10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
The context here is division over Paul and Apollos... but division is bad for a body of believers. This is important for my church right now. We're looking at changing our name removing the denominational affiliation from the name, but not dropping our association. For some people they can't see a difference and there's potential for division.
4 One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. 5 For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.
13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! 14Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. (16,17)
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.
Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.
This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering--since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angelsin flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.
To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
First off sorry to be late with posting, between being sick yesterday and my internet was SUPER slow I just couldn't get it done. Thankfully I woke up this morning feeling significantly better and I'm posting from work.
6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you--
7 for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith.
If Paul sent Timothy to our churches, what report would he take back!?!? I think for my church it would be good news overall. We try very hard to make those who visit feel welcomed and a part of our church. We have room to grow, no doubt.
Psalm 23 is probably one of the most well known Psalms. One of the devotions from The One Year Book of Psalms has several devotions on this Psalm but the first one had a touching story about a Pastor who taught a dying boy to remember the words "The Lord is My Shepherd" and each word would grab a finger with the thumb representing the word shepherd. The Pastor wasn't sure if this made a difference or not for the child. Shortly after the boy died his mother shared with the pastor that shortly before his death he held tightly to his index finger and seemed to want to tell her something. The pastor knew then that the boy had understood and was holding tight to the "my" finger.
We can hold tight during the tough times that the Lord is our Shepherd and as we read the rest of the chapter that Shepherd takes care of all our needs.
2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers,
3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Who are you giving thanks for? For me, it's my boss, or send to be ex-boss. He's got a great opportunity and is leaving. But I am thankful for the almost 3 years I worked with him. He's been a great boss and friend.
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.
14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
This is such a good reminder to pray when we suffer and rejoice when we are cheerful. But I find it interesting that James reminds us to confess our sins to one another and to pray for one another. Our society confessing our sins to one other isn't something we do naturally. (Or is that just me?!?!)
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.
10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
James warns the readers that they need to cleanse their hands and purify their hearts and reference their double-mindness. Verse 9 has always confused me, but the ESV Study Bible gives this explanation:
Cleanse and purify are OT terms for ritual purity and ethical purity. Laughter shows how casually James's readers were treating their sin. The only proper reaction to God's impending judgement is to be wretched and mourn and weep, as seen often in the OT.
Looking at the full context of the chapter James is reminding us of the importance of taking our sin serious.
Oh the power of the tongue! I love how James compares it to a bridle on a horse and the rudder of a ship. These small items control the big and how our tongues control us. It's also interesting (and maybe a little discouraging) that James says the tongue can not be tamed. At least Jesus said with God all things are possible (including the taming the tongue!)
There is so much in this chapter jumping out at me! Where do I begin!?!?!
I like the word steadfastness in verse 4 and what the ESV Study Bible says about it: Steadfastness leads ultimately to perfection. Believers grow in holiness but are not yet perfected in it; such perfection will only be realized when Jesus returns.
The very next verse talks about asking God for wisdom and He will give it. How we need wisdom in our lives.
Every good gift is from God. (17) Being quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger (19) Being doers of the Word not hears only. (22)
That's only the beginning... So much to ponder and apply... (doing ... not just hearing... doing)
Verse 2 - Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
When I read the notes from the ESV Study Bible I got hit square between the eyes. How many times I find myself avoiding people because I just can't deal with their "issues" anymore.
The ESV Study Bible says this about verse 2:
To bear one another's burdens the supreme imitation of Jesus, the ultimate burden-bearer. He has gone to the length of taking mankind's sins and the curse of the law upon Himself.
When you think about what Jesus did for us it puts a new perspective on the people I want to dodge. I needed that reminder this week.
The juggling act of Christianity. We are called to live a holy life, but many of us struggle to know what that looks like, so we make up these rules to live by, "Don't drink, don't smoke, don't chew* or go with girls who do!" But then we get so caught up in these rules and find ourselves pushing our rules onto others that it becomes legalism, which is what was happening to the church in Galatia on the issue of circumcision.
The flip side is in verse 13, "...only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh..." and Paul goes on to talk about the opportunities of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit.
Coming from a Wesleyan heritage that struggles not to get into legalities I try to remind myself God looks at the heart, it's not about following a bunch of dos and don'ts but God's grace, His unmerited favor.
*Chew - as in chewing tobacco, having grown up in Oklahoma it was common habit. And a pastor at the church I grew up in would use that line. (Context is everything!(
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying "Abba! Father!" So we are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (4-7)
We have 3 adopted kids in our church, all of which were adopted out of the foster care system. In at least 2 of the cases the biological mother gave up her parental rights. Something that could be very hurtful to the kids. But their adoptive parents always remind them that they chose them to be a part of their family. In the same way God chose us to be a part of His family. We are loved by our Father!
This is another great Psalm to read when you feel under attack. The Psalmist starts by acknowledging that God is his strength, rock, fortress, deliverer and so much more. In verse 6 he writes "In my distress I called upon the Lord..."
This is a good reminder that we need to remind ourselves of God's attributes because when we do we remember just how big He is and that when we call on Him in our distress He is big enough to take care of it.