Posted in Devotions

Don’t Compare–not worth it! James 4 part 1

It is inevitable—our myopic view of life compels us to want anyone elses life.  We know what is not working in our own lives and without fail; we think a simple change in circumstance will alleviate all struggle.  Common sense dictates that if we all feel that way, then the chance of of it being true is very slim.  We cannot dwell on what we do not have, or what we cannot change.  Instead, we must learn to be content with what we have and rejoice and mourn appropriately with those on the family.

 

The journey is difficult.  The source of obstacles vary from health, to finance, to sin in our lives.  Biut, we have to be sure that he who has begun a good work in us will carry it to completion until Christ’s return.  Do not try to figure iut God’s plan, simply submit to it and seek his face.  Help me Lord to submit to your plan and follow you.

 

God Bless you

 

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? 2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. 3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

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Wisdom Leads to an Honorable Way of Life-James 3 part 2

Wisdom leads to living honorably.  Wise folks do not waste their time with bitterness, jealousy or deception.  Instead, they seek God with their hearts.  As they seek him he reveals himself in amazing ways and times.  He is rarely early but his plan always seems to be correct and the right direction for our lives. 

It is our choice to face the journey with wisdom and patience; or to face it with anger and bitterness.  The latter always ends badly; while the former always glorifies the Lord.  God loves it when we honor him and lifts us when we choose to honor him.  Help me Lord, to be wise not bitter.  Help me to seek you at all points of the Journey.

God Bless You

13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

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Say What???–James 3 part 1

It is pretty amazing on how much trouble can be caused by what we say.  God has gifted us with a great mind and opportunities to learn.  We are taught manners—we know how to use discretion when we speak—BUT, still the majority of pain we cause is done with our mouth.  Lines we recite like, “I did not mean to hurt your feelings!” simply reinforce how powerful our tongue can be.  Scripture reminds us that we are to take captive each thought.  We are also to be aware that what we say to others is a reflection of what we have in our hearts.  If we fill our hearts with his word and praise, that is what will come out of our mouths at the most unscripted discussions.  If we fill our hearts with trash, bitterness and anger—it is practically guaranteed that is what will be the center of conversation when life is difficult.  We cannot choose our circumstance, but we can choose our responses to the circumstance.  What we think and say will speak volumes to where we are in our walk.  Help my speech and thoughts to honor you, oh Lord.

God Bless You

Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.3 We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. 4 And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. 5 In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6 And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

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Walk the Talk–James 2 part 2

We have to walk the talk.  It’s difficult, it’s perceived as weird and people are always ready to point out when you fail.  The truth is, however, if you have surrendered to God and have a personal relationship with him, you find it is your desire, not your compulsion to become like him.  We do not live differently to achieve salvation, we live differently because of the salvation we already received. 

New creations simply live differently.  We are far from perfect, we sin on a regular basis.  But our hearts and lives strive to model the Savior.  If that desire does not exist, one needs to question the change in their lives.  Talk is cheap.  Change is obvious and inevitable.  Help me Lord to walk and talk like you!

God Bless You

 

14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”

19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. 20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?

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What does Faith Look Like- James 2 part 1

Our Faith is not checking off a set of rules.  We cannot ever be pure enough, righteous enough, faithful enough or do enough to reach heaven.  Knowing that, it is critical to live in a manner that honors God.  It is also critical to spend little time judging others and more time aligning with God and his plan.  As we do our hearts and behavior look more like Christ.  We conform to his image.  It is not a way to obtain God’s acceptance, but it is a sign that we are the new creations he has made us.  We will never be perfect—but we will be more like him as we follow in  his steps.  Help me, Lord to look like you more each day.

God Bless You

8 Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 9 But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.

10 For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. 11 For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law.

12 So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. 13 There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.

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James 1 part 3–Quick Listening

Why is it so hard to listen?  It seems we miss out on so many important things—simply because we do not listen to the words and directions offered.  This becomes especially obvious as we seek God.  His word is rich with hope, truth and direction.  Sadly, we get so busy, so overwhelmed and so upset with the circumstances—that we literally cannot hear what the Lord is attempting to communicate.

 The noise of Life is distracting,  It causes even the best of listeners to miss the orchestral harmony of following the Lord and learning from him.   Some ways we can lower the noise in our lives and to spend time listening to the master are:

  1.  practice every day
  2. prepare your heart for the time
  3. lay the things causing the noise on the alter each day—and sometimes several times a day.

 

Only you can hear what God is trying to communicate.  When you can settle down and listen you will be amazed at the volumes of knowledge you receive.  Once received, then the trick is doing it.  James says do not waste such great information.  We need to be prepared to implement God’s plan, even if we do not necessarily like it.

 Then we can experience the blessing that always follows obedience.  Help me Lord to follow you, listen and do what you are telling me to do.  

 God Bless You

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

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James 1 part 2–God has big shoulders

I am so glad God has big shoulders.  Like most, on a bad day, when the world seems to be closing in and hope is slipping away—my thought is to blame God.  “He could fix this, you know!” In my prayers—“God, why did you do this to me???”  As this passage makes clear, God uses the trials and temptations in our lives to make us ready to face the attacks and circumstances life sends.  God does not do the tempting, but he allows it not only to strengthen us, but to humble us as well. As we journey, we sometimes cave, compromise and fail God.  What an opportunity to see him scoop us up, forgive and walk us through the process to restore our fellowship and faith.  But, he does not do the tempting—it is simply not in God’s nature.  Instead, his nature is to give us what is good and beautiful—just look outside! As a loving father, it is very difficult to watch us struggle through the journey.  But, that is the only way we can face that which lies ahead.

He accepts our criticism, he listens as we yell, scream, cry, rant and rave. He loves us even when we fail, whine or shake our fist at him.  The truth is, as James points out, that God will take the blame even though he is the only pure heart in the room.  Let’s not blame God for the battle scars given by the enemy.  Conversely, let’s give him credit for what we are becoming as we walk in his footsteps and endure what he is guiding us through!                  

God Bless You

 

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

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Pure Joy…Really??? James 1 part 1

That’s easy for you to say.  I am sure many in the Church at Jerusalem thought that when James opened his letter by saying it is great to go through trials.  Consider it joy, really! Trials stink.  Testing stinks. The writer of Hebrews said it best, “NO discipline seems pleasant at the time!”  But, the word is true.  We have to endure the tests and trials set before us in order to become complete, resiliant and usable by God.

 In addition, while we rarely understand the why’s behind the testing of our faith, God promises he will give us wisdom on the ways to endure and use the trials to make us better.  We simply have to ask and believe he wants us to be informed.  The greatest aspect is that we embrace our present circumstance by simply clinging to the hope of what we will become and the joy of eternity yet to come.  Life is Hard, God allows us to face it, but we never have to face it alone or without his wisdom to guide us.

God Bless You

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

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Sacrifice, Dying Was the Easy Part–Luke 23

Sacrifice stinks.  It hurts, its humiliating and mostly it is a reminder of how frail and human we are.  Jesus knew for his entire life that it would all come down to this one thing—Dying well.  Jesus did not regret the beating, he did not feel the effect of the humiliation.  He really did not care that the soldiers were dividing his clothes or that the people had lost their short term hope of revolution.  He only cared that for the only time in eternity he was separated from God—that really hurt.  Still in that, he was most concerned that we would be forgiven. 

It is as simple as that, Jesus wants for us not to experience the pain of separation from God.  He wants us to know the power of his grace. He Loves us and longs to have a relationship that we will enjoy forever.  

Easter is not about the death, it is about the resurrection! Help me Lord to feel your Grace and enjoy your presence.

God Bless You

 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” 38 There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The Death of Jesus

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

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Straight Forward Message–Luke 18

We talk about the mystery of God.  Often, God is pretty straight forward.  His purpose is straight forward, he wants to have a relationship with us.  He wants us to experience freedom in him.  His message is straight forward, surrender your life to him and he will allow you to experience the freedom and peace you long for.  His promise is straight forward, if we confess with our mouth he is Lord and believe God raised him from the dead you will be saved.

 In the midst of all that, often the simplicity is hidden from us by our desire to be in charge, by our need to have a goal we can obtain by our efforts and by the world’s view that says surrender is never an option.  We cannot grasp that salvation is a gift that we will never be able to earn.  Our choice is plain and simple—Lord, I need you, I cannot do this on my own.  Please forgive me, come into my life and make me the one you want me to be.  AMEN. No secret, no hidden agenda—Just the saving grace of God.

 God Bless You

 31 Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32 He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; 33 they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”

34 The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.