Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Family Unit

Gen 5:2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

We have a very interesting grammatical structure in this verse.

First, we see that Adam and Eve were created in the same day. We have two possibilities here.

1. It was a long day. God brought all the animals to Adam, and he named each species. How long would that take? I suppose a very long time. Anyway, having met each animal, animal husbandry wasn't going to cut it for Adam's loneliness, so God performed the first surgery on him. Anesthetic was administered, perhaps warm milk from what Adam had named 'kine'. He must have been very tired from naming all those animals. Then God's scalpel opened up his side, He performed a ribectomy, super-glued his side together, and while Adam was in the recovery room, Eve was built from that rib. Imagine as God looked at the DNA helix and thought, "it'll take them 6000 years before they begin to understand this baby!" God then placed some smelling salts under Adam's nose, woke him up and said, "lookie here what I have for you!" Adam's jaw dropped and he said, "Whoa, man!" And you know the rest of the story.

2. Eve was built days later, but on the 6th day, when God sculpted Adam, Eve was intrinsic, that is, she was included in that package, she just had to be taken from him at a later date. I think this is the case.

Second, God called their name Adam. In God's eyes, this couple was one unit. They were static and cling. In Gen 2:24 we read, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."

Now, let's tie these two thoughts together. In creation and in marriage, God intends for the married parties to be one party. And a wonderful par-TAY it should be.

How about your marriage, are you two ships drifting on the sea, sometimes close, sometimes at a distance? Or are you both in the same vessel, going the same direction, living, laughing, longing, loving together, no matter what? Is your marriage a regular party?

God wants you to be one, the closer you both get to Him, the closer you will be to one another. Sort of like the Trinity, separate, yet one.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bad Son - Good Son (Raising Cain)

Rambling thoughts on Gen 4

(note: name meanings in parentheses)

1. Cain - (His name means fastened spear). In jealousy over the Lord's regard to Abel's offering, he killed his brother, probably with a farm implement, since Cain was a tiller of the ground and the two of them were out in the field when the murder occurred. Cain may then have buried Abel in a shallow grave, since the Lord said his blood cries out to him from the ground.

The fourth dweller upon the earth becomes a fugitive and a vagabond (deplorable wanderer). He links up with a woman, either at home, east of Eden, or on the road, who becomes his wife. The question begs itself, where did Cain get his wife? Either she was a sister whose birth is not mentioned or she came to be by an act of special creation of the Lord. No doubt, He could do this. But probably the former explanation will do, it is less of a reach. She is more or less inconsequential to the Scripture narrative. If she were created, that creative act would probably have earned the honor of special mention.

Cain's line included:
-Enoch (initiated) who built a city which bore his name, and his son's name (the same), vs 17
-Irad (fugitive), 18 Now, there's a name to hang on your boy! He was the son of -Enoch Jr.
-Mehujael (smitten of God)
-Methusael (man who is of God)
-Lamech (just sounded nice to his mom, apparently, because it has no meaning)
Lamech was the first polygamist, marrying both *Adah (ornament - must have been his trophy wife)
*Zillah (Shade - must have been a big gal)
From the union of Lamech and Trophy wife:
-Jabal (stream) whose offspring live in tents
-Jubal (leader) His offspring were musicians. They invented and played musical instruments. Some were into country music (since they handled the harp, which means 'twang') and others were good on the woodwinds (organ).
Zillah and Lamech produced:
-Tubalcain (offspring of fastened spear) He was the father of metallurgy. He had a sister named Naamah (pleasantness). She is the first daughter to get ink in the Bible.

Back to Lamech, this nut didn't fall far from the tree. He announces to his wives that he had murdered a young man and was in hot water with the Lord. He figured God would punish him 11 times as much as his great, great, great, great granddad. Violent crime was on the rise, 2 reported murders in the space of several hundred years! The world was going to heck in a hand-basket on Cain's side!

But then, there was the godly seed.
-Seth! (substituted). He had a son named
-Enos (son of the substitute) and this is when men began to call upon the name of the Lord. This is significant because Paul tells us, whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

In Adam, all die (I Cor 15:22) But thanks to a Substitute, we can be made alive!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Enter the Villain.

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? Gen 3:1

Until the third chapter of Genesis, the Bible is a symphony of awe and wonder. Perfection and grandeur ooze from each verse. With the exception of God's warning to Adam concerning the forbidden fruit, all is positive and wonderful. Yes, the earth was without form and void, but that was no problem, just the process. Yes, Adam was alone and needed an help meet, again, no negative there, only part of the progression of creation. The first two chapters of Genesis could easily cause the reader to break into a chorus of "How Great Thou Art!"

However, the narrative moves us on to the third chapter where it all goes south. Enter the Villain!

*He Appears as a serpent "Now the serpent"
Serpent - naw-khawsh' (called so because of the 'hiss', it means to whisper a magic spell) Fallen Lucifer chose as his first form in which he would appear to mankind, a serpent. Not as hideous and despised as we behold serpents, but beautiful in appearance to the innocent and unsuspecting Eve.

Beware, we don't know in which form slew-foot, dragon-breath will appear to us. We can know that it won't be as we expect. He is transformed into an angel of light, according to Paul in II Cor 11:14. The gender, look, appeal and context will be a total surprise to most. Therefore, we are warned to not be ignorant of his devices. Peter advises us to be sober and vigilant, always on guard for the enemy of our souls.

*He Applies Subtlety "was more subtil" (the definition implies cunning and craft). Don't be fooled, the arch-enemy of God is a sharp cookie. He has a ton of tricks and is well practiced with each of them. He knows our weaknesses better than we do. He knows how best to pull the wool over the eyes of the sheep. It's hard to fool the fooler, to trick the tricker.

*He Approaches the Woman"...he said unto the woman..."
Woman - 'ishshâh nâshı̂ym - the feminine mortal

Why the woman? Why not Adam?
1. She is the fixer, as women usually are. With their capacity to care and share, they feel the need to righten perceived wrongs. If she was convinced all was not right, all was not fair, she would want to fix it.
2. She is the weaker vessel (IPe 3:7) Literally, "strengthless equipment." This has nothing to do with anything other than her build.
Question: Who did God give the commandment and the warning to? The man, before Eve was made. If the serpent would have approached the man with this insanity, what might have happened to the serpent? He might have crushed it! Lucifer didn't want to take the chance of getting his neck broke!
3. To get to the man, you go:
-through a woman
-through his stomach (fruit)
-through his ego (be as gods)
*He Appeals to the 3 desires (I Jn 2:16)
the lust of the flesh (food for a physical need)
the lust of the eyes (we covet what we behold; beauty, grandeur, etc)
the pride of life (life and death) "ye shall not surely die" in this life you can have it all, like God, to know good and evil"

This same 3 pronged attack was used against our Lord in His wilderness temptation.
the appeal to the flesh - turn these stones to bread
the appeal to the eyes - here are the kingdoms of the world
the appeal to the pride of life - cast yourself down, the angels will save you.

Eve bought into it, hook, line and sinker vs 6
-Hook (baited with fruit) - "good for food"
-Line - "pleasant to the eyes"
-Sinker - "desired to make one wise" It sunk her, and us!

6,000 years later, little has changed. There are a few differences. Adam and Eve fell while housed in a pristine environment. We have to do battle with the old serpent in much less suitable environs. We have hindsight Adam and Eve were not blessed with. Beelzebub has 6 millennia of practice under his belt. But in both cases, it all comes down to human nature and the basics of temptation; appeal to our lust for food, power and our pride and we are weak!

Thank God for strength and grace to withstand temptation and for mercy and forgiveness when we fail. Beware throughout your day of the wiles of the old lion. Be filled with and depend on the leadership of the Holy Spirit. May He lead each of us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Scarcely Saved

1Pe 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
1Pe 4:18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

"Everybody says they're goin' to heaven ain't necessarily goin' there." These are the words of an old black gospel song. It is good theology also.

"Just say the prayer and you are saved." This is the mantra of the hyper soul-winners who think every time they can get someone to say the "sinner's prayer" they are sure for heaven. This is a sad and misleading belief. The Bible says that with the heart a person believes and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Honestly, we have no idea what some believe in their heart, even though they can repeat "the prayer."

I have lived and ministered too long to believe that everyone who says a prayer is truly saved. If they haven't really believed, that is if they were made to say a prayer, manipulated by an over-zealous soul-winner, pressed to think this is their fire escape from hell, etc., then they probably were not born again into the family of God.

I will go even further and say that probably most of the people who have prayed "the prayer" are not converted. Some of the greatest soul-winning pastors are qouted as saying that as many as 50% of our fundmental churches are unregenerated! They may have been too young to comprehend their sinfulness or understand why they are even praying or to Whom they are praying. Perhaps they were sloshed and a prayer seemed the thing to do at the time. Maybe they were an emotional wreck and were grasping at straws and figured if a prayer could help, why not try it? There are dozens of circumstances in which people may pray the sinner's prayer, yet it is prayed insincerely.

This is not to discount the countless millions who have trusted Christ by calling on His name and were thus birthed into a relationship with God. These do include young children, drunken sots and grieving souls. But it is best to let the recording angel keep the books, rather than a soul-winning aficionado looking to pad his numbers and fluff his feathers. I know how this validation game works in their ranks.

We all ought to be all about soul-winning, making the most of our opportunities, winning souls where and when we can, but the proof is in the fruit produced in the new believer by the power of the indwelling Holy Ghost.

Hey, James said it, the righteous are scarcely saved. That means hardly, with difficulty. So don't tell me that the self-righteous, religious man, the drunkard, the whore monger, the adulterer or the little brat who have not changed one iota since repeating "the prayer" are necessarily among the righteous. When they have won their first soul, when they evidence love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control, then let's talk about a soul won to Christ.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I am wishing each reader a very blessed Christmas and a tremendously godly and happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I never Saw That One Coming

1Pe 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
1Pe 4:13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
1Pe 4:14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
1Pe 4:15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters.
1Pe 4:16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

Getting smacked upside the head by the devil and his imps should never take us by surprise, and yet, it usually does.

1) The "Who" of our trials can seem strange. Sometimes it is the personel the enemy uses to cause us trials. If it were people we know can't stand us, it would be no big deal, no surprise at all. But when people we know and are close to cause us grief and heartache, it hurts deeply. We think of the propehcy concerning Jesus and His betrayer. Psalm 41:9 declares, "Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me."

2) The "Where" of our trials can seem very odd. Other times, it is the context in which the sufferings come. We expect opposition from the world, but when it happens at home or in our church, we are generally caught off guard and the hurt is much deeper. Again, a prophecy concerning Jesus' betrayal, Zec 13:6 And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.

We expect safety in and around home and church and yet this is where the knife cuts deeper than anywhere. The last words of Julius Ceasar are said to have been, "Et tu, Brute!" "Even you, Brutus?"

Again, we are warned not to be surprised about the who and where of our trials and suffering.

3) The "When" of our troubles. The timing of our problems can sure take us unawares. Doesn't the problem always seem to come at the most inopportune time? I suppose there is never a good time for hurt and harm.

Often, we are riding a great wave of accomplishment. relationships are going well, work is productive, finances are fine and the boom is lowered and our world grinds to a horrific halt.

But there are those times when we are so far down we'd have to reach up to scrath a snake's belly, when it seems we have seen the worst that additional waves threaten to sink our ship.

4) The "What" of our woes. We use the word "strange" as a description of the things that happen to us. Peter says don't think it strange.

We have to admit that when one strange thing piles on top of another, eventually, nothing surprises us. The fiery trials that we never would have guessed cause us to say, "nothing surprises me anymore." Been there? If not, you will.

5) The "Why" of our sufferings. Finally, we can deal with trials from God's perspective. We may never, in this life, be able to give an answer as to why terrible things come upon us. But we do know this, when His glory is revealed, we will be glad with exceeding joy. There is a great day coming by and by, where all believers will be richly repaid for the sufferings (not of their own doing) they have endured.

Who has unjustly suffered more than our Savior? And yet, His suffering bought our salvation.

Know that your suffering is not in vain. That which God allows to come against us serves to draw us closer to Him, to depend upon His grace, to be an inspiration and help to others and to gain us a greater glory in heaven.

Perhaps today you are in the midst of tremendous difficulty. You have troubles you never bargained for. Think it not strange, you have a very real enemy out there who is "hell-bent" on your misery. But you also have a great God who is able to give great grace and eventually, deliverence.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Don't be Digging up the Past.

1Pe 4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
1Pe 4:2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
1Pe 4:3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:
1Pe 4:4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:
1Pe 4:5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.

Peter knew what the dual nature was all about. No disciple wrestled with the old man as he did. It seems by this passage that he was very familiar of what the old man's works looked like.

Personally, he had to have the old man beat out of him chunk by chunk. A Jew himself, he considered his pre-salvation forays to the dark side akin to acting like the Gentiles.

Here is the list he gave us:
"we walked in..."

1. Lasciviousness. "aselgeia" Incontinent, licentious, filthy, wanton, immodest, unbridled conduct. Basically, unable to control oneself, letting go and letting the flesh do whatever it wants.

2. Lusts - "epithumia" forbidden longings and desires.

3. Excess of Wine - "oinophlugia" At first glance, one might think this means “wine is fine, just sometime.” "After all," some say, 'Jesus drank wine.' I always ask them when that happened. "When he turned the water into wine and at the last supper." Really, is that so? These statements come from willful ignorance.

First of all, as the water was turned into wine for the wedding reception in Cana, we must ask what exactly was that wine? Having drank that creation of Jesus, the governor and the people were a bit perplexed. Why had they been drinking the old grape juice and now brand new wine, that is, fresh juice? They assumed the usual practice would be in place. Serve the good stuff first, then as the party winds down, use the old stuff that has begun to ferment. “Oinos” means simply “wine.” It could have been anything from fresh pressed grape juice, some places called "new wine," to fermented wine. Each context in which it is used must be explored in light of the hundreds of verses in which fermented beverages are spoken against in the Word. The wine transformed from water in Cana was fresh grape juice.

Next, there is the idea that fermented wine was passed in a chalice from apostle to apostle at the Last Supper. What wording does Jesus use in this context? He calls it, "the fruit of the vine." Again, would it stand to reason that unleavened bread was required and then leavened juice would be employed? How simple it is to figure this one out!

Therefore, we find that our First Peter passage is referencing the excess (extra-curriculars) that takes place when fermented wine is consumed. This goes hand in glove with what Paul told Timothy, "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess." That is, in alcoholic drinks, excess is sure to ensue.

4. Revellings - "Komos" letting loose, anything goes behavior. Like what happens with the excess resulting from wine.

5. Banquetings - "Potos" Oh no! The pot lucks must go? Get this now, this means a drinking bout! Literally, the carousal of drinking. Kind of like a drinking binge. We say that so and so has fallen off the wagon, they have been on a 3 day drunk. That is what this is referring to.

Whew! I am glad that I can now go back to the trough at the Golden Corral and not feel guilty (as long as I don't commit gluttony!)

6. Abominable Idolatry - "Athemitos eidololatreia" Simply meaning unlawful (according to God's law) image worship.

There you have it, friends, Peter's take on what the life of the old man looks like. Now it gets interesting. In the next verse (4) we are told that the crowd we used to hang out with thinks we are strange, weird and peculiar because we no longer run with them. Read it, that's just what it says. And they want us to run with them to all the aforementioned things. But we now have our heads screwed on straight and our hearts are in the right place, so what do they do? They speak evil of us. Now who is judging?

Finally, we are told Who it is that we are trying to please, He that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. He is the One to Whom we will give an account, not the deadheads we used to run with.

So, walk in newness of life. Keep the old man dead and buried. Exhumations smell pretty nasty.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

THE Work of God

Jas 5:19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;
Jas 5:20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

This is the noble and high, dual work of soul winning of the lost and reconciliation of the erring saint. When we are all about bringing the wanderer home, we are never doing God's will in a greater way. The smiles of Heaven shine upon these efforts and crown the worker with several great honors.

1. That sinner's life is saved. "...shall save a soul from death." James tells us elsewhere that sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. No matter how the enemy advertises sin, no matter which make-up he applies to it, in the end, sin separates the sinner from life. Conversion, however, saves his life.

2. In the case of soul winning, that sinner's eternity is redirected from perdition to Paradise. Death is two-fold. Rather than merely being a cessation of physical function, death is an eternal separation from the life of God. This, of course means hell. Conversion puts him on an unalterable path to heaven.

3. The sinner’s misdeeds, once he has been converted, are cast into the sea of God's forgetfulness. They are hidden, blotted out, washed away, powerless as evidence against the redeemed sinner.

And so, the soul winner and reclaimer of souls is found doing the most needful and important work of God. We have this ministry of reconciliation (II Cor 5:18). A wonderful crown of rejoicing awaits those so engaged in God's work. (II Thess 2:19)
Many about you today are found in this dreadful state of enmity against God and are in need of the conversion you can offer them in Christ Jesus. Be faithful to plough the field, plant the seed, water it with the Word, cultivate the weeds and hope for the harvest. Great is your reward for doing so.

I leave you with the words of commentator Barnes from the late 19th century:

"That he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way" - Any sinner; anyone who has done wrong. This is a general principle, applicable to this case and to all others of the same kind. It is a universal truth that he who turns a sinner from a wicked path does a work which is acceptable to God, and which will in some way receive tokens of his approbation. Compare Deu_12:3. No work which man can perform is more acceptable to God; none will be followed with higher rewards. In the language which is used here by the apostle, it is evidently intended not to deny that success in converting a sinner, or in reclaiming one from the error of his ways, is to be traced to the grace of God; but the apostle here refers only to the divine feeling towards the individual who shall attempt it, and the rewards which he may hope to receive. The reward bestowed, the good intended and done, would be the same as if the individual were able to do the work himself. God approves and loves his aims and efforts, though the success is ultimately to be traced to himself.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Power of Prayer

Jas 5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
Jas 5:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
Jas 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Jas 5:17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
Jas 5:18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

We are good at giving lip service to prayer, perhaps it is time, in your walk, to put God and His promises to the test.

In these verses, we see the example of an Old Testament prophet, Elijah by name.

The thing about Elijah is that he strapped on his sandals the same as we lace up our tennis shoes. James is expressing that he was no different than we are. He could pout with the best of them. He had his good moments and his embarrassing foibles. He feared failure. He was scared to death of a real Jezebel, wait, THE real Jezebel. He was a man of passion, and that is not a total compliment.

James is pulling this great prophet, who performed miracles with some of the best characters of the Bible, off his pedestal and down to level ground with the rest of us.
*Yes, he showed up on the Mount of Transfiguration with Moses and Jesus.
*Yes, he left this earth, not feet first like everyone else, but in a chariot and a whirlwind of fire.
*Yes, he called down fire from heaven to consume a sacrifice.
*And yes, he took hundreds of false prophets down to the river, not for baptisms, but for beheadings.

Elijah's resume' was replete with fantastic exploits. But the fact remains, he was just like you and me. His gift and calling was that of a prophet, while ours may be that of a teacher, administrator, giver, mercy-shower, pastor, etc.

And now, Elijah is used as an example for us, an inspiration. Elijah earnestly prayed and received miraculous answers. God shut up the heavens and sent a drought for 3 1/2 years because his man earnestly prayed. And then, when he got busy in prayer again, God sent the rain and the earth produced the grain.

James is simply encouraging us to pray earnestly, just like Elijah of old, and watch God work. Elijah had no advantage over us.
*He was fallible, but he was faithful.
*He was passionate, but he was prayerful.
*He was human, but he was humble.

And because God delights in doing great things, spurred on by the prayers of His children, God answered Him and is waiting to be challenged by our faith and prayers.

Last week, a dear lady in our church was up against it. She needed $350 to license a car that was given to her. It was a true need. It might as well have been $35,000! The money just wasn't there. She called to tell me of this need and I assured her of our prayers and then hung up the phone. I was immediately reminded by the Holy Spirit that 2 are better than one when it comes to prayer, so I called her right back and we prayed that God would do the miraculous for her.

As the days passed, $50 came in here, another $20 there. A couple gave her $34 to buy Christmas gifts for her children (which, by the way, a charity multiplied into $150!!!). So that was $34 that didn't have to come out of her modest bank account. Another big-hearted sister in Christ gifted her some cash. In all, the Lord had allowed her to scrape together $190 of the $350 she desperately needed. Well, that was close enough for me, so my wife and I decided to somehow make up the rest.

I was a bit late in meeting her at the DMV and when I had arrived, she had her license plates in hand. I looked at her and her plates and I wondered what in the world had happened. While waiting for me, she had gone to the counter just to check once again, for the third time, what the damages would be. Are you ready for this? $187!!! $3 less than what God had supplied her. The Lord miraculously honored our prayers.

I am convinced that the effectual fervent prayers of God's righteous servants still accomplish a lot.

Are you facing an impossible situation? Perhaps you are feeling unworthy to even petition heaven for such a need. Know this, my friend, God is looking to show Himself mighty on your behalf. Just get your life in a place where God can bless you and then begin to pray earnestly. Believe, be faithful and watch God Work.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pray and Praise!

Jas 5:13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.

This may come across as pretty simplistic, but then again, why would we want to make things difficult?

It seems most of us go from one pole to the other repeatedly, over and over again, déjà vu, time and again. We are either suffering affliction or we are doing pretty well, thank you. James gives us a simple admonishment for our visits to each pole. When we are down, pray, when we are up, praise!

Not that these two are mutually exclusive, oh no! There is nothing wrong with mixing it up a bit. It is great to praise God while at the South Pole and to pray while visiting the North. It is just so very therapeutic, as well as appropriate, to bring our afflictions to the Lord and to praise Him for His blessings.

So today, my emphasis is on singing, tomorrow, prayer may be the thing to do. Better yet, I believe I'll do both.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Patience is a Virtue!

Jas 5:7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
Jas 5:8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
Jas 5:9 Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.
Jas 5:10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.
Jas 5:11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

Not sure who first said that patience is a virtue, but he or she nailed it. And so did Pastor James in his letter to the 12 tribes scattered abroad.

Patience pays rich dividends. Hanging in there when most would have let go is an investment for the long haul. The rewards for continuing to inch upstream against the current will soon be realized.

Jesus is coming my friends, and when we kneel before His throne, no one is going to be hearing any "well dones" for giving up and tossing in the proverbial towel. But crowns are going to be distributed for those of us who defied the odds, outlasted the enemy, gave it all we had and won the victory.

Whatever it is that has you discouraged, ready to say "I can't take this anymore" is only temporary. It will soon pass. So don't give in just yet. Resist the temptation to flee or to quit. Keep on keeping on for Jesus. For great is your reward in heaven.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Rich Man’s Curse

Jas 5:1 Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
Jas 5:2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
Jas 5:3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
Jas 5:4 Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.
Jas 5:5 Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.

Consider for a moment, Tiger Woods, Bernie Madoff, David Hasselhoff, just a small sampling of some rich and very unhappy people at the moment.

What does money tend to buy, happiness or sorrow? If you think about it, most often the more money a person has, the less they trust other people. When you don’t trust people, you become cynical. Cynical people are not happy people.

The more they have, the more they have to worry about protecting it. It is ironic that the rich build nice dwellings to impress, then, for the purpose of security, eventually they have to erect fences so nobody can see the property.

Many of the rich tend to look down upon those who are without. Many are kind only to those who are in a position to do something for them. Subsequently, they have no use for “the little people.” They are placed in a position to oppress the poor. They become the lenders and, as the Bible says, the borrower is servant to the lender.
The rich may also feel they are above the law or moral standards which are the norm in society. Therefore they may abuse drugs, sex, money and privilege to their own destruction.

Joy comes only when we place others above ourselves, when we serve rather than being served. Constant pampering and being catered to causes discontent and a lack self worth and fulfillment.

Also, riches have a tendency to be very transient. They can mean nothing in the wake of a law suit, a divorce or a prison sentence.

There are those who have monetary riches who are very happy because they have learned to use their resources to be a blessing to others. They give heavily to the Lord’s work and to charitable causes. They have found that they have been blessed to be a blessing.

Having said all of that, we Americans need to realize that we are relatively rich. Our standard of living is so far above the average person in the world that we cannot deny that we are living luxurious lives. Just the fact that we have a house, a car, a cell phone, a computer, 3 meals a day and snacks to boot, hot and cold running water and plumbing, heat and air conditioning, furniture, TVs (plural), a job, closets and drawers full of clothes and an education, place us among the world’s richest class. We may not be considered filthy rich with money to burn, but we are in the upper 3 percent of the world’s population.

Therefore, we need to take James 5:1-5 personally. We have to avoid the pitfalls of the rich and be responsible with the monetary riches we are blessed with. Rather than using what we have to buy multiplied sorrows, put your riches to work in tithing, blessing the missionaries, alms-giving, serving our fellow man and helping those who are in need. These are the things that remove the rich man’s curse from us and enable us to be on the path toward joy.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Got Grace?

Jas 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
Jas 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Jas 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
Jas 4:9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
Jas 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
Grace has been defined as God's unmerited favor to man.

The old acrostic has it this way:


The older I get, the more I understand and depend on the wonderful grace of Jesus to help me make it through the amazing maze of life. I realize that I must submit myself to the Lord, to His agenda, to His leadership, to His wisdom. On my own, I have neither the strength, resources, nor the brain power to make it through.

It is scary to think about where this old sinner would be had it not been for God's amazing grace upon my life.

I see in today's passage that I have a few responsibilities in regards to procuring God's favor on my life.

1. I must humble myself before God. I think of II Chron 7:14, If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Pride is a divider. It is the sliver just under the skin which festers, causes irritation and disrupts normal activity. It has to be removed before comfort can be realized once again. As long as foolish pride remains in my life, God cannot give the grace that is sorely needed.

2. I must submit myself before my Master. How often I forget, He is the Commander in Chief, I am a foot soldier. He must lead, I must follow. He must increase and I must decrease. I need to die daily. I must lay my agenda, my desires, even my hopes and dreams at His feet and shoulder His yoke of meekness.

3. I must resist the devil! That is, I need to stand against him, oppose him at every turn. I have to withstand his onslaughts. God seems to shower His grace upon us when we say yes to Him, no to the enemy. I need grace to do spiritual battle, grace to withstand.

4. I must draw nigh to God. If I am to experience the riches of His grace, I have to snuggle up near to the heart of God. The closer I get to Him, the closer He gets to me. This is where the grace falls like rain upon our lives.

5. I must cleanse my heart and purify my mind. Simply put, repent and deal with sin and be consumed by the Word. Again, James tells us that we are either going to be friends with the world or with God, there is no middle ground. Befriending one entity negates our friendship with the other.

6. And finally, to be the recipient of God's marvelous grace, I must weep and carry the burden over that which breaks God's heart.
Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.

People have made a mess out of their lives, they are headed for a devil's hell and we Christians go merrily along the way as everything was hunky-dory. We need to “see the need and spread the seed!” Only God's grace will deliver these needy souls and we are the agents of change.

Psa 126:5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
Psa 126:6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

Our tears, watering the Word of God that we plant in the hearts of others will result in an abundance of grace.

Father, gracious Benefactor of grace, I depend on your grace to take me through this day. Slay my pride as I prostrate myself before your emerald throne. I submit myself before you today. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth and in my life. Grant me greater grace that I may stand against the onslaughts of evil. Draw me close to your side so that we may be as one. Cleanse me from the filth of this world. Wash me once again in Calvary's flow and fill my heart and mind with righteousness. Lead me to souls this day to souls for which you died, souls who need an infusion of your grace. Empower my witness with the Holy Ghost's fullness. Thank you for your amazing, marvelous, wonderful grace! In Jesus' mighty name, Amen!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Who art thou that judgest another?

Jas 4:12 There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?

Baptist. What a wonderful name, expressing history, heritage, principle and integrity. Too bad people like the Kansas Westboro hatemongers drag that blessed moniker through the mud of their misdeeds.

Independent. Simple, expressive. Meant to imply congregational polity, no denominational interference, the Bible as the final authority.

Fundamental. Here we have a problem in these latter years. The distinction has been hijacked by some real bumpkins; non-Christian, uneducated and willingly ignorant is the mental picture most have inferred from the typical fundamentalist. The delineation has come to mean...well, mean. The fightin' fundamentalist wing of conservative Baptists have seemed to take upon themselves the role of judge, jury and executioner in all things religious and life-style.

I praise God that IFBs were never given the opportunity to rule a state or country. Seriously, they would make Rome look like cuddly kittens and the Inquisition like a picnic. Had the fightin' fundys ever been "the man," life under their iron fist would make Communist China seem an appealing place to live.

I could sure name names and tell stories from the inside, but I won't. That's their tactic. I certainly have my doubts as to whether any or many of them will make it to the pearly gates, but who am I to judge? There is one Lawgiver, and though I am an Independent Fundamental (sans the 'tude) Baptist, that Lawgiver 'taint me!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Unanswered Prayer or "Just What I Always Wanted! How Did You Know?"

Jas 4:1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
Jas 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
Jas 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Jas 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
Jas 4:5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
Jas 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

It is gift giving (and receiving) time of year again. There is probably nothing which permeates the crevasses of our minds for these 3 to 4 weeks as much as getting the right gifts for the right people.

The Father in heaven is no different. He is all about gifts. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17

The best gifts He has for us are the gifts of answered prayers. He delights in doing so.

What a tremendously practical epistle Pastor James gives us. No doubt, his own, very large church (the one started by Jesus) experienced all of these issues he addresses. Issues which had keep his people (and us) from getting our prayers answered.

I would suppose that he pastored several members who were having problems getting their prayers answered because they were tying the Lord's hands so He could not dispense needed blessings to them for their carnality.

Here, James gives several hindrances to answered prayer.

1. Relational problems due to personal conflicts. Vs 1. They experienced infighting because they could not control the flesh as it warred against their spirit. This is often the case. People pick at others because they have issues within themselves; hidden sins, bad habits, rotten attitudes, carnal acting out. If the heart is wrong, relationships will suffer. the result of all this is that their prayers were not being answered. Could this be our problem even now? Clean up the inside and watch your relationships sweeten up.

2. Lust, anger and aggression. Vs 2. These people were acting like children of the devil and wondering why the Father wasn't opening the windows of heaven in reward. Get a clue! God NEVER blesses sin.

3. They weren't praying, really praying! Vs 2. Answered prayer is dependent on preparation. We have to get ourselves into a place of blessing before we can be blessed. Then we have to bathe matters in prayer before we can expect answers. We have to walk properly before God, and then kneel humbly before His throne. When our heart is right, our life is right, when our life is right, our desires are right, when our desires are right, we have the right to ask. When we ask, we will receive!

4. Missing the mark. Vs 3. If I am praying for a Ferrari and the Lord knows I need a Kia, guess what? My prayers aren't going to be answered. Not according to my desires anyway. And I praise the Lord for that. Sometimes we ask the Lord to move that mountain when the need is for grace to climb the mountain or wisdom to go around it. I have learned that God's answers to our prayers are much wiser than our passionate pleas for ease, comfort and satisfaction.

5. Worldly conformity. Vss 4 & 5.
How dare we live like the world and want heaven too! We want all the world has to offer and expect heaven's smile. Ain't happening folks! God demands that we come out from the world, separate ourselves from it's looks, it's cares, It's wickedness. Then, and only then, does He say, "I will receive you unto myself." We are confronted with a choice, friendship with the world or friendship with God. There is no middle ground. God says that friendship with one makes you an automatic enemy of the other. Remember Lot's wife?

Verse 5 clearly tells us that God's Spirit within us is jealous over us. He wants us exclusively for Himself. The words "lusteth to envy" are curious words expressing His strong desire for our allegiance. Who or what has yours?

6. Pride. Vs 6. God wants to give to His children, He is just waiting for us to get our acts cleaned up, get serious on our knees, line our desires up with His and humble ourselves. When we meet these simple requirements, Heaven's windows will open and you will have so many prayers answered you won't even know how to contain all the blessings.

Verses 7 through 11 reiterate these principles for answered prayers.

Father of lights, we ask that our lives would be such that you would take joy in answering our prayers. We wish to be on the same page with you in our desires. The gifts we want from your hand include the salvation of souls, your blessings upon your church, an increased ability to give to your work and those around us whom you lead us to help. We pray that missions work would grow. We ask for grace and strength to build your kingdom. We ask for greater hearts to worship you properly. Keep us near to your heart. Deliver us from the world's clutches that we may not become victims of it's evils. Give us the provisions which enable us to better serve you, and nothing which will distract us from that effort. May we have safety, protection and guidance as we carry on your work.

Everything else we may ask for is secondary, merely gravy on top of the tremendously vital things we have just prayed for. We watch and expect and give thanks for your answers.

In Jesus' name, Amen!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A New Post, a Better Attitude

Jas 3:13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
Jas 3:14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
Jas 3:15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
Jas 3:16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
Jas 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
Jas 3:18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

I had posted a blog this morning about James 1:1 and 2 concerning "masters" and "offending", but then reread the rest of the chapter and thought better of it and pulled the thing. It was my carnal desire to blast and condemn pharisaical, narrow, inbred legalists using the very words of Jesus in His 7-fold condemnation of them in Matthew 23.

Having read today's verses, I had to retract those harsh words and I realized that I was sinking to the level of the hateful pied-pipers of the church world.

In comes down to this, it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! Mat 18:7

Therefore, I will resolve to pray for my enemies. I pray that they will not continue to inflict others. I pray that they will surrender to the mission field, perhaps Saudi Arabia.

Indeed, I glory not. I glory not that they misrepresent the gospel. I glory not that under their tongues is the poison of asps.

And so, I revert from earthly, sensual and devilish wisdom back to wisdom, pure, peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

Thanks for bearing with me a little while in my folly. II Cor 11:1

Sunday, December 6, 2009

More on the Tongue

Today is the Lord's day. Most of us will be in fellowship with the brethren. Let us be on guard of our tongue, seeking only to bless, not to curse others.

Jas 3:1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
Jas 3:2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.
Jas 3:3 Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.
Jas 3:4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.
Jas 3:5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
Jas 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
Jas 3:7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:
Jas 3:8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
Jas 3:9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
Jas 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
Jas 3:11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?

Lord, please control my tongue today. Help me to think before I speak. May that which I speak edify the believers. Temper my words with wisdom. Fill me with the Holy Spirit that His fruit may be produced. In Jesus' name, Amen!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

3 Great Omissions of Christians

Jas 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
Jas 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Jas 2:15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, Jas 2:16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

And here they are:
1. Judgment without Mercy
2. Faith without Works
3. Platitudes without Pragmatism

The biggest criticisms Christianity and we, as individual Christians face, have to do with our hypocrisy. And really, just as much as the boneheaded sins we commit, is the fact that we omit things that are so obvious to the world.

We are so quick to point out the foibles of others, noses pointed high toward the heavens, coming across as "holier than thou." You've heard it a million times. You have also heard the adage "hate the sin, love the sinner." But let's be honest, we really do seem to invert that admonition. Let mercy, rather than judgment be a driving force in your life.

And then, go ahead and have faith. It is impossible to please God without faith. But, the fruit of faith is righteous works. We really cannot claim to have faith unless it is proven by results.

Finally, we are so good at spewing out "pie in the sky" platitudes to those who are in a fix, but not being a part of fixing that fix. James' example is seeing someone in need and saying to them, "God bless you!" Well, a handout and a hand up would have been a little more practical.

Let's begin to turn the tide of deserved criticism against well-meaning, but little-doing Christians into praiseworthiness because of our sincere attitudes that result in good works.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Rich Man, Poor Man

Jas 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. Jas 2:2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
Jas 2:3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Jas 2:4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
Jas 2:5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
Jas 2:6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
Jas 2:7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?
Jas 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
Jas 2:9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

Nothing against those who have worked hard and have gotten ahead in life, but there are many who have also worked very hard and have never had the breaks. In my experience, loving God has absolutely nothing to do with a bank balance. Clothing bought at Nordstrom's does not make a better Christian and that which is taken from the mission box.

Furthermore, the tithe of a millionaire carries no more weight than that of a street person. 10 percent is 10 percent.

So why do we allow people with a goodly amount of bling to get our respect?

Perception and assumption. We perceive one who is well off to be more blessed by God and to have been a better decision maker than the one who is down and out. We assume that the poor person is poor in judgment and work ethic. The danger of this is that we could very well be assuming wrongly. Perhaps the poor man lost everything in a catastrophe. Maybe they have given it all away. It could be that they were robbed or cheated out of their substance. An accident may have left them unable to work or a divorce may have left them penniless. Finally, they may have chosen the simple life over the hoarding of wealth so that they would be free to serve God rather than mammon.

When a visitor next walks through the doors and into your assembly, be color blind and money blind. Giving, serving, loving and worshipping is open to every social strata.

Remember, Jesus had only the clothes on His back. He didn't own a bed or a pillow. He had no dwelling to call home. His roots in this world never went too deep. He was slammed because He chose to spend time with the low life’s of His day. Yet there never was a richer man than He.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bridle that Tongue!

Jas 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

Have you ever tried to get the bit and bridle on a horse? It can be a real challenge, especially when the horse has no desire to be controlled or ridden. If videos had been taken of the times I have tried to fit a horse with a bridle, AFV would have loved to have had the footage!

As hard as it is to get an obstinate horse fitted with a mechanism that makes it behave, it is even harder to get our sinful nature to accept the bit and bridle for the tongue.

This little member, the tongue, ignites huge fires. It produces a world of iniquity and defiles our whole bodies. It is set on fire of hell! See what Pastor James has to say about the tongue in chapter 3, verses 2-8.

He also states that no man can tame the tongue. Therefore, for me to keep my tongue from hurting myself and others today, I am going to have to get that bit and bridle in place and hand the reigns over to God. Indeed, He must be the One sovereign over the words of my mouth throughout the day.

Heavenly Father, Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. Amen!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pure Religion

Jas 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

I got to thinking about religion today as the continuing saga of Tiger Woods has been unfolding before us on the 24/7 news networks.

I have a million thoughts concerning the poor guy, his wife and his children. Here are just a few...
1. We are all human, and therefore subject to moral failure (see: "transgressions")
2. We don't really know what's going on in their family, just what he leaks out on his website. Even then, we tend to read between the lines and speculate, otherwise, I could not continue these thoughts.
3. For the past ten years, millions of people have literally wanted to be Tiger Woods, right now, nobody wants to be Tiger Woods. Strange how fickle fans can be.
4. Sin not only eats away at your life, but the lives of many innocent people around you.
5. I wish I had an Escalade to crash!
6. Why was it a Caddy and not a Buick???
7. Golf club…meant for the vehicle’s glass or the husband’s privates?
8. A wildly popular, super rich, great looking, best of the best athlete will be hounded to no end, but will get a pass in the end. That’s okay, I am all about contrition and 2nd chances.
9. Have you seen Tiger's wife? What was he thinking? People have got to quit buying into "the grass is greener" syndrome. Drink waters out of your own cistern.

But my number one thought in all of this, if this were a famous, professed "Christian," his faith would be called into question. Christianity would be attacked. The word "hypocrite" would be all over people's lips. But wait a minute, where is the denigration of Buddhism now that one it's most famous adherents has "transgressed?" It's all over the news, "he's human." Duh! Are not Christians that sin also "human?" Do people curse the Buddha when a professed believer transgresses? Nah! But let a Bible-thumping evangelical or a "Christian" politician get caught with his pants down and it is the Christian faith which takes the bashing.

The best thing is to just live out a pure religion before our God. Busy yourself visiting and helping those in need and keep your nose clean. And when we do fail, love covers a multitude of sins.

By the way, long drives, great chip shots and consistent drives are icing on the cake.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Hearer and a Doer

Jas 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
Jas 1:23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
Jas 1:24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
Jas 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

Do you have kids? Then undoubtedly you have experienced the joy (not!) of a child who listened to your instruction but failed to follow through with the action.

Oh, how many times I was that kid! And how often am I that child of God? I am in the Word daily, I minister the Word to others, the Word of God is the "tool of my trade." God's Word speaks to my life, my situations, my needs on a regular basis. And yet, I often fail to carry through with what I have just read, listened to or studied.

To me, it is almost humorous when James uses the analogy of a guy looking in the mirror, walking away and forgetting what he just saw. It's kind of like looking at the reflection of a 215 pound man, walking away and recalling a 180 pound guy.

The mirror tells the truth, doesn't it? But our short term memories have a way of distorting the truth, unless we take steps to insure the integrity of the image. And so it is with the mirror of God's Word.

The best ways of preserving what we see when we have been spoken to from the Word:

1. Meditate on what you saw in God's mirror throughout the day.
2. Look for opportunities to make practical applications of the Word's message to you.
3. Put into practice early and often the lesson you learned.
4. At the end of the day, rehearse in your mind how God's Word made a difference as it was used in your life.

How blessed we are to have God's living, pragmatic, powerful Word that speaks to us, works in us and changes us more and more into His image.

Now that's what I want to see when I look into the mirror.