Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Let's take a brief look at James 4 as this is a powerful book in the Bible and covers some pretty essential things that we all as believers and children of God must take heed of and apply to our walk with God and even towards others. Let's start with verses 1-6.
"Do you know where your fights and arguments come from? They come from the selfish desires that make war inside you. You want things, but you don’t get them. So you kill and are jealous of others. But you still cannot get what you want. So you argue and fight. You don’t get what you want because you don’t ask God. Or when you ask, you don’t receive anything, because the reason you ask is wrong. You only want to use it for your own pleasure.
You people are not faithful to God! You should know that loving what the world has is the same as hating God. So anyone who wants to be friends with this evil world becomes God’s enemy. Do you think the Scriptures mean nothing? The Scriptures say, “The Spirit God made to live in us wants us only for himself.” But the kindness God shows is greater. As the Scripture says, “God is against the proud, but he is kind to the humble.”
Reading this for me at first felt like tough love from God. But as I read it and took this to heart I realized the beauty of God's exhortation to us.
In these verses God examines motives. As humans we all pretty much have those but what God's saying here is we all must learn to make those motives clearly ones that line up with what God's are. To have any other motive other than what God's are is in essence separating us from Him (an enemy to Him) as we are willfully not listening to Him. But the beauty is that God freely loves us and will give us direction if we submit ourselves humbly to Him.
That's the key word that we find all through this chapter which is humility and being humble. It's no longer our way but His way. The "old us" must die in God to become a new creature.
When we do seek God out to learn those things do we really listen to what He has to say to us? Or do we justify to fit our purposes only? Or as it is said here are we asking in the right way? God wants us to consider these things and align all that we are and have with what He has designed for us, rather than our own designs. Therefore becoming His and a new creature in Him.
Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
Along the lines of becoming a new creature is the very first part of this area. Submit yourselves to God. The word submit means to accept or yield to a superior force or to the authority or will of another person. So when we accept Jesus Christ into our lives we submit all things to Him. Not part way. Not ok I will submit the problems I have in my life to Him but everything! Everything we are is now God's. He owns us so we are His to begin with. But we must consciously submit everything. Period. Along those lines we are to resist any form of temptation or anything that may cause us to stray from God. That may mean watching what we do in our spare moments. Do we use those moments to do stuff that would be pleasing to God or are they things that would put us way back in our walk with Him? What type of TV do we watch? Movies? What type of music do we listen to? Books..do we read or watch anything that nurtures the Spirit or is it mind numbing stuff that can cause us to take our minds off God?
I can't help but think of the one Scripture with this that is so appropriate for guarding our decisions when it comes to submitting to God the day to day stuff.
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."
That is how we resist Satan and in essence cause him to flee as by reflecting on positive God affirming stuff of value instead of stuff that would pull us back we give Satan no room whatsoever to work in our lives. But instead empower God to work in our lives and change us to the people He wants us to be.
We also should be genuinely repentant as well at the old creature we were prior to God. To be genuinely sick of the sins and genuinely work on those to change who we are to become a better vessel for God. To recognize what those are and effectively work to change those in our lives.
As a result we will draw very close to God and as promised He will exalt our walk.
James 4: 11-12
"Brothers and sisters, don’t say anything against each other. If you criticize your brother or sister in Christ or judge them, you are criticizing and judging the law they follow. And when you are judging the law, you are not a follower of the law. You have become a judge. God is the one who gave us the law, and he is the Judge. He is the only one who can save and destroy. So it is not right for you to judge anyone."
How easy is it as humans to be fault finders? This I admit is a true weakness in me sometimes especially when I am upset at somebody or if I hear of things that just disgusts me. However God says it plainly...do not judge anyone. We don't know the heart of anyone or what they struggle with privately on a day to day basis. It's just not our place. Only God has that right as the Ultimate Judge of mankind. Instead of looking at their faults look to find the good in them and focus on it instead and let God have the rest. Less stress that way.
"Some of you say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to some city. We will stay there a year, do business, and make money.” Listen, think about this: You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Your life is like a fog. You can see it for a short time, but then it goes away. So you should say, “If the Lord wants, we will live and do this or that.” But now you are proud and boast about yourself. All such boasting is wrong. If you fail to do what you know is right, you are sinning."
This part is pretty simple just let God map it out. Too many times we try to do things our way and things go wrong. We try again and things still go wrong. When that happens it's simple..it's not God's will for us or His plan. That's when we look to God for direction. When God does direct us and those things become a success we should not be haughty about them or brag about those things as there is a fine line between being excited about achievements and just flat out ego. Ego is not of God at all and is a sin. Humility and joy that comes from achieving the blessings from God in our lives is.
In the end as we submit, we change the bad to embrace the good that comes from God and being His child.
We should watch what we do in our day to day lives..in our quality time.. in our spiritual time. In our relationships and how we deal with others. In how we become more God focused and centered. This chapter is a good resource to meditate on and to become exactly who God wants us to be and become more closer to Him.
Draw Me Close To You - Hillsong