Month: February 2017
James 1 (ESV)
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
I have just finished the book of James in my personal reading. As I am going through the Bible in the ESV this time I will be using it for this book.
This verse of Scripture has been one that has been used often in times of trials, and rightfully so. James is writing to the believers of the early church who had been scattered from their homes because of persecution. They were living in trials every day on account of their faith. (Please do not consider a cold or the flu or something trivial as the trial of your faith. These were life-altering, never go back to normal trials that James is addressing.)
To these who had lost much on account of Christ James tell them to count the loss that that trial brought as joy. How can great loss be counted as joy? Great loss is just that, it is great loss. We grieve over great loss, we do not take joy in great loss. But this is exactly what James is teaching them and us. When God brings trials of great loss into our lives, He is doing so to strengthen our faith in Him and to develop our steadfast confidence in His goodness.
What have you lost that God used to strengthen you? At the end of the trial after you had been strengthened and made more steadfast in your faith, after you saw how the trial perfected you as a Christian and as a person, were you thankful for the lesson? Could you have learned the lesson apart from the trial? The old saying “hindsight is always 20/20” is true here. When the trial is past we can see what God was doing through it. God wants us to realize in the middle of the trial that He is in full control and that He is using this very trial of our faith to produce within us a steadfast faith and confidence in Him. Therefore, count the trial as a joy before it ends.
What a great time we had in church yesterday. I am thankful for our church and for those of you who come and make Grace for Life an important part of your week. The service exalted the Lord, the Lord’s Table drew us to the Savior, and the message brought us again to Mount Zion God’s heavenly home for all who come to Him through Christ.
We had fun with the McNiffs and the Schroeders during the Super Bowl last night. Our house loves people and we had a great time watching one team get way ahead and then fall behind.
Have a great day in the Lord,
10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. 12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13 Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 14 For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.
You are going to have to think with me on this one. When the sin offering was brought to the temple and the sin of the people was symbolically transferred from the people to the sacrifice lamb, that lamb, filled with the sin of others, was to be taken outside of the camp and burned. It was not to be eaten by the priests but taken out away from all others. In this passage today we learn that Jesus, once filled with our sin, was taken outside of the city suffering apart from others.
The writer of Hebrews then makes a careful analogy for us: As Jesus did not belong in the city because of our sin upon Him, so we bearing the reproach of Christ do not belong in the city of this world. Those crucifying Jesus did not want Him crucified inside their city; crucifixion was a nasty work to be done outside of their “fair” town. Jesus suffered away from the crowds He cared for as He bore their reproach and ours. In essence, Jesus did not belong in the city; He did not fit there. He was too righteous for them and they wanted Him out.
We, those who have given Christ our sin, now bear His imprint upon our lives. We no longer fit in the city of this world. Our lives, imitating Christ, are a reproach to the people of this city. We are OK with this because we are looking forward to a heavenly city, our eternal home with Christ. Are we OK with not being a part of the city of this world? Are we OK being outside of the mainstream of society as we identify with our Savior?
Pray for a neighbor of the church who is having cancer surgery this week. Pray for my friend Tom who is undergoing cancer treatment. Pray for the souls of those around you who need the Savior. We must, as light-bearers, be aware of the darkness in other’s souls and care for them.
Have a great day in the Lord,
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.
What great confidence we have in the unchangeableness of our Lord Jesus Christ. Every attribute of Him always has been and always will be. When we go to our Lord we know what to expect because in His holiness, He never changes. In this Christ is always truth, He is always just, He is always merciful, He is always forgiving, He is always kind and gentle, He is always light to show us the way. Jesus never changes.
As such, the Word of the Lord Jesus never changes neither is it open to man’s freedom of interpretation. The Word of God means what God meant when He gave it. It never changes. The truths found in its pages are timeless and don’t need to be made relevant for they have always been relevant.
The religions of man morph with society. Edicts come down from the top, the leaders of the religions, with new allowances, new interpretations or new revelations. That which was dogma can be set aside for new dogma. Not so with Jesus Christ. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I find far greater security in a Lord/Leader who never changes. Therefore, we are not carried about with various doctrines establishing foods and days to make us more spiritual. No, we are established by grace, the grace of our Lord Jesus who never changes and desires that all be saved and brought to the truth. Be secure today in the unchangeableness of our God.
Be aware of the louder voice of the minority. Realize that in a pure democracy, the rule of the people, the mob can be wrong. Remember that one day a mob decided to crucify an innocent Man and the mob overruled the wisdom of the authority in charge. I am not in favor of the mobs of people thinking that they represent the majority of the country nor of all of our values. Be a person of wisdom who thinks above the mob.
Ken’s mom went to be with the Lord last night. The last time he was down to see her she gave Ken a clear testimony of having trusted the Savior. Pray for Ken and his family as they work through the grief and the funeral.
Join us in church tonight for prayer. We are storming the throne of God to give us men and women and young people this year who leaving their sin will come to the Savior.
Have a great day in the Lord,