Tag: quick to listen

Don’t deceive yourself!

Scripture reading for November 2nd:  James 1

James was the half-brother of Jesus Christ and the pastor of the church in Jerusalem.  James wrote this letter as possibly one of the first letters of encouragement and correction taken into the body of writings known as the New Testament.  He wrote during a time of intense persecution for Jewish believers who had taken Christ as the Messiah. One of his primary concerns was deception.

“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers.  Every good and perfect gift is from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first-fruits of all He created.”  (James 1:16-18)

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.”  (James 1:22)

“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”  (James 1:26)

In order for a person to be deceived, they must believe that information is the truth when it is, in reality, not true.  We can be ‘self-deceived’ when we choose to believe something that we want to be true, but fail to accept anything that might show it is not true.  James was warning the Jewish believers and us of the folly of deception.  We are truly in a bad state if we believe something is true that is really false and refuse to allow anyone to correct us!  Faith and obedient action must go together.  We much watch our tongues and always trust that God is good!

 

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Avoiding self-deception!

Scripture reading for November 18th: James 1:19-2:12

The human mind, born the first time under the deception of sin, is prone to self-deception.  We don’t always easily recognize the lies we are under or have chosen to believe.  We tend to see the faults and sins of others, but are blind to our own.  James understands human nature and through the Holy Spirit has addressed the subject of self-deception.

“My dear brothers, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.  Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.  Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:19-22)

First, James addresses his friends with affection.  God is not mean or hateful when He corrects us.  Hearing truth requires a heart that is open to understand.  James realizes that too often we are not in a state of readiness to hear.  When we are talking or have anger in our hearts, we cannot concentrate on the word of God.  In order to receive the word, we must humbly accept it.  This requires repentance–a turning from evil, anger, and moral corruption.

God’s word is able to save us.  We are born again by receiving the truth about Jesus Christ as the Son of God and accepting His sacrifice for our sins.  We must be willing to hear the truth about our own life of sin and the truth about who Jesus is and what He did.  We must also be humble enough to confess our sins and turn from them to Christ for cleansing and new birth.  This means we must not only hear the truth but do what the truth requires.

If we only hear and do not apply the truth, we are deceived.  We really deceive ourselves, because only knowing about truth cannot save us!  “But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.” God wants to bless His people!  Be a doer and avoid self-deception.

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One perfect in knowledge is with you!

Scripture reading for June 1st: Job 35-37

“I get my knowledge from afar; I will ascribe justice to my Maker.  Be assured that my words are not false; one perfect in knowledge is with you. Job 36:3-4

Have you ever been around a person who thinks he knows everything?  For every question, he has an answer and he even has information you did not ask for.  Elihu seems to be such a person.  He boasts of his great wisdom and does seem to have some good information.  However, as I read this section, I get the feeling that Elihu is not much different from the other three friends.  He seems to talk down to Job and subtly accuse Job of not knowing God.  He claims to know God perfectly.  (Job 36:4)

Elihu stated that God commands sinners to repent and that if they listen, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity.  (Job 36:11)  This argument has already been hashed around by Job and Job reminded them that this was not always the case.  Sometimes the wicked prosper and nothing seems to touch them here on earth.  (Job 21:7-14)  We cannot always presume that our life on earth has to be a certain way based on our behavior. God may allow other things to work out His purposes in our life, but they will all be for our good if we love him.  (Romans 8:28)

Elihu also stated that our sin has no effect on God.  (Job 35:6)  Sin does have an effect on God.  It provokes his anger and all sin is against God first.  Without His Law we would not know sin, good or evil.  God’s revelation of His Law and the consequences of sin show God’s concern.  Of course, Job is before the Law was written but God never changes and His character is the same then as now!

Elihu also warned Job not to turn to evil and accused him of preferring evil to affliction.  (Job 36:21)  This also is presumptuous on Elihu’s part.  When we think that we are perfect in knowledge, we can easily become judgmental and critical of others.  Knowledge puffs us up, but love builds us up!  (1st Corinthians 8:1b)  Elihu’s analogy’s of God’s greatness and majesty must have caused Job to think and further examine his own heart.  Elihu’s last words told of God coming in majesty and splendor, but beyond our reach!  How ironic that God Himself next speaks to Job!

As I ponder these dissertations by Job’s friends, I am reminded of my own need to be more quiet and listen longer before I speak. (James 1:19-20)  No one is perfect in knowledge and understanding but the Lord!  He is our helper and guide!  In all our ways we must acknowledge Him, and He will direct our paths!  (Proverbs 3:5-7)

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