Tag Archives: Reflection

Pray or Praise

James 5:13 KJV

13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.

 

James present two different pictures in one verse, one of affliction and one of being merry.  In both cases, he also tells us how to respond to the condition we are in.  To me, both of the reactions he mentions would be natural reactions.  I am an inquisitive kind of guy after all!  So let’s break it down and try to figure out why James finds it necessary to bring out these two points in the midst of so many seemingly more important subjects.  I know – it look like simple truths, but I think there is more here than meets the eye.

First is any afflicted.  This is an intriguing word that from the Greek means experiencing painful hardship, or a malicious disposition or suffering evil.  This is very different from just being sick, a subject that will be dealt with in the coming verses.  James is talking about someone who is being influenced in a negative way by forces out of his control.  I am not talking about demonic influences necessarily, although this type of affliction would be included in James’ point here.   He is talking about hardships that come on us and seem to contradict our faith and make us doubt God can bring us out.

I believe James is discussing things like depression, severe anxiety, an overwhelming sadness, or even extreme bitterness (which we just discussed).  These are afflictions of the mind and spirit, not sicknesses that affect the body, although letting these things linger will affect our body eventually.  It is imperative as Christians that we learn how to overcome these types of affliction before they get the best of us. James gives us a key to that escape – pray!

I realize that people in these situations typically find it very hard to pray.  They feel like their prayers are ineffective and that God is not listening to them.  They feel distant in their spirit and have lost hope that God want to help them.  Often they give up on God for a while and try to figure things out on their own.  Often, we will pray for them, thinking we can help them with our prayers, and we can.  But the remedy that James gives is that the afflicted person pray. Why?

I believe the afflicted must pray for two reasons.  The first is that they must pray for themselves.  God respects our cry for help when we are in distress.  Just look at the Psalms! They are full of cries for help in the midst of affliction and distress.  The psalmist was continually under siege by their enemy, and this is the same word for affliction that James uses here.  As you read through these episodes in the psalms, you will notice that the writer always reverts back to praise, knowing that God will not only hear but answer his  prayers.  The afflicted can always depend on that truth and as they pray God will make it clear to them that He will answer.

The second reason is to pray for others.  Intercessory prayer is our highest calling as Christians.  Bringing the needs of others before the throne of God lets God know that we have compassion and mercy in our hearts.  This is pleasing to God.  But the real reason is that intercessory prayer takes our focus off from ourselves and put our own troubles at a distance.  It helps us rise above those problems and lifts us to a different level  If we continue in these prayers, our affliction can lift completely.

I am not trying to imply this is easy.  James makes a simple statement that is very difficult to comply with, but it is very possible as well.  When we can learn to turn our hearts to prayer in the midst of any affliction, we will be able to overcome the affliction sooner.  It helps us to understand these things and put them into practice if we ever find ourselves in these circumstances.

Now to the singing!  Are we prone to praise?  Do we lift up our voices and worship when things are going right?  This word merry means to be of good cheer.  It is basically the opposite of being afflicted.  It denotes a time of rejoicing in our spirit.  Something has gone right for us and we are feeling good about life.  We should be singing psalms.

Do you take time to praise the Lord when things go right?  Do you acknowledge that He is behind the good things that take place in your life (James 1:17), no matter how small or trivial they may seem?  Does He receive the praise that is due Him?  I am amazed at the number of Christians who believe in coincidence, or that God did not play a part in some blessing they received.  I am amazed at how many forget to give God thanks when the are spared trouble.

Did that car skid through the intersection just after you got through it?  Did that branch fall from the tree just a couple feet away?  Did you get a check in the mail just in time to make that payment?  Did a bunch of co-workers get sick and you did not?  Have there been some homes broken into and yours was spared?  These are not coincidences, and you were not lucky.  Luck has no place in God’s kingdom.  These are the blessings of God, and we should be merry and sing psalms!

The truth is that God has His hand in everything that happens in our lives.  My favorite author, Fenelon for short, says “See only God”.  What he means by that is that we should see God in everything, involved in everything. wanting our best in everything.  The biblical basis for this is Proverbs 6-a where it says “In all thy ways acknowledge Him”.  All means all!  God is always there.  And we should always acknowledge His interaction in our lives by singing praise when we are merry, when things go right!  So let your praise ring out!

Patience revisited

James 5:7 KJV

Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.

I live in Iowa. For those of you who don’t know Iowa is a huge farming state. Our farmers produce more corn and soybeans than any other state in the country. We are the third largest farm economy in the country. We are proud of our farmers and our state would not survive if something happened to the farm economy.

I have grown to admire farmers very much. Some people think they only work to plant and harvest but when those two things aren’t going on they are always busy working on machinery to make sure it’s ready for the next phase. But nothing is more impressive then the fact that they have the patience to wait for a crop.

In the fall, after harvest, many actually start preparations for the next spring.  They till the soil and put fertilizer on so it sets in during the fall and winter, before the frost sets in.  a lot of farmers are now using manure from chicken and hog farms (we are also #1 in both of those categories). In the spring, once the frost is out and the ground temperatures are above 50, they put tens of thousands of dollars into the ground that is prepared ahead of time. Of course, all is dependent on the spring rains.  It often gets to wet at times and delays planting.

There’s also money for herbicides and pesticides for some of them. All of this money is usually borrowed from the bank in hopes that there will be a harvest. As the season goes on there’s nothing more thrilling to me in the spring then you start to see those little buds start to pop out of the ground. You drive down the road and for miles and miles and miles all you see is straight rows of these little green things popping out of the ground. Watching them grow is nothing short of a miracle.

And they just have to trust God and be patient until the harvest is ready.  They need timely rains, about an inch a week.  No strong winds are needed, or it can knock over the corn crops.  Hail and tornadoes can stay away!  Temperatures have to stay warm enough – corn loves hot and humid!. But the farmer waits and trusts God will bring what is necessary, and in the fall he is rewarded most of the time with a crop that will pay the bills.

James says that we need to be patient like that farmer. We’ve talked extensively about patience before.  It is an attribute that is highly admired by God in my opinion. When we can sit back and not worry about when we are going to be healed or when that financial blessing is going to come or when that enemy is going to walk away, and we can simply trust God to do it at the right time, the peace and the joy of the Lord will be there for us just waiting. We will never have to wonder if God is going to come through because we’ll know he will. We will never have to wonder if we are walking in God’s plan because we will know that we are despite the things that come our way. My job is to just keep moving forward and go through the circumstances that come into my life while trusting the Lord and having the patience to wait it out until God is ready to relieve me.

I read a Blog several days ago that talked about the fact that this person had never prayed for patience because she had always been told that praying for patience will bring trials. She said she already had enough trials in their life and didn’t want to bring on more. I couldn’t help but think how desperately this person needed to pray for patience and yet they were afraid because they weren’t sure how it would come out. This kind of fear has no place in the kingdom of God. Praying for patience so we can endure the trials that come our way is one of the basic prayers of our lives. Didn’t the Psalmist say “Yeah though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for thou art with me”. Isn’t that essentially claiming patience to walk through that Valley?

If you gave not been with us through this whole journey in James, please go back to the second post from James 1:2   This post may help you understand why trials are so necessary in our lives, and how we should approach them.  Then go to the next two posts in James 1:3 and James 1:4  These two will help you understand why patience is so important to our Christian life. And patience only comes trough trials.

Patience is also a fruit of the spirit. The way I see fruit of this kind is it the more we give it out the more we receive. The more we give patience to somebody else the more we will have for ourselves. It’s something that we can’t keep inside of us. If I want patience for my own life I need to make sure that I am being patient with those around me. If I can’t be patient with those around me why should God bless me with more patience.

If you find yourself in a place where you are impatient with other people you’ll probably have a tough time being patient with God. This is a good time to pray for patience. Do not fear more trials because if you’re in this situation you probably have plenty already. God will help you through every single time if you’re praying to gain strength to go through a battle. He is the deliverer and the protector and He says if we ask He will give.  One of the biggest blessings He wants us to have is patience.   Ask for it, desire it, seek after it with all your heart.

 

Don’t Sin – Just Do It!

—James 4:16-17 KJV

16 But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.

17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

I don’t know about you but I hear it quite often. “We are going to Disneyland next week on vacation!”  “I have a huge appointment for a job interview tomorrow!”  “In Jesus name I am not going to be sick tomorrow – I’m going to be well and healed!” These words are all based on whether we have tomorrow or not. As my last post said, we cannot count on tomorrow. So all these statements are what James is calling evil. They are boasts on what we are claiming for a day we do not even have for sure yet. It is hard for me to understand why James calls these evil, but here is how I see what James is saying.

We have the attitude that if we make plans, God has to honor them.  My prayers need to be tempered with God’ grace, as do my utterances about my future plans.  I have learned through reading several different authors that the best way to pray is to ask God to give me strength to make it through any sickness that He’s allowed in my life. I should ask God to give me wisdom as I face the appointment that I have tomorrow. AI should ask God for traveling mercy for any place I am planning to go tomorrow. I can never assume that any of these things will actually happen. Because I don’t know if God’s going to give me tomorrow.
I believe James call evil because it is assuming God is going to do something. There are many people who assume that if they ask something of God it is theirs. The name it claim it crowd think that they can ask anything and it will be done for them. After all, Jesus did say if you ask anything in my name I will do it. But I’ve come to understand that asking in His name means asking according to His will and His word.  His will is not always known to us. There are some who would say that the Bible certainly tells us His will and I would agree. And the Bible says that we were healed by Jesus on the cross – I  agree with that also. But there is nothing that says God has to do it today or tomorrow. There’s nothing that gives a timetable of when God has to act. So when we assume that we can tell God what to do just because we pray, that is what James calls evil. Because it is suppossing that we have some kind of authority over God. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Then James says something that can knock us all back. He says that if we know that we should do something good and we don’t do it, that we sin. Most of us think that it takes an action to sin. We have to commit adultery. steal,  lie, gossip, murder or someone else against God’s moral law. That is what we consider sin.  We see sin as  an action that is actually carried out against ourselves or against God or against our fellow human beings. But James takes it a step further.
When we see someone or something that we can do for someone else that would help them in some way and we don’t do it James calls that sin. I believe what he says is true. I believe that God places things in front of us on a regular basis for us to accomplish. Then He whispers in our ear what He wants to us to accomplish. And the fact that it was brought to our attention tells me that we heard that whisper. When we don’t do it it is simple disobedience. And disobedience is sin. If we don’t know about the situation and we don’t do it then we are not held responsible.
It is like the watchman on the wall in Ezekiel 33.   Ezekiel tells us that if somebody knows that trouble is coming and they warn the people, then any blood shed will not be on the watchman’s hand. But if they do not warn the people then the blood will be on their hands. Once again they have been made aware of a situation and they have done what they can to help people understand how the situation is going to affect them. They were obedient to what God asked them to do.
So how do I know if God is asking me to do something? It really is very simple. If it has been brought to my attention that someone is in need of either a physical blessing, or just someone to sit with them and talk, or maybe even a correction that needs to be given to them, and we do not do it then we have missed an opportunity to bless them and that is sin to us. God brings things to our attention on a regular basis. He does this to see if we’re listening and obeying. He gives us opportunity day in and day out to be a blessing to others. Let’s not miss those opportunities.
This verse is not here to place any condemnation on anybody. It is here to make us aware of God’s expectation in our lives. I’m glad James brings this up because it ties in so well with his teaching on the necessity of works in our lives. If it was only grace that saved us this verse would be irrelevant. Works are what shows people our faith and those works need to be done as we further our salvation experience. Remember – we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling? This is how we do that. By taking every opportunity to bless those around us.
Get out there and do all the good you can today because you don’t know if you have tomorrow. As one of my favorite author says “Don’t insult today by looking for a better tomorrow.”
Be blessed

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!