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A Long, Hard Look in the Mirror

James 1:22-25 – “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

Happy 2018!

I hope that your Christmas was lovely and your New Years was fun. We had a great time visiting with family and sharing memories together. 

One of the presents that I got this year was a vanity mirror – you know the ones that light up and magnify to show every imperfection on your face. I love it! Now I can really see time marching across my face! No, seriously, I really wanted one. I was practically sitting on my bathroom counter trying to put on eyeliner. This is going to be a great help.

But it made me consider another type of glass – the one mentioned here in James. Oh, this glass shows way more imperfections that my magnifying mirror will show. And these imperfections hurt. The ones I see in my mirror just remind me that I’m not 20 anymore. 

The imperfections I see in myself that are reflected by the Perfect Law of Liberty remind me that I’m not done growing yet. I have faults, failures and shortcomings that need to be addressed. I see opportunities missed and conversations squandered. But I also see successes and accomplishments. I see places where I have been obedient. I see times when Jesus was smiling on me.

Today is the first day of 2018. It is a time for goals and/or resolutions. It is a time for reflection and thinking ahead. Today is the perfect day to sit down and take a good, hard look in the mirror…of God’s Word. It is the perfect day to start a Bible study, begin reading through the Bible, start that journal you have been thinking about, begin that prayer time that has been convicting your heart – whatever the burden God has laid upon your heart to begin doing, do it today!

And when you get up to do the other things that this day is bringing, don’t forget what you saw in the mirror of God’s Word. Let it penetrate and change you. Let it open you up to His will for your life. Let Him have control this year. Live like you believe.

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James 4:7 – “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Let me first just say that I’m sorry. I haven’t been faithful to my blog in a really long time. God is the God of second chances and I’m claiming that one!

Now then, about this verse –

This verse was mentioned in our BTC lesson last night at church. (Side note – Man! Was the sermon given last night ever a blessing! We left church at 9 last night!  Not one time did I even want to look at my watch! God had me captivated! The message was thought provoking and heart wrenching. God is so good!)   I wanted to take a closer to look at it today. Think for a moment about the order of this verse. 

First, “Submit yourselves therefore to God.” The part about the devil comes second. You see, we think we need to flee from the devil to draw closer to God. We get it backwards. We are supposed to FIRST submit ourself to God. That means, we need to give Him control. We need to be willing to follow after Him and do what He says to do, without complaining. Submitting, to me, means giving over control in regards to decision making. I can get things done. There are days I feel like I get more done before I leave the house than most people do in an entire day. But I don’t like making decisions. I will defer that duty as much as possible. I think part of it is the responsibility aspect of it. Like most people, I want as little responsibility as possible. God is wanting me to turn that over to Him. The key is, however, that I have to be willing to follow when He leads. 

And then there is the second part of this verse – “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  Does this mean that I have some sort of power over the devil? Only when I do the first part first. When I am submitted to God, the devil doesn’t seem so difficult to walk away from. His temptation and taunting doesn’t seem quite so overwhelming when I’m walking with and submitting to God. 

So I want to encourage you today to make the choice to submit to God first. Do it now. Ask Him to be in your day. Allow Him to show you in His word how to draw closer to Him. Listen to Him when you pray and hear Him as you go through your day. And then, when the devil rears his ugly head, it won’t seem so tough to turn away. With God, things are purer, brighter and more desirable, even when it seems tough. Happy Monday. 

Words

James 5:12 – “But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.”

Why do we feel that we need to use God’s name in vain? Are we trying to verify the intent of our words? Are we trying to confirm our words? Are we trying to sound important? What is it? Why do people think they sound intelligent when using it?

James is reminding us that we need to have honesty and integrity and truthfulness in our words. We shouldn’t have to verify or solidify what we are saying by invoking God’s holy name. No, our words should stand alone. 

But they don’t. Too often we tell that little white lie or stretch the truth just a bit or leave out a few of the details. In other words, we hide the truth and smother our honesty in hopes to make ourself look just a bit better. 

I think we all are guilty of this from time to time. And shame on us for that being the case.

I don’t have any profound advice or words of wisdom. Just this bit of info to offer you -watch your words. They mean something- to everyone, including, and especially, God. 

Matthew 12:36,37 – “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”

On my heart

James 5:16 – “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

This verse has been on my heart and in my mind the last couple of days. 

As with any sermon, there are many lessons that speak different things to different people. And although this specific verse may or may not have been used, God brought it to my mind when I was at church in Sunday. 

We NEED to pray for one another. 

I began studying different portions of my Bible at the beginning of the year. After my Bible study, I began an “On my heart” section of each page. I have found that it keeps growing and growing. As I open my heart to those God lays upon it, my list gets longer and longer. I find myself praying for different people randomly throughout the day. God brings them to my heart and I say a word of prayer for them. 

Now, does that make me righteous and holy? Absolutely not. It does show me that I am being available. That’s what God wants. He wants availability and teachability. He wants me to listen closer to Him in all areas of my life – prayer, decisions, actions and words, just to name a few. 

I want to encourage you to start an “On my heart” list. God wants your availability. The best way to get started is by listening. And once you hear, act. That’s part of being available- the willingness to act. Pray for one another. Let’s see what God is going to do today. 

Another temptation 

James 1:2-4 – “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

Usually when I think of temptation, I think of doing something I know I shouldn’t – like eating that donut as big as your head or watching a show that you know you wouldn’t watch if Jesus was physically sitting on the couch next to you.  But let me ask this question- what if self pity is a temptation? I mean, think about it, haven’t you ever just felt the tug to feel sorry for yourself about something? “Poor little me, I have so much to do and I am so under appreciated.” 

I know I feel that way from time to time. In fact, I was there last night. I had thought my week was set. I had a large function behind me, laundry was on its way to the finish line, lunch was ready for the next day – I was set. Then, I get an email about an unexpected practice this week. Boom! Monkey wrench! Suddenly, I’m rearranging and contemplating and becoming more and more anxious because this monkey wrench felt like the Empire State Building had been dropped into the middle of my week. Now, I’m over exaggerating, but that’s what it felt like. 

I could almost see the devil in the corner rubbing his greedy little hands together saying, “Ooh weee, we got her now!” And for a time he did. So sad. I stewed. I cleaned (that’s what I do when I get frustrated). I felt sorry for myself. I was tired of doing and being everything for everyone. 

And then it happened, God started whispering to my heart. He started reminding me that He had provided my husband to help me figure things out. He had provided friends to be there when one of the kids needed a ride. He had provided Grandpa to help on Tuesday nights. He had provided. 

God was trying to grow my faith and my patience. Patience for not only my situation but also for myself. I am constantly learning that I need to chill out and let God do His thing. He must get so tired of teaching me that lesson but praise His name, He never quits. 

Drawing up

James 4:8 – “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”


This picture was taken Wednesday night before church started. Isn’t it beautiful?!

When I first noticed it, the scientific part of my brain kicked in and I thought about the sun drawing water into the sky to create clouds. Then I began praying for rain – we need it very badly. Then I saw something different – now this may be a bit crazy, but play along. 

Our sun lights our earth. It creates an amazing amount of light that shadows are the only thing we see relating to darkness when we see it shining. The sun “draws” water into the sky through evaporation. It uses that water to create new clouds to bring water in the form of rain, usually, to hydrate the ground to grow plants. 

Jesus is the Light of the world. He shines so much Light into our life that darkness runs and hides. He also draws men (and women) unto Himself. He brings us to Him to teach us, nurture us and build in us a new creation. 

Are you seeing the connection? Can you see the metaphor in the picture? Do you appreciate the fact that God painted that picture in the sky to remind us of His handiwork in our life?

Wow. I just love it when God does something like that!

Let God draw you to Him. Let the Light of His love flood over your heart and chase away the darkness. Let His nurturing Spirit and His comforting warmth bring you joy today. Happy Friday. 

Friendship

James 2:23 – “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.”

We have all had or do have a best friend. That person who we tell everything to, with whom we discuss our problems, share our dreams and hash out our fears. That person who understands when the words just won’t come. That person who is not afraid to tell us that we are acting stupid. We all need that person in our life. 

So, what does it mean to be a “friend of God”? God doesn’t need council. He doesn’t need someone to hear His fears or tell Him when He is doing wrong. He doesn’t have those issues. So, how can we possibly be a friend to God?

James reminds us that Abraham was God’s friend because he obeyed. He listened and then he acted. God doesn’t need us to tell Him what to do. He doesn’t need us to solve problems. He wants us to obey. 

Now, here is the difference in a relationship and a religion- rules. God wants us to obey Him out of love not out of a desire to keep rules. Some people love rules. They love the structure and security of rules. They need rules to have order in their life. I guess that’s why when the writers of the Bible were inspired to write what they did, they speak of “commands” or “commandments”.  Rules can be broken or bent. Commands leave no room for option. They require obedience. When you think of those people in a military type position following commands, they are doing so because they love what they do. They have a sense of honor and respect and a love for what and whom they are fighting for. 

When God gives us commands, He gives them to us in love. And when we follow them, we follow them out of love and respect and honor for Him. 

When our friends give us advise, they are essentially giving us commands. They are giving them out of love and respect and the  desire to see good in our life. When we listen and go through with their “commands”, we are doing so because of our love for our friend and the respect we have for their suggestions. 

Being a friend of God doesn’t mean that we are commanding Him. No, just the opposite. We are following His commands because we love Him. His commands are not rules to be broken and bent. They are commands for our life to create righteousness within us.