Stories Lead to Truths about God

Just a slight deviation from favorite verses today to favorite Bible stories. When I asked my friend Kathy for a favorite verse or two she responded with her favorite stories. As I thought about this, it so suits Kathy. She is a lifelong student of the Bible and the consummate Sunday School teacher. She sees things relationally as they impact our lives. Here are her favorites:

“I love the story of Esther because it tells me that even though the name of God is never mentioned, He is there, working in our lives.” Do you see God working in each area of your life? Is He with you in the hard times- rescuing, helping, guiding and providing all that behind the scenes encouragement? Do you also turn to Him in praise when things go well? I am reminded of God’s promise in Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Esther believed God was there with her and her people. What about you?

I love the story of Ruth because of the love and devotion it speaks.” Ruth gives us an example to follow because of the love she showed her mother-in-law, Naomi. Do you have someone you are serving even though it is hard? Are you letting the love of God shine through you towards them? Paul put this in another context in Romans 12:9-11 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” What does your love reflect?

I love the story of Jonah because it tells me that I can’t outrun God.” Jonah is such a great example of thinking we know better and can get away from God. Do you try to second guess God and tell Him how things should be? Submission is not easy but it is biblical. Christ is our example in Hebrews 5:7 “ During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” Let us learn from Jonah and strive to be like Jesus.

I love the story of the blind man in John 9 because it tells me that even though people can see, they may still be blind.” Jesus made mud and put it on this man’s eyes and his eyes were opened. He had been blind from birth. The Pharisee’s were incensed that Jesus healed this man and did it on the Sabbath. They considered healing work and Jews were not permitted to work on the Sabbath. They questioned the man’s parents to verify he was born blind. They questioned the former blind man about who had healed him. He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not (meaning Jesus), I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” He was blind physically but Jesus gave him sight. The Pharisee’s were blind spiritually and could not see the truth of Jesus and His power. Are you open to His work and leading so that you can see God’s truth in your life?

I love the story of Ananias and Sapphira because it tells me that God knows me so well, I can’t lie to him (and lying never brings about a good ending).” This story occurs in Acts 5. Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. It would seem from what happened, they said they were giving all the proceeds from their land sale. Maybe they wanted to look good in the eyes of the apostles and their fellow believers so they would think well of them, think them generous and selfless when they secretly held back a portion for themselves. Their actions were deceitful and here is what happened. Ananias came before Peter:

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

Next his wife came in, not knowing what had happened to her husband. “About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died.  The sin was not that they did not give it all to the Lord’s work but lying about it. If they had been truthful about the price and what they were giving, all would have been well but they tried to lie and get away with it. What a price to pay for pride and trying to be more than they were. I agree with Kathy this is an example of God’s Omniscience and man’s pride. God knows, and we kid ourselves, when we think we can get away with things. God always knows. I am reminded of 1 John 3:19-21 “This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God.”

Be encouraged today with these stories displaying God’s character. He is Omnipresent and Sovereign as in Esther showing His providential care and guidance. He is loving and the great Provider as seen in Ruth. He is Omniscient in the case of Jonah and Ananias and Saphira. He is Compassionate, Loving and Almighty God as seen by the blind man. Who is God to you? How do you see him in the story of your life? Is He Faithful, Unchanging, Savior, Redeemer and friend? Take time to thank Him for His presence in your life today.

I’d love to hear your favorite story too. Thanks Kathy for directing me to these gems of scripture that give us foundational truths to live by.

Linda

Relying on the Character of God

Today’s favorite verses come from my friend Aifen. She has chosen Isaiah 55: 8-9. So that we get the context around those verses I have included the entire stanza. They are verses that show the power and majesty of our God.

Isaiah 55:6-9 “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah first tells his listeners to seek to find God and call upon Him. He implores the listener to do it sooner than later. Don’t wait until you are lost or overcome by the ways of the world. Turn to God and seek His compassion and love. Know assuredly that He will forgive you and provided for you with care. How can we know this is true? Because, God is not like us. He is not entangled with a sin nature that seeks to rebel and serve for self gain. God is not human but Spirit and Truth. God assures us that His thoughts and ways are truly higher than any man could ever have. His are lofty, heavenly and not bound to this earth.

God’s Character

How does this encourage you? I am comforted that God is not like me. He is not bound to earthly ways, thoughts, motivations, competitions, materialism, greed, selfishness, etc. His character is pure, true, holy, kind, loving, compassionate, filled with mercy and love. Each of His character traits are perfect as He is perfect. We cannot fully understand God and His ways as He is so far above us in character and intellect. Yet, we can know is that He is just and faithful. Looking into scripture tells us about God and shows us who He is and what He can and will do. He does not sin and cannot be controlled by anyone or anything. God will pardon sinners abundantly. He is Sovereign and Almighty God.

I know my friend Aifen takes great strength from knowing that she loves and worships the Almighty Creator who is Sovereign over all things, thoughts and ways! Be encouraged as nothing will ever happen in your life that catches God unaware. He knows and can be with you. Deuteronomy 36:3  “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Be of good courage!

As you reread these verses, seek to catch a glimpse of Almighty God and His power.

Linda

A Word, A Thought… What are you Doing and Thinking?

My friend Wendy’s favorite verses go to the heart of Christian living. She has chosen these two verses to guide her. Knowing Wendy and the opposition she has faced from unbelievers, they are perfect and have given her courage and direction as she seeks to live each day for Christ.

Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear”. This verse hits to the heart of good relationships with others. If we are to reflect Christ in all we say and do, Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”, then we need to be concerned about what we are saying. James talks about the power of the tongue, see James 3:1-12. He talks about the need to tame the tongue and not letting it lead one astray. Paul is warning us here that our talk can harm others, (we know this to be true), and that what we should be desiring is to engage in conversations that reflect Christ’s grace. Grace is God’s undeserved favor. Having conversations that are kind and not judgmental, gossipy or hurtful. With the goal of glorifying Christ with our words, we need to seek to uplift and encourage.

Wendy’s second verse is Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”. Her first verse zeroed in on what we say, this one focuses on our mind’s attitude and expression. That which happens in our minds help to drive our actions and words. Our character is important to Christ and He desires that we be sanctified in Him. Paul explains this wonderous transformation he calls sanctification in Romans 6:21-23 “But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. We are to glorify God with our heart, mind and soul becoming more and more like Jesus with each day. Let the truth of the character God desires sink into your heart and guide you as you ponder and meditate on Philippians 4:8.

With both of these verses before us, Ephesians 4:29 and Philippians 4:8, we must recognize that without the indwelling power of Christ’s Holy Spirit within us, we will not be able to live as He desires. It is God alone who empowers us and equips us to do His work and act worthy of His calling. The author of Hebrews prays a prayer we can claim over us too, in Hebrews 13:20-21 “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Thanks Wendy for reminding us of Christ’s goals for our speech and conduct. May we strive to keep these verses before us as we interact with others in the name of Christ.

Linda

Advent…Praises Flow towards God

Mary’s song of psalms or praise to God is one of the most beautiful in the Bible. It is called the ‘Magnificat’ in Latin which means ‘glorifies’. Mary pours her heart out to God in praise for his care, love and protection for her people throughout generations. She praises God for being chosen to bear His Son the Messiah, the one who will save her people. Read it today with a heart of praise. Luke 1:46-55.

46 Mary responded,

“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
47     How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
48 For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
    and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
49 For the Mighty One is holy,
    and he has done great things for me.
50 He shows mercy from generation to generation
    to all who fear him.
51 His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
    He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
52 He has brought down princes from their thrones
    and exalted the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    and sent the rich away with empty hands.
54 He has helped his servant Israel
    and remembered to be merciful.
55 For he made this promise to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary’s song of praise exclaims God’s favor or grace towards her 48, God’s holiness and providential care 49, God’s mercy towards Israel 50, God’s sovereignty and might 51-52, God’s care for their basic needs in life 53, God’s help in times of trouble 54, God keeps His promises 55.

Which of these do you praise Him for today? Think about His character and praise Him. Think about His grace towards you and praise Him. Think about His Sovereignty over all things and trust Him to complete His good work in you. From the depths of your soul, praise Him today as you follow Mary’s example of proclamation and praises.

Linda

Love Language for Thanking God

What type of language do you use to thank God? Are your words plain and simple, direct and forthright? If you want others to understand how you feel about God and why you feel the need to thank Him, then you should say what is in your heart with emotion and love. In Psalm 145 the psalmist lays out his feelings about God, who He is and why God should receive his (ours too) thanks and praise.

 I will extol you, my God and King,
    and bless your name forever and ever.
Eternal God and King
Every day I will bless you
    and praise your name forever and ever.

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, Unsearchable in His greatness
    and his greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall commend your works to another,
    and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
Majestic, Wonderous
    and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
Awesome deeds, His Greatness
    and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
    and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
His Goodness and Righteousness

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. His Grace, Mercy, Patience and Love
The Lord is good to all,
    and his mercy is over all that he has made.
His Goodness and Mercy

10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, All Creation will give thanks to Him!
    and all your saints shall bless you!

What an amazing list of attributes of our God! He is all those and so much more. Let your heart overflow with gratitude and thanks towards Almighty God!

Linda

Cultivate your Gratitude

One of the most beautiful prayers in the Bible is found in Daniel 2:20-23. Daniel was a young Jewish man who was taken into captivity in Babylon. He was trained to help in the king’s court as one of his wise counselors. The king had a dream and demanded that his ‘wise men’ tell him what the dream was and what it meant or they would face execution. Daniel asked for time to consult His God for answers. In this prayer Daniel is expressing his thanks for the answers God gave him so his life and the lives of others could be saved. As you read this prayer, consider your own thanks to God- why are you thankful and what do you know personally about God?

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
    to whom belong wisdom and might.
21 He changes times and seasons;
    he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to those who have understanding;
22 he reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what is in the darkness,
    and the light dwells with him.
23 To you, O God of my fathers,
    I give thanks and praise,
for you have given me wisdom and might,
    and have now made known to me what we asked of you,
    for you have made known to us the king’s matte
r.”

Daniel knew God was eternal, sovereign, wise, the giver of understanding and wisdom, the revealer of deep and hidden things, total light and purity, and the one who controls the future. Do you know God because you have seen some or all of these attributes of God as He interacts in your life? Do you trust Him fully to know what is best for you? My go to verse for trust and the goodness of God is Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I claim this verse over my life, my mind and my will as I seek to trust God fully. Daniel trusted God and gave thanks for His love, devotion and care for him. God had answered his prayers and allowed him to grasp in the greatness of God in a new and tangible way.

I pray this thank giving time of year has brought a new realization of who God is and what He has done and is doing in your life. Give thanks to God in this season of your life. Recall what God has done and how He has blessed you. Your love and gratitude to God needs to be cultivated so it will grow and reflect outward towards others revealing the God you love.

Linda

Is God the Source of Your Thankfulness?

Today’s focus for giving thanks comes from Psalm 46:1-3. In my book, Promises for Dynamic Living, I used these verses on the printed bookmark that accompanied the book. These verses never cease to bring thankfulness, awe and extreme encouragement to my soul.

“God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.”

Why am I always encouraged? Because, God is my refuge and strength. God is with me 24/7, ever-present. God is greater than any circumstance I will ever face, even if it looks like everything is falling apart. Knowing that God has my back allows me to move forward in life without fear. Trusting in God eliminates the threat of fear and fills me with hope, reassurance and peace.

Why am I in awe? Because, who am I that God would love, protect and care for me in all circumstances? Knowing I am loved and cared for by my heavenly Father brings joy to my soul.

Why am I thankful? Because, I have God as my protector and nothing can befall me that will leave me alone and forgotten by God. He is always with me and has this world in His control.

These verses are true cause for encouragement, awe, and thanksgiving. May they lead you towards greater thankfulness for the power and might of our loving God.

Linda

God’s Kindness, What is it?

Kindness is one of the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23″22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Like Patience this attribute is one God desires to be in our character and is one that grows and develops as we are indwelt and responsive to the Holy Spirit in our lives. For this discussion, I want to start at the root of Kindness- God Himself. God is perfect in all of His ways and embodies all kindness in His being. Here are some scriptures to help us to better understand the kindness of God.

Ruth 2:20 “And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.” God brought Boaz into Ruth’s life to restore her and her mother-in-law when they returned to Israel after losing their husbands. God’s kindness is true for both those living and those who have passed into eternity. God’s kindness transcends all realms as God is God of all, both the living and the dead. I find great comfort in this, like Naomi, God does not stop being God to me when I leave this earthly home. He is eternal and His kind character will be there no matter when or where!

Like humans, God desires to show His kindness towards us. He is always motivated by His love. Romans 2:4 says He shows us His love because He desires that we will see and recognize His love, patience and longsuffering towards us and turn to Him. “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” What is the purpose of your acts of kindness? Do you desire to show your Savior to others and draw them to Him?

God’s kindness towards us was given to bring us to repentance and faith and is explained more fully in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Ephesians 2:5-8 is one of my favorite and encouraging passages. even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” God’s kindness is evident in His sending Jesus to redeem and save us from eternal death through faith. Jesus came even though we were sinners and dead in our sins. He brought us life. What a wonderful kindness God showed to all of us by this act. God showed us then and will continue to show us His kindness into eternity. Titus put it this way in Titus 3: 4-6 “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,” God’s kindness in sending Jesus to die for our sins was His alone. It was His mercy and cleansing though our faith in Christ that redeems us. He loved us that much! What sacrifices have you made for others out of godly kindness?

David summed up God’s kindness in Psalm145.

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

[The Lord is faithful in all his words
    and kind in all his works.]

17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and kind in all his works.

How does God’s kindness towards you affect your day to day walk with Him? Are you seeking to show His kindness to others? Remember, kindness is an outgrowth of faith and the work of the Holy Spirit within. Our kindness is meant to draw others to Jesus. By being and acting kindly towards others we show them Jesus and His great love. Not feeling kindly towards others- pray. Not wanting to do kind acts- pray. Remember, God is eternal and His kindness is unending, longsuffering and always fills us with hope! Thank you God.

Linda

God’s Character Revealed

And the journey continues…Nahum. This short book in the Old Testament was written by Nahum the prophet. Like Jonah he was called to give a message from God to Assyria. Years earlier God sent Jonah to call the people of Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, to repentance. They had repented and God had postponed their destruction. They had been an evil people practicing extreme cruelty towards others and had taken the northern kingdom of Israel into captivity. God had promised revenge upon those who used and abused His people. So the time for their downfall has arrived and Nahum tells how God will destroy them because of their sinful ways. In the midst of these 3 short chapters there are some nuggets that speak of God’s great character and promises of hope in the future for those who trust in Him.

Nahum 1:2-7 The Lord is a jealous and avenging God;
    the Lord is avenging and wrathful;
the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries
    and keeps wrath for his enemies.
God does not allow those who love Him to be taken advantage of and not avenged. He is the one who will right wrongs and take care of our enemies. This biblical truth is given many other places in scripture. See Deuteronomy 32:41-43,Isaiah 35:4, Romans 12:19, Hebrews 10:30.

The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
    and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty.
His way is in whirlwind and storm,
    and the clouds are the dust of his feet.
He rebukes the sea and makes it dry;
    he dries up all the rivers;
Bashan and Carmel wither;
    the bloom of Lebanon withers.
The mountains quake before him;
    the hills melt;
the earth heaves before him,
    the world and all who dwell in it.
Here Nahum speaks of the sovereign control God has over His creation. He describes God’s character as being longsuffering, patient but just in the face of sin.

Who can stand before his indignation?
    Who can endure the heat of his anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire,
    and the rocks are broken into pieces by him.
The Lord is good,
    a stronghold in the day of trouble;
he knows those who take refuge in him
. God is God and no one can stand against Him and His power. Verse 7 is one of my favorites as it extols the goodness of God for all who believe and take refuge in Him!

In 1:15 Nahum tells of good news to come. The coming destruction of Assyria was good news to the people of Judah who had been threatened and abused by them. The good news also foreshadows the coming of Jesus who brought good news for all mankind. Behold, upon the mountains, the feet of him
    who brings good news,
    who publishes peace!
Keep your feasts, O Judah;
    fulfill your vows,
for never again shall the worthless pass through you;
    he is utterly cut off.

What can we learn from this ancient prophesy? We know that the destruction of the Assyrian empire was historically accomplished at the hands of the Babylonians years after this prophesy was written. God’s word was true and accurate and shows how God’s will will be accomplished as He says. The words within Nahum show us more about God’s holy character and how He is mighty, sovereign, holy and all powerful. It also gives us assurance that God will avenge wrongs done towards those who follow Him in faith and shows His love and care for each believer. I cling to the truth of verse 7- God is good and in Him I will find refuge as He cares for me! Amidst the destruction and unleashing of God’s wrath towards their unrepentant sin, we see hope and restoration for those who believe in Him– Jesus. He is the ultimate good news of God that brings love, peace, hope, forgiveness and life eternal in Him. John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Thank you Jesus.

May you have a clearer vision of who God is and what He has done for you through Jesus.

Linda

How do you do it? Live for Jesus

And the journey continues… James. This New Testament book is Oh so practical in nature. It was written by James, the oldest brother of Jesus. After his conversion, he became a pillar of the Christian church in Jerusalem and was widely known. His opening lines direct this letter to the dispersed Jewish Christians who had been scattered abroad after the death of Stephen (Acts 7:54-60). James is referred to many times in the New Testament as Jesus appeared to him personally after his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7), was known as a pillar in the church (Galatians 2:9), was visited by Paul on various occasions, was Paul’s first choice of whom to tell upon being released from prison, (Acts 12:17), was important in the Jerusalem Council recorded in Acts 15:13, was the brother of Jude (Jude 1:1) and history records that he was martyred in A.D. 62.

His short letter of 5 Chapters is packed with practical knowledge and instruction on how to live out a life committed to Christ that is filled with faith and good works. James was a servant of Christ and desired that those following Jesus serve Him wholeheartedly. It is filled with wisdom on how to treat others, tame the tongue and submit to God. If you desire to learn to think biblically it is a great book to memorize. The truths will permeate your being and infuse godly thinking into your mind. As James would say, it leads to solid faith and good works that show our love for God as we serve Him. Here are a few of my most favorite verses that have transformed my thinking.

James 1:2-4 talks about attitude and the results of trusting all of life’s events to God.  “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.

James 1: 5-6 instructs us to go to the source of all wisdom when we need answers but to do it with faith!  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

James 1:17 confirms the immutability of God. He also assures us that God is good in all He gives. “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.”

James 1:19-20 instructs us to control our anger.  Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

James 2:1 begins his teaching on treating others with impartiality. “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” He concludes this chapter with words about faith and good works. “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” (2:14)

James 3 delves into the harm and good that we can do with our tongues!  “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. (3:6)

James 4:7-8 is one of my favorite promises as it shows us clearly the way to draw near to God. “Submit yourselves therefore 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.”

In his last chapter James talks about the whining rich, the need for patience and the importance of prayer. James 5:15-16 encourages us in our prayer life! “And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Which of these nuggets of wisdom do you need today? Are you struggling with trials in your life and need the perspective of joy? Are you concerned that God is perhaps whimsical and will change His mind about your salvation? Are you being confronted with favoritism, gossip or want to know how to get closer to God? Are you struggling with prayer and asking yourself why pray? James is a book that can be read, meditated upon and digested slowly so that the truths contained therein will permeate your life and allow the Holy Spirit to change you from the inside out.

Be encouraged today by the practicality of James and how he makes faith in Christ applicable to our daily walk with Jesus.

Linda