my brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the return of the Lord. Look!

James 4-5

Worldly wisdom may promise the good life, but it leads to chaos and destruction every time. Ultimately true wisdom comes from God.

4 Where do you think your fighting and endless conflict come from? Don’t you think that they originate in the constant pursuit of gratification that rages inside each of you like an uncontrolled militia? 2 You crave something that you do not possess, so you murder to get it. You desire the things you cannot earn, so you sue others and fight for what you want. You do not have because you have chosen not to ask. 3 And when you do ask, you still do not get what you want because your motives are all wrong because you continually focus on self-indulgence. 4 You are adulterers. Don’t you know that making friends with this corrupt world order is open aggression toward God? So anyone who aligns with this bogus world system is declaring war against the one true God. 5 Do you think it is empty rhetoric when the Scriptures say, The spirit that lives in us is addicted to envy and jealousy? 6 You may think that the situation is hopeless, but God gives us more grace when we turn away from our own interests. That’s why Scripture says,

God opposes the proud, but He pours out grace on the humble.

7 So submit yourselves to the one true God and fight against the devil and his schemes. If you do, he will run away in failure. 8 Come close to the one true God, and He will draw close to you. Wash your hands; you have dirtied them in sin. Cleanse your heart, because your mind is split down the middle, your love for God on one side and selfish pursuits on the other.

Since the beginning, our loving Creator has been pursuing us, drawing us closer to Him. He invites us to move closer to Him so we can be fully His.

9 Now is the time to lament, to grieve, and to cry. Dissolve your laughter into sobbing, and exchange your joy for depression. 10 Lay yourself bare, facedown to the ground, in humility before the Lord; and He will lift your head so you can stand tall. 11 My brothers and sisters, do not assault each other with criticism. If you decide your job is to accuse and judge another believer, then you are a self-appointed critic and judge of the law; if so, then you are no longer a doer of the law and subject to its rule; you stand over it as a judge. 12 Know this there is One who stands supreme as Judge and Lawgiver. He alone is able to save and to destroy, so who are you to step in and try to judge another?

’13 Listen carefully, those of you who make your plans and say, We are traveling to this city in the next few days. We™ll stay there for one year while our business explodes and revenue is up. 14 The reality is you have no idea where your life will take you tomorrow. You are like a mist that appears one moment and then vanishes another. 15 It would be best to say, If it is the Lord’s will and we live long enough, we hope to do this project or pursue that dream. 16 But your current speech indicates an arrogance that does not acknowledge the One who controls the universe, and this kind of big talking is the epitome of evil. 17 So if you know the right way to live and ignore it, it is sin plain and simple.

5 Hey, you rich folk, misery is on its way; so cry and moan 2 because you will watch your riches rot before your eyes as the moths devour your fine clothes. 3 Your stockpile of silver and gold is tarnished and corroded, and this rust will stand up in the final judgment and testify against you. It will eat your flesh like fire and become a permanent and painful reminder that you have hoarded your wealth through these last days. 4 Listen. You held back a just wage from the laborers who mowed your fields, and that money is crying out against you, demanding that justice be done. The cries of the people who harvested your crops and made you a profit have fallen upon the ears of the supreme Lord of heavenly armies. 5 Your life on the earth has been one of luxury, pleasure, and endless consumption; you have feasted to your heart’s content on animals you slaughtered, but now the day of slaughter comes for you. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous man, and he did not defend himself.

7 For this reason, my brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the return of the Lord. Look! The farmer knows how to wait patiently for the land to produce vegetables and fruits. He cannot harvest a freshly planted seed. Instead, he waits for the early and the late showers to nourish the soil. 8 You need this same kind of patience, so in the meantime, strengthen your resolve because the Lord will be coming soon.

9 Brothers and sisters, don’t waste your breath complaining about one another. If you judge others, you will be judged yourself. Be very careful! You will face the one true Judge who is right outside the door. 10 The prophets who declared the word of the Lord are your role models, my brothers and sisters, for what it means to live patiently in the face of suffering. 11 Look, we bless and honor the memory of those who persevered under hardship. Remember how Job endured and how the Lord orchestrated the triumph of his final circumstances as a grand display of His mercy and compassion.

12 It is even more important, my brothers and sisters, that you remember not to make a vow by the heavens or the earth or by anything. When you say yes, it should always mean yes, and no should always mean no. If you can keep your word, you will avoid judgment.

13 Are any in your community suffering? They should pray. Are any celebrating? They should sing praises to God. 14 Are any sick? They should call the elders of your church and ask them to pray. They will gather around and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Prayers offered in faith will restore them from sickness and bring them to health. The Lord will lift them up from the floor of despair; and if the sickness is due to sin, then God will forgive their sins. 16 So own up to your sins to one another and pray for one another. In the end, you may be healed. Your prayers are powerful when they are rooted in a righteous life. 17 Remember Elijah? He was a man, no different from us. He prayed with great intensity asking God to withhold the rain; God answered his prayers and did not allow a single drop of rain to fall for three and a half years. 18 It did not rain until Elijah prayed again for God to open the skies, when the rain came down and the earth produced a great crop.

Why should we bother to pray if God already knows what we are going to ask for? Prayer involves so much more than making personal requests. It connects us with God and works to bring our wills into conformity with His.

How, then, should we pray? First, James tells us to pray in community, not just by ourselves and for ourselves. When we pray together, life is shared and community is born. We also confess our sins, not just to God, but to each other. Through this vulnerable transparency, God knits souls together in authentic community, and we discover the true benefit of prayer.

19 Brothers and sisters, if someone you know loses his way and rebels against God, pursue him in love and bring him back to the truth. 20 Know this: If you turn a sinner back from the error of his ways, then you will rescue him from the grips of death and cover the pain and consequences of untold sins.

The Voice (VOICE)The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

joy

 

Genuine faith may be in the soul like a hidden seed

Morning

HUMMINGBIRD

“Able to keep you from falling.” Jude 24

In some sense the path to heaven is very safe, but in other respects there is no road so dangerous. It is beset with difficulties. One false step (and how easy it is to take that if grace be absent), and down we go. What a slippery path is that which some of us have to tread! How many times have we to exclaim with the Psalmist, “My feet were almost gone, my steps had well nigh slipped.” If we were strong, sure-footed mountaineers, this would not matter so much; but in ourselves, how weak we are! In the best roads we soon falter, in the smoothest paths we quickly stumble. These feeble knees of ours can scarcely support our tottering weight. A straw may throw us, and a pebble can wound us; we are mere children tremblingly taking our first steps in the walk of faith, our heavenly Father holds us by the arms or we should soon be down. Oh, if we are kept from falling, how must we bless the patient power which watches over us day by day! Think, how prone we are to sin, how apt to choose danger, how strong our tendency to cast ourselves down, and these reflections will make us sing more sweetly than we have ever done, “Glory be to him, who is able to keep us from falling.” We have many foes who try to push us down. The road is rough and we are weak, but in addition to this, enemies lurk in ambush, who rush out when we least expect them, and labour to trip us up, or hurl us down the nearest precipice. Only an Almighty arm can preserve us from these unseen foes, who are seeking to destroy us. Such an arm is engaged for our defence. He is faithful that hath promised, and he is able to keep us from falling, so that with a deep sense of our utter weakness, we may cherish a firm belief in our perfect safety, and say, with joyful confidence,

Against me earth and hell combine,

But on my side is power divine;

Jesus is all, and he is mine!”

Evening

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But he answered her not a word.” Matthew 15:23

Genuine seekers who as yet have not obtained the blessing, may take comfort from the story before us. The Saviour did not at once bestow the blessing, even though the woman had great faith in him. He intended to give it, but he waited awhile. “He answered her not a word.” Were not her prayers good? Never better in the world. Was not her case needy? Sorrowfully needy. Did she not feel her need sufficiently? She felt it overwhelmingly. Was she not earnest enough? She was intensely so. Had she no faith? She had such a high degree of it that even Jesus wondered, and said, “O woman, great is thy faith.” See then, although it is true that faith brings peace, yet it does not always bring it instantaneously. There may be certain reasons calling for the trial of faith, rather than the reward of faith. Genuine faith may be in the soul like a hidden seed, but as yet it may not have budded and blossomed into joy and peace. A painful silence from the Saviour is the grievous trial of many a seeking soul, but heavier still is the affliction of a harsh cutting reply such as this, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.” Many in waiting upon the Lord find immediate delight, but this is not the case with all. Some, like the jailer, are in a moment turned from darkness to light, but others are plants of slower growth. A deeper sense of sin may be given to you instead of a sense of pardon, and in such a case you will have need of patience to bear the heavy blow. Ah! poor heart, though Christ beat and bruise thee, or even slay thee, trust him; though he should give thee an angry word, believe in the love of his heart. Do not, I beseech thee, give up seeking or trusting my Master, because thou hast not yet obtained the conscious joy which thou longest for. Cast thyself on him, and perseveringly depend even where thou canst not rejoicingly hope.

All rights belong to the collection of Charles Spurgeon(C)

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