“Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.” James 1.21
Of all the New Testament books, many would agree that James is one of the most practical books when it comes to applying the truth of daily living for God. Verses 1 through 18 of this first chapter of James are filled with many great truths. Then in verses 19 and 21 we read, “wherefore” meaning we are to look back to what has been previously stated in order to make application of what is about to be said.
We pretty well understand “filthiness” but connected with that is “superfluity of naughtiness”. Since we don’t usually speak like that, what does it mean? One translation says “rampant wickedness”. James is calling for us as followers of Christ to live lives that are not perfect but “above reproach.” Let’s not intentionally give the world a reason to criticize our Savior because we repeatedly make bad choices with consideration for the consequences.
“receive with meekness the engrafted word … ” Why should we be meek in the face of God’s Word speaking to us? Any other attitude tends to build a wall between God’s truth and us. I WANT to know what God is telling me. I do not want to intentionally build a wall that will keep His Word from penetrating my spirit. A meek spirit on my part will ensure my attitude is right. God makes the choice to “engraft” His Word into my life. That means that He attaches it securely within me so that I cannot ignore it. When you and I find ourselves successfully ignoring God’s Word, we have created a serious calloused place in our spirit that KEEPS this engrafted Word from doing its job. THAT is a dangerous place to be. Just my thoughts …
“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” 1Timothy 1.15
Sometimes when I read this verse, if I am not careful, I get caught up in the statement that Paul gives about himself. He said that he was the chief of sinners. I do not want to quarrel with him about that. He knows his past better than I do. But I do want my focus to remain on the main thought of this verse: “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners … ”
On my two visits to the Holy Land, I will quickly admit that some sites spoke to my heart more than others. Among those sites were two in particular: Golgotha (the place of the skull), which was the place of the crucifixion, and the Garden Tomb that is still empty. Each time I saw them, they were both stark reminders of WHY Jesus came to this earth in the first place. He did not come to work miracles, even though He did a number of them, He did not come to be a phenomenal teacher, even though He was the best that ever was. He did not come to die as a martyr, even though that was something that was talked about then and is still talked about in some circles today.
It can’t be made any clearer than this: “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners … ” No matter what else seems to be of major importance in my life today, I must NEVER forget that Jesus came to SAVE sinners. I am one of those sinners, but there are so many more who have NEVER even heard that Jesus came, must less that He came to die for their sin. I don’t want to ever lost sight of WHY He came and my responsibility to this lost world BECAUSE He came. Just my thoughts …
“And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Colossians 3.17
The totality of each day’s actions needs to be governed by the words of this verse. The word “whatsoever” is all-inclusive. Could we approach this day with this attitude? “Lord, I want to be so attentive to the Spirit’s voice, that when He speaks to me in a whisper, I will hear Him. I do not want to argue with Him but I want to follow His leadership completely.” How different would your day be if that becomes your prayer right now?
Perhaps the greatest part of the struggle for each of us is found in this last phrase: “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Again, I’m not sure how difficult this is for you and how dramatically it would change your life. I do know this, when you and I do things each day that are NOT done in the name of the Lord Jesus, that means we are acting in a purely selfish manner and God is not glorified by such actions. When we CONSCIOUSLY think about our actions and realize that we are God’s hands, feet, and voice in this world, suddenly that things that I DO, the things that I SAY, and the places that I GO take on a new significance.
Do you think the Colossian Christians had some special need that Paul was addressing, or could he speaking to all of God’s children (including us) through his words here to the Colossian believers? I tend to think the latter is true. Our lives are as much n view here as those first century believers. May God’s Spirit have our attention from this moment on today? Just my thoughts …
“In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.” Deuteronomy 30.16
I am immediately drawn to the words: (1) I command thee, (2) love the Lord, (3) walk in His ways, and (4) keep His commandments and statutes and His judgments. These instructions given to God’s people, Israel, can certainly be APPLIED to us today. I am fearful that far too many of God’s children read what God tells us we need to be doing and then, whether actually saying it or just ignoring it, say to God, “No thanks. I like my life the way it is.” Can I say this carefully without being offensive? God is not in the business of necessarily caring what I like. He is far more concerned with bringing you and me to a place of being like His Son, Jesus.
Look carefully at these words: “For whom he did foreknow, he also dis predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and who he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Romans 8.29-30) We all like to camp on v. 28 (all things work together for good … ) but the Holy Spirit’s conversation with us doesn’t end there. I am deeply moved by the truth that God WANTS me to be conformed to the IMAGE of His Son, Jesus. I want to say to God, “Whatever it takes, Lord, I am willing to experience in order to BE all you want me to be.” Is that a worthy prayer for us all to pray today? Just think about it. Just my thoughts …
“Wherefore thou are great, O LORD God: for there is none like the, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.” 2 Samuel 7.22
Most of us would NEVER publicly challenge this first statement about God, but how many times have we LIVED like there was someone or something greater than our God? God has just spoken to David in such a remarkable way and promised him a great future for his son Solomon. And David’s response was this: “Wherefore thou are great, O LORD God … ” Only God could have MADE and KEPT the promise He had just made to David. Think about this! How many promises has God MADE to you and KEPT? If you are like me, you can’t count them all. They are more than memories … they are milestones in our walk with God.
“there is none like the, neither is there any God beside thee … ” Do you see it? None like thee? “neither … any … beside thee … ” Not only is there NO OTHER God LIKE this God. There is no other look alike or want-to-be god who is ANYTHING like our God! Are you feeling special yet? David was!
Now for David’s closing thought: “according to all that we have heard with our ears.” Nathan, prophet of God, had just finished talking with David ABOUT God. David had seen and heard God work in his life and the life of his family so many different times. He had just been reminded one more time of Who God is and What God could do. When you and I are careful to watch what goes on in our lives day-by-day, we cannot escape seeing the hand of God at work over and over. It is SO important for us to do what David did – share with all who would listen and read, what God had done and was doing in his life and in his kingdom. Let’s be ALL ABOUT that sharing! Just my thoughts …
“See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves and to all men.” 1 Thessalonians 5.15
There are some people in our world who have a bent toward evil thinking, no matter what anyone else does or says. It is sad that Paul found it necessary to remind the Thessalonian believers and us this: “See that none render evil for evil unto any man … ” It doesn’t say don’t render evil to just believers, but do not render evil to any man. The inherent characteristic in the heart of every believer ought to be a heart of love for those whom Jesus loved. Never forget that we must “count no man cheap for whom Christ died.” To treat others with an evil spirit is to build a wall that we can’t get over rather than a bridge that will help guide them to Christ.
The flipside of this issue is to “ever follow that which is good … ” The supernatural response to the world around us is to “ever follow that which is good … ” When you and I do something that the world would ever expect, we are never more like Christ than at that moment. And just to remind us again of the universality of this supernatural response, we read: “both among yourselves and to all men.”
What can you and I do yet today that would leave the world standing amazed at what God is doing through us? Could we SPEAK a word of kindness? Could we DO an act of kindness? Could we show Christ’s LOVE to someone who sincerely believes that God absolutely does not love them? Let God’s Holy Spirit guide you. He does that best when you and I give up OUR control and put everything in His hands. Once again, these are just MY thoughts …
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were called in one body; and be ye thankful.” Colossians 3.15
The practical truths spoken in this verse are well worth our consideration. “let the peace of God rule in your hearts … ” I don’t know that I have ever met a follower of Christ who did not want “the peace of God” in his heart. For many of God’s children, they believe that this “peace of God” is something that God has said we CAN have but they don’t know WHERE to find it. Paul tells us to “let” the peace of God rule in our hearts. It sounds to me like whether or not God’s peace rules in our hearts is up to US and not God. If that is the case, what is the problem?
In John 14.27 Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Once again, peace is something Jesus gives us. Why then do so many still not have it. I believe Paul gives us the answer in Philippians 4.6-7: “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Can I put this in the simplest possible terms for us to understand? Paul says, (1) pray about everything, (2) worry about nothing and (3) transfer control of everything to God, AND in return God will give you His peace. I don’t really believe that needs to be explained, just believed and practiced.
In closing, Paul says, “and be ye thankful.” Oh that this would be the daily trademark of our walk with God – thankful hearts. Just my thoughts …
“I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.” Psalm 119.93
We have all heard the phrase and maybe used it ourselves: “famous last words.” Those are the words we want to remember that someone said as their life was coming to an end. It seems that here the psalmist is attaching this kind of significance to the words quoted above. You and I would do well to emulate his attitude here: “I will never forget thy precepts … ” How many times have we been in church and heard the pastor say something that really resonated with us and we said to ourselves: “I don’t want to forget that. I’m going to write it down.” Do you STILL remember it? Do you know WHERE you wrote it down? Have you ever gone back to look at it? Hear this again: “I will never forget thy precepts … ” When you are reading your Bible and come across something that really speaks to you, how do you remember it? Do you mark it somehow so you can go back to it? I do!
Perhaps of greater significance is what he says next: “ … with them thou hast quickened me.” Quickened in its use here means to make alive or to revitalize. Do you follow his logic here? The precepts of God have given him life and/or have revitalized him. That is what time spent with God and Hi Word will do for each one of us. Hebrews 4.12 describes the Word of God with these words: “For the Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
If we learn nothing else from these words, let’s embrace the psalmist’s idea here that God’s precepts (teachings) have the power to revitalize our lives and t help us embrace real life-change. Just my thoughts …
“Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16.24
Whenever Jesus talks to us about prayer, we do well to give attention to WHAT He says. And in this verse He says a lot. This concept of asking in prayer in Jesus’ name was a new concept to the disciples. He said, “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name …” I am fearful that so often we grow to think that if we just tack this little phrase “in Jesus Name” on to the end of our prayers, somehow we have met the requirement for answered prayer. The key here is to ask “in (His) name.” that means to ask as though He were doing the asking. In order to do that, we must allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in knowing WHAT to ask.
Jesus DELIGHTS in answering the prayers of His children. He says, “ask, and ye SHALL receive … ” If you remember your English classes, you remember that the word “shall” used in the second or third person is a DISTINCT AFFIRMATION that the thing will be done. Why does Jesus delight in answering our prayers? “that y(our) joy may be full.” God does not want His children wandering through this life joyless. That is certainly not a testament to His goodness and His grace. How much better is it for this world to see a joy filled Christian who is bubbling over and can’t wait to tell someone else why!
Ask yourself, “Is my life filled with joy?” And if it is not, then why not? Have you not “asked”? Or have you not asked “in Jesus’ name”? or has He answered and yet you have not been displaying the joy He promised? It is yours Claim it and display it. Just my thoughts …
“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1.8
There are some verses that you read and you say, “I like that.” Some you read cause you to say, “I love that.” And some cause you to say, “Wow, I so believe that!” This is just such one of those verses. The God Who spoke these words became so real to me today after the message that our grandson, who had battled for life from day one (over two years ago) went to meet his Creator today. I came to realize anew and afresh that although life if filled with changes – some welcomed and some not – but our God is ALWAYS the same. THAT is comforting!
“I am Alpha and Omega …” Everything – I mean EVERYTHING – starts and ends with Him. Although this baby boy will be so desperately missed, as I pillow my head tonight, he is whole and he is safe in the arms of Jesus. That old song, “Heaven’s Sounding Sweeter All the Time” became a little more real for me today. So many I have loved are already there – they are waiting for the rest of us to come.
The last two words of this verse speak volumes to me: “the Almighty.” Can you, even in your wildest imagination, think of something that God CAN’T do? Neither can I. He IS the Almighty One! Tomorrow I may face something that I can’t handle – but He can! I may face a temptation that I will struggle with greatly, because I don’t want to yield – and He will be the Almighty One to see me through it. Life is TOO short to have to go through it with a God who is Not ALMIGHTY. But we don’t have to. Just my thoughts …