Saturday, August 29, 2015

Philipians 2:3-8

Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

Paul is exhorting the church at Philippi to love one another through humility.  We are to abandon our own selfishness, which is still within our fallen bodies, and submit to the will of others out of love for the body of Christ.  The warning to not follow our own selfish ambition and avoid conceit is seen often in scripture, Paul warns the Galatians in 5:26, “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”  Likewise, we see the exhortation to humility elsewhere in scripture, particularly in Paul's letters to the churches. Romans 12:10 “Love one another with brotherly affection.  Outdo one another in showing honor.” Or in Ephesians 5:21, “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”  Here again, we see the reason for our submission, out of reverence for Christ.  I am supposed to love my brothers and sisters in Christ in the same way that He first loved us, because it is my hearts desire to do so, not just because it was commanded.  I think the world would see this as a burden, something that I am being forced to do against my will, and indeed I am a bond-servant to Christ in that my life was purchased out of death by His blood, but like a bond-servant chooses to be a slave even after his indenture is complete, I gladly and wholeheartedly submit to the will of God out of love for the Master who saved me.  So how will I practically apply this wonderful truth to my life?  Through prayer and meditation on the Word of God, that is the only way I can adjust my heart to willingly submit to God's will and abandon my selfishness and conceit.  So this week I will meditate on and memorize Proverbs 15:33, “The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.”


Philippians 2:3 reads, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourself.” Lending a hand to others feels good. How many of us have volunteered to do a service project or help out someone in our church and left feeling slightly powerful from how nice it feels to be thanked or felt appreciated? I find that often when I feel like I made a difference, when God was able to use me, that I leave with feelings of pride and self-satisfaction. Galatians 5:25-26 says to not become boastful, but instead to live by the Spirit and to walk by the Spirit. I can not counter this issue of pride all on my own, but instead with the power of Christ through his Spirit, by walking in the ways of Christ. Christ is the true and perfect example of humility. Philippians seems to say that in order to have a humble mind to regard one another as more important as myself. The solution to my problem of pride is not to stop helping others or trying to lend a hand to others in need, but instead change my mind, making it a humble mind. When I have prideful feelings after being able to help I need to see the person I was able to help as more important as myself. If I am reminded that God does not need me, but instead chose to use me, I can then start to realize that the person I am lending a hand to does not need me, but instead God chose to cross our paths and give me the ability to reach out. The sentence in On Being a Servant of God that I have become well aquainted with does not read, Ministry takes place when divine resources meet human needs through loving channels to the glory of God and the glory of self. God wants to use the humble as His loving channels, not selfish channels. My application to this verse is to imagine others as more important than myself, and remember that as I serve, God is only choosing to use me, not needing to use me.


Philippians 2:4 “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Counting others more significant than yourself is a matter of the heart, an inward change that needs to happen in response to the Lord's great loving sacrifice for us.  From Mark 12:30-31 “...and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” and “ shall love your neighbor as yourself...”  These are the two greatest commandments, and they represent what should be in the heart of all who believe.  Looking out for the interests of others, however, is a change in practice, as a response to counting others more significant than yourself.  Paul tells the Roman church (Romans 15:2) “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”  This is a command to look out for the good of your neighbor for his exhortation.  Again in (1 Cor 10:24) “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.”  It's this change in practice that proclaims to the world that there has been a change in our hearts; the love of Christ caused this change and the love of Christ is seen through it.  Therefore it is simply not enough for me to feel love for others, but I must also show love by looking out for the interests of others.  How can I accomplish this on a daily basis?  This week I will actively look for opportunities to look out for the best interests of my team over myself, so feel free to ask me how I served someone else today.


Philippians 2:4 reads, “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” This verse gives me the mental picture of a team, a team that has to look out for others in order to keep the whole team motivated for practice, pushing themselves to the fullest, and being willing to let someone else have the winning point. At times a team member will have to sacrifice their interests in order to serve another on their team and eventually the betterment of the team as a whole. Colossians 3:13 has a great phrase when describing unity. It says to “bear with one another,” while forgiving one another. Often when you look out for the interests of others you are left bearing something with them, be it a trial they are going through or something you are having to warn them of. Either way, often ‘looking out for others’ means giving more than advice, or being a metaphorical lighthouse or traffic cone; it means more than just looking or pointing out. Looking out for the interest of others means we bear their burdens and weaknesses (Romans 15:1). 1 Thessalonians 5:14 paints a picture of what it may look like to look out for the interests of others. It says, “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” Looking out for others will require patience of me. I will need to be patient with myself when I am my natural self-centered state, failing to live out this verse and especially patience when helping someone and bearing their burdens. Helping does not always involve advice or physically help, but also encouragement and motivation. Just like a team does not only survive solely off of practice and advice, but also support and motivation. 1 Thessalonians also says to admonish the unruly. Often, looking out for the good of others involves warning or rebuking them, drawing them closer to God, who cares about them more than I could ever. Humility is the key when putting others above yourself and it is an ongoing challenge for me. My needs are always my first thought and first care, yet God calls me to care for the interests of others and love my neighbor more that myself. I am going to put the acronym JOY on my door as a reminder that Jesus comes first, then others, them yourself, hopefully this will be a reminder to put the needs of others first.


Philippians 2:5-6  “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,”

Paul exhorts us to have one mind among the body of believers, which is ours in Christ.  This is a mind towards humility, both towards other believers and also in the world.  Our model for this behavior is Jesus who, though sitting at the right hand of the Father and in all things equal with God, humbled Himself into a human existence to do the will of the Father.  Jesus himself proclaimed this to be the case, and in return, (John 5:18) “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”  (John 14:28) “You heard me say to you, 'I am going away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”  So if Jesus, the Christ, the incarnate Lord of all creation, would humble himself so greatly, how much more willing should we, a bunch of sinners saved by grace, be to humble ourselves to the will of the Father?  I think as the day draws near when I will find out where I am going to spend the next six months, I have a wonderful opportunity to practically apply this message of submission to the will of God.  I will pray for a spirit of obedience and humility, to be joyful in whatever calling the Lord has for my life.


Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus who although existed in the form of God did regard equality with God a thing to be grasped. Jesus was the epitome of humility, there has been no one of earth who has succumbed to the humility that Christ lived every day on earth. Christ came from the most highly of position to the most lowly of position. Philippians 2:7 says he “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” Colossians 1:19 says that all of God’s fullness dwelled in him, and John 5:18 says that Christ was calling God his own Father, making Himself equal with God. Christ was fully God, yet he came to earth born in a stable to a carpenter, and end the end went to the cross, a guiltless man, for the sins of the world, the world in which many hated and despised him. There are too many examples of Christ’s humility to count because every breath of his was of humility and meekness. An example that always stands out to me is when he washes the feet of the disciples in John 13. Jesus kneels down to the lowest spot of those who follow him, to the dirtiest part of the bodies and actually cleans their dirty feet with part of his garment, making himself dirty while their feet are left spotless. Jesus came to this earth to serve others not to be served. Despite being fully God, Jesus says in John 15:28 “the Father is greater than I.” He does not even regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, saying that the father has a different position than him. When Jesus tells the disciples to follow him in Luke 9, he even says “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." How many times do I pridefully take on positions, or hold myself above others when the King of Kings was the most humble of all. My application of this verse is to picture John 13 and Jesus kneeling to wash the disciples’ feet when deciding if I am being humble or prideful in situations, to use Christ as my example and gauge of true humility.


Philippians 2:7  “but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”

Just as we were created in the image of God, when the incarnate Lord came to earth He was born in the likeness of men.  He could have come in radiant glory, righting the wrongs of society and casting down the evil of humanity with His perfect justice, but lucky for us His glory was veiled and the judgment due to us was withheld in exchange for mercy (Matt 12:7).  He could have been born in a palace, for indeed He was not only the king of Israel, but the king of the world.  Instead He was born in a stable and laid in a manger, where lowly shepherds worshiped Him rather than the local aristocracy (Luke 2:7).  When God came to earth in the likeness of men he indeed emptied Himself of all that would, at first glance, appear to be Godly.  But all would soon see that this man was so much more than a mere carpenter's son, for He lived His life as a servant of the will of the Most High and exchanged His glory for meekness, His majesty for humility, and His wrath for gentleness.  In doing so He conquered the hardness of my heart, along with many others.  Without a great army He conquered death itself.  This is my example in life.  Not to live under the law of death but rather the law of life, which is to love God and love my fellow man (Mark 12:30-31).  Not to work towards my own exaltation, but to humble myself to service in building the Kingdom of God.  As a practical application, I will make it a point to go to the Lord in prayer on my knees, as a reminder of the humility I should have before Him.


But emptied Himself taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. The very familiar phrase, a bond- servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle set apart for the gospel of God. Paul begins his letter’s this way, there is no mistaking it, and when reading on the life of Paul there is no denying that Paul did live like a bond-servant to Christ. Even the demon possessed girl in Acts 16 calls Paul a bond-servant of the Most High God. The idea of the bond-servant has always stood out to me as a celebrity for Christ, being a part of Christ’s posse, as cheesy as it sounds. Living a life that honors Christ, living with Christ as the gauge for humility and love, living radically for Christ are all things I picture when I imagine Paul and other true bond-servants for Christ. Living with one purpose, as if actually bound in servant hood with nothing but devotion. The part of the picture that is a challenge to piece together is the fact that as a bond-servant of Christ, we do receive wages. As children of Christ we have a powerful and gracious father, and we have treasures stored up for us in heaven. Christ emptied himself, become a bond-servant so that those who serve him and his Father can enjoy all the glory of God one day. When I look at my life I don’t see a bond-servant. More often than not, fear, doubt, pride, and selfishness are instead what I am bound to. This verse spoke to me and reminded me of all the ways I still do not die to self, all the things that hold me back from a life that is of a bond-servant. My application of this verse is to try and be more aware of what hold me back each day in servant hood, looking at these things that bind me and then comparing the sacrifice to that of Christ as he poured himself out as a bond-servant for me.


Philippians 2:8  “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Here we finally see the result of the humility of Jesus, His purpose for His incarnation here on earth.  Death, sacrificed as a lamb for the payment of my sin.  His sacrifice, though willing, grieved Him greatly, as we see in (Matt 26:39) “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”  It was profound humility that is shown through profound obedience to the will of the Father, Jesus says, (John 10:17-18) “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.  I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.  This charge I have received from my Father.”  It was through His death, and then His resurrection, that we receive salvation.(Rom 5:19) “For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.”  This is our righteous example of obedience in life, Christ on the cross, and because He rose again we can follow his example of obedience, even to the point of death.


Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. While working through my IBS, I discovered that team Guatemala would in actuality not be teaching for a few months out of the six. For many, this may have come as good news, but none the least normal to most. For me, that moment was such a letdown that It sent me into a break down. How possibly could I go more than half of a year without even stepping into the classroom? In my break down I felt as if I was wrestling with God. I thought I had given teaching to the Lord saying, you have my all and that includes my passions, I serve You, not the flesh, but as I prayed and wrestled I came to realize how this was actually not true at all. It was not a simple prayer of releasing my wants to God either, I had to realize how tightly I held onto the hope of teaching soon. God had to show me how wrong it was to care this much. Dead men have no rights, and I certainly felt like I had a right. Christ was obedient to the point of death. I am reminded in Matthew 26:39 how this obedience did not come easy to Jesus, he still had the body of man and still suffered the fullness of his crucifixion. Matthew 26:39 reads, “And He went a little beyond them and fell on His face and prayed saying, “My father if it is possible let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will but as You will.” I still am not able to completely let go of teaching, I know God forgives me but I still need to be able to say, “not as I will but as You will.” Obedience in this matter is not really hard, we are of course going to continue through the program, but the issue of obedience in my heart. Do I chose to make an argument in my head saying it’s okay I’ll eventually get to teach, or it won’t seem like that long, or do I choose to pick up my cross and follow Him? I need to continue to pray for constant releasing of rights, that I would not just have a good attitude and use logic around the situation I don’t find ideal, but that I would just release all that I am holding too tightly to.


Monday, August 24, 2015

John 14:15-19

John 14:15 If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

With these 9 words Jesus tells us that true love will result in a willing obedience to Him. It is a shocking statement for those of us who often do not keep His commandments (which is all of us), since we could possibly surmise that in not doing so we do not love Him. This is not the only place where God promises to love those who keep His commandments, and it is particularly seen throughout Deuteronomy, 10:12-13 for example, “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?” Now that last part is interesting; these commandments are for our own good. These are not just a bunch of frivolous orders given by an ego-maniacal god to satisfy a sense of self-importance, but rather more like the loving teachings of a concerned parent, who is sorely grieved by our disobedience. If we truly love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (which Jesus tells us is the greatest commandment), then it will be our hearts desire to keep His commandments. Love your neighbor as yourself, this is the other great commandment that should regulate all of our interactions with other people in this world. The only way to keep this commandment is to keep the first and truly love God, without His love it is not possible to love others as we have been called to do. I have taken a cue from others and wrote Mark 12:29-31 on my hand as a reminder to love my God and love others.


John 14:15 reads, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” Such a simple statement, yet it has the power to change lives. The ramifications of this statement are huge though. It is saying that If I truly love Christ, if I truly am a servant and child of God then it should show. It also says that if I don’t keep His commandments then I am not showing love towards the one who outpoured all His love for me, a sinner. Christ adds on to this in verse 21 by saying he will disclose himself to those who keeps His commandments. He is saying that he will show us his glory and reveal himself. 1 John 5:3 says that His commandments are not even burdensome, that I should just simply walk in them. His commandments go against the world and the desires of my flesh, and I daily struggle with the ones that Christ said are the greatest. Love God with ALL my heart, and love my neighbor as MYSELF. Yet it says they are not burdensome. I need a change of heart. Realizing that if Christ loved me to the point of death, then I can daily try to walk in a way that loves God with ALL my heart, ALL my soul, ALL my mind, and ALL my strength. That I can put others before myself. This short verse really calls for a dying to self. I can’t do these things without God’s strength. They are still a burden to me and a daily struggle, but the first four words are my motivation. IF you love me. I need to pray every morning to be filled with the Spirit, to have God’s discernment and to reflect on what His love looks like so that I have it more on the forefront of my mind. I want Romans 8:39 to go along with this reflection too though, that nothing can separate me from the Love of God.


John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,

What an amazing truth, Jesus our intercessor petitioned the Father to send us the Holy Spirit, who will remain with us forever. Later in verse 26 Jesus tells us, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” This really identifies for us the purpose of sending the Holy Spirit, He is the method by which we learn all things and remember that which Christ has already taught us. Since Jesus ascended to the Father we have needed the Holy Spirit to speak to us on His behalf, just as Jesus speaks to the Father on our behalf. I think of trying times where a comforting verse will come to mind, either for myself or for someone else, and I feel that it has been brought to mind by the Holy Spirit. This is one of the reasons why He is called our “Helper”. Back in verse 12, Jesus tells us, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” With the help of the Holy Spirit, and really through His power entirely, we are to be able to do great works here on earth. So my prayer is really that I submit to the power of the Holy Spirit within me, so that He can work through me to do the will of the Father. I want to empty myself and be filled with Him.


I John 14:16 reads, “I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper that He may be with you forever.” God chose not to leave use here on earth alone, from the beginning of time He knew we needed the Spirit to stay within us to guide us towards the truth. John 16 talks about how the Spirit will disclose the truth to believers and that He will glorify God as he guides us. When reflecting on gifts God has given me I often focus on my salvation, talents, or my circumstances. I never think about the gift of the Spirit and how it was God’s love poured out into my heart. The Spirit is constantly doing work in me, helping me, convicting me, and comforting me. Since reading Be Filled Now by Roy Hession, I have found myself asking God for a fill of Himself, that I would be less of me and more of Him. I would previously be frustrated with myself and ask God for a change of circumstances, but now my prayers are rather different. “God, would you fill me with your Spirit, give me your discernment and walk with me in this challenging time, I feel like I can’t do this, but I know you’re with me every step of the way.” It is amazing to me that God would simply give His Spirit to live within us, as a promise as what is to come and a helper right now. I Thessalonians 5:19 talks about not quenching the Spirit, but instead giving thanks and rejoicing in every circumstance. An ungrateful or pessimistic heart sounds like it smothers the Spirit within me. Asking God for a filling of His Spirit has now become a regular part of my morning prayer to God because it’s when I feel my most empty. I want to continue this and be more thankful for the gift of the Spirit, seeing it as the love of God poured out for me, living in me.


John 14:17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

How tragic are the words, “whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him”? If that is not motivation for our missionary mandate then I don't know what is. Our strength and our Helper, the Spirit of truth, that speaks deeply within our hearts conviction of sin and words of encouragement, constantly leading us back to Calvary where our victory is already won. I want to share this truth, and it is my hearts desire that all other hearts would be filled with the Spirit, that everyone I meet would see Him and know Him. As Jesus said in the sermon on the mount, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Christ is our light and it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we shine for all the world to see. For too much of my life I have been a light under a basket, rather than a lamp on a stand, and I cannot imagine how much it grieves the Lord to hide that which He has so graciously given me.


John 14:17 reads, “That is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because he abides with you and will be in you.” Having the Spirit within me is evidence that I am a child of God, and is a glimpse and promise of what is to come in eternity. Because I have the Spirit abiding in me I need to walk in accordance to the Spirit not according to my fleshly wants. Romans 8:13 words it as “if you are living according to the flesh you must die but if by the spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body you will live.” The better life, and eternal life is with the walk of Christ, putting to death the flesh. I have been going through Colossians during On the Mount Time and chapter 3 has been very convicting. I have the Spirit within me, I am a child of God, called to put on a new self, and a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. I am to bear with one another and forgive one another. I can continue to do these things having the Spirit of truth within me, guiding me, and convicting me daily when I fail to live this out. My practical application is to walk according to the Spirit. A simple reminder of the word walk near my mirror will remind me to walk in a way that is less of my flesh and more like Christ. If my seal is that I am a child of God, then my words and actions should be a display of this to the world.


John 14:18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

Praise the Lord for your wonderful truth, that you will one day return for us. As you have told us elsewhere in scripture, “Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” (Matt 24:42) and “For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” (1 Thess 5:2) So we should always be ready for your return. That means seeking first the Kingdom of God, and worshiping You with prayer and fasting. Our goal is to strive to build your kingdom through the spreading of your gospel, the good news of your death and resurrection, your glorious sacrifice to save sinners like me. I must see the urgency of this calling, since the hourglass has been turned and I have no idea when it will run out. For this reason my motto should be Semper Paratus, always prepared. Always prepared to share the gospel when the opportunity presents itself, always prepared to show the love the love of Christ whenever possible, always prepared to die to myself in humble adoration of my Lord. I will remember that I am not an orphan, because my Father is in Heaven. For my application I am going to pray before I go out into town and before kids club and really any time I might encounter someone who does not know the Lord that He would give me an opportunity to share His love through the gospel. Perhaps by doing so I can see others join the body of Christ before He comes to us again.


In Mark 10 we see Jesus teaching crowds that gathered around him. People were bringing children to Jesus so that he would touch them. Immediately the disciples start scolding the crowd. Jesus had more important things to do than touch and be with children. Jesus was indignant that his disciples would act this way towards the children and begins to explain that in order for one to receive the kingdom of God they must be like a child. Children are under the rule of the father. They are to look to their father as an example of how to live. When problems arise, a child goes to their father for good advice. When needing food and clothing, the father cares for the child and gives it what it needs. A child does not make decisions as wise as its father and therefore will make many mistakes. When a child disobeys it receives fair discipline and love from the father. A child is not in charge of its life, but instead is under the council of its father. I love how John 14:18 reads that we are orphans without Christ and that Christ will come to us. I am reminded that we are children. Christ refers to us as fatherless without him. He could have said I will not leave you widows, or I will not leave you by-yourself but He sees us as his children, children that cannot live without him. It does not say I will not leave you orphans, come to me. It says that Christ will come to us. Like a father makes a promise to a child, saying I am here for you, I will always be here for you. He will return. He even comes to the disciples after his death to show them that he has not completely left them as he promised. He tells us that we will have his Spirit here with us as a comforter and as a guide through life and that he will return to earth one day and is waiting for us when we go to have eternal life with him. Hebrews 13:5 says that he will never desert us or forsake us. He knows we need him, but do I always acknowledge that I need him. Am I the rebellious teenager that looks to the father saying,” You’ve taught me enough, just let me be, I have been doing fine on my own so far, I’ll just come running back to you when I mess up and need someone to fix my mistakes.” So often I see myself doing this. Saying to God that I’ve got things under control instead of seeking His face. My application of this verse is to pray for friends, family, and loved ones who truly are orphans in this life because they do not yet know Christ as their father.

John 14:19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.

I am not sure if, in this passage, Jesus was speaking directly regarding His appearances to the disciples after the resurrection, or if He was referring to the time following His ascension, or possibly both. However, I do see an interesting correlation to the world today. After Jesus's death, the world definitely did not see Him any more. He appeared only to His disciples, and even today He seems to only be seen by those who follow Him. I don't know if this is necessarily due to a supernatural blindness to the way God moves in this world, or just the world's refusal to acknowledge His work. Regardless, the world does not know Jesus, and those in the world cannot see Him, but we who are of the Lord can see Him. In fact, Jesus once scolded the apostles saying, “Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear?” They should not have been questioning Jesus because they had seen, and they were with Him. So often I have found myself forgetting what Jesus looks like, when all I can see is the world. When I am deep in the embrace of the world I am clinging to death, attempting to resurrect my old self. In doing so I am forgetting the cross, and forgetting that Christ lives, but He does live, and because He lives I also will live. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor 5:17) Because He lives, I live, and I see Him.  


John 14:19 reminds me of John 6 when Christ calls himself the bread of life (John 6:35); that whoever eats him will also live (John 6:57). Colossians 2 says that I was circumcised with Christ, with the removal of the body of the flesh. That I was buried with Him in baptism, and that I was raised up with Him through faith. When I was dead in my flesh and sins, Christ made me alive. All things were forgiven and all my decrees against me were nailed to the cross. This passage makes the sacrifice of Christ so personal. Because he lives, I also will live. Christ rescued me by submitting to the nails, the nails that killed my flesh as His flesh was killed. Jesus seemed to be giving exhortation to me and to the disciples, saying get up and live. Do not be burdened by sins that have been forgiven before they were even your thoughts. Be a free man. Get up, be a follower for Me with zeal in your heart while remembering that because I live, you will also live. I want to memorize Acts 20:24, as a motivator when I feel the weight of this world. “But none of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with Joy and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. The first part of John 14:19 is just as personal as thinking about the latter part and the sacrifice of Christ. I do see Christ, I have never felt so close with Him, and yet the world no longer sees Him. They do not know the joy I feel daily, the burden that is lifted from me when I contemplate over not counting my life dear to myself. What other motivator do I really need to share the truth with the world then this verse? 1) The world does not see Him, and 2) I live because of Christ.


1 Timothy 6:9

1 Tim 6:9 “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.”

The rich young ruler fell into ruin and destruction due to his love for his wealth. (Matt 19:21) He understood that he needed whatever it was that Jesus was teaching, but when he was asked to “sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” he left Jesus sorrowful, because he had a lot of earthly wealth that he was not willing to let go of. I think we all have things we tend to hold on to, and I must admit that material wealth has a certain allure to me. Not that I've ever cared about nice clothes or big fancy houses, I have just always wanted a Ferrari. Now I have owned 70 different vehicles that cost me $1000 or less, so as you might imagine, it wouldn't have to be the newest and best Ferrari. In fact, I could go buy a nice 348 right now, but that is not really the big expense. You need a garage to keep it in, expensive tools and the knowledge to work on it, or about $5 per mile to pay a shop to maintain it. All of these costs add up to a very expensive hobby, which requires a good job, a lot of hours, and results in just another weight holding me back from serving the Lord. (Matt 6:33) “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Not to say that if I seek the kingdom and righteousness of God He will reward me with a Ferrari here on earth, but rather I will find my reward in the riches of heaven, which is far greater than anything I can imagine. As a practical application I am going to pray that the Lord shows me an opportunity to give to the poor this week.


I Timothy reads 6:9 reads “but those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.” I can’t help but be reminded of the story of Ananias and Sapphira and their outcome when they were dishonest and selfish with their money. This is a great warning to keep my focus on and “take hold of that which is life indeed” [I Tim 6:17]. Proverbs has many great warnings of the trap that riches can become. Proverbs 23:4 warns to not even consider gaining wealth, but to make it far from my thoughts. Proverbs 28:20 contrasts a person who makes haste to get rich fast with a faithful man. It says that the man who desires to get rich fast will not go unpunished but that a faithful man will abound with blessings.
Riches are always uncertain, but God is constant and is the supplier of all things. If I overwhelm my thoughts of what I do not have and devote my time to attaining it then there is little room for Christ in my life. I have always been a selfish person with my belongings, and having unbelieving roommates in college who were overly generous and ready to share helped me to begin to break me of this selfishness. When getting rid of most of my worldly possessions I promised myself and God that I would begin to process of being more generous and less concerned with money by being willing to give my things away or share with the possibility of never having it back. I told God that if someone had a need for something I had that I would give it to them, no question asked. My heart in the giving is what God really cares about, but this is of course going to be an inward process as well. This is a big promise to make to God because it’s an easy one to break so I would like some accountability in that, and that I would give with a grateful heart.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

I Timothy 6:8

1 Tim 6:8 “But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”

I cannot think of a better interpretation to expound on this verse than Jesus's own words in Matt 6:25-33 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Our Father loves and provides for us just as He loves and provides for all of His creation. If we need food and it is His will for us to remain on the earth, He will provide us food. If we need clothing and it is His will that we don't freeze to death, He will provide us clothing. The sun still shines on the righteous and the wicked alike because of how faithfully God cares for His creation. My only goal in life is to glorify God, and I will be content with what He has provided. For a practical application, Noah gave me the great idea that I should find an opportunity to give away some clothing. This may open the door to share the gospel in love.


I Timothy 6:8 reminds me that there is a difference between appreciation of the things I have and thankfulness to God for the things He has clearly give me. I Timothy 6:7 made me realize that I really grasp too tightly to the things of this world, showing God that I would rather serve God’s creations rather than the creator. I can believing the lie that it’s okay to ‘appreciate’ the gift, talents, and things God has given when really I have feelings above gratitude. And most of this gratitude is not directed to God where all things come from. I love Psalm 28:6-7, “Blessed be the Lord, Because He has heard the voice of my supplication, the LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him and I am helped, Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.” These verse sounds like David is saying to the Lord, Blessed are you because you heard my requests. How great that David was thankful because God heard him, not just because He helped him. In that Psalm David also says his heart trusts in God and that he is helped, resulting in rejoicing and thanksgiving. If I am not content and thankful about the food and covering God has repeatedly provided beyond need then I am saying I do not trust Him and that I would rather put my trust in the things of this world.
Getting rid of 90% of my belongings as we came down to IGNITE was hard, but I know it was less hard knowing that God had so clearly made an intricate and exciting way for us. I am really thankful that God gave me that peace needed to get rid of many of our things so that I can look back to that time throughout the rest of my life and say “God blessed are you because you heard our requests.” I want to begin every run with a quick thank you to God for all things He has given me so that I can learn to be content with even less that I have now.


I Timothy 6:7

1 Tim 6:7 “for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.”

How great a truth is this, that we are born with no earthly possessions and we die with the same? Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes 5:15 “As he came from his mother's womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand.” And this is coming from one who is, perhaps, the richest man to have ever lived. I can think of few statements that are more freeing than this. How ridiculous does this make the world seem, when we are constantly bombarded with advertisements to buy random things we don't need, Hollywood endorsements of a useless way of life, and then the internet making it easier than ever for us to brag about what we bought. God will provide, even after He has provided His Lamb to free us from this world, He still provides everything we need in the world. Job says in 1:21 “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” That is truth, and a testimony of what a godly perspective of the world should look like. It gives me so much joy to know that everything in this world is temporary; just distractions with which I no longer have to waste my time. “'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, therefore I will trust in Him.” I have chosen this verse (Lam 3:24) to memorize to remind me that my inheritance is in the Lord. I hope this will also remind me to shed any weights that I may acquire from time to time.


I Timothy 6:7
I Timothy 6:7 reads “for we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.” Ecclesiastes 5:15 puts it another way saying as we came naked from the womb, so we will also return, despite any fruit from our labor, we are leaving with nothing. All work, possessions, belongings are counted worthless and left behind when I go to be with God. It’s very clear to me that I still don’t live this concept out in my life because I am still working on being content with what I have in this life, but verse 7 reminds me that none of it really matters in the end. Contentment should not even be an issue if I truly life out the fact that I’m leaving with nothing. In the end, it’s just me in front of God.

Romans 1:22-23 is a verse that will always give me chills, it’s a place I want to more regularly travel to when I am convicted of sin. It reads, “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man.” Every time I find myself coveting, or grasping tightly to the fleeting things of this world I am saying to God, “I would like to serve Your creations rather than You,” I would like to focus on my desires, my interests, my belongings, my wants rather than the greatest gift you have given me and the truth that you will always provide me with what I need. I exchange the truth for a lie. Focusing on the tangible of this world really does cloud my time with the Lord. I find that I spend more time worrying about the things of this world rather than devoting my thoughts to all the ways God has provided for me in this world. I take it so lightly that I care about clothes, and my work,--believing the lie that it’s okay to ‘appreciate’ the gift, talents, and things God has given when really I have feelings above gratitude. Romans really puts I Timothy into perspective for me. I want to meditate of Romans 1 and how severe and foolish it really is to be so consumed with other things when my time is so short.


I Timothy 6:6

1 Tim 6:6 “But godliness with contentment is great gain,”

Godliness with contentment is great gain. As opposed to the message of the world which is often telling me that I should never be content with my current economic position, social status, or even my monogamous relationship. The wisdom of this world is that I should always be looking for the better deal for myself, no matter the cost to anyone else, but the wisdom of God is that I should seek first the Kingdom, and be content with what the Lord has provided. I can always trust in the Lord to provide for my basic needs, He has never failed me, even when I fail Him. Psalm 37:16 tells us that, “Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked.” What it comes down to for me is that I cannot seek after God and seek after the things of this world. The Lord jealously and righteously demands my full attention, and as a slave to Christ, bought with His precious blood, I have no choice but to seek after Him. Anything else would be perilous to say the least. Paul tells us in Phil 4:12-13 “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” It is through strength in Christ that we walk in this world, not through our own abilities. As a practical application I want to memorize a verse that will be useful in reminding me to be content in what the Lord has provided. I chose Proverbs 15:16 “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it.”


It is easy to say I am content with the money I have when I have food to eat. It is easy to say I am content with work when I am healthy and things are going easy, but what about when trials arise? When there seems absolutely nothing to be content with? 2 Corinthians 12:10 reads, “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” In Philippians 4:11, Paul again writes on what it looks like to be content, both when “having abundance and when suffering need.” The verses preceding shed a lot of light on how I can go about changing my mindset from wanting, feeling insufficiently provided for, discontented, and selfish. Verse 8 reads, “finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” When I feel discontented it is because I am dwelling on the lack, on what I think is missing, what I used to have or see others with. It is an attitude issue, looking to God thinking He has not given me enough or in the way I would like it, when in reality He gives and gave abundantly on the cross. My mindset needs to change from dwelling on the things of God because He is always honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and worthy of praise. Inside of trials and inside of plenty. I Timothy actually says contentment is of great gain, meaning it is good in the present and future, for me and for others and as a testimony of my faith. I can offer up thanksgiving to God today and tomorrow, in abundance and in suffering, because there is always God’s promise of life to come and an eternity with Him. When I am content, especially when things are looking bleak to the outside world, it provides a great testimony. The American life managed to do away with contentment and trade it for consumerism. Being able to dwell on Christ instead of circumstances is a light that will remind the world that there is more to what we have on earth.
The one thing I can find myself longing for these days is teaching, I am not yet discontent with not teaching, but if I begin to dwell on or wish for the things God is telling me to wait for I can be reminded of I Timothy. I am going to memorize I Timothy 4:17 “…do not to be conceited … do not fix [my] hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies [me] with all things to enjoy.” I have all reasons to be joyful and to give thanksgiving to God, but memorizing this verse will help me redirect my thoughts on all God has given me and how He has provided.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

James 3:13-17

In 1 Kings 3, King Solomon talked to God in a dream. He called out to God saying that he was just a little child and did not know how to go out or come in as he ruled a people that were too many to be numbered. He asked God for one thing, “an understanding heart to judge [God’s] people to discern between good and evil.” It was pleasing in the sight of the Lord because Solomon asked for discernment and wisdom to understand justice when he could have asked for a long life or riches. God gave abundantly to King Solomon, giving him not only a wise and discerning heart but also riches and honor. King Solomon even used this wisdom to discern what was true when two woman came to him the next day arguing over whose child was living after one had rolled over on her’s, killing it and stealing the other woman’s. God’s wisdom was in Solomon as he decided to cut the child in half to determine it’s true mother.

James 1:5  says “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James continues with this by saying one must ask in faith without doubting, as King Solomon did and as God clearly gave him.
Wisdom from the earth and wisdom from God are both shown by the behavior and actions of a person. Wisdom from God is demonstrated by gentleness of deeds which is first pure. Purity of wisdom comes from a person who is drawing near to God, who is being cleansed by the spirit continually. Wisdom from God is next peaceable, meaning there is peace coming from the truth. If the wisdom does not bring peace because it is not backed by the truths of God then it is not from God. This does not mean that wisdom coming from God will always be easy to hear or say, Wisdom that convicts of sin should rattle a person. But that the wisdom is still able to be gentle, reasonable and full of mercy because it flows from God. Wisdom should be full of Mercy and good fruits meaning the wisdom of God is productive and compassionate, bringing about a growth in people, even when it requires a hard change of direction.

Often in my life when torn between a decision I first seek the council of believers around me, and when I feel torn between the different pieces of advice I go to God asking for wisdom and discernment. God’s wisdom is not clouded by the ways of the world, and He promises to always give wisdom when I ask in faith without doubting. So often I come to God doubting I will ever get crystal clear discernment and therefore come to His feet doubtful and already discouraged.
Wisdom from the earth can be discerned because it is the opposite of gentleness of deeds. Jealousy and selfish ambition will allow lies to be warped and twisted against the truth. When the truth is stretched in this way it brings about arrogance because the wisdom is no longer from God but from man. Colossians 2:8 says “see to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”  The words ‘take you captive’ show that wisdom of this world can somehow grab hold of us if we are not discerning and always searching to be sure it is not going against the truths of God.  James does not even say that we can be fooled into believing the empty deception according to the elementary principles of the world, but instead suggests that a heart of bitter jealously that is self centered will steer me against the truth. James makes this seem like an inward battle against the wisdom of God and the truths I may let myself believe because of a heart issue. I can see how this is possible in my life when I think about my perfectionist nature. I can tell myself any lie I want to because I am always looking to challenge myself, learn more, and honestly ‘do better next time.’ I so easily take something that could be used for good in my walk with Christ and warp it into a selfish ambition that feeds myself lies. Lies against the real truth. Just the few weeks here I can tell how my perfectionist nature can really wreck a servant heart because it is self focused and really distracts from the desires of God. This is not something that is going to be ‘fixed’ overnight because it was such a part of my life in school, college, and useful in some regards in the teaching profession. Meditating on this reality in my life by confessing it daily to God and being hold accountable by people around me are going to be some important first steps because when the heart has been feed lies for so long it is not easy for it to immediately discern the truths of God from those of selfish ambition.

Wisdom that is earthly natural and demonic are contrasted with the true wisdom that comes from above. Earthly speaks of truths that are from rulers and leaders of our time. 1 Corinthians 2:6 explains that these so called wisdom filled leaders I may look up to are “passing away.” What a great reminder that the one who holds truth also holds time, is the author of all things, and does not gain His wisdom from a particular time. God’s truths are true now and always. 1 Corinthians 3:10 talks about the wise builder. A good builder put’s his knowledge into action by beginning all buildings with a strong and trustworthy foundation. How much more important for me to check the foundation of knowledge from those I may gain knowledge. If it’s not supported and built on top of God’s truths then it will surly “pass away” with time.  James then goes on to explain another false or ungodly wisdom that is natural or unspiritual. When Jude writes about divisions in the church he warns of worldly-minded people, devoid of the spirit. Again, this is a reminder that if the knowledge is not rooted in God and His truths then it is dangerous and causing divisions among believers.  The final type of wisdom that James lists in verse 15 is that which is demonic or evil. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 reminds that the activity of Satan may contain signs and false wonders. 1 Timothy writes that the Spirit warns that some believers have fallen away from the faith by the deceit of spirits and doctrines of demons. The teachings of Satan are even described as “deep things” in Revelation 2. Our God is greater and is the holder of all true wisdom, yet it is made clear how easy some can fall into false teachings and how they can take captive of the hearts. After studying this passing and the three types of wisdom that don’t come from above I realize how important it is that I constantly discern the material I am feed in this world. It’s important to always go back to scripture to have scripture reveal other scripture not the other way around. It is so easy to take what a pastor or a suggested book says as truth, but if it truly is wisdom from above then it will check out as I dig deeper. My application is to actually go back through sermon notes and dig deeper into some of their cross references. As we would all hope, the information will probably check out to be true, but this is still a great practice to develop as a student of the bible. To dig deeper into sermons and teachings as a life practice.

V16. James adds on to the problems with earthly wisdom when he writes “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist there is disorder and every evil thing.” The word disorder in this verse stands out to me. Our God is a God of order and perfect design. He created the heavens and earth, took what he made that was formless and void, making it into what he called “good.” Each day, God brought something new to what was once formless and void, from light, to man, taking it day by day when He was fully capable of creating all things in one instance. It is only when sin is brought into this world that disorder begins. The serpent is not cursed to eat dust, there is no bruising, pain in childbirth, desire for rule over the husband, no nakedness, no toil, until sin enters God’s perfect –orderly- design. James 3:16 says that where jealousy and selfish ambition are, disorder and evil things are. Even when I look in my own life, where I was more focused on friends, work, and school, putting God to the backburner of my life I can clearly remember times where disorder began. Focusing on myself and ‘living my life,’ making God smaller than He is just led to more heartache, stress and disorganization. Jeremiah is shown a message from God in Jeremiah 24 about two baskets, one of Good ripe Figs and one of Bad rotten Figs. God is speaking to Jeremiah explaining what will happen to King Zedekiah and the remnant of Jerusalem. God told Jeremiah that He would set his eyes on the good figs, giving them a heart to know Him and that He would be their God and they would be His people. But the bad figs that are rotten will be made a terror, a taunt, a curse and that He would scatter them. For me this is a great picture of what will happen when jealousy, selfish desires, and things of the flesh keep me from following God. God brings or allows disorder because I bring disorder on all things God has for me by disobeying. Sin ruins the perfect structure in which God created, and Romans 2:8 is another reminder of what is to be expected by those who choose to obey themselves, not God. It says “that those who obey unrighteousness and go against truth will face tribulation and distress.” When I see stress and disorder in my life, which is common because I’m an extremely disorganized person, I need to re-evaluate where my priorities are. Is this disorder coming from my disobedience to God? Is this disorder coming from my mis-prioritization of my time with God? Often I find I can identify a connection between my walk with God and disorder, I need to become keen to addressing it rather than continuing in the same way. I need to learn to take two steps back, which is hard when in the midst of stress, and ask myself if God is being placed in the center of my life and if He is the motivation for all that I’m doing.


James 3:17 - “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”

In verse 17 James describes the wisdom from above, God's holy wisdom, as first pure. When we seek wisdom from the Lord rather than the chaos of the world, the effect will be to purify our souls, making us peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. Paul speaks of this wisdom in 1 Cor 2:6-7, “Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.” This wisdom comes from the Holy Spirit, and with it comes the fruits of the spirit as laid out in Galatians 5:22. As a believer, my goal is always to become more Christ-like, which is the Lord's will for my life as evidenced by John 12:26 where Jesus says, “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” This is the wisdom of the Lord, to follow after Christ. The world calls it foolish, but “the wisdom of this world is folly with God” (1 Cor 3:19). I will pray for wisdom from God in how to best serve Him and how to best follow after Him in my life. In this I believe the Lord will speak to me and give me direction for the coming years, and my intention is to continue praying until the Lord does speak to me, whether He gives a clear answer or just tells me to wait.

James 3:16 - “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”

In verse 16 James explains that disorder, or chaos, is the result of jealousy and selfish ambition in the church. Furthermore, he says that there will be “every vile practice”, suggesting that jealousy and selfishness are at the heart of every evil that could befall a church. This makes sense in light of verse 15 where James describes them as demonic, suggesting that they're origin is in the powers of darkness. However, the things of God are inherently in order, as it is one of God's unchanging characteristics. Jeremiah 31:35 says, “Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the Lord of hosts is his name...” The Lord wants His church to have order also, Paul exhorts the Corinthian church in 1 Cor 14:40, “But all things should be done decently and in order.” And he commends the church at Colossae in Col 2:5, “For though I am absent in the body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.” I do not believe it is a coincidence that the Colossians are both in good order and firm in their faith in Christ. Yet James is warning the church about the weak faith, shown in their selfishness, that will result in disorder. I believe this serves as a warning to keep Christ at the center of our ambitions. When I am distracted by the world I am prone to jealousy, wanting more than what the Lord has provided. This leads to me following my own selfish ambitions in trying to obtain worthless possessions, or positions, rather than focusing my efforts on glorifying God. I should humbly seek the Lord by writing down a list of areas in my life where I am selfishly motivated, and then take them before the Lord for forgiveness.

James 3:15 - “This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.”

In verse 15 James contrasts wisdom that comes from God with the jealousy and selfish ambition mentioned earlier in verse 14, calling it “earthly, unspiritual, demonic.” I believe James is using the progression from bad to worse to describe that which is not wisdom from God, similar to how he describes the tongue in verses 5-6, as “...the tongue is a fire...setting on fire the entire course of life...set on fire by hell”. This fits well since the worldly tongue, or ungodly speech, is usually the manifestation of jealousy and selfish ambition. In contrast, “wisdom that comes down from above” is a great example of a gift from God, about which James says in 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” If God has no variation in his character then we can be sure His gifts will not be prone to change either. Therefore wisdom that comes from God will always be true and constant in nature, while the jealous ambitions of man are of the world (at best) and doomed to failure. The application I draw from this is actually found later in James, where is verse 6 he cites proverbs 3:34, saying, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” I must always humble myself before the Lord and ask for wisdom, as anything I try to accomplish on my own will surely fail, even if it succeeds. I want to commit to going before the Lord in prayer before making decisions, and not even necessarily big decisions, just decisions that will impact my service to Him.

James 3:14 - “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.”

James contrasts the “meekness of wisdom” in verse 13 with “bitter jealousy and selfish ambition” in verse 14. The problems with slanderous speech described in the previous verses of chapter 3 were causing division among the body of believers, and James pins this problem on jealousy and selfishness in the church. Such actions were named by Paul with the “desires of the flesh” that are against the spirit in Galatians 5:20, where he goes on to say “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Such is the serious nature of these sins, and James even goes on to say in verse 15 that this selfishness is outright demonic. I think this is still often a problem today in the church, as we now have another 2000 years of theological interpretations to disagree on, which will readily cause dissension. Keeping egos in check is never easy, and selfish ambition is still a plague to every church, but proverbs 3:34 speaks about God that, “Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.” It is my duty to the body of Christ to be humble and follow the example laid out by Christ. In Matthew 11:29 Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

James 3:13-17 “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

James begins this passage with a question, “who is wise and understanding among you?” This sets the stage for an explanation on how to prove you are wise, and builds a contrast with jealousy and selfish ambition. A wise man will show meekness in his works, while the unwise will boast and be false to the truth. Moreover he shows that wisdom is from God, where selfish ambition is worldly, and even of the devil. Jealousy and selfish ambition promote chaos and get worse from there, but wisdom from God will be blameless, and because of this purity it will promote peace, gentleness, reason, mercy, good fruits, impartiality and sincerity. The verses previous to and following this passage deal mainly with the dissension caused by slanderous speech and selfishness, so this passage serves to contrast that reality with the meekness that they should be showing towards one another. I think it will be easy to find application for this teaching in my life, since I (like most people) am prone to selfishness and often lack wisdom. I should pray for wisdom, but often I do not, or otherwise I pray for wisdom on how to fix some terrible mistake that I should have prayed for wisdom before making.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Romans 3:25-26

Romans 3:25-26 “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

God sent His son to die for us on the cross and bear the full weight of His divine judgment against our sin, and it is by faith that we receive this gift from God. This sacrifice not only satisfied our present sins, but all of our past sins for which God so graciously delayed judgment, and all of the future sins that we will commit on this earth. All of our sins must be atoned for if God is to remain righteous and just. What a wonderful reality this truth is to my heart, that despite all of my sin, I am still righteous is the eyes of God by the blood of the Lamb. Ephesians 2:13 tells me “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Praise God. He had every right to destroy me for my sin before I was in Christ, but God knew that I would one day believe, and in His divine forbearance He spared me from judgment until the time had come that I could respond in faith to the saving work of Christ. This is a message I need to share with the world, and it is grace that compels me to share God's love.


A covenant is a binding agreement or promise. This promise was made public and official when it involved the breaking of flesh and the pouring out of blood. In a covenant, the agreeing partners would bring an animal sacrifice, and then walk between the torn animal and it’s blood to finalize the everlasting pledge. Today, the closest thing we have to this is a hand shake, but we can all recall times when it was acceptable for a hand shake promise to be broken, but a blood covenant was never to be broken. 

Hebrews 10:16-23English Standard Version (ESV)

16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
    after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
    and write them on their minds,”
17 then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

The Full Assurance of Faith

19 Therefore, brothers,[a] since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Jesus became my lamb and our new covenant- giving me life as I passed through the pieces that are Christ upon accepting in faith his death and resurrection. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, being our mediator and ultimate sacrifice I can come straight to God. The old covenant of animal bloodshed could not make one perfect, yet Jesus’ blood makes one white as snow. Jesus is the testifier of the one who has faith in him, as his death formed the new covenant and God’s eternal and public agreement with us that His blood is the propitiation and atonement for all sins for all who have faith. In God’s righteousness, He promises to forgive all my sins and pass over them. There is no greater love than this. No greater promise than this. No One greater to keep a promise throughout all eternity. I want to reflect on this daily- in thanksgiving every morning-but in the very least I want to read though Christ’s death and resurrection meditating on it’s truth more deeply at least once a month.