James 1 Part 2–God Simply Will Not Tempt His Own, So Live Accordingly

Flip Wilson used to do a bit…”The Devil made me do it!” Amazingly in the world of spiritual warfare, there is a great deal of truth in that statement. What will never be true is the comment “God made me do it.”  Not unlike most parents, James knew that our Heavenly Father would never push the children He loved to separate from Him. Sin separates men from God. So the God of the universe that gave His Son as a sacrifice to restore our relationships would not, in turn, tempt men to sin and separate from Him. James, Jesus’ brother, was a pastor of the church in Jerusalem. He was a later convert, but he was incredibly practical and cared greatly for his people and the Lord. He told them to understand trials and the blessing they can be in one’s life. He next told the folks not to confuse God’s sovereignty with man’s inclination to sin.
 
In addition, James makes clear that one should listen and be slow to anger. As one listens to God’s truth, we need to put that truth into practice.  Doing what God says is so much more critical than simply hearing it. If one can learn God’s word and practice it; we will become complete.  In a world that thrives on Instant this, and impulse that, James reminds us to step back, take a breath, and live as our Lord would.  We are not perfect; thank You, Lord, for Your grace. We must know that If we will listen, respond rather than react, and maintain a peaceful spirit–then God can work through us to effect change in our homes, communities, and world.  Please, Father, help me to realize You are with me and would never seek to tempt me or separate from me. Further, help me to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry!
 
God Bless You

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.

Listening and Doing

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

James 1-Blessed are You…

Trials Stink! James knew it, and everybody knows it.  It is difficult to endure the trials and temptations of life. In the Letter from James, he takes a bolder perspective. James reminds the Church that they are blessed by encountering trials of various kinds.  Those tests and trials, as James points out, bring a more complete life and mature response to the journey. There was a movie that came out sometime back called Lone Survivor. The movie was about some Special Ops guys that get caught in an ambush during a mission and the measures they take to survive. The first part of the movie recounts the rigorous and sometimes inhuman training the members of the team had to face.  It showed men going through difficulties that no one should ever have to face.  The training went on for weeks and months and the men would literally collapse under the load. But, those that survived were ready to face some of the most difficult situations known to man. As the movie demonstrated, those men were prepared for anything and took on everything to finish the mission.
 
In our daily walks with God, we too face trials. Some days those trails seem insurmountable. As we endure them, we are faced with the rawest part of our lives and our faith is tested to points we simply feel are impossible. The joy comes as we see God use that training to make us like Him and help us through some very arduous and difficult circumstances. In the process, we may be bloodied and bruised, but that training helps us to survive and to move forward.   That is why James tells the church that those times are a blessing. We have to accept them with gratitude and focus upon the way God comes in and delivers, provides and prepares his people for the next battle.  We need to lean on and lean into our Father who will carry us through to face the next battle. If we will, the Lord will bless us and use us in ways we could never imagine.
 
God Bless You

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 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. 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. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wildflower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

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.

2 Timothy 4–The Proper Way to Finish

As Paul was wrapping up the letter to Timothy, He was not simply closing a personal letter, He was preparing his friend and ward for his personal end. Paul knew he would soon be executed. So as he closed, he gave Timothy and God’s chosen two final charges that should guide behavior and direct the steps of God’s people.  
 
First, start each day of ministry prepared for the battle that lies ahead. Paul told Timothy and he tells us–be prepared to share the gospel. Not just kind words that tickle the ears of those who would listen; but, preach the truth. That requires that one be prepared with the word hidden in their hearts. It also means that God’s people should be in prayer and committed to the opportunities to share the truth about knowing Christ and following Him closely. We must be ready to counter the arguments that its ok to believe whatever you want as long as you mean well.  That is what the enemy and the world would have us believe.  
 
Simply put, Christ says, ” Trust me and follow Me and I will give you eternal life.”  Romans 10: 9-10 says, “If we confess with our mouth that He is Lord, and believe in our hearts that God has raised Christ from the dead we will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”  It is simple, but it is difficult–God simply refuses to share His Lordship–He will be Lord, or he will stand down. That is why we confess and believe!
 
Finally, Paul tells Timothy Goodbye! He encourages his friend and gives us who are battle weary hope. Paul tells Timothy that he has fought the Good Fight, He Has finished the race and he has kept the faith. As a result, God holds for him a crown of righteousness that God will present Paul on that day. For us, Paul reminds us to fight, to finish and to keep the faith! We do not have to win the fight each day, sadly there are days we fail miserably. But, We must fight each day! 
 
Next, we must finish the race. God does not require a first-place finish, but, he does require that we do, in fact, finish the race! It is so tempting sometimes to simply give up. Imagine Paul in the dungeon, broken, blind, and abandoned. It would have been easy for him to give up. But, in that period, Paul produced great truth. Philippians, Romans, and these letters have guided millions to the kingdom. It is a great blessing for us all that Paul finished the race. We need to do the same. 
 
Finally, keep the faith! Paul says to hold on and do not give up on the Lord. The enemy will make life so difficult. If we succumb and lose our faith, it will remain difficult but we will lose our hope and love.  Those gifts are what carry us through. So we cannot lose the only thing that will allow us to endure.  I am personally grateful that God does and will provide us what we need to fight, finish and keep our faith–I cannot do it on my own. 
 
God Bless You
 

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Personal Remarks

Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. 12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.

2 Timothy 3 Part 1–Choose the Life You Want

Sorry for being away for a couple of days; Paul was reviewing hos life and preparing Timothy. Paul knew that his end was drawing near.  As he was counseling his friend, Paul stopped and did an evaluation of people in his time. Sadly, it was not flattering.  The basis of life is where one’s lordship lies. It is either based on God being Lord of one’s life or one trying to captain their own ship.  Paul in his evaluation highlighted some of the telltale signs of one that masters his own ship. People that captain their own ship are selfish and abusive in the difficult times and boastful, self-indulgent and brash in the good ones.  At the end of the day, they are the center of their own agenda at all times. Amazingly, those that live like that are never happy, content or at peace.  They are always looking for the next thing, the next excuse or the next person to blame.  
 
Conversely, those that love the Lord seek to serve others. They are content with their own circumstances and look for ways to help and improve the lives of others.  They rise each day seeking God and his direction. They spend their days being kind and selfless. They leave a legacy of selflessness and graciousness that long outlives them.  They are at peace with God being in control and only want what He has planned for their lives.  We rise each day with the opportunity to pick the life we want to live.  The world would have us be self-absorbed. The Lord would have us follow and trust Him.  Joshua says it best. Choose this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
 
God Bless You

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

2 Timothy 2 Part 1–Discipleship

One of the most critical parts of living the life of a Christian is passing what we have gained from the Lord on to others. Paul reminded Timothy to take what he had received and pass it to people who will, in turn, pass it to others.  Christ’s message is valuable and as we incorporate it into our lives, we are changed forever. That change comes from within and yields eternal fruit.  When we pass what we have learned to family, friends, and associates; they grow and change and become like Christ.  Then like the concentric, circles in a pond, the ripples move out and grow and ultimately change the world around them. 
 
In addition, As disciples, we incorporate disciplines into our lives that allow us to keep sin at bay. We then focus our attention on being the best workers, parents, and spouses we can be. That also is infectious and impacts our communities for the gospel.  We simply cannot give up or give in to the attacks of our enemy. Instead, we must cling to the hope set before us and conduct our lives in a manner worthy of our calling.  
 
God Bless You
You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.

2 Timothy 1 Part 1–God Gave Us the Spirit of Power and Discipline

Ministry can be intimidating. Paul started his second letter to Timothy under that guise.  Paul reminded Timothy of the legacy he was left by his mom and grandmother.  Paul reminded Timothy that he was on a mission and that his role was to “Fan the flames of the Gospel.  But, all know that the battle to share and spread the Gospel was a spiritual war. Wars carry with them casualties and for a young preacher that can be devastating.  So Paul made the statement that has kept the mission alive for nearly 2 millennia.”God did not give us the spirit of fear! He gave us the spirit of faith pawer and a sound and disciplined mind.” As his spiritual son, Paul wanted Timothy to walk and fight with confidence in the Lord.  Paul also wanted Timothy to understand the power of the message! salvation was revealed through Christ, and redemption was bought with a price. All We Have to do is accept the gift of grace to be redeemed.
 
In our culture, we face the same spiritual battles, have the same Savior and walk in the same power as did Timothy.  We can never be ashamed or afraid to stand for Christ.  God made sure through His Spirit that we would have the message, courage, and strength to face all that comes against us.  We simply need to be ready to give an account of who Christ is and who we are in Him.  As we look at our lives, it becomes clear that apart from Him, we can do nothing.  We start each day in His word, prayer and preparing for what that day will bring.  As we do, we are no longer fearful of what lies ahead; but, instead, we are empowered to face any and all challenges.  Help me, Lord, to stand firm in the Faith and rest in Your strength and courage!
 
God Bless You
I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

Appeal for Loyalty to Paul and the Gospel

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.

I Timothy 6 Part 2–Fighting the Good Fight

Paul’s final command to Timothy was huge! As a man of God, run from evil and pursue righteousness. Fight the good fight!!! As General Patton would say, “This is war boys!!!” As Christ faced death, He stood firm and made no excuse.  Paul calls Timothy to do the same.  Face death and make a good confession that Jesus Christ is Lord. Paul further reminds Timothy, let those in your group be God-focused and not focused on the material things. Let the rich worship God not their stuff; understanding God gave them what they have to enjoy and to be generous with others. Use the resources God gave to help others and honor God–by doing that one will lay up treasures in Heaven.
 
That reality is still the same.  This is war and as we march forward, we must do so with a righteous heart and a spirit focused on God. We live as warriors facing death every day.  We use all the resources we have been given to honor God.  We need to hold on loosely to the material things God has blessed us with.  Not fearing the enemy, but treating the enemy with righteous respect for the evil that he is, and the enemy’s focused desire to end us and our mission. if we will, then in God’s time He will lift us up. We will be the Lord’s ambassadors and will leave an impact and legacy for generations to come!
 
God Bless You

 But you, a man of God, flee from all this and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

20 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, 21 which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.

Grace be with you all.