James 1:16 “Wanderer from God”

Wanderer from God

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. – James 1:16 (ESV)

This short verse is a transitional verse, however, there is much to be learned from it. “Deceived” in Greek expression means to go astray or wander. Deceived in our present day language seems to have less impactful weight than it did in James’ time. They may have thought of Isaiah 53:6 (ESV) “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned-every one-to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
A sheep wandering off for me today has less weight than a shepherd of James’ time because I don’t fully get the scary thought of that. I suppose I need to consider what they considered and fully understood: if I wandered off I would get slaughtered by a fox. It was my choice to wander. Lesson to be learned: Be careful not to blame God for my sin.

Maranatha! (Come, Lord Jesus!)

Study through the Book of James with HolyJustLove.com!
James 1:2-3
James 1:4
James 1:5
James 1:6
James 1:7-8
James 1:9-11
James 1:12
James 1:13
James 1:14
James 1:15
James 1:16

James 1:15 “From Desire to Death”

From Desire to Death

Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. – James 1:15 (ESV)

Desire is used in the feminine way here based on the Greek word and therefor closely relates it to that of a mother. In Proverbs the loose woman who lures her prey into the depths of shoal is set in contrast to the wisdom also depicted as a woman. See Proverbs 8:32-35 This goes to James writing style to relate back to verse 5 which helps tie it all together. He leans heavily on his readers intense Jewish knowledge of the Old Testament to catch his every meaning. This allows him brevity. To put it simply, desire itself is not a thing to fear, however protecting yourself from conception is key.

And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD, – Proverbs 8:32-35 (ESV)

As James relates this female analogy, I cannot help but expand on it. Conception only happens when we get in bed have sexual intercourse. That is the most intimate form of communication known to humans. Outside of marriage it is a sin, so looking at it from that perspective how do we “protect” and “shield” ourselves from sin? Looking back on verse 14, I know to understand myself first and what makes me want something or causes me to react. When I know my triggers, I can stave them off more readily. This means staying out of certain circles of friends, not going to certain events, reaching out to different people, and constantly asking myself to be quiet and humble.

Maranatha! (Come, Lord Jesus!)

Study through the Book of James with HolyJustLove.com!
James 1:2-3
James 1:4
James 1:5
James 1:6
James 1:7-8
James 1:9-11
James 1:12
James 1:13
James 1:14
James 1:15

Fruit Audit ~ Do You Love God’s Word?

I was going through life as a “Christian” and the one thing that bothered me the most is that other Christians always said they loved reading God’s Word. Pastors would often preach that when you become a Christian you would thirst and hunger after the word of God like a newborn baby thirsts and hungers for his mother’s milk.

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. – 1 Peter 2:2-3, ESV

I don’t know about you, but I just was not getting it. Sure, I read my Bible a couple times a week. Every once in a while I would “commit” to reading the Bible every day. That always lasted about 5 days. I remember the longest I ever consecutively read my Bible was 34 days. You’ve heard it said that to create a habit you have to do something every day for 21 days. I remember vividly thinking “I’ve done it! I’ve created a habit of reading my Bible!” Only to fail on day 35, 36, 37, 38, 39….. Oh shoot, was I supposed to be reading my Bible? WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME!!!! Oh the shame. But really, who else knows other than me, myself and God? On I went stumbling through reading (or not reading) my Bible.

So, there you have it. I was convinced that I was doomed to always be burdened with the chore of reading the Bible. I knew it was supposed to be enjoyable and I knew I was supposed to be refreshed by it, but honestly I just wasn’t. Here are a couple verses in the Bible that told me something was wrong.

For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, – Romans 7:22, ESV

David said it perfectly in Psalm 19 as seen below and I still did not get it.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; – Psalm 19:7-8, ESV

David made it sound so simple and pure and revitalizing and joyful and enlightening… but for me it was sometimes just boring. I could hardly understand the stuff I read and the things I did understand seemed antiquated or impossible to put into practice. But still I tried. I even prayed as Tozer did for God to open my mind to understanding. It worked sometimes but I knew deep down I was missing something. Something no one could answer for me. Perhaps I was just dumb. My college educated brain was too stupid to understand the Word of God.

And lastly I got to John 8. :(

Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” – John 8:47, ESV

There was my answer. Hindsight is 20/20. I did not realize it at the time, nor could I have predicted the outcome. After 25 years, thinking I was saved and struggling terribly through the Word of God, practically beating myself up with my lack of love for God’s Word, I now understand fully that I was not actually converted. You may take issue with this controversial thought. I can tell you, however, with absolute certainty that the very thing I struggled with has become a complete and utter joy in my life. The Word of God, now that I am truly a “new creation” has been opened to me like I never could have imagined. I literally cannot get enough of it.

The best way I can illustrate this idea is from the perspective of being a mom. Before I had a child people would tell me all the time that my life would change in ways I could not even imagine. “Oh the wonder! Oh the joy!” or so they would say. I remember thinking, all these people are nuts! I love my life and no child is going to change it THAT drastically. Sure it would be different, but all these moms who keep blabbing on and on about motherhood were close to making me puke at times. Flash forward to the day I have my baby, then flash forward 5 years into motherhood and I get it. I drank the “juice” and know EXACTLY what they are talking about. If you don’t have kids yet, this won’t make much sense to you, but if you do, this is what it is like when you become a true converted soul, fully and wholly consecrated to the Almighty Father and LORD Jesus Christ. The Word of God is literally life. I cannot get enough of it now.

With all of that said, you may be wondering about your own salvation and may even want to find out on a deeper level if you are truly saved or have just been in love with Jesus, in love with what Christianity offers, in love with the community, but not fully and 100% devoted to Christ. It is OK to test yourself. Paul asks us to do it.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! – 2 Corinthians 13:5, ESV

Don’t get crazy and start freaking out just yet. This is not meant to scare you but it is meant to give you a reality check. I recommend checking out some of the series below as well as heading over to the Fruit Audit section on www.HolyJustLove.com. Be blessed and be confidently assured of your salvation. It is an amazing thing!

James 1:14 “Lured into a Trap”

Lured into a Trap

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. – James 1:14 (ESV)

We find in verse 14 that again James uses common language that relates to people’s every day lives with fishing terms and hunting terms. It is sort of like our thousands of baseball analogies. This adds to his personable nature and ability to relate to his reader. The word “lured” was a word at that time meant to describe the idea of an animal being lured into a trap. The word “enticed” was a fishing term which meant to catch with bait. To put this verse in different words, everyone has their own personal struggles and desires. We need to be aware of our triggers and not fall into the ideas and thoughts and things that look too good to be true.

So, that leaves me to answer a very important question. What do I struggle with? What am I easily lured and enticed with? For me it’s the need to be right. The desire to “know better” than everyone else. The desire to be perfect. God has been at work chipping away at these things in my life. What are your struggles? How do your stay true to who you are and more importantly to God in the eyes of the world? How do you keep your credibility with people and also show them God through you? How do we stay salty to those around us. Salt when it looses is saltiness is useless, but also consider that salt when it is too salty is detestable.

Maranatha! (Come, Lord Jesus!)

Study through the Book of James with HolyJustLove.com!
James 1:2-3
James 1:4
James 1:5
James 1:6
James 1:7-8
James 1:9-11
James 1:12
James 1:13
James 1:14

Tuesday Thoughts ~ Empowered

These feeble hands of mine, is it possible? This feeble mind of mine, is it possible? This broken body of mine, is it possible? Is it possible to do your work with hands strengthened by you? Is it possible to be your ambassador with a mind enlightened by you? Is it possible to do your will with a body made alive by you? Only you know the power of the gifts of strength, enlightenment, and life. You gave them freely to me on the day of my repentance! They are mine because you gave me them. Guide me that I won’t mess it all up. Guide me Holy Spirit that I will not cash in my sanctification for a trite taste of human weakness. Spur me on towards the goal. Help me to look toward Heaven in order to make a bigger Kingdom Impact here on Earth. Empower me to do Your will. Empower me.

Wednesday Worship ~ Attributes of God ~ God is Soverign

You made me! You made us! You made everything! Your work and creation is far greater than what we could ever hope to make or create. Your intricate creation is perfect and you can do what you want with us when you want. You have every right to make people who are full of wrath in order to show your glory. You have every right to remove your light from people and in them begets great darkness. You have every right to choose whom you will choose and whom you will not choose. You have every right to restrain the full force of evil. You have every right to remove your Spirit and allow Hell on Earth. Come Lord Jesus Come! When is enough enough for you. You are immeasurably patient. Help me to have patience like yours. I long for your Day to come! But you know the perfect time for everything. Your plans are good and perfect.

The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. – Psalm 103:19

The LORD of hosts has sworn, “As I have planned, so it shall be, and as I have purposed, so it shall stand.” – Isaiah 14:24

Monday Modern Parable ~ The Abundant Life by Wayne Rice

A little boy who lived far out in the country in the late 1800s had reached the age of twelve and had never in all his life seen a circus. You can imagine his excitement, when one day a poster went up at school announcing that on the next Saturday a traveling circus was coming to the nearby town.

He ran home with the glad news and the question, “Daddy, can I go?” Although the family was poor, the father sensed how important this was to the lad. “If you do your Saturday chores ahead of time,” he said, “I’ll see to it that you have the money to go.”‘

Come Saturday morning, the chores were done and the little boy stood by the breakfast table, dressed in his Sunday best. His father reached down into the pocket of his overalls and pulled out a dollar bill-the most money the little boy had possessed at one time in all his life. The father cautioned him to be careful and then sent him on his way to town.

The boy was so excited, his feet hardly seemed to touch the ground all the way. As he neared the outskirts of the village, he noticed people lining the streets, and he worked his way through the crowd until he could see what was happening. Lo and behold, it was the approaching spectacle of a circus parade! The parade was the grandest thing this lad had ever seen. Caged animals snarled as they passed, bands beat their rhythms and sounded shining horns, midgets performed acrobatics while flags and ribbons swirled overhead. Finally, after everything had passed where he was standing, the traditional circus clown, with floppy shoes, baggy pants, and a brightly painted face, brought up the rear. As the clown passed by, the little boy reached into his pocket and took out that precious dollar bill. Handing the money to the clown, the boy turned around and went home. What had happened? The boy thought he had seen the circus when he had only seen the parade!

Are you experiencing all that God has for you? The Christian life is a marvelous adventure, an exciting journey. Many people-including Christians-seem to be content to float in a sea of mediocrity, settling for second best. Do you want the abundant life that Jesus promised? Do you want to live life to its fullest? Then aim higher. Don’t set your sights too low. Determine to become all that God created you to be. Give yourself to Christ, follow Him completely, and allow the Holy Spirit to work in you and through you. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet

~ Wayne Rice

Friday Fruit Audit ~ Do You Share Jesus with People?

People really don’t want to hear about Jesus. I don’t want to offend anyone. I’m terrible at going up to people. I believe what I believe and I let others believe what they want to believe. Evangelizing is OK for pastors and people who seem just a little socially off, but I don’t feel called to do it and besides I’m no good at it anyway.

These are just a few of the excuses I hear people use, myself included. Do you realize that if Paul, Peter, James or any of the other disciples felt this way and acted on their feelings, NONE of us would be saved? Jesus did not just ask his first disciples to preach the gospel, he asked everyone who calls himself or herself a believer and follower of Christ. The Holy Spirit helps us but we must be willing to be his ambassador. We are privileged to help God in the calling of his people.

“But I honestly don’t know how to spread the gospel.” This is a valid response however if your child said, “but I don’t know how to read” I bet you would just stop and say, “You know what? I get it. It is just too hard and confusing for you. Don’t worry about it then. You will be fine…” Yeah, right. Like that would happen. Stop acting like a child and do what your Father has asked you to do. Here is a short list that will help you get started.

1. Practice.
You will never get good at anything unless you practice. Person by person. Start today with just one person.

2. Be prepared.
You need to know what you are sharing. Going around saying to people they need God because he will make their lives better and that he loves them is the worst thing you can do. If you understand the costs associated with following Christ, then you are more able to explain it to someone else. A great place to learn how to share the gospel is at www.sharetheumbrella.com.

3. Understand Your Roll
You should not go up to people and say “Do you want to hear about Jesus?” Think about the last time you bought something that was sold to you. Why did you buy it? You did not just wake up and decide “I’m going to buy a new Toyota today.” There would have been some great marketing done by Toyota along with your own forethought and research to back up your purchase. We do business with people we know like and trust. Don’t assume spreading the gospel is any different than selling anything else. I don’t want to cheapen the gospel by any means but I do want you to think about it the next time you try to shove your religion down anyone’s throat. It never works. There will be times when someone will flat out ask you to share, point by point, what the gospel is. However, more often than not, people will be drawn to your “light” because of your love and the way you live your life. Look for opportunities to share a little bit of Jesus in every conversation. Literally try to think, “How can I mention the name of Jesus in this conversation?” You will start getting good at inserting the Word of God in all your conversations.

4. Pray, Pray, and Pray

  • Ask God every morning for “divine appointments” meaning opportunities to share God’s Word.
  • Ask God every morning for “low hanging fruit” meaning people who want to talk about Jesus who may not know him fully yet.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to speak through you.
  • Any time you share the gospel or are building a relationship with someone, pray for them often.
  • When you share the gospel with others pray regularly for them. Pray that the Holy Spirit would do a great work in them and bring them to repentance.

 

Don’t ever forget, Jesus calls us as his ambassadors to “make disciples.”

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” – Matthew 28:19

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20

Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible. (Eph. 6:24)
Maranatha! (Come, Lord Jesus!)

~ Jen O’Sullivan
www.HolyJustLove.com

Offended by a Biblical Charge by Ryan Damato

As Christians, we should be ready and willing to encourage and charge each other to mirror God’s word. We should rest in the fact that we are part of the sanctification process that God has planned for each person and if it we are the ones being charged, we should respond as though it is God charging us, as long as the charge is in fact biblical.

Truths like this in scripture are what help me to recognize that some people will be offended and some will respond biblically. I can’t hold back on a biblical charge or encouragement if I feel like the person is going to be offended. I need to use God’s word as it was intended to be used and I need to respond to it just the same.

~ Ryan Damato

1 Thessalonians 2:12-13

we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers

Monday Modern Parable ~ The Muddy River by Charles Stanley

Picture a muddy river, swollen with rain and rushing over rocks. You’ve fallen into that dirty water and cannot fight the current for long. Your head goes under once, then twice, and both times you come up sputtering after swallowing some of the filth. A third dunking might kill you. Suddenly, from the shore, someone throws a life preserver, which floats past your chest. Will you grab it?

The answer seems obvious—of course you would! But too often people drowning in the world’s fast-moving current refuse to grab onto the spiritual life preserver: Jesus Christ. He died on the cross for all of humanity, but individuals have a responsibility in salvation. A person must recognize his or her own helplessness and acknowledge the need for Christ. That means the new Christian accepts Jesus’ sacrifice as true and personal, believing that there is no other way to be rescued.

It isn’t necessary to understand everything about faith and the Bible in order to be saved—God will ensure that His children learn whatever they need from the Holy Spirit. However, it is critical to realize that we cannot save ourselves.

Can you point to a time in your life when you received Jesus Christ as your Savior? God is calling, longing for you to recognize your need for Him and to pray for rescue from sin. He is faithful to answer by saving you and making you blameless before Him.

God is offering you a life preserver and waiting to pull you to eternal safety. The choice is yours. Will you choose Christ and live?

by Charles Stanley