Thursday, January 31, 2013

Is Your Religion Worthless?

Howdy! So glad to see you joined me for the recap of week 2 of our Bible Study on James! It’s so good to have you here! Brrr! It’s cold outside, its currently -13 as I write this (wind chill is -49), does that even qualify as cold, or is it more like frozen? Anyway,  grab something warm to drink and let’s get started.
Most of us are familiar with this passage in James 1:19-27.

Be quick to listen…Be slow to speak…Be slow to become angry…Get rid of all moral filth…Get rid of all the evil so prevalent among you…Humbly accept the word planted in you (this can save you)…Do not just listen to the word…Do what it says…Look intently into the perfect law…Don’t forget what it says…Keep a tight rein on your tongue…Look after orphans and widows…

Such good and needed instruction packed neatly into one little passage. It’s like a power packed vitamin for the believer’s soul.  
Wait a minute! Remember who James is talking to? The scattered Christians. They left homes and families, were running for their lives…. Maybe I’m just a softie, but doesn’t it seem that a little compassion and care would be more appropriate? They need a hug not a lecture! This feels a bit harsh, like he is beating them while they are down.

But I think if I step back from my feelings and look at the big picture, I will see that he is writing from a heart that is deeply concerned for these people. I can even feel an urgency. They are facing various trials (not the I-have-a-flat-tire kind of trials but more like the running-for-your-life kind of trials), yet he knows the importance for them to keep on keeping on in the faith. Difficult times can make us want to rest, coast, take a break, catch our breath. But James urges them to keep on. “This can save you.” Their eternal destination, and that of others is what is most important and James lovingly points them to that.
On the surface, it may appear they needed a shoulder to cry on, but at the heart of things, what they really needed was strength. And James delivers. It’s a message of “Don’t give up when it’s difficult. Don’t quit. Don’t join the crowd to fit in. Don’t seek comfort. Don’t forget the goal. Don’t deceive yourselves. Don’t fall into a worthless religion. Remember what it’s all about.” Strength is found in Christ. They knew this. But our thinking gets clouded when we face trials and we need to be reminded of the facts. To follow the facts, not feelings.

There is so much in this passage we can take away for our lives. It’s almost too much to put into one post. In fact, this is the second draft of this post. The first one was way too long and I’m pretty sure I heard some of you yawn part way through, so I opened up a new, fresh page to begin a shorter version.  
Again, it’s already pretty long and I haven’t even gotten to application yet (stay with me, we’re almost done). So, I will make it short and sweet. I will just list some questions to ask yourself.  Answer honestly before God. You’ll have to be a big girl and read the passage for yourself and ask God to show you what He wants you to apply in your life. Be sure your religion isn't worthless.

By the way, if you click on“comments” below, you can let me know your take-away application- hint, hint, hint…

Questions to Self:
How much do I listen vs. talk?
How quickly do I get angry?
What is my focus/goal when I am angry?
Is it a focus that would please God?
Will that focus help me grow more like Christ?
What moral filth or evil do I need to get rid of?
Have I humbled my heart?
Have I accepted what the Holy Spirit teaches as the true way or just an option?
Do I put what I learn into action?
Am I careful that what I listen to and study is the perfect law (God’s word)?
Do I study intently and internalize it?
Do I keep a tight rein on my tongue? (this will help answer the next question)
 Is my religion worthless or faultless and pure and accepted by God?
Do I minister to orphans and widows, people in distress?


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