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Showing posts from August, 2007

James 1:13

When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; (NIV) There are some important theological issues being covered in this verse. I am going to hit on them, but I am not going to go into detail... This is only a blog... right? :) God does not tempt anyone to do something evil. This is the first theological point. James' understanding of this comes from the second theological point in this verse, which is that God cannot be tempted by evil. If you understand what evil is, then this is an obvious conclusion. Like I said, I am not going to go into detail, but allow me to take a slight excursion here: Evil is anything that is not God. God must be God, therefore God cannot be tempted by evil. If God cannot be tempted by evil, then it would follow that He also would not be tempted to draw anyone else to evil. The important thing is to try to understand why James is bringing this up. A deep theologic

James 1:12

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (NIV) Have you ever heard the phrase, "...don't get the cart before the horse..."? It is used when people have the tendency to get things backwards, also because a horse pulled cart works great as opposed to a cart pulled horse. Well, some people have a tendency to do something similar with at verse like this. We must be careful to understand that Christ first loved us. If we love Him, it is because He first loved us, and we cannot get these backwards. So, in one sense, Salvation comes first. Before perseverance, there is salvation. Some read this verse and think that the crown of life is salvation. Like somehow, if we can persevere then we will receive salvation. But the crown of life is a result of salvation just as perseverance is a result of salvation. In this passage, James is writing as it happe

James 1:11

For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business. (NIV) The reality that is being taught here is not just directed at the rich. As the Psalmist says, You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath. Psalm 39:5 (NIV) This applies to us all. Our lives are passing so quickly, and our glory should not be in what we accomplish here. A big house, an established retirement account, a new car, even our kid's educations paid for! All of these things are temporary. One day you will breathe your last and these things will all be gone. Let your glory be in Christ. Let your glory be in what He has done in you. Don't glory in what you can make with your own hands. If you do, then you are no different than an idol maker who sits and carves out his idol, then turns

James 1:10

But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. (NIV) I had to do a little digging on this one. In verse 9, remember that it was talking about a brother in humble circumstances. The word humble or low is the Greek word tapeinos , which is an adjective. So, the circumstances are low or humble, and the boasting that he does is literally in his height . The rich man is to also boast, but notice that his boasting isn't in his height, it is in his low position . That low position , in the original, is just one word; it is the word, tapeinosis . Look familiar? That is the noun form of the adjective that is describing the other man's circumstances. The rich man's boasting is when he is knows that ultimately he shares the same fate as the man who does not have. If a rich man can come in humility to Christ, there is a glory in that. By the way, I was studying the roots of the word that is translates as glory

James 1:9

The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. (NIV) To properly understand this verse, you need to take a peek at the next verse. Once you do, the meaning of the " humble circumstances " becomes clear. We have shifted slightly in this passage to the topic of money. But it is not a complete shift, because as many of us would attest to, money is a trial in and of itself. This verse reminds me of how God seems to enjoy turning everything upside down... or maybe it is upside up. Maybe we have things so twisted and distorted that it only seems that way to us. Regardless, in this case, the low is really high, and the high is low. This verse is speaking of a Christian brother, who James is telling that he has the ability to boast in something. Even though most would say that this man has nothing to boast about, the "humble circumstances" can be defined as, "barely off the ground". Yet James says that even though he is ba

James 1:8

he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. (NIV) "Double minded" is literally "two souled" . The soul in the Bible is the seat of affections or desires. It is the wellspring of all that you want. The man of two souls is unstable because he is torn on the inside. We all struggle with that inner battle. Paul talks about this in Romans 7:14-25 , but we need to take this verse in context. This is not talking about a Christian man who is battling the inner man, this is talking about a man who is not steadfast in his faith in Christ. He has never taken that stand of faith. He is a doubter, he expects nothing from the Lord, nor should he. These are the kind of people that you need to steer clear of. Their instability that is caused by their lack of faith causes them to seek to control everything themselves. This usually leads to actions that have no care or concern for others, and they usually leave a path of destruction behind them.

James 1:7

That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; (NIV) This is one of the reason's why I love the book of James. He gets right to the point. The person who does not have faith, should not expect to get anything from the Lord. That is very blunt, but it is a reality. The challenge with a verse like this is to apply it to your own life. Because if you do have faith (which you can't be a Christian without it) then you should be expecting things from the Lord. What are you asking for from Him? Where is your heart when you come to Him?

James 1:6

But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. (NIV) From the previous verse we learned that when you are lacking in wisdom, you should ask. God is a generous God who gives to all who ask, and He does not show favoritism. You do not have to meet some quota of goodness or righteousness before you can ask God for wisdom, or anything else for that matter. If there was a quota, you would never meet it anyway. The word believe here is normally translated as faith , and the two words are closely related. When you ask God, you must believe that He can deliver. We see this so many times in the gospels when the people come to Jesus and ask for healing. So often Jesus will say to someone, after they are healed, "...your faith has made you whole." The faith must be centered in Christ himself. It is not to be centered on what you want God to do. Many people make that mistake, they start praying an

James 1:5

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (NIV) Much of the book of James does not require much explanation. He writes in such a straight-forward style. I like to read through a verse, then try to re-word it in a way that it is easier to understand, but with this verse, the meaning is plain. This plain meaning leaves a person facing the real issues, which is what James wants anyway. The real issues have nothing to do with what kind of Biblical scholar you are, or what a wonderful theologian you have become. The real issue has to do with what you are going to do about what you just read. We all lack wisdom, so when you encounter a verse like this, you should be moved to do something. Ask for wisdom today. You need wisdom, and God gives wisdom generously. He also gives this wisdom to whoever asks, there is nothing you have done that will prohibit the asking of wisdom. If you turn away from wh

James 1:4

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (NIV) This goes right along with what I was saying in the commentary on the previous verse. Perseverance is one the most key essentials to true Christianity. In this verse you can see that perseverance leads to Christian Maturity, but it is only a whole or complete perseverance that will do this.

James 1:3

because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (NIV) I have come to believe that perseverance is one of the key components in true Christianity. The one who sticks to their faith in Christ, and does not fall away, is the one who is exhibiting true faith. Faith that falls away isn't real faith. Notice even in this verse that perseverance springs from a tested faith. It reminds me of a chemical reaction. To the eye hydrochloric acid and water look the same, but if you drop a cut penny down in the acid, it will have a reaction with the zinc in the penny. The penny will begin to bubble, producing hydrogen. If you drop a penny in water, nothing noticeable happens. The same is true of faith. The person with faith, when the trial is added to their life, it produces perseverance. This why it is called the "...testing of your faith..." A similar passage to this one is I Peter 1:6-9, In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you

James 1:2

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, (NIV) The word pure could also be translated all or all kinds or every kind . You could say, "Consider it every kind of joy possible when you are facing trials." There are some who believe that a Christian's joy isn't real joy. They believe that real joy and happiness comes from that self-indulgent lifestyle. They believe that the world offers real joy, and what these Christians are experiencing when they have joy is some kind of weak alternative. This is exactly the opposite of the truth. The joy that Christ offers is the real stuff. Notice also two additional things. First, notice that this multi-faceted joy is not dependent on what is happening. This joy takes place in the middle of trials, in fact, in the middle of various kinds of trials. The world can't offer this. Reality shows us over and over that the world falls short in offering any lasting joy or happiness. Things

James 1:1

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. (NIV) James, the earthly brother of Jesus, did not believe in Him (consider John 7:1-5 ). He was a skeptic all the way to the end of Christ's earthly ministry, I am sure, all the way to the cross. Most believe that it was the resurrection that changed his mind, but regardless of what finally brought him to Christ, here he is now, attaching the title of Lord and Christ to his brother. Before I did into this chapter of the Bible, I don't want to skim over the significance of this initial statement. James the skeptic is not a fervent believer, and he writes one of the most practical books in the Bible. Notice also that James only claims servanthood. The fact that he was Christ's earthly brother isn't even mentioned here. As James titles himself, he sees himself only as a servant to this great Lord. How do you see yourself? Do you see yourself as s

Psalm 23:6

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (NIV) What an amazing passage this has been. Verse five ended with King David finally just saying, It's too much! I'm saturated with God's goodness! Now David is summarizing for us, giving us one final thought on the Good Shepherd. His final though begins with " Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life... " He accepts this with faith. He believes that God's goodness and God's lovingkindness will follow him every single day of this life. And it will. It will follow your life as well. God never sets aside His love in the name of judgment. God is a just God, and God is love. These two things do not contradict in Him. He does not have any inner dilemmas like we might have from time to time. I would like you to notice though the final statement is a statement of response, but also responsibilit

Psalm 23:5b

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (NIV) Anointing the head with oil could mean two different things. It could be referring to his kingship, and that his head was anointed as king. But according to the context of the passage, it more likely referring to the favor that is being shown to him. We can see in the New Testament how anointing with oil can be a sign of respect for an honored guest. As you read through this passage, you can get the real sense of the author culminating to this point and almost being at a loss for words. He gets to this point in his writing and just begins to use these short statements. He is amazed at the favor that the Good Shepherd shows him and finally wraps it up by saying, "my cup overflows." The word overflows means literally saturated. It would be as if you were talking about how good something is and then said, "...it's... it's just too much." So many of us miss the saturated lives we live becaus

Psalm 23:5a

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. (NIV) As the king of Israel, the author of this Psalm dealt with the idea of enemies on a daily basis. There were always people trying to kill him or dethrone him. Most of us who read this psalm don't have to deal with those type of issues, even if we have people who we might consider enemies. David dealt with these things in many different ways. Many times he would cry out to God for judgment on these enemies. This verse isn't telling us about his desires though, it is telling us about what the Good Shepherd does. Notice here God's provision once again. A table has been prepared, and it is a king's table intended for private use by the king. Both the word " before " and the word " presence " have to do with being right in front of . I get the picture of David facing off against his enemies, when they find a table between them. See, I used to think this was a in your fac

Psalm 23:4

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (NIV) The Good Shepherd has lead you beside the quiet waters, He has guided you down the paths of righteousness, yet we still end up in the valley of the shadow of death. This is an easily missed point, but being led by the Shepherd doesn't mean you don't go through the valleys. Sometimes the best pastures are on the other side of the valley. Notice in this verse that the psalmist knows this. He knows that the shepherd is still with him, so he does not fear. In these times he isn't comforted by the softness of the shepherd, he is comforted by the fact that the Shepherd carries a big stick. He knows that whatever comes this way will be handled by the Shepherd. What about you? Where are you at today? Are you in a valley or on top of the greenest pasture? Remember the Shepherd today

Psalm 23:3

He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness          for his name's sake. (NIV) He brings your soul back. He restores it. He restores that soul to the place that it should have been before the fall of man. The soul is referring to who that man is, it refers to the seat of appetites and emotions. It is the very base of what drives what you want . If the Good Shepherd will restore your soul, and in essence, change you at your roots, then you will be fulfilled in Him. As He restores your soul, He will also lead you in the well beaten path of righteousness. I am calling it a well-beaten path because the word has to do with an entrenchment or a track. For us the path of righteousness has been walked by Christ. He came to this earth and walked that path. He cleared out the obstacles and has made the way straight. Through the Bible we can see the path of righteousness, but we are serving a Good Shepherd who will continue to lead us down that path. He does t

Psalm 23:2

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, (NIV) We see two things here, lying down and being led, we see food and drink. These things speak of resting, of peace, of nourishment, of guidance. When we are in Christ we have all that we need. I would say though that we need to consider all that we need, for truly all that we need is Christ Himself. (consider John 6:25-59 ) Some people come to Jesus as if he is some genie in a bottle. Just when you need something, you pray a passage like psalm 23 and as long as you have enough faith, He will give you what you want. There are some who continue this way, when all along Christ is attempting to change those wants. HE is attempting to transform you. If you seek Him today, the Good Shepherd will lead you beside the waters and show you where to rest.

Psalm 23:1

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. (NIV) Next to the Lord's Prayer, which can be found in Matthew 6 , this passage is one of the most quoted passages by the world. You can hear it all of the time being quoted in movies and on TV. It is used like it is some sort of magic charm. Usually you will hear it when someone is afraid, they tend to focus on the part that says, ".. though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil ..." But if they knew what this verse was really saying, would they be using it as often as they do? Consider this verse. With the Lord as your shepherd, you will not be in want. Hollywood is all about want . It is about a continual lust for more, yet when someone has the Lord as their shepherd, they won't be in want. That word want means to be lacking or to be diminished . In Christ we do not lack. Psalm 34:10 says, "The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good

Ephesians 4:32

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (NIV) Here is what you are to " put on " in the process of change. You were to " put off " all "bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice" as described in verse 32, and you are to " put on " kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. We also get a " mind-renewing " boost at the end of the verse, "just as in Christ God forgave you." When you consider how much you have been forgiven, how much compassion Christ has shown to you, and how much kindness you are shown every day by an almighty God, it becomes more clear why you should show these things to others. Remember, if you are a child of God, then the process of change is ultimately a work of Christ. Consider Philippians 1:6, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Chris

Ephesians 4:31

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. (NIV) This verse might be best served with some definitions. Bitterness - Just what it says, bitterness. It is a bitter root that produces a bitter fruit. Rage - Usually translated as Wrath. It has to do with a passionate anger. This is the person who is fuming. They are bubbling over with anger. Anger - This word has also been translated as wrath. It is most definitely referring to the actions associated with anger. It doesn't have to mean this, but their can also be the association with violence. This is the person who is acting out on their anger, in a sinful way. Brawling - Ok, I just learned something new, this word has to do with making an outcry, or a crying. After I read the definitions, what immediately jumped into my mind was the person who yells when they are angry. He may not do something violent, but he is letting everyone know exactly how angry he is. He is a

Ephesians 4:30

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (NIV) This verse is a sort of interjection. It is a " Oh, and by the way... " verse, but it is also a " Don't forget, in all of these things... " verse. The Spirit of God was given to us as another Comforter, in place of an actual Christ walking this earth. He dwells within us, and according to this verse, you are sealed with Him, until the day of redemption. I believe that Paul puts this verse in right here in the middle because we are to live by the Spirit. This list of examples is not to be a list of commands. They are examples of someone who is living by the Spirit. The word "grieve" means " to make sorrowful" . As we commune with the Spirit of God, we are seeking to please God through the Spirit. It is important to remember that when we do the wrong things, He is affected. You can bring sadness to the Spirit of God. That is why t