Whose Friend Are You?
Wednesday, 24 November, 2021
Our natural desire is to be worldly – friends of the world. This makes us enemies of God. James is defining worldliness as: quarrels and fights, worldly desires, not asking God, or asking with wrong motives. But God’s desire is that we would repent and submit to Him, [resisting our natural inclinations and drawing near to Him. Our distance from God is not because He moved away; the reason we need to draw near is because we moved away from God.
The “respectable” sin of worldliness is “preoccupation with things of this temporal life, and accepting and going along with the values and practices around us without discerning if they are biblical” (Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, p.174,175).
Paul writes that the things of this world should be held loosely…those who use the things of this world as though not engrossed in them. For this world in the present form is passing away (1 Corinthians 7:31).
It doesn’t take much effort to be a friend of the world.
To be a friend of God, however, it takes strict self-discipline. Training for godliness is not for the faint of heart.
Beth Boggs, at Ladies Bible Study on 11/16/21, compared training for godliness like working out physically. It involves:
James says we manifest godliness by submitting to God, resisting the devil, drawing near to God, washing our spiritual hands, purifying our hearts, grieving over our sin and humbling ourselves before God.
Life Application Questions
Respectable worldliness isn’t gross disobedience, but it is, nevertheless, sin. How might we resist friendship with the world?
How can our use of money reflect whose friend we are - the world’s or God’s?
How might one wash their hands and purify their hearts in order to be the best friend of God possible?
Packing for Your Journey
November 23, 2021
Traveling requires some creative packing. Just add in some Christmas gifts and some young children and it’s a recipe for finding yourself inundated with suitcases and backpacks. What packing challenges have you faced? I realize that traveling light has its advantages but I like to be prepared for every situation. For instance if I was traveling to Indiana in November, I would need my snow boots, sandals and sweaters. What do you consider to be essentials, “can’t leave home without it” items that you pack? Our journey with Jesus requires some “essentials” as well.
Traveling requires some planning, some preparation and a whole lot of patience. Our journey with Jesus requires some of the same focus. Read Ephesians 6:10-18, what did you read about that you should be sure to pack for this “journey of a lifetime”. How would you plan, prepare and have patience for what is required in Ephesians 6: 10-18? Christ followers discover that instead of packing for a “vacation to Hawaii”, they will need to pack for a “battle”. As Christ followers we face three enemies on our battlefield; the world, the flesh and the devil. How do we plan for this battle? “…, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.”(Ephesians 6:10) We cannot trust in our own strength; our own survival instincts, our planning, our preparation, or in our own patience. We need to rely on the Lord. Imagine a harried mom trying to herd her brood of children through O’Hare International Airport, alone. Now, picture your journey through life on your own, in your own strength; How difficult would that be? Our journey begins with prayer and leaning into the strength that only God can provide. On your “journey of a lifetime,” always pack Jesus as your essential item.
The “essentials” to pack for this “journey of a lifetime” are made clear in Scripture. “Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, after you have done everything to stand.” (Ephesians 6: 13) God has already provided the packing list of “essentials”, so open your spiritual suitcase and throw in the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. It may take a lot of patience to make room for these “essentials” in your spiritual suitcase. If you are equipped, you will be ready in any season for this “battlefield journey of a lifetime”.
When impatience with the battlefield plan erupts, we have a surefire solution. No journey with Jesus is complete without your “coms”. Prayer is where we rein in our impatience, our battlefield fears, and rest in knowing that we have done all we can to prepare. “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (Ephesians 6:18) How can you, practically, pack the essential armor for your spiritual “journey of a lifetime”?
1 Peter 5:8-14
November 22, 2021
One at a time in the dictionary, words are innocent and powerless. But spoken or in print together they can bless or blaspheme, comfort or condemn, hurt or heal. It’s been noted that “Words can inspire. And words can destroy.” So, we’re challenged: “Choose yours well." One writer advises: "Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out."
Often, we communicate without words by our body language, facial expressions, and gestures, but using words is the most effective way to make our intentions clear. When God chose to communicate with his creation, he used words. Not only did he speak directly to his children on many occasions, but he gave us his thoughts in written form. So, we have the Scriptures, the very Word of God, breathed onto the page and into our lives by the Holy Spirit.
What does Paul write about God’s Word and its use in 2 Timothy 3:16?
As if the written word wasn’t enough, “In these last days [God] has spoken to us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:2). Jesus himself, is the Word made flesh. Gloria Gaither in her unique way with words, penned this line in one of her Christmas songs, "And the word of the Father became Mary's little son." John wrote, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (1:14).
God has given to us the gift of language. Our use of words is one of the clearest and most effective ways to fulfill our role as his witnesses in the 21st century. Sometimes, however, we tend to forget the importance of how and when we use our words It is far too easy to say or type the first thing that comes to mind, usually in response to something we've read or heard, and we send it flying off into space with little thought about how it will affect the hearers or readers. How often have we seen in a letter to the editor or on social media that people, with good intentions, expressed their opinions, hoping to accomplish one thing, but doing the very opposite?
Take a moment to read what James 3:1-12 says about how we use our words.
Peter closes his first letter to the exiles with strong words of caution . . .
· Stay alert!
· Watch out for the devil...he's really tricky.
· Resist him, standing strong in the faith.
· You're not alone in this.
. . . and encouragement. "So after you have suffered a little while, he (the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ) . . .
· will restore, support, and strengthen you.
· will place you on a firm foundation." (v. 10)
· And, by the way, he has the power to do it.
What kind of filter could we use to prevent offending others by our words?
Peter ends this letter with very encouraging words of love and peace from himself and fellow believers. We do the same for you today. We want to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing (joy or sorrow; good times or bad) is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace. "Words can inspire. And words can destroy. Choose yours well."
jbd & gmd
Star(s) of the Universe
Friday, 19 November 2021
Infinity of the sky
ever vast and high
beyond what meets the eye
to grasp, we can only try
Canopy of flickering candles
seen from every angle
twinkling in the night
diamonds of delight
The Sun, one among billions
lighting the celestial pavilion
the sun-star’s beams kissing the earth
rising in the morning, a daily new birth
Sun and stars, no respecter of persons
people of all versions
peering into space
shared truth to embrace
Without stars and light
all would be night
nothing in sight
But, Star of the universe
the reality is in reverse
you created for all to see
and gave us all to be
And, Star of the universe
in this truth we immerse
to become as bright as thee
radiating light for all to see.
Finally, Star of the universe
thank you for this little verse
without you we couldn’t think
and our words wouldn’t be worth the ink.
Life Application Questions
Humility Avoids Arrogance
1 Peter 5:5-7
November 18, 2021
Instructing an entire group of disciples our brother Peter writes, “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:5b-6).
Humility’s cloth radiates the presence of Christ. As disciples we wear the same clothing. Following Christ’s fashion-line certifies our commitment (Philippians 2:8). All fabric known as arrogance is woven in hell’s factory.
Arrogance is over-bearing pride wrapped in self-importance. Arrogance is not attractive. Arrogance certifies the attitude, “I am never wrong.” When my own self-importance overrules another’s need, my discipleship has fallen to the ground like a forgotten coat.
Focusing on the give-n-take between disciples and church leaders Peter wrote, addressing such challenges. Apparently enough first century difficulties were occurring that the Apostle felt it wise to add specific counsel. Peter included a direct challenge for humbly living the called-out life: “In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders” (I Peter 5:5a).