Monthly Archives: November 2011

Wisdom, a gift from God

James says that our trials will produce steadfastness and that steadfastness has an effect on a person so that they ‘lack nothing’. However, James goes on to suppose that someone may lack wisdom and in that case there is ultimately one source…God. (1:3-6)

God, unlike man, is a great gift giver. He isn’t stingy about it or scolding either.  Should you need the gift of wisdom, ASK!  He can and will provide it. Solomon asked for wisdom and got not just a little bit of wisdom, he got a whole bunch. Judging from these verses, I think that we gain a lot of wisdom from the trials we go through. Still, occasionally, we may face a situation and truly not know what is the best way to handle it.

Prayer should be our first step. I know that gaining insight into a problem doesn’t always occur during prayer but it has happened. Additionally, the faith in we must ask is not to be an impatient one where we expect God to answer just as soon as we finish the question.  Sometimes there is a delay in the answer.

Two additional sources for wisdom (and the reason why there may be a delay) is from His word. Proverbs is full of wisdom as well as the many passages that teach us valuable lessons to apply to our life. As we read his word (you do that regularly, don’t you?) we often will come across a passage that we forgot or one that we see speaks to the situation and guides us to a solution.

The other source is the experience of others. So many times we can learn from what others have done, their mistakes and triumphs. Several times Solomon says to his son “listen to what I am saying”. If you have someone you know who has gone through the experience you are going through, asking for their insight can help, especially when they are a Christian.

Wisdom is the appropriate use of knowledge that results in a blessing. It is also one of the best blessings God can give us. Ask if you need it.

 

Count it all Joy

So many times we look at trials and testings as a bad thing. But I like the way the ESV states verse 3. “When you meet various trials”

When you meet them. mmmm. That is easy to understand although sometimes we might think that they are meeting us. James says our faith is tested and we may think of temptations to sin or even to leave the Lord. While that may be included, it should also be narrowed down.

Consider it this way: When that driver cuts you off are you exploding all over yourself as he drives away blissfully unaware of what he did? What kind of faith do you have? A kind one? A forgiving one? An assumption that maybe he needed to be hurrying along his way and meant you no ill?

Or when someone offers to let you cheat on a test: Is your faith one that says Honesty and not speaking lies is part of God’s character therefore it is part of mine. An A+ stolen is not a godly as a C- earned.  Besides, you should have paid more attention to the ant you sluggard! No more procrastinating.

When your faith is tested in various ways and you pass that test, your steadfastness is increased. Not only does this open the way for you to be used by God more, it opens the way for you to be a better example to others and perhaps provide the wisdom that some lack.

(next time: Lacking wisdom)

P.S. So my trial right now is “how do I post this onto my James page?” Fear not if there is a way, I will find it or someone will help me find it.

T.V. or not T.V. that is the question!

I am sorry! Maybe I am just missing it. Perhaps in my early youth (which implies I still am in my youth…just a bit older) I didn’t care. Perhaps I didn’t think it didn’t matter. Maybe I didn’t want it to matter. Maybe I wasn’t spiritual enough, perhaps I wasn’t strong enough or maybe…just maybe there were a too few many thorns in my soil. (see previous post)

However, I seriously have to ask you if any Christian should be watching T.V.!! Now wait! Before you click back, home, or however you leave a blog, I am NOT talking about the T.V. shows. Well, not in this post so much even though I could.

Kids watching commercialNo, I am not referring to the Television shows that are easy to turn off if the material is too risqué, mature, or down right crude.Everyone should be familiar with the on/off switch and use it accordingly. What I am referring to is the commercials.

 There you are enjoying a good show with clean humor, no language to make you cringe and then Bam! Here comes some Pizza commercial full of innuendo with the NFL cheerleaders in the guy’s fantasy or some NFL player in the lady’s version. I tell you a truth, I lie not: It used to be that if God had not created women there would be little selling of anything! Now the women are getting into the act by objectifying men too. I guess it would be doubly true then: If God had not created man or woman, there would be NO selling. But then, I suppose,  I wouldn’t have anyone to read my blog.

Who needs sex, sex appeal, scantily dressed women to sell Orange Juice, Pizza, Butter or a myriad of other products? Apparently it is needed. I seriously doubt that Madison avenue is putting this stuff out there because the majority of the world doesn’t like it!  They are in the business of making money and if they alienate their audience, sales do not improve.  I don’t recall all of the language my Communication Studies professors would have used to describe this but I do know that media is out to sell a product and they KNOW how to do it. And yet…there is a more important question to ask:

As a Christian can I allow myself and my family to be subjected to the world’s standards so often that it starts to make no difference to them or  the next generation?  In 1939 the Best picture was Gone with the Wind. In this movie, there was one profane word. Just one! By today’s standards not even a particularly offensive one. However, a couple of generations later, well…I don’t really have to finish that thought with examples, now do I? What is next for T.V. in the upcoming years? I shudder to ask or think about it.

If it were a T.V. show that offended, I could avoid watching it. However, if the price to pay for watching shows that I do want to watch is the advertisements advertising the shows that I don’t want to watch, (which often remind me of why I do not want to watch them), then one has to ask: Is the price too high?

David said: I will set nothing wicked before my eyes (Psalm 101:3). Funny that we call it a T.V. set!

Job said: “I have made a covenant with my eyes, Why then should I look upon a young woman” (Job 31:1)

Jesus said “If you look upon a woman to lust after her, you have committed adultery in your heart” (Matt 5:28)

Sure, this may come off as judgemental and about now, you might expect a call for a boycott! However, I simply want to raise the question. Because there is not a man or woman alive over the age of 18 who has not had a struggle with this to some degree or another. Not just on T.V. but in real life. So why add to struggle by adding to the exposure.   We need to take an honest, prayerful look at all of our activities, even the passive ones, and ask if people see Jesus in us.

The Parable of the Sower

The parable of the sower is an agricultural analogy. It uses something that we, with our limited spiritual perceptions,  can easily understand in order to offer us an insight into the spiritual truths that Jesus understood perfectly well.  Unless you are like the kid in the city who thinks that apples come from the store, not tying the apple to an apple tree, you understand that seeds need to have a good environment in which to grow.

The seed in this parable is the word of God.  It is spread everywhere as the sower goes through the field. The different types of soil represent those that hear the word and how they respond to it, how the word grows in their life, and ultimately tells us what kind of soil they are. In this lesson, one of the most interesting of the soils is the thorny soil.

It would be understandable to listen to this parable and conclude that only 25% of the soils (the good soil) produces anything. However, that is not quite true. The thorny soil also produced something…thorns. In fact, it may be concluded that if the thorny soil did not have the thorns that the seed also would have produce good fruit. In other words, the only reason for being unproductive is the thorns.

This makes it imperative that we understand what these thorns are. Understanding them helps us take a measure of our life and remove them if we find them. These thorns will choke the word of God and make it unfruitful if we do not remove them.

The thorns are the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things. These three items pretty much cover it all:

  • the cares of the world are those things that the world cares about. What does the world care about? See Luke 12:30 Food, drink and clothing.  Yet we are reminded not to be like them. Our Father knows what we need and we should be content if we have food and clothing. I Tim 6:8
  • The deceitfulness of riches are seen in those who think that wealth is going to provide everything that they need. This is not the case. Luke 12:16-21
  • The desires for other things include anything which God has not authorized. Desire that goes beyond what God has provided to us is wrong. Ahaz wanted Naboth’s field, Korah wanted the leadership position of Moses, Ananias and Sapphira wanted praise of man.

We get these thorns from the world and from our upbringing. Some who serve the Lord have been called out of the world others have been raised in the church but the influences of the world have crept in. Some of the thorns that have been brought into Christian families are these:

  • Getting an education. This can be an important thing but families should never put so much emphasis on the grades a student gets in school while neglecting the spiritual education. The job will not save their soul.
  • Buying a house because renting is bad. I don’t know who thought of this but it seems pretty common knowledge. If you rent for to long, you have ‘nothing to show for it’. Unfortunately, people rush others into buying and it becomes a burden. I could refer to the statistics of foreclosures going on right now but simply consider that the Bible says with ‘food and clothing’ we will be content…it does not say ‘shelter’.
  • Debt is ok. There is really something wrong here and especially when you are buying something that is a ‘want’ rather than a ‘need’. When you do this, you are in effect saying that God is not able to provide for me so I will borrow from the future and promise to pay it back  later. When you don’t even know if you have a tomorrow…

To get rid of these thorns one needs to keep his eyes on Jesus (Heb 12:1-2), add characteristics that allow us to see what is truly important (2 peter 1:9) and learn to be content with things you may consider to be less than you should have. (I Tim. 6:3-11)

Happy weeding!

Here’s the sermon: http://lostpineschurchofchrist.com/media/The_parable_of_the_sower.mp3

What astonishes you?

When you are astonished, it has an impact on you. It impresses you in some way. Sometimes that impression is small, sometimes it is rather large. But what astonishes you? What makes you sit up and take notice? Would the Blue Angels or a performance by David Copperfield be enough to impress you? Certainly those things would.

In the Bible, there are several times the word “astonished” is used and as you might expect, miracles and unexpected events are one of those reasons. Nebuchadnezzar was astonished that Daniel’s three friends were not burned up and a 4th person was walking with them. (Daniel 3) Peter and his friends were astonished at the great catch of fish they caught after Jesus told them to try again. (Luke 5) And Mary was astonished after an angel told her that Jesus was risen and would meet them in Galilee. (Mark 16)

However, I think it worth noting that after Jesus had finished speaking the sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7, that the reaction of the crowd was also ‘astonishment’. As far as I can see, no miracle was performed, just simple teaching. In other occassions there is astonishment at his teaching also. Matt 19:25 and Mt 22:33 are times when his teaching and words astonished both his disciples and the crowds that heard him.

My question to you is this: Are YOU astonished at the words of Jesus? Or, do they simply mean nothing to you. Sometimes we forget to take the time to be amazed at His teaching as we are in such a hurry to fulfill our Bible reading quota whatever that may be. We should take the time to consider the words we read. I don’t think anyone will misunderstand me, I don’t just mean the words that Jesus spoke, the Red lettered words. I mean all of the word of God and, of course, Jesus’ words were/are an important part of that.

We need to take time to read His word every day but also to look intently into that mirror of His word and allow it to reveal to us those things which we need to improve. The word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword and can discern our intents and thoughts, we are not going to fool God.

If I do this right, there is a link to a sermon that this post is based on. I hope you enjoy it if you listen to it, but whether reading or listening, I hope that you will be astonished at the words of Jesus.

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