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Showing posts from 2010

James 4:13

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." (NIV) I kept this verse separate from verse 14 because it is important to understand who James is talking to. Who are these people who would say this thing? And more importantly, what is so wrong with the statement?!? I am looking at this statement, and I can tell that James is leading into some sort of rebuke, but the statement that he is about to rebuke really doesn't seem that bad! Is business bad? Is it bad to make money? These aren't the issues though. As we will see as we look at the next few verses, the problem is the simple lack of God in the day to day processes of life.

James 4:11-12

Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor? (NIV) This passage is really about authority. We are not to slander our brother or sit in condemnation about our brother, making decisions about his motives and reasonings... Why? Because we are not the judge! There is only one judge. There is only one lawgiver! There is only one because THERE IS ONLY ONE! He is the only one with the power to save and the power to destroy. When we sit in condemnation, making decisions about people, we are attempting to take His authority when we don't have the authority, or for that matter, the ability. You see, not only, should we not be judges, because there is already a judge, but also, could we not be judges b

James 4:10

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (NIV) There is hope for the sinner and the double minded man. There is hope yet, even if they have not come to that place of repentance yet. The hope is not to be found in putting on a happy face, laughing and showing joy. The hope is to be found in humbling yourself before the Lord. Then and only then, He will lift you up.

James 4:9

Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. (NIV) Remember, this is directed at the sinner (the one who continues to live a habitual life of sin) and the double-minded (the one of two minds, two psyches, two souls).  James' advice to these people is to grieve, to mourn, to wail.  The laughing that has been going on, needs to cease and be turned to crying and gloom.  Why?  Without repentance, there is no salvation.  Without a change of mind, and a change of action, there is no hope.  All of the good times that these people are having and all of the waffling and floundering that is going on will only lead to imminent doom.

James 4:8 b

Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (NIV) There are two statements here.  The first has three key words: wash, hands, and sinners. The second has similar key words: purify, hearts, and double-minded. If we look at the first three key words we see that the sinner, one who is practicing sin or given over to the occupation of sin, should wash or cleanse, that is remove the stains or make clean, the hands, that which the person is doing. If we look at the second three key words we see that the double-minded, one who is wavering, uncertain, or divided in interest, should purify, that is set apart or clean, the heart, that is, the inner man. So, outside and inside there is a call to be clean.  Don't forget though that this directive comes immediately after the empowering words of the true powerlessness of Satan and the great desire of God to draw near to you.

James 4:8 a

Come near to God and he will come near to you. (NIV) Here we see a furtherance of the equation from the previous verse. Do you want the closeness of God? Do you desire His imminent, immediate presence in your life? Do you want God to be near? Then draw near to Him! It is truly amazing how many people would voice their desire to have God's presence in their life, yet they spend most of their time fleeing from everything to do with God! Read His word. Pray to Him today. Spend time with Him in the morning, on your way to work, during those spare moments of the day. On your way home. In your joys. In your trials. At all times and in all ways, draw close to Him and you will find that He is very near.

James 4:7

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (NIV) What a wonderful formula this is! It is as simple as 1+1=2. "Submit yourselves to God..." + "Resist the devil..." = The devil runs away! I love that! One way that this particular verse has become an integral part of my life is in those times that I am hounded by temptation. In the midst of those times I begin to feel like I cannot say no. That I must give into the temptation. I am fighting it, I am feeling frustrated, sometimes I almost feel as if I have stepped out of my body and I am yelling at myself to stop, but I am not. Then this verse invades my mind. Suddenly, the power of the Spirit steps in and I ... stop. I submit to God. I resist the devil and the devil scatters! This verse empowers me with the knowledge that satan doesn't actually have any power over me. How about you? How has this verse helped you?

James 4:6

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:     "God opposes the proud       but gives grace to the humble." (NIV) In our world, many times it seems as if it is the proud, the ones who are out for themselves, that are forceful, that believe in themselves above all things, that these are the people that get their way.  Not so in God's kingdom.  The Spirit yearns intensely for our spirits to commune with God, and it is the humble who are recipients of that unmerited favor. The proud... Well, God opposes them. This is why it is (ultimately) the meek will inherit the earth.

James 4:5

Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? (NIV) Unlike chapter 3 of James, which talks about human jealousy, this is divine jealousy. The Spirit, rightly so, and rightly for our own good, is jealous over us. To be a person of one heart and one mind with the Spirit is what the Spirit desires. The best thing for us would be that sort of devotion. I long for that with my own wife, not simply because I don't want to share her, but also because I truly believe in marriage! A devoted marriage is better and more fulfilling than any extramarital affair could ever be. So I envy intensely for my wife for both of our goods. The same is true of the Spirit.

James 4:4

You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (NIV) James always uses clear, distinct speech. The adultery theme is used throughout the Old Testament, when referring to the wandering nation of Israel.  The reason for this is that the relationship between God and His people is pictured in the marriage relationship.  Just as a wife is unfaithful to her husband, so God's people are many times unfaithful to God, therefore the adultery is committed. James calls us adulterous when we are friends with the world.  This word for friend comes from the greek word for "brotherly love".  There is a companionship there, a closeness.  Notice that James lays it out clearly: friendship with the world will make you God's enemy.  There are only two choices: friend of God or friend of the world.  And like James says, it is a choice.

James 4:3

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (NIV) Many times we focus on the "...ask, and you will receive..." from the Sermon on the Mount, but here we find an "...ask, [and] you do not receive..." Many people treat God as this big cosmic genie that is sitting around waiting to grant us wishes. Of course, we would never describe Him in that way, but this attitude is prevalent none-the-less. Many reveal this mindset by their response when they do not receive. There is frustration, annoyance, anger... directed, not only at God, but toward others around them. When you ask God for things, is it for your own pleasures that you seek to spend what you receive?  Or do you ask so that you may bring glory to God, which, in reality, is the greatest pleasure that man can achieve?

James 4:2

You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. (NIV) You want... You kill and covet... You quarrel and fight... You do not have... This is not a good situation that you are in.  When you want and don't get, look what happens!  Wanting and not getting shows much of your heart. It reveals things about YOU. How do you respond when you don't get?  You may say, "Well I don't kill!"  Don't you?  Have you ever killed someone off with your words or your thoughts?  Have you tried to eliminate them from your life? You want something?  Ask God.  It is just that simple.  Leave it to Him.  Let Him decide if it is something that you need.  Do your work, be responsible, but in the end, leave it to Him to provide.

James 4:1

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? (NIV) This is truly an amazing verse, applicable in so many ways. What is the underlying cause of fights and quarrels?  It is your desires that are battling within you.  The outer war that is going on with others in your life is a result of the inner skirmish.  The reason why I love this verse is because when I stop and consider, when I am truly honest with myself, at the heart of every argument has been a wrong desire. I am not necessarily talking about every time I have been argued with or every time someone has disagreed with me, I am referring to the times when things have crumbled into a dispute...  Those times when peace wasn't being made. (Consider James 3:18 ) Next time there is an erosion into a dispute in your life, stop for that moment and consider what the desire is that is at the root of the fight.  Then eliminate it and become a peacemaker.