Today you should read: James 1:22-27
What’s the point of looking into a mirror?
It’s to see what needs fixing so you can fix it. What would happen if you are getting ready for the day and you glance in the mirror only to see you have stuff on your face, your hair is a mess and your shirt is on backwards? What would you do? You would clean your face, comb your hair and fix your shirt. The point of a mirror is to show you where you are off in your appearance so you can correct it. And that is the thought for us today:
God’s word is our moral and spiritual mirror by which we examine our life
The Bible was given to us, in part, to show us where we are off morally and spiritually. It isn’t just a good moral book of do’s and don’t’s but it does guide us in that way. It is also a tool for us to use to expose our hearts and souls to see where we are off spiritually as well. Just like a mirror, if we look into it, see the flaws, but then go on about our merry way we are not only doing ourselves an injustice but we are misusing God’s blessing in our life. The point of spending time with Jesus is to become more like Him. And this is true in most relationships. When you hang around someone long enough you begin to resemble them. The more you spend time in God’s word the more you should become like the Jesus you get to know from it. This can only happen when you spend time in the word. Church and fellowship and even Christian books are great but the bible is the main tool God has given us to transform us into the image of Jesus.
James also talks about what this should produce in us in verses 26-27. Many people claim to be “religious” or “good people” but it is only when you are in God’s word that you begin to realize what that really means. It doesn’t mean doing religious things or just being a “good person.” True religion, as James puts it here, is a balance of “doing” and “being”. We do (care for orphans and widows) and we be (not being corrupted by the world) To “do” without “being” is to be a Pharisee. The Pharisees did many good things, but, as Jesus said, their “hearts were far from me” (Matthew 15:8 ). To be but not do, as James will discuss in detail throughout his letter, means you really are not being because true being in Jesus produces doing in our lives. So, the thought to take away:
Am I doing and being in Jesus?
Posted by: Robbie Byrd
Today you should read: James 1:19-21
Have you ever been slow to hear and quick to speak therefore leading into an angry response? I know I have as I jump to conclusions hearing about something I don’t like and instantly spouting off my opinions into it without much thoughts and prayer with what I am saying. I also don’t think that I’m alone in this problem as my twitter and facebook feed is regularly filled with opinionated, angry status updates and read articles on Forbes renaming our country as the “United States of Anger.” What if we did things God’s way and follow the wise words James gives in today’s devotion where we reverse our natural reaction to people, issues and problems by being quick to hear, slow to speak and ultimately slow to anger?
When we truly listen to people and problems and don’t look for an automatic answer back to them we have more time to talk to God, seek wise counsel and respond back as God would to us when mentioned in Psalm 103:8 and Numbers 14:18-19. In fact let’s look at those verses real quick.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. –Psalm 103:8
18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’ 19 Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now.” –Numbers 14:18-19
These passages show God’s response to us where His anger is righteous and applied only after or in response to grace, mercy and love. It’s hard to chew on that grace, mercy and love when we don’t let people finish their words, we jump to conclusions and we don’t go to God in prayer for what we need to say next. That’s why our response is not usually God’s righteous response as James 1:20 mentions. The best thing about doing this God’s Way is that we’re doing what we hear in God’s Word above which causes others to want to know more about His Word and what else it has to say about their life and how it ultimately saves them. God’s Word leads us to the Gospel message of Jesus Christ which saves us and people want to know more about that saving message when we live it out in a counter cultural way then the world. Especially in how we listen and speak to others. So this week be a little more patient in your listening and speech as you have the opportunity to point others to Christ in your response to anger.
Posted by: Erik Koliser
Today you should read: James 1:9-18
I LOVE the book of James! It’s one of my all-time favorite books. Several years back I memorized large portions of it – so I refer to it often.
When’s the last time you encountered temptation? Probably not that long ago, right? For most of us, that’s an hourly or even minute-by-minute experience. James gives us Satan’s GamePlan and clues us in on how we can defeat him.
- Don’t blame God (v.13)
Most of us are BLAME-GAME junkies. We love to shift the blame to anywhere we can. One of the first places we go with it is to God. Just like Adam did with the first sin – we try and blame God for our temptation – but James cuts us off at the pass – Temptation is not from God – it’s from us. This forces us to look within and deal with it rather than make excuses for it.
- Learn the T-Cycle (v.14-15)
James gives us the strategy for temptation. He clues us in on Satan’s playbook.
The earlier you stop the cycle, the least damaging it becomes. Satan always uses the same strategy.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
- Don’t be deceived (v.16)
James tells us – don’t be tricked by this. Rick Warren in The Purpose Drive Life says, “Every temptation is an opportunity to do right.” You make the choice.
He reminds us to pray the prayer for deliverance that Jesus prayed… “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Matthew 6:13
Most of our temptation centers around wanting things that we don’t have but think we need – Verse 17 reminds us that God showers us with good things, the greatest being making us His own (v.18).
Live in the light of His gifts – and enjoy the life He’s given you.
Posted by: Tim Parsons
Today you should read: James 1:5-8
James 1:6-8 is one of those passages that I believe is frequently used out of context. When prayers seem unanswered or when something didn’t go how one thought it should go, a common response is, “Maybe I didn’t have enough faith.”
Or, maybe something like this is said: “I’ve prayed and prayed for a job, but I still don’t have a job so I must not have enough faith.” I just don’t think that is a proper use or interpretation of this passage.
In order to interpret vs. 6-8 correctly, verse 5 must come into play. And for verse 5 to be interpreted correctly, verses 2-4 must come into play as well. Verse 5 tells us that if a person lacks wisdom, he should ask God for wisdom and know that God will give that wisdom. Verses 2-4 give the context for a particular occasion in which wisdom can be sought from God, and in which one can count on that wisdom being given. That occasion is when one is encountering various trials and experiencing a testing of faith which produces endurance.
So, when we are encountering various trials and need wisdom from God, verse 5 tells us that we can ask God for wisdom amidst the trials and KNOW that He gives wisdom generously. The first part of verse 6 tells us that we can ask for wisdom in faith with absolute confidence that He WILL give us wisdom for the trial when we ask for it. The second part of verse 6 and also verses 7-8 tell us that if we doubt that God will give us wisdom for the trials, we’ll be tossed around like the surf of the sea and shouldn’t really expect God to give us the wisdom.
What’s the big deal? Well, this passage isn’t about whether or not God answers your prayers based upon how much faith you have. I mean, that would discount Jesus’ whole “faith the size of a mustard seed” analogy, wouldn’t it? Instead, this passage is an exhortation to seek God for wisdom during your trial and know with full confidence that He will give you the wisdom you need for the situation, “so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (vs. 4)
If we don’t trust Him for wisdom, the only other option is to just try to deal with it on our own. And I think most of us already know what that sea sick feeling is like, getting tossed about like the surf in the wind.
Posted by: Rich Duffield
Today you should read: James 1:1-4
Today’s passage for some is a comfort and an encouragement. For others it is a dreadful passage to read. I want to speak to those who find this passage hard to read because I have met many through counseling that have a hard time with it. The main reason is because they have gone through incredible pain due to sin and suffering in their lives. They have lost a loved one; they have faced or are facing insurmountable circumstances or have experienced hatred and abuse. Whatever the circumstance this verse doesn’t seem to bring joy because they are not finding “joy” or happiness in the circumstance and wish that the trial would go away instead of trying to find the silver lining. If this is you I hope the following points will bring encouragement.
What the passage is NOT saying:
1. You should be happy about your trial:
Sometimes bad things happen that are awful and you should feel sad about it. You shouldn’t enjoy abuse, pain, and suffering. Death was not a part of God’s plan before sin entered the world. It is okay that you don’t feel happy.
2. You are less faithful if you ask why or complain:
We have many examples of faithful people wrestling with trials and asking why.
Psalm 102 is a great example of this. David makes his complaint known to the Lord. However, the correct way to deal with our complaints is with God and not with others. David also reminds himself of who God is in the midst of his groaning. The belief in God and His character is how we find comfort in the midst of our trials.
What the passage IS saying:
1. Trials are opportunities:
Trials test our hearts and reveal to us what we truly hope in. In other words, when we are squeezed then what is true comes out. This refinement leads to mature belief in Christ which we should consider joyful.
2. Trials differ in degree:
James says trials of “various kinds,” meaning trials are not always the suffering kind. There are good stressors as well that will also test your character. How you handle success at work, the type of person you date and how you date, choosing a college or degree, working a job to provide for your family but not necessarily enjoying the job itself, etc. The list can go on and on but you get the point. How your respond to trials tells you something about your faith.
3. Faith in Christ is the ultimate prize:
Having a perfect and complete faith is the goal of the believer. Another way to say this is having your identity in Christ alone. If your goal is anything but this then seeing trials as joyful will be difficult.
Question to ponder:
What have the trials of your life shown you about your faith?
Posted by: Chad Wiles
Today you should read: Ecclesiastes 12
Keep it simple …
Ever wish we could get an easy summary of the hard books of the Bible? Well, this is what we see in this last chapter of Ecclesiastes. In this chapter, he is summarizing. Everything that he has said thus far in the entire book all comes down to this. He keeps it simple.
Here’s what we are told:
- Remember your Creator – because everything else is temporary. (v. 1-8)
From the very beginning, we are told to remember God early in life. Why? Because everything else we could spend our days living for will all come to an end. The sun, light, moon, and stars will be darkened. The dust will return to the earth. And, everything in between will be no more. We might as well live for something eternal right from the start.
- Remember God’s Words – they’re all you need (v. 9-12)
We are told that these words have been carefully put together. And the words from the Shepherd will guide us. Don’t go too far as to study and read other things every second. We can go too far in these things when even “Christian books” (principles and opinions) begin to drown out the simple truths that we know God is calling us to trust and act on. God wants us to understand and pursue the basics.
- Remember to trust and obey Him – keep it simple (v. 13-14)
At the end of the day, just fear God (trust Him, hold Him in reverence, love Him, delight in Him) and obey what He tells you. This is what everything boils down to. I think we can apply this by merely loving Him, loving people, hearing from His Word, obeying His Word, sharing our faith, and making disciples. As Tim Parsons tells us, we really have no business worrying about the other things until we get the basics.
Posted by: Sam Cirrincione