Posts Tagged ‘James’

A man by the name of John Hancock Field once stated, “All worthwhile men have good thoughts, good ideas, and good intentions, but precious few of them ever translate those into action.”  In other words, that age old adage, “it’s the thought that counts” is not true.

Too many people declare to the world that they are perfectly content with the world by their actions.  Yet with their lips, they declare quite another truth.  They teach their children to complain yet not how to work.

The former CEO of GE, Jack Welch, said, “There are times when a leader cannot be this thoughtful, in-the-corner-guru.  You cannot be a moderate, balanced, thoughtful, careful articulator of policy.  You’ve got to be on the lunatic fringe.”  Far to many people get stuck in the thinking phase and never move to the action phase.

A man name James wrote this in the New Testament of the Bible, “But someone may well say, ‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works.'”  It is time we stop telling people what we believe and start showing them what we believe….

If we say Christ desires us to be compassionate then how are we showing compassion?

If we say Christ desires us to extend forgiveness then how are we extending forgiveness?

If we say Christ desires us to live a sacrificial life, then how are we living sacrificially?

If we say Christ desires us to boldly proclaim the Gospel message, then when is the last time we did?

 

It is time we stop talking about being Godly and stop talking about doing the right thing.  In the words of Nike, “Just Do It!!!”

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I will be covering two principles from Nehemiah today.  They are found in the third and fourth chapters.

Chapter 3 – A leader is concerned about the home front.  

In chapter three we find the walls being rebuilt.  Yet, Nehemiah did not go outside the city to hire workers to rebuild the walls.  Instead he instructed his people to work on their own parts of the walls.  They were to walk out of their front doors and go to the walls closest to them and get to work.  Work on the homefront!  Don’t worry about what needs to occur outside the city, work on what matters now.  Until the wall and gates were fixed, the Israelites were easy targets to all their enemies.

Chapter 4 – A leader is always prepared. (vs. 18)

With the threat of outside forces breathing down the neck of the Jewish workers a plan was needed to be put into to place.  Nehemiah’s workers were facing the possibility of an attack.  An attack that was meant to halt all progress on their disheveled city.  Instead of giving up and feeling sorry for himself Nehemiah did the job that God had tasked him to do and developed a plan for dealing with the possible attack.  He armed his workers.  In verse 18 we find that the workers are wearing swords and verse 13 we find people standing guard who are heavily armed.  You see a good leader is prepared for attacks.  He has a plan to deal with the enemy before he ever gets there.  For those who are not prepared, an enemy can wreak havoc.  Yet for those who resist, an enemy will often flee.

Are you concerned about the homefront?  You should be if you are not.  In fact in in 1 Timothy 3 one of the qualifications for a Pastor is that they manage their household well.  It then asks the rhetorical question “if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God.”

Are you prepared to fight for what is right?  Nehemiah’s people were.  You and your people should be as well.  Fleeing is not an option when the battle in on your home turf.  Resistance is the necessary course of action.   In James 4.7 we are told of the twofold process of dealing with an attack from the enemy.  1.  Submit to God. 2. Resist the Devil and then he will flee from you.  However, step one is submission not resistance.  To overcome the enemy we must first allow ourselves to be overcome by God.

 

Chapter 1: Think Great Thoughts

In 2004 Morgan Spurlock filmed a documentary called Supersize Me, where he lived off only McDonald’s fastfood for thirty days. Over the course of one month Spurlock gained eighteen pounds, suffered from depression, moods swings and dealt with chest palpitations. Even worse than all this is that by the time he finished his documentary, he suffered from the early stages of liver failure. All of this was because he decided to consistently fill his body with several thousand empty calories each day from one of America’s most beloved restaurant chains.

This young film maker became the living example of a statement we have all heard many times: you are what you eat. In his book, Good to Great in God’s Eyes, Chip Ingram says that this axiom “is true not only physically but also psychologically and spiritually.” That statement deeply resonated with me. But enough about Chip, I did not start reading his book to learn about him but rather to learn about my heavenly Father and myself. It is a tool to help me further align myself with the truths of Scripture that I claim to follow.

I know many Christians who wonder what is wrong with them. They want to know why God has seemingly removed His blessing from their lives and why He appears to be so distant. Many times the answer can be found in the statement, “You are what you eat.”

I believe that most Christians would be amazed with the amount of promises that God is not obligated to fulfill. No I am not saying God makes a promise and then can lie if He so chooses. What I am saying is that many of the Bible’s promises are conditional. I am saying that if you want God’s blessing you need to live according to God’s Word just like if Spurlock wanted to pursue becoming healthy his diet to needed to follow his desires.

Many times God’s blessing is removed due to poor choices of an individual not because God is out to get them. Just last night, I battled with my daughter over whether or not she could have a piece of candy after dinner. She wanted the candy but she did not want to eat her vegetables. Until she finished her broccoli and cauliflower I withheld the candy that she wanted so badly. Just like Kaitlyn needed to fulfill my expectation in order to receive the candy so must we fulfill God’s expectations (read the Bible to learn them) in order to live a life filled with blessing. For it is only through obedient living that we can experience abundant living!

So what does all this have to do with thinking great thoughts? I am glad you asked.

In the last chapter of his book to the Philippian church Paul writes, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these thing.” (Philippians 4.8 NASB)

The concept of thinking great thoughts is not an option for believers. In fact it would appear to me that is a command. Many people I know live lives that are wrought with pain because that is all they can see. They fail to grasp this concept. It is a dangerous path to travel. If we choose only to focus on the negative we accomplish nothing for Christ. How could we? After all everything about our mission as believers is positive! Sharing Christ’s compassion, love, peace, hope, forgiveness and grace is amazing! ( and no, my list is not exhaustive)

We must learn to see Christ during all situations because He is at work even when we do not see Him. Andy Andrews a humorist, writer, and motivational speaker has a set of three books entitled Storms of Perfection. These books include articles on painful experiences that great men and women and in history encountered. They show the necessity of the pain and how without it, these people never would have experienced greatness. When we get down to it, these books just illustrate the concept found in James 1.2-4 that says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing.” Even in the trial God is at work.

My take away from Think Great Thoughts is simple really: I choose to focus on the positive. When I choose to focus there, I realize how blessed I truly am. I realize that I have a reason to praise my God everyday. I realize that I have nothing to complain about.

So I would challenge you to do the same. Fix your focus on the Author and Finisher of our faith. If we choose to live with an eternal perspective we also choose to live with a changed life. After all, according to my Bible it is commanded.

Let me close with a statement that I made already once. I would encourage you to memorize this and maybe write it down and hang it where you can look at it everyday.

It is only through obedient living that we can experience abundant living!

     Revelation 1.3 says, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.”
     Revelation 1.3 speaks to the very heart of what most believers struggle with. We know the truth. We can proclaim what we know with ease. We know words like sanctification, justification, grace, regeneration, and propitiation. They are part of our vocabulary when dialoguing with other like-minded believers. Many believers do not have much of a problem when it comes to reading and hearing the words of Scripture. They hear weekly sermons and Sunday school lessons at church, are taught at a small group, and regularly hear teaching on the local Christian radio station. Some believers read their Bible several times a week. Some believers read their Bible every day of the week. Yet something is missing…
     What is missing is found in the second half this verse where it says, “and heed the things which are written in it.” Now I know some who read this will say this is talking about Revelation and the vision that John received while exiled on the island of Patmos. While I agree with this argument that this is the context of the verse, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that the topic of reading, hearing, and heeding is a principle that is found throughout all of Scripture.
     James hits on the topic of coupling heeding with reading. In James 1.22 he wrote, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” In James 2.18 he wrote, “But someone may well say, ‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’” What is James saying? If you fail to  live out what you say you believe (have read and heard) then you are delusional!
     Perhaps rather than asking believers how much they have been reading out of God’s Word we should ask how much they have been heeding.

Read it and heed it!

In John 14.15 Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.”