Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.
James 1:1-4 (NIV)
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
16 If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.
18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him. 19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. – 1 John 5:13-21 (NIV)
- Money (we even call it the “almighty dollar!”)
- Fame and celebrity
- Entertainment (billions spent on movies)
- Toys and gadgets (guilty!)
- Sports (guilty again!)
The list could go on and on and on. An idol is anything that gets in the way of your relationship with God. I once heard that a great way to discover what you worship is to check two things: your calendar and your checkbook. What do you spend your time doing and on what do you spend your money? I’m not saying that work and family and food are bad. It is when they take God’s place that they become idols. We say that we’re too busy to pray or go to worship every week and that we can’t afford to tithe. Our lives are filled with an incredible amount of clutter! Our time is cluttered and so are our homes. Take some time today to inventory your life. Is it time to make some new priorities? Is it time to de-clutter a little bit? Can you clear out 15 minutes from your schedule to read your Bible and pray today? Can you free up some of your resources to give a tithe or offering that expresses your thanksgiving and gratitude to God this weekend? May we do away with the idolatry in our lives and give our true worship to Jesus.
With what shall I come before the LORD
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. — Micah 6:6-8 (NIV)
Every Sunday we show up with our checks and offering envelopes. We come to sing our songs and perform our rituals. What about our hearts?
These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is made up only of rules taught by men. — Isaiah 29:13 (NIV)
Jesus quoted the passage from Isaiah when He talked about the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law in Matthew 15:8-9. The heart is the key to worship. How do we truly honor God with our hearts? What does God require of His people?
- Act justly
- Love mercy
- Walk humbly with your God
I believe that what God requires most of His people is love. That we love others and treat them fairly. To love mercy and being merciful. To have the kind of love for people that is focused on healing and forgiveness. To love God and walk before Him in humility. We can bring our tithes and offerings and sing amazing songs of praise, but if our hearts aren’t filled with love for God and love for others what good are our offerings? Rather than trying to atone for our lack of love with offerings, let us allow God’s Spirit to transform us into the loving people He desires.
But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. — Matthew 7:26-27 (NIV)
Jesus’ longest recorded sermon is the Sermon on the Mount. It is full of practical ways to live for the Kingdom of God. Jesus clearly defines what a Kingdom person looks like. The one thing that a Kingdom person will do is to put His words into practice. Why? Because they provide a solid foundation for our lives. He compares the wise and foolish people with two men building homes. One builds his home on a foundation of rock and the other on a foundation of sand. When the storms come, one house stands and the other falls flat.
How true is this in our lives? When the storms of life come, we discover the foundation on which we’ve built our lives. If we are putting Jesus’ words into practice (especially, I believe, Matthew 6:25-34), then we can withstand the storm. If we are not putting Jesus’ words into practice, our lives fall apart quickly. As we face storms in our lives over the next few weeks, may we read Jesus’ words and put them into practice. It’s not good enough just to hear them. We need to live them!
Have a great weekend!