Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Getting Skin In The Game

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity…..”

So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse you to your face..” Job 2:3-5

You often hear a football player say after a tough ballgame that he gave everything he had to win and left his “skin in the game.”

Job’s character and integrity was being challenged by Satan who believed that if Job could suffer in his flesh severe enough, that he would curse God to His face. He would renounce his faith in God.

The record of Job’s suffering from the devil and the grief he endured was a full-frontal assault on his faith. Would he relent and turn away from God? No! The foundation of Job’s faith was anchored deep. He never even sinned from his mouth. Verse 10 says, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”

Coptic Christians Beheaded

Our world is hostile and violent with terrorism as a serious threat in the nations. The recent beheadings of the 21 Coptic Christians in Egypt has created a furor in the media over what should be done to stop any future butchering of Christians in the Middle East countries. Many more Christians are being beheaded in continual fashion that is not mentioned on the news.

I spoke recently with Barbie Franklin who told me that she and husband Terry just returned from Egypt where they had attended the church in Cairo. There are 10,000 people attending prayer services on Monday nights. Barbie told me that it is known in Egypt that for every believer who is being beheaded, 100,000 new believers are coming to Christ for salvation. There is great revival taking place in Egypt! The media doesn't mention this.

There are Christians being forced to “get their skin in the game” by paying the ultimate sacrifice with their lives. Their deaths are not in vain! Their blood is seeding revival and bringing hundreds of thousands of people to Christ.

Let Jesus’ words ring in your heart today from John 16:33. “That in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; (oppression, adversity, crushing, distress) but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Wisdom to Live a Godly Life!

We have been discussing some valuable points of wisdom during our recent studies on this subject. It takes serious wisdom in handling our finances and to prepare for our financial future. God will give us wisdom we need if we ask for it. (James 1:5)

It takes wisdom to maintain strong godly relationships with those whom we work with, those in our families and those within the church. Again we can ask God for appropriate wisdom to work through relationships that we might be struggling with.

Wisdom to Live Godly and Strong!

The pressures of a godless and compromising world challenge our morals, ethics, and convictions every day. We are battered by worldly reasoning that berates biblical truth and moral absolutes.  The book of James is a great guide for wisdom and direction for living a life that will inspire others and be pleasing to God. James is also known as the “Proverbs” of the New Testament.

James is a practical and ethical book that primarily emphasizes Christian duty rather than doctrine. The author wrote the book to rebuke the shameful neglect of certain Christian duties.

James analyzed the nature of genuine faith and urged his readers to demonstrate the validity of their experience with Christ. The book strongly directs the readers toward godly living. The call for ethical living based on the gospel is James statement of Christian ethics that stands on par with any other such teachings in the New Testament.

The two fundamental emphasis are personal growth in the spiritual life and sensitivity in social relationships. Any faith that does not deal with both personal and social issues is a “dead faith.”

Understand, the doctrine of James is not in conflict with the doctrine of Paul, whose doctrine was primarily “justification BY faith.” Both authors are treating primarily two different things. James doctrine was primarily “justification OF faith, or faith justified by works.” We are not justified by works, but by faith, is the teaching of Paul.

James teaches that faith is dead and useless unless it expresses itself through a godly life and Christian service. Both doctrines are in perfect agreement.

The last three chapters of James enumerates eight ways in which true faith is expressed by the things it does and does not do. James message speaks especially to those who are inclined to talk their way to heaven instead of walk their way there. Ask God for wisdom to show you the difference.    

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Who is Wise?

A question that the writer James asks in James 3:13 is “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you?” Then James states: “Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done n the humility that comes from wisdom.”

Wisdom is not just acquired information but its practical common sense insight with spiritual implications. The first 9 chapters of Proverbs deals with the subject of wisdom. These chapters speak of a higher level of wisdom than just worldly or human wisdom. Proverbs 2:6 “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding.”

There are clearly two kinds of wisdom that are mentioned in the Bible. There is “selfish ambition” which is “earthly, unspiritual and devilish.” (James 3:14, 15) And there is the “wisdom that comes from heaven (God) that is pure, peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

It’s this kind of wisdom that determines our course of action through life which brings success and joy. Where do we get this wisdom? James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

What is wisdom? Wisdom is sound judgment - it is good discernment. Wisdom is the ability to apply God’s word. It holds the word of God to be non-optional, non-negotiable truth that works every time.

Wisdom is the ability to use facts and knowledge to come to correct conclusions and right decisions that affect our lives positively. Wisdom builds a house that is indestructible.

We are living in a time of serious cultural shifts which is a kind of crazy culture. All of the diversity and change can have an effect on believer’s lives as well as upon the church locally and corporately.

Our American culture is contemporary. It is a diverse culture that is increasingly diverse and secular. It has become increasingly urban, a world of single parents and working mothers, and it has a cultural morality that is undefinable. Why? Because there are no absolutes of right or wrong that define who we are.

How then shall we live? We live by God’s wisdom and understanding. All who are foolish of understanding are building their house on a sand foundation. It will not stand under serious pressure. Only those wise enough to build on the foundation of Christ and his unchanging word of truth will withstand the cultural shifts that want to turn us away from God. Are you being wise?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Graciousness of God

The word 'gracious' comes from the word grace and is defined in Webster’s dictionary as 1. Having or showing kindness and courtesy, 2. Merciful and compassionate. Graciousness, such a needed virtue in both our world and in each one of our lives. 

We as believing Christians have been shown so much love and kindness from our Lord even through our faults and failures that we sometimes wonder how He continues to remain so merciful towards us. 

“You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” James 5:11 (NIV) Only by Job’s suffering could he intimately experience and comprehend the Lord as compassionate and merciful. 

For those who love the Lord and have experienced His graciousness are acquainted with His compassion and mercies that become new every morning. There is really no test or trial, no failure, setback, or disappointment that God will not faithfully meet you with love and compassion to help you each and every day. Lamentations 3:23 

Isaiah 63:7 records God’s unfailing love in standing true to His covenant to Israel, “I will tell of the kindness of the Lord, the deeds for which He is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us-” 

Sometimes we face bitter experiences in life. Job could have taken his bitter experience in his life as an offense toward God. But his integrity and faith in God commanded restrain within him and his confession maintained the belief that God does not curse His children but loves them with compassion to bring through suffering into blessing. How many of us can attest to that? 

Whatever happens to us in life should be met with perseverance and trust in the Lord who is gracious and full of mercy. He meets us with His love and compassion every morning. For your contemplation read the words of Psalms 89. “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; with my mouth will I make known your faithfulness to all generations. For I have said, “mercy shall be built up forever; your faithfulness shall establish in the very heavens.” 

For all the horrible things Job went through in his life, he did not sin with his lips. The Bible says that he prayed for his friends (they were really his adversaries). Because of Jobs’ graciousness God gave him twice as much as he had before (Job 42:10) 

How then shall we live then in our weakness? Psalm 63:3 “Because your loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise you.” Just keep praising God for His faithfulness!