Chapter Four

James Chapter Four

17 verses

 

V1    Where do wars and fightings among you come from? Don’t they come from your pleasures that war in your members? 

No matter who we are or who we think we are, there are conflicts within us that cause us pain. We have many aspects of our character that can generate conflict and uncertainty about what we truly think and believe. Christians can experience doubt and fear around the way they became a Christian and become negative in the way they think about their Christian life. There are other times in life, when there is a steadiness and quietness to serve God and walk with

Him. At other uncertain times, the situations in our life makes us ask questions about the big issues of life, and we can feel confused about the future and what we should do about it. The Word of God seems less clear and our emotions can get in the way of faith.

This causes a variety of levels of storms in our thoughts, and our immediate reaction can be to dismiss these thoughts and ideas as things we don’t want. However, God can use the uncertainty to bolster our faith and cause us to turn to His word to seek a clear path ahead of us. With courage we look at our situation and the situation in which we live, and can come to a good resolution as to the will of God for our lives. This turns an uncertain time into a time of blessing and new horizons to look to.

The wars within are calmed and we renew our strength in the Lord and the strengthened faith gives confidence as we follow God’s lead. Some times it can be other people who will encourage us and give us fresh courage to make a difference to family, friends and people we don’t know.

There are other fightings that are not helpful to us and spring up from wrong desires to have things and do things that we shouldn’t have or do. This is sinful and when wrong desires work together, it is not for the good of the person or others around us. These wars are self-generated and are kept going by our selfish and flesh-orientated wants. The sins we harbour, we keep them and avoid repentance, since we don’t want to give them up.

“Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outcry, and slander, be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God also in Christ forgave you.”

Ephesians 4: 30-32

There is no peace from these wars. They keep bringing us down and keeping us down, and a person who keeps going in this way, will cause themselves a lot of trouble and heartache. The remedy is confession of the sins and desires, and repenting of them to God. Saying sorry and then immediately turning away from the wrong thought or deed or word. This will bring immediate peace. 

“Put on therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, if any man has a complaint against any; even as Christ forgave you, so you also do. Above all these things, walk in love, which is the bond of perfection.”

Colossians 3: 12-14

Our state of being is in this list of characteristics. They are impossible without the work of God in our lives. Forgiveness towards others is a key to inner peace. This is not our normal mindset either, and is something we must accept and battle with until we acquiesce to the peace of God. Repentance of our sin-orientated desires is also the way to peace.

For the Christian, peace in the soul should be the normal and steady situation. When troubles arise, we must understand them and deal with them in the proper way. God is over all, and will bring the believer to peace once more. The inner wars we all face, are conquered by the power of the Spirit within

So let us turn our fighting into battles of victory. We are not supposed to be overcome by failure and weakness. Facing up is hard to do, but if we are honest with ourselves and with our Father in heaven, we will overcome for sure.

 
 

V2      You lust, and don’t have. You kill, covet, and can’t obtain. You fight and make war. You don’t have, because you don’t ask. 

What lengths we go to, to get what we want. Our human sinful desires are powerful and will keep us in chains and away from God forever. We see things we like and we really want them, sometimes even when they will damage us. We covet the things that are offered in this world, and grieve for them for long periods of time, and end up bitter and disappointed when we don’t get them. Some people are overcome with apathy, and when the disappointment they feel becomes too heavy, they substitute earthly goals. We can blot out our spiritual desires  and pretend that our lives are ok. We can find ourselves stopping the search for closeness with God and substitute a kind of religion that fills a gap in our hearts for a while. That is such a tragic place to be, and only as we seek God can we be delivered from that prison.

Other people will go to any lengths to get what they want. Killing others. Perhaps not physical killing, but undermining and discouraging other people to keep them down. If we can maintain the feeling of being better than others, then our confidence is kept up and we feel better about ourselves. Often we measure ourselves by what others think, rather than what the Scripture says.

The inner desire to possess and the wanting of things, can become almost unbearable. We can listen to philosophies that kill our conscience and legitimate dreams, and we take on board the idea that if we work hard and do all the right things, we will be ultimately successful and get everything we want. This is an insidious lie and is the root of apathy and spiritual death.

The arena of work can be very destructive. People, try to get to the top and get acclaim and recognition, even in so-called Christian work. This striving can poison the mind comprehensively. Some really want to be recognised in the group, but don’t get the position they wanted and when they do, it’s burden to them. Particular religious groups pick arguments with other groups in order to “big” ourselves up and get our followers motivated for combat. People who want to be seen and be popular, with a novel message or presentation device, but no humility or willingness to serve those at the bottom of the social network. The motivation turns out to be fake, because there is no substance or sincerity about it. Our natural competitiveness is seen and the desire to be the “best” overtakes other considerations. Some will encourage this attitude in the followers of their “church” and it all adds to huge amounts of judgmentalism. This does no one any good and hardens the heart against true outreach.

No matter how hard we try to reach the top, we cannot. We are always left craving for something more. For the Christian, God will keep you from all harm and will raise you for His glory in His kingdom at the proper time. What ever He has given you to do, do it with all your might and He will sustain you and make your work shine out in His time. Jesus said the the first will be last, and the last, first. To be last is not the thing we want to be…

We must keep a godly view on these issues. Should we listen to worldly ideas about success, or we will quickly succumb to its deadening agenda.

All the Christian has to do to fulfil God’s will in their life, is to ask God. He will show us the way and we will feel glad in walking that way.  The only reason we don’t have success and joy, is that we are finding our own way around our desires, and not bringing them to God. God is very straightforward with us. 

“Ask and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened..”

Matthew 7: 7

The asking proves our faith and our complete dependence on God’s holy will.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and don’t lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:67

“Commit your way to the Lord. Trust also in him, and he will do this: he will make your righteousness go forth as the light, and your justice as the noon day sun.” 

Psalm 37:5-6

“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Psalm 37:4

So many Scriptures on this aspect of life. Love for God is the key and if we focus on Him, we receive our hearts desire. We trust Him as we  sacrifice family, marriages, employment… all is of God and as we trust Him to guide us in all things. He will bring it all to pass.

When we start delighting in God, we find untold avenues of service and a freedom from our own foolish ideas and sinful wants.

 

V3   You ask, and don’t receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it for your pleasures. 

Some read the promises of God like this….

God says I can ask for anything I like and He will do it. Like a super – divine snack machine. We put in a coin of faith and out will come exactly what we want. Patently this is not the case, but the promise remains. If a person asks God for something, God will give it. So there seems to be a proviso on this request.

Psalm 37 says “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” 

Here we find the key to this seeming difficulty. The Christian is someone who loves the Lord their God with all their heart. The Christian knows and rehearses the forgiveness of the Lord in their everyday experience, and the close relationship is a delight and joy to both God and the person. This is a unique and incredible situation. God and redeemed woman or man in the closest of friendships, closer than any purely human relationship could ever be like. 

The Christian who is walking with God in this way, is in tune with the will of God and his purposes daily. This is the state we live in as we follow our Saviour, Jesus, and the means by which we can ask for anything we want. When this faithful believer asks God for a skill, an event, or a prayer, they will receive what they ask for.

Others who try to use God as a bank account, or a free-loading bank manager, will get nothing. Asking for things that we need for ourselves so that we can do better in this world, will not be answered. We bluff ourselves that we need certain things and our family needs certain things, when really its just for our own purposes. We want the physical and even emotional skills to help us have a better life. We want all the things other people have and we want to make sure we are not left out. So we ask God for our perceived needs and do not really love God enough to ask Him what He wants for us.

Our motives are dubious, unless we are walking close to God. When we walk with God, nothing is more important than the relationship between God and ourselves. We behave and speak and ponder life in terms of God’s Word, and not our own feelings. This is the only way we can be sure our motives are good and we can learn God’s will as we learn His Word. Any different motives or plans we might make, are contrary to the will of God. When our motives are right we pray, “Thy will be done.”

Asking God for help or other requests, that are not appropriate for us will not be answered in the way we asked. God deals in holiness and justice and the development of spiritual life in the lives of His people. He will never feed pleasure that is not grounded in His love and purposes. The heart-felt Christian can rest secure that when they pray, God will answer according to His will and will give them every possible blessing to comfort and strengthen their life in Him. 

It is important that we ask rightly. To keep asking for wrong things in a wrong motivation, is sinful and will undermine our faith. If we ask wrongly we move backwards in our spiritual progress, and we can become cynical about the truth of Scripture. The promises become only a ticket to a better life as we see it.

If we want to change our attitude, we must draw near to God in reverence and contrition that we will learn how to ask rightly. The law is the law of love, and we practice it in obedience to Jesus our Saviour and Lord.

“Love doesn’t harm a neighbour. Love therefore is the fulfilment of the law.

Clothe Yourselves with Christ, do this, knowing the time, that it is already time for you to awaken out of sleep, for salvation is now nearer to us than when we first believed. The night is far gone, and the day is near. Let’s therefore throw off the works of darkness, and let’s put on the armour of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day; not in reviling and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and lustful acts, and not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, for its lusts.”   Romans 13: 10-14

Every single Christian has to face this issue repeatedly. We ask..

Am I truly loving God?

Are my prayers acceptable?

Are my desires to walk closer with God?

Are the things I ask for, selfish, or are they self- less and sacrificial?

The big question remains… Are the desires of my heart to be like Jesus, whatever the cost?

 

 

V4     adulterers and adulteresses, don’t you know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 

Without a true understanding and a daily personal walk with God, we are actually unfaithful servants. The words used are adulterers – we have broken our vows to our God and gone after another partner. We are not fussy – anyone else will do. We are attracted to the things that we are not to touch. The attractions of the world overcome us and we want them more than our relationship with our dearly-beloved Master.

If we think highly of this world and it’s people in such a way that Jesus becomes less attractive, we are in trouble. To be friendly to this world is to make yourself as enemy to God. A person who desires the things of this life and the prideful gifts it seems to offer, has no part of Christ.

It’s very easy to become a stranger to God. We fall and fail very quickly without the filling of the Holy Spirit daily in our lives. Holiness is not an optional extra. If you have no holiness you do not belong to God. It is painful to face up to this lack in our character. We can forgive ourselves too easily and sweet-talk ourselves into the “holy” state of mind. God is no man’s fool. If you decide against Him, you will forever fail. If you face up and put our whole self in His care, you will thrive and you will know it.

“Be it known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man is proclaimed to you remission of sins, and by him everyone who believes is justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware therefore, lest that come on you which is spoken in the prophets:

“Behold, you scoffers, and wonder, and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which you will in no way believe, if one declares it to you.'”

Acts 13: 38-41

This is a fearful Scripture and a strong warning to us against falling away. What we decide is going to mark us out for heaven or hell. Everyone who ends up in that place has deliberately chosen it. If you are a Christian, you will turn from your sin and seek the Lord your God with all your heart. God demands and requires no half measures. His way is perfect and we must find it. It is easy to become a scoffer and to miss the work of God in these last days.

It is easy to regard God’s Word and ways as “uncool” for this day and age. Only the simpletons live this way, but if we hang around with world – orientated people, we will become like them. Inwardly we regard those who seek a holy life, as a bit simplistic in thought, and we forget that God’s ways are foolish to those who are perishing. Let us not settle down with the scoffers.

In this verse, James calls the worldly-wise, adulterers. The worst kind of unfaithfulness, is the wandering Christian who is forgetting God. Spiritual adultery is the outworking of self and sin in the life of the average Christian. Anyone can do it.

We must cling to the Lord and walk worthy of our calling. What comes out of us is of prime importance, because is reveals the heart set.

This is why preaching and speaking the Word is VERY important. It must not escape your notice that what you say and how you say it, must match the Eternal Word. We cannot prepare carelessly or with one eye on the world, for God holds every person accountable for their speaking of the Word. Self-promotion is a vast ocean of evil, and it is better to be silent than to offend the Lord.

Let your mind roam free and say whatever foolishness come into your head, and God will let you know your foolishness. Listen to the godly women and men who warn and point you to wisdom’s way and have the humility to listen and obey. Friendship with ungodly practices and mind-sets, originate and result in running battles with the Lord. Arguing in the style of ungodliness is profane foolishness.

“So let all your enemies perish, Lord, but let those who love him be as the sun when it rises forth in its strength.”

Judges 5: 31

All those who are saved by the Lord, and who follow Him, will have this glorious future. The two destinies could not be further apart. So, we seek the glorious future with Christ, leaving aside all folly and sin and growing in grace and in the stature of women and men of God.

 

 

V5      Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who lives in us yearns jealously”? 

The back up proof for this way of thinking is from the Scripture itself. The Scripture does not contradict its own principles or teachings. There are times that we might think that it does. There are verses and passages that can seem like they are cancelling each other out, or contradicting each other. We must keep hold of our trust in the Word of God and know that the failure to understand is our own and not the Word.

The Scriptures are kept for us by the power of God and no one can win a conflict with the truth of these infallible words. But our understanding of these words and the truth of God, is necessarily going to be a challenge for our human cognitive skills. This Word is spiritually discerned and without the Spirit of God living in us, we will not and cannot understand.

“But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if it is so that the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if any man doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his. If Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

Romans 8: 9-11

An immoral and spiritually dead person will not be able to overcome their misconceptions or the “mistakes” they think they see in the Scripture. The godless will easily lay off thinking of the truths revealed in the Scripture aside and mould the truth to suit their own lifestyle choices. This is the territory of unbelief and antagonism towards the holy God.

The Christian has the Holy Spirit living in them and this same Spirit earnestly seeks for progress in godliness and a growing love for Jesus the Saviour. The Spirit yearns with holy love for the Christian believer and will do everything possible to bring the Christian life to maturity. He yearns “jealously” The Spirit will not allow the Christian to go on in their selfish and world-orientated way. The Spirit will bring the Christian to book and put them in a position to repent and put their lives in order.

To be grieved over with jealous care, is the warm and loved place to be. Without this sign in our lives, we remain spiritually dead and our interest in reading, writing and meditation on the Word of God will fade away. Without warning, we get colder to God, no feeling of His presence in our lives, until we eventual pass into eternity, unforgiven and dead to God.

The Scripture calls out to us repeatedly. Turn. Listen to the Word, the Spirit and the Speaker of the Word. Do not cause the Spirit to be grieved, for this sin has no remedy.

How wonderful to belong to the family of God and to this level of love and concern.  

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you. He will never allow the righteous to be moved.”

Psalm 55: 22

If you are a Christian, and your feelings are making you doubt God and your faith, remember it is the Holy Spirit within who keeps you. Do not give up seeking Him. The Spirit is teaching you to persist, and depend on your faith and not your feelings.

 

V6            But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

The Lord, the everlasting and holy God, will not leave His people to struggle alone. he knows our frame, that we are dust. Those people who trust in Him, will never be put to shame, and their pathway in life will be determined by Him, so that they have peace in His loving care.

Whatever trials we go through, His grace is always sufficient. There is no temptation too great for us to resist and overcome. There is no supernatural power that can cause us grief or take us away from our Father in heaven. There is nothing we need, that He will not provide for us. No danger we will face that He is not right there, protect us and sheltering us under His mighty wings.

The key Scripture is “God resists the proud…” God will never promote or endorse anything that is contrary to His will. Anything that is detrimental to the spread of the gospel of salvation, will not prosper. People who set themselves up as a big name to promote themselves, will not achieve their unspiritual desires. Authorities who do not make laws that promote the welfare of people, will surely fail. Anything that sets itself up against God or his eternal purposes, cannot last for long.

However, there are people and concerns that seem to thrive, but for a short time. God sometimes allows people to run on in the way they want to go, to show a higher purpose and to show that no matter how great may be a human setup, He will decide what happens and He will show His glory even in ungodly times and organisations. In all situations, no matter how good or bad they are judged, the Lord is over all.”

“Surely the wrath of man praises you. The survivors of your wrath are restrained.

Make vows to the Lord your God, and fulfil them! Let all of his neighbours bring presents to him who is to be feared.”

Psalm 76: 10-11

People who repent of their pride and sin, will be given all the grace they need to grow and develop their God-given abilities for the good of God’s people and the rescue of many others from the clutches of conceit and self. God is willing to accept anyone who repents in humility and faith, and he can change any heart for sin, and awaken the soul to eternal life.

In our day to day lives, God teaches us and keeps us. When we lack faith, get annoyed about trivial things, He will bless us, only as we acquiesce in our humble circumstances. God does not encourage a spirit of annoyance or anger in those He loves.

“Likewise, you younger ones, be subject to the elder. Yes, all of you clothe yourselves with humility, to subject yourselves to one another; for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

1 Peter 5: 5

There is everlasting glory for those who recognise their wrongness and commit their ways to God. He is able to lift the sinful person out of the misery of self and society and raise them to high service in His glorious kingdom.

The more contrite our hearts are, the more grace we receive. As we go down in our estimation of ourselves, so we are lifted in the eternal epoch to the place of justice and fellowship with our fellow brother – the Lord Jesus the Saviour of the world. The destiny of the Christian is dependant wholly on Christ and the sacrifice He made to rid us of our sin. We behave in a heartfelt contrite way and recognise our true state of mind, in gratitude and worship to our Lord.

 


V7
    Be subject therefore to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 

The only safe place to rest and refuge to seek, is in the person of God. We come to God through the Lord Jesus Christ, since He is our mediator and Saviour. Only He has satisfied the perfect law of God and paid the price of His shed blood so that we as sinful people could be forgiven. Our only hope of forgiveness is in Christ. Without His sacrifice for sin, there is no payment that is enough to give a sinner entrance into heaven.

“For all the fullness was pleased to dwell in him; and through him to reconcile all things to himself, by him, whether things on the earth, or things in the heavens, having made peace through the blood of his cross.”

Colossians 1: 19-20

Because God is pure and heaven is a perfect environment, we cannot enter it by ourselves. We must bow our knees to God and put ourselves under His mercy. To be subject means to be compliant, contrite, submissive, humble. We have no grounds to claim Gods mercy, and we must throw ourselves on him, and implore His forgiveness. The rights to our own life are given up to Him. In reality, we have no rights anyway and the idea that we have free choice is a falsehood.

Without the love of Jesus we have no hope. We are dead in sin and under judgment, although we might not feel it in our earthly lives. It is only as we bend our will and knees that we find this perfect freedom. We meet a Holy God who is prepared to take us in. In fact, He waits for us to realise our need and come to Him.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don’t walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death. For what the law couldn’t do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh; that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

Romans 8: 1-4

To be subject to Him is not like an earthly king, who will take from us and use what we have to further his own ends. God sets us free from the slavery of sin, and gives us the ability to choose rightly. To be subject to God is perfect freedom, and to serve Him is a magnificent liberty. We are connected to the glorious one who made us and so our souls are fully alive and tuned to his heart. We find a fulfilment not known in any other place, and the more we know our God, or Saviour Jesus, and the indwelling and filling of the Holy Spirit, the more we rejoice inwardly. The more we rejoice inwardly, the greater expression we have. 

This is expressed in worship, serving others and telling others how they can find this same Saviour for themselves. This is the Christian life and all we do and say, our thoughts and prayers are all directed at Christ the Lord.

The enemy, Satan, will persist in annoying the Christian and try to discourage them and keep them from speaking for Jesus and spreading the news. He can only annoy, and can never loosen the hold of Christ on His people. Resisting Satan involves telling him to “Go away” it is not difficult or complicated. No need to discuss, explain, argue, insult… just say “ Go away.”

“God didn’t give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.”

2 Timothy 1: 7

He will have to obey, because the Holy Spirit is in the Christian and Satan cowers before God, always. He is at heart, a coward, and will not have the strength to argue with you. Indeed, he will run away, as he is afraid of your power and authority over him. In fact, you will be able to turn his demons away from your life. Demons have to do what you say, so there is no reason to be afraid of them. The closer you walk with God, the more authority you possess. The more understanding the more liberty.

Too many so called Christian leaders use demons and the idea of what they are like to frighten people. This is the work of the devil himself. No one who is safe in Jesus Christ, needs to worry about them, for they are a defeated foe.

The Christians neither fears they demons, nor goes seeking them out. They are forgotten, as they inhabit hell, with all who do not believe.

“He called to himself the twelve, and began to send them out two by two; and he gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a staff only: no bread, no wallet, no money in their purse, but to wear sandals, and not put on two tunics. He said to them, “Wherever you enter into a house, stay there until you depart from there. Whoever will not receive you nor hear you, as you depart from there, shake off the dust that is under your feet for a testimony against them. Assuredly, I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!” They went out and preached that people should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed many with oil who were sick, and healed them.”

Mark 6: 7-13

 

 

V8    Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 

 This is such an encouragement to those who truly love God and have made their peace with Him. Of ourselves we have no desire for God and our souls are dead to His love and Words to us. We seek only the things in this world, or philosophies that fit with our selfish and conceited minds. God is very clear about what He expects from us and leaves us in no doubt about our situation in life and eternity. 

After teaching us about His ways, God is now letting us know how we can overcome all the evils that infest our hearts and the deadness of soul, that keeps us away from Him. At some point in our thinking, we must realise our fallen state before God. We must feel the pain of the rottenness of our sin and as we ponder on it, we become afraid of the consequences of it. Sometimes this is a long time, or for some people, the realisation happens quickly. We also realise that the only answer is repentance – the drawing near to God to seek forgiveness and a new start in a new life with God.

When we draw near to God, He is so willing and able to receive us and to cleanse away our sins when we sincerely repent. This is the way to a life of joy and peace. God waits for us to come to our senses and understand that the only forgiveness is drawing near to Him.

We cleanse our hands, or our deeds. These sinful deeds we hold are what keep us out of heaven. We cannot pay for them, and we have no ability or inclination. God has worked salvation for us already. Jesus Christ the Son of God, as come into our world as a small baby, and has grown to a man, in order that he could die for us. This is the most amazing sacrifice ever. He died for people who don’t love Him. Jesus is willing to accept anyone who comes to Him is contrition and sincerity. He can purge away the stains of sin in us and deal with the root of pride that ruins every life.

We must turn for sin and cleanse our lives from the sin that we commit so easily. Repentance is a characteristic of every human, redeemed life. If we do not examine ourselves we easily revert to sinful mind sets and think we are not so bad after all.

Jesus the Saviour also purifies our hearts. His precious blood is the price to do this. He makes us pure in a real sense. As we walk the Christian pathway, we also make sure our motivations and thoughts are kept pure by the reading, learning and meditating on the Word of God. We must continue to draw near. Prayer is our vital breath and without it we will suffocate our Christian life and there will be only an escape policy to keep us out of hell. The Christian who loves Christ will desire much fruit and will want to have many souls to give to their Saviour in full worship when they see His face in heaven.

The double-minded are the people who sort of want God, to escape punishment, but also want the recognition of this world. The know they need to draw near, they need to forsake sin and change their mindset, but the desire to keep one foot in the area of “self” is too strong for them to resist. Purifying the heart is crucial to escape the clutches of this monster temptation. We are so easily duped. It feels fine, people think we are great or very godly, but we are not yet purified.

Everything has to go on the altar to our God and Saviour Jesus. We cannot life false lives and still have the Holy Spirit living in us. It is impossible. The presence of the Spirit will put away all darkness.

“Don’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers, for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What agreement has Christ with Belial? Or what portion has a believer with an unbeliever?

What agreement has a temple of God with idols? For you are a temple of the living God. Even as God said, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

2 Corinthians 6: 14-18

“Then I saw that wisdom excels folly, as far as light excels darkness. The wise man’s eyes are in his head, and the fool walks in darkness”

Ecclesiastes 2: 13-14

When it come to God, its all or nothing. There is no fence to sit on. If you are not sold out to the Lord Jesus, you are not a Christian. If you don’t hate your sin, them you love it and you are pandering to it. Perhaps you are vacillating and unsure. Maybe you are seeking God and feel like giving up – keep drawing near and seeking the truth, and God will give you what you want.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope and a future. You shall call on me, and you shall go and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart..”

Jeremiah 29:11-13

God knows when we are sincere, but we must realise if we are sincere or not, and so we seek until we find the Lord.

This threefold pointer for God, cannot be ignored. Draw near. Clean your ways. Purify your motivation. This is not a request.

 

 

V9    Lament, mourn, and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to gloom. 

How much do you want God?

How desperate are you for forgiveness?

We cannot find it prancing around on tippy toe. The jovial preacher has lost the plot. We are talking eternity here. We are dicing with the spiritual death of precious souls that never die, and many will experience the final and last death. Our own souls should be precious to us too, and we should experience a holy fear at the power of God and His ability to turn us over to our foolish desires.

The way to an eternal death, is made easy by levity and laughter. It is better to be depressive than to jolly yourself along into a Christ-less doom.

God uses three words.

Lament: this is a heartfelt and deeply sorrowful expression of grief. We are overcome with the prospect of a death without God that it produces an outward expression of deep distress. We are unable to shake the pain and the sense of eternal loss fills that our minds. We search for reprieve, but it doesn’t happen. We call out verbally and cry unto God for help, salvation and forgiveness. There are hymns written that express these sentiments and they are very powerful to bring us to a serious place. I will print one here, because it is very heartfelt and shows us our need of Christ… 

O the bitter shame and sorrow

That a time could ever be

When I let the Saviour’s pity

Plead in vain, and proudly answered:

All of self and none of thee!

 

Yet he found me; I beheld him

Bleeding on th’ accursed tree,

Heard him pray: Forgive them, Father!

And my wistful heart said faintly:

Some of self and some of thee!

 

Day by day his tender mercy,

Healing, helping, full and free,

Sweet and strong and, ah! so patient,

Brought me lower, while I whispered:

Less of self and more of thee!

 

Higher than the highest Heaven,

Deeper than the deepest sea,

Lord, thy love at last has conquered;

Grant me now my hearts desire

None of self and all of Thee.

Theodore Monod 1836

The words of this hymn are the words of a true and penitent heart.

Mourn: this is a deep regret for our lack of faith and holiness. Feelings of sadness overtake the mind and we rehearse and examine our hearts sinful acts and the disposition we have to commit wrong. This is also a good place to be when we are seeking God. If we are not deeply sorry, we will never be saved. We cannot be entertained into heaven or sweet talked into accepting God. The facing up process must happen, or we will not really feel our need and therefore not repent truthfully.

Weep: this is an inward and outward act of complete contrition. It involves the shedding of real tears, and many of them. We need to know that we are in earnest and that we really want God, not just the idea of Him, or what He offers to us. He offers forgiveness, and we must feel our need of this and bodily weep for it, if we are to be changed.

These three acts apply to the Christian seeking God and unbelievers too. We must be in earnest, and we must know we are serious and sincere. There is too much at stake to be flippant and light-hearted about drawing near to God.

Laughter stops. Happiness turns to gloom. People will tell you to “cheer up” but we diligently seek God still. We persist until we find Him and find the shepherd and Lord of our souls. As we lose our sin and guilt, we find love. The gloom is exchanged for glory and we walk in its light every day. Our laughter returns, this time with the joy of the Lord as its reason.

When we do draw near, the mourning stops, the tears are dried and our lament turns to songs of joy. God changes everything and gives such peace and joy that nothing that happens to us can take it away. It is real and deep and lasts forever. Only a fool would pretend or turn away.

If you are sorrowful about your soul, you are in a good place. Read God’s Word and seek understanding and wisdom. God gives it to those who seek truly. Pray and keep asking until the light breaks through and you are sure you are forgiven and have been made a new creature.

“I am the man that has seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. He has led me and caused me to walk in darkness, and not in light. Surely against me he turns his hand again and again all the day. My flesh and my skin has he made old; he has broken my bones. He has built against me, and surrounded me with gall and travail. He has made me to dwell in dark places, as those that have been long dead.”

Lamentations 3: 1-6 

“For the Lord will not cast off forever. For though he cause grief, yet he will have compassion according to the multitude of his loving kindnesses. For he does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.”

Lamentations 3: 31-33

 

 

V10    Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will exalt you.

If the stakes are so high and the fight so impossibly difficult, how are we to combat the enemy within and overcome? Certainly we cannot do it by ourselves, in fact we cannot do it at all. Our human powers are puny compared with what we face. We come back to seeking the Lord and throwing ourselves and all our troubles, requests and direction, on Him.

We know who He is. He is the almighty God, the Sovereign maker and ruler of everything. He holds our life in His hands and our future is known to Him. Our only position before Him, is humility. We humble ourselves and ask of Him in a heartfelt contrite spirit. We cannot dupe His all-seeing mind and we cannot pretend to be desperate for His love, just to find an easy way out.

As we stand before His throne, we see ourselves as we really are. We realise we are destitute before Him and totally dependant on the majesty on high. As we prostrate ourselves in the presence of God we are truly humbled. Nothing will ever be the same again. We are in the position of our true state in God, and we are in the right mindset to commune and ask for mercy.

At the point of utter contrition, God sees us and has mercy on us. He forgives our sins and lifts us up to sit beside Him on His throne. This is not like the tyrants of our earthly regime who grab at power and hold onto it tightly. These tyrannical leaders are everywhere. They oppress and distress and disappoint so many people.

Our mighty God is not such as they. We willingly shares His glory with those who are humble. He lifts them up in a way that they really know and understand is from Him. They are now rulers in the everlasting kingdom and will reign with the Saviour Jesus, when this present age is gone.

The folly of pride is clearly seen. All pride must go. If we are indulging in it, we will suffer total loss. Not everyone who names Christ is truly His. This should make us shudder, but unfortunately for many, it does not. Pride has taken such a hold that we cannot see our sin, and will never turn from it.

For the humble saint, who serves the outcast, and is obedient to the call of Christ to save those in great need, there is much pain and heartache in this world. They will not necessarily be recognised, because they have been humbled and their lives are a sacrifice to the Saviour, Jesus, who was rejected and put to death on a cruel cross. Why would we think we will be loved by the societies around us?

To follow Christ Jesus, is the greatest life and the only rewarding life. Those who humble themselves will be exalted and on that last amazing day, when Jesus returns in the clouds, they will enter into all that God has in store for them…

Yet, even now walking this sinful and hurtful world in the company of Christ the Lord, is life and peace.

 

 

V11     Don’t speak against one another, brothers. He who speaks against a brother and judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge. 

This instruction is referring to the moral law of God. We have them recorded in a way we can easily understand, in the Ten Commandments. These are non-negotiable. We must not skim lightly over the top of these commands, but unpack the deep meaning and application within them. To judge against the law of God is unrighteousness. It does not mean we can suspend judgment and gloss over wrongdoing by anyone, but we must be careful that we are actually measuring against the moral law, and not some cultural norm that we have picked up.

If we criticise a sister or brother for doing something we don’t approve of, we break the law of peace of the group, and position ourselves above the Father in heaven. We should be exercising discretion when we look at what is going on around us.  If we raise ourselves above the moral law, and pronounce judgment on social issues, we can become self-righteous and hypocritical.

Christians should not find themselves in situations of outward conflict with each other. This is almost impossible for us to do. As we look at church situations, they have conflict, as do the other areas in life. We differ in opinion, and we can have serious differences in what we believe about any number of things. Some Christians do not progress as quickly as others and some are just slow to understand and learn spiritual lessons. This is the same in all the areas of our life – home, marriage, school, work, family settings, so it goes on.

In these instances, we can find ourselves judging the choices and preferences of other people, that refer to non- moral issues. In the New Testament we are taught not to judge the lifestyle of anyone, who is not breaking the moral law. God has made all things clean and the ceremonial law is finished, so we have real freedom in the family of God. The freedom we enjoy in Jesus Christ, is our own, and no one has the right to undermine us or criticise us for matters of taste. Judging cultural and personal choice is against God.

“You therefore have no excuse, you who pass judgment on another. For on whatever grounds you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. And we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, O man, pass judgment on others, yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you disregard the riches of His kindness, tolerance, and patience, not realising that God’s kindness leads you to repentance?”

Romans 2: 1-4

The difference is that the Christian should be dealing with their differences in a different kind of way. We are not to speak against each other, because we do not know the full situation of any other person. We do not know the heart of another person, and we quickly jump to conclusions and imagine we do. We should be talking to each other. Sharing ideas in a family situation, should be the norm. If we do not talk then misunderstanding and bad judgment will be the result. Communication is key. If a person understands where the sister or brother is coming from, then we can learn to tolerate each other and have a broader view of the issues we all face.

We are slow to understand this. We forget that we ourselves have come to repentance, by the grace of God.

“Therefore be of sound mind, self-controlled, and sober in prayer. And above all things be earnest in your love among yourselves, for love covers a multitude of sins.”    Peter 4:8-9

Loving other people means taking blame and remaining silent about personal hurts. We don’t allow our selfish feelings and the need to be understood, to break the bond of peace with other people, especially sisters and brothers in the faith.

There are too many who are puffed up with self-important pride and will not listen to anyone except their own social group. Others are insecure and need the constant acceptance of others in the group to know they are worthwhile. We must watch our words and behaviour to make sure they are Christ-like and forgiving in nature.

However, if there has been a wrong that has happened, speaking needs to happen so that things can be put right. As Christians we will be sensitive about how we deal with issues, and we seek the insight of the Holy Spirit to make accurate judgments. We can end up judging superficially, without really knowing the situation of the person we are taking to. We all need insight to think and speak rightly.

There are people who decide that they are never going to think wrong about anyone. They learn how to interpret everything in this positive rosy glow. The opportunity to learn discernment is passed over, just to keep a false peace. In this mindset, the issues are not dealt with at all.

People can fall into error and don’t learn to discern the Scriptures in a practical way. In the Old Testament, God gave Judges to make righteous decisions for His people. They were instructed to judge wisely, and to obey the Word of the Lord in all circumstances. They were mere humans, but had the power of God in them to do His will and speak His words.

How much we need Christians to be like this today. People with no vested interests in organisations and who will speak bravely, with no regard for self or social standing. This type of judgment is seriously lacking in Christians settings today. It requires courage and complete dependence on God.

So we know that God’s law stands firm forever and for everyone. To pass judgment on God and the moral law is presumptuous and we are putting our selves above God and giving ourselves the right to change or interpret the law. We have become judges with sinful hearts.

We must address this crucial truth if we are to move forwards.

There is another judgment type. To judge a fellow Christian, about their preferences and tastes, is judging against the law. Romans 14 instructs us to cease from judgment on the non-moral aspect of life and there are very many of them. Social groups have social mores that they set up to suit their particular out look on the Christian life. These situations become hypocritical and judgment is not from God’s truth, but will ultimately excludes people from being significant in God.

“Now accept one who is weak in faith, but not for disputes over opinions. One man has faith to eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Don’t let him who eats despise him who doesn’t eat. Don’t let him who doesn’t eat judge him who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you who judge another’s servant? To his own lord he stands or falls. Yes, he will be made to stand, for God has power to make him stand.”

Romans 14: 1-4

It is worth reading this whole chapter 14 of Romans

We do not allow our minds to be confused. We judge all wrong and all falsehood, in the light of the Word of God. Cowardice can keep us from speaking or doing, and God is not honoured. The ardent judgments of John the Baptist caused enemies to run away and some to hate him and murder him. It is certainly not wrong to stand up for truth and righteousness. To judge in these situations will cause personal pain and much hardship, but God will keep those who are true to Him. We must be clear about our motivations for speaking, and speak in a way that will be clear and true. This will not necessarily be liked.

Gossiping  and back-biting have always been around and they continue. They are destructive for the outsider and grieve the Holy Spirit of God in our heart. They must be stamped out and not allowed to be the “glue” that holds a group of people together. Our own personal views on non-moral issues should be kept to ourselves, unless we are willing to talk about them in the social environment. There, we will speak carefully and prayerfully and cause no dissension or hurt to sisters and brothers. Unfortunately, there will be issues that will not be accepted by some people, and we must ask the Lord to strengthen us to follow His leading and obey Him.

So, we speak only when sin and error is allowed to grow. We remain silent about non-moral issues and strengthen the bond of peace and fellowship. Our own style of judgment and of personal taste has no place in our hearts. We speak openly and with care for God’s ways that are being disregarded.

We need people who will stand up and speak up for righteousness and pull down the walls of our designer churches and get back to the street, where Jesus did His ministry. Idols abound. We need people of judgment to call out in the streets and spread them Word of Christ to everyone, without social judgment. God will not honour those who make a living from spending the money of God’s people to further their own ends, in the name of God.

 

 

V12     Only one is the lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge another?

Here is the summary and verdict regarding judgment. God is above all. He has complete control and the right to control all situations and all the lives of His creatures. Our breath is in His hand. If we were under the authority of a dictator in this world order, we would be very careful what we say and do in that social framework. We would live in fear of this tyrant and life would be very uncomfortable if you differed from the over riding philosophy of the state.

Yet we play roulette with the power of God. We do not listen to His Word, or follow it carefully. We preferred the good will of other creatures, rather than the Sovereign God who holds all power and all sway.

This God is not like the human dictator. He is loving. His nature is love and all He does is for loves sake. The relationship between the three persons that are our triune God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, is the exercise of love always. The relationship in God is peace and each of the three persons is in complete agreement and live in fellowship and eternal peace. This God who made us is eternal in heaven and He can never be overthrown and His Word will never change or be rendered invalid. He has purposed that there will be an innumerable throng of people who will know Him personally and rule with Him forever in the eternal kingdom of love. He has made it possible that we can be made worthy to be lifted up so high, and therefore reign with our Saviour, Jesus Christ on the throne of heaven.

“He who walks righteously, and speaks blamelessly; He who despises the gain of oppressions, who gestures with his hands, refusing to take a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing of blood, and shuts his eyes from looking at evil— he will dwell on high. His place of defence will be the fortress of rocks. His bread will be supplied. His waters will be sure. Your eyes will see the king in his beauty. They will see a distant land.”

Isaiah 33: 15-17

This God waits for us. He will bear with our failure, our rejection of Him as a person, our inability to admit our fault. He has provided the way to heaven, and He will bring us to personal faith and the repentance of sins. He has bourn with this world for thousands of years, and still He is willing to keep the door of mercy open for sinners to come in.

For humans, we still don’t want His love, and we do not agree with His law. We live our lives in ignorance about our true state, and deliberately block out the message of forgiveness and salvation for our dead souls. We prefer dead, to the life in God. This is ultimate folly. We cannot overthrown the law-giver, and we remain insensible and uncaring to the fact that He can save us or destroy us. Many chose destruction and loose their lives in this world and the next.

Christians can become so overly familiar with the written truth about God, that they don’t really live in His presence, and thereby become legalistic. We can say we love God, but the attitude of our lives and the working of our mind, doesn’t fit with God’s way. We say we are free and use the “freedom” to make worldly choices and build worldly situations and organisations for ourselves. We don’t even recognise that we are doing it. Because God is silent, we imagine all is well. We suspend our godly judgment and sink into world-orientated ways.

This follows from the instruction about judging. We become godless judges and feather our own “spiritual” nest and think we please the Lord. We stay away from any real challenge about what we are doing and bolster ourselves up at conferences and meetings that tickle our fleshly minds.

Anyone who calls us to think again, is side-lined and an excuse is made why we need not listen to these people. Our pride grows. We become unapproachable and we cannot relate to the people around us. Or, we foster a persona that will ensure people “like” us and we can carry on with building our pseudo-Christian edifice.

God says “who are you?”

God calls us to examine ourselves, all of us. There is so much at stake. We may have faith in Christ, but it remains immature and unable to make decisions based on God’s Word and the witness of the Holy Spirit within us. We forget what we are easily duped and don’t remind ourselves that we need the Lord everyday.

We remain sinners and we have no value outside the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. We are redeemed  to God at a terrible cost. We are saved from the clutched of death, by Christ alone. We have what we have because of Him. Outside of Jesus Christ we are rotten to the core, dead in sin and heading for an eternity of eternal punishment. We forget so easily. Let us judge ourselves properly and know who we are…

“Thus says The Lord, Don’t let the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, don’t let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he has understanding, and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises loving kindness, justice, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, says the Lord.”

Jeremiah 9: 23-24

 

V13      Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow let’s go into this city, and spend a year there, trade, and make a profit.

This is the voice of self-confidence. This is the attitude of presumption. These people can plan their days in the knowledge that the days will happen and life will carry on in that particular vein. We succeeded today, so we will be safe tomorrow and the next day. So, our lives stretch ahead of us and we plan out the possibilities of what we could do, as it would seem good to us. We decide to stay in a particular place and we can stay a certain amount of time, so we can make money and build up our resources before moving on to the next place, where we will have a similar strategy. So we make progress in this world.

This is the worldly mind set. It is not wrong to get better things and make progress in life, but all the considerations are for this world and what we can get out of it. We intend to make the best of everything so that we have enough resources to see us through and keep ourselves happy. There is no thought of God, or what He requires of us. Everything is for the here and now. The life in eternity is not in our thinking and we do not value the spiritual life, knowing God, or the necessity of repentance and forgiveness.

God is calling us to come now into His presence and question Him and listen to His answers.

“Come now, and let us reason together,” says The Lord: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of God the Lord has spoken it.”

Isaiah 1: 18-20

This is a great privilege and not everyone is offered this opportunity to commune with the living God. He wants to question us also, and cause us to think again about what we are doing. He knows the outcomes of a life lived for self and He knows the eternal consequences for people who reject Him, His ways, and His provision for our souls.

If we settle for this life, we will perhaps get some thing that we like or value, but it is not a certainly. Other people tell us to work hard and follow your desire, and you will get what you want, but this is patently not the case. Young people are taught this untruth and grow up and are so disappointed with a life that turns out to be hard and unrewarding. This is such a difficult place to be. God calls out to us to think again and look into his Holy Word and find the way to true life and to have a living soul that will rejoice forever.

If we are set on this world, we will not see the value of what God offers and we will loose our souls in the end. This is the voice of mercy that calls us to come to God and find His way to be the only way to eternal life and true peace with Him.

 

 

V14       Whereas you don’t know what your life will be like tomorrow. For what is your life? For you are a vapour, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. 

God is kindly pointing out to us that we have no idea about tomorrow. We cannot tell what it will be like, what will happen, or how we will face the challenges that surely come our way. The future is kept secret from us by the mind and will of God. He knows the pressure and the heartache we would have if we knew what was coming and realise we are unable to have the strength to face it. There are always difficulties in life, and they are put there by God’s mercy, so that we can learn and exercise faith at the point of the trial. To walk in faith is to walk with God and entirely trust Him to see us through and rest wholeheartedly on His power. We can do this in a moment-by-moment basis, and so our walk with God is real and true. The need to know the future, is not based on faith, but fear. We think if we knew what was coming we could prepare for it, but in reality, we cannot.

God knows our ways. He decrees our pathway, and gives us faith and strength to walk that pathway. The child of God will know this and keep to the path and trust completely on the guiding of their Father in heaven.

“You whom I have taken hold of from the ends of the earth, and called from its corners, and said to you, ‘You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you away;’. Don’t you be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. Yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.”

Isaiah 41: 9-10

Life seems so solid. We walk through our days, as if they last forever. God calls our life a passing vapour. Think of the small funnel of steam that comes out of the boiling kettle. It leaves the kettle and shows itself as a moment of gas, and then disappears into the atmosphere. So our life comes into the world, and is seen for a very short time, and then it goes back to God. Few are remembered and some have their works getting attention for a short time, but the end of everyone is the same. We are born, we die and we leave this world stage forever. This is a sobering fact. We don’t like to think this way, as it makes us serious in mind and hurting in heart.

God’s view of us is related here, to help us to think seriously about or time living on earth, and what the point of it is. In terms of this earthy life, it is futile. There seems to be little point in it at all. Whatever we do will ultimately be forgotten and therefore finally pointless. This is the mindset that infiltrates all who live on earth. We end up with apathy and a profound emptiness that can drag us down into depression and death.

Is this the final verdict on human life?

God is showing us these things so that we will try to find another way. A way of meaning and purpose and a final destiny that brings significance and fulfilment. We do not have to vanish away. There is meaning to it all and there is relationship and love and power and hope. As with all things, it all resides in God. Only God can bring His creatures to a knowledge of Himself, and show them the purpose of it all. If we remain outside His salvation, we must be satisfied with apathy, or some kind of transient mindset that will stop us getting depressed and down about our lives.

To find the peace of heart in Christ, will chase away the vapour or the futility of life, and make us rest secure in the God who made us. All we need to do is to confess our sins and repent, and ask for the new life that will last forever in our souls. God gives His Holy Spirit to dwell in us and we receive eternal life forever. The gloom disappears and the light shines in. Our life stops being a passing vapour and we have eternal significance in God’s kingdom. We get so much for so little and we rejoice in God and in Christ Jesus and in the Holy Spirit.

Tomorrow we can leave to God. He is in complete control, so the anxiety we feel about the future is dissipated and we can love and worship God with full and free hearts.

 

V15     For you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will both live, and do this or that.” 

If we are wise, we will come to God, get to know Him through His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit living and active in our souls. The will of God is central to our well being, and to not understand that or to avoid it, will cause us pain and anxiety. To be able to rest in God is the greatest peace, because we know He is in control and He will work all things out for our good. Even the most difficult trials and the most virulent temptations, God will turn to our good. We are completely blessed in the security of His loving kingdom.

So, our approach to our lives on a daily basis will be to rest on that certain truth. Whatever events happens to us, they will be in His purposes. We might think that it is random and much too much for us to handle, but He is in complete control. Nothing is an accident. Nothing is hidden from His eyes, and whatever He will purpose us to go through, He will give us the strength to face it and walk through it. When we come out the other side, we will be stronger and more confident in His Word and the purposes of His will.

Tomorrow is with the Lord. Tomorrow will come to us in His purposes. We waken up in His will and we fall asleep in His will. This is such an amazing comfort to us. When we waken up, we know for certain that the day stretches out in His eternal will. I need have no doubts about energy to live in the day, and no doubt about the ability to conquer sin and live for The Lord our God.

The plans made for the day, will happen or not happen according to His plans. If something doesn’t happen, then it wasn’t meant to. If we cannot do something, then we were not meant to do it. This is the state of rest for the Christian.

Many face difficulties in life that are crushing and lonely. We might think that it is too much for us. It is, but the power of the Mighty God will give us the power we need to walk through all situations. This is why it is important to live godly lives and to keep or relationship with God true and open. Sometimes He permits the deepest of trials to teach us these most precious of skills and mindset. He saves the deepest trials for His most precious saints, because He knows they will over come and trust His strength to conquer all fear and doubt.

To trust in God’s will is the path to victory and faith is the means He uses to draw people closer and closer to Him.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Don’t be wise in your own eyes. Fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It will be health to your body, and nourishment to your bones.”

Proverbs 3: 5-8

“Therefore, watch carefully how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, don’t be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is…”

Ephesians 5: 15-17

 

V16      But now you glory in your boasting. All such boasting is evil.

Unfortunately, we don’t believe God, or understand his precepts. We know ourselves and therefore we know what we need and want. We have a good education, some intelligence, resources at our disposal, therefore God’s ways are redundant. We become fools. We become more and more sinful and oblivious to the right way.

The message of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, becomes a mere token to us. We do not think about Him, what He suffered for our sake and there is no emotion involved in remembering that cruel event. We separate ourselves from the reality of death and eternal damnation. We sanitise faith and it is devoid of power in our daily lives. We become religious and get caught up in religious issues that make the message of God’s mercy irrelevant.

We have no faith and we have no faith to share. People die in their sins because we are remiss. We remain unmoved. In fact, we glory in our foolish decisions and big up our selfish hearts so that we can get acclaim from the people around us.

We speak and people listen, and we dilute the gospel message to a few rudimentary sentences and therefore lead so many astray. People believe in the man and not the Saviour. This is our magnificent folly. We are judged before the end, and our end will be a lost eternity.

People get positions of trust and the magnitude of our deception of self and others grows. We get regard and we think it is God’s blessing. Our every move, word, lifestyle choice, is evil. We have been found wanting and still we do not see it. Is there a regret from God? We look in the Scripture and find all God’s prophets and judges and messengers were regaled and rejected. This is the mark of God on His servants, and not popularity. To speak God’s truth is dangerous and will cost you everything. You will be hated and sidelined and killed. This is the mark of a true servant.

There are many who start off looking and sounding good, but they eventually succumb to the evil force of sin their own hearts. They boast in themselves their church, their furniture and God leaves them to it, they can manage alone, and so they will in this world.

All boasting in self and money and ability is foolish. God says it is evil.

“These are wells without water, clouds driven by a storm; for whom the blackness of darkness has been reserved forever. For, uttering great swelling words of emptiness, they entice in the lusts of the flesh, by licentiousness, those who are indeed escaping from those who live in error; property them liberty, while they themselves are bondservants of corruption; for a man is brought into bondage by whoever overcomes him.”

2 Peter 2: 17-19

We have no grounds to boast. Our only positive characteristic is in Christ alone.

“God chose the lowly things of the world, and the things that are despised, and the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are: that no flesh should boast before God. But of him, you are in Christ Jesus, who was made to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, “He who boasts, let him boast in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 1: 28-31

 

V17     To him therefore who knows to do good, and doesn’t do it, to him it is sin. 

After all this debate and reasoning from God, we must make a response. We must decide which side of the door we will find ourselves on. God has made the position we are in, very clear. We cannot hide or run away, but must trust in His person, and repent. We are now left without the excuse of ignorance, because God has made it clear. God adds His final twist of the reasoning blade of His Word. Now you know what to do, you must do it, because if you don’t obey, you have chosen sin.

The principle is made crystal clear. If a person knows what is the right thing to do, and doesn’t do it, they have chosen sin. If we know the wrong way and yet still go that way, we are plumping for sin. God’s way is holy and He will not tolerate or soft-pedal on wrong doing.

If we know the right way to speak and promote goodness by our words, we must chose to speak those words and in that way. If we know what lying is, and recognise we are not always being truthfully, we must chose not to spread this evil around in our social circles. If we understand the principle of “boasting in the Lord,” we practice that way to live and speak.

If we are not keeping a tight rein on or mind, and monitoring thoughts and keeping our mindset clean and clear from taint, then we must turn and repent of that path. Things that hurt the mind, frighten, irritate, defile and corrupt the thought process, must be stayed away from. This will be difficult, because so many areas of life are ruined by evil and sinful ideas. Other people might think you strange for not indulging in certain practices or watching things that compromise faith, but we stand firm in the will of God. In these days, the social media and especially television (still), are the route for sinful ideas to get into our mind.

One sin that is readily accepted on television, is murder. This sin is shown in all its horror and depravity and the violence that goes along with it. We think it is ok. Why would it be ok? It’s just make believe? But it makes us harder, more judgmental and our emotions are seared and contaminated. Why would we watch someone being killed? Television or films “normalise” the sin and we just accept it through our eyes and into our minds.

News reporting now includes pictures and film taken of dead bodies. This did not need to be the case in the past. We can find ourselves anaesthetised to depravity and great evil.

There are other sins portrayed too in the same kind of way. You can work it out in your own mind what they are and how they are exported into our psyche…..

Sin is very easy to fall into. It creeps up unawares and can cause us so much trouble. If we are careful about our minds, it will help us to live holy lives. We can then be useful to other people and will be a good influence on our families.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I let the Saviour’s pity

Plead in vain, and proudly answered:

All of self and none of thee!

 

Bleeding on th’ accursed tree,

Heard him pray: Forgive them, Father!

And my wistful heart said faintly:

Some of self and some of thee!

 

Day by day his tender mercy,

Healing, helping, full and free,

Sweet and strong and, ah! so patient,

Brought me lower, while I whispered:

Less of self and more of thee!

 

Higher than the highest Heaven,

Deeper than the deepest sea,

Lord, thy love at last has conquered;

Grant me now my hearts desire

None of self and all of Thee.

Theodore Monod 1836

 

The words of this hymn are the words of a true and penitent heart.

 

Mourn: this is a deep regret for our lack of faith and holiness. Feelings of sadness overtake the mind and we rehearse and examine our hearts sinful acts and the disposition we have to commit wrong. This is also a good place to be when we are seeking God. If we are not deeply sorry, we will never be saved. We cannot be entertained into heaven or sweet talked into accepting God. The facing up process must happen, or we will not really feel our need and therefore not repent truthfully.

 

Weep: this is an inward and outward act of complete contrition. It involves the shedding of real tears, and many of them. We need to know that we are in earnest and that we really want God, not just the idea of Him, or what He offers to us. He offers forgiveness, and we must feel our need of this and bodily weep for it, if we are to be changed.

 

These three acts apply to the Christian seeking God and unbelievers too. We must be in earnest, and we must know we are serious and sincere. There is too much at stake to be flippant and light-hearted about drawing near to God.

Laughter stops. Happiness turns to gloom. People will tell you to “cheer up” but we diligently seek God still. We persist until we find Him and find the shepherd and Lord of our souls. As we lose our sin and guilt, we find love. The gloom is exchanged for glory and we walk in its light every day. Our laughter returns, this time with the joy of the Lord as its reason.

 

When we do draw near, the mourning stops, the tears are dried and our lament turns to songs of joy. God changes everything and gives such peace and joy that nothing that happens to us can take it away. It is real and deep and lasts forever. Only a fool would pretend or turn away.

 

If you are sorrowful about your soul, you are in a good place. Read God’s Word and seek understanding and wisdom. God gives it to those who seek truly. Pray and keep asking until the light breaks through and you are sure you are forgiven and have been made a new creature.

 

“I am the man that has seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. He has led me and caused me to walk in darkness, and not in light. Surely against me he turns his hand again and again all the day. My flesh and my skin has he made old; he has broken my bones. He has built against me, and surrounded me with gall and travail. He has made me to dwell in dark places, as those that have been long dead.”

Lamentations 3: 1-6

 

“For the Lord will not cast off forever. For though he cause grief, yet he will have compassion according to the multitude of his loving kindnesses. For he does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.”

Lamentations 3: 31-33

 

 

 

 

 

V10    Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will exalt you.

 

If the stakes are so high and the fight so impossibly difficult, how are we to combat the enemy within and overcome? Certainly we cannot do it by ourselves, in fact we cannot do it at all. Our human powers are puny compared with what we face. We come back to seeking the Lord and throwing ourselves and all our troubles, requests and direction, on Him.

 

We know who He is. He is the almighty God, the Sovereign maker and ruler of everything. He holds our life in His hands and our future is known to Him. Our only position before Him, is humility. We humble ourselves and ask of Him in a heartfelt contrite spirit. We cannot dupe His all-seeing mind and we cannot pretend to be desperate for His love, just to find an easy way out.

 

As we stand before His throne, we see ourselves as we really are. We realise we are destitute before Him and totally dependant on the majesty on high. As we prostrate ourselves in the presence of God we are truly humbled. Nothing will ever be the same again. We are in the position of our true state in God, and we are in the right mindset to commune and ask for mercy.

 

At the point of utter contrition, God sees us and has mercy on us. He forgives our sins and lifts us up to sit beside Him on His throne. This is not like the tyrants of our earthly regime who grab at power and hold onto it tightly. These tyrannical leaders are everywhere. They oppress and distress and disappoint so many people.

 

Our mighty God is not such as they. We willingly shares His glory with those who are humble. He lifts them up in a way that they really know and understand is from Him. They are now rulers in the everlasting kingdom and will reign with the Saviour Jesus, when this present age is gone.

 

The folly of pride is clearly seen. All pride must go. If we are indulging in it, we will suffer total loss. Not everyone who names Christ is truly His. This should make us shudder, but unfortunately for many, it does not. Pride has taken such a hold that we cannot see our sin, and will never turn from it.

 

For the humble saint, who serves the outcast, and is obedient to the call of Christ to save those in great need, there is much pain and heartache in this world. They will not necessarily be recognised, because they have been humbled and their lives are a sacrifice to the Saviour, Jesus, who was rejected and put to death on a cruel cross. Why would we think we will be loved by the societies around us?

 

To follow Christ Jesus, is the greatest life and the only rewarding life. Those who humble themselves will be exalted and on that last amazing day, when Jesus returns in the clouds, they will enter into all that God has in store for them…

 

Yet, even now walking this sinful and hurtful world in the company of Christ the Lord, is life and peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

V11     Don’t speak against one another, brothers. He who speaks against a brother and judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge. 

 

This instruction is referring to the moral law of God. We have them recorded in a way we can easily understand, in the Ten Commandments. These are non-negotiable. We must not skim lightly over the top of these commands, but unpack the deep meaning and application within them. To judge against the law of God is unrighteousness. It does not mean we can suspend judgment and gloss over wrongdoing by anyone, but we must be careful that we are actually measuring against the moral law, and not some cultural norm that we have picked up.

 

If we criticise a sister or brother for doing something we don’t approve of, we break the law of peace of the group, and position ourselves above the Father in heaven. We should be exercising discretion when we look at what is going on around us.  If we raise ourselves above the moral law, and pronounce judgment on social issues, we can become self-righteous and hypocritical.

 

Christians should not find themselves in situations of outward conflict with each other. This is almost impossible for us to do. As we look at church situations, they have conflict, as do the other areas in life. We differ in opinion, and we can have serious differences in what we believe about any number of things. Some Christians do not progress as quickly as others and some are just slow to understand and learn spiritual lessons. This is the same in all the areas of our life – home, marriage, school, work, family settings, so it goes on.

 

In these instances, we can find ourselves judging the choices and preferences of other people, that refer to non- moral issues. In the New Testament we are taught not to judge the lifestyle of anyone, who is not breaking the moral law. God has made all things clean and the ceremonial law is finished, so we have real freedom in the family of God. The freedom we enjoy in Jesus Christ, is our own, and no one has the right to undermine us or criticise us for matters of taste. Judging cultural and personal choice is against God.

 

“You therefore have no excuse, you who pass judgment on another. For on whatever grounds you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. And we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, O man, pass judgment on others, yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you disregard the riches of His kindness, tolerance, and patience, not realising that God’s kindness leads you to repentance?”

Romans 2: 1-4

 

The difference is that the Christian should be dealing with their differences in a different kind of way. We are not to speak against each other, because we do not know the full situation of any other person. We do not know the heart of another person, and we quickly jump to conclusions and imagine we do. We should be talking to each other. Sharing ideas in a family situation, should be the norm. If we do not talk then misunderstanding and bad judgment will be the result. Communication is key. If a person understands where the sister or brother is coming from, then we can learn to tolerate each other and have a broader view of the issues we all face.

We are slow to understand this. We forget that we ourselves have come to repentance, by the grace of God.

 

“Therefore be of sound mind, self-controlled, and sober in prayer. And above all things be earnest in your love among yourselves, for love covers a multitude of sins.”    Peter 4:8-9

 

Loving other people means taking blame and remaining silent about personal hurts. We don’t allow our selfish feelings and the need to be understood, to break the bond of peace with other people, especially sisters and brothers in the faith.

 

There are too many who are puffed up with self-important pride and will not listen to anyone except their own social group. Others are insecure and need the constant acceptance of others in the group to know they are worthwhile. We must watch our words and behaviour to make sure they are Christ-like and forgiving in nature.

 

However, if there has been a wrong that has happened, speaking needs to happen so that things can be put right. As Christians we will be sensitive about how we deal with issues, and we seek the insight of the Holy Spirit to make accurate judgments. We can end up judging superficially, without really knowing the situation of the person we are taking to. We all need insight to think and speak rightly.

 

There are people who decide that they are never going to think wrong about anyone. They learn how to interpret everything in this positive rosy glow. The opportunity to learn discernment is passed over, just to keep a false peace. In this mindset, the issues are not dealt with at all.

 

People can fall into error and don’t learn to discern the Scriptures in a practical way. In the Old Testament, God gave Judges to make righteous decisions for His people. They were instructed to judge wisely, and to obey the Word of the Lord in all circumstances. They were mere humans, but had the power of God in them to do His will and speak His words.

 

How much we need Christians to be like this today. People with no vested interests in organisations and who will speak bravely, with no regard for self or social standing. This type of judgment is seriously lacking in Christians settings today. It requires courage and complete dependence on God.

 

So we know that God’s law stands firm forever and for everyone. To pass judgment on God and the moral law is presumptuous and we are putting our selves above God and giving ourselves the right to change or interpret the law. We have become judges with sinful hearts.

We must address this crucial truth if we are to move forwards.

 

There is another judgment type. To judge a fellow Christian, about their preferences and tastes, is judging against the law. Romans 14 instructs us to cease from judgment on the non-moral aspect of life and there are very many of them. Social groups have social mores that they set up to suit their particular out look on the Christian life. These situations become hypocritical and judgment is not from God’s truth, but will ultimately excludes people from being significant in God.

 

“Now accept one who is weak in faith, but not for disputes over opinions. One man has faith to eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Don’t let him who eats despise him who doesn’t eat. Don’t let him who doesn’t eat judge him who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you who judge another’s servant? To his own lord he stands or falls. Yes, he will be made to stand, for God has power to make him stand.”

Romans 14: 1-4

 

It is worth reading this whole chapter 14 of Romans

 

We do not allow our minds to be confused. We judge all wrong and all falsehood, in the light of the Word of God. Cowardice can keep us from speaking or doing, and God is not honoured. The ardent judgments of John the Baptist caused enemies to run away and some to hate him and murder him. It is certainly not wrong to stand up for truth and righteousness. To judge in these situations will cause personal pain and much hardship, but God will keep those who are true to Him. We must be clear about our motivations for speaking, and speak in a way that will be clear and true. This will not necessarily be liked.

 

Gossiping  and back-biting have always been around and they continue. They are destructive for the outsider and grieve the Holy Spirit of God in our heart. They must be stamped out and not allowed to be the “glue” that holds a group of people together. Our own personal views on non-moral issues should be kept to ourselves, unless we are willing to talk about them in the social environment. There, we will speak carefully and prayerfully and cause no dissension or hurt to sisters and brothers. Unfortunately, there will be issues that will not be accepted by some people, and we must ask the Lord to strengthen us to follow His leading and obey Him.

 

So, we speak only when sin and error is allowed to grow. We remain silent about non-moral issues and strengthen the bond of peace and fellowship. Our own style of judgment and of personal taste has no place in our hearts. We speak openly and with care for God’s ways that are being disregarded.

 

We need people who will stand up and speak up for righteousness and pull down the walls of our designer churches and get back to the street, where Jesus did His ministry. Idols abound. We need people of judgment to call out in the streets and spread them Word of Christ to everyone, without social judgment. God will not honour those who make a living from spending the money of God’s people to further their own ends, in the name of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

V12     Only one is the lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge another?

 

Here is the summary and verdict regarding judgment. God is above all. He has complete control and the right to control all situations and all the lives of His creatures. Our breath is in His hand. If we were under the authority of a dictator in this world order, we would be very careful what we say and do in that social framework. We would live in fear of this tyrant and life would be very uncomfortable if you differed from the over riding philosophy of the state.

 

Yet we play roulette with the power of God. We do not listen to His Word, or follow it carefully. We preferred the good will of other creatures, rather than the Sovereign God who holds all power and all sway.

 

This God is not like the human dictator. He is loving. His nature is love and all He does is for loves sake. The relationship between the three persons that are our triune God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, is the exercise of love always. The relationship in God is peace and each of the three persons is in complete agreement and live in fellowship and eternal peace. This God who made us is eternal in heaven and He can never be overthrown and His Word will never change or be rendered invalid. He has purposed that there will be an innumerable throng of people who will know Him personally and rule with Him forever in the eternal kingdom of love. He has made it possible that we can be made worthy to be lifted up so high, and therefore reign with our Saviour, Jesus Christ on the throne of heaven.

 

“He who walks righteously, and speaks blamelessly; He who despises the gain of oppressions, who gestures with his hands, refusing to take a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing of blood, and shuts his eyes from looking at evil— he will dwell on high. His place of defence will be the fortress of rocks. His bread will be supplied. His waters will be sure. Your eyes will see the king in his beauty. They will see a distant land.”

Isaiah 33: 15-17

 

This God waits for us. He will bear with our failure, our rejection of Him as a person, our inability to admit our fault. He has provided the way to heaven, and He will bring us to personal faith and the repentance of sins. He has bourn with this world for thousands of years, and still He is willing to keep the door of mercy open for sinners to come in.

 

For humans, we still don’t want His love, and we do not agree with His law. We live our lives in ignorance about our true state, and deliberately block out the message of forgiveness and salvation for our dead souls. We prefer dead, to the life in God. This is ultimate folly. We cannot overthrown the law-giver, and we remain insensible and uncaring to the fact that He can save us or destroy us. Many chose destruction and loose their lives in this world and the next.

 

Christians can become so overly familiar with the written truth about God, that they don’t really live in His presence, and thereby become legalistic. We can say we love God, but the attitude of our lives and the working of our mind, doesn’t fit with God’s way. We say we are free and use the “freedom” to make worldly choices and build worldly situations and organisations for ourselves. We don’t even recognise that we are doing it. Because God is silent, we imagine all is well. We suspend our godly judgment and sink into world-orientated ways.

 

This follows from the instruction about judging. We become godless judges and feather our own “spiritual” nest and think we please the Lord. We stay away from any real challenge about what we are doing and bolster ourselves up at conferences and meetings that tickle our fleshly minds.

Anyone who calls us to think again, is side-lined and an excuse is made why we need not listen to these people. Our pride grows. We become unapproachable and we cannot relate to the people around us. Or, we foster a persona that will ensure people “like” us and we can carry on with building our pseudo-Christian edifice.

 

God says “who are you?”

God calls us to examine ourselves, all of us. There is so much at stake. We may have faith in Christ, but it remains immature and unable to make decisions based on God’s Word and the witness of the Holy Spirit within us. We forget what we are easily duped and don’t remind ourselves that we need the Lord everyday.

 

We remain sinners and we have no value outside the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. We are redeemed  to God at a terrible cost. We are saved from the clutched of death, by Christ alone. We have what we have because of Him. Outside of Jesus Christ we are rotten to the core, dead in sin and heading for an eternity of eternal punishment. We forget so easily. Let us judge ourselves properly and know who we are…

 

“Thus says The Lord, Don’t let the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, don’t let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he has understanding, and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises loving kindness, justice, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, says the Lord.”

Jeremiah 9: 23-24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

V13      Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow let’s go into this city, and spend a year there, trade, and make a profit.”

 

This is the voice of self-confidence. This is the attitude of presumption. These people can plan their days in the knowledge that the days will happen and life will carry on in that particular vein. We succeeded today, so we will be safe tomorrow and the next day. So, our lives stretch ahead of us and we plan out the possibilities of what we could do, as it would seem good to us. We decide to stay in a particular place and we can stay a certain amount of time, so we can make money and build up our resources before moving on to the next place, where we will have a similar strategy. So we make progress in this world.

 

This is the worldly mind set. It is not wrong to get better things and make progress in life, but all the considerations are for this world and what we can get out of it. We intend to make the best of everything so that we have enough resources to see us through and keep ourselves happy. There is no thought of God, or what He requires of us. Everything is for the here and now. The life in eternity is not in our thinking and we do not value the spiritual life, knowing God, or the necessity of repentance and forgiveness.

 

God is calling us to come now into His presence and question Him and listen to His answers.

 

“Come now, and let us reason together,” says The Lord: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of God the Lord has spoken it.”

Isaiah 1: 18-20

 

This is a great privilege and not everyone is offered this opportunity to commune with the living God. He wants to question us also, and cause us to think again about what we are doing. He knows the outcomes of a life lived for self and He knows the eternal consequences for people who reject Him, His ways, and His provision for our souls.

 

If we settle for this life, we will perhaps get some thing that we like or value, but it is not a certainly. Other people tell us to work hard and follow your desire, and you will get what you want, but this is patently not the case. Young people are taught this untruth and grow up and are so disappointed with a life that turns out to be hard and unrewarding. This is such a difficult place to be. God calls out to us to think again and look into his Holy Word and find the way to true life and to have a living soul that will rejoice forever.

 

If we are set on this world, we will not see the value of what God offers and we will loose our souls in the end. This is the voice of mercy that calls us to come to God and find His way to be the only way to eternal life and true peace with Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

V14       Whereas you don’t know what your life will be like tomorrow. For what is your life? For you are a vapour, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. 

 

God is kindly pointing out to us that we have no idea about tomorrow. We cannot tell what it will be like, what will happen, or how we will face the challenges that surely come our way. The future is kept secret from us by the mind and will of God. He knows the pressure and the heartache we would have if we knew what was coming and realise we are unable to have the strength to face it. There are always difficulties in life, and they are put there by God’s mercy, so that we can learn and exercise faith at the point of the trial. To walk in faith is to walk with God and entirely trust Him to see us through and rest wholeheartedly on His power. We can do this in a moment-by-moment basis, and so our walk with God is real and true. The need to know the future, is not based on faith, but fear. We think if we knew what was coming we could prepare for it, but in reality, we cannot.

 

God knows our ways. He decrees our pathway, and gives us faith and strength to walk that pathway. The child of God will know this and keep to the path and trust completely on the guiding of their Father in heaven.

 

“You whom I have taken hold of from the ends of the earth, and called from its corners, and said to you, ‘You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you away;’. Don’t you be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. Yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.”

Isaiah 41: 9-10

 

Life seems so solid. We walk through our days, as if they last forever. God calls our life a passing vapour. Think of the small funnel of steam that comes out of the boiling kettle. It leaves the kettle and shows itself as a moment of gas, and then disappears into the atmosphere. So our life comes into the world, and is seen for a very short time, and then it goes back to God. Few are remembered and some have their works getting attention for a short time, but the end of everyone is the same. We are born, we die and we leave this world stage forever. This is a sobering fact. We don’t like to think this way, as it makes us serious in mind and hurting in heart.

 

God’s view of us is related here, to help us to think seriously about or time living on earth, and what the point of it is. In terms of this earthy life, it is futile. There seems to be little point in it at all. Whatever we do will ultimately be forgotten and therefore finally pointless. This is the mindset that infiltrates all who live on earth. We end up with apathy and a profound emptiness that can drag us down into depression and death.

 

Is this the final verdict on human life?

God is showing us these things so that we will try to find another way. A way of meaning and purpose and a final destiny that brings significance and fulfilment. We do not have to vanish away. There is meaning to it all and there is relationship and love and power and hope. As with all things, it all resides in God. Only God can bring His creatures to a knowledge of Himself, and show them the purpose of it all. If we remain outside His salvation, we must be satisfied with apathy, or some kind of transient mindset that will stop us getting depressed and down about our lives.

 

To find the peace of heart in Christ, will chase away the vapour or the futility of life, and make us rest secure in the God who made us. All we need to do is to confess our sins and repent, and ask for the new life that will last forever in our souls. God gives His Holy Spirit to dwell in us and we receive eternal life forever. The gloom disappears and the light shines in. Our life stops being a passing vapour and we have eternal significance in God’s kingdom. We get so much for so little and we rejoice in God and in Christ Jesus and in the Holy Spirit.

 

Tomorrow we can leave to God. He is in complete control, so the anxiety we feel about the future is dissipated and we can love and worship God with full and free hearts.

V15     For you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will both live, and do this or that.” 

 

If we are wise, we will come to God, get to know Him through His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit living and active in our souls. The will of God is central to our well being, and to not understand that or to avoid it, will cause us pain and anxiety. To be able to rest in God is the greatest peace, because we know He is in control and He will work all things out for our good. Even the most difficult trials and the most virulent temptations, God will turn to our good. We are completely blessed in the security of His loving kingdom.

 

So, our approach to our lives on a daily basis will be to rest on that certain truth. Whatever events happens to us, they will be in His purposes. We might think that it is random and much too much for us to handle, but He is in complete control. Nothing is an accident. Nothing is hidden from His eyes, and whatever He will purpose us to go through, He will give us the strength to face it and walk through it. When we come out the other side, we will be stronger and more confident in His Word and the purposes of His will.

 

Tomorrow is with the Lord. Tomorrow will come to us in His purposes. We waken up in His will and we fall asleep in His will. This is such an amazing comfort to us. When we waken up, we know for certain that the day stretches out in His eternal will. I need have no doubts about energy to live in the day, and no doubt about the ability to conquer sin and live for The Lord our God.

 

The plans made for the day, will happen or not happen according to His plans. If something doesn’t happen, then it wasn’t meant to. If we cannot do something, then we were not meant to do it. This is the state of rest for the Christian.

 

Many face difficulties in life that are crushing and lonely. We might think that it is too much for us. It is, but the power of the Mighty God will give us the power we need to walk through all situations. This is why it is important to live godly lives and to keep or relationship with God true and open. Sometimes He permits the deepest of trials to teach us these most precious of skills and mindset. He saves the deepest trials for His most precious saints, because He knows they will over come and trust His strength to conquer all fear and doubt.

 

To trust in God’s will is the path to victory and faith is the means He uses to draw people closer and closer to Him.

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Don’t be wise in your own eyes. Fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It will be health to your body, and nourishment to your bones.”

Proverbs 3: 5-8

 

“Therefore, watch carefully how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, don’t be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is…”

Ephesians 5: 15-17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

V16      But now you glory in your boasting. All such boasting is evil.

 

Unfortunately, we don’t believe God, or understand his precepts. We know ourselves and therefore we know what we need and want. We have a good education, some intelligence, resources at our disposal, therefore God’s ways are redundant. We become fools. We become more and more sinful and oblivious to the right way.

 

The message of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, becomes a mere token to us. We do not think about Him, what He suffered for our sake and there is no emotion involved in remembering that cruel event. We separate ourselves from the reality of death and eternal damnation. We sanitise faith and it is devoid of power in our daily lives. We become religious and get caught up in religious issues that make the message of God’s mercy irrelevant.

 

We have no faith and we have no faith to share. People die in their sins because we are remiss. We remain unmoved. In fact, we glory in our foolish decisions and big up our selfish hearts so that we can get acclaim from the people around us.

 

We speak and people listen, and we dilute the gospel message to a few rudimentary sentences and therefore lead so many astray. People believe in the man and not the Saviour. This is our magnificent folly. We are judged before the end, and our end will be a lost eternity.

 

People get positions of trust and the magnitude of our deception of self and others grows. We get regard and we think it is God’s blessing. Our every move, word, lifestyle choice, is evil. We have been found wanting and still we do not see it. Is there a regret from God? We look in the Scripture and find all God’s prophets and judges and messengers were regaled and rejected. This is the mark of God on His servants, and not popularity. To speak God’s truth is dangerous and will cost you everything. You will be hated and sidelined and killed. This is the mark of a true servant.

 

There are many who start off looking and sounding good, but they eventually succumb to the evil force of sin their own hearts. They boast in themselves their church, their furniture and God leaves them to it, they can manage alone, and so they will in this world.

 

All boasting in self and money and ability is foolish. God says it is evil.

 

“These are wells without water, clouds driven by a storm; for whom the blackness of darkness has been reserved forever. For, uttering great swelling words of emptiness, they entice in the lusts of the flesh, by licentiousness, those who are indeed escaping from those who live in error; property them liberty, while they themselves are bondservants of corruption; for a man is brought into bondage by whoever overcomes him.”

2 Peter 2: 17-19

 

We have no grounds to boast. Our only positive characteristic is in Christ alone.

 

“God chose the lowly things of the world, and the things that are despised, and the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are: that no flesh should boast before God. But of him, you are in Christ Jesus, who was made to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, “He who boasts, let him boast in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 1: 28-31

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

V17     To him therefore who knows to do good, and doesn’t do it, to him it is sin.

 

After all this debate and reasoning from God, we must make a response. We must decide which side of the door we will find ourselves on. God has made the position we are in, very clear. We cannot hide or run away, but must trust in His person, and repent. We are now left without the excuse of ignorance, because God has made it clear. God adds His final twist of the reasoning blade of His Word. Now you know what to do, you must do it, because if you don’t obey, you have chosen sin.

 

The principle is made crystal clear. If a person knows what is the right thing to do, and doesn’t do it, they have chosen sin. If we know the wrong way and yet still go that way, we are plumping for sin. God’s way is holy and He will not tolerate or soft-pedal on wrong doing.

 

If we know the right way to speak and promote goodness by our words, we must chose to speak those words and in that way. If we know what lying is, and recognise we are not always being truthfully, we must chose not to spread this evil around in our social circles. If we understand the principle of “boasting in the Lord,” we practice that way to live and speak.

 

If we are not keeping a tight rein on or mind, and monitoring thoughts and keeping our mindset clean and clear from taint, then we must turn and repent of that path. Things that hurt the mind, frighten, irritate, defile and corrupt the thought process, must be stayed away from. This will be difficult, because so many areas of life are ruined by evil and sinful ideas. Other people might think you strange for not indulging in certain practices or watching things that compromise faith, but we stand firm in the will of God. In these days, the social media and especially television (still), are the route for sinful ideas to get into our mind.

 

One sin that is readily accepted on television, is murder. This sin is shown in all its horror and depravity and the violence that goes along with it. We think it is ok. Why would it be ok? It’s just make believe? But it makes us harder, more judgmental and our emotions are seared and contaminated. Why would we watch someone being killed? Television or films “normalise” the sin and we just accept it through our eyes and into our minds.

 

 

News reporting now includes pictures and film taken of dead bodies. This did not need to be the case in the past. We can find ourselves anaesthetised to depravity and great evil.

 

There are other sins portrayed too in the same kind of way. You can work it out in your own mind what they are and how they are exported into our psyche…..

 

Sin is very easy to fall into. It creeps up unawares and can cause us so much trouble. If we are careful about our minds, it will help us to live holy lives. We can then be useful to other people and will be a good influence on our families.