The Book of James – Endurance

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“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So, let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4 It is hard to rejoice when trouble comes our way. When trouble comes our way, we have all these questions that we want God to answer. Why do the wicked proper and the good suffer? Why do some people die and others live? Why does God heal some and not others? Why do I suffer when I am trying to do God’s will? You will not get an intellectual or academic answer from God. What you get is His presence. And suddenly, in His presence, all those crazy questions don’t matter anymore. You just don’t care about these unresolvable questions. You put them aside when you are in His presence, because suddenly you know that you are in the presence of something so much bigger than you are, so much grander than you or your questions. Now that I have gotten beyond the need for God to answer senseless questions, what is my part? My part is to preserve. My part is to not give up. My part is to push through. To grow in my endurance. This trouble is helping us to grow in the likeness of Jesus Christ. God wants us fully developed. Yes, we will never be perfect here on earth, but someday we sill stand before Jesus and we will be perfect like Him. I don’t always understand God’s way, but I know that it will all work out to my good. “And we know that God causes everything to […]

The Book of James – In the Valleys We Grow

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“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4 “Sometimes life seems hard to beat, full of sorrow, trouble and woe; It’s then I have to remember that it’s in the valleys I grow. If I always stayed on the mountain top and never experienced some pain, I would never appreciate God’s love and I would be living in vain. I have so much to learn and my growth is very slow; sometimes I need the mountain tops, but it’s in the valleys I grow. I do not always understand why things happen as they do, but I am very sure of one thing – my Lord will see me through. He’s never failed me yet since His grace I’ve come to know; and, I can face life’s problems, for it’s in the valley I grow. My little valleys are nothing when I picture Christ on the cross; He went through the valley of death; His victory was Satan’s loss. Forgive me, Lord, for complaining when I’m feeling so very low; just give me a gentle reminder that it’s in the valleys I grow. Continue to strengthen me Lord, and use my life each day, to share your love with others and help them find their way. Thank you for the valleys, Lord, for this one thing I know – the mountain tops are glorious, but it’s in the valley I grow.” (Author unknown) I really like the mountain tops better. I don’t like the valleys. The mountain top is the place that […]

The Book of James – Maturity

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“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” James 1:2-3 The Jewish Christians were having some problems in their personal lives and in their church fellowship. For one thing, we see that they were going through difficult testing. They were facing temptation to sin. Church members were competing for teaching offices in the church. One of the major problems was a failure to live what they were professing to believe, sounds like the churches today. The tongue was a serious problem leading to division in the church. Worldliness was another problem. The people were disobeying God. James was not discussing an array of miscellaneous problems. All of these problems had a common cause, that cause was spiritual immaturity. These Christians simply were not growing up. Hebrews tells us what was wrong with this church. This is much of our problem in our churches today. “There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.” (Hebrews 5:11-14) This is our problem in the church today; we don’t teach the basic things in God’s Word. We do not train disciples.  We only want to train church members. In our walk […]

The Book of James – Bondservant

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“James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.” James 1:1 This devotion starts our new series in the Book of James. James was the half-brother of Jesus. James and the other brothers did not believe in Jesus during His earthly ministry. Yet they were with the disciples in the upper room praying with them. After Jesus’ resurrection this convinced James that Jesus truly was the Savior. James became the leader of the church in Jerusalem. In this scripture he tells us that he was a bondservant. The term bondservant in the New Testament was a very different perception of modern slavery. It refers to someone who voluntarily served others. In most cases, it was a permanent role of service. A bondservant was considered the property of a Roman citizen holding no rights to leave the place of service. In many New Testament books, the word bondservant was used in reference to a person’s commitment to Jesus. Most of Paul’s letters begin by referring to himself as a servant of Christ Jesus. James and Jude, half-brothers of Jesus, both refer to themselves as Christ’s bondservants. The apostle Peter called himself a “servant and apostle.” The importance of these New Testament authors referring to themselves as bondservants should not be overlooked. Despite proclaiming a message of freedom from sin in Jesus Christ, these writers were dedicated to Jesus as their one master. James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was an apostle, and he was the Lord’s brother, yet he mentions not these greater things, but he takes the lowly title, in which, no doubt, he felt the highest honor, and calls himself “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Happy is […]

Spiritual Living – The Only Way to Live

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“And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.” 1 Peter 2:5 In the past few weeks I have been writing on Spiritual Living. I do believe that this is the only way to live. I don’t know that I understand living in the spirit any better than I did when I started. What I do know is that it is the only way to live. We must abide in the spirit. Unless we abide in the spirit there is no way that we can have fellowship with God.  “For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24) “Abide in the presence of God, where victory is assured. If we remain in the right place with God, He can do anything with our lives. He can work through us. There was a power and majesty that fell on Jesus when He received the Spirit. He was no longer the same. He received the mighty anointing power of God. He attained submission, and as He submitted, He was more and more covered with the power and led by the Holy Spirit. He came out of the wilderness more full of God, more clothed with the Spirit, and more ready to fight. The empowerment had such an effect on Him that other people saw it and flocked to hear Him and great blessings came to the land.” (Smith Wiggleworth) The same can happen to us if we allow the Holy Spirit to live in our life and control our life. We must yield and submit until our bodies are saturated with God, so at any moment God’s will can […]

Spiritual Living – Satan’s Wrath

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“And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice! But terror will come on the earth and the sea,  for the devil has come down to you in great anger,  knowing that he has little time.” Revelation 12:11-12 We are seeing a demonic fury directed at God and His Son Jesus Christ. The children of Satan are doing his bidding. I am to the point that I don’t even want to listen to the news. At times I think, what in the world are these people thinking. How in the world can they believe what they believe? I look at all that is happening and think there is no hope for humanity. I know in my heart that God is in control of all that is happening. I know that at some point in time Jesus will return and the world will be at peace. What is happening in our world is nothing new. Satan has been fighting God from the start of time. In Psalms we see David asking the question. “Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans?” (Psalms 2:1) Satan is fighting because he knows that his time in limited and he wants to take all of the people he can with him. What are we going to do about the wrath of Satan on the world? Paul gives us the answer. “But everything they did was determined beforehand according to your will. And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing […]

Spiritual Living – In His Image

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“For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” Romans 6:4 God created man in His image. “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27) Adam was created to be like his Maker God. But Satan persuaded him that he must do something to become like God. He must achieve that likeness by deciding and acting for himself. Through this choice Adam rejected the grace of God, choosing his own action. He wanted to unravel the mystery of his being for himself. That was the fall of man, Adam became as God in his own way. Now that he had made himself god, he no longer had a God. He ruled in solitude as a creator-god in a God-forsaken world. With the loss of the God-like nature God has given him, man had forfeited the destiny of his being. Here lies the paradox of human nature and the source of all woe. The dependents of Adam in their pride have striven to recover the divine image by their own efforts. The more serious and devoted their attempt to regain the lost image and the prouder and convincing of their apparent success, the greater their contradiction to God. In their effort to be more like a god, they grew more like the image of Satan, though they were unaware of it. The divine image which God in His grace had given to man is lost forever on the earth. This is why God gave us His Son so that we could have someone to follow to reclaim our image that […]

Spiritual Living – Marvelous Grace

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“Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Jude 3-4 Yes, God’s grace is marvelous. I am who I am only by the grace of God. I am where I am only by the love and the grace of our Lord and Savior. The problem today is that Satan, as he always does, has perverted the true Gospel. His false prophets are telling people that they can be saved and not change a thing about their lives. When Jesus came into my life, I wanted to change the way I was living. The reason that I came to Jesus was because I was not at peace with my life. There was a big hole in my spirit that needed filling and the only thing that could fill it was Jesus Christ. The grace that is preached today is a cheap grace. It is a grace that costs nothing. It is sold to us as a free ticket to heaven. It tells us that we can go on sinning as much as we want. Jesus paid the price on the Cross and it is paid in full. Yes, this is true, but this cost Jesus everything. It cost Him His life. This marvelous grace will cost us everything also. “If you refuse to take up your cross and […]

Spiritual Living – Give Thanks to God

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“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17 How do we battle Satan and his attacks on us? We give thanks and praise to God for everything. This is a difficult thing to do because we don’t want to thank God for the bad stuff, but at times the bad stuff is from God so that we can grow in our walk with God. We don’t grow on the mountain top; we grow in the valley. If we live in this world, we are going to have problems. We are going to have suffering. This is just part of living in our fallen world. “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 15:33) Jesus told us that we would have problems. The question is how do we react to these problems? Satan wants us to react by blaming God. He wants to defeat us in our walk with God. Satan keeps us from recognizing that God allows us to suffer because it is our greatest opportunity to grow in faith, experience the depth and sufficiency of the love and grace of God. We glorify God by demonstrating the victory we have in Christ in spite of the most horrendous tragedy and loss. It is not the elephants that will get us but the termites. The little irritations that are constant and common to life. They are always there, eating at us robbing us of joy and peace, consuming our emotions and causes us to live in defeat. We can usually deal with the elephants, those major crises, […]

Spiritual Living – Truth

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“Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:43-44 “Many of you have already found out and others will find out in the course of their lives that truth eludes us if we do not concentrate with total attention on its pursuit. And even while it eludes us, the illusion still lingers of knowing it and leads to many misunderstandings. Truth is seldom pleasant; it is almost invariably bitter.” (Alexander Solzhenitsyn) It is hard to find the truth in the day that we live in. Our world is telling us that truth is whatever we believe. Whatever makes us feel good is truth. Satan is a lair and he does not even know what is the truth. “Christianity is not a series of truths in plural, but rather truth spelled with a capital “T.” Truth about total reality, not just about religious things. Biblical Christianity is Truth concerning total reality and the intellectual holding of that total Truth and then living in the light of that Truth.” (Francis Schaefer) “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) We have Satan trying to convince us that there is more than one truth. He is telling us that there is more than one way to God, but Jesus tells us that He is the only way to God. “I […]