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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Philippians 2:1-11 – What is Being Christ-like?

Read Philippians 2:1-11

petals of a flower opening with the words Jesus Beautiful Savior

Yes. Yes. Yes. And, yes! I would say those are my answers to Paul’s first four questions. He seems to be urging his friends into spiritual unity. When we can all work together, caring for others and putting others first, we move closer to becoming more like Jesus. Selfish behavior can ruin a church while humility can restore and rebuild. Think about a situation in your church or community where grace and respect would have been the better answer.

Read these “warning” words from Paul again, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” If you’re like me, you immediately pictured yourself in the “reprimand.” Now read this message again and picture Jesus and how he lived and interacted with others. How cool is that? Jesus totally lived out these words!

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Mark 12:1-12 – Who is in Charge Here?

Read Mark 12:1-12

We see corruption all around us today, and Jesus describes it beautifully here in his example. I suppose the word beautiful and corruption should not occur in the same sentence. But Jesus is warning them and us to be on the look out for evil. It will take on forms we might not realize. It may invest trusted leaders; nobody is immune.

If we have a heart beat, we are a target for Satan’s evil schemes. I posted something recently: Devil says, “They’re all mine.” Jesus says, “Over my dead body.” Think about that for a moment or two.

Today’s reading is thought to happen very soon after the teachers of the law were questioning Jesus’ authority in our prior text. Now they are feeling a bit put in their place as they see themselves in Jesus’ story. They retreat. Do you think the rest of the people understood the significance?

Do you see the players in this story. Just in case, we have the owner of the vineyard (God), the vineyard (Israel), tenants/farmers (religious leaders),  servants (prophets), son (Jesus). Reread if you need to for context. The concern here is the tenants’ improper use of their authority. This wisdom is for us today, any of us in church leadership. Pastors are especially suspect. Who are we serving and following?

The quoting of Psalm 118 here. “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” Jesus, the rejected one, is now the cornerstone and foundation for the new Christian church. On Jesus, we build our trust. He is our sure foundation.

“This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.” Anything that the Lord does is wonderful to see. Imagine the brilliance of the sun, or the magnificence of a sunset each evening. The budding of the trees with each new Spring, and the leaves turning at harvest. It is all God’s doing and for that we should be gratefully awestruck.

Have you ever felt rejected? Maybe you’re walking through a time of sadness right now. I don’t know if it helps, but know that you are in good company. Even Jesus was rejected, and from that rejection (the Lord’s doing for us) something beautiful came to be. Think on the price Jesus paid for you. How do you respond?

Let’s pray. Father, thank you for this illustration into your truth. I never want my self ambition to keep me apart from you. I never want to be so focused on the wrong thing that I forget who is in charge and who has my back. I pray for those who are still allowing evil into their hearts and  minds, filling them with lies that only keep them from you. Use me Lord to help them realize that they are being deceived by the evil world. Satan is crafty and we must stand strong. You have equipped us with the battle gear we need. May I never forget to arm myself to defend your kingdom and proclaim your great love for me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Philippians 2:1-11 – Attitude Check

Read Philippians 2:1-11

Watch this video (taken from Message paraphrase) here.

You’ve probably been asked, “Are you in Christ?” If not that question, you’ve likely heard references to being “in Christ”. To put it simply, this means we belong to Christ, we are his. Chapter 2 starts out with this very phrase. Paul is asking us to think of the benefits we enjoy from belonging to Christ and being in him. There are many benefits, he has listed only a few. What are some of the benefits you have experienced?

Paul goes on to say, well then, okay, then show it! Have unity, not division. That’s not to say you have to agree on everything, but love each other and care for one another.

When that is hard for us, we need to look at our brothers and sisters and remember they, too, are abundantly loved by God. With that same heart, we will despise disunity. We will all bond together for the common goal – spread the gospel!

Paul gives us warning of what will mess up our attitudes — selfishness. Think on that for just a moment. It is human nature to be looking out for our own interests, right? If we don’t, who will? But selfishness goes beyond self-sufficiency and enters into a dark, sinful place of disregard for others. We should always be thinking how our words, our actions will be interpreted by others. Don’t let yourself get in the trap of projecting your own feelings and way of thinking on others. We are not the same. Being unselfish is difficult when done right.

Other translations have this as selfish ambition. Ambition is our desire to succeed, and we need to take care that our desires are in line with God’s will for us.

Our attitude check continues with humility. Are we humble? Or are we pumped up on our own self importance and pride?  What are our motives when it comes to our actions? I love this quote from C.S. Lewis -“Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.”

Finally, are we self-centered? Is it all about “me?” When we are little, it certainly is. As we grow and develop, we begin to see ourselves in a big world, and what is comfortable is when the focus is on us, and we are getting what we want. Think of a little toddler that you know. This kind of behavior works for a child, but as an adult, not so much. Martin Luther described fallen humanity as “man curved in on himself.” Malcom Muggeridge spoke of the “tiny dark dungeon of the ego.”

We are called to look to the interests of others and how we can use our gifts to help. That’s what Jesus modeled for us. He never avoided an opportunity to serve, heal, teach.

Today’s reading concludes with Paul painting a picture of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. This reminder should help us to fall in love with Jesus all over again. It truly puts in perspective the immensity of God’s love for us. Please join with me and other saints, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Let’s pray. Lord, help me get my attitude straightened out. Help me to be more in tune with the needs of others and how I might help them. Use me and my business to reach people that need a word from you. Wash away my fears and doubts that I am not good enough to deserve your love and provision. I stand on your promises and know that all my power comes from you. Help me to rely on that today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


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