Blueprints and road maps are useful and necessary tools to get you from where you are to where you’re going. I have the same opinion of the book of James. It’s a book of divine directives, that will help you negotiate the challenging hairpin curves of life.
There are 5 points of interest that are the keys to everything that James says in this book: “Submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people! Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you (James 4:7-10).”
These words are good advice and principles to be practiced. To apply them to your life, focus on the 5 points of interest:
- Insist: Submit to God
- Resist the Devil
- Persist: Draw near to God
- Desist: Cleanse your hands and purify your heart
- Consist: A life of humility—humble yourself
These 5 points can be summarized by one statement: The life that’s yielded to God is a life that’s shielded by God.
I had to get my atlas out last night to make sure I wasn’t lost. It seemed like whether I was listening to my radio, watching TV, or reading the newspaper, people were whining: “I deserve this,” or “I didn’t deserve that!” I thought I had been mysteriously transported to Whinersville.
Whining, mumbling, and grumbling is a worldwide problem of epidemic proportions. Europe, South America, Asia, Canada, and the good old USA are afflicted with this debilitating attitude.
This must be a centuries old problem because both Peter and Paul said people should be careful about the expression of their attitude:
- Peter said we should, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling (I Peter 4:9).”
- Paul said to, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation (Philippians 2:14-15).”
Before you complain to God, and say: “This is something I don’t deserve.” Think about it. Do you really want Him to serve you a plateful of what you deserve? When God fills my plate, I’m like a child: I want a tiny portion of the Brussel sprouts of His judgment and heaping-helpings of His mercy-filled dips of mashed taters and cream gravy. I never want what I deserve—the wilting heat of His anger. I’d much rather bask in the Son-shine of His forgiveness.
Like David, we can find comfort in the loving nature of God and shout: “Lord, You are good and ready to forgive; and, Your abundant loyal love flows generously over all who cry out to You . . . guide me along Your path, so that I will live in Your truth (Psalm 86:10-11).” Even whiners grow mute and their grumbles are silenced when they turn their thoughts to God’s “abundant loyal love.”
When they first made their appearance, they were difficult to use, hard to read, and thought to be a technological gadget with reliability that was suspect. The handheld GPS units that were produced and sold by the Magellan Corporation in 1989 pale in comparison to the refined and powerful technology of today.
Because people want to be led and informed by GPS, the automobile industry is producing cars with navigation modules as part of the basic package. Some drivers have become so dependent on this technology they can’t read a map, and they don’t know East from West.
I know from personal experience, that these units are not failsafe. While driving through Memphis one day, my unit instructed me to “turn left.” After I obeyed, I quickly realized that I was heading South on a commuter line and the lights of a Northbound train were bearing down on me.
As I made another quick left turn, I was reminded of Proverbs 14:12: “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
The next time you find yourself lost or perplexed. Look to God for guidance:
- The Good Shepherd will lead you to the green pastures and down by the still waters. (Psalm 23).
- God will lead you to a life of righteousness: Psalm 5:8: Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; Make Your way straight before my face.
- When you follow God, you will be led down the path of truth: Psalm 25:5: Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.
- There is no need to stumble through the darkness, because God will light the path ahead of you: Psalm 43:3: Send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me
As you take your first steps today, use Proverbs 3:5-6 as a prayer: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
Have you noticed that some cities seem to be in a perpetual state of ruin? You know the cities I’m thinking of, the ones that seem to take pride in roads lined with bright orange traffic cones: As far as the eye can see, they dot the highway and try to guide you safely down the road.
A day or two ago, I was driving through an intersection laced with orange cones and concrete barriers, and I got a little nervous. It looked like I was being directed into the oncoming lane of traffic. For a moment I thought the engineer had been imported from England and he had brought his, drive-on-the-left-side-of-the-road, mentality with him.
This experience reminds me of the message on a sign: “One Way or Another.” The sober truth is that when you die, you will go one way or another.
The good news is that there is a road map to lead you through the detours and confusing intersections of life. Jesus said that He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). If you will make the right turn and follow Jesus, you will never get left by Him.
If you were a statue, you would think of a pigeon about like the kennel boy does a dog. Not me—I raised pigeons when I was just a kid, and the unique ability of these birds to find their way home has always amazed me.
Evidently Cornell and the University of Pittsburgh share my appreciation for this innate ability of pigeons. The research from both universities has concluded that pigeons use multiple facilities to help them determine the correct sense of direction. While the sun is their primary orientation, they also use the earth’s magnetic field as a guide to get them safely home.
After an all-to-common and failed attempt to get directions from Siri (iPhone), I’ve decided I might have better luck finding my way home if I could somehow tether my truck to a pigeon. Even though I speak clearly, Siri only understands about 10% of what I say when I ask for directions.
As I thought about the proficiency of the pigeons and the sad service of Siri, I was reminded of the words of Jesus: My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me.
Whenever we are lost or feel alone, we can listen for the Shepherd’s voice and have the comfort of knowing we are never lost when we are with Him.
Once the clock ticked past midnight last night, Sunday ended and Monday began. You had no say in the matter. Try as you might, there is no way that you can change the 24 hours of Sunday into 36 hours; and, you can’t skip Monday and jump ahead 24 hours into Tuesday.
You can, however, choose what kind of a Monday this will be. Will it be a Monday of madness or gladness?
To start the day off on the right foot, take a look at Psalms 18:24: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Rejoice and be glad because God has blessed you with the gift of life and another day full opportunities.
To make the most of today, reflect on the words Paul shared with Timothy:
• Give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord who gives you strength
• Praise Him because when you acted in ignorance and unbelief, He still blessed you with His mercy
• Think of the abundant resources of God: “the grace of our Lord overflowed, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus”
• Remember why Jesus came into this world: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”
• Every time you stand up today, focus your thoughts on Paul’s benediction: “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.”
If you’ve been lost in the Maze of Monday Madness, the formula above is the compass that will get you headed in the right direction.
Ever been lost? Ever been up a creek without a paddle? I can answer “yes” to both of these questions, and I learned from both experiences.
Since the time I broke a paddle running a series of rapids, a spare one is now strapped to my canoe; and, whenever I venture into unknown territories, I now take a compass—cell phones are useless in remote areas.
“It was Solomon who said: There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death (Proverbs 16:25).”
I know there is spiritual significance to the words of Solomon, but from my wilderness experiences I can say there is quite a bit of practical wisdom as well.
Studies have shown that people really do walk in circles when they get lost. Without the sun or moon as a fixed reference point, people unknowingly veer either to left or right and walk in circles of a few yards in diameter.
Early pioneers relied on reference points like the point of rocks found on the open flat prairies west of Dodge City. This sandstone formation can be seen from a great distance, and it was used as a reference point by wagon trains that were headed for the Santa Fe Territory.
The Apostle Paul used goals as reference points, and he was determined to “run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus.”
What is the reference point that guides you down the path of life? Is fixed and reliable, or is it ever-changing and unreliable? The most reliable reference point I’ve found is Jesus, and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).