Do Not Judge Others
Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?” James 4:11-12 NLT
There is an old saying: "Clean off your own back porch before you try to clean off someone else's back porch". Jesus said it like this: “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Matthew 7:1-5 NLT Let each of us take personal responsibility for our own actions. Let's leave others in God's hands. The only person, for which each of us can give personal account, is ourselves. “So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.” Romans 14:10 NLT
Come Close to God
Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” James 4:8-10 NLT
God is waiting for you to come close to Him. His arms are wide open, ready for your return. The love He had for you still holds strong and steady. The intimate relationship you had with Him is just a prayer away. Repent of your unfaithfulness to Him and ask Him to forgive. He stands ready and willing. Ever since Genesis 3:1-7 God has longed for the fellowship He had before Adam fell. We, too, have that deep longing for the fellowship we once had with God. However, we try to fill that void with other things. This is where we commit spiritual adultery on God. God has always remained faithful to us but we haven't been faithful to Him. It is time for us to return home. The door is open through Jesus Christ. A feast awaits the soul who has hungered for so long. A chair is empty and waiting at the table. The Master Chef of the ages has prepared the meal and stands to welcome you back where you belong. One bite of His provision and you will know that no other taste has even come close. The one thing we, the church, must do is confess our sins of unfaithfulness to our Lord. We must be remorseful for our wicked ways. Let us not mistake God's blessings for His approval. God has been good to us while we have been so ungodly. The goodness of God should turn us to Him, not away from Him. “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 Today, let us recognize the lavish love of our Lord and let us respond in humility to His invitation to come home. If we approach Him in humility, He will receive and revive us.
God's Grace Is Sufficient
But He gives us more and more grace [through the power of the Holy Spirit to defy sin and live an obedient life that reflects both our faith and our gratitude for our salvation]. Therefore, it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD and HAUGHTY, BUT [continually] GIVES [the gift of] GRACE TO THE HUMBLE [who turn away from self-righteousness].” So submit to [the authority of] God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him] and he will flee from you.” James 4:6-7 AMP
God's grace is sufficient to do anything that's needed. He is waiting for us to yield to Him and submit ourselves in obedience. This takes humility. Humility is the ability to harness our sinful pride and submit it to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. When we do this, there is nothing that we cannot overcome. It is our pride that stubbornly stands between God and our deliverance. Pride is a barrier that only humility can overcome. Because of sin, we are prone to self reliance. We, somehow, suppose ourselves capable of "handling" things. The reality is that we are insufficient and incapable of dealing with our depraved nature. Only an humble, willful submission to the Lord Jesus Christ will reign in those sinful passions that rage in our flesh. God isn't impressed with our abilities. We aren't as good as we think. Only in, and through, the power of Jesus Christ can we have authority over Satan and his minions. Today, you have a choice to do it your way or to humble yourself before God and allow Him to take control. Don't let your stubborn pride lead you down the wrong road. Submit to Jesus and let Him put the devil on the run in your life.
Come and Dine
Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him.” James 4:5 NLT
God made us for so much more than the temporary pleasures we experience here in this world. He longs for us to know intimacy with Him. In the the personal, private chambers of our spirit is the place where He longs to lavish Himself upon us. There is nothing this world offers that can take the place of one moment with the Lover of our souls. Only He can fulfill our greatest longings. Only He can satisfy the cravings of our soul. Sin has left us with a void that we so often try to fill with a relationship with a man or woman, substances, trips, events, and stuff of this age. None of it fills the massive canyon of our spirit. Only The Eternal One, Elohim (the eternal, all powerful God) can fill the canyon of our souls with the river of His grace. Jesus Christ is the face and grace of Elohim. If you are like me, and we are all alike, you have tasted the fruit of the world like Adam and Eve. You have realized the momentary pleasure of what it brings and, also, the consequences of its's entrapping. Sin does three things: 1. Takes us further than we intended to go. 2. Makes us stay longer than we thought. 3. Makes us pay more than you ever thought we'd pay. The allurement of this world cannot satisfy the longings of our spirit. Only a relationship with God, in Christ, can. Today, may we repent of our unfaithful wanderings and return to the One who has faithfully pursued us with passion, who has patiently waited for our acknowledgement of Him, and who desires our acceptance of His undying love. Once we have done this, spring time will come again in our souls. Then, and only then, will the flowers gleam brightly in the Sonlight, the birds sing in majestic harmony, and the recognition of our belonging be realized. Only then are we truly at home. Let's go home. Return, dear lost one. The table is spread and the meal of eternity awaits. Come and dine!!
Love the Creator, Not the Creation
You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.” James 4:4 NLT
The word "adulterer" is literally adulteress in the original Greek language. The reason for this is simple: we are the bride of Christ. When we are unfaithful to Him we become adulteresses. He is never unfaithful to us!!! The word "friendship" has to do with fondness. When we are fond of the fallen, sinful state of the world, we lose our focus on eternity and the reality that this life, as we know it, is perishing. We must never forget that this current way of life is only temporary. In John 15:19 Jesus says: “The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.” NLT I John 2:15-17 sates: “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” NLT When we fall in love with the sinful order of this world, we are committing spiritual adultery on Jesus. Many of us are addicted to the things of this world. We have become so accustomed to this way of life that we have lost sight of it's end. We must love the Creator, not creation. The life we now know is perishing. May God help us keep our eyes on Jesus, our focus on eternity, and our priorities in order while we are here in this world.
Greed, A Consuming Passion
“What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.” James 4:1-3 NLT
"Its a dog eat dog world out there." Perhaps you have heard this statement. The pursuit of "stuff" has been a problem throughout man's history. Our sinful hearts are prone to covetousness. Greed is a consuming passion that has no satisfaction. The more we get, the more we want. Interestingly, the Bible warns us against the lure of money and possessions. The scriptures speak more about money than any other subject. Money, in and of itself, is not sinful. It cannot sin. Money is simply a means to an end. I can hear some of you saying something like "I have more ends than means." We all have day to day needs. However, there is a clear distinction between needs and wants. Most of us have more than we need. Most of us are accustomed to living at a certain status. We think we are poor if we can't afford to eat out. Now, let me be clear. Poverty is a real issue with many in the world. The problem is this: if a person can afford to own a smart phone and pay the monthly bill, yet they can't pay the electric bill or other necessary expenses, their priorities are misplaced. A mobile phone is a luxury, not a life necessity. We think we have to keep up with everyone else. We want the latest styles and fashions. We want the biggest and best HD TVs. We think its normal to order take out or to get delivery. In many respects, most of us are spoiled. We are living in a society and culture that lives for "things" and the pleasure they bring. We do whatever it takes to protect this way of life, including working extra long hours and missing church. We use tithe money, that belongs to God, for "bills" that we create with our debts, such as fancy vehicles, credit cards, etc. All the while we claim Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We have lost our bearings and are headed headlong into an inevitable collapse. We must recognize our sin, repent of it, and ask God to help us trust in Him as our provider and protector. We should work hard and enjoy the benefits it brings, but we must always keep Jesus first in all our ways. "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33 NLT
Wisdom From Above
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:17-18 NLT
The attitude and conduct of the believer should be vertical (from above). This behavior is described in today's scripture as pure, peace loving, gentle, willing to think of others first, merciful, plenteous in good deeds, showing no favoritism, and truly sincere. This is a tall order! However, we must realize that we are God's children. We should have attributes that evidence that profession. When the Spirit of God lives within us we are, by His presence and power, capable of being like our Heavenly Father. With the characteristics listed above, take the time today to examine and analyze your character and conduct to see if you are behaving like Jesus. If you are like me you will find that there is work to be done in these things. All of us are still growing in our relationship with Jesus and He is, most certainly, patient with us in our development as His disciples. The longer we know Him, the more our conduct and character should line up with His likeness. If you aren't becoming more like Him in your walk of life, perhaps you should question your relationship with Him. To know Him is to love Him. To love Him is to desire to please. Let's let our actions speak louder than our words!
Jesus! He's All We Need
But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.”
James 3:14-16 NLT
Jealousy and selfishness are from the devil himself. These things have no place in the life of the child of God. If these things come knocking at your door, let Jesus answer. Each day, focus on your personal relationship with Jesus and don't get caught up in comparing yourself with others. Recognize the blessings you have. Thank God for His faithful provision and His undying love. Be content with the things God has given you and don't allow the enemy to tempt you with the stuff of this life. “Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.” 1 Timothy 6:6 NLT Our lives aren't defined or measured by the stuff we have. Who we are in Christ is priceless and far exceeds anything this world could offer us. “True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.” Proverbs 22:4 NLT We are children of the Most High God!! We couldn't be more wealthy! “Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!” Ecclesiastes 5:10 NLT All the things we need are hidden in Christ. When we spend our lives living for Him, and like Him, we find the treasure that our hearts truly long for. “In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:3 NLT Jesus! He's all we need!!!
As We Grow , We Know
“If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.” James 3:13 NLT
Knowledge is good. Wisdom is even better. Having intelligence about a matter is helpful but wisdom is the ability to implement that knowledge at the right place, right time, and in the correct manner. Many claim to know the Lord but their lives are not in sync with their profession. Think about this for a moment: if Jesus lives within you, by the presence of the Holy Spirit, then shouldn't your life evidence that proclamation? Where Jesus resides there is transformation!!! “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT Claiming Christ as your Savior and Lord is the most significant claim that can be made. If Christ is both Savior and Lord of your life then it is imperative that you yield to Him as the owner and operator of your living. At this point it needs to be recognized that all believers in Christ are growing, or should be. As we grow, we know. As we know, we go. As we understand the things of the Lord we should implement them into our character and conduct. There should be a maturing process occurring in all of us. No matter how long we've known the Lord, we are still growing. One warning: Don't just grow old, grow up. Today, let us show the world our faith in Christ with wisdom and humility. Let us pray each day to understand this process more fully and practice it more capably. Be blessed in Jesus Christ today my friends!
“So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?” James 2:17-20 NLT
Faith that doesn't transform into action isn't genuine faith. Let me give you an example: If I say that I believe that a chair can hold my weight if I sit in it but don't ever sit in it, my professed faith has no evidence. Consider this point: In today's scripture, James uses the devil and his demons as an example. The devil and his demons believe in God (acknowledge His existence) but that doesn't mean that they do good deeds or that they are saved. How ridiculous! Simply acknowledging God's existence, intellectually, doesn't save someone. I can believe in a bank but if I never open an account and place my money in it, then it is of no benefit to me. I can drive through the parking lot, admire it's structure, walk inside to look around, and even speak with an employee, but no matter how much I acknowledge it's existence, it is of no personal relationship to me. I must express interest in opening an account and be willing to place money into their trust. Once the account is open, it is active and available. The account must have activity such as deposits or withdrawals. A healthy account will do both. Now, let me be clear here. Faith that trusts in Christ places itself in His care. He opens our account and makes the deposit for us. We have nothing that is of worth that we can deposit on our own. However, now that He has accomplished this for us, He has opened our account in order to see it active. He desires to see us practice what we now have by His accomplishment.
•Positional righteousness is our right standing with God through faith in Jesus.
•Practical righteousness is our behaving like we belong to Him.
How can we not desire to please Him? How can we say that the Creator of all things is our Lord and Savior, that He lives within us, yet produce no fruit to evidence that profession? Something to think about today.
Rev. Curtis Norris