19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you,which can save you. James 1:19-21
We are called to be slow to speak and quick to listen. Many times we get ourselves into trouble when we simply speak without truly listening to someone. Often when someone is speaking to us we are focusing simply on our point and not what the person is saying. If we simply will listen to one another many of the issues that cause division and dysfunction would not exist. This is why the Lord gave us two ears and one mouth. When we take time to listen we will operate from a place of wisdom.
This includes listening to the leading of the Lord. Often times we make decisions and make statements without truly listening to the Lord. The culture of our day causes many to fail to develop an intimate relationship with the Lord. But when we take time each day to get alone with the Lord we will develop discernment for the Lord’s leading and guidance.
We are commanded in scripture to rid our lives of all moral filth. The culture and world we live in worships and glorifies the things of wickedness. Our culture glorifies sex and violence. But as believers in Jesus Christ we are called to be set apart. We are called to be a living sacrifice unto the Lord. The Lord desires to move us from glory to glory but this requires us to walk in obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit. For when we walk in obedience to the Holy Spirit we will remove all moral filth from our lives.
12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12
There is great blessing in enduring and persevering under trial. In this world we will face trials and the way we persevere is by abiding in the Lord and walking closely with Him. Throughout Jesus earthly ministry the disciples walked closely with Christ each day learning from Him in all things.
Today we have the Holy Spirit living inside us. Where ever we go the Lord is always with us. The Holy Spirit desires to teach us in all things. In every situation and in every trial the Lord is continually refining and shaping our lives.
The trials we face are like a chisel in the hand of the Lord. Through every trial and challenge the Lord is shaping our lives. He is shaping us into His character and His nature. When we are born into this world we are born into sin. We are driven by the desires of the sinful nature. But when we come to Christ and walk closely with Him each day the Lord is continually transforming us. But abiding in Him each day is the key because we will never overcome in our own strength. We will simply overcome in the strength and power of the Lord.
12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 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. James 1:12-15
We are called to endure temptation. It is not God who tempts us. We are tempted by Satan and his demonic army. We are tempted by the selfish desires of our sinful nature. Sin is very deceptive and if we give into temptation, we give the devil a foothold into our lives.
A crown of righteousness awaits all those who have endured with the Lord. Our decision to follow Jesus Christ is a decision to follow Him on a daily basis. If we decide to make Jesus our Lord and Savior we give our lives over to Him. We become bond servants of the Lord and we surrender our will unto the Lord. His will becomes the driving force of our lives.
When sin destroys someone’s life it is a progressive process. For in these verse James lays out for us the process. We are first of all tempted and enticed to draw away from the Lord. Then as we are drawn to temptation and sin, it begins to take root in our lives. If we continue in it it simply leads to death and destruction.
Why sin is so deceptive and so dangerous is because when we are indulging in it we think that we will never be accountable for our wickedness. But time and time again history has proven that we simply reap what we sow. If we continue to indulge and chase after sin, it will end up destroying us.
God has given us a freewill and there have been those who have begun following Christ but have chosen to walk away and return to the wickedness of the world. We simply guard our hearts from the deceptions of the devil by abiding in Christ daily. As we draw near to the Lord our hearts and minds will be guarded. We will be clothed in the armor of God.
Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
James 4:10 NASB
Those who are willing to humble themselves will be exalted by the Lord and be used mightily by Him upon the earth. One of the things needed to achieve greatness for God and His kingdom is humility. When we understand we are nothing without Him and rely fully upon Him is when we begin to walk in the true power, might, and strength of God’s kingdom.
When the Lord is going to use someone greatly on the earth He will send them into the wilderness. It is in the wilderness that we decrease and the Lord increases in our lives. John the baptist had the perfect attitude in that his desire was to decrease that the Lord would increase. It is our sinful nature to desire to exalt ourselves. But Jesus calls anyone who would follow Him to deny themselves and pick up their cross.
It is only when we daily humble ourselves in the Lord’s presence that we are transformed into the nature and character of Christ. This journey with the Lord is about transformation. As we abide in Him and walk with Him, we are transformed. But the key to experiencing the power and the might of God is to humble ourselves. For it is in our weakness that the strength of the Lord is perfected.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
James 1:5 NIV
God calls us to ask for wisdom. He has not called us to walk this life in our own wisdom or understanding. I believe this is where many young Christians struggle in their walk with the Lord in the beginning.
Before we come to Christ we are so use to relying upon ourselves and our own strength and wisdom. But when we come to Jesus, He calls us to deny ourselves and pick up our cross. The Lord calls us to decrease so that He may increase in our lives.
Often times the Lord will allow struggles, trials, and challenges in our lives to humble us and bring us to a place in which we are ready to listen. Too often early on we think we have all the answers until we come up against something that is far greater than we are. It is only through the strength and wisdom of the Lord that we will overcome.
No matter how big or small the challenge we face we must seek the Lord for wisdom. For when we open our mouths and ask the Lord, He will pour it out abundantly in our lives without measure. King Solomon was given an opportunity to ask the Lord for anything at the beginning of his reign and he chose wisdom. Because he chose wisdom the blessing and abundance of the Lord was poured out greatly in his life.
May we today ask the Lord daily for wisdom in the place of prayer. May we seek Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. All that we need is found in the Lord alone. As we abandon our lives fully to Him we will experience the abundant life that Jesus promised us. For the abundant life is simply walking in deep intimacy with the Lord in all things.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
James 1:2-3 NIV
Trials are key in our growth with the Lord. We naturally desire to be comfortable at all times. But if we were comfortable at all times we would rely upon our own strength and would be very shallow and immature in our relationship with Christ. It is the trials and the testing of our faith that truly causes us to grow and rely fully upon the Lord.
Trials teach us to rely upon the Lord and not our own strength. One of the most difficult thing for any new believer is giving full control over to the Lord. We desire to be in control and rely on our own strength. But when Christ calls us to follow Him, He calls us to deny ourselves and daily pick up our cross. He calls us to decrease that He may increase.
Today if you find yourself in the midst of a difficult trial understand that you are not alone. That the Lord has ordered every step and no matter what you face, He will equip you and strengthen you for all things. We must walk one day at a time and through every step the Lord is growing us and refining us and preparing us for His glory.
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
We are called to confess our sins one to another and to pray for one another. We should confide in our brothers and sisters in Christ that we can trust and who will faithfully pray for us. When we are struggling in an area it is prayer that will enable us to over come. When we pray one for another the power of God is released into a situation and the will of God is accomplished.
We are righteous because the blood of Jesus covers us. The moment we place our faith and trust in Jesus, His blood is applied to our lives and we are declared righteous. When we pray faithfully before the Lord on a daily basis our prayers are far more powerful then we even understand. God has called us to be a house of prayer. His glory is out poured at the prayers of His people.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
James 3:17-18 NIV
Godly wisdom is vastly different than the wisdom of this world. God’s wisdom is based upon who He is and His kingdom. The wisdom of the this world is based upon the lies and deceptions of Satan. Humanity in their pride and arrogance believe they can truly solve their own problems and are in no need of a savior. But many who continue down this path without humbling themselves before Jesus will face and eternity separated from Him.
For us to grow and operate in the wisdom of God requires that we abide in Him daily and spend time daily in prayer and the study of God’s word. The more time we spend in the Lord’s presence the more we simply grow in His wisdom. He constantly draws us near through the Holy Spirit and as we draw near we are simply transformed. Everything we need is found in Jesus and every answer is found in Jesus Christ. May we abide and prepare our hearts daily for His soon return.
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”James 1:2-3 NKJV
We need to have a right understanding and right perspective of trials. Trials are essential for our growth in Christ. It is through trials that our faith is tested and it grows mature. As we face trials and stand fast in the Lord our faith grows deep roots that will not be shaken.
Some desire to run from trials or pray that God would remove them, but like the apostle Paul and the thorn in the flesh we must understand that God’s grace is sufficient for all things. In all that we face the Lord will lead us through and we must embrace the trials that come our way. In due time we will grow to a place of maturity and become a vessel and dwelling place of God’s glory.
6 As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism—they added nothing to my message. 7 On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised. 8 For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9 James,Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. 10 All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along. Galatians 2:6-10.
It amazes me that the apostle Paul had to defend his apostleship and the called upon his life to his readers. The apostle Paul was commissioned by the Lord to take the gospel to the utter ends of the earth. He was given the task of taking the gospel to the gentiles. During this passage of scripture the apostle Paul talks about his meeting with those in Jerusalem who were seen and recognized as pillars in the church.
Those who were recognized as pillars were those who had faithfully walked with the Lord during His earthly ministry and had not turned their backs upon Jesus. They walk with authority that was given to them by God alone. Paul in the scriptures refers to himself as one abnormally born because his encounter with Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus was truly supernaturally.
In this letter and also in Corinthians we find the apostle Paul defending his call, his ministry, and his message. Throughout the time of the apostles once they established a church false teachers would try to come in and bring confusion and division. The apostles often times had to confront the lies and deceptions of the enemy and bring correction where needed.
The apostle Paul points out that those who were seen as pillars added nothing to his message. The gospel which Paul preached was a direct revelation from the Lord Jesus Himself. Paul was a man of authority and he knew the scriptures very well because of his upbringing as a pharisee. But it was not until he was born again and filled with the Holy Spirit that the scriptures he knew for most of his life became alive. It must have been an incredible moment in his life as the Holy Spirit reveal to him how Jesus is concealed and pointed to throughout the entire Old Testament.
Paul also points out that God does not show favoritism. He needed to bring up this point because some in the body of Christ would look at those who walked with Jesus during His earthly ministry as if they were greater than others. But the Lord loves each and everyone of us equally and He has given us each gifts according to the call and plan He has for our lives. No calling or anointing is greater to the Lord, every call and anointing has a purpose.
The biggest issue the apostle Paul was dealing with in the Galatian church is that false teachers had come in and taught that new gentile believers need to follow the law once they have put their faith in Jesus Christ. He need to demonstrate and explain to his readers that the truth he spoke to them was truly from the Lord and it was a fallacy that new gentile believers needed to follow the law. In Christ Jesus we are free and we simply live by faith alone.