James 1:19-27 – Listen Up!

Read James 1:19-27

There are so many nuggets in today’s passage. Do you agree? I love how God’s word can always come alive and speak to us today!

I heard the other day that we need to listen twice as much as we speak because we have two ears and only one mouth. Think about that one! In our business, listening is KEY. In life, listening is really KEY!

We should be acting and responding to people in response to what they have said. If we listen closely, we can discern their needs, their hopes, their struggles. God can use us to help each other. That’s how the body of Christ works.

But too many times, we are busy formulating a response in our heads and our listening ears are clogged. Here, Paul is telling us to be slow to speak. His counsel is more to protect us from dispute or saying things out of anger, which certainly are good things to avoid. No matter what, when we are in communication with others, we need to be better listeners.

Listening for God’s voice is probably the most important voice of all. When is the last time you truly sat down and listened, waited for God?

It’s the same with God’s word. The Bible is at least something tangible that we can put our hands on. Many times God will use his word to speak to us. We need to come to him in our time of reflection and close out all the other noise of the world. Are we giving God the time he deserves?

Are we living out our faith based on the Word and instruction God has given us?

Take a moment to really reflect on that. Can you do better? What is keeping you from the full relationship with God that he is craving?

Verse 27 say,“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” 

One of the goals on my dream board is to help build an orphanage to care for children of Haiti. I am blessed to be able to help at the orphanage in our neighborhood here in Mexico, but I want to do more. I want to honor God and his wishes.

As I wait for this opportunity, I am trying hard to keep from being polluted by the world. I’m sure you can agree that this world has become a dark, delusional and dangerous place. Instead of being  sucked in, we should be empowered to make a positive difference.

Let’s be better listeners first, and then go do and be blessed!

Let’s pray. Father God I give you thanks for the ability to listen. Forgive me when I don’t take the time to just sit still in your presence. What is your message for me today? Please reveal yourself to me. In the same way, I want to be a better listener to the voice of others. You have placed me in this time and place for a reason, and I want to be able to live out your plan to my best ability, with your ability inside me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

James 1 :1-18 – Temptation

Read James 1:1-18

This passage is so much more than temptation, but I thought we could focus a bit on that today.

What tempts you? If you’re on a diet, maybe a juicy hamburger and fries is your hot button. If you’re trying to cut down on sweets, maybe it’s a piece of dark chocolate cake. Non-food temptations may be laziness or the opposite, over-working. Evil temptations are deeper than these examples, yet the motivations are similar.

When evil steps in to  put a desire on our heart, it is generally not a helpful thing. But evil, being evil, will make it seem enticing. We are then quick to justify and let the temptation overtake us.

This passage is clear. Temptations are not from God. He cannot be tempted, nor does he tempt. It is all in our heads! It starts with an evil desire and blossoms from there.

Can you think of examples from your life where you were enticed to do the wrong thing? Maybe it was telling a “white lie” to make a situation sound better. Maybe it was looking on your neighbor’s paper during a math quiz. Maybe it was driving over the speed limit because you were in a hurry.

Zing! That last one got me!

There is another passage that really helps put this into perspective. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 

God is faithful. Evil is not. Evil will deceive us and fail us. God will never fail us. He provides us a way out when we are tempted. The promise is here for us. The passage doesn’t say God will not allow any “trial” beyond what we can stand as many people often interpret. So be careful in that regard.

Today’s reading also talks of trials, but the promise is different. If we are to withstand our trials and persevere, then we will receive the crown of life. Our final reward is with our Father, forever. If that doesn’t bring us joy, I don’t know what can. So to be clear, we’re not to be joyful for the trial, but to consider it pure joy when a trial comes knowing you will grow stronger from it.

In either case, trials or temptations, it is important for us to remember that “Every good and perfect gift is from above…” God wants the best for us. He created us for his own delight, and we are his. Find your joy!

Let’s pray. Heavenly father I thank you for the life you have given me. Forgive me for when I let temptations take hold of me. I know you have given me the way out. I need to do a better job of looking for that provision. I thank you, too, for how I am growing in perseverance as we walk through the challenges and trial of life together. Knowing I am not alone is such a comfort and brings me joy. May the joy I feel overflow to others around me. Use me this day, and may I walk in your perfect will. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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