A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

TL A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART (14)

You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.  – James 2:24

Once again we hear from the no-nonsense half brother of Christ.  We all know that good works is the result of strong faith in Christ Jesus.  As we lean strongly on Him every day, He shows us avenues of ministry along the way that we can either choose to follow or not.  When a person comes to a saving knowledge of Christ, they are justified.

Our works have nothing to do with our salvation – for that was taken care of by our LORD – he hung on the cross and died to save us – nothing we do can save our souls – we need to accept HIS sacrifice on our behalf.

Does James contradict Paul?  NO.  The apostle Paul was talking about eternal matters while James is referring to earthly matters.  We don’t have to do good works to get to Heaven – but doing good works is something we want to do because we have faith and a desire to serve the Lord.  How do we serve Him?  We serve other people.  We are His hands, His feet.  We put feet to our faith.  God loves a cheerful giver…  it’s about more than money.

I can talk about having great faith all day long, but until I put some feet to that faith, it’s just lip service – am I right?  Doing good won’t save my soul, but I still want to do good – be kind, and act on my faith.  🙂

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JAMES 1:22 ON 1/22

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Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. – James 1:22

This portion of Scripture leaves little room for doubt.  Little or no explanation is necessary, as it is self-explanatory.  It’s a bit like the old Nike ad…  JUST DO IT!

Do It

If Jesus asks you To serve water at a wedding, Get the cups.

If He invites you to Meet Him on the lake, Step out.

If Jesus tells you To feed 5,000, Start breaking bread.

When He tells you to Go and preach the gospel, Open your mouth.

When Jesus tells you To let your light shine, Shine it for all.

When He tells you to Pray for your enemies, Drop to your knees.

When Jesus tells you To worship the Father, Lift up your voice.

When He tells you to Give to the poor, Dig deep.

Lucinda Berry Hill, from week 23 of Coffee with Jesus

We can study, listen to sermons and memorize Scripture until the cows come home, but if there aren’t attitudes and actions backing all of that up…  it’s just wasted time and effort.  Faith without works – is dead, so we see later in the book of James.

James was the half-brother of Jesus.  He witnessed the Lord’s resurrected body, then became one of the leaders of the church at Jerusalem.  After Peter’s miraculous release from prison, he singled James out (Acts 12:17).  James made the deciding speech at the Jerusalem Council (15:13-22), and Paul called James one of the pillars of the church (Galatians 2:9).

Some writers are gentle in their attempt to help the reader along in their Christian walk.  We see their human side and find hope because we know if God through Christ Jesus forgave them, He will surely forgive us.  The Psalmist David comes to mind and the Apostle Peter comes to mind.

James is a writer who most definitely does not mince words.  I’d call him a no-nonsense writer.  He’s the one who just tells it like it is – no ands, ifs or buts.  No excuses allowed.  He’s like the spiritual personal trainer who says – “I know you’re tempted…  but so what?  resist the devil and keep going in the right way!”   He supplies the spiritual kick in the backside that makes us say – “Yep!  He’s right about that!”  He says if we’re going to talk the talk, we’d better be walking the walk.

I’ve said in the past that the book of James is a tough one for me.  It’s just the simple, brash, harsh, undiluted truth.  It’s not sugar-coated and there is no room for misinterpretation at all.  He says what he means and means what he says.  And sometimes…  ouch – that smarts.

But really…  can you imagine being the half-brother of the Savior?  I think that relationship has a lot to do with his bold and direct writing.  It’s no holds barred, blunt and to the point.  There’s no wiggle room whatsoever.  And really where outright sin is concerned, there is no wiggle room.  Sin is sin and you can’t giggle and wink your way out of it.  It’s not cute…  it’s wrong and restoration from God is the only cure.  God will forgive any sin, but you have to sincerely ask Him to forgive you.

I wonder if James ever heard, “Why can’t you be more like Jesus?” – ???  I always tell people I’m going to ask questions when I get to Heaven – I want to ask James if he ever heard that – but you know what?  By the time I get to Heaven, it’s not really going to be that important.  🙂

 

SERENDIPITY DAY

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8-18 DAY OF GRACE

I can’t prove it, but I don’t feel as though we have many days left to share our faith.

Today is SERENDIPITY DAY!  While most people associate serendipity with a sort of luck, I view it as a blessing.  It’s so wonderful when God puts me in the path of one who needs to hear that Jesus loves them.  It would seem like coincidence, but it’s actually providential intervention by the Holy Spirit.  We have to be on the lookout for others who may need encouragement and truth.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.  – James 3:9 & 10

I weep for the lost in general, but I weep more for the lost in the realm of my influence. There are a couple of people I would love to get saved for. Have you ever wished you could just do it for someone else? I have – many times! Unfortunately, all we can do is share in love. Plant the seed. Some of it falls on good rich soil, but as we know… some of it does not. Lately my seed has fallen on rocks and died. It makes me sad.

What can we do when that happens? Well, I know I can always pray for them! It’s amazing that as much as the world tries to stop Christianity, they can’t keep us from thinking a prayer to God. That, they will not steal from us.

Keep sharing Jesus and His good news with everyone in your path.  This is the day of grace. Invite Jesus into your heart and life while there is still time.

I can’t prove it, but I think our time is short. I think Jesus is coming back for His own… SOON!

NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER

TL NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER

FINDING RESILIANCE ON OUR KNEES

In a world that turns to everything from shopping to drugs to hoarding behaviors to cope with the stresses of life, I don’t think getting on my knees to pray to God is a bad thing. Jus’ sayin’…

Today is National Day of Prayer. Christians all over are praying for the world, the country, states, cities, churches, friends, family members and themselves. The needs are many, but God is good and we need to remember that this is His timing and His plan. I have to remind myself of that fact every day.

Intercessory prayer can penetrate the hearts of those we cannot open and shield those we guard.  It can teach where we cannot speak, and comfort where our hearts have no power to soothe.  Prayer, with its unseen hand, can enter where we cannot.  – Lila E. Torres

Why should we pray? God knows everything already, right? Well, I believe there are many reasons to fall to my knees. I’ll share three of them with you:

1. God wants me to. Prayer is not simply something suggested by our heavenly Father, but a command. In fact, one portion of scripture tells us to pray without ceasing. Our relationship with Christ begins with the sinner’s prayer and we keep on praying from that day forward.

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. – James 4:8

2. Prayer increases my faith. What if I came to a saving knowledge of Christ one day and prayed that first prayer of repentance, then ignored the Lord for the rest of my life? Can a person claim to be saved and just go through the outward motions? Sadly, yes, however, one day that pretend Christianity will show in a big way when troubles come along.

Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers. – James 1:22

3. There is Holy Ghost power in prayer. I love how the Holy Spirit puts fear where it belongs! The fears we face every day are vanquished next to the power of God! We don’t have to fear failure or rejection as long as we keep the lines of communication open between ourselves and God.

My dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith. – James 2:1

So keep on praying every day! Stay resilient!  Wink!  😉

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

TL A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART (22)

JOY
Joy apart from Christ is happiness. It is fickle and dependent on circumstances. Joy in Christ is not understood by the world. They don’t “get” it and they think we are crazy as coots. Well, you know what they say about name-calling, right? I’d rather have the joy of the Lord than all the hyped-up happiness that the world has to offer, how about you?

According to the book of James, we should “be full of JOY” when we have many kinds of troubles!

When you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience. Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do. Then you will be perfect and complete and will have everything you need. – James 1:2-4

In fact, that first chapter of James goes on to tell us that if we practice patience we will be rewarded!

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. – James 1:12

So, even when life doesn’t seem picture-perfect (and let’s face it, when does it?) – there are promises from our Lord that if we will just practice JOY in the midst of less than perfect circumstances. Did you ever think of joy as something you should practice at all times?

Some people say you should never pray for patience because it usually means that you are going to head for troubled times that will test your faith. I am going to say here that God NEVER tempts us – but oh yes He definitely tests our faith! There is a difference. The enemy of our soul tempts us and he wants to see us crash and burn. God does the testing and He does that to grow us up and make us stronger and more mature in our faith. He wants only the BEST for us! He loves us just the way we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way.   ❤