November 2nd, 2010 by steve

I must confess that truth can really hurt sometimes, especially when it is about yourself. Truth comes not by self-analysis, but by God’s word that becomes a mirror reflecting our lives. When truth reveals our sinful nature it can really hurt. But, thank God, the truth sets us free in Christ. This leads us to two areas that are very common to all of us – we like to hold ourselves in high esteem for one and be in control of our lives for another.

Let’s consider our high esteem of ourselves. Consider what the scriptures tell us: “. . . in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” Phil 3:2; “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” Hebrews 10:24; and, ” . . . to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think” Romans 12:3. If you find these words hard to believe, think about the things that get you mad or upset you. As believers we often understand and believe what the scriptures have to say, but believing does not always translate into practice – making it part of our life. For instance we are told to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. We do love ourselves and expend a great deal of effort taking care of ourselves. Imagine investing the same time and energy on loving your neighbors. This is God’s way. It is God’s answer to thinking highly of ourselves. We are instructed to die to our self and live unto Him by serving others. Jesus’ life demonstrated that for us. Are we able to imagine our homes where the spouses hold each other in high esteem? A church where we hold each other in high esteem? Or love our neighbors (co-workers and others) more than ourselves? This is considered to be a normal life as Christ’s children.

Then there is the second part; control. This is a big issue in our lives both personally and culturally. Control is so strong in our lives that we are unbending in some of our habits, living and beliefs. Culturally, our society is self-absorbed and teaches us that knowledge is power. I honestly believe that we think we can run the world better than God! Does that shock you? Think about all our plans, decisions and actions that we never submit to God for guidance; and if we do, we don’t wait for an answer! “. . . lean not on your understanding” Proverbs 5b;  “There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the LORD’s counsel—that will stand” Proverbs 19:21; and, “He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect” Psalm 33:10.

Knowledge drives us to understand and know about everything. Knowledge means control. It is the fruit of the forbidden tree. Sometimes there are no answers, explanations or understanding. The ‘why’ doesn’t get answered. But, instead of resting under the covering of our Lord, we are driven to find answers. We are not content that God is sovereign and we can rest in Him. The knowledge we should have is of Him and if we know our Father there is peace and rest.

Believing and knowing Jesus are only part of the picture. We need to surrender ourselves to God every day and put His principles into practice. We are to live in humility and give of ourselves to the work of the Kingdom. Look at what Christ said to Peter, “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go” John 21:18. Talk about surrendering your life! “Going where you do not want to go” is exactly what God wants in our lives. We are to shed the old nature and put on His new nature by surrendering our lives to Him. The beauty of our salvation is we have been not only set free, but given power through the Holy Spirit to live dynamic lives reflecting Christ.

We have greatly prospered from God’s salvation, grace and mercy in our lives. Let’s now encourage each other to grow everyday, going from glory to glory excelling in living for Him.

“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day” Proverbs 4:18


June 28th, 2010 by steve

Imagine you come home one night and your family has been kidnapped, your house ransacked and set afire. You react with deep sobbing to the point that there is not another tear to be shed. And then, to add to your woes those surrounding you blame you for what has taken place. They not only blame you, their anger is so great that you are accused of delibertly permitting this horrible event, through your own actions, and are now demanding justice.

This is actually a true story.

We all have times or days where events do not go well. There are even seasons in our life where there is great distress. This true story reflects what happened to David (1 Samuel 30). When you read this story and understand the background, it can be seen why his men thought he was at fault. They had also lost their wives and children. He had left no guards and had provoked the enemy! So, he was judged and the men wanted to stone him to death.

Added to David’s personal loss, he now was faced with the wrath of his own men. Yet, in the midst of this, he turned to God. “But David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6).

There is no promise that we will not go through distress, trials or tribulation in our life. If you have lived long enough, you know this to be true. Simply put, there will be days events do not go well. But, if you know our Father, you are able to quickly turn to him to be encouraged and strengthened. In fact, God has promised us that in the midst of crises he is there:

“For You have been a stronghold for the poor, a stronghold for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm, a shade from the heat; for the blast of the ruthless ones is like a rainstorm against a wall” Isaiah 25:4

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you” Isaiah 43:2

It is God’s covenental promise to us to take us through distress, trials and tribulations of life. By quickly turning to God, we will find strength, encouragement and direction.


May 24th, 2010 by steve

My soul thirsts for you

God was walking in the garden in the cool of day. It was towards evening when God came to commune with Adam. Although man was not yet partaking of the fullness of God, we see the fellowship he had with Adam and Eve. In fact, throughout God’s history with mankind, fellowship and communion are at the forefront. His tenderness, love and compassion emerges in every part of God’s dealings with us. Even in the rebellion and sin of man, he called us his vineyard (of the Lord Almighty) and that we are the garden of his delight. Even with our rejection of him he continued to maintain his purpose of fellowship; “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me” (Isaiah 49:15-16). This statement reveals the profound depth of God’s love for us. We are precious in his eyes.

God had to evict Adam and Eve from the garden, yet his love cared for and made provision for them. Ultimately God made eternal provision through the sacrifice of blood of his son Jesus Christ to permit us to born again and be united to him, fulfilling his original purpose. We’ve been destined by God to share in His (a) life, (b) nature and (c) plan! He has purposed these for us. We have been chosen to be partakers. We have been trusted with His treasures.

The most important understanding we have of the creation of man is it was in God’s image. Have you ever spent time just meditating on this? We are created in his image. We are constituted to be like him. Everything we are has been created by him for us. This is why having intimacy with God should be the primary purpose and passion of our life. It also explains why man will never be satisfied unless he is united to God.

God creating man in his own image, after his likeness (Genesis 1:26), immediately reveals a change from all else he created. Everything had come forth by his word, and he could have created man out of nothing, but he chose to form him from the dust of the ground (the finest part of the material on earth). He then breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being. It was a loving act that took exceptional care to form man according to his plan and give him life. There is an immediate linking of us with him by how we were created. After his likeness is the bonding of our spiritual nature with God.

After God created Adam and Eve, he placed them in a garden. He made it pleasing to the eye, good for food, and created all for man to have and oversee. He put him in the garden and brought all the animals before him to name them. It indicates an active presence of God in a visible form all the time. We then read about the most extraordinary and touching part of all that God was doing. He walked in the garden in the cool of the day. God was fellowshipping with man in a visible form, one on one. We first read about this after man sinned, yet God would not let go of him. He seeks him out. Sometimes it is easy to miss the full understanding of his walking with man. He had been there all along.

The deepest desire and cry of our heart is to be eternally satisfied. The Psalmist cries, “My soul is consumed with longing…” and, “My soul thirsts for you.” That satisfaction can come with our restoration with God through our new birth. Yet, many do not progress beyond their salvation and servanthood  to earnestly seek God in intimacy. The mixture of our flesh wants to continue in seeking satisfaction through other ways. The true test of having intimacy with God is found in the Psalmist statement, “Being with you, I desire nothing on earth.”

If you truly desire intimacy with God, I want to challenge you to seek and pursue God with a passion. To do this requires letting go of the world and the things you have surrounded yourself with. You need to enter meaningful prayer, set aside quiet time (everything else is shut off!), learn to wait on the lord, and cultivate (transforming) and set your mind on things above (not earthly things). God will respond to you and like a husband will lead you to intimacy.


May 13th, 2010 by steve

by J. Lee Grady, Fire in My Bones Newsletter

[Editor’s Note: This is a message we all need to hear, particularly in these days. Steve Myers]

Many people today feel overwhelmed by negative circumstances. But you can be sure the Lord has an amazing plan to carry you through.

Long ago God promised He would send the Messiah through the lineage of King David. Yet there was a time in Judah’s history when the royal seed was almost snuffed out.

It happened during the oppressive reign of Queen Athaliah, a selfish woman who was so power-hungry that she killed her own grandchildren in an attempt to secure her position. The Bible says in 2 Kings 11:1-3:

“When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she rose and destroyed all the royal offspring. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah and stole him from among the king’s sons who were being put to death, and placed him and his nurse in the bedroom. So they hid from Athaliah, and he was not put to death. So he was hidden with her in the house of the Lord six years, while Athaliah was reigning in the land (NASB).”

“Don’t be dismayed by delay. God knows the beginning and the end. Entrust your promise to the faithful One who will bring it to pass in His perfect timing.”

There was more going on in this story than mere human conspiracy or palace intrigue. Satanic powers were at work to destroy God’s promised offspring—and Athaliah was the agent used to carry out infanticide. Yet at the same time God inspired a selfless woman, Jehosheba—the wife of the high priest Jehoida—to counter this attack by hiding baby Joash.

The story has a violent but positive ending. Athaliah’s murderous reign ended with her execution, her Baal idols were destroyed and Joash was placed on his rightful throne. He carried on the lineage of David that continued until the time of Christ. God’s promised seed was not destroyed. A holy remnant was preserved and the young king later led a campaign to renovate the temple, which had fallen into disrepair during Athaliah’s regime.

Six years is a long time to hide a baby from a brutal tyrant. Obviously Jehosheba did not rely on her own cleverness to conceal the child. God helped her to outwit the enemy. A model of a true intercessor, Jehosheba was vigilant, discerning, brave and fiercely determined to see God’s plan established.

I meet many Christians today who feel that their spiritual goals and prophetic promises are in serious jeopardy. Some people are experiencing intense financial stress because of the economic recession; some who are in ministry feel as if all of hell’s fury has been unleashed on their churches. Others simply feel physically and spiritually exhausted by discouraging trends in our country.

We are certainly in a spiritual quagmire. I’ve never known any period in my lifetime when national and world events were this unsettling.

Yet I find a lot of comfort in this story of a baby king who survived a palace conspiracy. It shows me that God—who knew Athaliah would terrorize Jerusalem for six years—was well able to protect the promised seed and put him in authority when the evil threat had been moved out of the way. It also shows me that God is certainly able to carry a faithful remnant of people through a dark national crisis.

Do you feel as though your promise is under attack? Does it seem that Athaliah is ready to wipe out your spiritual inheritance? Has she discouraged you to the point that you are tempted to give up and let her win?

I encourage you to rise up in faith like Jehosheba and put your trust in the God who knows the final outcome of the story. What He has promised He can preserve. You can bravely take hold of your promise like the apostle Paul, who wrote: “For I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Tim. 1:12).

As an act of faith, you might want to write down what the Lord has promised you and hide the piece of paper in your Bible. The enemy will not find it there, no matter how long this challenging season lasts. Don’t be dismayed by delay. God knows the beginning from the end. Entrust your promise to the faithful One who will bring it to pass in His perfect timing.

Source: J. Lee Grady,  Fire in My Bones newsletter, Charisma Magazine Online, May 11, 2010; http://goo.gl/52Nr .  J. Lee Grady served as editor of Charisma for 11 years and is now contributing editor. He has been ministering in Akure, Nigeria, this past week.


May 5th, 2010 by steve

We all seek to do things that fulfill us. And, we do the things that we like the most. Everyone has a different way of finding fulfillment. For some it may be marriage, work, a hobby, certain activities, etc. Fulfilling ourselves in life, though, often can go the wrong way – sometimes leading to decisions and actions that bring destruction and loss to our lives. Eating can lead to overeating that leads to health problems; smoking that leads to health issues; sex that destroys intimacy and that increasingly needs more to satisfy; and, drugs and drinking that creates a monster within us that craves more and more. We can also take good things and turn these to obsessions of occupation.

We find in our human nature a desire and need for fulfillment. When I asked a youth group what made them happy, they all listed activities and the like. When I asked what fulfilled them, some answers were the same, but everyone listed friends. We all need family. We all need friends. We need people in our lives. Yet, in all this we come to know we also need intimacy. How is it that every human being needs this?

That deep need for family, friends and the deeper need for intimacy are there because God created us and planted a divine seed in everyone. That divine seed has a single purpose of uniting us to our Father in a way that makes Him the center of our life. Only God can satisfy our needs. Read what Ecclesiastes says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” [3:11 Amplified].

God has given us ways to fulfill our lives here on earth. Marriage stands out as a reflection of God Himself by having two become one and through that oneness find earthly satisfaction and fulfillment. He gave us nature, friends, talents and gifts that can satisfy us. But, all these are temporary and sometimes very fragile. True fulfillment can only come from God.

Sometimes when you meet a friend that you haven’t seen in a long time, you’ll say or have heard others say, oh, there the same. After all that time that person is the same today as they were years ago! Marriages become like that, even after years – oh, it is the same. That says there is no growth, no greater maturity and things haven’t changed. True love grows and every day of a marriage love should be greater than before. One should be able to say I love my spouse more today. It simply means love grows and intimacy becomes greater.

You can fall in love and get married. You have a legal license and certificate of marriage. A legal union has taken place. What comes next is what many miss – the need to grow in love and intimacy every day of your life.

Because you know God, doesn’t mean you know Him intimately.

Knowledge is just that – a knowing. It isn’t relationship. Being redeemed by God through salvation and being a new person in him is a position that God has freely given you. It changes you by birth as His child and brings you into the kingdom of God . It is the beginning of a new relationship that requires  growing and maturing in His character, taking on righteousness, holiness and living for Him. He first loved you and has now awaken the seed He put in your heart. You now can connect with your Father in true and lasting love that brings fulfillment.

See, once we’re introduced to somebody we really enjoy, it’s only natural to want to develop a relationship with that person. And being introduced is one thing, but falling in love is something else. The more our love grows, the more intimate it becomes. That’s the way it is in our human relationships, and that’s the way it should be in our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

David said in a Psalm, “O God, You are my God. Earnestly will I seek You” (63:1). Isaiah tells us, “My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you” (26:9). Love seeks its lover to grow more and more every day. Going to bed at night yearning for God and rising in the morning longing for Him throughout the day. This is love.

Intimacy is a significant need in people’s lives today. We need intimacy with our Father and it should be our yearning and longing all the day and night. God desires fellowship more than we do, He created us for that purpose – to know and love Him. By developing intimacy with Him we will be fulfilled and satisfied and God will bring joy in our lives.

How To Stop Temptation From Becoming Sin

April 29th, 2010 by steve

We are wrapping up three lessons from the first chapter of James, the last considering the process of temptation and how it can lead to sin. What do you need to do to resist temptation and not sin? The Bible has much to say about this. I have six points for you to consider:

1. Psalm 119:11 is first and foremost – “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Reading God’s word is not sufficient. You must know God’s word, meditate (consider it) on it, and put it into your heart so it is there for you. Remember Jesus being tempted? His answer was quoting God’s word each time.

2. Knowing God’s word leads to submitting to God. James says in 4:7, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Note the steps; submit to God is humbling yourself before God and relying wholly upon Him for your strength. Submission is obedience, actively restraining yourself from sin, standing firm and actively undertaking to do good and serve in the Kingdom of God.

3. Jesus gives us another command, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” Watching is an active position such as being a watchperson on the tower. Prayer is vital.

4. This is followed by wisdom from Proverbs 4:23; “Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” What do you let into your heart? What do you watch on TV, in the movies or view on the Internet? Who are your friends? What beliefs and philosophies are you taking in or partaking of in our culture? Simply put, if you were an alcoholic you would not fellowship in a bar!

5. Paul outlines in Philippians 4:8-9 the following; “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice.” This goes with Colossians 3:2; “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” There are 1,440 minutes in a day. How many minutes have you had your mind on Christ and things above?

6. If it comes down to severe temptation, “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” If you have to flee, flee with all your might instead of sinning! And, begin to put the word of God into action in your life – pursue, go after righteousness, faith, love and peace.

There are many other scriptures that address ways to avoid temptation becoming sin. The foundation to all is knowing God’s word and I will address the next step that we all need to seriously consider in our lives – Intimacy With God.

Previous Blogs on James 1:
Count It As Joy
Finding Wisdom
Temptation and Sin

Today’s blog:
How to Stop Temptation From Becoming Sin

Intimacy With God

Studying James 1 – Temptation and Sin

April 28th, 2010 by steve

We are now going to jump in at verse 13 and discuss temptation and sin – a hot topic. What is temptation? A simple answer is to do wrong. It is an evil desire. Something or somebody tempts you. Other words that represent what temptation is are lure, enticement, attraction, appeal, excitement, persuasion, pull and inducement to say or do something that is sinful. Phew! That’s a mouth full.

Before we move on, let’s look at trials, tests and temptation. God does bring trials and tests in our life to reveal and strengthen our faith. God is not in the business of undermining or destroying our lives. We are his children and as such all his actions towards us are to benefit us, help us grow and mature in the character of Christ. God does not tempt anyone to sin. In fact, he has given us the means to fight temptation and provides ‘a way out’ with the promise we will never be tempted beyond our ability to escape.

In having trials and tests in our life, it is possible temptation will come. For instance, we may be tempted to grumble and complain; despair; accept an easy way out that comprises our faith; swear, curse, gossip, withdraw from fellowship, self-pity and any number of sins. But, here, as I say, is the kicker: temptation comes from within our own selves. The J.B. Phillips New Testament puts it this way: “No, a man’s temptation is due to the pull of his own inward desires, which can be enormously attractive.” Temptation will not have any power over you unless there is something inside your heart, some desire, inclination, or some unsatisfied part of you that will respond to it; and that will give temptation power and lure you away into sin. Not all desires are evil, but taking legitimate desires to excess, beyond the point of God’s order, can also lead us to sin.

There is no sin in being tempted. Even if temptation stirs the desire in you, there is no sin. It is when you begin thinking and considering the temptation, responding to the luring, that it is the beginning of sin. The battle takes place in your thought life, your mind, and the minute you do not reject temptation you have entered very dangerous grounds. The wording James uses is akin to fishing – bait! Surprise – that’s how you get fish. You are being baited to take the worm.

Sin presents you with opportunities. No person, circumstances or force can compel you to sin. The opportunity (temptation) is an invitation. You must consider and accept the invitation and willingly transgress God’s commands. First there is the temptation, then the consideration of the desire and finally birthing full blown sin which leads to death. We are called to “abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11).

Three steps: (1) Temptation (no sin); (2) Consideration – the beginning of sin; and, (3) sin is conceived – born – full blown; and it brings death!

John Donne (c. 1595) wrote “…that no man is an island”.  Paul said, “Now all of you together are Christ’s body” (1 Corinthians 12:27a). When you sin, you affect everyone around you. It doesn’t matter how private your sin is, the consequences of your sin (death) affects you and everyone else. God has given you the power to say no to sin. He has equipped you with everything pertaining to life and godliness.

Tomorrow – How to stop temptation from becoming sin
Previously – Counting It As Joy and Finding Wisdom

Studying James 1 – Finding Wisdom

April 27th, 2010 by steve

Moving on in James we come to the very next point about facing trials of many kinds. What James lays out in front of us in verses 5-8 is the key to walking through trials, dealing with temptations and keeping joy in our life. One word stands out and all but yells at us – WISDOM!

What is wisdom? What is so critical that James introduces this right up front in his letter? He wants to set the very foundation of how we are to live – by the wisdom of God. It isn’t the wisdom of the world or our culture, nor is it in philosophy, psychiatry, or our personal experience (pay attention here!) or in judgement formed by our ways. It is none of these. This wisdom is God’s wisdom and he is the source of this wisdom. Proverbs it puts it this way; “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (2:6). Here is the kicker: Godly wisdom gives us Godly Knowledge and understanding. This is knowledge and understanding birthed in heaven for our living here while on this earth. No school, college, education, self-learning, history, experience or people will give you the knowledge or understanding you need to live as a Christian. The Holy Spirit is your Teacher [Godly pastors, teachers and others outlined in the scriptures (Ephesians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 12:28) may also bring us the wisdom of God].

Guess what? Wisdom is ours for the asking. Imagine that! If we lack wisdom, it is ours for the asking, and it will be generously given to us without reluctance or hesitation. It can’t get any better than that. He loves us and is a cheerful giver and desires not one of us goes without. What a Daddy! But, there’s more – He will give it to us without finding fault – no shame, no scolding us for being needy. The other side to this generous outpouring of God is we will have absolutely no excuse for not seeking wisdom in our lives.

Did you know there are over 4,000 ‘BUTS’ in the bible? And, there is a big “But” here attached to generously getting wisdom. No, God doesn’t have a hidden agenda, secret conditions, or even a bunch of stuff we got to jump through to get wisdom – remember, its ours for the asking. What is being said is that we must ask in true faith, without doubt, and with a whole hearted dependence and reliance on him (“I seek you with all my heart that I might not sin against you” Psalm 119:10). This isn’t a case of going through trials and we throw out a prayer to cover it. The act of praying in itself, working up an intensifed faith, or being uncertain about the results will not work for you. Humility and surrendering yourself to God, together with a full reliance on Him, is what God is asking. Remember – the “…trials of many kinds” is the process of refining us to a full maturity in Christ.

O.K., let’s wrap up this part with a summary. First, we all will have trials of many kinds, but it is ordained for us to build and mature us in the Kingdom of God. Maturity means living more and more in the character of Christ, growing more and more like him every day. God never permits anything in our life that he has not equipped us to walk through victoriously in him. To that end, He has given us wisdom to gain knowledge and understanding to be victorious. Let’s close with J.B. Phillips New Testament translation of the verses we have been studying:

“When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realise that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask God – who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty – and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him. But he must ask in sincere faith without secret doubts as to whether he really wants God’s help or not. The man who trusts God, but with inward reservations, is like a wave of the sea, carried forward by the wind one moment and driven back the next. That sort of man cannot hope to receive anything from God, and the life of a man of divided loyalty will reveal instability at every turn.”

For further study on wisdom: Job 28:28,  32:7; Proverbs 4:7; Hosea 14:9; Matthew 7:24; 2 Timothy 3:15; James 3:17; Ecclesiastes 2:26; Luke 21:15

This is a series on James Chapter one:
Yesterday – Count It As Joy
Today – Finding Wisdom
Tomorrow – Temptation and Sin

Studying James – Count It As Joy

April 26th, 2010 by steve

The Sunday morning youth class has been studying the first chapter of James. To tell you the truth, it is more than studying because these great youth have been opening up their lives to compare their situations with what James is instructing. We have had some real and profound discussions based on real situations in their lives that have opened up their eyes. That’s because James is very practical, filled with wisdom on how to live out our faith.

James’ concern is living a wholehearted and undivided devotion to God – being a true and authentic Christian. It really gets down to the nuts and bolts of how we live, practicing what we believe. It’s putting action to our faith. And, yes, it has been a real eye-opener. Regardless of our age, James has a lot to teach us.

What these past weeks have taught us is how to live with a right understanding of trials, suffering and temptation. What James has to say keeps us from compromising our Christian lives and attempting to water our faith down to live in the middle road between the world and Christ. There is no wiggle room in what James wrote. It’s plain and to the point.

O.K., let us get going with some thoughts of trials and suffering. Right up front, it tells us we are consider it pure joy when we face trials (vs 2). The Message says, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.” O.K., no one, including Christians, escape trials, challenges, problems, etc. The difference is these very trials are the way to maturity in Christ! The J B Phillips New Testament puts it this way: “When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realise that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence.”

I think Phillips really put it in a way that strikes at the heart of the issue; “don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends!” When you are sitting in three lanes of traffic backed up for miles – welcome it as a friend! When everyone is crappy at your place of work and nothing goes right – welcome it as a friend! When you suddenly are faced with life disrupting problems – welcome it as a friend! “Consider it pure joy…” James says. And when you are hit with temptations (“trials of many kinds”), welcome these as a friend!

Why? All these events are a testing of your faith – a process of refining you so that you will be mature, complete and not lacking in anything. The joy is not a giddy, cosmetic smile and “I’m happy” attitude, but a deep reliance and trust of the Christ within us that all is well and he will see us through these trials by his strength, might and power. He is our peace. He is our joy.

And guess what? If we handle these events in our life with joy, we not only are maturing, we are being a light to others who will witness how we handle trials and tribulations in our life!

More on James Tomorrow


April 19th, 2010 by steve

“What must we do, then, to be saved? To find God we must repent of the things we have done wrong, but if that is all you do, you may remain just an elder brother. To truly become a Christian we must also repent of the reasons we ever did anything right. Pharisees only repent of their sins, but Christians repent for the very roots of their righteousness, too. We must learn how to repent of the sin under all our other sins and under all our righteousness – the sin of seeking to be our own Savior and Lord. We must admit that we’ve put our ultimate hope in both our wrongdoing and right doing we have been seeking to get around God or get control of God in order to get hold of those things.

It is only when you see the desire to be your own Savior and Lord—lying beneath both your sins and your moral goodness—that you are on the verge of becoming a Christian indeed. When you realize that the antidote to being bad is not just being good, you are on the brink. If you follow through, it will change everything—how you relate to God, self, others, the world, your work, you sins, your virtue. It’s called the new birth because its so radical”

Tim Keller, The Prodigal God