Monday, 22 October 2018

James - Digging Deeper 9

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

James 2 vs 8 - 13:
(8) If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well;  (9) but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. (10) For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. (11) For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. (12) So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. (13) For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

The Royal Law is God's law.  And what is that?  To love one another, to love the Lord your God, with all your heart and all your mind!  God's love accomplishes all the law expects of us with regards to God and our fellow man.

How is it that to sin in one area, means you sin in all, when considering the law?
EH uses James MacArthur's analogy of God's law being like a single piece of glass.  If you sin in one area (whether it be selfishness, murder, lying), its like a pebble been thrown at the glass.  It breaks the glass, fragments it, shatters the whole thing.  Not just a segment of the glass, but the WHOLE glass is ruined.

MacArthur summarizes it like this:  "By breaking a part of the law you have broken the integrity of the whole law."

Another analogy is that of Humpty Dumpty, once cracked, ALL the king's horses and ALL the king's men couldn't put him back together again.  All of our "goodness" and all of our mending cannot put the law back together again.

But, there is One who can.  Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, every one of them.  And His sacrifice restores anything that was broken.  He is come to fulfill the law....

So that leads us to vs 12So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.  When we are born again, we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour by faith.  We no longer have to make sacrifices to cover our sins because all our sins are covered by His death on the cross for us.  We now live in a dispensation of grace where, because of our faith we are under His undeserved and unmerited grace and mercy.  To speak and do as those who will be judged, is to accept freely and humbly God's mercy, and extend that same mercy to others, which leads to Vs 13.

Vs 13 says when we come to the judgement seat of God, if we have been merciless, we will be dealt with mercilessly.  Mercy triumphs over judgement.

I like how EH deals with mercy in his study.  He says,
  • James makes it clear that a person who does not give mercy will not receive it.
  • We do not have the capacity on our own to give mercy, so how can we ever give enough to receive it?  I realized that I had to shift my perspective to see the foundation upon which this verse was built.  What I missed was this:  The mercy given to us by Jesus is the only antidote available.  
  • I eventually discovered that for mercy to be true mercy, it must be given without payment or subsidy, meaning that this mercy that James was mentioning had to have its source in Jesus.
  • I had missed the key to all of this, which is that God must first show mercy to us freely before we can pass it onto others.  If we refuse His mercy and run away from it, we will never be able to give mercy to others.
  • God's mercy was not meant to be locked up or hidden in our hearts.
  • The mystery of this antidote is that it is compulsively shared by those who have received it.
EH says as we accept God's mercy, realizing how undeserved it is, it naturally flows from us to others.  That is true mercy.  Giving it to others with no strings attached.

I am reminded of a great hurt I have suffered and reading this study has highlighted for me that I am to be merciful, as God has been merciful to me, to extend forgiveness and grace, with no strings attached (I forgive you IF...) and to be happy for that person and move on with my life content that as I have shown mercy, in judgement God will show me more mercy.  

EH puts my hurt into perspective with this statement:  "When we see the value of the mercy shown us in our lives, the entirety of the pain and hurt that we have experienced in our lives can begin to fade into the vastness of the forgiveness we have received."

EH has a prayer at the end of each his study sections.  I love the one after this section:
"God, help me to recognize the sins in my life that I have been downplaying.  Let me be aware of them and horrified by them.  Then, because of your infinite mercy, I can ask for You to forgive me and You will!  Also, make me the kind of person who, upon receiving this mercy, is quick to give mercy to others."

EH also refers to the story about the man who was forgiven a HUGE debt, who turned around and would not forgive a much smaller debt owed to him.  He did not extend mercy, when it had just been extended to him.  Thus, when the king heard this, his judgement of him was harsh.  I think this is an awesome picture of what v13  (For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment) is referring to.

Matthew Henry' Commentary says this about The Law of Liberty:
"It is the law of liberty, and one that we have no reason to complain of as a yoke or burden; for the service of God, according to the gospel, is perfect freedom;  it sets us at liberty from all slavish regards, either to the persons or the things of the world."  I like that!  

He says this about mercy: "All the children of men, in the last day, will be either vessels of wrath or vessels of mercy.  It concerns all to consider among which they shall be found;  and let us remember that blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."  I like this too!

There are 3 major things the Lord has drawn my attention to in this part of study for me:
  1. God has overwhelmed me with His mercy, daily, yet I have withheld mercy where I could have been merciful.  I need to be generous in mercy as God is generous with me.
  2. Part of forgiving someone is extending mercy, but that mercy should be extended without strings attached.  "I forgive, but only completely when you apologize to me!"  No!  I forgive, even if I never receive an apology from you!  That is true mercy, given by the Lord, unearned and undeserved, but forwarded on to someone who has not earned it, or does not deserve it.
  3. Mercy is circular, the more you receive the more you extend!

God bless

My ABIDE scripture today is:
Luke 6 vs 36:  Be merciful just as your Father is also merciful.

Friday, 5 October 2018

How a Christian should Behave!

I am busy reading through Romans and loving all the nuggets of truth and guidance given by Paul.  Life can be very hard to navigate sometimes but God guides us through His word.

I came upon this whole section in Romans that really popped for me so I decided to post it as a list of how we, as Christians, should behave.  After all, in my bible that was the heading 😊

Romans 12 vs 9 - 21


(9) Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. (10) Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; (11) not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; (12) rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; (13) distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

(14) Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. (15) Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (16) Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

(17) Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. (18) If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. (19) Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (20) Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

(21) Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Quite the "to be" and "to do" list right there!

Let me simplify it in a list:
  • Let love be without hypocrisy - be genuine in your affection for someone
  • Abhor what is evil - if you don't it won't be long and you will find it acceptable
  • Cling to what is good - know the truth and hang on to it!
  • Be kindly affectionate to one another - be kind and accepting of all people
  • In honor give preference to one another - put others first (practice in the traffic 😉)
  • Be diligent - thorough, not half-hearted
  • Fervent in spirit - giving 100%
  • Serve the Lord - wholeheartedly
  • Rejoice in hope - lifts the spirit and changes your attitude
  • Patient in tribulation - ouch! But yes, God deals with the heart in the tough stuff
  • Pray always - when things are bad, and when things are good!
  • Give to believers, be hospitable - share of your home and heart
  • Bless those who hurt you - yeah, tough one, but God has His reasons for this, and it is us who benefits from His wisdom to do things His way.
  • Rejoice with those rejoicing.  I think this speaks to being happy for others who have a reason to rejoice, even when you don't
  • Weep with those weeping - sympathy, empathy, a little understanding?  
  • Be of the same mind towards one another, treat everyone equally respectfully
  • Don't set your mind on higher things, but remain humble - there is wisdom in humility
  • Do not be wise in your own eyes - pride comes before a fall!
  • Repay no one evil for evil - leave vengeance to the Lord
  • Have regard for good things in the sight of all men - be the same in private and in public?
  • Live at peace in as much as you are able - do whatever it is you can do for peace
  • Do not avenge yourself - again, this is God's forte, He knows how best to avenge you
  • Heaping coals - do the unexpected good, it steals the wind out of their sails, but as a good friend of mine pointed out, do it with the right attitude! 😋
  • Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good - It goes to the whole take the wind out of their sails thing.  If you do an unexpected good to someone who deserves or expects something negative, you are planting seeds of love and good, and this overcomes evil!

Quite a list to attain to.  For me, I need to polish up on ALL of the above.  It is a daily struggle challenge and one that the Lord knows we are incapable of achieving without His help.

I hope you feel challenged to extend a kindness today where you might not have.  Or, repay an evil with good.  Or treat someone who expects to be fobbed off, with dignity and grace.  
I know I am...

God's word always brings life.

God bless

 My ABIDE scripture for today is:
Heb 4 vs 12:  For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.


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