Do you believe that? Do you believe that the Word of God can save you? If you did, how would you treat those words? Wouldn't you pour over them daily... Then try them out! All of the time?!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

James 1:20

for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
(NIV)
God desires a righteous life for you. A life that is modeled by Christ Himself. God desires this, and according to Romans 8:28-29, God is working toward that end, in all things.

The phrase "bring about" has to do with working toward, or achieving. Your anger is not working toward that same end that God is working toward. Your anger is self-centered and self-motivated. Your anger is because of the failures of life to give you what you want. Whether it be a nice job or obedient kids or a spouse that respects you, if you don't get what you want, and it makes you angry... you are dealing with a heart idol, and that anger is working in the wrong direction. The anger is an energy boost, but if it is to still get what you want, it is not working about that righteous life that God wants for you.

Turn your hearts towards God's Kingdom. When you are angry, ask yourself why you are angry. Ask God to show you what His anger is all about.

Monday, December 10, 2007

James 1:19

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
(NIV)
Here is some good practical advice from James. It is a three step process...
  • Quick to listen
  • Slow to speak
  • Slow to become angry
There are many men in the American church that need this advice. They might have the slow to speak part down, but the quick to listen is rare, and the slow to become angry is non-existent.

The phrase that is translated as "take note of this:" is in the original just one word. It is a root word that means, to see or to know. In this case, it is in the present perfect tense. It means that you are presently in the act of seeing this and knowing this. It doesn't mean that you already know it completely or that you need to know it in the future. You are knowing it right now.

Take the time to listen to everyone today. Don't wait. If something seems offensive to you, don't jump to the weapons of mouth destruction. Your words should be used to build people up, not tear them down, so think twice before you speak. Retrain your mind for the big picture. Don't get angry so quickly. Wait patiently.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Jonah 2:10

And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
(NIV)

Don't you just love fresh starts. They're not always fresh, but they are a start.

The God that we serve is a God of fresh starts. My mind goes to the many times that Christ reached out his hand, pulling a lame man to his feet, and saying, "...now go and sin no more." Or the woman caught in adultery, "...neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more."

Only a God of grace will allow a swallowed man to repent. Praise Him.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Jonah 2:9

But I, with a song of thanksgiving,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
Salvation comes from the LORD."
(NIV)
Jonah started by fleeing from God's command and God's purposes. He rejected the idea that the people of Nineveh should hear about God and have the opportunity to repent. They were enemies and deserved death and destruction.

He runs and ends up swallowed up in God's overwhelming grace... "Grace?!? Don't you mean a whale?"

No. Grace. Jonah recognized this grace. He speaks of it in the previous verse and is now stating that he is not like those who would forfeit their grace. In fact, he turns to thanksgiving because of this. His in the belly experience is a source of praise. He turns to God in sacrifice and obedience. He will keep his promises to God.

This change of mind comes because of that last phrase, "... Salvation comes from the Lord." There is no other place to turn, but to Him. Jonah is in need of salvation, and recognizes that the only one who can hear him is the one who can save.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Jonah 2:8

"Those who cling to worthless idols
forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
(NIV)
This verse is the reason why I picked this passage.

Grace is freely given to us. It is abundant, amazing grace. It abounds all sin, no matter how great the sin. But according to this, when you cling to the idol, you forfeit your grace.

I have heard grace defined as the energy that God gives to do right. I would agree with this definition. It is grace that enables us to choose the right things to do, but if we cling to the idols, we forfeit this energizing grace.

As you go through your day, if you find yourself lacking in the grace department, the grace to be patient with a co-worker, the grace to be loving (all of the time) to your 3rd grader, the grace to choose right when you are struggling with lustful thoughts, the grace to be obedient to your parents, no matter what they ask ... It doesn't matter what it is, if you are lacking in the grace, it may be because you are still wanting something more than God himself. You may have an idol in your heart that needs to be cast out and destroyed.