Blueprints and Road Maps

kansasBlueprints 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.

A Squirt-Filled Reminder

germWhen I get out of my bed of a morning, I follow the well-worn path to my coffee pot; however, there is something I do before I make my coffee. I squirt soap in my hands and wash them.

As I was repeating this routine this morning, I thought of James 4:8: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

It’s just as important to be pure spiritually as it is to be clean physically.  This is a vital key to nurturing a relationship with God, so I’ve decided to use soap dispensers as a reminder.  Each squirt of soap will remind me to:

  • Draw closer to God
  • Cleanse my hands
  • Purify my heart
  • Focus on my relationship with God

Why not join me in this endeavor?

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. ~The Voice

Discreetly Discrete

character_stonesSometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with strange or random thoughts on my mind.  When this happened recently, I was thinking of two statements that Jesus made:

  • The first is an admonition to be discreet: Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
  • The second is a command to be discrete: Be in the world, but not of the world.

As I thought about these two statements, the words discreet and discrete came to my mind.  Even though these words are homophones, they are not synonyms.  Discreet implies wisdom in your behavior or speech.  Discrete means: distinct or separate.

What section of the Bible outlines a discreetly discrete Christian life?  I think it’s the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
  • Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
  • Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
  • Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

What change can you make to help you become a discreetly discrete person?

Life: Infested or Invested

reflection-in-mirrorMy morning routine includes the couple of minutes I spend looking into the mirror.  This is not an exercise in vanity.  It’s just the best way to examine my wrinkled mug; apply the shaving cream; and wield the razor to shave my beard.

As I was checking the stubble on my face, I thought of Paul’s statement to the church at Corinth: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).”

When you think about it, there are several times each day that you take the time to check the quality of some item:

  • Bananas are checked to see if they are too ripe or too green.
  • Apples are examined to see if they are bruised.
  • When you buy something you check to make sure you have been given the correct amount of change.

How much time do you spend in spiritual self-examination?  The Psalmist said:  “I thought about my ways, and turned my feet to Your testimonies (Psalm 119:59).”  When he didn’t like what he saw, the author of the Psalm ironed out the wrinkles in his life by turning to God’s Word.

The methodology of the Psalms was the same message espoused by James (1:21-25):

Lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;  for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.  But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

You have the freedom to look into the “perfect law of liberty” and to use it as a mirror to examine your life.  When you do this, what do you see?

  • Do you see a reflection of righteousness?
  • Is there an image of personal purity?
  • Do you recognize the features of faithfulness in the face you see?

A good mirror to use is a prayer in Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”spic n span

Let me suggest this prayer as a daily test:  Does this mirror reflect a life that’s infested by the ring-around-the-collar filth of the world or one that is invested in the spic and span principles of God’s Word?

Are You Eyesome or an Eyesore?

in_the_eyes_of_god_by_rainacornasusgirl-d652cziEyesome is a word that I had never seen or heard of until yesterday, and it means, “Pleasant to look at.” When I discovered its meaning, I thought of the words of Peter when he spoke of the “incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God (I Peter 3:4).”

I see fewer eyesome people who are noted for their “incorruptible beauty” and “gentle and quiet spirits.” Instead, there seems to be a proliferation of people who proudly exhibit a spirit that is reckless and impetuous.  This sort of person is less eyesome and more of an eyesore with a spirit that is rude, crude and arrogant.

What can you learn when you focus your eye on some of the Scripture below?

  • In Ephesian 4:1-3, Paul said I “urge you to live in a way that is worthy of the calling to which you have been called, demonstrating all expressions of humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another in love. Do your best to maintain the unity of the Spirit by means of the bond of peace.
  • In his advice to young Timothy, Paul instructed him to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness (I Timothy 6:11).”
  • Paul emphasized the importance of gentleness when he wrote to the church at Philippi: “Let your gentleness be known to all men (Philippians 4:5).”

To be perceived as more eyesome and less of an eyesore, I encourage you to give some thought to Psalm 90:17:  “Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us.”

The “beauty of the Lord” does not speak of any physical feature, but it does mean that God can make you an eyesome creature.  When His beauty is upon you, He will begin to develop the “incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious” in His sight.