Monday, January 31, 2011

Be Slow To [More Than Just] Anger


My dearly loved brothers, understand this: everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger,

for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.
James 1:19-20


After a quick word study, I learned A LOT about these two short verses. In the interest of brevity, though, I’m only going to share one two three points. (Okay, three is a lot, but they’re all important.) :)

1) “Understand” means to know intimately and be devoted and adherent to. That means know it and do it.

2) “Hearing” involves attending to what is said (really listening), and attempting to comprehend both the words and the meaning behind them.

3) “Anger” can also refer to other intense emotions, and Thayer’s Bible Dictionary also describes this particular Greek word as “impulse, desire, or agitation of the soul.” This, therefore, can include strong reactions of hurt, disappointment, disgust, and despair, in addition to anger.
a) It can thus be reasonably inferred that we are to make sure we fully understand the situation before reacting.
b) Our reactions to comments others make can easily (we are human, after all) be assumptive in nature, based on what we believe the person to be saying, rather than what the person is actually saying.
c) There is a difference between human anger (which is most often actually an expression of another emotion such as pain, fear, or lust) and godly/righteous anger (which is a reaction to an injustice and motivates people to action to correct the injustice - think Jesus in the temple).


So how do we apply this to our daily lives? We must learn what God wants us to do and then do it. We must be intentional about listening to what people have to say. We must refrain from assumptive (judgmental) thinking. We must learn to not assign meaning to what people say, but instead to be intentional about trying to understand a person’s motive and heart in addition to the actual words that s/he speaks. We must love each other enough to truly hear (listen to) what is being said. Then, we can show God’s love to others via our response. (This is not to say we should not confront untruth or injustice, but that is a discussion for another day!)

Whew! I am SO thankful for Philippians 4:13!


Lord, forgive me for times when I’ve been judgmental (assumptive). Teach me to hear with Your ears, and understand with Your heart!

Friday, January 28, 2011

HIS Choice


By His own choice, He gave us a new birth by the message of truth so that we would be the firstfruits of His creatures.

James 1:18


God gave us new birth “by His own choice!” In the NASB the word used for “choice” is “will” which can also mean “to desire.” This “new birth” (also meaning “to produce”) comes through the message of truth (in the NASB “the word of truth”). The Greek for “message” used here is “logos” which also means “the sayings of God” or “decree, mandate or order.” “Truth” is “what is true in any matter of consideration” (meaning NOT relative to circumstances). And “firstfruits” is an Old Testament reference to things that are set apart for God’s own use.

BY HIS OWN CHOICE. God made us His because He WANTED to. And once we are His, it is True, no matter how we feel on that particular day, because He said so! And in making us His, He has set us apart, made us holy, for His own use!


Heady stuff! The one and only true God, He who made the universe and measures it with the span of His hand (Is 40:12), CHOSE me. He has made me holy, He has set me apart to be His!

This knowledge humbles me and overwhelms me with gratitude. As a result of this knowledge, I am reminded anew it is my responsibility to recognize the truth of Whose I am, and who that makes me. I’m also responsible to ACT in such a way that is pleasing to and honoring to Him!


Lord, help me act in a manner worthy of the gospel You’ve given to me!!!!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

If It Looks Good....


Don’t be deceived, my dearly loved brothers.

Every generous act and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning.

James 1:16-17


ALL good things come from our Heavenly Father. If it looks good but isn’t from God, it is NOT good, no matter how it looks. If it is from God, then IT IS GOOD (no matter how it looks!).

God is constant. He does not change. He is not two-faced or fickle. He is Who He is.


God is good. He does not change. He loves me because I am His. And all the good things in my life are solely because He has given them to me. Hallelujah!


Thank You, Father God, for the grace and mercy You have extended to me! Thank You for the many, many good and perfect gifts You’ve given me. Thank You for giving me a secure place in Your family! I love You!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Are Cravings Sin?


Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.
James 1:15


According to Thayer’s Bible Dictionary, the word “desire” has been translated from a Greek word that means “craving” or “longing” and the word “conceived” is translated from a word meaning “seize as a prisoner” (implication - not letting go). So, by letting myself hold onto a craving or longing, instead of turning it over to God, that is sin.

Sin can occur in both thought and deed. It seems like the line is very blurry. At what point am I “holding on” to a temptation/craving/longing? After 10 seconds? 30 seconds? 1 minute? 5 minutes?

I think Keith Drury’s article “Is It a Sin to Drink Beer?” has a pertinent question to ask ourselves.... He says the question better considered is “does it contribute to godliness?”

Rather than focus on the desire and how long I can spend thinking about something before it is sin, it’s far better to be intentional about thinking about the things that contribute to godliness. Things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, of moral excellence, and praiseworthy (Phil 4:8).


Today, I must choose to think on the things that contribute to godliness. And I need to consider, is there anything keeping me from fully experiencing life in Jesus today? “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” (I Corinthians 6:12 NASB) As James said of himself in verse 1 of this chapter, I am “a slave to God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Nothing, no thing is to master me. I belong to Him alone!


Father, I commit my thought life completely to You, today. I don’t want anything to disrupt the communion I have with You! Protect my thoughts from the darts of the enemy. Help me to think on the things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, of moral excellence, and praiseworthy! Draw me nearer!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Whose Fault Is It, Anyway?


No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone.

But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires.
James 1:13-14


I have choices. We ALL have choices. No matter what trials God allows us to experience (and it’s all ultimately about His glory), any sin we engage in will lead from our choices, not the trials themselves. Furthermore, God does not tempt anyone to sin, so all responsibility for one’s own misconduct must lie entirely on oneself.

Also, we should not confuse trials and afflictions with temptations to sin. The greatest danger is not the wrong done TO us but the temptation to fall into sin ourselves when wronged, for example reacting in anger or unforgivingness, lying (even to protect oneself), boasting, seeking revenge, allowing bitterness to develop, or any of the many ways human nature is tempted to react to being wronged....


I must measure my choices against the Biblical standard of actions and attitudes and not agains the actions and attitudes of others. I MUST keep my focus on Jesus and bringing glory to the Father through thought, word and deed.

I am responsible for my own actions. My choices (in all areas of life) need to reflect the will of my Father.


“Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully.” Psalm 24:3-4 NASB

Lord, give us clean hands and a pure heart. Let us not lift up our souls to falsehood and may only truth come from our mouths that we may ascend into Your hill and stand in Your holy place! Amen!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Blessed Enduring


Blessed is a man who endures trials, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that He has promised to those who love Him.

James 1:12


After looking up several words found in this verse in the Greek Lexicon based on Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary, I wrote the following paraphrase of James 1:12:

Happier is the woman who bears adversity or affliction bravely and calmly, because when she has shown herself to be genuine and a woman of integrity she will obtain for herself eternal blessedness, the absolute fullness of life that belongs to God, which He has announced that He will voluntarily give to those who welcome Him into their lives and love Him dearly.


I confess that I am guilty of complaining when faced with different kinds of adversity. In those times, I need to learn to look beyond the immediate difficulties encountered in this life, and remember that God WILL “cause all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NASB). He has plans for me, and His way is the best way! When focusing on this, I will find many, many reasons for giving thanks instead of expressing ingratitude.


Forgive me, Father, for complaining in trials! Give me Your strength to endure, help me pass the test! I desire to glorify You with all of my life. Thank You for the promise of eternal life with You!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Transience of Wealth


The brother of humble circumstances should boast in his exaltation;

but the one who is rich [should boast] in his humiliation, because he will pass away like a flower of the field.

For the sun rises with its scorching heat and dries up the grass; its flower falls off, and its beautiful appearance is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will wither away while pursuing his activities.

James 1:9-11


John Wesley said a most effective remedy against double-mindedness is rejoicing, and the humble (poor) [wo]man can rejoice because she is a child of God and an heir to glory! He also said the rich should be humbled by [her] true condition, that life here is like a flower - beautiful, but transient. There is certainty that this life will suddenly end.


True humility is understanding who I am. Who I am can only be understood in the context of who the LORD is and the grace that He has extended to me. All that I have in this life is temporary and should be held loosely, because it is all the LORD’s and is only entrusted to me for a time.

BY THE GRACE OF GOD I have been redeemed from my sinful self.
BY THE GRACE OF GOD I am an heir to glory.
BY THE GRACE OF GOD I will live with Him forever.
BY THE GRACE OF GOD I continue to live in this life. Every blessing I have and all that I am in Christ is only


Thank You, Father, for grace! You give me so much even though I don’t deserve it. Teach me to live and breathe in You and to love others and extend grace to them like You do. AMEN.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Single Mindedly Loving And Serving Him


That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways.

James 1:7-8


“That person” refers to one who is doubting (see verse 6).

“Indecisive” is rendered “double-minded” in other translations. “Double-minded” can also mean “divided in interest.” It would seem that the implication here could be that of one who is not committed to her faith, one who is undecided about choosing to believe He is Who He says He is.

We receive from the Lord through faith, so without faith we CANNOT receive from Him.


The question for me is not, “is [a particular activity] sin?” The question is does [a particular activity] contribute to godliness? It’s important to be singly focused on loving and serving Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.


“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

Help me love You, my Lord and my God, with all my heart, soul, and might. May all areas of my life reflect You and Your love, goodness and mercy! All praise, glory, and honor belong only to You!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wisdom: Ask In Faith


Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.

But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

James 1:5-6


1) It’s safe to ask God for wisdom, He will not criticize us for our ignorance and He will give us the wisdom we ask for.

2) We are to ask believing He will answer. Doubt is saying God is not who He says He is.


How often have I NOT asked God for wisdom? What foolishness! He will answer, because His word says He will, and He is true to Himself. Not asking, or not believing He will answer, is saying I know better than God. OUCH!


Forgive me, Lord, for the times I have not humbly sought Your will before stepping out. Forgive me, also, for the times I have asked but not waited for Your answer! Thank You for the assurance in Your word that You will give generously! Help me to ask in faith. “I believe, help Thou mine unbelief!”

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Endurance Produces Maturity


knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

James 1:3-4


We can “consider it ... joy when [we] experience various trials,” because during the trials (which are tests of our faith), we can KNOW that this testing will produce endurance. Endurance, which Strong’s Concordance defines as “the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trail and sufferings.” Endurance means staying true to our purpose and loyal to our God, regardless of what’s going on around us.

And what does endurance do? Endurance develops perfection, maturity, completeness.


It is my responsibility to stay true to what I know, no matter how I feel or how things look around me. How can I know what is true? I must stay connected to Jesus, reading His Word, abiding in Him constantly, for He is my constancy in the storms of life. He is the one thing I can always know to be true.


May the cry of my heart always be, “make me a servant!” Thank You for the strength You give to endure glorified in me, I pray....

Monday, January 17, 2011

Trials As Cause For Joy

James, a slave to God and of the Lord Jesus Christ: To the 12 tribes in the Dispersion. Greetings.

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials,
James 1:1-2

First, notice that James calls himself a “slave to God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” James is the half-brother of Jesus, born to Mary and to Joseph. If anyone had a right to claim a higher station than slave, it would be Jesus’ earthly family, but James humbly and willingly gives himself up to serve the Lord, as a slave serves his master.

James is writing to the Jewish Christians who have been scattered abroad among the Gentiles due to the persecution they faced. This group of people were facing trials far beyond what those of us in North American can even imagine. They’ve lost their homes, families, livelihood, and earthly security. And James is telling them not only to choose joy while experiencing trials, he’s telling them to look at the trials as occasions for joy!

How contrary is that to the way we are taught to regard difficulties in our culture?!?!?!?

This reminds me of lyrics from the song “If You Could See Me Now” by Kim Noblitt (c. 1992 Integrity Music):

My light and temporary trials have turned out for my good
To know it brought Him glory when I misunderstood
Though we’ve had our sorrows they can never compare
What Jesus has in store for us no language can share

It is my responsibility to embrace trials with joy FOR THE TRIALS because even though I don’t know what the LORD’s plan is, I can trust that He has my life in His hands.

Almighty, Infinite Father, help me to “consider it a GREAT joy” when trials come my way. Mold me into Your image, I pray!

James SOAP Study

Today we begin our 12-week study of the book of James, along with others at Good Morning Girls.  Each day's reading will be posted here in the form of a SOAP note.  (For more information on SOAP click here.)

The Scripture reading schedule we will be following for the next 12 weeks can be found here.

(ALL quoted Scripture for this study will be from the HCSB.)

If you are blogging through James, please feel free to post a link in the comments!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

SOAP - Deuteronomy 4:29-31

But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.  When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days, you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His voice.  For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.

The “there” referred to in verse 19 is described in the preceding verses...Moses said if the sons of Israel rebel against the LORD He will scatter them among the nations and they will serve other gods.  Then Moses says “BUT.”  “But”... described by someone I knew as “the great eraser” (meaning it erases everything said before it).  BUT there is hope to return to the LORD.  

How?  “Search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.”  What happens then?  “For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you....”  There’s an assurance here.  A commitment.  He WILL NOT fail you.  He is COMPASSIONATE.  IF.  IF you “search for Him.”  This search, however cannot be half-hearted.  It must be “with all your heart and all your soul.”

There are times when I am half-heartedly expecting the LORD to rescue me from messes of my own making.  Should I be surprised when He does not?  When He does not, is that a poor reflection on Him?  NO!  It is a poor reflection of me.  If I cannot find Him, it is because I am not “search[ing] for Him with all [my] heart and all [my] soul.”  Because He has committed (here and in other places in Scripture) that He will be found.

Father God, forgive me for my half-hearted attempts to serve You.  Fill me with a passion for You that burns deeply within my heart and my soul.  I commit my entire self to You today.  And I trust You to do what I cannot.  “I believe, help Thou mine unbelief!”

Monday, January 10, 2011

Spiritual Goals for 2011

Good morning, Sisters!

A New Year often has people considering resolutions or goals for the upcoming year.  I've been praying about and pondering various spiritual goals for this year, and here is what I feel the Lord is calling me to:

Reading more Scripture:  That's one reason I decided to redo the "Bible in 90 days" challenge.  Many of you did this with me last year.  This year, I've joined the challenge at The Mom's Toolbox.  It's a bit different than last year's plan, as this plan reads straight through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

Memorization:  Of course, reading large sections of Scripture is wonderful, but really letting it soak into our hearts is VITAL.  That's why I've also taken on the challenge presented by Beth Moore to memorize 24 verses this year (2 per month).  (The first verse I've been working on is I Corinthians 6:12 NASB:  "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable.  All things are lawful for me but I will not be mastered by anything.")  I am encouraging each of you to take this challenge on also.  Pick a verse that is meaningful to you, and meditate on it for half of each month.  Even if you don't end up memorizing the verse word for word, the meaning of the verse will soak into your heart, and you will see amazing spiritual growth and healing occurring in your life!

Ongoing Bible Study:  Bible study is different than reading or memorization (and also a vital spiritual discipline!).  So these online Bible studies will be continuing.  :)  The next study will be going through the book of James.  I've felt a nudging toward James for a few weeks now, and when I realized that an online accountability group called Good Morning Girls was going to be suggesting this as their spring study, I thought - what better time than now?  So I'll be trying to follow their schedule in studying the book.  We'll start with them next week.  :)

Accountability:  I'm asking God to put me into some face-to-face accountability relationships with other women.  We SO need each other to walk through today's world!

Prayer:  This one is still unquantified, but no matter how it plays out, I know the Father will be working on me in my prayer life this year (as He does every year!).

Worship:  This one is also still yet to be defined, but I'm excited to see what God will do in my life as I continue to learn to worship Him in spirit and in truth!

I'm so thankful for His grace!  Praying for each of us to know Him more fully in the coming year!

Much love,