In a recent study through the book of James, I was halted at verse one. We all too often skip over the introduction, but I was struck.
“James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ: To the 12 tribes in the Dispersion. Greetings.” – James 1:1
James begins his letter by introducing himself as a slave. Paul and Peter do this as well in the beginning of some of the other New Testament letters. So, why did I stop here? Why did I not jump over this to get to the rest of the book? I was reminded that our master matters. We see James, in all humility, posturing himself as a slave, or servant, of God and of Jesus. Can we pause for a moment and consider who our master is? In word, perhaps we claim Jesus as master, but let us consider who or what masters us, in deed. With whom does our allegiance lie? Our master will dictate our deeds. Your deeds will be reflective of who you serve. Who or what is your master?
How is your posture before God? A servant or slave will find himself in a humble position, ready to serve and obey. Are you proud and hardened, or are you humble and submissive? The posture of our heart will spill over into all aspects of our life, and will soon show clearly who or what we serve. Our posture matters.
Recently, my husband was struggling with severe shoulder pain, unable to sleep in certain positions, do activities he used to, etc.. A visit to his doctor, and then physical therapist brought to light that his struggles stemmed from many years of poor posture. The good news is that this can be corrected with time, but it is a challenge and certainly requires more work now to unlearn the bad habits. All of these years, his posture mattered, and it eventually caught up to him. The same can be said of our posture before God. Our posture before God matters, and will eventually catch up to us. Years of pride and hardness, will yield pain and difficulty. It may require stretching, breaking old habits, being uncomfortable, etc.. Instead of relearning to bring our shoulders up and straight though, we may be relearning what it means to be on our knees and on our face before our King. Perhaps it is time for an examination.
Have you ever heard a person say something to the effect of, “I don’t feel convicted over that…” or “I sense that God wants me to be who I am…”, and so on? I have. I fear that there is a great deception taking place in our world, and even in our churches. A deception that says God is all sense and feeling, and what we feel about Him must be true and right, because we feel it must be so. I hear this most often in reference to a sin. Friends, I have good news and bad news for you. The bad news is that this feeling/sensing way of believing is wrong. It does not line up with God’s Word and a person may come under judgment for continuing in that way of thought. The good news, though, is that God does not leave us with question marks when we seek to know who He is and what He expects of us. We do not have to wonder! His Word clearly shows us His character, from creation to the arrival of Jesus and beyond.
In Malachi 3:6, God says, “For I the Lord do not change…” So, when we read of His commands to repent, to turn back to Him, to deny ourselves, to follow Him and His ways, we must remember that He has not changed His ways or character!
In 1 Peter we find this charge:
Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.
And if you address as Father the One who judges impartially based on each one’s work, you are to conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your temporary residence. For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was chosen before the foundation of the world but was revealed at the end of the times for you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory so that your faith and hope are in God.
By obedience to the truth, having purified yourselves for sincere love of the brothers, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again – not of perishable seed but of imperishable – through the living and enduring word of God.
Later in chapter 2, Peter urges his audience to abstain from fleshly desires that war against them. There is a call to good works, not as a means of salvation, but as an outward showing of whose we are. In 2 Peter, he states the world is corrupt, seeking to satisfy their evil desires. In 2 Peter 1:5, he charges again: For this reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins.
He continues with warnings for you and me. Abstain from the world. Deny your flesh. In essence, just because it feels right or good, does not make it so! The Bible is filled to the brim with God’s character and instruction. Yes, He is a loving and merciful God, but to those who fear Him. The author of Hebrews warns in chapter 11 that if we deliberately sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there is no longer a sacrifice for our sins! He states that judgment waits instead, for he who tramples on the grace of Jesus! In the case of our faith, willful ignorance is NOT bliss. God has made His ways plain to us, and all He asks is for our hearts to turn to Him, and away from what feels right and good in our corrupted world. Now, don’t hear me say that you will be saved by your works! Of course not! Jesus is our means of salvation, but He does ask us to obey and turn to Him. We have a clear guide in scripture, and we should go to it. We should seek it out and not lean on our own understanding.
Let us not be a people who feel or sense our way through the darkness, but instead, let us pick up the light of His word, and use it to illuminate our path.
*There is so much more scripture! Go read your Bibles and seek out His truth. I can only fit a small amount here, but you will be blessed when you search His words and learn more about who He really is. 🙂
Do you ever feel alone and unknown? Psalm 139 details just how known you actually are. You cannot hide from the One who formed you and searches you. There is no part of you that is unseen by Him. Does this frighten you? If you have not repented and turned back to God, perhaps this does worry you.
Your ways are known. You are known.
On a different note, if you are a repentant follower of Jesus, you may be encouraged. Your encouragement comes from the fact that no matter how alone and unknown you feel, God’s Word says otherwise. When you are walking in His ways, you have no fear, only love. You can find hope in the knowledge that your Creator sees you.
Whether you feel fear or hope when reading this scripture, we find accountability in this. We understand that our sins are not hidden. This should propel us forward! We don’t linger in a place of paranoia or fear. No, we use this as a catalyst for holy living. We turn to Him. We step out, walking in faith, abiding in Him, who knows and sees all of us, yet loves us and calls us His own.
You are known.
“Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You understand my thoughts from far away.”
Hey there, momma. Are you weary today? Do you feel as if you are drowning in diapers, discipline and demands? Perhaps you are weary of training, raising and teaching. Perhaps you are weary of eyes rolled and independence shown as attitude. Are you weary?
Hello to you who are hurting today. Are you feeling powerless? Do you feel as if you are drowning in the social media posts, sermons, and flowers? Perhaps you are hurting, in the wake of loss or in your desire to be a mother. Perhaps, you feel powerless in a situation where you have no control. Are you hurting?
Have you heard? Do you know? Yahweh, the everlasting God, the creator of the whole earth…He never grows faint or weary. He understands. He strengthens the weary and powerless.
He is exactly what you need, in whatever place you find yourself today.
So, to you who feels weary. To you who feels powerless. Rest in Him. He, alone, will provide your strength. In the midst of your daily demands and your dark places, He is waiting to bring relief and light. He is hope, joy, and strength.
For the weary and powerless, He waits with strength. ❤
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding. He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless.”
This passage in Deuteronomy is part of the direct commandments from God to His people, the Israelites. We, as believers, can take this to heart as well! There is no mistaking God’s intent here: Teach His commands to our children, morning to night, and all the inbetween times. We are to talk about them, live them, and make them an active part of our lives. What do we teach our children that is different from the world? Are we lip service only, perhaps? Maybe we attend church faithfully, but there are no daily God conversations and teachings occurring in our homes. What are we doing that makes a marked difference for our family? It is our honor to be set apart, and to earnestly teach the ways of God our Father, to our children. Let us not be negligent, despite our busy schedules, sports, friends, culture, and yes, sometimes despite even church. Do not allow anything to take away from the privilege of teaching and walking this out with our children. Our homes can be a place of honor, where God’s ways are lived and spoken freely of.
“Imprint these words of mine on your hearts and minds, bind them as a sign on your hands, and let them be a symbol on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that as long as the heavens are above the earth, your days and those of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your fathers. For if you carefully observe every one of these commands I am giving you to follow — to love the Lord your God, walk in all His ways, and remain faithful to Him — the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will drive out nations greater and stronger than you are.”
Have you ever experienced a time in the valley, so to speak, facing off against an army sure to overtake you? A time when you found yourself bracing for the battle, awaiting a shield to protect you from the blows? My soul certainly has. I’ve been there. I’ve found myself frantically searching for shelter, side to side, not bothering to look up to see that I’m covered from above. When I look up, I see a shield, greater than I could have asked for, too heavy for me to wield, but in the hands of my great God, it protects me. I see a banner waving His victory, our victory, though the battle hasn’t ended yet. The same steadfast banner covers me in its shadow, declaring me His.
The beautiful thing about having the Lord, the one true King on our side, is that all we must do is wait and trust. Look up. His shield is ready. His banner waves. He is our hope. Our hearts can be glad. Trust Him. Whatever your battle, look up and wait.
“Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.”
“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
1 Corinthians 15:54-58 ESV
Today, Easter Sunday, we have celebrated the resurrection of Jesus. We have donned our Sunday best, worshiped, proclaimed “He is risen!” on social media, and celebrated in a variety of ways. Indeed, this is reason to celebrate! But, what about Monday? Where will we fall on Monday morning? Will it be on our knees, before our risen King, steadfast and immovable? Will we abound in the work of the Lord, come Tuesday? Will our minds move beyond Easter Sunday, with the power of Christ’s resurrection still on our minds and hearts, on Wednesday? You see, the resurrection is life changing and provides a foundation for how we live every day. When we truly believe the Gospel of Jesus, that he lived a humble, perfect life, died a gruesome, sacrificial death on our behalf, then was raised to life, just as He predicted, we are changed. This is not a ho-hum story. It is life altering! It is because of the resurrection that our faith can stand. It is because of the resurrection that we have hope. The resurrection gives us reason to share and celebrate more than one day a year. The resurrection is a catalyst for transformation. True faith is seen in the Mondays of our lives. So, I ask again… what about Monday?
“No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear.” ~ Ephesians 4:29
Do you ever say something and immediately regret it? I remember one time very specifically from when I was a teenager. I was eating at a restaurant with a group of friends and had been frustrated, the weeks leading up to that, with a teacher at school. I spoke very openly about my frustration and my disdain for her, only to see my friend’s wide eyes staring at me from across the table, silently begging me to stop talking! I casually glanced over my shoulder to see that teacher and her family eating lunch at a table right behind me! I vividly remember the feeling of my face burning, but I also remember the feeling of shame. Like her or not, I felt awful. My words were certainly not giving grace to those who heard. Ephesians 4 encourages believers to put away their former selves and to dress boldly in the garments of Jesus. Our new way of living includes new speech. We should not allow a word to pass unfiltered through our lips, but instead should guard our mouths fiercely, since our words have great power (James 3). All throughout God’s word, there is much emphasis on the words we speak. Our words matter and draw a direct line to our heart! So, whether our struggle is gossip, slander, rudeness, cursing, negativity, or something else, let us all remember that our words should pass through the grace filter so that all who hear will benefit or be built up. In this way, we are honoring our Lord!
â€œGod in His holy dwelling is a father of the fatherless and a champion of widows.â€â€â€ Psalmsâ€¬ â€68:5â€¬ â€
I have talked with many (girls and women, especially), who are walking a broken path, that stems from a broken relationship with their earthly father. He was physically or emotionally absent, he hurt them with words or hands, he left, etc.. He did not fulfill the role that he was meant to. This has shaped the way that many view and approach their relationship with God, our Heavenly Father. It is difficult for a person to understand and relate to God as Father, when their earthly dad placed a broken lens across their vision. God, however, has the ability to restore proper vision and to show his compassion, faithfulness, and overall goodness, as THE perfect father. Scripture tells us that He is the father to he fatherless and champion of widows! What wonderful news! The Bible also tells us that when we seek Him, we will find Him (Jer. 29:13). Are you ready to find Him and experience the love of a father that will never let you go? Seek Him. I know many who are in the process of seeking, and rest assured, our God is faithful to fulfill His promise. He is good! He will not disappoint. Are you weak? He is reaching down. You don’t have to climb, or make it to your feet, even. He is reaching to lift you up. He is your good Father. Look up, He is reaching down.
â€œThe steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.â€Â Lamentationsâ€¬ â€3:22-23â€¬ â€ESVâ€¬â€¬
Some days come to an end with sighs of relief, a heaviness lingering from the day. Not many days ago, it seemed the harder I tried to make the day peaceful and fun for myself and my kids, the worse it became. My husband was out of the country, and we all missed him dearly, which didn’t help. Attitudes were sour, frustration abounded, and parenting felt just plain hard. Bedtime rolled around, and wouldn’t you know, both boys alternated waking with night terrors for about 2 hours past bedtime. It seemed never ending. I sat in their doorway for quite some time that evening, waiting for them to settle in, and all I could think of was this scripture…the promise of God’s steadfast, never ending love. The promise of His brand new mercies that greet me each morning. The promise of His faithful character – it defines Him! His love, mercy and faithfulness, even on the hard days. When my heart and mind are chaotic, He is steadfast. When my emotions are off the wall crazy, He is faithful. When I bear the burden of my own failures, His mercy cloaks me. Friend, when you’ve had “one of those days” and breathe a sigh of relief at the end of your day, remember His promises to us, His children. His promises breathe hope into our despair, and bring light to our darkness. Because of HIM, we can face forward, and anticipate what a new day holds. Chin up! A new day is on the horizon.