Tuesday small group blog regarding the book of james. Please join us if you are interested. Kyle’s web page is the page to start at.
Submit Yourselves to God
James 4:1 – Are we fighting for selfish reason? Are we fighting for earthly reasons vs. heavenly reasons? I want what you want (earthly)…I want your car (earthly)… I want (earthly)…I want (earthly)…I want (earthly)…And what causes our fights and disagreements? Pride? Jealousy? Both? For me it is all of these. I struggle with pride from time to time. I think about what others have and I get jealous sometimes. Does this cause me to argue – sometimes. Is this a daily battle within me – yes.
James 4: 2-3 – Ask and ye shall receive…. Well maybe not if you don’t ask for the right reasons. If our only goal is purely selfish, then why would God answer those prayers? Please give me a perfect job – not going to happen. Please give me the perfect job so that I can carry out Your word. Stands a better chance.
I remember as a kid praying for so many things – most of them were truly coming from a child’s perspective – that selfish point of view all of us share as a child because we really didn’t know better. But to this day, I remember one prayer that I prayed that wasn’t selfish in any way – not sure why I am bringing this up right now and in this forum, but I prayed something similar to the following: “God please take all of the blessing I received today and give them to someone else who needs them more.” Going back to me being a kid, thinking selfishly, I must have had a happy childhood to give away my blessing. In any event, I hope that those prayers where answered.
James 4:4 – If money (or anything else for that matter) drives my motives in life, then I have placed an idol in my life. That idol then will cause me to be an enemy of God.
How many times have I said that life gets in the way with life. I tend to run from one thing to another and miss out on so many opportunities to thank God – or to place Him first in my life. Thinking through my day, I sleep as long as I can before getting up, I go to work, I go to lunch when there is time, I work some more, I come home, I eat dinner with my family, I (a) watch TV, (b) ride my bike, (c) take my daughters somewhere, (d) I surf the net, (e) I sit and relax, (f) I take care of the bills, (g) I visit with neighbors, or (h) I crash and burn, and then I go to bed and start it all over again the next day. That isn’t even addressing the weekends. Notice anything missing? I do. God. Sure, I pray all day long in my own way, I go to my Tuesday morning men’s group, I go to church most Sundays (except when life gets in the way…ughhh), I prepare for this blog study. I need to look at my life a little bit closer – am I choosing the world over God? It sure seems like it. Ugh #2…
James 4:5 – To be honest, I struggle with this verse a little bit. I usually use the NIV for my studies, but tried several others to get a different view of this particular verse (thank you biblegateway.com).
KJ version said “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”
Then the New International version says – “The spirit that God caused to live in us wants us to belong only to God. Don’t you think Scripture has a reason for saying that?”
The Contemporary English version, “God truly cares about the Spirit he has put in us”
New Life Version – “The Holy Spirit Whom God has given to live in us has a strong desire for us to be faithful to Him”?
New International Reader’s Version – “The spirit that God caused to live in us wants us to belong International Reader’s Versiononly to God.”
So, after reading each of these, I have to think that God wants us to follow the Holy Spirit that He put in us, and not to water that down and live it on our terms. He doesn’t want us to live a reader’s digest type of Christianity. He doesn’t want us to following Him only when it suits me. We aren’t to live with other things ruling our lives. He wants our time first and foremost – not secondary to everything else in our lives. It is kinda like what a friend said to me the other day, “Give me your checkbook and day planner and I will tell you what rules your life.” Okay, time for me to hide my day planner and checkbook – I have a long way to go.
James 4:6 – What more can be said…”God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” He wants us to be humble and not prideful. He wants us that way so that we appreciate Him, and we appreciate others. The more that we are humbled, the more I think that God pulls us closer. I don’t have to value myself against someone else. I don’t have to be proud of “my accomplishments.”
With that being said, I had a friend who passed away not long ago who I called “Quiet John.” John did so many things to glorify God in his daily life, yet he never called attention to himself. John was living a life that was humble – he set an example without calling attention to himself – he was living the life God wants us to. (PS: Good bye Quite John.)
James 4:7 – Put my faith in God in all that I do. If I do this, I won’t have to worry about the devil. The devil will know who controls my life – it is not me, it is not him, it is God. With this bold statement, comes the realization that I have work to do on this part also. How many times have I said that “I” accomplished this, and “I” am going to do this or that without thinking about God and His role in my life. Nice wake up call.
James 4:8 – The more I seek God, the more he shows himself to me. Plain and simple. I cannot tell you the number of times that He has done this in my life over the past year or so. I am more open in my faith, more willing to talk to others about who I am, etc. Each of the steps I have taken over the years has been a step toward purifying my heart. Do I have times when you could say that I have a “double-mind” – probably. I continue to struggle with jealousy and pride. I joke when I shouldn’t joke. Do I recognize it more now – yes. Do I still need work on it – YES!
James 4:9-10 – To me this two verses means to grieve, mourn and wail for those who are hurting. If they are hurting, then God is hurting. If I am sitting here, laughing and having a good time not thinking about anyone but myself, then I need to stop. I need to humble myself before God. Do I still need to laugh and smile – yes that is a strength that I bring to the church and to those around me. Do I need to use that strength in a way that glorifies God – yes. Have I been grieving, mourning and wailing – sometimes. Ugh #3…
James 4:11 – Ah… the tongue control battle again…. This is the 4×4 against my head statement. Can you hear me now? How about now? Verizon, 4×4, scripture….hmmm….
James 4:12 – Do not judge others – period. It is not my place. Not my role. We are here to help, to reach out, to listen and offering a loving hand. We are here to show our heavenly wisdom not our earthly wisdom that was discussed in Chapter 3.
Boasting About Tomorrow
James 4:13-15 – Okay struggle time again. This makes me think about my life. As we grow up there are so many plans that we have in life. As a baby we think about getting that cookie. As we grow older we plan on going to our first dance with the girl of our dreams. Older still – we plan on meeting the perfect match and getting married. Older still – we plan on having children, or the perfect vacation, or the perfect job, or going on the perfect mission trip. Older still – we plan on retirement, we set money aside, we plan on our kids growing up to be a little bit better than us, we plan on going places and doing things – someday.
We plan. Period. Or should I say, I plan. Time is precious though. Taking this from a different perspective – don’t procrastinate. Life is short and we do not know when it will end. I have seen to many friends pass away from cancer or heard about loved ones dieing in car accidents. Some of them knew not to procrastinate – they lived life. Others planned for the future – someday I will do that – someday I will help – tomorrow I will bring a dollar for the guy on the street corner – tomorrow I will ….
Don’t delay – today may be it. (I hope that doesn’t sound to doom and gloom…)
James 4:16 – With all that said, I never really thought about planning as boasting. Planning and boasting are one in the same? Wow… more deep thoughts I am sure are to come…this is hard for someone who likes to plan… 🙂
James 4:17 – Recurring theme for me in my past post – help someone period. No exceptions. No excuses. Be committed not interested. Committed means nothing will get in your way. Interested means that anything will get in your way.
I think that it all really comes down to motivation behind your actions, and the Book of James has been such a wonderful eye opener for me. I am glad that Kyle started this blog study.