Monday, June 29, 2009

James Lesson 8: Check Your Source (Jubilee Monday # 43)

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Ok, I know this isn't Friday. But, since I skipped a day on the Retreat/Lock-in Weekend, I need to squeeze in an extra post to finish the study before my Regularly Scheduled Blogging Break on the third week of July. And, since tying up loose ends is sort of a Jubilee thing, I decided to make it my Jubilee post for this week, too. ;)

The Epistle of James: A Blogged Bible Study
The study to date:
May 1: Study intro
May 8: James 1:1 Intro to the Epistle of James
May 15: James 1:2 – 18 Make Quality Decisions
May 22: James 1:19-27 Make Real Changes
May 29: James 2:1-13 Live the Law of Freedom
June 5: James 2:14 – 26 Demonstrate Real Faith
June 12: James 3: 1 - 12 Discipline the Tongue
June 26: James 3:13 - 18 Recognize True Wisdom

June 29 James 4:1 – 10 Check Your Sources

I. Desires can come from the wrong source (4:1 – 3)

James segues from his discussion of true wisdom into some very practical teaching about relating to one another. It's interesting that he follows his statement that peacemakers harvest righteousness by observing that there are fights and arguments between the believers. This, he points out, is due to selfish desires that fight to control the body. This can be a double reference...not only do individuals struggle with selfish desires, but when an individual gives into those personal selfish desires, the corporate body suffers as an individual or group of individuals attempts to control the assembly.

Desires that fight within individuals are those desires which are mutually exclusive... trying to please God while satisfying one's selfish agenda... and are symptomatic of double-mindedness (see 1:7-8). Desires of the natural man are those that the individual will do anything to satisfy, considering that the end justifies the means. Someone who is maneuvering and manipulating to satisfy personal agendas does not acknowledge God as the Source; there is no humbling oneself to admit the inability to truly satisfy oneself and asking God to fulfill the desire (by the way, such a reluctance to ask God for something usually indicates that we know deep down that what we desire is not God’s will for us). Or, an individual does acknowledge God, but what is desired is not for God’s service, but for his/her own pleasure or to satisfy personal ambition, still not recognizing God's plan and authority.

II. Satisfaction will never come from the wrong source (4:4 – 6)

James identifies such folks as people who are unfaithful to God (lit. ‘adulterous’, as in a woman who cheats on her husband) by seeking a relationship with ‘The World.’

Here's a definition of 'The World': The system that places value on human achievement, favor, power, and wealth while devaluing godly principles and priorities. Spiritual things are valued only as a means to personal power.

Compare. Ex. 20:5 You shall not bow down to [idols]or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God.... with James 4:5 , which literally says that ‘to envy yearns the spirit which dwelt in you.’ It's an awkwardly worded passage, yes, but not a difficult concept. God will not – can not – bless anyone who tries to earn esteem from the system that is opposed to Him. One who is seeking anything from the world has his back turned to God. Yet God longs to bless us. So, if we refuse to humble ourselves, God, in His grace, will humiliate us in order to put us in the place of humility where we are blessable.

III. Blessing comes from looking only to God as Source (4:7 – 10)
As a solution to the 'desires that war within us', James gives us seven practical instructions in order to become the kind of people that God can bless and use:
1) Submit to God - recognize His authority and quit pursuing a personal agenda
2) Resist the Devil -his plan is to prevent you from submitting to God; we must actively work against allowing the enemy's influence in our lives.

3)Come near to God - just as we actively work against listening to the enemy, we need to actively pursue a relationship with God..because the very pursuit of God draws Him to us.

4) Wash your hands: Clean up your lives and get rid of ungodly activities

5) Purify your hearts: eliminate self-centered motives.

6) Grieve (be sad, be sorry, weep, stop laughing, be gloomy) for your sin; don't fool yourself into thinking it's not a big deal. Sin is either forgiven through repentance and faith, or it brings about death. 'Excused' is not an option.

7)Be humble before God. Recognize what He does in and for us and always remember that It is He that has made us, and not we ourselves (Ps. 100:3)

And then - notice the last half of verse 10: He will lift you up. He will see to it that we each walk in our destiny and calling; it is not something for us to manipulate. If we do those seven things, we will be aligned and positioned in heart and life to do what God has called each of us to do.

Things to think about 'bow down' means 'submit to' ; 'worship' means to esteem, honor, serve.
What is in my life, other than God, that I submit myself to, or that I give esteem, honor and service, that I see as a source for meeting my needs? What do I need to do to turn towards God and away from that source?

Friday, June 26, 2009

James Lesson 7: Recognize True Wisdom

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

The Epistle of James: A Blogged Bible Study
The study to date:
May 1: Study intro
May 8: James 1:1 Intro to the Epistle of James
May 15: James 1:2 – 18 Make Quality Decisions
May 22: James 1:19-27 Make Real Changes
May 29: James 2:1-13 Live the Law of Freedom
June 5: James 2:14 – 26 Demonstrate Real Faith
June 12: James 3: 1 - 12 Discipline the Tongue

June 26: James 3:13 - 18 Recognize True Wisdom

I've got to do a bit of a disclaimer for this particular lesson; it's a compare/contrast deal and I always taught it by making two columns on a dry erase board and talking my way through the comparisons. The notes in my file are simply the two columns of contrasted points. So, um, this lesson is going to be different than the way I taught it in the past. But, hey, I could use a good look at what constitutes real wisdom anyway....

I. Call for Wisdom - 3:13
After his discussion of words and the use of them, James issues a challenge for those who are 'wise and understanding': to show that wisdom by conducting themselves rightly, doing all things from the humility that proceeds from true wisdom.

II. Beware Earthly Wisdom - 3:14- 16
The next word is 'But' you know there's a contrast coming, a warning to be heeded. Contrasted with the challenge to the wise is a description of what is not a basis for wise action: bitter envy and selfish ambition harbored in the heart.

James actually is instructing folks to check the basis for action, and if they find that there is envy and selfishness at the core of their being, he issues a stern warning: Don't boast about it or deny the truth. Now, there are two ways we can consider that warning:
- don't be proud of your selfish motives. "Looking out for Number One!" implies that God is not trustworthy. Making decisions based on personal happiness without regard to personal responsibility destroys relationships and does not reflect the way God has dealt with His people; it misrepresents the One that gave us the example of how to live.
- don't deny the heart content, covering up the true motives and refusing to deal with the issues. Don't be a manipulator

That self-focus, James says, is the foundation for earthly, natural wisdom. But he doesn't stop there; he actually says the devil himself is the source of such 'wisdom'. Think for a minute about the Garden of Eden and the lies the serpent told Eve. He managed to get her to question that God had her best interests in His heart, which lead her to desire something for herself outside of God's intentions for her, and to act on that desire. That has been the lie of the world ever since: put yourself first. James lays social disorder and evil deeds right at that root cause: envy and selfish ambition.

III. Cultivate Heavenly Wisdom.
Once again the word 'But' introduces the contrast. Now, though, the earthly wisdom that is the cause of strife and evil practices is contrasted with the wisdom that comes from heaven, which is, first of all, pure in the motive for all actions. No taint of selfishness or jealousy in any of its actions. Next, the wisdom from God is peace-loving. Not 'peace at any price' loving, but one that loves the peace of God that passes all understanding and seeks to spread that peace. Heavenly wisdom is considerate, which means it causes folks to think of the needs of others. It is submissive, recognizing and respecting true authority. It is full of mercy and good fruit. It is impartial, not showing favoritism to any one above another. Finally, it is sincere, since it flows from a heart that has been cleansed of selfish motives.

And, just as the false wisdom has the result of disorder and evil, heavenly wisdom is a peacemaking practice, which results in righteousness.

Things to think about: Think about the last time a decision was made to spend a chunk of money, the last time a decision was made to spend uncommitted time, and the last time a relationship issue was dealt with. What was revealed about heart motives in each of those decisions? How did - or didn't - the input you had in those decisions reveal a heart attitude of trust in God and the application of heavenly wisdom?

STUDY NOTE: Since I was pretty much out of pocket last Friday and missed posting, I'm going to post the next study on Monday as part of my 'Jubilee' posts...since part of Jubilee is fulfilling obligations, it sort of works! I want to finish the study before the next Regularly Scheduled Blogging Break, so I'll have to do an extra sometime anyway. Thought I'd pass along a heads up as to when it will be.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Certainties of Life

(posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi)

...y'know...taxes and...death.

By and large, I don't comment on public figures in the news. I figure there are so many bloggers out there talking about this stuff that there's not really much point in me offering my two cents worth; someone else very likely has already said it better.

And that's an arena in which I really don't care to compete.

But. Y'all. These were icons from my coming of age years. In just a precious few weeks, I'll hit the big 5-0 myself.

Suddenly a whole generation is dealing with its mortality.

What are we who believe going to tell them? More to the point, what are our daily lives telling them about our hope and our assurance?

Cause, you know, they're going to be asking...whether they use words or not.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Jubilee Monday #42 :Oh, I'm Thankful!

Because The Princess told me that if I posted this photo on Facebook she would immediately unfriend me, I decided to post it here.

Because, y'know, I'm grateful for such fabulous people sharing my life. God is very good.

Father's Day 2009 - The Princess, The Artist, The Actor, The Flute Player and My Sweet Baboo.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I just realized I missed the scheduled post for the James Bible study on Friday...

I was at state retreat with my Friends club girls Thursday - Friday, and we had a three hour turn around before going to church for the junior high ministry's girls' lock-in.

So I was home on Friday long enough to take a shower, repack things for the lock in and fix supper. Then I stayed up all night Friday night, came home about 9:45 on Saturday morning and pretty much went straight to bed for the rest of the day.

So...I didn't get the next lesson posted! I'm feeling rather sheepish about that.

Mayhap I will post two lessons this week....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer Reading

Every year, just before we hit the road for our annual pilgrimage back to the Hoosier state to check in with the family, we hit the bookstore to pick up any of the summer reading books we don't already have around the house, so the kids can use the long car rides for something productive. Last year, we picked up the book on the Actor's 'must read' list, then stood in the store looking over the pretty dismal options for the optional reading... some were known to be deadly dull, and some were on topics that I just didn't think were really good for him (I actually took a sharpie marker to a couple of paragraphs in one of the books he had to read before passing it on to him, and I do not deface literature lightly...the graphic scene detailed there really did nothing to advance the plot of the book and certainly wasn't appropriate for fifteen year old kids, IMHO). It's tough to have high standards... ;)

We finally selected one from the optional list that looked interesting. Neither of us had heard of Ender's Game, a sci-fi novel about exceptionally gifted kids being trained to fight a desperate battle, and I read it first before passing it along (the usual routine when dealing with unknown authors...the book I mentioned in the first paragraph is a good example of why...). It was thought-provoking, highly imaginative and very well written. We both enjoyed it very much.

We haven't tackled this summer's list yet (don't even have the home visit on the calendar yet!), but on a chance trip to the bookstore I wandered through the sci-fi section looking for a different book and found that the author of Ender's Game had written a second book...not exactly a sequel, but a retelling of the same story from the point of view of one of the other characters. Interesting concept...and I brought the book home.

And sat up until 3 am two nights later reading it straight through. Yeah, I really regretted that the next day...

But, that book *did* have a sequel, so when the bookstore sent me a coupon for %15 off of any purchase, I stopped by and picked up the sequel.

Also very good.

And, in the 'Author's Notes' after the story, I found that there are *two more* books in that little series.

So, yeah, I am watching the inbox for another coupon...

And the other book? The one that took me to the bookstore a few weeks ago and led to that first purchase? Stephen Lawheads' Song of Albion trilogy. I got the first book, but the other two were not available at either one of the bookstore's local stores, so they are en route from Amazon.

I haven't done much recreational reading in a long time. Wish I didn't have to give up sleep to do it... ;)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Jubilee Mondays # 41 - Lighten Up!

Wow, I read back through some of my recent posts and, I gotta tell ya, it's been pretty heavy around here. Of course, a study in James is no lightweight posting and that's just the truth, but someone new to Beer Lahai Roi may think it's a pretty gloomy place.

And...geeminy, it's the Jubilee year! It shouldn't oughta be like that. Sure, there are things that need improving, walls that need breaking, wounds that need healing and all kinds of other stuff that I'm digging up because it's Jubilee and I'm looking, but I've had some fun, too.

One of the most surprising fun things has been my little foray into pottery; we did some more firing a couple of weeks ago and I've got a couple more projects to show off share:

The wreath is intended as a Christmas ornament; I made it from scrap pieces and just glazed it with white crackle, the raku-fired it. I'm gonna tie a ribbon around it and hang it on the tree in a few months. Commemorative of the new creative outlet, you see.
The bowl was another fun thing. I used the coil pieces to make a mug that is going to be high-fired, so I can actually use it for coffee and such, and I decided to try a bowl...graduating the circumferences of the circles. It looks very, um, use the artist instructor Mr. S's term, 'organic' (asymmetric and primitive). I knew I couldn't get it perfect on the first shot, so I even squished it a little to emphasize the wobbly characteristics. It was glazed with 'flashed turquoise crackle', and raku fired. The picture doesn't do it has a bazillion different colors in it; a lot of shiny coppery color and just a bit of actual turquoise. That's what's so fun about raku; there are so many different variables involved in the firing process that it's impossible to predict exactly what the result will be. Actually, this looks really amateurish to me, but since I am a rank amateur, that's ok.

I had another pot glazed, but it suffered a minor mishap on entering the kiln and needs to have a large chip reglazed so it won't have a big black spot on it.

Nice thing about waits well... ;)

This has been a lot of fun and I'm sure I'll keep doing it. I have an idea in my head for a wall hanging...a braided cross...that I want to do someday. Amazing that I assumed that I wouldn't be any good at this and waited so long to give it a try. But, who cares if it's good or not...I'm having fun making it!

Friday, June 12, 2009

James Lesson 6: Discipline the Tongue

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

The Epistle of James: A Blogged Bible Study
The study to date:
May 1: Study intro
May 8: James 1:1 Intro to the Epistle of James
May 15: James 1:2 – 18 Make Quality Decisions
May 22: James 1:19-27 Make Real Changes
May 29: James 2:1-13 Live the Law of Freedom
June 5: James 2:14 – 26 Demonstrate Real Faith

June 12: James 3: 1 - 12 Discipline the Tongue

Spotted on a T-shirt: 'Lord, please keep your arm around my shoulders and Your hand over my mouth'

By way of intro, remember James 1:26 -- Controlling the tongue is essential to the practice of one’s faith. As promised, James again takes up the topic of the words we use. This passage is often studied in context of negative things that are said, but it applies equally to good things that are not said, to sloppy speech patterns and poor judgment of when things should - and should not - be said.

I – Influence of the tongue (1 – 2)
At first, this looks like James will be instructing teachers, but in fact he uses the example of teacher to lead into a discussion of the tongue; a discussion of the words that come out of our mouths. Teachers are people who use their words specifically and intentionally to shape the thoughts and actions of other people, therefore they are judged more strictly in what they say because of the influence they wield. But all of us influence others to some degree by what we say, so we should all take the message to heart. What we say and how we say it has power beyond what we imagine.

The plain fact is that the level of discipline required to use the tongue in a proper manner is so great that the discipline required to control other aspects of life is easy in comparison. Because the tongue is a seemingly minor two-ounce muscle, we do not realize that it requires such a serious effort...or that it is so critical. It has the power to literally shapes lives, and disciplining it to be productive rather than destructive is critical. Once that discipline is achieved, James indicates that that individual is then completely mature.

II – Power of the tongue (verses 3-8)

Lest any of James' readers question the importance he give to the matter, he gives examples from common life...the bit in a horse's mouth, the rudder of a ship, a tiny spark...that, although they are very small, almost insignificant things, they can control something large or initiate catastrophic events.

Words can set into motion events that have unbelievable results. Words can cause wounds that go deep and cripple. The right word at the right time can sometimes turn the tide in a crisis, restore a broken relationship, or give enough hope to a hopeless one for them to begin making positive life choices. However, the tongue’s power is more often used by humans for evil than for good, and that evil is deeper, darker, and more destructive than we acknowledge.

How many things do you wish you could go back and not do versus how many things do you wish you could go back and not say? There have been times in my life...some of which I've discussed here in the way-too recent past...that I have had to use Desenex as toothpaste because I’ve had my foot in my mouth! James points out that men have tamed all kinds of creatures, but no man can tame the tongue (In the Greek, verse 8 reads, 'But the tongue no one to tame is able of men'). Once an animal is truly tamed (as opposed to merely trained), its nature is changed. The tongue, however, is not tamable...only constant discipline will keep our speech from degenerating into self-serving patterns once again.

That is an important reminder of how much we need the grace of God! Pure human effort ultimately fails...only grace can give us the ability to mature in this area; as Col 4:6 exhorts us to Let your conversation be always full of grace. The great effort of discipline is not to exert self-control over our conversation; self-control is woefully inadequate. No, it is to constantly remain submitted to God in the area of speech.

III – Fickleness of the tongue (verses 9 – 12)
It goes against nature for any one source to give rise to contradicting products. A well does not produce good and bad water, neither do trees bear diverse kinds of fruit. Yet it is ridiculously easy for contradictory, hypocritical words to come out of our mouths. James plainly says that we should not bless God, then curse people.

Note that ‘curse’ doesn’t just mean to use bad language – it can also mean to speak negatively of or to complain about. Many Christians who would never, ever give voice to obscene or profane language do not have any reluctance in declaring negative proclamations over those who have crossed them. My Brothers, James says, This should not be. (v. 10)

Controlling the tongue is a matter of submitting to the discipline of the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to guide what you say, to whom you say it, when you say it, how you say it. It is honestly assessing your true motives – WHY do you feel a need to say it? Ultimately, it is saying the right things when they should be said and how they should be said as well as not saying the wrong things at any time.

In Luke 6:45, Jesus tells us that, 'Good people do good things because of the good in their hearts. Bad people do bad things because of the evil in their hearts. Your words show what is in your heart.' (CEV -- emphasis mine)

Things to think about: We may not all be teachers, but we do all teach someone, even if we’re not necessarily aware of it. To whom is your life an example, and what are you teaching? How does your daily conversation truly reflect your faith?

Assignment: Pay attention this week to what comes out of your mouth. How much do you complain, voice negative expectations, gossip, express judgment...or hold back on paying a compliment, speaking an encouraging word, or expressing thanks? Do you resist the urge to 'put someone in their place', 'give a piece of your mind' or 'stand up for your rights'? Do you exaggerate or fudge the truth?
What does your observation reveal about the way you use your words?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Trading Days

The very thing we tried to avoid is exactly what happened today.

It's a long story so I'm not going into details. I'll just say that we went to a lot of trouble to allow The Princess to drive to Indiana to visit her grandparents in *her* car: she bought car #2 from us and we used the money to purchase another well-used vehicle, so we'd still have two cars while she was gone. 'Well-used' because we have one 21-year old son to insure now, and a sixteen year old son who will soon be getting a driver's license to insure in the near future and we wanted the lowest insurance rate we could get.

The well-used car was thoroughly serviced, to the tune of almost half again what we paid for it, and deemed good enough. But we got a good deal on the purchase price, so we were ok.

Then the alternator died yesterday. So the second car is back in the shop (not talking about the cost of THAT repair)and we have one vehicle for three drivers...exactly the scenario we were trying to avoid.

The Artist got a job and had to go to work on the other side of the county at 7 AM. My Sweet Baboo had a breakfast meeting at 6 AM and will need to pick up the finally repaired car at some point, not to mention that his office is also on the other side of the county...the plans we were devising to get everyone where we needed when we needed to be there were getting ludicrous.

So, I switched my regular workday with my day off. Just made life a lot easier. But I had to laugh. The best laid plans o' mice and men and all that, you know...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Jubilee Monday #40 Flashback to Sweet 16

Forty. Wow. The End of the Jubilee Year is really coming fast now.

My Sweet Baboo asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday. I told him I didn't want a 'birthday party', as such...I don't want to be fussed over. But I would like to hang out with friends.

I could help him out and plan my own event. That way, I wouldn't be disappointed if he drops the ball.

But I'd take away any opportunity he'd have to delight me by putting something together himself (or maybe with the help of the older kids).

All in all, I'd rather risk disappointment than guarantee 'something -- anything!'.

I learned that lesson on my 16th birthday. I wanted to do something special, but there were absolutely no indications that it was even mom had to take my flat-footed brothers into Indianapolis for a visit to the orthopedist, which pretty much ruled out scheduling a party. But, a trip into town usually meant a bit of shopping while we were in the area. So, I decided I'd pick my own special and asked to take a friend with me.

Mom refused. Wouldn't even give me a reason why. Just said no.

Well, I flew into an absolute perfect example of almost-sixteen-year-old-agnst. It was my 16th birthday! Surely we could do something...ANYTHING! make it special! I wasn't asking for much! So, she finally gave in and said I could invite my buddy along.

Now, we're not talking about anything remotely resembling a celebration. We were going to the orthopedist (boring!), then we were going to eat lunch and do a little shopping at Lafayette Square and, if I was lucky, Cloth World. I don't remember where we ate, although I do remember the fabric I purchased at Cloth turned into the outfit I wore on the first day of the next school year.

After the day was over, Mom told me that she and my younger sister had been in the beginning stages of planning a surprise sleepover party for me, but because I threw such a fit to have my friend go to town with us, that's what I got.

So...better to be disappointed than to be disappointed and mad at myself too. ;)

Actually, there's probably a spiritual application for that, too, but I don't feel like diving that deep today...

Friday, June 5, 2009

James Lesson 5: Demonstrate Real Faith

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

The Epistle of James: A Blogged Bible Study
The study to date:
May 1: Study intro
May 8: James 1:1 Intro to the Epistle of James
May 15: James 1:2 – 18 Make Quality Decisions
May 22: James 1:19-27 Make Real Changes
May 29: James 2:1-13 Live the Law of Freedom

June 5: James 2:14 – 26 Demonstrate Real Faith

In the last two lessons we contrasted "Hearing" and "Obeying"; today we contrast "Saying" and "Doing." This is not a treatise on requirements for salvation or instruction for evaluating the faith of another person but a call to inspect one’s own faith for validity. In many countries around the world, as in most of the world when James wrote his epistle, calling oneself a follower of Christ is a very risky thing to do; in the United States, calling oneself a Christian is almost a cultural norm, although that is less true today than it was fifty years ago. But even in the first century, there were those who, for whatever reason, did not make the connection between what they said they believed and how that belief should impact their daily living. That disconnect is much more evident in today's United States, and James' instruction should cause each of us who claims to be a follower of Jesus to look hard at our lives as lived on a daily basis to see if our faith really does influence our actions.

I. Real Faith is not Just words (2:14-17)
Look at verse 14 and circle “claims to have faith” and “such faith” and draw an arrow connecting them. "Such faith" is faith that is claimed only in words. To illustrate his point, James gives an example of simply wishing a needy person well instead of actually giving them what they need. The words did nothing; providing food and clothing demonstrates the heart attitude of wishing the person well, even if the words are not spoken. Note that James is still talking about 'such faith'...that is, faith that is claimed in words only... when he makes the statement that 'faith... not accompanied by action, is dead.' As was mentioned in the introduction to the study, James' point is that true faith will provoke right action. Faith that is only given lip service is described in Isaiah 29:13 -- The LORD says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.

II. Real Faith Manifests Itself in Actions (2:18-19)
Here's a truth worth noting: It is impossible to separate what you believe from how you behave. Or, as Henry Blackaby states in Experiencing God, "What you do shows what you believe." James points out that even demons acknowledge the existence of God, but they never submit to Him as their Lord. Yes, they believe that God exists, but every action shows that they are opposed to Him. They do not obey Him; His authority over them is such that what He speaks becomes their reality, so they are afraid of Him.

In Matt 7:21, Jesus also demonstrates the uselessness of saying one believes without letting that belief affect one's behavior – "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." When this passage is put with John 6:28 - 29, we see something interesting: Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

Compare Romans 10:9-10, which clearly demonstrates that saying one believes is only half of the salvation requirement. One must not only confess (or admit) that Jesus is Lord, but one must believe in the core of who they are that He IS Lord, and that He's living today. Belief like THAT,true belief, will affect every aspect of one's life.

III. Real Faith can be Observed (2:20-26)
James then offers two examples from the Old Testament in which belief affected someone's actions. The first example is Abraham. God promised Abraham that He would make an everlasting promise to Isaac and his descendants forever in Gen. 17: 19. Then in Gen. 22:3 God tells Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice...kill him. Abraham didn't flinch or hesitate; he immediately set about doing just that. He trusted God enough to obey Him, even when it made absolutely no sense and seemed to contradict everything he believed. But God proved Himself trustworthy...Abraham did not have to actually kill his son, although he did go right to that point. What Abraham did showed that he trusted God completely, even with his promise.

But we all know Abraham was a friend of God, who heard and spoke with God much clearer than most of us. So, James provides another example, this time, one who never had the opportunity to hear God for herself: Rahab (Joshua 2). Rahab was a pagan prostitute...someone about as far from the voice of God as anyone could be. But she heard of God, she saw how all the people of Jericho reacted and she made up her mind what she believed about this God that she did not know. When the Israelite spies were pursued by the king of Jericho, Rahab hid them and sent the soldiers off on a wild goose chase to give the spies time to get away. Just before they left, she made an amazing declaration, 'I know that the LORD has given this land to you...the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on earth below' (Josh. 2:9,11). Then, she asked the spies to save her and her family when they conquered the city. She helped them escape the city, and then followed their instructions to the letter. She could've gained great favor with the king of Jericho by handing the men over, but instead she risked her life to aid the people of God. What she did showed that she trusted God above all the idols of her people and knew that He would conquer both her people and their gods. Her life was spared, the God of Israel became her God and she was included in the lineage of Christ...because she acted in accordance to her belief.

Our faith is demonstrated as genuine to the people around us by what we do. A key phrase is in James 2:24 -- 'You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith [that is claimed in words...that's still James' topic] alone.' A faith that does not result in right actions is, as James so bluntly puts it, a dead faith.

This is not legalism, trying to be saved by what you do; this is not putting on a show for recognition from people or even trying to earn God's favor by following forms and rituals; this is living out the convictions of a transformed heart on a daily basis.

Things to think about: What do my actions reveal about my beliefs? Are they consistent with the Royal Law of love – loving God, loving others? How do (or don't) my actions display trust in God?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Jubilee Monday #39 :Convergence

I've got a CD of a message preached by Lance Wallnau in the player in my sewing room; I listened to it the other day while sewing the HMC mantles and I heard some things that I want to go back and listen to again.

Specifically, he was talking about transitions. And he mentioned something called 'convergence' which, if I'm remembering right (why I gotta listen again!) was when life experience meets talent and opportunity at the opportune moment for an individual to step into destiny.

The interesting thing was, he said that statistically that happens to most folks right at age 50.