James 1:2-4, 12 ESV
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing… Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
All people on this earth go through trials and tribulations at various times and in numerous ways. So, this is not exclusive to Christians only. Yet, those who have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives, who are walking the walk, and not just talking the walk, will face a unique set of trials unknown to those outside of faith in Jesus Christ. As well, their trials may carry with them a unique divine purpose related only to Christians.
For, our Lord promised us that, as his followers, we will go through trials and tribulations, and even that we will be hated and persecuted for righteousness’ sake by those who are of this world, which can also include worldly Christians and fleshly church leaders, too, as what Jesus faced.
Yet, when we go through these difficult times, we are not to let them take us out. We are not to let the enemy of our souls have victory over us and to convince us that we need to be afraid of what he might do to us. We are not to fear our enemy or our circumstances, but we are to keep looking to the Lord for our strength, and for our support, believing that he will fulfill his purposes in and through our lives, and that he has this handled!
James 1:13-18 ESV
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 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. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
God is not the author of evil, and he tempts no one to sin against him. He does, nonetheless, permit Satan to tempt us, and he did allow the fall of man in the Garden of Eden and for all of us to be born with sin natures. So, when we are born into this world, in our sin natures we are separate from God and unable to be acceptable to God in our own power and strength.
And, regarding temptation, not all temptation comes from within us, from our own evil desires that might be raging within us. Jesus was sinless, he was perfect and without fault, and yet he was tempted by Satan with evil, but he did not yield. He stood strong against the enemy of his soul, and he fought back hard against him with the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.
And, Satan will tempt even the godly with all kinds of thoughts, emotions, fears, and doubts. But, we have to resist him, and we have to flee that temptation, and we have to put on that armor of God with which to fight off his evil attacks and schemes against us, so that we are victorious over him.
And, this brings me to another thought here. The true gospel does not tempt us with evil, either. It does not say to its adherents, “Just say these words and then you are now part of the family of God and this can never be taken away from you no matter how much you sin against God from this time on.”
No! The true gospel of our salvation, which comes from God, is pure, and it is holy and righteous, and its goal and purpose is the deliverance of the sinner out of his slavery to sin so that he might now walk in holiness and righteousness in the power of God at work within him. So, the gospel of our salvation which comes from God is not going to tell us we can remain in our sinful addictions and still have the promise of heaven when we die.
So, don’t be deceived! God is the same yesterday, today and forever. His goal for us always has been and always will be our deliverance out of slavery to sin and for us to walk with him in holiness and in purity of devotion to him. For, he created us that our lives might be consecrated to him, separated (unlike, different) from the world.
James 1:19-21 ESV
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
Our Lord’s goal for us is that we might walk in holiness, that we might follow him and his ways, and that we might walk in obedience to his commands. So, we need to be those who are listening, and who are heeding his words. We need to be attentive to his voice, and quick to listen to his counsel, and short to respond to our circumstances with our fleshly emotions.
So, daily we need to be dying to all that is of our sinful flesh and we need to be putting on the armor of God. We must bathe our minds in the Word of God, and we must be those who are applying its truths to our lives and to our circumstances, too.
This is not saying we will never fail in this, for we are human. But, being human should never be used as an excuse for continued willful sin against God. If we fail, we should immediately take that to the throne of grace, and we must repent of our sins, and turn again to follow the Lord. We must respond quickly to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, too, in doing what he says to do, in correcting wrongs and in doing what is right.
James 1:22-25 ESV
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
This is so critical that we get this! Too many people today are teaching a cheap grace gospel which requires no repentance, no obedience to Christ, and no submission of our wills to God, and no surrender to the Lordship of Christ over our lives. They, thus, make a mockery of what Jesus did on that cross when he took our sins on him and he put them to death that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24).
For, scripture could not be more clear when it teaches that genuine faith in Jesus Christ is crucified with Christ in death to sin and is resurrected with Christ to newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. And, when it teaches that we must walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh if we want to have eternal life with God. And, it could not be more clear when it says that if we walk (in practice) according to the flesh, that we are going to die in our sins.
It all comes down to what we practice, to our lifestyles. Are our lives given over to God for his righteousness and for his service? Or, are our lives given over to our flesh, to do what our flesh desires? It isn’t like it is all or nothing, for we still live in flesh bodies, and we still have a propensity to sin, but it does have to do with what we practice, how we live our lives, our lifestyle. For, our faith is not shown by what we say so much as it is revealed as genuine (or not) by what we do.
So, it is critical that we take this seriously, and that we become doers of the Word and not hearers or talkers only. We need to be those who practice what we say we believe, not in a fake kind of way, but genuinely by the Spirit we need to be walking in obedience to what God’s Word teaches us.
I Pray for Them
An Original Work / June 4, 2013
Based off John 17
“Glorify Your Son, that Your Son
May glorify our God in heav’n.
Father, You granted Him all power
And all authority over men,
That He might give eternal life
To all those whom now
You have given Him.”
“This now then is eternal life:
That they may know You,
Father, and Your Son;
That they may know the only true God,
And Jesus Christ whom the Father sent.
I have brought You the glory by
Finishing the work that You’ve given Me.”
“I have shown You to those whom
You gave to Me out of the world;
They were Yours. You gave them to Me
And they have obeyed Your words
And they accepted them. They knew
That I came from You, and they believed
With certainty, I was sent.”
“Holy Father, I pray for them by the
Power of Your name: Protect them,
So that they may be one as we are,
For they are still living in this world.
I have given them Your word;
Because of Your word, the world
Has hated them.”
“I pray they may have the full measure of
My joy now living within them.
Father, I pray You sanctify them
By Your word; truly Your word is truth.
As You sent Me into the world,
I send them to tell the world to repent.”
Monday, July 15, 2019