Proverbs 29:1-14 – Be Righteous!

Read Proverbs 29:1-14

When you hear the word “righteous” what images go through your mind? Do you picture someone acting “holier than Thou” lording over everyone with hypocrisy? Or do you picture an upright, holy person, wanting to please God in everything they say and do? We have probably observed both types of individuals, each claiming to be righteous. To be truly righteous, we must be holy and in tune to God’s plan for us. We are righteous when we are connected to God and our desires are to please him and do his work in the world.

There are several verses in this passage that speak to how a righteous person acts. In verse 6, “Evil people are trapped by sin, but the righteous escape, shouting for joy.” In verse 7, “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.”

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James 5:13-20 – Prayer is Powerful

Read James 5:13-20

The answer is the same – PRAY! The question could be, “What should I do next?” or “How am I ever going to make it through this day” or “Am I ever going to be well again?” Pray. Pray. Pray.

If you are searching for something or troubled by circumstance, pray. Prayers are answered everyday.

Do you ever wonder why your prayers aren’t answered. Could it be that they were just answered differently than you would have hoped?

Did you offer your prayer in faith? What does that mean to you? To me, it means I pray to God with the faith and assurance that he is going to answer my prayer according to his will. If we are praying outside his will for us, it is likely to be answered differently than we were hoping.

We used to use the first half of verse 16, in our recovery ministry. “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” There is a lot of power in confessing your wrongs to another person. Sometimes it’s easier than confessing the same sin to God. Together, you can pray to God, for each other, and miraculous healing can take place. It’s almost like a double cleansing.

When we keep our sins and wrongdoings to ourselves, the guilt or shame can only fester inside us until we release it. What sin are you holding tight to, wanting to keep hidden from view?

The second half of verse 16, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” If we are right with God (righteous) our prayers will have more power. Our hearts are right and in direct alignment with  God’s will and plan for us. It is also more likely that our prayers won’t be for something outside of God’s will anyway, and therefore the results will be more dramatic. God looks at our hearts.

The book of James ends with  an observation about the one missing from the fold. God’s heart longs for his missing sheep that have wandered off. We all know one or more of these folks. They may be people who grew up in the faith but then walked away during college or as a young adult. Or perhaps they were new followers who were never connected with a church fellowship to shepherd them. Or perhaps it’s someone we see in church every Sunday but who has  never embraced a relationship with God.

James adds, “whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.” We need to be that “whoever” and be watching for those brothers and sisters who have wandered off.

There are so many enticements in the world, as there have always been. It is our job to be strong and rise above and conquer. Yet, the little voices in our heads can be so convincing – “sleep in on Sunday, you deserve it” or “go ahead, nobody is watching.”

Don’t believe it. God is watching. God is waiting. We need to be praying and keeping ourselves connected to our creator.

Let’s pray. Lord thank you for the open line of communication we have with you to pray at all times. When something doesn’t go my way, help me overcome the disappointment. Instead of questioning why, may I turn to you and rely on your comfort and redirection. I know you heart longs for those lost to you to return. Use me God to help shepherd them back so they can have life and be forgiven. Lead me to those opportunities. Use our business and the contacts we make. Bless it for your purposes. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

James 2:14-26 – Useless Faith

Read James 2:14-26

What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it.”  Since we cannot see God like we see each other, our faith allows us to truly believe.

But, it goes beyond that. Even demons believe in God. Our faith needs to be deeper. How’s that? Faith plus deeds equals righteousness or being “right with God.” That’s quite a concept.

Deeds would be what we do and how we live. Maybe we need to take our “deeds temperature.” If we are totally inward focused and do nothing to help others, our deeds temperature will be COLD! Alternatively, if we are active in our churches and community to help others, serving them in the name of Jesus, our deeds temperature will be HOT, or at least warm.

If our faith is alive and active within us, we are going to be burning to serve others. Jesus was the perfect example of being a servant leader. We need to be on the look out for the needs around us. We need to be listening for God’s instruction to us. Just like Abraham listened to God. Abraham really listened. I’m not sure I would have been as obedient to have nearly sacrificed one of my children. But God’s plan was perfect, and Abraham’s faith was played out in his deeds.

“You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.” What deed can you do today?

Verse 26 says, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” Is your faith alive or dead?

Let’s pray. Lord, I come to you today reflecting on my faith life. I don’t want my faith to be dead. I want to serve you and be transparent in my devotion to you. It is my desire that my actions truly make a difference in the lives of others. Give me the courage to live my faith out loud, louder than I already do. Show me the plans you have for me, Lord. I want to please you in all I say and do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 145 – Worthy of Praise

Read Psalm 145

David is exalting his God in a mighty way in this psalm, don’t you think? The focus stays on our mighty God the whole time. There are no cries for rescue or requests for condemnation of his foes.

I found this psalm very uplifting. As I am facing a new challenge in my life, this was a very good reminder of who is in charge. My God is mighty and much better equipped to face my foes and challenges than I. There are so many good examples of God’s attributes here to remind us all of the great God we follow and serve.

We are reminded of the majesty of God, too. Which of these spoke to you most today?

My God is King, majestic and filled with glorious splendor. He is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and filled with unfailing love. He reigns with majesty and glory, and his kingdom will last forever. God always keeps his promises. He is gracious. He satisfies and is close. He is filled with kindness and protects all who love him. What a God we have! 

We are still blessed today by God’s wonderful miracles and awe-inspiring deeds. I’d love if you’d share an experience of witnessing a miracle in the comments below. We need to share these stories.

I love how the psalm ends, “I will praise the Lord, and may everyone on earth bless his holy name forever and ever.”  This should be our mantra today and always.

Let’s pray. Lord you are great and worthy to be praised. May everything that passes from my mouth today bring glory to you. I love that you are close, ready to comfort, give strength, and bless us.  Help me in all I do today. Fill me with your grace so that all conversations I have may be inspired by you. Bless those who do not yet know you or who are away. May they yearn and look for you so they, too, can bless your name. In Jesus’ name. Amen.