No public call for prayer in school, at graduation ceremonies, or at the commencement of governmental meetings for fear of protests.
But in a violently shaking plane? No protests there!
“But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up. Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep. So the captain came to him, and said to him, “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.”” (Jonah 1:4-6 NKJV)
“But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?” (James 2:6-7 NKJV)
In a context dealing with faulty favoritism, James reproves any idea of treating someone any better, or any worse, than someone else simply based on that individual’s outward appearance or possession of earthly wealth. He then follows up the point with a poignant question (that I’ll paraphrase), “Why are you favoring someone who favors persecuting you?”
To me, an immediate modern-day application would be a Christian’s support of Hollywood. There are organizations, actors and actresses in Hollywood who constantly use their wealth, fame, influence and even clothing lines as a platform to oppress, persecute and blaspheme the very way of righteousness which produces one’s faith in Jesus, but yet these said individuals still receive the adulation, the re-tweets and the Instagram likes from the very people they seek to humiliate. As James would no doubt say to us – “Wake up!”
Don’t look up to people who look down on Christianity. We can love them without supporting their views with a social-media heart.
“Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.” (James 1:9-10 NKJV)
“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27 NKJV)
In the above verse, the word translated as “visit” (from the Greek word, ‘episkeptomai’) means much more than “stopping by” to see someone for the sake of seeing them. The idea of “stopping by” (which we may associate with the word, “visit”) is nothing close to the idea or intent the scriptures have in mind.
Episkeptomai means (according to my personal breakdown), “to inspect, examine with our eyes in order to help, benefit and look out or provide for.”
In other words, God’s intentions aren’t for us to simply visit someone who needs help to see how they’re doing, but rather to visit someone to see how we can help.
Turning a blind-eye to the problems of others may be easy, but turning a blind-eye may be due to symptoms caused by giant spiritual beams (Matthew 7:1-5) that are keeping us from seeing the things that lead to pure and undefiled religion before the eyes of God.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:22-25 NKJV)
David is rightly known as an author who expressed his need for God in times of desperation. But to describe God as a crutch in David’s life wouldn’t be fair. God was not David’s crutch. God was David’s life.
In good times, the credit and adoration of David belonged to God. Whether taking on enemy giants or thinking about the little blessings of life, God was at the forefront of David’s life. Numerous psalms and scripture references show this to be true.
At home, David had Jesse by his side. In Saul’s house he had Jonathan. As a spiritual counselor he had Samuel. On the battlefield he had his three nephews, Joab, Abishai and Asahel. But when it came to walking through the valley of the shadow of death, there was only one individual who could keep him company (Psalm 23:4).
We may receive a lot of support from others throughout our life, but when it comes to the end of day there will only be one that seeks to offer help in life as well as comfort in death.
Are we walking with this shepherd today? (John 10:11, 27-28)
“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”” (John 11:25-26 NKJV)
A Bible student looking for the truth and the atheist looking for contradictions may ask the same question when it comes to a major theme of the New Testament.
“Why are there different answers when it comes to telling someone how to be saved?“
The root of the question is obvious. Read the book of Acts and you find a plurality of situations: Some are told to believe. Some are told to repent and be baptized. Some are told to repent. Some are told to hear certain words before any other instructions were given. Some simply have “Jesus preached” to them.
So what’s the answer? Continue reading
Father’s Day is on its way! Know how I know? The TV commercials.
Garden-hoses, car washing kits, flashlights, tool-sets … the amount of commercials selling these items seem like they have doubled the last couple of weeks.
This dad doesn’t want stuff. I’m tired of stuff. I don’t care if it’s on sale – if it’s not needed more money was still spent than what could have been saved. Continue reading
“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12)
Endure temptation, reveal your faith, continue in your love for the Lord and get a crown.
Is this a maybe? Is this a probably? No, it’s an open guarantee!
The crown of victory is a crown of promise. And in case you haven’t noticed, God has a tendency to keep his word. Keeping the faith is our answer.
Keeping ourself from temptation is wise. Overcoming temptation is vital. Temptation is a trial that requires strength, perseverance and a willingness to undergo something unpleasant to the soul. Concerning the unpleasantness, the body may contradict the desire of the soul, but that is what makes it a challenge. This is why the humanity – and priesthood – of Jesus is so encouraging (Hebrews 4:15-16). Wisdom looks for God’s help.
A victory crown for a victorious people from a Lord who gained our victory (1 Corinthians 15:57). That’s a promising thought … and so is the eternal crown that will be experienced in Heaven by overcoming the short-lived temptation on Earth.
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV)