Tag Archives: Meditation

What About Tomorrow?

James 4:13-15 KJV

13 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:

14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

Planning for the future is something many of us spend a lot of time on. And it is good that we do. The Bible is very specific about planning my financial situation for the future.  You can read Proverbs 6:6-8 or Proverbs 27:23 to see this. We also need to plan our spiritual future. Have I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and made heaven my home?. That is a plan that we should never neglect. James is not talking about those two areas of the future. I believe what he’s addressing here are the day to day things that we do.

In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus talks about day-to-day circumstances and I think James is trying to help people remember what the Lord said at that time. He wants people to remember that God has the ultimate say on what their plans will be. We do not know if we even have tomorrow! How often do we consult God and ask him what we should do tomorrow? How often do we sit and pray and seek guidance for tomorrow or even for the rest of today?

I probably mentioned it before but I sell Aflac insurance. Right now I am not working because of my cancer treatments and because of the frigid cold in the Midwest. But when I get back to work, I will always leave room for God to direct me during my day. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have felt the nudging of the Holy Spirit to go into this business or that business when I hadn’t planned on doing that. And most of the time I follow that leading I am rewarded with a nice welcome and possibly a new customer. It’s essential that I try to listen for this prompting of the Holy Spirit as I make my way from business to business and town to town.

When I plan my tomorrows I need to leave room for God to move there. If I schedule so tightly that God does not have a place to move me then when the prompting of the Holy Spirit comes I will say “God, I don’t have the time!  My schedule is too full.” Remember James says that our time is like a vapor.  My life is gone in an instant and we hardly know that the day is past before it’s over. I need to make sure I am giving God every opportunity to bless me in the middle of that day by listening very closely and by following the prompt when I get it.

This does not only go for business. It also goes for my prayer life and my personal life. I need to stay open to hear what God has to say on these things too.  When a person comes into my mind during the day, I always start to pray, or I go visit them if I am able.  I may text them or call them to see ow their day is going.  God brings people to our minds on  constant basis because they need our prayers or an encouraging word.  Do I take the time to do those things?

If there’s one hing I need to make sure that I plan every day it’s to spend time in his word. If you do not spend this time when you first get up, then most likely the rest of the day will eat up any time you have planned for God. I strongly urge you to put God first thing in the day and spend 10 minutes to 2 hours, whatever you can, in his word and in devotion to Him in prayer and praise. These plans are always pleasing to God.

The second thing that Jesus addressed was worrying about tomorrow. There is absolutely no sense in doing that. God holds our tomorrow in his hands.  When we are fully devoted to him, nothing will come into our lives that will be harmful in the long run. Things may look harmful to us, and they may seem harmful – they may even seem like the end of the world to us. But if we are in God’s hands, and we know we are, then we have nothing to fear because He is always in control and He will bring us through just fine.

If you make it a habit to worry about tomorrow then I might suggest you need to draw closer to God. You need to allow Him to give you the assurance that He has you in the palm of His hands and He always will. He is intricately involved in your life and in every phase of your life. He knows you better than you know yourself. And He will watch over you and protect you no matter what circumstance comes your way. If you don’t know these things then get into the word more. Here are some scriptures that might help you realize how much God is involved in your life. Meditate on these and make them part of your belief system:

Psalm 33:18-19  But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
    on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.

Psalm 139:1-14  You have searched me, Lordand you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;  you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;  you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast,
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place,when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,  they would outnumber the grains of sand, 
when I awake, I am still with you.

Jer 29:11-13  11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Joshua 1:8  Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Isaiah 40:31 31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Isa 41:10  10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

I could fill 100 pages with scriptures showing you ow much He loves you and will take care of you.  This is a start.  I urge you to find more on your own.  Allow the Holy Spirit to guide and direct you very day into is promises.  He has more for you than you can possibly imagine!

Speak No Evil

James 4:11-12 KJV

11 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.

12 There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?

Now James turns back to the tongue that we talked about so extensively in chapter 3. He admonishes us here to not speak evil of one another. As we take a look into the Greek about what this means it is actually talking about slandering someone else or doing something to harm their reputation. It is obvious that God frowns on this and yet it is so prevalent in our society that we almost don’t give it a second thought anymore.

You can look at the political atmosphere and see how often people slander one another. It is an ongoing thing and when we see those in power doing it it seems to give us license to be able to say what we want to about other people as well. To me slander takes in gossip and backbiting and complaining about somebody else’s behavior to someone other than them. All of these things ruin someone’s reputation.
How often have you known someone who will give you their negative opinion about a person before you haven’t even been able to form your own opinion. I hear it happening all the time around me and I do my best to stay above the fray, but quite often I fall into it as well. Sometimes it’s because we say we want to protect another person from getting too close to someone, or it could be because we have had a very negative experience with someone and don’t want somebody else to go through the same thing. We consider it a warning to help somebody else, but are we not saying things that will ruin someone’s reputation when we do this?
James has it right. When we bring negative thoughts to somebody else about a person it is the same as judging that person. We have made an opinion and we are sharing it with somebody else – it is our judgment abut that person. James says we should not be in that position as God is the only judge that matters. We have a tendency to judge people on what we see and what we hear and then we share that, whether we have seen the whole story or heard the whole story. We do not take time to look into the truth behind the actions.
God judges by the heart. Unless we can truly know somebody else is hard we have no right to make any kind of judgment about them to someone else. We have no right to tell somebody else about a problem we’ve had with one person or another. We have no right to slander the reputation or put down another person in front of somebody other than the person we have the problem with.
The Bible is very explicit – if we have a problem with our brother we should go to them first. I’ve always heard that if I have a problem with someone I should only share it with somebody who can do something about it. That would be that person themselves. If I share that problem with my wife or somebody else in the congregation most likely they can’t do anything about it, and then others are aware of the problem that don’t need to be aware.  Only the person that I have the problem with can fix the situation so that’s the only person that I should be talking to.
I’ll take you back to a verse that we have used before. Ephesians 4:29 says that no corrupt communication should proceed out of our mouth but only that which will edify the other person. Why is it that it is so hard for us to live buy this simple verse? Why is it that we can use this scripture and that scripture against a brother or sister when they are doing things that are unscriptural, but we can’t take this scripture and apply it to our own lives? Why can’t we make sure that we’re not saying anything harmful but only those things which are edifying? Why can’t we be more kind and gentle in our speech about other people?
I had a problem with a good friend recently. His language has been continually deteriorating and I just couldn’t bear to hear some of the words that he was saying over and over again. But I did not say anything to my wife or to other friends.  I went directly to him and told him unless he could clean it up, I just could not talk to him for a while.  We talk almost daily so this was a tough thing to say.  The easier road would be for me to put up with it and just complain to my wife or others that this was happening.  But that would have no affect on the situation.  He was somewhat receptive, but said we would not talk for a while.  I miss him, but hope that it will do some good in the end.
How much better this world would be if we would follow this simple biblical advice in James 4:11-12?  One person at a time, we can make a difference.  Let us strive to be the uplifting voice in the crowd.

Stay On The Path

James 4:8-10 KJV

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.

10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

This is a simple statement at the beginning of verse 8.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you!  Easy, right?   Sure it is, if you have followed instructions to this pint, and if you do what James says in the rest of our scripture selection today.  We have become a church that just thinks e can take  scripture and make it ours without really doing what the word says.  In this case, many people probably do draw nearer to God and sense His presence closer to them without a lot of devotion, but the joy and peace found in drawing near to Him when we have done what He asks of us is unfathomable.  I know the difference because I have been on both ends of the spectrum.

Having God draw close to us, real close, is a result of the previous verses, not something we can just conjure up and think it will work. I can try drawing close to God when I’m full of pride and unsubmissive and still walking in the devil’s ways and it will be unlikely that he will draw very close to me with all of that going on in my life. I will sense ore of His presence because of His mercy, but He has so much more for us.  It’s not that God doesn’t want to be close to us.  It’s just that He can’t be in the presence of sin. So if I want God to be close to me I need to rid myself of those things that are repulsive to him.  Remember when He was looking for Adam in the garden (Gen 3)?  He comes looking for us as well!

We have spent time on the previous verses, so now let’s look at what follows in the rest of verses 8-10.  They really give us a picture of what God desires before we should expect Him to draw near to us.

First we need to cleanse our hands. What this means to me is that we need to put away deeds and acts that are contrary to God’s word. There was a certain ceremonial cleansing that the priest had to go through in order to offer the sacrifices upon the altar (Lev 21). There was also a bronze laver of water near the altar that they had to use in between each sacrifice. It was a constant cleansing of the hands to make sure their hands were pure when offering the sacrifices.  God still wants us to have clean hands just as He wanted the priest to have clean hands in the Old Testament.  This was not a one time thing – it went on continually.

Next we need to purify our hearts. We have talked about the double-minded man before. This is one that goes in between purity and sin on a regular basis. When we talked about the double-minded man before it was one that wavered in his faith – one minute he believed and the next minute didn’t. God desires that our hearts are pure meaning they are free from the defilements of world and the desire of the world.  He does not need lukewarm Christians – in fact He will spew them out of His mouth (Rev 3:16).

Then James says we need to be afflicted, mourning and weeping. He is talking about being broken over our sin. How often do I come to the point that I am really broken before Him and truly repent. I have been through that process only a few times in my life. There are countless times that I have prayed God will forgive my sins and there are many times that I have repented, or at least I thought I repented.  Then I find myself dong the same things again, and realize I have not turned my back on that sin.  But they’re only a few times that I was broken before God and laid myself on the altar as a sacrifice for Him to do anything He pleased. When I come to that point I will know it. It’s a much deeper sense of remorse then I really want to feel. At that time it seems Joy is gone and is replaced with a heaviness and I question whether God can love me at all. We see this brokenness often in the Psalms. And when we sin this should be our state.

And then James brings up once more something we have brought up over and over again.  We must humble ourselves in God’s sight. That means to me that He can see an outpouring of humility on our part. Pride has gone away and we are now submissive to whatever He asks and will not try to follow our own will into sin again. This is when God will lift us up. This is when God will remove the heaviness and bring the joy back in. This is when God will remove the mourning and bring our laughter back.

Let’s go back to verse 8 – Draw near to God and He will draw near to us. I know that I want to be closer to God all the time. There’s an old saying that says if I don’t feel close to God I need to look at myself because He didn’t move. He is always been right there waiting to hold me and lift me up. But perhaps I have wondered.  In the Old Testament the Israelites are told not to turn to the left hand or to the right (Joshua 1:, 23:6).  I always picture a ridge that I once climbed years ago. It’s in Franconia Notch, New Hampshire between Mount Lafayette and Mount Lincoln. I remember it as being about 20 feet wide and then a steep incline going down on both sides. I think of that place when I think of turning to the left of the right. It is a dangerous place to get off the path towards God. But if we go straight ahead we can reach the peak and draw near to him.  When we wander off it can be a tough climb to get back on the path.

Are you on the path this morning?  Are you drawing  closer to God, or have you stepped off to the left or right?  My prayer for you is that you find your way back onto the path and are drawing closer each day.  The blessing that comes from God truly drawing near to you is incredible.  Don’t miss out by being satisfied with just a sense of His presence.  Keep drawing closer!

Resist Your Pride

James 4:6 KJV

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

After telling us to have joy in temptation,  to let patience work in us  to perfect us  to show our works so people will see our faith, to control our tongues and to use Godly wisdom, James tells us He gives more grace.

Grace to cover all our mistakes.

Grace to pardon all our sins

Grace to forgive every unprofitable word  spoken.

Grace to make us right in Gods eyes.

This grace is extended to us when we humble ourselves before Him.  This humility comes from a heart that is broken over our sin.  A heart that weeps with every misspoken word.  A heart that hurts deeply with every complaint we utter,  every hurtful thing we do, every regret.  Humility comes through repentance.  Humility is so necessary.

Most of us try to avoid humility.  We prefer to say “I’m sorry” rather than “Will you please forgive me?” We prefer to text someone rather than make things right face to face. We prefer the easy way out. The way that will not damage our ego.  The way that won’t humiliate us.  The way of pride.  We will do almost anything to escape having our pride hurt, but that is exactly what we need the most.

God’s desire  is to rid us of our pride.  He hates pride (Prov 6:16-19).  So He uses all the means He can to put us into situations where our pride must be put down.  That is a lot of what thefursf 3 chapters are all about. Joy in temptation because in temptation we have to turn to Him for strength, this putting down our pride in our own strength.  Learning patience because pride wants to be in control.  Being a doer of the word and not just a hearer because pride wants to speak and do it’s own thing. Treating all as equals because pride wants to judge. Showing our faith by silent works because pride wants to boast. Speaking only Godly wisdom because pride wants to know it all.  Controlling our lusts because pride can do what it wants. Do you see how beautifully James has crafted this letter to reach this verse?

God resists the proud. There is nothing said in scripture that God wil not hear the prayer of the prideful or that He will not show mercy on the prideful.  It simply says He hates pride and that He resists the prideful. That word resists is very interesting.  It means to set oneself against in battle in a specific way in order to gain victory.  It means God decides on a specific strategy to battle your pride in whatever way He deems necessary at any given moment.  He uses the circumstances flute to mood and shape you day by day.  That usually means extending mercy and answering prayer in one area while He works on another area!  Can you see how much He loves you

Allow yourself to be humbled.  That is most pleasing to God.  Ask Him to reveal any pride to you so that you will better understand where He has to work, and then let Him do wha has to He done.  Remember that He allows everything for your good because He knows the plans He has for you  and He will hear you when you call (Jer 29:11-13).

Be blessed!

Quit Fighting!

James 4:1-5 KJV

From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?

Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?

James turns the discussion now to disputes between believers. I find it interesting that he uses the words wars and fighting. I believe he’s talking about wars between countries and fighting within the church. Both of these fall under the same category. They are disputes that cause us to be more detached from our brothers and sisters. And James says that these come because of lust.

What are some of the things we lost after? Well there’s power, wealth, fame, possessions, superiority, and many other things. If you look at the recent skirmishes that we’ve had around the world as a country we can see that most of these skirmishes come because we have an enemy out there who wants to destroy us. They are seeking the power and so we must defend ourselves. It isn’t always us that have lusts. There’s not a lot we can do except keeping an enemy at bay when they are trying to defeat us.

What about within the church? James says we lust and we kill and we desire to have but we can’t obtain. That’s because fighting never solved anything. Typically it just makes two people a little bit more upset with each other. The end result is that bitterness comes in and then we’re both worse off than we were before. Typically  fighting comes because I want my way in one thing or another and I’m not willing to concede that I might be wrong. This is pride through and through.

James goes on to say that when we fight and war over these things we don’t receive anything because we don’t ask. How often do we ask God to intercede in a situation before we fly off the handle? It’s a shame that we in the church can’t get along better. If we would simply go to the Lord with our difficulties, and bring those who we are fighting with along with us, this fighting could be stopped at the beginning.

The truth is that often we ask for the victory instead of asking for a compromise or instead of asking that God’s will would be done in the situation. We want our way. We want to be able to consume it on our own ambitions our own lust. We want bragging rights – to be able to say we were right.  Therefore we don’t receive. If we would ask God to do what He would like to do. we will always receive. It may not be the answer that we want but what’s more important – the answer that we want or the answer that God wants?

Interesting that James uses the terms adulterer when talking about those who have friendship with this world. You have to remember the analogy that those of us who are born again in Christ Jesus will be His bride in the days to come. So it is seen as a break of vows when we have friendship with the world. The lust and desires of our heart are for worldly things and therefore we can become enemies of God instead of friends of God.  Remember the first commandment – ye shall have no other gods before Him?  What do you think it is when we place our desires before His?  What is it when our lust is more important than His will.  James calls it adultery

A case in point is the prayer for the sick.  I know as well as you do we have been healed by the stripes of Jesus. I totally believe that. The question is always WHEN God wants to heal us. Now in my own desires I want to be healed now. I want my friends to be healed now. However perhaps God is using a sickness to draw someone closer to Him. If we then pray that God would heal us, or them, now are we not praying against the will of God? That’s why it’s so important that we pray that God will give them strength to endure until the trial is over. This is praying in the will of God.

Let us be sure that we are not after our own gain or our own desires when we are talking about our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us do all we can to follow after God with all of our might and not have our own agenda in mind when we come to Him. And when we have a dispute with our brother let’s look for a way to end that dispute as quick as possible before it turns into a fight. This is well pleasing to God.