James 4 August 12

 

Submit Yourselves to God

4 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

You adulterous people,[a]don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us[b]? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”[c]

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister[d]or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

Boasting About Tomorrow

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Footnotes:

  1. James 4:4An allusion to covenant unfaithfulness; see Hosea 3:1.
  2. James 4:5Or that the spirit he caused to dwell in us envies intensely;or that the Spirit he caused to dwell in us longs jealously
  3. James 4:6Prov. 3:34
  4. James 4:11The Greek word for brother or sister(adelphos) refers here to a believer, whether man or woman, as part of God’s family.

 

 

James 5 New International Version (NIV)

Warning to Rich Oppressors

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you.Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.[a]You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.

Patience in Suffering

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

12 Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.

The Prayer of Faith

13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back,20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

Footnotes:

  1. James 5:5Or yourselves as in a day of feasting

The “before and after” conditions of our lives in relation to Jesus

 

Monday – August 20

Romans 1:16-17

16I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

 

Why would anyone be ashamed of the gospel?  Truth be told, we have all been ashamed of the gospel at some point in our lives, mainly because we get caught up in the ways of the world. And it should come as no shock to anyone … the world is opposed to God’s gospel.  Robert Haldane, a nineteenth century Biblical scholar, noted that the gospel was despised in Paul’s day: (a) the Jews saw the gospel as a plot to subvert the law; (b) Jews and Gentiles viewed the Christians as disrupters of the peace; and (c) the concept of a crucified Savior was perplexing to the Jews and total foolishness to the Gentiles.  I wonder if Paul was ever tempted to shame?  We know that Timothy had a moment or two of doubt – 2 Timothy 1:8, where Paul reminds him: “So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner.  But join with me in suffering for the gospel ….”  Let’s see why we should not be ashamed of the gospel on Tuesday!

 

 

Tuesday – August 21

Romans 1:16-17

16I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

 

As Yogi Berra ‘eloquently’ surmised, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”  We take another look at Romans 1:16-17, and ask ourselves … “Why should I not be ashamed of the gospel?”  D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, twentieth century minister and big Timothy fan, provided a number of reasons why we should not be ashamed of the gospel:  (a) the word gospel  means “good news,” and no rational person would be ashamed of a desirable proclamation [especially in an era of “fake” news]; (b) the gospel is about “salvation” – it is about saving ourselves; (c) the gospel is God’s way of salvation and not man’s way – God is reaching out to save perishing men and women; and (d) this gospel is for everyone – everyone who believes; (e) the gospel concerns a righteousness from God – we are not the least bit righteous – the righteousness we are offered is of God’s own nature.  Paul was not ashamed of the gospel … some more déjà vu … read Romans 1:16-17again!  On Wednesday we will drill down on this issue of faith – getting right with God through faith!

 

Wednesday – August 22

Romans 3:21-31 (New Century Version)

21But God has a way to make people right with him without the law, and he has now shown us that way which the law and the prophets told us about.  22God makes people right with himself through their faith in Jesus Christ.  This is true for all who believe in Christ, because all people are the same:  23All have sinned and are not good enough for God’s glory, 24and all need to be made right with God by his grace, which is a free gift.  They need to be made free from sin through Jesus Christ.  25God gave him as a way to forgive sin through faith in the blood of Jesus’ death.  This showed that God always does what is right and fair, as in the past when he was patient and did not punish people for their sins.  26And God gave Jesus to show today that he does what is right.  God did this so he could judge rightly and so he could make right any person who has faith in Jesus.

 

27So do we have a reason to brag about ourselves?  No!  And why not?  It is the way of faith that stops all bragging, not the way of trying to obey the law.  28A person is made right with God through faith, not through obeying the law.  29Is God only the God of the Jews?  Is he not also the God of those who are not Jews?  30Of course he is, because there is only one God.  He will make Jews right with him by their faith, and he will also make those who are not Jews right with him through their faith.  31So do we destroy the law by following the way of faith? No!  Faith causes us to be what the law truly wants.

 

Paul Thorn, a musician, likes to talk with the audience during his concerts.  On one occasion, he asked the audience how many of them were with a group of friends; then he pointed out that within any group of friends there is at least one person that the rest secretly can’t stand!  They really don’t know why they invite this person to these events, because they simply suck the joy out of the room!  There is a certain amount of truth in that tongue-in-check comment … hundreds of people pass through our social lives, and our feelings about them will fluctuate based on circumstances, personalities, and many other variables.  Not so with the love of God.  We have no thermostatic impact on his love for us.  The love of God comes from within him, not from what he finds in us.  1John 4:10 – “This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us.”  Consider how your life would be different without Jesus. Max Lucado put it this way: “What is priceless can’t be bought or earned.  Eternal life is just such a treasure.  We receive it free or not at all.  We could never afford it.  We could never deserve it.  It is God’s gift to us, or we don’t have it.  But it would be a huge mistake to conclude in this case that what is free is cheap.  It cost God a great deal, including his Son’s life … there is no room for bragging in our response – only gratitude.”  Again, consider how your life would be different without Jesus.

 

 

Thursday – August 23

Romans 4:13-15 (NCV)

13Abraham and his descendants received the promise that they would get the whole world.  He did not receive that promise through the law, but through being right with God by his faith.  14If people could receive what God promised by following the law, then faith is worthless.  And God’s promise to Abraham is worthless, 15because the law can only bring God’s anger.  But if there is no law, there is nothing to disobey.

 

Paul uses Abraham, the Jewish lineage, to make his case for God’s ancient plan of salvation.  Notice how Paul explains the promise of the whole world to Abraham and his descendants … “through being right with God by his faith.”  Paul is making the point that God’s plan has always been based on faith, not lineage.  Task: Start thinking of someone who has been an example of great faith to you. What examples of that person’s faith can you describe?

 

 

Friday – August 24

Romans 4:16-17 (NCV)

16So people receive God’s promise by having faith.  This happens so the promise can be a free gift. Then all of Abraham’s children can have that promise.  It is not only for those who live under the law of Moses but for anyone who lives with faith like that of Abraham, who is the father of us all.  17As it is written in the Scriptures: “I am making you a father of many nations.”  This is true before God, the God Abraham believed, the God who gives life to the dead and who creates something out of nothing.

 

 

 

 

Time for a quiz:  Using the four random terms listed below … and the passages and comments from Thursday and today … create two logical pairs that support the position taken by Paul.

                           LAW      FAITH      WORKS      GRACE

                           

                                 _______ : _______  and _______ : _______

 

 

Saturday – August 25

Romans 4:18-25 (NCV)

18There was no hope that Abraham would have children.  But Abraham believed God and continued hoping, and so he became the father of many nations.  As God told him, “Your descendants also will be too many to count.”  19Abraham was almost a hundred years old, much past the age for having children, and Sarah could not have children.  Abraham thought about all this, but his faith in God did not become weak.  20He never doubted that God would keep his promise, and he never stopped believing.  He grew stronger in his faith and gave praise to God.  21Abraham felt sure that God was able to do what he had promised.  22So, “God accepted Abraham’s faith and that faith made him right with God.”  23Those words (“God accepted Abraham’s faith”) were written not only for Abraham 24but also for us.  God will accept us also because we believe in the One who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.  25Jesus was given to die for our sins, and he was raised from the dead to make us right with God.

 

One could make a decent argument that Abraham’s life was probably filled with love for God, good works, and obedience to religious rules.  But it is absolutely certain that none of those things made Abraham acceptable to God.  What did?  What does it mean to have a strong faith?  Does strength of faith rely on its source or on its object?

How can our life of faith influence others?  What was it about Abraham’s example that could inspire you to a deeper faith?  What things can keep our faith from growing?  Again, a quote from Max Lucado:  “The faith people witness in our lives may not automatically communicate the object of our faith.  They will see the effects of our faith.  If they ask, we must be ready to tell them our faith rests in Jesus Christ.  We live by faith because we live in him.”