James 4:13-17 – Self Confidence

Read James 4:13-17

I’m a planner. I admit I can even obsess over it. I always want everything to be “just right.” These verses really gave me something to think about. When does planning become boastful? I suppose the answer to that is when you don’t invite God into the planning process.

James would suggest even our semantics matter. “What you ought to say is, ‘If the LORD wants us to, we will live and do this or that.’” How do we know what the LORD wants us to do? That’s the rub! I have been known to say, “God willing, we will do this or do that.” I like the confident peace I get from knowing my plans are blessed by God.

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James 4:11-12 – Judging Others

Read James 4:11-12

Short and powerful is how I’d describe this reading. With each new passage, we start to see the troubles James’ audience was facing. The people in his day were probably going around trying to condemn each other or try to outdo each other because of some perceived superiority. It’s quite possible you have already encountered a judgmental person in your life.

James didn’t spend a lot of time on the subject of judging others, but he did not sweep it under the rug either. When we look around our communities today, it seems like one group or another is feeling marginalized or “judged” for some reason. Clearly, they haven’t read these verses in a while.

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James 4:1-10 – Enemies of God

Read James 4:1-10

We need God. It’s plain and simple, lest we fall into the traps set in this world and become enemies of God. Only God can transform us from the thrill seeking, self-serving, humans we are by nature into humble servants dedicated to pleasing God.

James’ counsel here is a bit over the top when he talks about our envious desires leading us to killing someone. It appears his audience needs the “wow factor” to get their attention. I can just hear someone saying, “God doesn’t listen because he didn’t give me what I wanted.” That’s a great example of having the wrong motives. God knows our heart. He knows why we ask for what we do. Is what we’re asking for merely for our own pleasure?

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James 3:13-18 – True Wisdom

Read James 3:13-18

We can tell a lot about James’ audience by what he teaches them. It seems they may have had a lot of similar faults to people we may recognize. Jealousy, selfishness, boasting, and lying are not uncommon in our culture today and might even be running rampant. What does James say about that? “Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.”

Take a moment to let that sink in. Demonic. It makes sense. Those attributes are certainly distasteful when you have experienced the Holy Spirit living inside you. James warns us to stay away from such things, for in them evil resides. Clearly his readers are having a hard time trading in their worldly habits and ideas in exchange for God’s viewpoint.  Thankfully, James gives us a solution.

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James 3:1-12 – Be Careful What You Say!

Read James 3:1-12

Have you ever had your mouth washed out with soap? That was a familiar “threat” growing up when I would get a little mouthy with my mom. Apparently, I was “too big for my britches” on one too many occasions. I can tell you that the memory of what Safeguard soap tastes like is still a tangible memory for me! So is the lesson I learned, which meant even more to me when I realized it was Scripturally based.

God tells us in His Word that the tongue has incredible power, both good and bad. Here are a few examples. Ephesians 4:29: “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Proverbs 15:4: “Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” Psalm 34:13: “Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies!”

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