Wednesday, 20 June 2018

James - Digging Deeper 4

James 1 vs 13 - 15: (13) Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. (14) But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. (15) Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

(Note:  EH = Everett Hill - Exploring the Elements of an Authentic Christian Lifestyle
           MH = Matthew Henry)

EH Notes:
  • We will be tempted, its when not if.
  • God allows temptation and difficulties for our growth and strength of character. We need these so that we can stand against, and withstand the wiles of the devil.
  • Don’t be discouraged by temptation, but don’t underestimate it either.
  • When tempted, do as Jesus did, use God’s word, as it’s alive and powerful, and will protect you.
  • Do not panic, or fear the temptation, but look to God, as His word says He will give you a way out of temptation. 
  • The temptation can’t harm us, unless we let it – its very much our choice to pick it up or not.
  • When we stand firm on God’s word (thus we need to know God’s word) no temptation will overpower us. Its power is our choice. Choose God’s way in faith 

EH then goes on to discuss IF/WHEN we do fall into temptation and sin
  • He explains that God’s forgiveness is there
  • Not accepting His forgiveness is at its core, disobedience. (← is this not profound?)
  • We tend to not ask forgiveness because we feel shame, we deserve the consequences, we feel we need to earn the forgiveness - when all along, God is extending forgiveness with no strings attached. It doesn’t fit our thinking because we know we fell, thus we need to suffer in it, but God restores because He extends grace and mercy, and doesn’t want us to suffer needlessly.
  • Also, the price He paid to save us from those failings, we need to honour His sacrifice by accepting His forgiveness, repenting and walking in the right way.



Life Application notes:
God doesn’t tempt people, He tests them. He does allow Satan to tempt people, however, in order to refine their faith and to help them grow in their dependence on Christ. We can resist the temptation to sin by turning to God for strength and choosing to obey His word.

When having fallen to temptation don’t blame others, situations, worldly ease etc. The Christian accepts responsibility for his or her wrongs, confesses them, and asks God’s forgiveness.


Matthew Henry notes:

MH lays the blame firmly at the feet of man for responding to temptation and completely refutes anyone trying to turn blame onto God.
  • “Our first father Adam, tells God, the woman thou gavest me tempted me, thereby, in effect, throwing blame upon God for giving him the tempter. Let no man speak thus!”
  • “It is very bad to sin, but is much worse, when we have done amiss, to charge it upon God, and say it was owing to Him.”
  • “Afflictions, as sent by God, are designed to draw out our graces, but not our corruptions.” (I love love love this statement)
  • “Stop the beginnings of sin therefore, or else all the evils it produces must be wholly charged upon us.”


My thoughts: Therefore, don’t pick up the temptation, because if you do, the resultant sin and consequences is all on you.  Its all about choices in the moment of temptation!

EH notes that temptation in of itself has no power over us, but if we act on it, we give it power to plant seed and grow to full blown sin.

To summarise:
  • Temptation is a given
  • It has no power over us, except that which we allow
  • God allows temptation and trial to strengthen us
  • Its all about choices
  • If/when we fall, the buck stops with us, its on us, our choice, take responsibility
  • If/when we fall, God is ready to forgive
  • Not accepting God’s forgiveness is pride and disobedience
  • Accepting His forgiveness immediately restores your relationship with Him

I hope you are as encouraged as I am that temptation is not to feared as much as we do fear it!  God has given us a way out, no matter how far along in our faith walk we are.  

God bless
Tracy



My ABIDE scripture for this week is:
1 Corith 10 vs 13:  No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Monday, 11 June 2018

The more you ABIDE, the more you WANT to ABIDE!

My One Word for this year is ABIDE (See post HERE).  My goal therefore for this year was to spend more time in the Word, dig deeper, know more, get closer to the Lord, invest more time, heart and mind to getting closer to my Lord and Saviour, Jesus.  I am finding in doing so, I just want more!  More of the Word.  More knowledge.  More understanding.  More history.  I want more of Jesus!

My ladies bible study (God's Girls) are currently digging deeper into the book of James.  We are loving it!  I love how I am looking up things I never considered before.  Who is this person in scripture?  Where do they come from?  What part do they play?  What happened to them?  Google is marvellous for some of those questions.  I just want to pick everyone's brain about what they know.
I also find I am not just taking what someone says at face value!  I am checking what they say for myself, in the Word!

I am going through 1 John at the moment in my quiet time and there are so many references to ABIDE.  They are all so encouraging and uplifting.  John is writing to Christians and encouraging them to not be influenced by false teachers and teachings.  If we ABIDE in God and in His word we will be able to prevent ourselves from being waylaid and deceived, and.... we begin to understand His love for us.


1 John 2 v 24:  Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning.  If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.   

If God's word, the truth, is in us, then God is in us and abides in us.  Thus we have His protection and His love in us.

1 John 2 vs 26 - 27: (26) These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. (27) But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

Because we abide in Christ and thus Him in us, we will not be deceived by false teachers.  Our consciences will be on high alert!

1 John 2 v 28:  And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.

We will recognise Jesus when He appears!  Does that not give you peace?!  It makes me feel confident that if someone comes claiming to be Christ, we will know the truth and not be fooled!

1 John 3 v 6:  Whoever abides in Him does not sin.

This means that if we abide in Christ and in His word, we will recognise sin and steer clear.  We will not be able to sin on purpose.  We will not be able to stomach hurting Jesus or the Holy Spirit on purpose.  Abiding in Christ protects us from sin.

The "LOVE" connection!

1 John 4 vs 12(b) - 13:  If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.  (13) By this we know that we abide in Him, and He is us, because he has given us of His Spirit. 

1 John 4 vs 15 - 16:  (15) Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.  (16) And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

If we have love in us for our fellow man, then God abides in us.  If not, we need to abide more!  Spend more time in His word until we start to love people the way God wants us to.  And we are only able to love the way God wants us to, if we are able to confess Jesus as the Son of God, and we believe in Him.  When we understand God's love for us, and the love He wants us to extend, we are starting to abide in Him and Him in us.

This is a place, a way of being, that we should desire with all our hearts.  Let us ABIDE in Him daily, now and always.

God bless
Tracy


My ABIDE scripture today is:
1 John 3 v 16:  By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.  And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  

Monday, 4 June 2018

James - Digging Deeper 3

NOTE: Where I have quoted from the James study "Exploring the Elements of an authentic Christian Lifestyle" I have added (EH) for the writer Everett Hill

James 1 vs 9 – 12: (9)Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, (10) but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. (11) For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits. (12) Blessed is the man who endures temptations; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Rich and poor – it’s the attitude in your wealth!

When your heart is right with God and your walk daily is about “winning the race”, pushing through and persevering to the end, then:
  • Being poor is not something to be ashamed of. In fact, the poor are to glory in the fact that riches/or lack thereof, are not an issue. 
  • Riches – “God’s riches” are to be desired and in being “poor” worldly riches should not blind you to God’s plan for your life.  As we are all human, we know that these right attitudes are to be aimed for, not necessarily a given!

James writes to the ‘poor’ and the ‘rich’ Christian from an eternal viewpoint (EH). Obviously in this life we need money to survive, buy food, have shelter, etc, but James is saying the poor man is actually blessed to not have the stresses of worldly wealth.

If our lives, filled with difficulty though they are, are only a fraction of our total existence, the rest of our existence must matter the most, right?! (EH)




When James addresses the wealthy Christian he is pointing out a number of things:
  • Don’t trust in your wealth, its fleeting 
  • Your wealth/money is meaningless to God 
  • Your wealth is temporary and you and it will fade away 

I think he makes the point that “having” actually makes you “poorer” because instead of relying on Christ, you rely on yourself and your wealth instead of building your heart and soul for your future in eternity, your focus is on building your wealth on earth. The wealthy have a huge potential to miss the boat. James is saying if you realise your wealth is as nothing to God, then you are truly wealthy and your riches are in Him alone and eternal. James encourages the poor to glory in not being wealthy, and the wealthy to be humble in their wealth because it’s not theirs to keep and is from the Lord for His glory not theirs.

  • We are being encouraged to keep away from the love of money, whether we have it or not! 
  • We are to put Christ ahead of wealth or the lack thereof!   Don’t let it be an idol! 
  • James takes wealth out of the equation, thus all are equal before Christ, now, make Christ your focus and live from that perspective, not from the perspective of having or not having…. 

Matthew Henry says: Both these are allowed to rejoice… If we do not rejoice in Him always, it is our own fault. Those of low degree may rejoice, if they are exalted to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom of God; and the rich may rejoice in humbling providences, as they produce a lowly and humbling disposition of mind, which is highly valuable in the sight of God.


Verse 12: 
 When James commends steadfastness under trial, the word “trial” that he uses can be translated as “temptation”, or a test of one’s integrity (EH). In the amplified bible it says: Blessed is the man who is patient under trial and stands up under temptation, for when he has stood the test and been approved, he will receive the victor’s crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him.

Matthew Henry says: It is not the man who suffers only that is blessed, but he who endures, who with patience and constancy goes through all difficulties in the way of his duty.

I think James is saying: “Stand…. Stand firm… don’t give in, don’t give up… push through, because you love God! AND because you love God more than you love man’s approval and immediate satisfaction, your hope and reward is in eternity where God will reward your perseverance with the crown of life.”

Matthew Henry says: We only bear the cross for a while, but we shall wear the crown to eternity.

What is the crown of life?
  • It is the title of our reward for persevering (EH) 
  • It alludes to the glory, honour, and power found within the life of Christ that is given to us as a reward for believing AND acting on that belief (EH) 
In the end our joy is made complete by our glorious dependence in Christ and the reward is eternal life with Him (EH).

A final thought from Matthew Henry: The crown of life is promised not only to great and eminent saints, but to all those who have the love of God reigning in their hearts. Every soul that truly loves God shall have its trials in this world fully recompensed in that world above where love is made perfect.

I am finding that digging deeper is an awesome activity and gets the brain and heart engaged and sharpened for God's use when He chooses 😉

God bless
Tracy




My ABIDE scripture for this post is:  
Isaiah 40 vs 8:  The grass withers the flower fades,  but the Word of our God stands forever.




See also in this series:
Coming soon:
James - Digging Deeper 4

Friday, 25 May 2018

In Whom is your Trust?

Lately, we have been feeling like the Israelites at the edge of the Red Sea!  It has been a very trying interesting time.  We as a couple have chosen to commit to faith in God and trust that He is going to part our proverbial Red Sea.  And, having decided to walk this path of faith and trust in God, we have had numerous scriptures and quotes that have encouraged us to do just that.  Yes, we feel we are doing the right thing... instead of making a plan, again, we are choosing to wait on the Lord, knowing that His word is good and true and tried and tested and thus.... trustworthy.

Is it easy?  No!  Is it worth it?  I have absolutely no doubt it will be!

Now, in a recent quiet time I was reading Isaiah 30.  Wow, what an encouraging chapter of scripture.  Judah was in the process of trying to form an alliance with Egypt for protection against Assyria.  And God says the following to them through Isaiah:
Isaiah 30 vs 1 - 3:  (1)“Woe to the rebellious children,” says the Lord, “Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, That they may add sin to sin;  (2) Who walk to go down to Egypt, and have not asked My advice, to strengthen themselves in the strength of  Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!  (3) Therefore the strength of Pharaoh shall be your shame, and trust in the shadow of Egypt shall be your humiliation.

God is saying here that not only did they not ask Him for guidance and advice, they have not trusted Him to protect them.  He says that their "making a plan", an alliance with Egypt would result in their humiliation.  That is just awful.  In vs 7 Isaiah says that Egypt's help would result in nothing, and calls her (Egypt) a name that is a likeness to a hippo sitting on the banks of the Nile, doing...nothing!

Isaiah says to them in vs 15:  For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:  "In returning and rest you shall be saved;  In quietness and confidence shall be your strength." But you would not...

They would not!  They would not?!  Did these people not remember all that God had already done for them?  Well, um, same for us right?!  Do we remember all that God has already done for us?  Are we going to try another 'wisdom of man' solution?  Are we going to try another 'world view' plan?

For us, I stand right now and say NO!  This time we are going to trust God and return to His rest, and be quiet in confidence and His strength!  This time we are going to trust and watch what the Lord will do!


God was so gracious with the Israelites!  Knowing that they were going to go ahead and do their own thing, reap the consequences of their own actions, He says through Isaiah:  Vs 18:  Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you;  and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you.  For the Lord is a God of justice;  Blessed are all those who wait for Him.
(Italics and bold print mine)

Isaiah continues and says how the Lord will hear when they cry and answer because He longs to be merciful and gracious toward them.  And, when they choose to trust Him and wait on Him....
Vs 21:  Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it,"  whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left. 

This is what I desire.  I desire to hear the Lord, that still small voice, speaking so that I hear, "This is the way, walk in it!"  This is my desire!  To hear God speak to me.  So, in order for this desire to be met I need to trust God with everything that is in me.  I need to rest in Him, trust in Him, glorify Him and in quiet confidence, wait on Him, as a demonstration of my faith!  Waiting in faith is an action!!!!

I hope these scriptures have encouraged you as much as they have me.  Isaiah gives us the route to follow, the way to go, the "how" to live each day!

God bless
Tracy


My ABIDE scripture for this post is:
Psalm 25 vs 20:  Keep my soul, and deliver me; let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

James - Digging Deeper 2

Day 2 of our Digging Deeper in James has been really eye opening.  I have always enjoyed reading James.  I find it direct, helpful, practical and no nonsense.  But when you dig deeper, you find so much more to chew on, so much more to consider and learn, so much more that makes you grow.

This week we tackled James 1 vs 5 - 8: (5) If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  (6) But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.  (7) For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;  (8) he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

God tells us that we can ask Him for wisdom, but we must ask, believing that He will give it to us.  We are to ask in faith.  The author of the study guide we are using (James - Exploring the Elements of an Authentic Christian Lifestyle - Everett Hill) says wisdom is a tool for sustained endurance.  I like that.  James first tells us to hang in there, be steadfast, and then he tells us the tool to do so is God's wisdom.  When we choose to ask for and practice Godly wisdom, the confusion as demonstrated in a world of human wisdom fades away.  We find the ability to wait on God, to hear His guidance, to be able to determine the advice or still small voice IS actually His.  We find our path forward, through trial or not, clearer.


The morning of our bible study, the scripture of the day from a devotional I follow was 1 Corinth 2 vs 5:  That your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.  Such great confirmation that James is encouraging us to seek God's wisdom.

James also makes it clear that the asking of wisdom is available to ALL WHO BELIEVE, not just a select few, or someone of higher authority, or someone more knowledgeable, etc.  No, God's wisdom is available to ANYONE who asks in faith.

Everett Hill makes an awesome statement that God's wisdom is designed to supersede/take the place of, human wisdom.  If we choose to operate under God's wisdom and not earthly wisdom, we will find God's will for our lives coming alive and our journey will be victorious and joyful.

Double-mindedness.  The tossing and turning from one idea to the next, the non-committing to a direction, the not choosing, the not making a decision... yes, like the waves tossed and driven by the wind.  My Life Application notes calls it restlessness and that is most certainly how I feel when I cannot determine a direction for my life.  Fearful maybe to make the wrong decision, to not be hearing from the Lord, but basically in the end, getting no where in a hurry!!!!

The notes say further, "Doubt leaves a person as unsettled as the restless waves.  If you want to stop being tossed about, rely on God to show you what is best for you.  Ask Him for wisdom, and trust that He will give it to you.  Then your decisions  will be sure and solid."

I love how Matthew Henry (Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible) puts perspective on these scriptures:

  • What we ought more especially to pray for - wisdom:  if any lack wisdom, let him ask of God.  We should not pray so much for the removal of an affliction as for the wisdom to make a right use of it.
  • It is not said, "Let such ask of man," no, not of any man, but, "Let him ask of God," Who made him, and gave him his understanding and reasonable powers at first, of Him in whom are all treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  Let us confess our want  of wisdom to God and daily ask it of Him.  
  • He to whom we are sent, we are sure, has it to give:  and He is of a giving disposition, inclined to bestow this upon those who ask.  Nor is there any fear of His favours being limited to some in this case, so as to exclude others, or any humble petitioning soul;  for He gives to all men.
  • But, there is one thing necessary to be observed in our asking, namely, that we do it with a believing, steady mind:  Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.  
  • There must be no wavering, no staggering at the promise of God through unbelief, or through a sense of any disadvantages that lie on our own part.
  • A wavering faith and spirit has a bad influence upon our conversations.  A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.
This last point above makes the very valid point about our words and what we speak out.  If we are filled with doubt and lack faith, we will speak that in our conversation.  If we make a stand in faith, ask God for wisdom, and commit to that faith, we will speak that and our conversation will be rightly influenced and positive and filled with faith.  That will build us up in faith and those around us.

And so, we have been encouraged to ask God daily for wisdom, believing that He will give it to us, and thus we will not be double-minded or like a churning sea.

God bless
Tracy



My ABIDE scripture this week is:  1 Corinth 2 vs 5:  That your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.





Other posts in this series:
James - Digging Deeper 1
James - Digging Deeper 3 (coming soon)

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