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Showing posts from November 18, 2012

Suffering

What do you do when you suffer for doing right? The answer to this question reveals who is directing your life. If you return suffering with a strong hand of revenge then you are in charge of your life. If you consider Him who is in charge of your life then you bear up under it.
Peter spoke to this situation in 1 Peter 2:19-20 when he said, “For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God….if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.”
The example he shares to validate his statement is the suffering of Christ. He is the one we should follow in actions related to suffering. His suffering went far beyond any we could or will ever experience.
There is no doubt that believers have, do and will suffer unjustly. We see it today as many are living under the hands of evil forces bent on destroying them. In Africa and China this is evident but throughout the world in pockets of evil we hear of it. It may c…

Belonging

There is a search going on inside us all the time to belong. It started when we were born. Did we belong to our family or were we an unusual member that went in and out of relationship with family members?
That search continued as we passed through the years of middle and high school. There were groups such as the jocks, the smart people, the cool people who never went to class, the nerds, the social outcasts, the beautiful group, the ugly group and on and on. We wanted to belong to a group and our clothing and hair style tried to mimic those in that group.
Deep inside us this search continued into our university/college years. The groups changed to be people becoming lawyers, architects, artists, actors and many more. We sought a life’s work where we would belong and still inside us there was an unfulfilled desire to belong.
We tried to fill this desire by joining a gang, going to the same bar until everyone knew our name, attending a church, becaming a part of a political party and sti…

Trials

When was the last time you faced a trial, not a courtroom trial but a personal trial that tested your spirit and soul? How did you feel during and after it? What did you learn? Trials produce heaviness of heart and stretch our internal resources. They can even bring us to a point of desperation.
What is the deal with trials? Why can’t we just live a nice quiet, “normal” life going about our own business and always enjoying our days? These are good questions, so let’s turn to Peter for the answer. In his first letter to believers that were under persecution he said, “…now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith…may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)
Trials are for a “little while” so there really is light at the end of the tunnel. Warren Wiersbe emphasized the fact that they are monitored by God by saying, “He keeps His eye on the clock and His h…

Confrontation

It is difficult to stand face to face with another person and speak to them about their life. We can feel like we are overstepping our boundaries or ask ourselves how we are any better than them. It can bring real angsts to our hearts.
However, if we were their friend and cared about them and saw their actions moving them away from health and wholeness wouldn’t we want to help them? That is the essence of the last two verses of the book of James. He has been very action oriented throughout his five chapters and the summation of this is to be ready to confront wrong actions in other believers with the pure purpose to draw them back from the discipline of God.
James says, “My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his ways will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20)
“Brothers” are believers. To “wander from the truth” is to sin and is also identified in…

Justice

Solomon said of justice, “Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it fully.” (Proverbs 28:5) This is a terse statement that packs a wallop. When you look with God’s eyes into the heart and life of an evil person you realize they are blinded to truth and justice.
They may excuse themselves for their actions because they are ignorant of the true standard of right and wrong. However, ignorance may be their state but is not an excuse when standing before God’s judgment throne. The heavens declare the glory of God and He is made known to be and to be powerful by natural revelation. (Romans 1) Their ignorance is based in a refusal to see what is right before them.
They also may abuse the knowledge they do have by depending on it rather than ever taking the leap of faith to depend on God. When knowledge becomes god to them, then they are abusing its intended purpose to lead them to God.
Further, their undisciplined imagination can create fantasies that they be…

Ambition

Do you have ambition? First of all let’s define it. Ambition is a strong desire for rank, fame or power. It is a desire to achieve a particular end. Okay, is ambition good or bad? Some would say ambition is good and without it we have less chance of achieving while others would say ambition is bad and comes only from envy.
James gave us some clarity on this word in James 3:16 when he said, “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” He used the words “selfish ambition” also in verse 14 along with bitter envy which resides in the heart. James is telling us there is a difference between ambition and selfish ambition. The difference is in the heart of the individual which relates to their motives.
If their ambition is to be a great basketball player so they can make lots of money that would be selfish ambition. If we became a great basketball player because we loved the game and were good at it, then that might just be ambition. If we wa…

Favoritism

Here is a certain problem the pervades us today. Man looks on the outward appearance or some external blessing, such as riches, and favors the person who possesses it. This is a great sin.
It is important to understand that there is a common respect that is due persons of age, certain calling, that have special gifts or graces. This is not so much for their sakes as a respect for God who made them and allowed them to have what they have. The glory should not focus on the person but be given to the God who made it possible.
But James’ statement in James 2:1 is focused on what was happening, “My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.” He was talking about a discrimination that was based on beauty in body or the benefit of an external circumstance that had given them wealth, power or influence. This was the wrong that the people of God were doing and which James addressed.
The rich and the poor both became believers. They had the same Savior and tog…