“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 …
“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 …
“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 …
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10.9
The simple instructions given here regarding salvation should remove all doubt from anyone’s mind about HOW to be saved. Either we HAVE confessed with our mouth and BELIEVED in our hearts that God has raised His Son Jesus from the dead or we have not. There is no mention here of a particular brand of church, or water baptism, or any other requirement – just confess and believe.
What does it mean to “confess” with the mouth? You would think everyone would understand that word. Instead, when I have asked people over these years of my ministry if they have received Christ as personal savior, that I would get a simple “yes” or “no.” instead, I hear, “I joined the church once,” or “I was baptized as a baby,” or “My parents were church-goers,” or “My granddad helped build that church.” NONE of those things, as good as they may be, is an answer to the question of receiving Christ. Let’s make a simple observation here … confession is an active verb. I must actually say something in order to confess. If a judge asks a defendant if he is guilty or not of the things with which he is charged, the judge is looking for some kind of confession, either “yes” or “no.” He will not accept a nod of the head. He must HEAR something from the defendant.
When a person has reached the place of believing that Jesus Christ actually arose from the dead, that demonstration of faith is enough to move him to CONFESS with his mouth the Lord Jesus. Salvation is the result of an active faith that results in an active confession that leads to a completed act, which is salvation. It SEEMS so simple, but some want to make it so complex. God made it simple. Let’s don’t mess it up. Just my thoughts …
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11.28
When I awoke this morning and read this verse, it was like God was saying to me, “This is for you, Jerry.” And you know what dear friend this is for you too. How many times have we started a day, only to discover that it is going to be one of “those” days when nothing goes right, everything requires a do-over, and we are at wit’s end before the day ever gets started? That’s when this verse cries out to us.
It is important to notice who is saying these thing. It is the Son of God Himself. He says to you and me, “Come unto me … ” How personally fulfilling to realize that the God of the universe wants to take time today to spend with me? Don’t think for a moment that God does not know what you are going through. He hears the faintest cry of desperation. He knows when Satan is trying to defeat us. And He cares. Just to know that He is touched with the feelings of our infirmities brings a sense of peace that can come from no other source.
“all ye that labour and are heavy laden … ” it doesn’t matter what kind of labour or what kind of burden we are dealing with, God says, “Come unto me … ” When a child is hurt or fearful, their first response is to find the nearest place of safety. God is saying, “I am here. Just run to me.” He doesn’t qualify the labor or the burden; He simply says, “Give it to me.” There is no so big that God can’t handle it and there is no burden that He cannot carry.
“I will give you rest.” This is a resolute promise, “I WILL give you rest.” Has God ever not kept a promise He made to you? Just as surely, He will keep this one too! Just my thoughts …
“Know therefore that the LORD thy God , he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7.9
These words were addressed to Moses as he was preparing the people to enter the Promised Land. They had spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness and it had been difficult for Moses for a lot of reasons. While Moses does not get to go into the Promised Land, he will take them to the bring and give them over to Joshua.
Give attention to how God starts this conversation: “Know therefore that the LORD thy God , he is God … ” we might ask why God is reminding Moses of this truth? Think back to the time when God told Moses to take a message back to the children of Israel. Moses asked God, “Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? What shall I say unto them? 14And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” (Exodus 3.13-14)
In the passage quoted above, God is once again giving His servant some words of assurance. God says to him “the Lord thy God, he is God.” Moses was being assured that his God was THE God. Not only is He THE God, He is “the faithful God … ” Guess what? This God who was assuring Moses that He was THE God is also OUR God. Take heart … Moses did.
This is the God who “ keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him … ”This covenant making God has never broken His covenant with anyone. And He won’t start now. God wants something in return from His children. He wants us to (1) love Him and (2) keep His commandments. Is that too much for God to ask of Israel or us? I think not. Just my thoughts …
“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” James 1.12
When I read this opening phrase, I am encouraged to know there is a close link between blessing and temptation. Every person reading this has experienced temptation. James tells us to (1) expect temptation and (2) endure temptation. We find these words in James 1.2-3: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” So what do we learn from these verses? We learn that there will be temptations and there will be many of them. We must not be SURPRISED when temptation comes. We must be able to recognize it and ask God for grace to endure it so we can be an overcomer and not a victim. That is when the blessing comes.
Here is further encouragement to endure temptation: “for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life … ” Notice that it is not “if” he is tried, but “when’ he is tried. When temptations come, keep the end in view … “he shall receive the crown of life … ” God’s reward for those who endure temptation is the crown of life. Think of it, God is going to give us this crown because we were overcomers and not victims. Far too many times believers get weary of the battle with temptation and throw up their hands and say, “What’s the use? I can’t seem to win this battle over this temptation.” “What’s the use?” you ask? The crown of life is the answer to “What’s the use?”.
Here is another wonderful word of encouragement: “which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” This crown of life is God’s PROMISE to us, and God always keep His promises. So today, when temptation comes, remember that you are blessed when you endure, and remember the promise of the crown of life. Just my thoughts …