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Friday, November 27, 2015

Post-Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving holiday is over. 
         Turkey and its tryptophan are ingested, making you sleepy. 
                    Belts are loosed. 
                              Appetites are sated. 
Your physical bodies are happy.


Is your spiritual body as well taken care of? 

Thanksgiving day is over, but thanks to God should never be over. Just as we must feed our physical bodies and give them rest, we must feed our spiritual selves and rest in the LORD.

How do you feed your spiritual body?


  • Read God's Word, the Bible.
  • Pray to God in adoration, thanks, confession, and supplication.
  • Sing and shout joyfully about who God is and what He has done.
  • Proclaim the LORD so others hear about Him, see Him in your life, and desire to know Him as you know Him.
  • Minister to other people during their times of need. By this they will receive blessings from God and know of God's love.
  • Join together with other people in worship of the LORD.

By this you will feed your spiritual body.
By this you will draw close to God.
By this you will become more Christlike and closer to completion/perfection (teleios).

Blessings and God's grace be on you today.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving – Drawing Attention to God


1Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.
2Serve the LORD with gladness;
 Come before Him with joyful singing.
3Know that the LORD Himself is God;
            It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
            We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
4Enter His gates with thanksgiving
            And His courts with praise.
 Give thanks to Him,
bless His name.
      5For the LORD is good;
            His lovingkindness is everlasting
            And His faithfulness
to all generations. (Psalm 100 [NASB])




In these five verses, David expressed thanks to God. David exhorted the people of God - Israel and all who followed God by faith - to thank the LORD, too. Who God is and what He has done overwhelm David and cause him to pour out thanks to God. Who God is and what He has done has not changed over the millennia and so God’s people today have cause to thank God, too.



In these verses, David gave six exhortations. He told God’s people to shout, serve, come before, enter, give thanks, and bless. By themselves, these actions are meaningless. When seen in relation to or for whom they are done, great meaning occurs.

In each of these exhortations, David said the actions were to be done for the LORD. David mentioned the LORD by name in verse one and referred to Him throughout the text. He reflects on the LORD – who He is and what He has done - in verses three and five. Let us consider the six exhortations and reflections closer.

Shout joyfully to the LORD,” David urged. This was not just making a loud racket with no purpose. Shouting is not an inward action. It draws people’s attentions to someone or something. The tone of voice and words said while shouting leads listeners to consider something or someone and possibly act in response to the shouting. David told them to shout joyfully. Here the people were to shout out with joy as applause toward the LORD – Yehovah, the “existing One.” David led people with his words to worship and praise the LORD because of the joy He caused in and gave them.
Next, David told the people to serve the LORD with gladness. Serving requires recognition that someone is greater than one’s self or is worthy to be considered greater than one’s self. It is personal submission before another and working for that other person. In this verse, David told the LORD’s people to serve the LORD. Their service was not with reluctance, but with gladness. With joy and pleasure, the LORD’s people are enhorted to serve the LORD as a result of being filled with joy.
As the LORD’s people shout joyfully to the LORD and serve Him with gladness, they are to come before Him with joyful singing. The LORD’s people can be in His presence. He accepts them as His own and wants them with Him singing and shouting joyfully. The LORD is not distant and unapproachable neither does He want reluctant service. He wants his people to be joyful and full of gladness. To be joyful and glad, people need a reason and the LORD gives them the reason – Himself.
David noted the reason the LORD”s people are joyful and glad in verse three. He said, “The LORD Himself is God.” Know this, David said. The LORD is God. The existent One from before time began is big “G” God, the God of gods. No other being is God. Know that. Perceive, recognize, admit, acknowledge, and confess the LORD - the One you know from your history - is God. “He made us,” David said. “We did not make ourselves.” God was here before us, and powerful and wise enough to make humankind. He chose us as His own and cared for us just as a shepherd chooses and cares for his sheep. God protected us. Just as God is from before time, He continues into the future. We are His and He protects and cares for us. For who God is - the
“existent One before time” and Creator - and for what He has done - created, chose, protected, and provided, David said we can shout with joy, serve the LORD with a glad and joyful heart, and come before Him singing joyfully.
Because we are the LORD’s people - His children - we can enter His gates and courts. We are not just servants or “the created,” we are His and He enjoys our presence. God wants a relationship with each of us and provided the way for us to be in an eternal relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. Those who are His children through Jesus Christ are in an eternal relationship with Him and can enter His gates and courts with thanks and praise. God made the way for us to be with Him because of His love. Our thanks cannot be contained, but must pour forth from our mouths in shouts and songs. Praises to God for who He is and what He did pour forth proclaiming Him with joy and gladness.
Give thanks to Him and bless His name. Humble yourself and admit God gave you what you have – life, provision, relationship with Him, eternal life with Him, and Himself. These come to you because of His love, goodness, and mercy, not from anything you did or could have done. Give thanks to Him! He deserves it because of who He is and what He has done. What more to do then? Bless the LORD’s name. Bless – kneel adore, and praise Him. Bless His name that leaves such a reputation of greatness and love. Bless Him that His reputation is justifiable and true. On the LORD’s fame and reputation humankind can count and hold onto knowing God is faithful, steadfast, loving, and true.
With a final thought, David said we shout with joy and cry out with song to draw others to the LORD and worship Him in His gates and courts because of His goodness. The LORD is good. His lovingkindness and faithfulness to all generations is everlasting. God is the embodiment of all things good, excellent, and right. God does only good and right things. His being is only good and righteous. From His goodness comes His lovingkindness and faithfulness forever. God’s lovingkindness is shown through His mercy, kindness, faithfulness, loyal actions, and unchanging love. His faithfulness is unending and He is fully trustworthy. God is steadfastly loyal to His people. Because of God’s goodness, excellence, faithfulness, mercy, and trustworthiness, we shout for joy and sing joyfully to the LORD. Come now and know the LORD; He is good. His love endures forever.
David’s psalm of thanksgiving led him to shout and sing out about the LORD. It continues to lead people to recognize the LORD as God and as the giver of all good and excellent things. They then will shout out and sing with joy and praise to the LORD until all creation is caught up in the offering of thanks to the LORD God, the holy and eternal God of gods and King of kings. What begins with one man shouting out and singing with joy and praise leads to harmonious voices rising together in joy and praise of God. One begets many. If one does not begin to sing of God’s praises, how will others know Him?
Thanksgiving is one day set aside to remember and call attention to God. We draw attention to God by shouting out with joy and crying out with song in praise of who God is and what He has done. Hopefully Thanksgiving is not the only day we shout and sing with joy and gladness to the LORD for Who He is and what He has done. The attention of people around us should be drawn to God when we serve others. His joy should be evident in our hearts by our love, kindness, and mercy during those times. When we enter His house – His place of worship - each week, the attention of people should be drawn to God by our worship of Him and by our relationships with other believers there. Joy and gladness should be seen in our love, mercy, and forgiveness toward other believers. Whether we are among other believers or out in the world, God’s love and faithfulness should be seen and experienced by people in our encounters with them. They should be able to experience God through us. When that happens, these other people can experience and recognize God. They can then join us shouting out and singing with joy and thanksgiving to the LORD. Our shouts and songs of joy and praise testify about the LORD. Others will hear and know the LORD and join us in the procession of shouting joyfully to the LORD and singing with gladness and joy about Him. One voice leads to other voices. Your voice leads to other voices declaring the praise to and about the LORD. There is responsibility in this.  Praise the LORD and give thanks for God is good and His love endures forever.
Shout joyfully to the LORD.
Serve the LORD with gladness.
Come before Him with joyful song.
Draw attention to God.

Declare and proclaim His name today – Thanksgiving – and throughout each week so others come to know and confess Him as their God and join us in joyfully blessing and praising His name.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Precious Produce: A James 5:7-8 Devotional


James 5:7-8 “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil being patient about it until it gets the early and late rains. You, too, be patient; strengthen your hearts for the coming of the Lord is near.”
Near the end of James’ epistle, he spoke to the Jerusalem Christians and exhorted them to be patient until Jesus Christ returns. The Christians believed Jesus’ return would be soon and wondered how long they would have to suffer trials and hard times before He returned. They were tired from withstanding famine, poverty, and oppression at the hands of the Jews and Romans.
After James taught them to remember their riches are in heaven, trials come to help grow a person, and living out one’s faith in the world, he returned to his original exhortation of chapter one verse two. This time he did not say, “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials.” He strongly encouraged the Jerusalem Christians to be patient until Jesus returns. Being patient means bearing offenses and injuries from other people while being mild and slow to anger. Patience is endurance. Endurance is one of James’ key words. He tied endurance to perseverance and that to perfection and completeness. So James did not just say be patient until Jesus comes. He meant let your patient endurance take your closer to completeness and perfection. Instead of focusing on the hard times, focus on Jesus and becoming more like Him.
God said every Christian could ask for wisdom to get through a trial. He did not leave us defenseless during trials. God offers His resources for our trials/battles. They come through the Holy Spirit for fortitude/endurance/wisdom and through external help via the Father. When going through trials, Christians are not alone that is how they can bear trials and wait patiently for the coming of the Lord.
James used a common analogy for the time of waiting. He said as the farmer waits for the early and late rains to produce a harvest, so Christians are to wait with anticipation for Jesus Christ’s return and their completeness and perfection in Him. The early and late rains come from God. He is the one who produces the harvest. The farmer waits patiently on God to provide those rains and the harvest. Christians are the farmers in this analogy. They work by planting the seed and keeping the weeds out. That is the Christian learning and growing by studying and staying in God’s Word so the world and secular opinions do not choke God’s Word and teachings from our hearts and minds. For James it also includes living our faith out in the world with actions and words – doing and hearing. God will water throughout the year if we are ready for Him to bring the harvest – if we are standing firm in Him and growing to completion and perfection in Christ. God will bring the harvest in our lives. Jesus Christ will return. The harvest is at the return of Jesus Christ. In this analogy, Christians are the farmers as well as God.
Because this is so important to James and for fellow Christians to hear, he repeated it in verse eight. “You, too, be patient; strengthen your hearts for the coming of the Lord is near.” James did not command his hearers to be patient. He meant be patient just as he must be patient. He walked with them in their struggles. James was not in an ivory tower seeing the Jerusalem Christians’ suffering. He was there with them going through it, too.
James commanded them to “strengthen their hearts.” This means stand fast, be constant, and confirm your commitment to Jesus Christ because He is returning. Your trials will not make Him stay away. Jesus comes when His Father tells Him. We do not know when that will be, but we know it will happen. So keep staying in the Word and working out your faith in your daily life. Because you are a child of God, your riches are in heaven; no one on earth can steal them away from you. God is with you and will get you through your trials if you ask for His wisdom and believe. And remember, the trials will grow endurance and perfection in you.
Does this make it easier for us to go through hard times knowing God is there to help and you are growing more like Christ with each trial? Do you want to be more perfect and complete as Jesus is perfect and complete? After James taught his epistle, I am sure some people might have said, “I want to be more like Jesus; bring on the trials.” Can other people see we are Christians by our walk during easy and hard times? We need to consider what James taught the Jerusalem Christians and take it to heart. God loves you, gives you riches in heaven, and provides what you need to go through each day.
Ask for His wisdom.
Stand firm with endurance.
Be patient in trials.
Become more complete and perfect.

Live your life in faith, speaking and doing the Word of God.

Monday, November 16, 2015

PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE - James 5:1-6

Introduction

In the earlier sections of the book of James, James spoke to believers. In this section, he spoke directly to unbelievers and indirectly to believers. Just as the last section of James 4:13-17 speaks about businessmen, so James 5:1-6 speaks about businessmen. The difference between these two passages is the James 4 passage speaks about Christian businessmen and the James 5 passages speaks about unbelieving businessmen. To the Christian businessmen, James taught them to consult with God before they made plans because God is the One who knows what will happen in the future. He taught them not to be arrogant and boast of their plans and their wealth because they do not know what tomorrow will bring. In the James 5 passage, James told the unbelieving businessmen what would occur because of their oppression of the poor, their store of treasures and garments, and their luxurious living. Both passages speak of wealth and what a person does or plans to do with it. They each remind businessmen they are mortal, will die, and cannot take their riches with them.

Even though similarities exist in these two passages, we must wonder why James spoke directly to unbelievers for the first and only time in his epistle. Is there significance for James speaking to unbelievers here? What was James trying to teach believers since he directed this whole epistle toward the twelve dispersed tribes (James 1:1)? We will answer these questions as we study this passage of James 5:1-6.

The Judgment

Verses one through three express judgment on rich unbelievers. This judgment was not new. Many other Bible writers expressed it, too. Jesus taught about judgment on the rich in Luke 6:24. Paul spoke about it in 1 Timothy 6:9. Isaiah taught to the rich destruction would come from the Almighty in Isaiah 13:6. Each of these speakers taught the same thing; the rich who hoard their wealth and oppress the poor received their comfort and wealth on earth. What would come in the future at the time of judgment would be punishment, and their weeping and howling.

With this in mind, let us consider what James taught in verses one through three. In verse 1, James said, “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries, which are coming upon you.” First, we must note the word “rich” comes once again from the Greek word plousios. This word is the same word James used in James 1:9 and 2:6 to refer to rich unbelievers. Jesus used plousios, too, in Luke 6:24. Paul used the same root word in 1 Timothy 6:9. Each of these men recognized most Christians at the time were poor and oppressed. So when they referred to the rich, the spoke of unbelievers. James spoke to catch their attention in this passage when he used the word, “Come now.” He told them to “weep and howl.” “Recognize now what your eternity holds and weep,” James meant. He offered no comforting words to the rich. Forgiveness would come to them if they repented, but James did not expect this to happen as we note in this verse since he did not tell them to repent. He said they would weep and howl for their miseries. The English word “weep” comes from the Greek word klaio meaning to weep, mourn, and lament for pain and grief[i]. “Howl” comes from the Greek word ololuzo and means to wail and lament loudly for grief[ii]. The miseries to which James referred in this verse are the Day of Judgment after Jesus Christ returns and their lives spent separated from God eternally. On the Day of Judgment, everyone will receive his or her judgment from God according to his or her life while on earth. For those who are not Christians, their judgment penalty will not be waived because they did not accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and, thereby, have their sins washed away to receive the inheritance of being children of God. Though the rich lived in wealth and luxury on earth, their eternal home of permanent separation from God would make them weep and howl loudly for eternity. James expressly and poignantly told them their lifestyle on earth would bring eternal judgment of misery.

James added at the end of verse one these miseries “are coming.” This word, “coming” derives from the Greek word eperchomai and means to come to arrive and to be at hand. James expressed these miseries were upon them imminently. The Christians of the first century believed Jesus Christ would return soon for them. They waited expectantly for Him. For this reason, James felt he had to encourage them to endure no matter how long it was before Jesus’ return. He taught them they could ask for God’s wisdom by which to endure in chapter 1. Just as the Christians waited for Jesus’ imminent return, their suffering to end, and their eternal inheritance to begin, James told the rich unbelievers Jesus’ imminent return would bring eternal judgment and this judgment would not be long in coming. It was at hand – imminent.

With verses 2 and 3, James gave the rich unbelievers everyday examples of their judgment. He told them, “Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire.” The wealthier businessmen of the time traded in dyed cloth, stored corn and other grains, and hoarded their gold and silver from their sales. James named two of the main classes of wealth in verse two – cloth, and gold and silver. He said the businessmen’s stored cloth would rot and become moth-eaten. They would not be able to rely upon that for their wealth. The rich person’s wealth would dwindle away. James expressed with a mental picture that upon which the businessmen relied for their wealth would end and fail them, then they would have nothing on earth or for eternity. Job, Isaiah, and Jesus understood a person should not store up for the future and rely upon earthly wealth. They each expressed moths would eat garments. (Job 13:28, Isaiah 50:9, and Matthew 6:19). Besides the wealth of garment merchants, James said the wealth of gold and silver was fleeting, too. He told them their gold and silver would rust. The rich businessmen stored it for the future and neither they nor the poor people received help from it. The fact it laid around and tarnished showed the rich person did not need it. Yet its tarnish would be evidence of its misuse, its hoarding and not helping.

James added in verse three that the moth-eaten cloth and the rusted gold and silver would be a witness - a testimony - against the rich. It would be proof the rich did not use their wealth and excess to help the poor, needy and oppressed. The judgment to come would not be baseless because their hoarded wealth would testify of that. If they had followed Jesus’ teaching, their cloth could have clothed the naked and their wealth could have fed and housed the poor (Matthew 25:34- 46). This was not a new lesson to New Testament era people. God told the Israelites to take care of the widows, orphans, poor, and foreigners throughout the Old Testament (Exodus 22:22, Exodus 23:6, Exodus 23:11, Leviticus 19:10 & 15, Leviticus 25:25, 35, 39, & 47-48, Deuteronomy 10:18, Deuteronomy 14:28-29, Deuteronomy 15:4, 7, 9, & 11, Deuteronomy 24:14, 17, & 19-21, Deuteronomy 27:19, et. al)

James continued verse three by saying these things would consume the flesh of the rich person like a fire. These unbelieving Jews followed God's commands and knew to slaughter animals for their sins regularly. They saw the animals' bodies consumed on the altar. The rich understood sin required a sacrifice. James meant here their sins of hording would require the personal sacrifice of their bodies in eternal separation from Yahweh. In the end, the ox, lamb, or other animal would not be sufficient to cover their sins. Their punishment/judgment from God would be their eternal death. This metaphor reminded Jewish unbelievers the judgment God would make on them on the judgment day. The fire that devoured their flesh brought a visual remembrance of watching fires consume the flesh of their animal sacrifices. Fire consumes things much faster than rust. The judgment on the rich would be fast. Jesus was returning soon and God’s judgment was swift, just as Malachi 3:5-6 says. James, in the last sentence of verse three, reminded these rich, hoarding, and oppressing businessmen the days they lived were their last days. Their judgment was imminent. He meant, too, what they stored up for the last days was judgment. The “last days” comes from the word eschatos meaning the time of the eschaton - when Christ returns[iii]. The treasure the rich stored on earth stored judgment for them at Christ’s return. With the Roman siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple in 70AD, the unbelievers received a taste of the wrath to come and their fall. God’s vengeance for His people against those who oppressed them would occur.

Just as James was warning the rich businessmen of their eternal reward and judgment for hoarding and oppressing, he reminded the Christians of their eternal reward. Since the unbelievers received this, know Christians will receive a better reward. Even though the rich have plenty on earth, their eternal judgment make them the poorest. They will not inherit the kingdom of God as co-heirs with Christ as the Christians will. James’ encouragement to endure and be patient comes with the promise of Jesus to His followers. Christians can hold on to that hope while they are poor here on earth. Even though James explicitly addressed rich unbelievers in these six verses, he implied a lesson of encouragement for Christians as he did throughout the rest of this epistle.

The Acts

In verses 4 through 6, James listed actions of the rich (unbelievers) against the poor (Christians). He said in verse 4, “Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields and, which has been withheld by you, cries out against you, and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.” Notice James spoke twice about the farm workers – the reapers of the crop. In each instance, he stated the result of the rich person’s hard heart, oppression, and tight-fistedness – non-payment of daily wages. The Jews had laws that addressed this issue (Leviticus 19:13 & Deuteronomy 24:15). We can read of this lesson in Job 24:10, Jeremiah 22:13, and Malachi 3:5, too. Many people were poor and relied upon daily wages to be able to feed their families each night and the next morning. By not paying them at the end of the workday, the rich person kept the worker and his family from eating each day. The rich person stored up his money until he sold his grain. This enabled the him or her to keep hold of his own money until he knew he could replace it with a profit at market.

From verse four, we must notice two things. James said two things happened when the rich did not pay the day laborers. The laborers cried out and the Lord of Sabaoth heard their cries. The poor had almost no voice in society. They were given little and were heard little by the rulers because they had no champion to stand up for them. Riches brought power and luxury, both of which the poor did not have. Yet, though the poor did not have a champion who on lived on earth, they had a heavenly Father who stood up for them and for all His children. Moses taught this in Deuteronomy 32:35-36,
Vengeance is Mine and retribution; in due time their foot will slip. For the day of their calamity is near and the impending things are hastening upon them. For the LORD will vindicate His people and will have compassion on His servants when He sees that their strength is gone and there is none remaining, bond or free. [NASB]
      This point is the second thing we must notice from verse four. The LORD God would have vengeance on the people who oppressed His children. He would pay their oppressors back what they earned by doing evil on the earth – hoarding wealth and not helping their laborers or the poor. The rich may have earned wealth on earth but they earned judgment for eternity from God. Their wealth could not go with them, but their eternal reward of punishment would not go away…unless they repented and believed in Jesus Christ for their salvation. That is what James meant when he said the cries of the poor reached the ears of the Lord of the Sabaoth. The “Lord of the Sabaoth” means the Lord of the armies of Israel. Israel is under the leadership and protection of Jehovah. The enemies of His people are His enemies. The enemies of God’s children (those adopted in by faith), in this case the rich, will meet their protector, the Lord, and receive their judgment from Him for oppressing His children. We see repeatedly the Lord intervening for His children in the Bible. Look at Exodus 2:23, Deuteronomy 24:15, Job 31:38, Romans 9:29, and Isaiah 5:9. The people cried out because they were powerless and their Lord heard their cries and promised vengeance and retribution on the people who oppressed them.

      Besides hoarding their money and not paying their day laborers, the “rich lived luxuriously and led a life of wanton pleasure,” verse five states. The rich used their wealth for themselves even though they faced the desperate poverty of their workers and other poor people each day. Their luxurious living was so gross it led to wanton pleasure. “Wanton pleasure” comes from the Greek word spatalao and means to live luxuriously, to lead a voluptuous life to give one’s self pleasure[iv]. With James’ use of the term “wanton pleasure,” we recognize the rich used their wealth for more than having the softest bed or the best prime steak. It included gratifying physical promiscuous pleasures, too. Ezekiel spoke of this in Ezekiel 16:49 as did Paul in 1 Timothy 5:6. The exceeding wealth the rich hoarded led them to seek pleasures that defiled themselves before God. It corrupted their thinking and obedience to God’s laws. Luxury leads to wantonness. This wanton lifestyle left the poor hungrier and the rich farther from a relationship with God.

      James continued his thoughts. He said in verse five, “You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.” The English word “slaughter” in this verse comes from the Greek word sphage, which means slaughter of sheep and day of destruction. Jews call the “day of slaughter/feasting” as the day when they will sacrifice their lamb, ox, or ram. Just as Jews fattened a sheep or ox for its slaughter on the sacrificial altar to God, these rich people fattened their pockets with more wealth and increased the testimony/witness against them for the day of God’s judgment. God’s judgment of these rich will be their day of destruction.

      With verse 6, James concluded his thoughts on the rich businessmen oppressing the poor by not paying them their daily wages. He said, “You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist.” James said the rich man condemned; he judged against the poor person, and put him or her to death by not paying his or her daily wage at the end of the day. As said before, by not paying the poor laborer each day, the rich kept food from the mouths of the laborer and his or her family. By removing the ability to buy food, the rich person in effect killed the person and his or her family. His actions condemned the poor person as not worthy to receive food because the rich person found his or her own wants more important. The rich person made a judgment for him or herself and against the poor person. Added to this, the poor did not resist, James said. He or she could not resist because he or she had no power in the community to receive recognition or restitution. The poor person gradually wasted away and became depressed because of the oppression by the rich person.

      James meant this when he said the poor person did not resist. The poor person could not oppose the rich person; no one would be champion for him. Yet we know, as James said in verse four, God is the Lord of the Sabaoth. He is the Champion of the poor. The witnesses against the rich will be their moth-eaten garments and their rusted gold and silver. Those things will testify against them. Because of this, the believers of the Jerusalem church could have hope. The Lord God would judge and find guilty the rich who oppressed them. In addition, as Christians they themselves had the hope of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God. They could endure in the midst of their current situations - prejudice, poverty, abuse, slander, or beatings - because they had hope for their future in Jesus Christ. The believers James spoke to were co-heirs with Christ to God’s kingdom. Beyond any trouble believers had in this world, James said they could have hope and endure. James wrote this passage explicitly for non-Christians, the rich businessmen. He meant it to encourage and uplift the hopes of the Jerusalem Christians, too.

Recap

Though the rich oppressed the poor, the poor could have hope. God notices the deeds of the rich. He hears the cries of the oppressed. God promises judgment for every person – believer and unbeliever. Jesus Christ paid the penalty of sin for every person who believes in Him. For James, the Christians were the poor. People not saved by faith in Jesus Christ will pay the penalty of sin – eternal death, eternal separation from God. For James, these people were the rich of Jerusalem. Though they lived out their lives in luxurious and wanton living, God heard the cries of the people. The actions of the non-Christian will be testimony against them. The wealth they hoard, but do not use for the poor and oppressed cannot leave this earth nor buy salvation. The judgment they render against the poor as unworthy by not paying their daily wage or not helping them, God will render on them. Non-Christians will be poor for eternity. He or she will have no relationship with God and will have unfulfilled wants.

Relevance and Conclusion

With these few verses, James offered hope and encouragement to the beleaguered Jerusalem Christians and to every oppressed Christian throughout time. He gave warning to those people who are not Christians, and who can give help to the poor. For the rich, by acting wantonly and living luxuriously, without giving heed to the poor to give them work and daily wages, effectively the poor person and his or her family would die. Is that what we meant and want to do? This verse speaks to each of us.

We pass judgment each time we pass a poor person or refuse to pay a proper daily wage. By doing this, we say they are not worthy, worthwhile, and we do not care about them. Jesus gave a different and the greatest commandments to His disciples in Matthew 22:27-39. He said, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” These were not new to the Jews. Moses taught this commandfrom God in Deuteronomy 4:29 and 6:5, and with the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20.

We come to the point where each of us needs to consider our own self. Do we judge when we pass by a poor person and not help them? Are we considering them unworthy and unlovable? What, instead, would show that person we do not judge them? Consider, too, when we hire a person, do we pay a suitable wage so he or she can feed him or herself and his or her family or are we just giving grudgingly and saying to ourselves, “They are lucky to have a job no matter what I pay.” By doing this, we judge the other person as unworthy of our consideration and care. Jesus did not do this. He came to preach the Gospel to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, and to set free those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18, Isaiah 61). Christ commands us, as the children of God and as workers for Him, to be His witnesses. That involves living it out not just speaking. James said that when he told Christians to be doers of the Word and not just hearers.
Will you live out Christ’s love even to the poor, hopeless, helpless, and oppressed?
Will you be doers of God’s Word and not hearers only?
This is what James asks us today.
 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Sin, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation: A 2 Samuel 13-15 Devotional


In the story of 2 Samuel 13-15, Amnon, David’s first son, lusts for his half-sister, Tamar. He tries many times to coax her to be with him, but she refuses because she wants to stay pure. Amnon, with his friend Jonadab, hatch a plan to get Tamar into Amnon’s room. Amnon pretends to be sick and will only eat food if Tamar feeds him. Though she does not want to do it because she knows Amnon’s heart and mind, David convinces her to take food to Amnon. When she is in Amnon’s room, he overpowers her, rapes her, and then becomes angry with her and throws her out of his room.

Absalom, Tamar’s full-brother by blood, saw Tamar when she exited Amnon’s room and noticed her torment. When he asked what was wrong, she told him the story.  David heard about the incident, but did nothing to confront Amnon or Tamar to resolve the issue and discipline Amnon (13:21). From that time, Absalom hated Amnon and looked for a good time to take revenge. Two years later at sheep-shearing time, Absalom asked David to let all his brothers help him with sheep shearing. David did not see a need for it. Absalom asked them for Amnon only. David agreed. Absalom hatched a plan to kill Amnon and told his servants when they heard him say, “Kill him,” they were to fall on Amnon and kill him. This they did.

A servant fled from Absalom’s home to tell David all his sons had been killed. One of David’s advisors, Jonadab, told him, “My lord should not think that they killed all the princes; only Amnon is dead. This has been Absalom’s expressed intention ever since the day Amnon raped his sister, Tamar.” Later Jonadab told the king he saw his sons coming down a hill. They were not dead. By that time, Absalom fled his house, crossed the Jordan River, and went to his grandfather’s home in Geshur. His grandfather was Talmai, king of Geshur.

The story above covers only chapter thirteen. In chapters 14 and 15, Absalom stays away from Jerusalem, returns to Jerusalem by Joab’s prompting of David, is not welcome in David’s sight, pleads to see David, enters into David’s presence without being reconciled and forgiven, hatches a plan to take the throne from David, and scares David away from Jerusalem.

David failed to recognize and address Amnon’s sin against Tamar. He failed to address Absalom’s sin against Amnon and left him in Geshur to become bitter and angry. David requested Absalom’s return, but refused to see him. David, after three years and Absalom’s attention-seeking, permitted Absalom in his presence, but did not reconcile with him. David, the man after God’s heart, was not using God’s wisdom, nor showing God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness. He did not address the sins of his children and, thus, did not forgive them. David did not console Tamar, and did not discipline Amnon and Absalom.

To ask for forgiveness, a person must recognize his or her sin. David did not address his family after committing adultery with Bathsheba. Amnon decided to act upon his lust and raped his sister. He saw what David did and did not constrain himself just as David did not constrain himself with Bathsheba. David did not use the time of repentance with God after Nathan confronted him to teach and lead his family to God again. The domino effect seemed to occur after that with the Amnon and Tamar incident, then with Amnon’s murder and Absalom’s rejection by David. At any point in these incidents, David could have interjected and stopped what would happen next by bringing the wisdom of God into the situation. He could have led his children back to focus on God instead of their own wants. By doing that, David could have led them to see their wrongdoings, led them to repentance with God and asking for forgiveness from God and their family, and to reconciliation. Yet, David did not do these.

After his and Bathsheba’s baby son died, David sought God’s forgiveness, but not that of his family. He did not use that as a teaching moment. He did not address Amnon and his sin so Absalom harbored unforgiveness in his heart against Amnon, which led to Amnon’s murder and Absalom’s greater guilt and sin. David did not forgive Absalom when he came before him. They were reunited in body, but not reconciled.
Unforgiven sin leads to separation – from the one who hurt you and from God. To have reconciliation, confession of one’s sin and forgiveness must occur. David never sought to restore Amnon and Absalom’s relationship to loving brotherhood. He did not seek to restore his relationship with Absalom and Absalom held it against him. Because of that, Absalom plotted to usurp David’s kingship. After David’s not reconciling with Absalom, Absalom worked at increasing his popularity and decreasing David’s. He sought to take the throne from David. David eventually fled Jerusalem with 600 people from his household.

Unconfessed sin leads to bitterness and more sin. Unforgiven sin lead to hard hearts, bitterness, and dissension. David could have been the example of God’s mercy and forgiveness, but we do not see that here. Absalom tried to get David’s attention to be able to be in his presence and be reconciled. David’s mercy did not extend to reconciliation. David had already forgotten the love and mercy of God who forgave him his sin with Bathsheba and allowed him to continue to live and reign as king of Israel.

We need to make sure our walk with God is a close walk so we can instantly recognize sin in our lives. When we recognize sin, we can confess and ask for God’s forgiveness so a wall is not built between Him and us. God said He is faithful and just to forgive all sin (1 John 1:9). We need only acknowledge it, confess it, and repent then God will extend his love, mercy, and forgiveness towards us.

Just as God gives us His love, mercy, and forgiveness, we need to extend it to others who have sinned against us. Even when a person does not recognize he or she sinned against us and hurt us, we must, through the power of God and His mercy, forgive the person who hurt us. If we do not, reconciliation cannot occur and bitterness will grow in our hearts. David harbored bitterness toward Absalom. Absalom harbored bitterness against Amnon, which led him to murder his own brother.
Unforgiveness leads to bitterness, hatred, and murder. Unconfessed sin leads to estrangement in relationships and bitterness. Today we must decide to seek God’s forgiveness. We must recognize our sin and confess them to God seeking His love, mercy, and forgiveness. Besides this, today we must forgive the person or people who have hurt us even if they do not ask for forgiveness. Unforgiveness leads to a hardened heart and bitterness. It keeps us from a close relationship with people and with God.
Sin leads to broken relationships and dissension.
Seek God and His love, mercy, and forgiveness.
He can turn brokenness into wholeness and unity.
What will you choose to do today?



Friday, November 6, 2015

Judging God? - James 4:11-17

Introduction

In the earlier chapters, James taught the Jerusalem Christians about putting into action their faith. He said, “Faith without works is dead” in chapter two. To James, a true conversion of a person into a follower/disciple of Jesus Christ, created a new heart led by the Holy Spirit to show love to God and other people. This love brought forth spiritual fruit, as James mentioned in chapter 3. James taught Christians 1) Not to show favoritism, 2) Help the poor, 3) Tame the tongue, 4) Seek God’s wisdom and understanding instead of being jealousy and pursuing selfish ambition, 5) Guard the tongue so as not to judge or slander another, and 6) Rely upon God in plans for the future.

The last two teaching points from the list above are what this Bible study will consider. James taught in James 4:11-12 about slandering people and judging them. In verses thirteen through sixteen, he spoke about planning for one’s business in the coming year and replying upon God. James brought together everything he instructed the Jerusalem believers into one succinct and profound statement in verse seventeen. With this one statement, he issued a challenge for righteous living.

Slandering and Judging

In verses 11-12, James continued to speak to Christians as he has throughout this epistle. He said in verse eleven, “Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother speaks against the law and judges the law, but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge.” In this verse, James spoke explicitly about slandering another Christian. The verb “speak against” comes from the Greek word katalaleo. It means to implicate someone in a crime, to slander a person, to speak badly of or tell lies about a person to damage that person’s reputation[i]. We understand James spoke to other believers because he used the word “brothers.” From this, we realize James spoke against slandering other brothers and sisters in the faith. He taught in chapter three Christians must tame their tongues and to do that, they must rely upon the power and strength the Holy Spirit gives them. James said God gives to any believer who asks the wisdom and understanding to recognize what is right and how to stand firm in godliness. When the Holy Spirit lives in a person’s heart and a believer relies on its strength to live, the believer’s heart is changing to be more Christlike. By taming the tongue through God’s power and strength, a person grows toward perfection in Christ Jesus, which is the ultimate aim and end for every believer. In chapter four, therefore, James advances the thought of taming the tongue to include not slandering other Christians.

We must remember that during the time James taught and led the church of Jerusalem, a famine occurred. The Christians of the city were mostly poor. Aid sent into the city from the outlying parts of Israel and the diaspora (the Israelite people dispersed throughout the Roman Empire), went to care for poor Jews. With so little help available for poor Christians, the likelihood of the human heart toward bitterness was greater. Slander tends to rear its head during desperate times. At these types of times, believers most need to rely upon God realizing He will provide. They must claim the strength and power available to them from Him to live righteously in and through their minds, hearts, mouths, and actions.

James’ earlier instruction in this epistle explained being a “doer of the law” meant following Jesus Christ in obedience to God because of love for God. Taming one’s mouth is one way to be a “doer of the law.” Jesus taught what comes from the mouth originates in the heart of a person (Matthew 15:11, 15-20). To tame the mouth, a change must occur in the heart of a person. That change is effected by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit within a believer leads that person to recognize God as almighty and righteous and to understand His laws are good and perfect. A person who speaks against a brother, James said, speaks against the law and judges it. The person who speaks against another Christian does not allow the Spirit within to change his or her heart or to guide his or her actions and words. That person’s foolishness makes him or her not accept God’s laws and judgments are righteous and perfect, and by association, does not recognize God is greater, most righteous, and perfect. That believer’s heart shows by his or her words lack of recognition of God’s greatness and his or her insignificance. James carried this one step further when he declared in verse sixteen, “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy, but who are you to judge your neighbor?” James avowed God is the only Lawgiver and Judge. He is the only One who has power to save and destroy. Believers cannot save or destroy; they are not God. On what basis, then, can believers judge other people.

James said, the believer who judged the law is not a doer of the law. Besides this, he said when the person judged the law, he or she judged the Lawgiver – God. Can it be that we truly understand the ramifications of our words against another person? When we slander another person, we speak against the law and judge the law. When we judge the law, we judge God. Are any of us so simple-minded to misunderstand what James said here? When you slander another person, you judge God. We must be careful now since we understand this. Our thoughts and words originate from our hearts. If slander comes from our hearts, we are not perfect, do not follow Christ well, do not rely on the strength of the Holy Spirit, and do not ask God for wisdom and understanding. God can change our hearts if we allow His Holy Spirit to do so. We must decide to give our whole selves to Him as Lord. He is greatest, mightiest, and wisest.

Arrogance in Boasting

In verses 13-16, James spoke to the Jerusalem Christians about boasting and arrogance over their plans and future prosperity. A wise business man or woman makes plans for his or her business. James did not fault them on planning. He corrected them about planning without consulting God.

James said in verses thirteen and fourteen, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” Hear the boastfulness of the business person telling another person of his or her travels and the destinations to which he or she will go. Listen to the pride of earning a profit. Notice the person’s lack of giving the glory to God for the profit by him or herself making the profit. Recognize the arrogance of the person in his or her plans, destinations, duration of being abroad, and providing for his or her family. Detect the person’s non-reliance on God in making the plans and in living them. The person gave no glory to God for past profit, plans, and safety and looks not to have consulted God in his or her current business plans.

James caught the listeners’ attention. He brought it to an abrupt stop with verse fourteen. James said, “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.” How can a person plan for the day or week, much less the next year when he or she does not know what will happen in his or her life. God knows what will happen and that Christian business person did not consult Him first when planning for the year. James said, that business person – all humans, too – are just a vapor that is hear and then gone, but God has always been and will always be. He knows about tomorrow just like He knew about yesterday. We Christians cannot plan for the next year realistically without consulting God and getting His guidance.

James said in verse 15, “Instead you out to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’” This shows reliance upon God for each day to live in His plan. He knows the length of each life. Reliance upon God allows each person to live the best life because God knows and provides everything and loves profoundly. He wants the best for each person.

 James continued in verse sixteen, “But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.” Boasting and planning for your future without consulting the One who loves each person profoundly and who knows each day until the end of time is turning away from God; it is sin, and that is why James said it was evil. When people boast in their skill and the works of our hands, they sin. We cannot provide for ourselves if the Lord did not allow/provide it. We cannot live another day to gather more profit had God not given us breath for another day. Boasting in what we did or plan to do takes the glory away from God, idolizes ourselves, and is sin – evil. This boasting comes from a prideful heart, a heart that remains in our own control and not given over to the Holy Spirit to change in the image of Christ. Surely that is not what Christians truly want. It was not what they set out to do. James called the Jerusalem business people back to examine their motives and hearts to determine if they gave their whole hearts to the Lord to re-make.

Doing What’s Right

With the final sentence of chapter four, James compiled his teachings to the Jerusalem Christians into one singular lesson. He said in verse seventeen, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” The word “knows” comes from the Greek word oikeios. It means belonging to a house or family, belonging to the family of God because of having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ[ii]. This knowing comes from being related to God through the blood of Jesus Christ and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. Through Jesus and the Spirit, people can comprehend the heart of God. No believer can say he or she did not know the right thing to do because the Holy Spirit teaches of righteousness and convicts of sin. James said if a person recognized he or she was supposed to do something, but did not do it, omitting or choosing not to do what he or she recognized was right made him or her a sinner. Whoa! Intentionally not doing something right is a sin. Intentionally choosing to do something wrong is evil and a sin., too.

Christians cannot say they did not understand because the Holy Spirit will tell each believer what is right and wrong to do, say, and think. Luke spoke about this in Luke 12:47 when he said, “That slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes.” The person who chooses not to do what God says is right, God will judge. John recorded Jesus telling the Pharisees, since they understand what is right, when they do not do right things, they sin. John 9:41 says, “Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would have no sin, but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.’” Peter took this idea further in 2 Peter 2:20-21. He said,
For if, after they have escaped defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. [NASB]
Now as we understand what James meant in verse seventeen, how then is it a compilation of his earlier teachings? Consider his teachings.
  • ·         Do not show favoritism to the rich hoping to gain influence and help from them in the future. God provides for each person what he or she needs when she needs it. Consider, too, you have a rich inheritance in the kingdom of God. Love all your neighbors as your self. Show your love of God in your obedience to His laws – love each person equally, care for their needs. Do what is right. (Chapter 2)
  • ·         Show God’s love to even the poorest among you by giving food, clothes, shelter, and daily needs. By doing this, you show your faith by your works. You fulfill the second greatest commandment. Remember faith without works is useless (2:20). Do what is right. (Chapter 2)
  • ·         Guard your tongues; watch what you say. Blessings and curses cannot come from the same mouth. Ask for God’s wisdom and allow the Holy Spirit to help you bridle your mouth. By bridling your mouth, you bridle your whole body and show the new creation your relationship with God through Jesus Christ effected. Teachers have a greater accountability and stricter judgment from God for this since they can lead many astray with their influence and teaching. Do the right thing. (Chapter 3)
  • ·         Ask for God’s wisdom to guide you so jealousy and selfish ambition do not lead you astray to arrogance and lying against the Truth. Instead, seek wisdom and produce the fruits from above – purity, peacefulness, gentleness, reasonableness, mercy, good fruits, and stability and steadfastness. Do the right thing. (Chapter 3)
  • ·         Do not envy another person what he or she has. That leads to quarrels and fights. It makes a person an adulterer, someone who is hostile toward God. Remember God gives the greater grace – the better blessing(s) – salvation and eternal life. James gave six things for each believer to do to turn back to God. He said:

ü  Submit to God
ü  Resist the devil
ü  Draw near to God
ü  Cleanse your hands
ü  Purify your hearts, be miserable, mourn, and weep
ü  Humble yourselves before God.

        When a believer does these things to come back to the Lord, James said                God will draw near to the person and exalt him or her. Do the right thing.             (Chapter 4)
  • ·         Do not slander and judge another person because by doing so you judge God. You are not greater than God, so you are not great enough to judge another person. Do the right thing. (Chapter 4)
  • ·         Consult God when planning for your future – in business and everyday life. You do not know what tomorrow holds and cannot plan without God’s guidance, recognizing He holds the future and provides the profit you earn and everything you need. Do the right thing. (Chapter 4)

Each of the lessons James taught to the Jerusalem Christians in this epistle dealt with the whole person – heart, head, mouth, and body. He taught about how to speak and act as Christians in this world, not as the natural person he or she was before profession of faith and salvation through Jesus Christ. James taught Christians to be “doers of the word and not hearers only.” That meant embodying the love of God in their daily lives. Since the Christians understood what they were supposed to do because of the indwelling Holy Spirit and because of James’ and other preachers of the Word, they sinned if they did not do what is right and just. Christians cannot just say they do not want to get involved. As Christians who understand the right thing to do, they must do the right thing in the situations they encounter in their daily lives. Be “doers” of the word, not omit-ers.

Recap

Today’s lesson from James 4:11-17 included slander, judging, planning, and arrogance. He taught speaking against another person, in particular another believer, came from a judgmental attitude. James said slandering meant a person acted against the law and in essence declared the law in valid. By declaring the law invalid, the person judges the law and no longer is a “doer of the law.” When the believer judges the law, he or she judges the Lawgiver and Judge. James stated no one is great enough to judge the Lawgiver and Judge –God – because God is greater than any person. God is able to save and destroy people, so who is able to judge God or his or her neighbor. James’ logic is sound and should shed light for people. When they choose not to follow God’s laws, they are doing more than that. Christians who break God’s law judge and question God, His righteousness, and His right to give laws and judge people based on them.

Besides this, James taught that planning for the future of our businesses and providing for our families must include consulting with God. Christians must seek Him to determine His will - what He knows and what His plans are. Because people are finite, they cannot know what the next day or even the next year will bring. They have no control over tomorrow. James said people are like vapors that are here for a short time then vanish, but God is everlasting and knows all things. Instead of planning your days and your businesses on your own and boasting about your plans and the profits you will make, recognize God is in control of what happens and He is the One who provides you with your profits. Submit your plans to Him and seek His will, then you will have the best outcome and realize you cannot be arrogant about your future or profits. Both of these God holds in His hands.

The final and culminating point of James’ teaching is verse seventeen. He said if a person knew the right thing to do and did not do it that person would be sinning. When a Christian omits to do the right thing, he or she is just as deliberate in that non-action as intentionally stealing, slandering, fighting, and quarreling. Christians must realize this and give over their wills to the power of God through the Holy Spirit. God gives the power and strength to do right and just actions and speak righteous words.

Relevance and Conclusion

In today’s section of James, we learned about sins from words. Sinful words come from sinful thoughts, thoughts not focused on God. These thoughts lead to arrogance and a judgmental attitude. Besides this, the thoughts lead to turning away from God and living as way the world lives.

We each must stop to consider if we have an untamed tongue that abuses other people – slanders other people. When we do this, we malign God and judge Him. We must realize we are doing this and have no right since we are lower than Him. People cannot control salvation or eternal destruction. God can. When we recognize our slandering or talking bad about a person comes from a judgmental attitude, a posture of superiority, which we do not rightly have, we realize we are putting ourselves above God and counting His laws as beneath us. We then make ourselves our gods. Our desires and tongues become our idols. Surely we did not intend to downgrade God in our lives. Surely we just misunderstood how our speaking against another person reflected on our relationship with God.

Consider, too, our plans. Often we drive ourselves to make sure we have enough money for our families. We plan to do things to earn an income forgetting we do not realize what will happen tomorrow or even in the next year. When we stop to consider this, we realize the futility of our actions and return to God who knows all things and what will happen tomorrow and the next day. We recognize our insignificance is like vanishing vapor when compared to God’s infinite-ness. As we come to this realization, we must turn back to God, consult with Him as to His plans for us, and step out in faith on what He says to do. He has always provided for His children. God never fails; He never forsakes us. Our understanding that makes it easier to trust in God’s plan and walk in faith with Him.

As we consider this week’s lessons, we must consider principally our hearts. If anyone has not given part of his or her heart and life to God that person will stumble and sin. He or she will battle sin in his or her own strength never finding enough power to overcome every temptation and have joy in the journey. By allowing the Holy Spirit to have complete control in one’s life, each person allows Him to re-mold him or her from the inside so that his or her outward actions and words reflect Jesus Christ more each day. Your life will show love for God and your neighbors more. As you grow towards completion/perfection in Christ, intentional sins against other people and sins of omission (not doing what is right) become less frequent.

We each choose to follow Jesus each day and allow His Spirit to change us to grow in our relationship with God. Whether you have been a Christian for 30 years or just a day, each person has to choose for him or herself to let God be Lord of his or her life that day.

Some people may say, “This is more important for new believers. I have been a Christian for a while and I am fully grown.” We are never fully grown, mature, complete Christians until we are in God’s kingdom.

Other people may say, “I work for and with God every day. He is already Lord of my life.” Have you spent time with Him today? How about every day this month? Has there been a day when you woke, dressed hurriedly, and ran to do the work of God forgetting to pray first asking for God’s guidance that day? If you said yes to any of these, you still have growing to do to get to maturity in Christ.

Another person may say, “My life is pretty good. I buy everything I need. Why do I need God?” Let me tell you what Jesus said. Matthew recorded Jesus speaking on this in Matthew 6:19-21. Jesus said,
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; or where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. [NASB]
What we can give ourselves on earth will not last. Just as our bodies die, so other things of earth rust, corrode, and rot. They do not last. God provided a way for us to have eternal life with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. Our bodies die here, but our souls stay alive. Whether we choose Jesus Christ or not determines where our souls will go for eternity – in heaven or hell. Hell is eternal separation from God an eternal punishment. You get to decide for yourself if you want God’s love and gift. Do you want a relationship with God? Accept Jesus Christ is God’s Son. Believe He died on the cross for your sin, taking your sin judgment upon Himself. Confess your sins to God. “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9 [NASB])
We each must make a choice each day.
Will you choose God first?