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.
When I woke up this morning I was thinking of the word “follow” and the several times Jesus spoke this word. I did a quick scan of the four Gospels, and I found a couple of interesting concepts.
In Mathew 4:19-20, Jesus said: “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men, and they immediately left their nets and followed Him.”
- Principle: If you do not follow Jesus you will be snared by the net of the world.
- Principle: Fishing for fish is good, but fishing for men is better.
In John 8:12, Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
- Principle: If you don’t walk with Jesus in the light, you will stumble without Him in the dark.
- Principle: Jesus does not HAVE the light of the world, He IS the Light of the world.
In John 10:27, Jesus said: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
- Principle: Obedient sheep hear His voice and make the choice to follow Him.
- Principle: When you deny and won’t comply, you are easy prey for the wolf.
Here’s the simple truth: You can follow or be hollow. When you are hollow, you will search for fullness, satisfaction, contentment, and love in all the wrong places. When you follow Jesus you can be fully holy.
The wisdom of Solomon is a fitting conclusion: “The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But He loves him who follows righteousness (Proverbs 15:9).”
A person’s concept of Christ often undergoes a dramatic change from the first time he thinks about Him to the time he trusts Him as Savior. This was the case with the Apostle Paul. He started his life as Saul of Tarsus and sought out Christians with a raging hatred similar to that of mad dog infected with rabies. When Saul first heard of the “hope of the resurrection,” it sounded like empty rhetoric and a powerless promise. After he encountered Jesus on the Damascus road, he experienced the transforming power of Christ’s salvation and his name was changed to Paul.
By developing a dynamic relationship with God, Paul came to know Him in several dimensions. When he wrote to the Hebrews, Paul said God “is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Paul also spoke of this in 2 Timothy 4:
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time for my departure is close. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. There is reserved for me in the future the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved His appearing.
To know God as a rewarder, you must first know Him as a redrawer. Paul had been the rising star of Judaism, but he walked away from the Law to a life of grace:
As far as keeping the Law is concerned I was a Pharisee, and you can judge my enthusiasm for the Jewish faith by my active persecution of the Church. As far as the Law’s righteousness is concerned, I don’t think anyone could have found fault with me. Yet every advantage that I had gained I considered lost for Christ’s sake . . . I considered it useless rubbish compared with being able to win Christ. God has given me that genuine righteousness which comes from faith in Christ. How changed are my ambitions!
For whom have you lived—Devil or Jesus? You will be known for either the good way you live or evil will define you.
When you meet the Gateman will you be wearing his nametag? If so, you just might hear Him say: “You have fought the good fight; you have finished the race; and you have kept the faith.”
Note: I enjoy playing with the English language. Go back and find the single words I have italicized in a couple of sentences. Forwards and backwards, what do you see?
“Liar, liar, pants on fire” is a childhood chant that challenges the integrity of a story-telling individual. Some people are so prone to lying, they can be labeled as a mythomane: A person who has a strong or irrestibile propensity for exaggerating.
The fictional character most often associated with telling a lie is Pinocchio, and Charles Ponzie is a good example of bad business practices. His deceitful methods gave birth to the phrase “Ponzie Scheme.”
Lying and deceit was a problem long before Charles Ponzie and Pinnocchio. Jesus addressed the issue in John 8:44: “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”
The words of Jesus in which He just identified Satan as the father of the lie is a strong contrast to God the Father and Paul’s description of Him as the One who “cannot lie (Titus 1:2).” Lying is inconsistent to any discussion of God because it would be a corruption of His holy nature.
Lying and deceitfulness are questions of integrity. Because your life is scrutinized by others who are watching for inconsistencies, honesty is the best policy.
When you examine your life, does truth reign or are you a mythomane? This may be a clue to the question: “Who’s your daddy?”