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Tidbits from the Book of James-Part 1

The Epistle of James always helps remind me of many of God’s wonderful guidelines on how to live Godly in this sinful world. These tidbits can bring needed, though uncomfortable, conviction to the believer’s heart. That’s why some tend to shy away from it. I did that for a time myself. Each time I read this Book, God does a little something different in my heart. I will attempt, over the next however long the Spirit leads, to share what He shows me.

First, let us consider and understand who James was. He was the half-brother of Jesus and he did not accept Christ as Saviour until after Jesus rose again. (I have often considered the heartache Jesus must have felt when He began His ministry and many of His family members disowned Him for His claims of Christ-hood. But that is for another time.) James did become an elder of the church in Jerusalem and he was respected as a leader among and Council member of the early churches in Jerusalem – Acts 15:6-21. James may possibly be the first New Testament book to be written.

This Epistle offers words of encouragement to us as we try to be firm in our Christian faith while we are persecuted for it. He urges us to focus on the victory that we will attain through what Jesus did. James also provides practical advice to unite all believers so that our fellowship will not be threatened by a lack of love, un-christlike speech, and bitter attitudes.

James teaches us to develop our faith by seeking wisdom from God. He reminds us that we have a choice: we can either give in to sin and suffer tragic consequences, or we can stand firm and therefore experience maturity of our faith by accepting the trials that will inevitably come. He maintains that our trials will produce patience and they will ultimately perfect and complete us as Christians. The prevalent theme of James is how to develop an enduring faith.

Today we will look at James 1:1-8

James 1:1-8

1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. (James could have given himself more credit by making sure we know that he is Jesus’ brother here, or he could have even boasted about his leadership in the reputable Jerusalem church. Instead, he proudly referred to himself as a “servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Servant here means “bondservant,” like slaves who had been released from their obligation, but willingly remain servants to their masters out of respect for them. Likewise, James gladly offered his life to be bound to serving God, who gave him his freedom. He expressed his willingness to obey, laid aside his own rights to follow God’s will, and he pledged his loyalty to the Lord regardless of personal loss, humiliation, or danger.)

2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; (Woah, hold on there you say! Count it all joy?! Yes, we are to count it all joy when several trials and temptations come, and sometimes several of them come at once. Remember when Paul and Silas were beaten and cast into stocks in the inner prison? What did they do? They sang praises to God and were set free. I have experienced the release and help that Jesus gives when we praise Him during tough times. There is nothing like to to build your faith.)

3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. (So all Christians learn as we grow that trials usually come so as to build our character and patience. This is never fun to experience, but if we praise God during the trials and ask Him what He is trying to teach us, He gives us the grace we need to grow as we move through them. I used to pray, God please give me patience. And then I would freak out because almost immediately something would happen that I really did not like, and as I whined about it to a more mature Christian, I would be reminded that every time we ask for patience we can expect a trial to develop that patience in us. Now I ask for grace as He teaches me the patience I still need.)

4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (As Christ-like women, we come to realize that we all have the potential and that it is our God-given destiny to continually be maturing in our walk with our Lord. This is a goal that only God can help us reach.)

5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (I am also understanding more the importance of growing in Godly wisdom. And all I have to do is ask for it. I used to think that the Scripture that says to ask and you shall receive was about asking for things and happiness, etc., but I have come to understand that while we do ask for those things, it is also speaking of wisdom in dealing with things that come up throughout our daily lives, as well as sharing the Lord with others and live out our faith.)

6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. (When we ask, we are to ask believing, like it is already happening. Oh how many times do I ask the Lord for answers in fervent prayer and then take it back and fret about it and get myself into a tizzy. How silly that is. If I ask something of the Lord, I need to trust Him with it without doubt; if I take it back and start fretting about it then I am not trusting Him.)

8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (Double-minded=wavering in mind : undecided, vacillating. It is a human weakness and a characteristic of the hypocrite. One might say one thing while acting completely opposite, making one “unstable in all his ways.” God has no use for a double-minded person. Jesus spoke of double minded behaviour in Matthew 6:24 “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” We are to know what we believe and why we believe it, hopefully because God says it in His Word, and we are to stand firm in those Godly beliefs, not wavering.)

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2018 in God's Truth

 

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Lydia-An Influential Businesswoman

In my last post I shared another instance where God’s servants were imprisoned for teaching God’s truths, and God sent an angel to miraculously free them. Once again, the ‘brethren’ had been together in one accord, praying fervently for Paul and Silas. This time, they were together in the home of a woman named Lydia.

Acts 16:40 “And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.”

Lydia came from Thyatira, a city in the western province of Lydia in Asia Minor. Her name originally might have been the designation of her home, “a woman of Lydia.” At the time Lydia met Paul, she lived at Philippi, a leading city of Macedonia on the European continent.  As a wealthy and influential businesswoman, Lydia sold articles dyed purple, a prized color made from certain mollusks–a respectable and lucrative trade. She had a spacious home that could accommodate many guests and servants to meet their needs. This had to be a rare achievement in her day. I would say that she was indeed a hard-working, bold, and intelligent woman to have achieved the success that she enjoyed. She also was a true child of God who understood that everything she had was a blessing from the Lord, to be used for His glory.

One Sabbath day, Lydia went to the river’s shore that had been designated by the Roman authorities of Philippi as a place of prayer and worship for the Jews. There she met Paul and Silas, who had been in Philippi only a short time. While others along the river may have rejected Paul’s words about Jesus, Lydia accepted them and became a Believer. Once she believed, she made a confession of her faith to her whole world through baptism and then, she assembled her entire household, told them what had happened to her, and she asked them to believe. After her entire household accepted Christ as Saviour and were baptized, Lydia invited Paul and Silas to stay in her home. When Paul and Silas were thrown into a Philippian prison, Lydia visited them and attended to their needs. Her house became the meeting place of the first European church.

Lydia was quick to understand that what had been hers before her conversion–home, business, and possessions–now belonged to the Lord. She had a new partner, the Lord Jesus; a new purpose, to serve Him; and a new satisfaction in seeking to be effective and successful in order to glorify the Lord. Her career aspirations did not hinder her sharing the gospel with family and friends. She was not too busy to take time for hospitality – Acts 16:15 “And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.”

Lydia’s name appears in Scripture only twice. She was seemingly the first Gentile convert in Europe, the first Christian businesswoman, and the first Believer to open her home as a worship center for European Christians. Not only to Paul and the early church, but also to the generations to come, Lydia proved the importance and influence of a woman of determination, foresight, and generosity.

What a wonderful, Godly example! Oh, how we could use more like Lydia in our world today!

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2015 in Godly Women

 

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Strength for Believers

This epistle of Ephesians was written when Paul was a prisoner at Rome. It’s purpose was to strengthen the Ephesians in the faith of Christ, and to give exalted views of the love of God, and the dignity and excellence of Christ. It applies to mankind today as in these early days of Christianity, as it teaches that we were saved by grace, and and it encourages us to persevere in our Christian calling. It also urges us to walk in a manner that is becoming to our profession of Christ. I am not sure why, but God has led me to share Chapter 4. I have inserted notes from Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible.

Ephesians 4

 1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;

 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Nothing is pressed more earnestly in the Scriptures, than to walk as becomes those called to Christ’s kingdom and glory. By lowliness, understand humility, which is opposed to pride. By meekness, that excellent disposition of soul, which makes men unwilling to provoke, and not easily to be provoked or offended. We find much in ourselves for which we can hardly forgive ourselves; therefore we must not be surprised if we find in others that which we think it hard to forgive. There is one Christ in whom all believers hope, and one heaven they are all hoping for; therefore they should be of one heart. They had all one faith, as to its object, Author, nature, and power. They all believed the same as to the great truths of religion; they had all been admitted into the church by one baptism, with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, as the sign of regeneration. In all believers God the Father dwells, as in his holy temple, by his Spirit and special grace.

 7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

 8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?

10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Unto every believer is given some gift of grace, for their mutual help. All is given as seems best to Christ to bestow upon every one. He received for them, that he might give to them, a large measure of gifts and graces; particularly the gift of the Holy Ghost. Not a mere head knowledge, or bare acknowledging Christ to be the Son of God, but such as brings trust and obedience. There is a fulness in Christ, and a measure of that fulness given in the counsel of God to every believer; but we never come to the perfect measure till we come to heaven. God’s children are growing, as long as they are in this world; and the Christian’s growth tends to the glory of Christ. The more a man finds himself drawn out to improve in his station, and according to his measure, all that he has received, to the spiritual good of others, he may the more certainly believe that he has the grace of sincere love and charity rooted in his heart.

17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,

18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:

19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

20 But ye have not so learned Christ;

21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:

22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

The apostle charged the Ephesians in the name and by the authority of the Lord Jesus, that having professed the gospel, they should not be as the unconverted Gentiles, who walked in vain fancies and carnal affections. Do not men, on every side, walk in the vanity of their minds? Must not we then urge the distinction between real and nominal Christians? They were void of all saving knowledge; they sat in darkness, and loved it rather than light. They had a dislike and hatred to a life of holiness, which is not only the way of life God requires and approves, and by which we live to him, but which has some likeness to God himself in his purity, righteousness, truth, and goodness. The truth of Christ appears in its beauty and power, when it appears as in Jesus. The corrupt nature is called a man; like the human body, it is of divers parts, supporting and strengthening one another. Sinful desires are deceitful lusts; they promise men happiness, but render them more miserable; and bring them to destruction, if not subdued and mortified. These therefore must be put off, as an old garment, a filthy garment; they must be subdued and mortified. But it is not enough to shake off corrupt principles; we must have gracious ones. By the new man, is meant the new nature, the new creature, directed by a new principle, even regenerating grace, enabling a man to lead a new life of righteousness and holiness. This is created, or brought forth by God’s almighty power.

25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

27 Neither give place to the devil.

28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

Notice the particulars wherewith we should adorn our Christian profession. Take heed of every thing contrary to truth. No longer flatter or deceive others. God’s people are children who will not lie, who dare not lie, who hate and abhor lying. Take heed of anger and ungoverned passions. If there is just occasion to express displeasure at what is wrong, and to reprove, see that it be without sin. We give place to the devil, when the first motions of sin are not grievous to our souls; when we consent to them; and when we repeat an evil deed. This teaches that as sin, if yielded unto, lets in the devil upon us, we are to resist it, keeping from all appearance of evil. Idleness makes thieves. Those who will not work, expose themselves to temptations to steal. Men ought to be industrious, that they may do some good, and that they may be kept from temptation. They must labour, not only that they may live honestly, but that they may have to give to the wants of others. What then must we think of those called Christians, who grow rich by fraud, oppression, and deceitful practices! Alms, to be accepted of God, must not be gained by unrighteousness and robbery, but by honesty and industry. God hates robbery for burnt-offerings.

29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Filthy words proceed from corruption in the speaker, and they corrupt the minds and manners of those who hear them: Christians should beware of all such discourse. It is the duty of Christians to seek, by the blessing of God, to bring persons to think seriously, and to encourage and warn believers by their conversation. Be ye kind one to another. This sets forth the principle of love in the heart, and the outward expression of it, in a humble, courteous behaviour. Mark how God’s forgiveness causes us to forgive. God forgives us, though we had no cause to sin against him. We must forgive, as he has forgiven us. All lying, and corrupt communications, that stir up evil desires and lusts, grieve the Spirit of God. Corrupt passions of bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil-speaking, and malice, grieve the Holy Spirit. Provoke not the holy, blessed Spirit of God to withdraw his presence and his gracious influences. The body will be redeemed from the power of the grave at the resurrection day. Wherever that blessed Spirit dwells as a Sanctifier, he is the earnest of all the joys and glories of that redemption day; and we should be undone, should God take away his Holy Spirit from us.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2015 in God's Love

 

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