“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.”
James 1:5-8 NLT
Do you need wisdom from God about a matter, or matters, in your life today? God is always waiting, and available, to hear your cry for wisdom. The wisdom that I'm speaking of here isn't human wisdom, it is divine. Worldly wisdom is distinctly different from divine wisdom. God gives insight and understanding that the world cannot, and will not, give you. Wisdom can be defined as having good judgment, prudence, circumspection, and soundness. Certainly, we all need these qualities to make decisions in our lives. Foolish choices can be disastrous. Wisdom begins with our acknowledgement and awareness of God Himself. “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.” Proverbs 9:10 NLT We cannot expect to make right decisions in life apart from the One who created us. It is simple to conclude that our behavior in life is based on our relationship with God. I'm not talking about just saying that we believe in Him. I'm talking about placing our faith and practice in Him. True wisdom is gleaned in the intimate times we have with our Father. Listening to Him, obeying Him, and trusting Him is the key to successful living. We make our mistakes when we try to "fix" things "our" way. What a mess we have made in times like that. It is vital that we seek the Lord's wisdom in our daily affairs, both private and public, and allow Him to guide our steps. If we will submit to Him and ask Him to lead us, He will. When He prompts us to do something, we need to be willing to obey. Sometimes God's direction will go against the grain of our logic and rationale. Trust Him and be consistent. Stay planted and rooted in Him. In due season you will reap the harvest of fruitfulness that God has in store. Doing things God's way is always right. Doing what is right never takes you down the wrong road. I leave you with these verses:
“Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding.” Proverbs 3:13 NLT
“Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment.”
Proverbs 4:7 NLT
“For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it.”
Proverbs 8:11 NLT
“Sensible people keep their eyes glued on wisdom, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.” Proverbs 17:24 NLT
“No human wisdom or understanding or plan can stand against the Lord.” Proverbs 21:30 NLT
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4 NLT
Trials are opportunities for us to depend on the person and presence of the Lord. In Him we experience joy in the midst of difficulty. God will use any, and every, situation in our lives to bring glory to Him and yield good to us when we place every circumstance in His care and trust Him. Faith that isn't tested can't be trusted. Anyone can say they love Jesus when the circumstances of life are comfortable and satisfying. It takes a deep rooted faith to endure hardships. I have often classified hardships in two categories:
1. Short term (acute) - things that are only experienced for a short period of time (auto breakdowns, routine surgeries and recovery, job transition, etc.) 2. Long term (chronic) - things that are experienced consistently over long a period of time (special needs care giving, physical disabilities, divorce and family dysfunction and restructuring, etc.) Everyone experiences short term crisis in their life. Some experience long term crisis. In either situation, our faith gets challenged and we struggle to keep our spiritual focus. When we simply place the challenges at the feet of Jesus and learn to trust Him in each and every specific, we develop godly character that becomes like bedrock. Through these hardships God can help us maintain our hope, strength, and courage if we look to Him and let Him teach us. As long as we are in this current world we will have trials. Jesus gave us this word: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.””
John 16:33 NLT Today, let Jesus use your circumstances to bring Him glory and to teach you to trust Him. Every trial endured produces greater capacity for the next. Jesus has overcome for us. Let Him show you the way.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 KJV
Many have given their lives in service to our nation. Today, let's remember that the freedom we enjoy was paid for by the sacrifice of others. Pause and take a moment to honor their sacrifice. Most importantly, let's never forget the love of Christ Jesus that was demonstrated by His death on the cross. His sacrifice has given us freedom from sin. That is absolute freedom!!!
“Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.” James 3:9-12 NLT
We cannot praise God with our lips one moment and turn around the next and curse our fellow man. We cannot curse like a sailor one moment and say "Praise the Lord" the next. We must recognize the connection between our heart and tongue. Jesus said it like this: "You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.”
Matthew 12:34 NLT He also quoted Isaiah 29:13 when He said: "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Matthew 15:8 NLT How can we proclaim to know and love Jesus and use our tongue to gossip, tell dirty jokes, lie, say foul language, etc.? As believers, we must allow the Holy Spirit to arrest our tongue and put a bridle on it. We must think before speaking and ask the Holy Spirit to help us say the right things. Are we not representatives of our Lord Jesus Christ? How would He talk? What would He say? We cannot profess one thing and live another? We must strive to please our Lord in everything we do, even our words. This includes our attitude. I have known some people that grumble and complain habitually. Frankly, these people got under my skin. I love them, but their whole attitude created an atmosphere and environment that bred negativity and darkness. Are you one of those people? When you walk into a room, are others lifted by your presence or are they stressed and cast down? We must harness our tongues for the glory of God and the good of our fellow brothers and sisters. Pray this prayer today: "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalms 19:14 NLT
“And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” James 3:6 NLT
The power of the tongue is more than we realize. The tongue only weighs about three ounces yet it is has such positive and negative potential. I have heard it said "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me". In my opinion, that is the most foolish statement ever made. Negative words can destroy a marriage, demean a child, discourage a fellow man, and even start a war. On the positive side, however, they soothe a troubled mind, comfort a broken heart, heal deepest hurts, encourage, and even give life to a dying soul. I strongly urge you to analyze the words you speak. Are they negative? Do you complain a lot? Are you snappy, rude, or inconsiderate? Do you speak respectfully and thoughtfully? Are you more positive than negative? Do others find your presence to be a blessing or do you get on their nerves? To speak is a gift from God. There are those who only dream of being able to speak, such as those born mute and stroke victims. Do you use your words with care or carelessly? Are you gracious or disgraceful? Are you kind or unkind? Are you truthful with tact or are you a steam roller that simply vomits whatever you think all over others? God has given us a powerful tool in the tongue and we need to use it in the most righteous manner. We can use it to construct or we can use it to destroy. Because of our sinful nature, we have the tendency to be destructive rather than constructive. We may not be able to tame our tongue but the Holy Spirit can. The scriptures instruct us: “Wise words satisfy like a good meal; the right words bring satisfaction. The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” Proverbs 18:20-21 NLT “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”
Proverbs 25:11 KJV“ Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!” Proverbs 15:23 NLT “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing, but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness. The Lord is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good. Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:1-4 NLT Jesus said this about His words: "...And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” John 6:63bNLT God's Word gives life! Let your words be life today, not death. Choose, and use, them wisely. Ask the Holy Spirit to guard and guide your tongue today.
And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God’s Son from heaven—Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment.”
1 Thessalonians 1:10 NLT
Are you looking for the second coming of the Lord Jesus? We live from day to day trying to make it through the day and face the next. Yes, life must be lived one day at a time. The problem is this: we lose our perspective and our priorities get out of place. Situations and circumstances capture our focus and we drift away into the cares of life rather than keeping our eyes on the Lord. We go to church, have our little devotional, and feel as though we have done our duty. All the while, we aren't concentrating on the reality that one of two things are going to happen: Christ will return or we will die. This is a sobering contemplation. Let me ask you something. Do you really believe that Jesus is coming again? We have heard this statement in our religious rhetoric but do we actually, and intentionally, believe it? Are we so wrapped up in our culture that we have dismissed it as simple rhetoric? Just like the believers of Thessalonica, we, too, must live looking for the coming of Jesus. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we must live every day as though we may die or Christ will return. This doesn't mean that we bunker ourselves in a storm shelter or become a doomsday survivalist. In fact, we are told by Jesus to occupy until He returns (see Luke 19:13 KJV). There is work to be done. The lawn must be cut, the groceries have to be bought, the daily chores must be attended, and we must earn wages to live an honest, honorable life. In the midst of all of this, we must keep our central focus on the brevity of our lives, the purpose of them, and preparation for the ultimate event of human existence: The return of our matchless Lord Jesus. If we truly believe in Him, who He is, and what He has done, we will also believe that He's coming again. The next time He comes He will be riding the conquering white horse of victory (see Revelation 19:11-21). He will come to rule and reign. This is the "blessed hope" of the believer. “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” Titus 2:13 KJV Is your hope in Him or is it in this world? May I remind you that this world is perishing. Don't get caught up in this world and forget who He is and who's you are. Live for Him and you will live ready either way. “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Matthew 24:44 KJV
As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died.” Galatians 6:14 NLT
"At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light and the burden of my heart rolled away. It was there, by faith, I received my sight, and now I am happy all the day." Many of you will be familiar with that great old hymn lyric. Songs like "There's Room At The Cross For You", "The Old Rugged Cross", and "When I Survey The Wondrous Cross" all take us to the place where our sin met its reckoning. On that cross Jesus paid the debt of our sin. The curse of sin was defeated and hope reigned once again. I am so glad that I have been to the cross and have received my pardon. Any child of God that understands the absolute significance of the cross will abandon the feeble attempts to redeem themselves. It is at the cross that we receive life. Paul abandoned everything to preach the message of the cross. Nothing else mattered in life. When we are transformed by the power of Jesus, and His finished work on the cross, we can't help but abandon the meaningless things of this temporary life in order to live eternally. May I take this moment to remind you that being a "Christian" is so much more than claiming an eternal fire insurance policy. Knowing Christ and the power of the cross is utterly transforming. When you are truly set free at the cross your life will radiate with the urgency of proclaiming the message of the cross to the world. All of us are living in an uncertain world. We live short lives that end in death. Sure, we have very brief moments of youthfulness and we spend our time and money chasing the wind. Inevitably, we find ourselves longing for a perpetual place where death is eradicated and everything is fine. There is only one place like that: in the presence of God (Heaven). Heaven isn't heaven simply because of "streets of gold" and "mansions". Heaven is heaven because of a restored relationship with God through Jesus Christ. There are people on earth who have had luxurious homes, cars, clothes, and other extravagant things that died miserable and lost. Jesus said this in Luke 12:15: “Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” NLT It isn't the "stuff" of life that makes life worth living, it is the One who gave it. He came into this human race to bear our sins on the cross and build a bridge of mercy by grace. Have you been to the cross? If you haven't, you have missed it all. The cross is the place we have all longed for. There, by faith, life makes complete sense. There, hope is renewed. There, shackles fall and freedom is found. There, the past is forgiven, the present makes sense, and the future is secured. Stop chasing the wind and cling to the cross.
Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.” Galatians 6:10 NLT
As followers of Jesus Christ we are called to do good deeds as His representatives. Jesus is, by His own character, Good!!! In fact, without Him, we aren't good at all. The only good that exists in this world is because of Christ. “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” Romans 2:4 NLT He created us to be people that displayed His goodness. Given our free will, we sinned. The corresponding result was our depravity (corruption, perversion, debauchery). The only reason we see good in the world is because of His created, innate intention for mankind. We long for good to win out and triumph over evil. When we come to Jesus Christ in repentance we are re-created. We become His children redeemed by His blood. We take on a new nature and inherit new characteristics. When we submit to the Holy Spirit within, He helps us act like Jesus (see Galatians 5:22-23). Are you acting like Jesus in your actions toward others? Are you doing good things out of love for Jesus and your fellow man? We are called to do good to everyone, but especially to those in the family of God. God expects us to demonstrate His likeness toward unbelievers and to act like we are His children toward our spiritual siblings. Take the time today to evaluate your behavior, especially toward others. What is it like? Are you kind (good) to others or are your so wrapped up in simply getting through the day that you miss the point of being alive? Many of us are consumed with ourselves. We are working so feverishly to preserve our own little world that we forget that there is a big world right before our eyes. Today, pray and ask God to open your eyes and heart toward others. Do something good today, and every day, for someone else.
“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9 NLT
Today, let us keep doing what is right. God will bless us with His righteous right hand. Isaiah said it like this:
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NLT Doing the right thing always produces the right result. Don't give up! God is with you!
And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” Luke 12:7 NLT
Today, don't be afraid. God cares so much about you that He knows how many hairs are on your head. If you are worried, troubled or perplexed, God is aware of every detail of your situation. In fact, He is aware of things you don't know. He sees behind you, before you, above you, beneath you, and within you. Trust in Him today. He's got it. Consider these words from Psalm 139: 1-12 NLT "O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night— but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.” Rest in Him. Relax and let the joy of the Lord take over your spirit, soul, and body. He created you in your mothers womb. “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalms 139:13 NLT Listen to this promise by God to His saints - “But not a hair of your head will perish!” Luke 21:18 NLT Rest in the Lord today. Rest!!
Rev. Curtis Norris