LIVE FEARFULLY DURING YOUR TIME HERE ON EARTH

1 Peter 1:17 – If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth.

This is a powerful statement and reveals why we always need the Helper, the Holy Spirit. It is a serious thing to call God “our Father.” Receiving salvation, in and of itself, is an awesome thought. But it is even more awesome to realize that God has given us “power” to be His children. The implications are more than our finite minds can take in. He is no respecter of persons. To think that He made me alive in His Son through the power of His Holy Spirit causes me to take things very seriously. As a child of God, I have the personal responsibility to live and conduct myself in a manner that is fitting to the name I carry.

As my children were growing up, they had to give account to their mother and me. They had to answer directly to us about doing their chores, their school work, and their attitudes toward us and toward their siblings. They were our children, carrying our name, and we treated them the same without partiality.  We wanted them to understand that there were consequences for yielding to the sin nature, for disobedience, and for neglecting their responsibilities. Our heavenly Father is the same toward us. The word fear as used here does not mean to be afraid in the way one might fear evil. The word is a beautiful word which carries the meaning of reverence and awesome respect. It is a respect that has the knowledge of one day standing before Him and giving Him an account.

The Holy Spirit wants to remind us that, as His children, we have all the blessings and benefits of heaven. We also have the responsibilities that are expected of a son and daughter of God. Our goal is not to “appease” God so we can make it into heaven. Jesus took care of that on the cross as He laid down His life for each of us. We have an increasing desire to “please” Father God, because we love Him for what He has done for us. We also fear Him as the God of all creation. This is a healthy attitude and one that will enable us to “conduct ourselves in the fear of God.”

Today, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any areas that are not submitted to your Father in heaven and to fill you with “godly fear” all the days of your life here on earth.

BE QUICK TO HEAR, SLOW TO SPEAK, AND SLOW TO ANGER

James 1:19 – This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

Did they know?  James seemed to think they did. He lists three things that he felt they knew. First, is to listen carefully. The word “quick” means “alive.” In other words, be alive and pay attention. Secondly, be slow to speak. I learned a long time ago I should try to be the last one to speak in any discussion if I want my point to stick. So listen carefully and don’t just say the first thing that comes to your mind. Thirdly, be slow to get angry. In communication, the opportunity for anger is lurking at the door. By keeping our cool, we keep the lines of communication open. Over the course of time, we are able to resolve volatile issues.

I have found that many of God’s people do not know these principles, or at least they do not practice them. Many times, we are preparing our response rather than listening carefully to what another is saying. I cannot tell you how many times, in preaching or teaching, someone heard me say something very different than what the CD revealed I actually said. This is why I have found it important to solicit questions or comments after speaking to make sure others heard me clearly. If you are not sure what someone said or meant in a statement, it is healthy to ask the person to repeat themselves or clarify what they said or meant.

Paul instructs us to “be angry, yet do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). James tells us to be “slow” to anger. Aren’t you glad for these two Scriptures? Jesus became angry with the religious leaders of His day. Anger is an emotion that God put in us. Why? We are created in the image of God and throughout the Scripture we read of God’s anger towards sin. Anger is an emotion that can produce the right results when used correctly, but can also be devastating when out of control and done hastily. God’s anger, in most cases, was not about Him, but it was about what was happening to others as a result of sin.

Daily, commit to the Holy Spirit your hearing, your mouth, and your emotions. Lord, help me to hear more than the words spoken. Lord, help me to respond thoughtfully and allow my emotions to be kept under the control of Your Holy Spirit.  

I HAVE BEEN BROUGHT FORTH BY THE WORD OF TRUTH

James 1:18 – In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.

God exercises His will, motivated by His nature of love. The will of God is always rooted in truth and righteousness. There is no deception or hidden motive in what our Lord does. God has fully revealed His motives in His Word, the Bible. If that was not enough, He revealed Himself by sending Jesus, His only begotten Son. Both would have been sufficient, but He also chose to send His Holy Spirit to indwell the believer and reproduce what He created in Christ Jesus. The first century Christians became the “first fruits” of this new creation He is forming in the earth. His motivation and His purpose were to join heaven and earth in one accord through the life of His Son. The mandated work of the Holy Spirit is to accomplish this purpose of the Father. If you have received, by faith, the work of Christ and the Blessed Holy Spirit, you too are part of the exercise of His will by “the word of truth.”

All truth is eternal. Truth can only come from an eternal God. It may be revealed truth concerning the natural creation as science explores the heavens and the earth. Moment by moment, man is discovering hidden truths of this marvelous creation. It might be the revelation of the “word of truth” found in the pages of Scripture. The early apostles came to understand the truths the Holy Spirit was revealing to them out of the Old Testament. They also received new truths because of what Christ accomplished in His death, burial and resurrection. The Reformers received fresh understanding to restore the church back to her original purpose. Today, God is still revealing truth to His people. None have completely discovered the depths of God’s Word. I never cease to be amazed, how after knowing Christ and studying the Word of God for many years, He is still taking me into deeper understanding of His Truth. I am so finite and He is so infinite! As I hunger for more truth, He is present to help me apply what He has already shown me. He is also pleased to pull back the curtain a little more and show me more of His mysteries hidden in His love and grace.

Are you hungry for more understanding of His word of truth? The Holy Spirit stands ready to accommodate us. All we need to do is apply what He has already revealed and ask for more from the Holy Spirit. You will be surprised how much He will open your spirit and affect your mind with His powerful word of truth.

GOD IS THE GIVER OF EVERY GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT

James 1:16-17 – Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

The core of deception is rooted in keeping us from the intent of God the Father. He intends good for our lives and He wants to give us gifts, for this is His nature.

False religion is driven by so-called deities that demand obedience in some way that is tied to our flesh. The God of heaven enjoys obedience that comes from a willing heart, motivated by the love which God the Father has lavished upon His creation. Life itself came from Him. As I look out on the beauty of large oak trees, a small lake filled with fish and other living creatures, I am reminded of His love for me. When I look up into the heavens and see the multitude of stars that no man can number, I am taken back by the fact that my Creator knows who I am and loved me enough to become like me in human form.  He chose to die on a lonely tree that I might be restored to Him. Even in death He reigned and took from the evil one the keys of death and hell (Revelation 1:8). In His resurrection; He gave gifts to mankind (Ephesians 4:8). The greatest of His gifts was His own Holy Spirit to indwell me and minister the Father’s love to me. Of course, I will serve and obey Him! How could I do any less, seeing all He has done for me?

 Today, stop and give thanks that every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights and they belong to you. Especially, thank Him for the Holy Spirit whom He freely gave to us through the great sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.

ALL MEN ARE TEMPTED, BUT GOD IS NOT THE ORIGINATOR OF THE TEMPTATION

James 1:13 – Let no man say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.

This is a very critical Scriptural principle to understand. “God cannot be tempted by evil.” I think of Job when I read this. In the Book of Job it tells us that Satan appeared before God. Satan pointed out Job to God and requested permission to tempt Job. Satan hoped to cause him to curse God. God gave Satan permission, but forbade him to take Job’s life. Was God being tempted by evil? Was God tempting Job by giving Satan permission? I believe the answer is “no” on both counts.

First of all, God is Sovereign. He could have removed Satan from His presence if He had so desired. In the wisdom of God, He gave Satan permission to give Job trials that surpassed that which a human being should normally have had to endure. God knew His plan for Job and He allowed Satan to test Job.

Secondly, it was Satan who tempted Job. It was in his heart to tempt Job because he hated the “righteousness” that was in Job. God did not tempt Job directly. God only gave Satan permission to tempt Job. As James said, “He Himself does not tempt anyone.” Temptation is a universal problem for all humans. It began in the Garden when Satan, in the form of a serpent, asked Eve “hath God said”?

All temptation is centered in one thing, “rejecting God’s Word” over a suggestion. The suggestion is rooted in “lust,” desiring what I want over what God wants for me. The weakness of the flesh is in “my want.” Eve wanted to be like God, to be in control of her own destiny. The death of Christ was the only cure for dealing with the sin of mankind. The temptation offered by Satan was for Adam and Eve to receive immediate gratification. Jesus rejected the offer as a human and died an awful death for all of mankind. Once and for all, Satan was defeated and his power restricted by Christ.

He is still roaring like a lion, but has been defeated by the “Lion of Judah.” Paul declares, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

The Holy Spirit will never leave us nor forsake us. He will provide wisdom and overcoming power if we will resist the tempter and trust in Christ’s overcoming life. Job made a choice to trust God no matter what. Choose this day whom you will serve!

PERSEVERANCE UNDER PRESSURE WILL BRING WITH IT A GREAT REWARD

James 1:12 – Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

To persevere is always admirable. Just keep thinking “I can do it!” I remember in High School when I ran my first cross country race thinking to myself, “I don’t know if I can make it to the finish line.” I began to set goals to help me make it from one point to another. Finally, the finish line was in sight and it became my final goal. I persevered and overcame to receive the prize. James has added another dynamic to “perseverance” that is “under trial.” If I had been sick and running, that would have qualified for “under trial”. Many are running the race of this life and are under trials. I think of members of the “persecuted church” throughout the world, trying to live as a Christian in some of the most impossible situations. Many personal e-mails I receive are from people that are enduring some of the toughest situations. My heart especially goes out to parents that are carrying an extra load because of the illness of a child.

The Holy Spirit has come to guide us through the obstacles that interfere with our race toward the goal of His high calling. It is a race not in terms of speed, but rather the goal for the prize. The goal is the Throne of Grace and the Prize is the Lord Himself. James speaks of the “crown of life.” He states that the Lord has promised the crown of life to all those that love Him. We receive His life when we are born again by the work of the Holy Spirit. As we enter into His life, we find that this natural life is full of trails determined to hinder our progress. You are blessed as you persevere through those trials. Although the life of Christ is presently in us by the power of the Holy Spirit, there is a promised day approaching when we will enter into the fullness of His life. We will be crowned with His Glory and enjoy His presence constantly. Receiving God’s love and ministering it back to Him in doing His will assures us of the promise. Only in the power of the Holy Spirit can we successfully persevere under trial.

Today, cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you. Ask the Holy Spirit for strength to “persevere under trial.” Keep drawing from the Comforter, who is an ever-present help in time of need.