“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.” James 3.13
My wife and I attended the funeral of a man in our church this morning and one of his grandsons used this verse to describe his grandfather. It was a great encouragement to me to hear this grandson speak of his grandfather in this way. I think all of us want to be wise and endued with knowledge. Sometimes we confuse much learning with wisdom. You and I have met people who had a great deal of knowledge but seemed to lack wisdom. Wisdom is leaning how to apply what we know.
How is this wisdom useful to others? The next phrase tells us: “? Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.” Consider this translation: “By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.” Conversation in this verse translates manner of living or good conduct. We have all heard someone say that we need to “walk the walk and not just talk the talk.” It is really easy to speak about a godly life and to want to tell others how they should live for God. But the truth of the matter is this: “what we are speaks so loud that the world can’t hear what we say.” Doesn’t this demand of us a life that is lived in such a manner that how we live drives other to listen to what we say. That seems to make good sense to me.
“meekness of wisdom … ”What is that? It is a life lived without the flashy trappings that say, “Look at me. I am great.” But rather they tell the one who is watching to look to Jesus. He is the reason we are what we are. Just my thoughts …
“Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.” Psalm 143.10
I find it interesting that the psalmist would pray, “Teach me to do thy will … ” All of us need to pray that prayer at some time or another. I like this rendering: “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!” The advantage that you and I have over the psalmist is that we have God’s complete revelation to man in the form of His Word. We can look at any time we choose into His Word and read to see what His will is for us. “But,” you say, “sometimes I have a really hard time figuring out what God’s will I for me.” Let me make what sounds like a really simple statement, but it has become profound for me. God will never show you what to do that is not revealed in His Word until you do what He has already shown you to do that is revealed in His Word. Does that sound confusing? Here is what I mean. I have talked to so many believers in my years of ministry who want God to somehow show them what He wants them to do, but when I ask, “Have you been reading His Word?” the answer is, “Well, no!” God’s love letter to you clear about what He wants in your life.
Look at this phrase: “Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!” Level ground does not mean that there are no difficult paths. It means that we are on the path God wants and we trust Him to lead every step. Psalm 119.11says: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” When we listen for the Spirit’s whisper, we can take the right steps as God leads us on level ground. Just my thoughts …
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: but I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it ore abundantly.” John 10.10
Someone very close to me asked me once, “If God wants me to have the abundant life, where is it?” This was a genuine question from someone whom I considered to be a godly person, but to this one the abundant life was still a mystery. The thing that had happened in this person’s life is what Jesus describes in the opening phrase of this verse: “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy … ” Satan’s only goal for us is that he might steal our joy, kill any sense of God’s love and presence in our life, and kill any desire to serve Him. After all, if God’s doesn’t love me enough to give me the abundant life, why should I do anything for Him? And sadly this is where many of God’s children are today.
So what is this abundant life of which Jesus speaks here? Is it something that He must give us or is it something that is available and we must simply appropriate? I submit to you that it is the latter – we must simply appropriate it. If you could experience the abundant life right now, what would that look like? Would all of your problems disappear? As a parent, would your children suddenly begin being to be perfect angels? As a pastor, would your church members all be perfect representatives of Christ in your community? As a missionary, would every witness result in a salvation experience and would you be able now to get along with every other missionary on your field? This list could be endless, but the answer to each question is a resounding no!
If none of this, then what? May I submit a simple truth: “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” Does this seem too simple? Try it! If God is everywhere (and He is), then you and I can have joy no matter where we are or what is going on in our lives. May this truth energize you today as you walk with Him! Just my thoughts …
“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.” Hebrews 4.12
I believe this is one of those verses that we all know and have read and perhaps memorized, so when we read it we just kind of gloss over it. To do so would be a serious mistake. There is so much here that you and I need.
“For the word of God is quick (alive) … ” We are not dealing here with a book that is outdated, irrelevant, or out of touch with reality. Quite the contrary is true … this book is alive. What does that mean? When the Word of God speaks, God speaks. When we read this book and are guided, corrected, disciplined, encouraged, and/or taught by it, God is at work through His book, because it is alive.
“For the word of God is … powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword … ” When you think of power, what comes to mind? I think of authority and/or the ability to do something that is beyond one’s normal ability. This book speaks to and influences everyone who will take what it says and apply it. It knows how to cut away that which is unnecessary so that we are not burdened down with the excesses of life.
It has the ability to get to the inner most parts of our being: “piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow … ” When there is turmoil within, we must allow the Word of God to give us direction and light for the next step. The Word “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” It doesn’t just discern our thoughts. It discerns the intents of our heart – what it is that we are wanting to do. When what I want to do runs contrary to what the Word of God teaches, I need to forsake what I want for what God’s Word says. Just my thoughts …
“But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19.26
How many times have we thought that things we could not do God could not do? The disciples were questioning Jesus about what He had just said about how hard it was for a rich man to go to heaven. Jesus’ response was: “With men this is impossible … ” What does that mean? Simply that no rich man can go to heaven simply because he is rich. The tendency is for a rich man to believe that he can earn enough to buy his way into heaven. Jesus said that with men this is impossible. BUT with God all things are possible.
I think the important thing for us to take from this verse is that no one can earn his way to heaven. Remember, with men this is impossible. But with God salvation is possible for every an because with God all things are possible. Since God is able to save us, He is also able to meet the needs that arise in our lives every day. For those of us who are Christ-followers, it is important to remember that with God all things are possible. The moment we entertain the idea that something may be beyond God’s power, we have sinned against our almighty God. If He is ALMIGHTY, and He is, then that means He has ALL might.
The greatest comfort for the believer comes from knowing that His God loves him, knows where he is, knows what he needs, and is able to meet every need. When you and I learn to live each day with that confidence, the focus of our lives will change, the purpose of our lives will change, and the delight in serving God will grow greater every day. Just my thoughts …
“Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” 1 Peter 4.16
Suffering – everyone is familiar with it. No one likes it. At some point in time in our lives, we will all experience it. As a follower of Christ, I must never assume that because I am God’s child, I will never have to deal with suffering. In this verse Peter assumes that every one of us will suffer. So the issue is not, will I suffer, but how will I handle suffering?
“let him not be ashamed … ” There is no shame in suffering. Suffering is not always a punishment by God because we have done something that displeased Him. I believe far too many of God’s children assume that if they are experiencing suffering, they must have done something wrong and God is punishing them. This was the same assumption that Job’s friends made. Job must have done something wrong or God wouldn’t let all these bad things happen to him. You and I simply need to remember that we have no way of knowing what God is doing in our lives behind the scenes and when suffering comes we can trust Him.
“ … but let him glorify God on this behalf.” Can we give God glory in the midst of our suffering? The apostle Paul wrote: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Paul wanted his “thorn in the flesh” to go away, but God said, “No”. So Paul said, I will “glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Can you and I make that kind of statement? I certainly want to. That is my prayer in suffering. Just my thoughts …
“In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” Psalm 56.4
I remember sitting in a classroom in junior high school and when I should have been doing my homework, I was reading the words of Psalm 56 and the words of this great Psalm have stuck with me throughout my lifetime. Especially helpful are the words of the verse above. Consider them with me.
“In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust … ” As David pens these words, I can almost picture him sitting watching his sheep and thinking about all that God has done for him in his lifetime. His heart cries out, almost involuntarily, “In God I will praise his word … ” It seems to me that he is thinking, “How could I not praise Him? He has already done so much for me.” I find myself thinking those same words. God has already done so much for me in my lifetime.
And then we read these words: “ … in God I have put my trust … ” Sitting out there in some pastureland all by himself, with just his sheep, who else did he have to trust? God was all he had. Can I suggest that we never know if God is enough until He is all we have? There are days when we look around us and think, “I really am all alone. Is God even here?” and then we get the calm assurance through the Holy Spirit that yes, God is “here” and He cares more than we know.
These last words have special meaning to David: “I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” Saul wanted to kill David. It is pretty tough to keep a king from doing whatever he wants to do, but David’s heart reminded him, you do “need to fear what flesh can unto (you).” You and I need to remember that simple truth too. Just my thoughts …
“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.” Isaiah 54.17
This is quite a powerful statement: “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper … ” That is God’s declaration to His people in the Old Testament. I do not think He has changed His mind regarding His children today. God does not say that weapons will not be formed against us. But rather that those weapons will not proper. He will keep them in check. His power is greater than any other power on this earth. So, I can take Him at His word. It is critically important for us to remember that God is not sitting idly in the sky, watching things happen to us with no concern for their outcome. His concern for us is such that He always has our best interests at heart. It is so easy to forget that and begin to blame God when things don’t go the way we think they should.
It is ok for us to denounce error when it is spoken against us and about us. “ … every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.” We may say something like, “Well, I don’t like to defend myself.” In reality, when we defend ourselves against error, we are obeying God and defeating Satan in his attempts to harm the kingdom of God down here on this earth. Look at this translation: “No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declared the Lord.” (ESV) God says “I will vindicate you.” That is a real encouragement to me. I pray that it is to you as well. Just my thoughts …
“O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people. ” Psalm 105.1
How many times have you heard someone say, “Praise the Lord!” or “Thank God!” and it sounded like a trite phrase – something they just say a lot? That is not what the psalmist is talking about here. He is talking about genuine thanksgiving. “O give thanks unto the Lord … ” When our children are growing up, we teach them to say, “Thank you” when someone gives them something or does something for them. How many times have we said to them, “Say it like you mean it”? They were mouthing the words but they didn’t come from the heart.
When you and I give thanks unto the Lord, it is something that we do intentionally. It never occurs by accident, but always because we intend to do it. Is there a part of your prayer time that includes giving thanks? If not, why not? We are instructed to give thanks unto the Lord. Today would be a good day to build giving thanks into our prayer time.
The next element here is to “call upon his name … ” I believe most of us do that quite often. Our needs are great and His willingness to hear and answer prayer drives us to Him in our time of need. The final phrase in this verse should be a reflection of our walk with the Lord: “make known his deeds among the people.” People want to know what difference God really makes in our lives. When God does something that only God can do, it is time to let the world see that God makes a difference in the lives of His children. So, the next time you say, Praise the Lord, let that be a time of making known His deeds among the people. Just my thoughts …
“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen. I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46.10
We live in a culture where there are very few times when we are able to just “be still” and know anything other than the confusion going on around us. We get into our cars and when we start the car, the radio is usually blaring pretty loud. We come home at night and usually the first thing we do is turn on the TV. And when it is time to go to bed, we may turn on some music to help us go to sleep. But God said, “Be still … ” I am reminded of another verse n Exodus 14.13 when God said something similar to Israel: “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD.”
The situation that Israel faced in Exodus 14 and the ones that you and I face on a regular basis are situations in which God alone is our rescuer. When we are still, we have the opportunity to watch carefully what God is doing in us, with us, and around us. We know it is God at work when that which is accomplished is something that only God could do. If you and I can figure it out and do it, then God doesn’t have any part in the solution. But when I am willing to “stand still and know that (He) is God … ”, not only am I being obedient to what God’s Word says, but I am also learning more about this God who loves me unconditionally.
“I will be exalted among the heathen. I will be exalted in the earth.” How is God exalted among the heathen? They are able to see us “stand still” and let God work in us and through us and that exalts God in the eyes of the heathen. So in the midst of this hectic, chaotic day, find time to “stand still, and know that (He) is God … ” You will be glad you did and God will be exalted in the earth. Just my thoughts …