1. This letter was originally sent to Christian Jews. Back in old testament days the Israelite s were scattered out of their land by their enemies as punishment from God. The scattered Jews mentioned here in verse one were some of those Israelites who never returned. The message of Jesus reached them where they were, and they became Christians.
2. In other words, when you go through hard times look beyond the hard times. There's nothing good about bad, but God can bring good out of bad. There's nothing fun about problems, however we can trust that God allows bad to bring about good. That's a real test of faith.
Only those with faith in God, and faith in his word will respond to bad times with trust. With faith in Christ our focus will not be on the circumstances, but rather on the God of circumstances.
3. If a person will draw closer to Jesus during trials then from the time the trial begins they will notice a change in themselves. They will notice a spiritual improvement. As we trust in Christ through hard times; as we endure trials by believing God has allowed them for a reason, our faith will grow stronger, and faith develops perseverance. There is no easy way to develop perseverance. There is no easy way to grow stronger spiritually. In this fallen world results (spiritual&physical) only come through struggle. People who never had to struggle are weak, and shallow people.
4. God has never promised any Christian an easy life. There are good times, and there are bad times but Godliness does not guarantee a life of ease; a life free of pain, or trouble. In fact according to what God says right here suffering, pain, and trouble are an important part of our spiritual growth process.
Difficulties are not fun; but they are not the enemy. They hurt, but they do not harm.
As Jesus embraced the cross which hurt him, but helped us, so we by faith can embrace our trials which hurt, but work to sanctify us.
5. God wants to give us wisdom even more than we want wisdom. God wants us to know what is right, and do what is right. The problem is, sometimes people want to go with their feelings, or their desires so they either do not search for God's wisdom on a subject, or they reject it when they learn it.
5,6. God says ask in faith. Meaning this: when we pray we are to believe that God will say yes, if it is according to his will, and if it doesn't contradict his word, and if the time is right. In other words, faith in prayer, and faith in general involves trusting in the good sense of God.
7,8. If we do not pray believing that God will hear, and answer in the correct way, then our prayers are a waste of time. If that's the way a person prays then their mind isn't even in it. Their prayers are vain jangling.
9. Christians are forgiven sinners. According to Jesus even faithful Christians who have done everything expected of them are unworthy servants. In light of that, our self respect, and self worth doesn't come from who we are. It comes from who we are in Christ. Consequently, if I'm not good looking, or smart, or wealthy, that's not the end of the world. Do you know what it is? It's nothing; it means absolutely nothing. I say that because no matter what I have going for me or don't have going for me, I can rejoice that I'm in the family of God, and I can have fun with Jesus, and that someday I will be in a brand new raised body, and live on the new earth forever.
9,10. There are no big shots in the church; only sinners saved by God's grace through the crucifixion of Christ. A Christian who is a billionaire is no better than a Christian who is an unemployed pauper. I suppose good looks, wealth, and position are a nice thing to have, but they are nothing to get too excited about because they won't last. God compares them to wildflowers. Wildflowers start blooming in the spring, but before long they are gone. Apple blossoms and lilacs come and go in a very short time as well. Good looks, position, and wealth will not last very long either. Knowing Jesus is the only thing that really matters.
11. If you go outside, and look at the grass during a dry spell it is easy to see which part doesn't get shade. The portion of grass which the sun shines on all day is dry, brown, and brittle. God says that's the destiny of the wealth of the wealthy. Wealth, influence, and looks are just as fleeting as grass in the sun. We need to find our identity in Jesus, and in our relationship to him, instead of in these other things which so quickly fade.
12. The crown of life refers to eternal life; it's talking about salvation. Like the bible teaches in so many places, he who endures to the end will be saved. People who quit on Jesus are not the elect; they are not the saved. People who continue with Christ, through trouble if need be, are the ones who receive eternal life according to verse 12.
13 In other words God is saying don't blame Me for your sin! Blame shifting comes real natural to us because of our sin nature. Adam blamed Eve for his sin in the garden, actually Adam blamed God. He said that woman you gave me gave me the fruit. Adam blamed Eve and God, and then Eve blamed the serpent. They both could have saved their breath because their sin was their fault just as our sin is our fault. That's the way God sees it because that's the way it is.
13,14. It's very simple; people sin because they are sinners. People sin because they want to sin. No one holds a gun to their head and forces them to sin. In fact sin by definition involves making the wrong choice. Sin is choosing of one's own volition to do the wrong thing. Whether it is a blatant sin like lying, or something more subtle like bitterness, or pride; people do it because at that moment they choose to do it.
15. Sinful desire leads to sin, and sin leads to death.
Sin does lousy things. Sin ruins individuals, and families, and nations. Sin leads to sickness, and sorrow, and physical and spiritual death. Ultimately if not repented of and forgiven through Jesus Christ sin leads to eternal hell.
Sin is no good, and only leads to what is no good, and yet man still craves it. No wonder man cannot save himself, but needs the grace of God.
16. Mans not only sins, but he often makes up excuses for sin, and justifies it as well, but don't be deceived. The bible says, the heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. By that God is saying, don't be deceived, and don't be self deceived.
When you tell yourself you've got a right to commit this sin so go ahead; you're lying to yourself; you're deceiving yourself. When you or someone else says, a little bit of sin doesn't hurt, that is a deception. Don't be deceived, a little bit of sin does hurt. Sin is like arsenic: a little bit at a time will add up and eventually push one over the edge until their life is ruined and they are burning in hell.
17. God only gives us good things. The problem is people take God's good things and abuse them. It's not God's fault that sinful man take something good like food, and turns it into the sin of gluttony. It's not God's fault that sinful man takes leisure, and turns it into a God, or takes wine or beer and turns it into the sin of drunkenness. It's not God's fault that man takes sex and turns it into fornication and adultery. God gives good things to enjoy; man perverts, and over indulges, and turns them into sin. Man chooses to do these things; they're not God's idea.
18. The word of God created everything including man. The word of God also calls man to repent, and have faith in Jesus Christ. We wouldn't know about salvation thru Christ if it wasn't for the word of God. No one ever gets saved apart from the word of God, which is one reason the devil hates the word of God.
19. God says I want you to be quick to listen. In other words listen very carefully. People who talk too much seldom listen enough. People who talk too much seldom listen to what other people are saying. That's why they do not learn, and therefore their many words are often useless, and sometimes harmful. People who listen carefully, and think before they speak may speak fewer words, but their words will be worth more.
19. Be quick to listen, and be slow to anger. In other words, little things shouldn't cause us two blow our top. We are too touchy if little things make us angry. Too touchy usually means too much of a self focus, and not enough of a Jesus focus. If we would think more about Jesus hanging on the cross suffering and dying for our sins, then we wouldn't be so impatient with the little things that go wrong in our life, or for that matter the big things that go wrong in our life.
20. Sinful anger just makes things worse; it doesn't solve problems; it makes bad problems worse, and creates new problems.
21. If one does not put away filthiness, and wickedness, then they are not receiving with meekness the word of God which is able to save their soul. Remember also that this is written to Christians which means putting away rebellion, and humbling one's self before God must be a continuous thing. If a person starts tolerating sin then God becomes less and less important until He isn't even an issue anymore.
22. Some people think they are in good shape with God because they know the bible. Some people think that they are in good shape with God because they've gone to church and heard the bible. Hearing and knowing the word of God is great, but if that's where it stops; if that's all there is, then those people are deceived if they think everything is fine. Knowing the bible is step one; step two is to do it. The word of God must be applied. Anyone who thinks that they are fine simply because they know the truth, has been lulled to sleep spiritually. There will be people in hell who have good theology; they were very orthodox in their beliefs, but they never acted on them. Hell will include many who believe that Jesus died for their sins; the problem is they never repented and made Jesus Christ there lord and savior. Jesus said , the servant who knew his master's will but didn't do it will be punished with many stripes.
23,24. When you look in the mirror and see a dirty face the best thing to do is wash it before you get busy, and forget. The mirror doesn't do me any good if I do not make any of the corrections it tells me I need to make. God's word is a spiritual mirror. If we do not repent when it tells us to repent; if we don't make the corrections we see that we should make; if we do not receive Jesus as it tells us to do, then it isn't doing us one bit of good. Knowing it is absolutely meaningless in that case.
25. The law that gives freedom, or the law of liberty is the law of Christ. The law of liberty isn't talking about liberty to sin, but rather the liberty not to sin. The law of Christ includes freedom to look into the word of God, and freedom to correct our failings.
26. If a person does many religious things but their mouth is full of insults, slander, gossip, and cursing, then they might as well stay home because all their religion means absolutely nothing to God.
Our religious activity isn't as important to God as what kind of person we are.
27. Holiness, loving God, and helping others is what God calls good religion. Those things along with faith in Jesus Christ, of course, are the essence of Christianity. In fact loving God and helping others is the out working of our faith in Christ. It is also the criteria by which one is judged by God to be saved or lost (Matthew 25: 31-45).
1. In other words, do not play favorites; do not be influenced by the ways of the world, and do not be influenced by public opinion.
Those who the world considers to be important, worthy of great honor and special treatment should not impress Christians more than anyone else.
In the world those with influence are treated very well; meanwhile the poor, may not even be treated politely. As far as God is concerned, everyone should be treated with dignity, as one created in the image of God.
2,3,4. The church ought to be the one place in this world where discrimination is based only on behavior, rather than race, dress, social standing, or age and ability. That's the way Jesus was;
With Jesus it was always what can I do for you, which is why He never tried to impress those who had more to offer then others. If our attitude is that of our Lords then we'll be thinking in terms of what can I do for you, not I wonder what you can do for me.
4. Any Christian who would show favoritism to the influential reveals that their sense of judgment is as warped as the world's. Catering to the influential reveals a self-centeredness; they are like the leech in the book of Proverbs which never tires of saying, take take when instead a christian should be thinking, give give.
5. There's no virtue in being poor it's just that, In general, poor people are more willing to put their trust in Christ. They are less likely to trust in what they have because they don't have much. Actually, their status can work in their favor; their options are few if any, so they trust in Christ because they have no alternative.
5. No one, be they rich or poor, needs to be spiritually poor. If we are rich in faith then we can have the joy of the Lord, and the peace of God in our hearts, which satisfies more then anything in this world. When it comes to feeling rich no one can come close to a christian whose walk with the Lord is strong.
6. They were being nice to the wrong people. the wealthy unbelievers were giving them a hard time because they were Christians and yet the Christians pampered them, evidently because they thought they could get something from them. They were good to the bad and they were bad to the good and all because the good didn't have money or influence. That it disgraceful behavior for a christian.
When Christian's start buying into the world's definition of important they have lost touch with God.
7. This was inexcusable. They catered to the big shots who had even blasphemed the savior. I know that Christians are supposed to be kind to all, but it's not kind to fawn over someone who openly blasphemes Christ. The kindest thing to do for people like that is rebuke them to their face, and tell them they are hell bound if they don't repent. They may not like it, but it's true, and thatch what they need. Tolerating blasphemy against the Savior is the height of spiritual compromise.
You might as well lock the church doors if you're going to be that way. A church like that has nothing to offer the world; they are the world.
8. If you treat others they way you'd want to be treated you'll do well. You want to be treated with kindness; who doesn't; treat others with kindness, and you'll bless them and God. You like some compassion and some help when it's needed, then be compassionate and helpful to others when they need it, and once again you'll bless them and God. Like God says here in verse 8, you will do well. The christian life isn't very complicated; just treat others the way you want to be treated.
9. It is a sin to show favoritism to the well off, while despising the less fortunate. That sort of behavior is an insult to God who created those less fortunate ones. They are God's creation like everyone else. Who in their right mind doesn't treat God's people with the dignity that he says they deserve? Christians who probably wouldn't think of committing adultery or taking God's name in vain because it's wrong should understand that favoritism is just as sinful.
10. The law of God is a unit, like a window. Keeping part of it doesn't give one a license to break a different part of it because one break, regardless of where it is, breaks the whole thing. I broke many windows in my youth and it didn't matter which part of the window the ball took out, the entire window was broken.
Some people are very proud of the fact that they haven't committed certain serious sins, and while it's good that they haven't, they shouldn't twist their arm trying to pat themselves on the back. I say that because they've committed other sins. Some sins are more serious than others, but the fact is, any sin breaks the entire law, and any sinner, by their sin, is despising the authority of the law giver who is God, and that's the real issue.
11. One sin breaks the law of God. Whatever sin we commit makes us a lawbreaker; we become a wanted man or woman. God puts a wanted poster up in His divine post office with our name on it, and only salvation through Jesus can make us innocent again.
12. Jesus paid the eternal penalty for our sin which is hell. However, there is still a responsibility on our part to obey God's moral law; not as an attempt to earn heaven, but because it's right, and it pleases our Savior, and also because there's still a just, temporal penalty for breaking it. In other words, there are consequences to sin, even for those of us who have been forgiven in Christ.
13. Bitter, unforgiving people can expect the same treatment from God that they dish out to others. How dare any unworthy sinner who's been so graciously forgiven all their sins by God refuse to forgive others who have hurt them, and apologized for doing it. Someone says, but it hurts too much; yes and all our sins hurt God as well, but he still forgives us through Jesus Christ. The Bible says that we reap what we sow, so if we want to reap mercy then we must be merciful.
14. The implication is no it cannot save him, and he will prove it by scripture.
Reality isn't what we believe; reality is what is tangible; reality is what works itself out in the real world. Reality is what exists in the real world. If there is no substance to something, then it's only an idea; it's not real, and therefore it does no good whatsoever; it doesn't profit anyone including the one who has the idea.
15,16. Simply believing is worthless; it's not real; it's just an idea if it doesn't flesh itself out in tangible ways in the real world. God gives us an example: nice words and well wishes are no substitute for doing something good when something good needs to be done. By themselves well wishes, and nice words are useless in the eyes of God, and in reality. If we believe that someone needs help, but we do not help, our belief is useless. God is driving home the point that faith; what we believe, is worthless if there are no actions that correspond to it.
17. Faith in Jesus, if it is not accompanied by doing what Christ wants, is absolutely worthless.
A person can have all the correct beliefs, but that won't keep them out of hell if they turn their back on the lordship of Jesus Christ. Jesus says in revelation 22: 12, behold I'm coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay everyone for what he has done. Why? Because real saving faith does real things in the real world; it doesn't simply exist in the realm of the mind.
18. The point is no one can show their faith apart from works that correspond to it. Faith is an interior virtue. If there aren't any good works, then others cannot see that a person's faith is real. Take it one step further, if there aren't any good works then there is no faith; at least not the type of faith that saves.
19. Demons believe; they believe the correct things; they believe that the word of God is true; their belief in the word of God is rock solid, and it scares them to death to even think about it. Demons believe; the problem with demons is that they have not submitted to the lordship of Christ. Demons have faith, but good works do not follow their faith.
The people of Jericho believed; they believed that God was God; which is why they had their town locked up tight. They believed, but because good deeds did not accompany it, they were destroyed. The point is this: believing the correct things about right and wrong, and Jesus, and the cross is worthless, if it does not lead to repentance and good works.
20. Those who think that just having faith without having good works is enough to save their soul are called foolish (vain) by God. Let's put an end to the ridiculous teaching in evangelicalism which teaches that Jesus can be a person's savior without being their lord. That is nothing but a theological assumption; it isn't a Biblical doctrine and it should be rejected.
20,21. When James says that Abraham was saved by good works; he does not exclude the need for faith in Jesus Christ. James is teaching that faith, if it is not accompanied by good works, is not going to save anyone.
21,22. Faith was made perfect by his works. In other words, Abraham's faith was verified with his willingness to obey God and offer his son.
God knows if our faith is genuine saving faith, but we don't know, until we live our faith out in action. Abraham's obedience didn't prove anything new to God. His obedience proved to himself that he was saved. From that point on no one could ever tell Abraham that his faith in God wasn't real. He was willing to sacrifice his son in obedience to God; don't tell him that he wasn't trusting the lord.
Obedience strengthens our faith in Christ, and it confirms the reality of our faith to ourselves. We think, I must be saved because look how I live because of my belief in Jesus.
23. Think of salvation as being a two sided coin. Back in verse 21 the Bible says that Abraham was justified by works. Here we see that he was counted righteous by his faith.
Saving faith, and good works go hand in hand; one does not exist without the other. Good works without faith in Jesus are what Scripture calls dead works. Believing the truths about Jesus without corresponding good works is dead faith which cannot save anyone.
24. Faith in Jesus Christ saves us, but as God says here: not faith alone. We are saved entirely by the grace of God through the finish work of Jesus Christ on the cross. But the grace of God that produces salvation produces a faith, with works that correspond to our new relationship with Jesus. We do not earn salvation; it is all by the grace of God, but remember, the Bible says that the grace of God teaches us to say no to ungodliness .
25. Rehab the harlot from Jericho had faith and works, and because of that, God saved her. That's what the bible says, and it is reckless to water down that message to make it fit some system of theology. Rahab risked her life to save the lives of two Hebrew spies, and God saved her. Like with Abraham, God saved her by her faith, which worked itself out in good deeds that pleased him.
26. When our spirit leaves our body our body dies; it becomes useless. Faith, meaning: right beliefs which are not accompanied by good works are like a body without a spirit. That faith is useless; it does nothing for the one who has it. Meaning: it doesn't save them.
1. Anyone who enters into the ministry lightly probably shouldn't be in the ministry; especially the teaching of God's word. People who teach the bible need to have a healthy fear of God because they will stand before God not just to give an account of the things that they have done, but also for the things that they have taught, and how it has affected other people's lives. There's great potential to do good if one faithfully teaches the word of God. On the other hand, there's great potential for earthly, and eternal harm if one doesn't communicate the word of God accurately.
2. Everyone says wrong things sometimes. We all make mistakes, and to one degree, or another there are consequences for us, and others, because of those mistakes.
However, when a bible teacher makes a mistake it affects others spiritually, and that's why it is so serious.
2. If someone can control their tongue, then they must have perfect self control. The hardest part of our body to control is the tongue.
The reason it's so hard to control our words is because there's a direct connection between our soul, and our words. The bible says: out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. That's why before you know it you have complained, or said something else that isn't right. If we can always control our words, then we must be perfect in every other area of our life. Our words are a very accurate gauge of our spirituality.
3. Here's an illustration of the great power that can be in something small. A bit is a piece of metal that people put in a horses mouth. The bit is connected to the bridal, which fits over the horse's head. The rider can control the horse by controlling the bit in the horse's mouth. If you control the horses mouth, you control the horse. Likewise, if we can control our mouth, then we can control our entire being. If we do not have control over our mouth, watch out, because our entire life will be out of control, and consequently destruction and confusion will reign.
4. The rudder is a very small part of a big ship. And yet that little rudder can direct the way that ship goes. Even in a storm the rudder controls the direction of the ship.
By controlling the small rudder the sailor controls the ship. Again, small things can have big influences.
5a. The tongue is a small part of our body, but it's like a bit, and it's like a rudder, because it can do big things; both good and bad big things.
The words we use can do a lot of good for ourselves and others, but they can also do a lot of bad. Demagogues who use inflamed rhetoric can stir a crowd to do evil. But a statesman who gives a strong speech on righteousness can motivate many people to do good.
5b. Small things can cause big problems. Likewise, the small tongue and its words, if they are lies, if they are slander, if they are mean spirited, can cause big problems. Drop a small match into some tall dry grass and in a short time there will be a tidal wave of fire doing a lot of damage.
Our words can be as dangerous as that match. Bad words can hurt people, and start a chain reaction that can do a lot of damage, to a lot of people, for many years. No wonder God says, by our words we will be justified, and by our words we will be condemned.
6. Our tongue is just a small part of our body, but how we use it, often sets the course of our entire life.
I have seen people destroy their life, and the lives of many others, because they have a quick temper,and an abusive tongue I have seen people who use their tongue almost exclusively to complain, and they are lonely, because no one wants to be around them.
Words really are like a rudder. The right words will have a positive chain reaction. The wrong words will produce a negative chain reaction. One leads to blessing; the other leads to trouble.
7. It is amazing what hard work, and patience can produce when it comes to training animals. It takes a lot of work to overcome creation's sinful rebellion against the authority of man on earth, however it can be done. It takes work to train your dog to do tricks, but it can be done. You may have seen how one man has trained a bald eagle to circle a stadium while the national anthem is being played and land on his arm when the song finishes.
Man's power to rule over creation has been hindered by sin, but through hard work he can still rule it, at least somewhat. Man can do that, but notice verse eight and what man cannot do.
8. Mankind can control wild animals, but he cannot control his words; not by himself he can't.
Man's tongue is sort of like a caged tiger. A caged tiger paces back and forth, and longs to break out of that cage, and do some damage. That's what man's tongue is like. It is ready, if given an opportunity, to say something foolish, or hurtful. The moment we fail to control it; to cage it; it will do damage.
9. There's a direct line from our sinful soul to our tongue which is why we speak, at best, a mixed bag of good and bad words. Nothing illustrates man's need of a savior more than his words, which so accurately represent the condition of his soul.
9. Using our mouth to praise God, and then using it to slander people, whom God has created, isn't just wrong; it also doesn't make sense.
It is wrong to slander people. Slandering people, who are created in God's image, nullifies any praise that we may try offering to their creator because by slandering people we sin against God. Jesus says, when you do it unto the least of these you have done it unto me.
10. It shouldn't be, because it is wrong and because it doesn't have to be. A Christian does not have to say bad things; a Christian does not have to slander.
We may not be able to control what thoughts pop into our mind, however we can control what our mind dwells on, and when we control what we dwell on it will be easier to control what we say. Remember, "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks".
Our words are simply the overflow of what is in our soul. That's why, if we take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, as God's word commands us to, then our words will be righteous as well. If you want to control your mouth, then you must be careful what you allow into your mind.
11. And the answer of course is no. If the well is contaminated, the water will be bad. If the well is good, the water will be good. It's the same with our words. Bad words come from a corrupt soul, a corrupt verbal well.
When we say something that we shouldn't say, and we get caught, the wrong response is to say: I don't know why I said that. The fact is, we do know why we said it; it's because there is sin in our soul.
12. Every tree produces its own kind of fruit, and only its own kind of fruit. Jesus said: judge a tree by its fruit. That's why when you hear bad words, you can assume that the person speaking them is not operating under the leadership of the holy spirit, but instead under the leadership of his sin nature. A person who says bad things is at that moment a bad person.
13. In other words, to God, wisdom and understanding goes hand in hand with meekness.
If a person is overbearing, or pushy, they are without understanding. They may be intelligent; their brain may contain a lot of facts, but a lack of humility shows a lack of wisdom and understanding. Their souls are like a hard drive on a computer; a lot of information, but no understanding of how to apply it in a Godly way.
13,14. The bible says that we are to do all things for God's Glory. We are to focus on being the best that we can be, no matter what we do, not for our Glory, but for Gods. That's why, people who are jealous of others who do better than them, or have more recognition than them, clearly have the wrong attitude. People like that have a sinful self focus; they are sinning. If we are striving for God's Glory, then who cares if someone else gets more credit than us? Jealousy in a situation like that reveals selfishness, because they are seeking to honor themselves, not the lord God. God says in Jeremiah: do you seek great things for yourself; seek them not.
We should always try to be our best, but not to seek greatness for ourselves. All Glory, should always go to Christ, or we are stealing what belongs to him.
15. Selfish ambition, seeking honor for one's self is devilish. A person who is self centered, and looking for recognition, without giving credit to God, is acting like the devil. The reason Lucifer fell, and became Satan is that he wanted the attention that only God deserves, and he still wants that attention. The devil wants to be worshiped like God is worshiped. He is jealous of God because he wants the attention that belongs to God. That's why seeking great things for ourselves, and not giving God all the credit is devilish.
16. Selfishness is a relationship killer. Self centeredness, and selfish ambition causes disagreement, and confusion. It disrupts harmony, and cooperation, and productivity. In short, it makes life miserable.
When you have a group of givers there will be harmony and joy. When you have a group of selfish people there will be arguments and misery.
17. The way of sinful man is selfishness, and misery. The way of God is purity, and gentleness, and mercy. In other words, when we do things God's way we will be pure and holy which will work itself out in very practical ways. If we are pure and holy then our words will bring people closer to God, and to each other. When we do things God's way we will be fair, and kind, and merciful, not quick to condemn, and not short tempered. When we do things God's way we will listen to what people say, and we will not demand our rights. We will be honest, and we will be sympathetic towards those who are sad. That's Godly wisdom; that's the way God wants us to operate; that's the way he operates.
18. If we walk in Godly wisdom we will do good things. Those good things will promote peace.
There cannot be peace at any level when the people involved are jealous, and seek only what they want.
1. The surface reasons for wars, and quarrels can be just about anything, but the real reason is spiritual. The real cause of quarrels and wars are people demanding their own way. When the goal is to get what we want there will be arguing, jealousy, quarrels, and war. I'm not saying that bad people and countries do not need to be opposed; they do, and so do unbiblical teachings. However if people did things God's way there wouldn't be a need to oppose anything.
If people did things God's way there would never be any war, or disharmony, in family's or between nations. When there are disagreements they would be handled in an agreeable way. That's why it isn't right when people get upset with God because of wars, or strife. It's not God's fault that people do not follow his instructions; don't blame Him.
1,2. Instead of arguing, and fighting, and committing other sins to try to get what we want, we should ask God if we can have it. We should ask God for what we want, and let him decide if that's what he wants. Once God decides, then our business is to be content with his decision.
If people trusted in the good sense of God there wouldn't be so much arguing and fighting over things.
2,3. Those who think that God exists simply to grant their wishes, or jump when they say jump have it wrong. Those who get angry at God because he doesn't give them what they want have things backwards.
The world doesn't revolve around us, or our wishes; where in the world did people get that idea from? This world was made by God, and for God; that's what the bible says. We exist to please him. Consequently, when we ask for things that are pleasing to him, we will get them. When we ask for things that He doesn't want to give us we will not get them.
4. Why any Christian would want to be friends with the world, when the world, by their actions, and their attitudes, and their words, despise the living God, is beyond me.
There's only one way to be popular with this ungodly world, and that is to get down into the spiritual and moral gutter where they are, and wallow with them, and their sinfulness. It doesn't take a spiritual genius to understand that when one does that, they have set themselves against God.
4. If a people call themselves a Christian, but they act like those who couldn't care less about God, then no matter what they call themselves, according to the word of God, they are enemies of God. It's true; at that moment they are God's enemy. Someone says, I’m shocked, appalled and offended when you say I am God's enemy. Well I am too; I am shocked, appalled and offended, not because of what the Bible says here; but at myself, every time I put something before God. Thankfully God is very forgiving.
5. Our life with God cannot be reduced to an equation. Our life with God is a relationship. The bible has many dos and don'ts, but it is much more than that. The holy bible is much more then just a book of spiritual propositions. The bible is how our God communicates with us.
Our life with God is a relationship. That's why the holy spirit, who is in Christians, is grieved whenever we do something that moves us away from devotion to God. God loves us, and he doesn't want us to love anyone, or anything, more than him. God is no different than us in that respect. The reason we feel that way about the people we love is because we are made in God's image, and that's how he feels towards us.
6a. Our God demands a lot from us. His standards are high, and what else would we expect from a perfectly holy God?
If we care about God enough to want to please him, and if we are humble enough to admit that we do not have what it takes, then he will help us, if we ask for it. That's part of what it means when the bible says, he gives grace.
God wants a close relationship with us, and he will help us in any way to cultivate that relationship, if we want it. He will not force it, but he will help us, if we want it. God can do allot with a willing heart.
6. God will bend over backwards to help us live for him, and to enjoy his fellowship, if that's what we want. However those who do not care about God; those who do not think they need God; those who do not want him, and therefore have turned their backs on him, will get what they want as well. As they have turned their back on God so he will turn his back on them, and thereby give them the desires of their heart. God does not reject people, people reject God.
7a. The bible says submit yourself therefore to God; which means it is our choice. If we want to submit, then we can. If we don't want to submit, well that's our business, but the choice is ours; it is always ours.
7. When we choose to submit to God, the devil has no power over us. When we are devoted to God the devil has no leverage over us; he cannot win. Satan cannot make you do something if you do not choose to do it. If you continue to reject Satan's temptations he's going to find someone else to pick on. He knows that his time is short so he will not waste his time on someone like you. The devil is wicked but he isn't insane; he doesn't do the same thing in the same way and expect different results. If we resist he will flee.
8a. God is not fussy about who he spends time with. He will not have fellowship with one who lives in a state of sin. However if we confess then all is forgiven and we can enjoy him once again.
Something else: God never says, it's too late, when someone really wants forgiveness, or a relationship with him. Consequently, if we're not as close to God as we once were it is not his fault; he's still there, as close as ever. When a Christian is not as close to God as they once were, then somewhere along the way they have allowed something else to be more important to them than God.
8. The bible says, you sinners, cleanse your hands. In other words, confess your sins; get your sins forgiven, and start living the right way.
The scripture speaks of a double minded person, and within the context here, it refers to someone who thinks that they can be friends with God, and still have a sinful self focus, or a worldly focus at the same time, but they can't; it doesn't work that way. Consequently God says, purify your hearts you double minded. In other words, be devoted to Jesus, and don't think you can live with 1 foot in the world, and 1 foot with God, and still experience his fellowship, and his salvation because you can't and you won't.
There is no compromise with God, when it comes to devotion. Jesus said, I wish you were either hot or cold, but since you are lukewarm I will spit you out of my mouth. The worst sins can be confessed and forgiven, but God will not fellowship with the spiritually indifferent.
8,9. In other words, be sorry for your sins. Repentance begins with feeling horrible about our sin, and feeling terrible about offending God, and if that's really there, then there will be a desire to do the right thing.
10. God does not despise anyone who feels bad about their sin. Those who know they have been bad, and know that they do not deserve forgiveness should humbly come to God even though they don't feel worthy. In fact when we don't feel worthy that's the holy spirit's queue for us to repent and confess. Feeling unworthy of forgiveness is step one to being forgiven. If we come to God with a broken heart; feeling terrible about ourselves, and our sin, then God will forgive, and something amazing will happen. One minute we will feel broken, miserable, guilty, filthy and dirty, but after humbling ourselves, and confessing we will feel a release from that burden. The weight of sin is removed through Jesus Christ, and is replaced with a spiritual joy that comes from knowing you are right with your creator.
Those who feel the worst about their sins are the closest to forgiveness.
11a. The bible says that Satan is the accuser of the brethren; he doesn't need any help from Christians. This is talking about criticism, not criticism because you want to help someone, but criticism because something about someone else bugs you. We all do enough real things wrong; we don't need anyone to nitpick and criticize over things that really don't matter. That is an ugly way for a Christian to behave; Jesus was never like that.
11a,b. Criticizing others; saying bad things about others is in reality showing disdain and reproach for God's law, which says that we are to love our neighbor as our self. Ripping into someone else to make them feel bad about themselves, or to make others feel badly towards them is a way of saying: God you are wrong to tell us to love our neighbor as our self.
By criticizing we are speaking evil of the law; we're setting ourselves up as the judge of God's law; as the judge of his word, and saying, God I have determined that that your law is incorrect.
11abc. It's not our job to decide whether God's law is right or wrong; our job is to obey God's law. God's word isn't on trial; we are.
12. When God says, who are you to judge one another? He's not saying that we shouldn't discern between right and wrong. The bible says that we are to reject what is evil and cling to what is good, and you can't do that unless you first discern what is right and what is wrong. However it is not our business to judge individuals. God alone knows everything about every one. We can judge whether an action, or word is right or wrong; but we cannot judge how culpable someone maybe for their actions. God will judge all people, and reward or punish as each deserve.
12. God is the one who made the law; God is the law giver. God is the one who fully understands it in all its minute details. God is the one who understands us in all of our minute details. Therefore God is the only one who can accurately judge people, which is why none of us have the right to judge others.
Again right is right, and wrong is wrong, and truth is objective, but we don't know another person's heart, and therefore in addition to not knowing how culpable someone is for their actions we also don't know if someone is saved or lost; that is God's business, and his business alone.
13. There is nothing wrong with making plans, in fact the book of proverbs commends it. This is talking about making plans without involving God. Plans should be made prayerfully, and humbly, knowing that God may have other plans.
13,14. The only thing we can know for sure about tomorrow is that we don't know anything for sure. I cannot say that I will be alive one minute from now. We could all be gone in the next minute. Since that's the case its an empty boast to say, I'm going to do this or that.
15. Planning is good, but do not grip your plans too tightly. That's because only God knows for sure what will happen. Make plans, but trust that God is in charge, and that if he chooses to disrupt our plans, then that's his business, and he has a reason for it.
Life is God's game; it's his ball and his bat, and his father owns the field so he can make up the rules; he just lets us play.
16. One thing we never want to do is brag about our plans. That kind of self confidence is never pleasing to God. Furthermore, It isn't spiritually healthy to have that attitude because it takes our focus off of God in puts it on us. Consequently, when things don't go the way we planned we get upset with ourselves, or with someone else, or with unexpected circumstances. We take too much upon ourselves and thereby forfeit the peace which comes from knowing that God is sovereign, and that he is working all things together for good, and that the plans and purposes of God cannot be stopped.
17. Sins of omission are often the forgotten sins. Christians who wouldn't think about doing something wrong like taking God's name in vain or lying or stealing or committing adultery will often overlook sins of omission.
Sins of omission are a failure to do what is good. They are what God is talking about right here: knowing what is the right thing to do but not doing it.
It's good not to do what is bad, but it is also bad not to do what is good. It is bad to do what is bad, but it is equally bad to not do what is good. God wants his children to go on the offensive when it comes to doing what is good; he doesn't want us to sit back, not do what is bad, and be satisfied with that. There is a lot of good that can be done, and God's people ought to be busy doing it, because if we don't no one will, or maybe even worse, the world will try and really goof things up.
1. God is not against the wealthy. He sure doesn't punish people simply because they are rich. On the other hand, those who put their wealth before God are asking for trouble, and many people do.
This warning was written to Christians and not much has changed; many Christians need the same warning today about finances and priorities. Someone says, I’m not rich so it doesn't apply to me. The amount of money we have isn't the real issue. A Christian may have $1,000,000 in the bank or 50¢ in the bank; the amount doesn't matter; ones attitude towards wealth is the thing that concerns God.
God will punish, as idol worshipers, those who put their wealth before him. How we use whatever money we may have is a barometer of our spiritual life.
2. In other words, you've been devoted to the wrong things. You've put too much of your Time, energy, and devotion into a losing proposition. That's the way it is for those who put the things of this world before God. They are destined for failure because they are devoted to things that will fail. The things of this world, the things they look to for satisfaction, and the things they look to make them feel good about themselves, the things that they believe will give them importance in the eyes of others will all fail them miserably in the end. Anything that we put before God in this life will be exposed and condemned on judgment day.
God says, your riches have rotted, and your garments are moth eaten. This is a real wakeup call; people's possessions will either be destroyed, or they will lose them, or they will get too old and too sick to enjoy them, or they will die and leave them behind. Any way you look at it, it's a lost cause to look to things for security rather than the God who gives us what we need.
2,3. In other words, if you trust in wealth, and you live for wealth and what it can buy, then your wealth will be your spiritual and eternal downfall. I pity anyone who is putting wealth before God and they're going to need pity on judgment day but they will not get it.
The wealth of this world has no lasting value at all. All the money in our bank account can't buy us a weekend pass out of hell, and that's where people will go if they serve wealth rather than Jesus Christ. Jesus said: you cannot serve wealth and God. Use it, enjoy it, but don't let it turn your heart away from Jesus, and what it can buy better not be more important than God.
4. This is God's way of saying, the working man, or woman, better get their paycheck when it’s due. They better get their paycheck, or their boss better have a good reason why they are not getting their paycheck.
Anyone who thinks that God doesn't see them putting in an honest day's work doesn't understand how important work is to God. God cares about the working man or woman.
If someone buys something, they need to pay for it when the payments are due. If someone works, they must be paid, when the paycheck is due. God is a very down to earth, practical God.
4. Notice how the cries of the harvesters, or the workers, who are being treated unfairly reach the ears of God.
God notices things like unfair treatment. This should be a sober warning to anyone who is treating someone else unfairly. They better stop it because God is taking it personally.
This is a warning to the unfair and it should be a comfort to those who are being treated unfairly, and are crying out to God for help. Don't worry he's keeping track; he will take care of business in due time.
5. There's nothing wrong with doing nice things for yourself, or giving yourself a treat, or buying something nice for yourself. But there is a problem when people live a life of self-indulgence.
The word of God teaches that we should put God first, and others second, and ourselves third, and one way that can be measured is in our use of money. Our bank statement is a snapshot of our priorities.
Anyone who lives primarily for themselves is sinning. They are living an over indulgent, self-fattening life. When God says here in verse five, that they are fattening themselves for the day of slaughter he is saying that they are packing away sins, and storing them up for the day of God's wrath. People like that better start thinking about God, and others, before it's too late because too late is going to blind side them one of these days.
6. Bad people may not get any resistance from those they hurt, but someday they will get all sorts of resistance from God.
Most of the time God doesn't kill people on the spot when they do bad things, or take advantage of the week, and that's because he graciously gives them time to come to their senses, repent, confess, and receive forgiveness through Jesus Christ. However, if they do not, then they are in for a horrible time on judgment day.
Those who take from, or withhold what belongs to another will pay for the suffering which they caused.
7. You don't plant radishes, and then go out to your garden the next day to pick them. It takes time and patience after you have done the right thing to reap the benefits of that right thing.
That's the way it is with gardens; that's the way it is with God. We Christians are called to live the right way and then be patient. We are called to live the right way and if need be live with problems as a result of doing the right thing. We are to live with it until God changes it or until eternity whichever comes first.
No Christian should ever go looking for trouble. However, if doing the right thing means we cannot avoid trouble or get out of trouble, then we are told to live with it patiently. That of course takes faith. We must be patient knowing that good times are coming from the lord. Sooner or later all suffering will end and God will make right all that is wrong.
8. Jesus is near; he is at hand. He will either return to us, or we will go to him. People wonder if the Lord will return in their lifetime. I wouldn't mind that at all; I like the idea of being in a raised body and seeing my mom and dad in theirs. I like the idea of a beautiful earth and all the rest. But regardless of whether he returns in our lifetime or not he's still at hand because if he doesn't return we're going to die. Either way we will all see him before too long.
8. Knowing that before this day is over we could be looking Jesus Christ in the eye should give us patience in our suffering, and endurance in our holiness, even when it gets very difficult. Being patient and enduring difficulties isn't fun, but it's what God asks us to do and it's better than not being ready for Jesus when he returns.
9. May God help us not to grumble. Grumbling and complaining, even if there's a legitimate reason to feel bad, is not the way to go. Instead of grumbling and complaining about something we don't like we should pray for the salvation and the forgiveness of the one who is causing it.
Jesus didn't grumble when they whipped him; He didn't complain when they nailed him to the cross. He accepted it as God's will and responded in a godly manner to the ungodly people who did the bad things. Christians say I want to be like Jesus, well there you have it; now we know how to be like Jesus.
9. Actually when we grumble and complain we are in danger of judgment ourselves. When we grumble and complain about bad we are just as guilty as those who caused the bad we're complaining about.
There's too much of a self-focus when one grumbles, and not enough trust in the sovereignty and justice of God. When someone treats us badly then the best thing to do is commit ourselves to the God of justice.
10. Continually trusting God and being patient through trouble is what God commands. Consequently, even though it can be difficult, God wants us to know that he is not asking something from us that others have not already succeeded in doing. The prophets of God and the saints of God in the past have always persevered in doing right even though they suffered for it. That's why, if we don't do it, it is not because we can't do it; it is because there is not the will to do it. Maybe we all need to be reminded that God never said doing what's right would be easy.
11. It is good to think about Job, and his terrible situation. His 10 children died, He lost all his wealth, and he lost his health and all within a couple of days; now that’s what I call suffering. We have the Bible so we can look at his life before there was trouble, while there was trouble, and after the trouble was over. We can see How God intended it for a purpose and he used it to improve Job spiritually.
When suffering, it helps to see an example of a godly person like Job who didn't know why he was suffering, when he was suffering, but made it through, by the grace of God, and in the end was better off because of it all.
Many times we don't know why bad happens to us but God will get us through it and in the end somehow and some way we will be better off spiritually because of it. That's the lesson of Job that God wants us to remember. (Verse 10)
12. There are times when we must take an oath, and that's OK. When we take the witness stand in a courtroom the govt insists that we swear to tell the truth.
Here in verse 12 the bible is talking about using oaths in everyday speech. To make an oath is to swear by God and doing that in a flippant manner is taking God's name in vain. Besides, as Christians, we should always speak the truth. Our word should be good enough; we shouldn't need an oath; that's the real issue here.
13a. In other words if you have a problem pray about it. God may take the problem away, or he may choose to give you strength to endure the problem. Whichever he chooses is the best way, and it's important to be content with that. That's what living by faith is all about.
13. Pray when you feel bad, praise when you feel good, but not only when you feel good. Were to praise God at all times, and the bible says for all things. That's another thing that takes faith.
14. Oil was used as medicine in those days, but it was also used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. God is saying, when someone is sick have the pastors or the Elders of the church anoint them with oil, and pray to God for their healing. It's not magic; is not superstitious. It's about obedience to God.
Not everyone one who has been anointed has been healed, but I remember one child who was instantaneously healed of cancer, and it never returned. God did it in response to our obedience to his word; we anointed and we prayed.
14,15a. Faith is needed for answered prayer. We must believe that God hears, and that he is a God who answers prayer, and that nothing is too difficult for him. However, faith alone is not enough. Prayer like any other Biblical teaching needs to be understood in light of what the entire Bible says about it. Remember God doesn't say all he has to say about any subject in just one place.
For prayer to be heard one must have faith. The bible also teaches that they must not have any unconfessed sins in their life. Also as we saw last week we cannot ask amiss, in a purely selfish way. The prayer must line up with scripture, and it must be God's time not simply our desire. When those things are in place God says yes.
I know one thing; I'm not going to question God's word when he says anoint and he will raise up the sick and I'm not going to doubt the word of God if it doesn't happen because God is much more complicated than me and there is allot more going on than what I know about. I’m just going to do it whenever I am asked.
15. Confession is not mentioned in verse 15, but within the context of the entire scripture confession is definitely needed for forgiveness. Simply putting oil on someone's head will not give them forgiveness if they haven't repented and confessed their sin.
16a. If you have a close Christian friend who you trust enough to confide in; a Christian friend who really loves the lord and you can share with him some sin that you're struggling with; by all means that's a good thing. This isn't talking about public confession, or confessing to a priest or a minister; this is talking about private confession to someone that you can trust and someone who you know will pray for you.
16-18. There really wasn't anything special about Elijah. He was a regular human, just like us. However, he was sold out to God, even to the point of suffering for his faith. His righteousness and his dedication to the lord, and his close walk with the lord made his prayers powerful.
Anyone who is right with God through Jesus Christ, and sold out to Jesus, can pray powerful prayers. God wants us to know that we can be as sold out to him, and as effective for him, as even the great Prophet Elijah, if we choose to be that way. A whole lot can be done for the lord by someone who prays hard and lives for him.
19. Notice that the wanderer is a Christian. James writes, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and he is talking to Christians. This does not refer to a Christian who simply does something wrong, it is much more than that. It is talking about a Christian who tolerates sin, and continues to tolerate sin, and slowly wanders from Christ until they are completely denying the faith. You say, that can't happen. The bible says it can happen, the bible warns about it happening, and the bible gives examples of it happening, and the road to hell is littered with damned souls who once served Jesus Christ.
19,20. Every one dies physically. This is talking about soul death; this is talking about spiritual death, and being dammed to hell. Anyone who turns their back on Jesus Christ is damned, unless they repent.
If they once followed Christ, and then turned their back on him, and then return to him, they will be restored; their sin will be forgiven. It's never too late to return to Jesus, but the choice is always up to the individual. God wants sinners to return to Jesus because their returning wipes out their sins.