Thursday, 27 September 2018

James - Digging Deeper 8

Notes: EH = Everett Hill - Exploring the Elements of an Authentic Christian Lifestyle

James 2 vs 1 - 7: (1) My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. (2) For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, (3) and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” (4) have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

(5) Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? (6) But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? (7) Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?

This portion of scripture for me, is not only about favouring people because of who you think they are, or what their value is to you by how they present themselves.  It is also about how we treat people because of what we think they can do for us.

God says everyone is of equal value to Him, and thus they should be to us.  James points out that often times, the people we treat more favourably are the very ones who ultimately do us the most harm.  James says we make ourselves judge over others when we treat people unequally.

This is not to say that one treats people differently in terms of who they are in our lives.  EH points out that one would treat their spouse differently from a peer at work, or your children differently from someone on the bus.  The point is that we should respect everyone as a creation of God, and knowing their value to God, honour them with dignity and be gracious towards all.


EH also makes the point about good manners being basic Christian principles.  For example, a man opening a door for a woman.  Why not open the door regardless of who the person is?  Give up your seat for the elderly.  Why not give up your seat regardless of who the person is?  It is something to think about.  As a woman, I appreciate chivalry, but that does not excuse me from doing a kindness to and for others.  Something to mull on and seek opportunities to practice 😊.  Kindness is never ever a bad thing.

When reading Matthew Henry notes it occurs to me he makes the point that James is speaking to Christians about how they treat other Christians.

Matthew Henry Notes:
  • Jesus teaches us not to respect Christians for anything so much as their relation and conformity to Christ.  You who profess to believe the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, which the poorest Christian shall partake or equally with the rich, and to which all worldly glory is but vanity, you should not make men's outward and worldly advantages the measure of your respect.  In professing the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, we should not show respect to men, so as to cloud or lessen the glory of our glorious Lord:  however any may think of it, this is certainly a very heinous sin. 
  • Consider how commonly riches are the incentives of vice and mischief, or blasphemy and persecution: consider how many calamities you yourselves sustain, and how great reproaches are thrown upon your religion and your God by men of wealth, and power, and worldly greatness; and this will make your sin appear exceedingly sinful and foolish, in setting up that which tends to pull you down, and to destroy all that you are building up, and to dishonour that worth name by which you are called.  
  • The name of Christ is a worthy name;  it reflects honour, and gives worth to those who wear it.


Let us look to ways to treat all of the faith as we would want them to treat us, with respect and honour as any who bear the name "Christian".  And let us find ways to display kindness to everyone, as every person is a creation of Christ and thus a potential child of Christ.

God bless
Tracy


My ABIDE scripture for today is:
Galatians 3 vs 28:  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.





Also in this James Study series:
James - Digging Deeper 1
James - Digging Deeper 2
James - Digging Deeper 3
James - Digging Deeper 4
James - Digging Deeper 5
James - Digging Deeper 6
James - Digging Deeper 7

James - Digging Deeper 9 coming soon 😊

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

James - Digging Deeper 7


Notes: EH = Everett Hill - Exploring the Elements of an Authentic Christian Lifestyle

James 1 vs 22 – 27:  22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
26 If anyone [a]among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

James says that if we just read the word, and not act on it, we will essentially forget it.  It will not be ingrained in us.  Like a man who looks at his reflection, and walks away forgetting what he looked like.  I think of it as, “acting on the word, experiencing the results thereof, will cement it into us, become part of us, and thus the word will change us”.  And James says, therein, the doing of the word, we will be blessed in what we do.

A valid point to consider as per EH is ‘ “Now that we have established that our knowledge calls us to action, we must pass our actions through this acid test:  “Do my words and actions reflect the priorities of Christ?”  This is imperative to finding out whether or not our religion is “pure and undefiled”. ‘  Does what we do bring attention to Christ, or attention to ourselves?


When we truly focus on the word, read it, absorb it, and then act on it, we are internalizing it and it becomes part of who we are and we pour out our lives for others, in the name of Jesus.  You know how it is with experience? Experience teaches right?!

Matthew Henry Notes
With regards to Vs 22:  True religion teaches us to do everything as in the presence of God;  and to seek His favour, and study to please Him in all our actions.

I think this is a very profound statement that we do whatever it is we do, as if in the presence of God.  Ultimately, God sees everything, but we don’t always behave as we might were we aware of the fact that God is present.  I know there are many times I may speak or act differently if I realized that Jesus was in the room with me every moment of every day. 

That wraps up Chapter 1 😊

God bless
Tracy



My ABIDE scripture for today:
Psalm 119 vs 9:  How can a man cleanse his way?  By taking heed according to Your word.






Also in this James Study series:
James - Digging Deeper 1
James - Digging Deeper 2
James - Digging Deeper 3
James - Digging Deeper 4
James - Digging Deeper 5
James - Digging Deeper 6

James - Digging Deeper 8 coming soon 😊

Sunday, 2 September 2018

James - Digging Deeper 6

Notes: EH = Everett Hill - Exploring the Elements of an Authentic Christian Lifestyle

James Study – James 1 vs 19 – 21
(19) “Understand [this], my beloved brethren.  Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry.  (2) For man’s anger does not promote the righteousness God [wishes and requires].  (3) So get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness, and in a humble (gentle, modest) spirit receive and welcome the Word which implanted and rooted [in your hearts] contains the power to save your souls.”  AMP

Meekness can be described as:
·         A deep understanding that God is on our side – Justin Kendrick
·         Power under control
·         Meekness is not weakness

Three behaviours that are near impossible without Jesus:
1                     Quick to hear
2                     Slow to speak
3                     Slow to anger



1                     Quick to Hear
Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, but with the intent to reply!
If we are not listening then more often than not we are talking, about ourselves, others, our knowledge, me me me me me…  Listening implies trying to understand what it is that the person you are listening to is saying.  What is their intent?  What is their need?  How can I respond selflessly?  How can I respond in love?
Quick to listen is also necessary if we want to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to us.

2              Slow to Speak speaks to:
·         Don’t gossip
·         Don’t give unwanted or unasked for advice
·         Don’t share all your varied knowledge on a subject
Our ability to be slow to speak talks into our self-centredness!

3              Slow to Anger
Being angry seldom does anyone any good, and most times does not lead to the righteousness of God.  It hardly ever looks good on a person either!  And as EH points out, it often stems from something else, maybe fear, maybe rejection, maybe unresolved emotions…

Litmus test for righteous anger:  Next time you are angry, are your emotions in subjection to God or are you using “righteousness” as a pretext to scorch someone? 
Prov 16 vs 32:  Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
Prov 14 vs 29:  A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.
Prov 15 vs 1:  A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Psalm 86 vs 15:  But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

All these skills are essential for our growth and our ability to share the gospel. 
All these skills are expressed in humility and selflessness.  If we focused on “self” we cannot listen to hear, keep quiet, or contain our anger.
All these skills demonstrate a growing meekness, a trust in knowing God is for us.

Implanted and Engrafted
Our hearts need to be rich soil to receive God’s word, a willingness to hear Him.  Thanksgiving, gratitude, humility.  None of these things work well without the ability to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.  These things blind us to the richness that God offers us and wants to plant deep in our hearts.
In these few verses James is leading us to get rid of sin and selfishness and replace these with God’s word and in so doing we are renewing our minds to His will.
Rom 12 vs 2:  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Matthew Henry
·         For thus the connection stands – an angry and hasty spirit is soon provoked to ill things by afflictions, and errors and ill opinions become prevalent through the workings of our own vile and vain affections, but the renewing grace of God and the word of the gospel teach us to subdue these – quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.
·         It is our duty rather to hear God’s word, and apply our minds to understand it, than to speak according to our own fancies or the opinions of men, and to run into heat and passion thereupon. 
·         In hearing the word of God we are to receive it (graft it in) and assent to the truth of it, to receive it with meekness, hear in order to “do”.  (To hear and hear well is useless without applying it)

As I go through this study I am really loving the Matthew Henry Commentary.  He definitely brings a practical slant on the word that I find refreshing.

God bless
Tracy



My ABIDE scripture this week is:
James 1 vs 19:  So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.






Also in this James Study series:
James - Digging Deeper 1
James - Digging Deeper 2
James - Digging Deeper 3
James - Digging Deeper 4
James - Digging Deeper 5

James - Digging Deeper 7 coming soon 😊

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