Tag Archives: James

hold on!

The 26.2 miles of a marathon is hard. It takes much perseverance for runners to finish the race. Often, they have a goal. A reason to complete the race which pushes them forward. Everything starts out grand, but the mileage soon becomes grueling.

The Bible compares life to a marathon. The writer of Hebrews says, “Let us run the race of endurance God has set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). Life is a race of endurance. We know it has its thumps, and life can even shake us clear to the core at times. Like a marathon, life can be agonizing, but we can have hope in the fact Jesus understands the agony.

Jesus understands.

We run life’s marathon by keeping our eyes on Jesus, “…the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people, then you won’t become weary and give up” (Hebrews 12:2-3).

Jesus understands the agony of this life. The daily thumps, the tears, the sorrows, the heartaches, and the pains. Jesus even understands those moments where it seems there is no way out. He has experienced life. Jesus gets life’s good moments, okay moments, and excruciating moments. And, Jesus welcomes us to rely on him through it all.

We are encouraged to approach the Lord with confidence to find grace and help in our time of need. We do not have to go through the agony of this life alone. Jesus is with us and cheering us on. Understanding what you and I are going through today, Jesus is inviting us to cling to him. He gets the harshness of our current circumstances, and he gets the awesomeness of Heaven. So, we are challenged to focus on Jesus and set Heaven as our goal to finish the marathon strong.

Cling to Jesus

Scripture says…

  • “Since we are receiving a kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshipping him with holy fear and awe” (Hebrews 12:28).
  • “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

The next time you find yourself going through a crisis, try to remember to rely on Jesus. Cling to him. He understands, and he is there to offer help and encouragement.

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Everyday Thumps

There’s nothing like a victory on the soccer field to make a family hungry, so drive-through, here we come. Combo meals and single sandwiches ordered; we pull around to the first window to pay. Now, we’re in the lead in the parade of customers proceeding to the second window. We pick up our order and quickly pull away so the next customer can be helped. We stop in the parking lot to satisfy those hunger pains before driving home, but there is a problem. The restaurant forgot to put my fries in the bag. Can you relate?

We allowed ample time to get to the doctor’s appointment, but halfway there, traffic was at a standstill. The extra time allowed was erased. The snarled traffic pushed our arrival 30 minutes past our appointment time. Can you relate?

The agenda didn’t allow much time between flights, and the first was delayed. This meant we had to run from one side of the airport to the other to make the flight. We made it to the gate just as they were calling our name for the final time about to shut the aircraft door. Can you relate?

Day-to-Day Living

I’m guessing you relate to these events. They are normal, everyday strains on our character. We know life has tough moments in which we have to rely heavily on our faith. God uses these crises to strengthen us, but what about the everyday events? Not shattering enough to be classified a crisis, they are just big enough to annoy us. James reminds us these events are helping build a Godly character of endurance.

“Dear brothers and sisters,” James 1:2-4 says, “when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So, let it grow. For when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete needing nothing.”

Max Lucado writes, “When a potter bakes a pot, he checks its solidity by pulling it out of the oven and thumping it. If it ‘sings,’ it is ready. If it ‘thuds,’ it is placed back in the oven. The character of a person is also checked by thumping. Have you been thumped lately?”

Thump, Thump, Thump

Fries missing. Traffic wrinkling our schedule. Running through the airport to make a flight are all thumps. Life is filled with thumps. Lucado continues, “There’s nothing like a good thump to reveal the nature of a heart. The true character of a person is seen, not in momentary heroics, but in the thump-packed hum-drum of day-to-day living.”

How do you respond when you are thumped in your daily life? Do you “sing” or “thud?” What changes do you need to make to your response? Join me in challenging yourself to do more “singing” and less “thudding.”

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ASK THESE 5 QUESTIONS BEFORE SPEAKING

In the Peanuts Thanksgiving show, Peppermint Patty calls Charlie Brown to let him know she is coming over for Thanksgiving. “My parents said I could come over for Thanksgiving, Chuck. I will be over, Chuck. Wear something nice, Chuck.” She invites a few other people until there is a whole group of visitors going to Charlie Brown’s home for Thanksgiving dinner, but there is a problem. Charlie Brown was going to go to his grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving.

“I’ve tried to tell Peppermint Patty I’m not going to be home,” Charlie Brown says at one point in the show, “but I can’t get a word in. She talks all the time.”

Our words are powerful, and they are like toothpaste. Squeeze too much toothpaste out of the tube. Putting it back is almost impossible, and it makes a big mess in the process. Our words are the same way. We can’t put words back in our mouth, and when too many come out, it can make a big mess. To avoid the mess, Scripture suggests we choose our words carefully.

  • “Understand this my dear brothers and sisters,” James 1:19 encourages, “you must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”
  • According to Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”

Our words carry with them the power to direct our lives. Our words build up or tear down relationships. Words can build someone’s confidence or cause great heartache and discouragement. Our words, whether out of our mouth or via our keyboard, have tremendous power, which is why it is essential we choose our words carefully. Here are 5 questions we should ask before speaking.

  1. Are these words kind?
  2. Are my words beneficial to the recipient? As Christians, we are to build one another up with our words.
  3. Are my words necessary?
  4. Would I be embarrassed if I was quoted?
  5. Would I want someone to say this to me?

The average person can speak 100 to 130 words per minute and type 60 to 65 words per minute. We can quickly get words out and be on to the next one, but the impact our words have can last for a long time. In some cases, their impact can be felt for a lifetime. Being entrusted with something this powerful requires careful use. You and I should be slow to speak; choosing our words carefully is one of the ways we are recognized as being with Jesus.

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What is true wisdom?

True wisdom is the foundation for success.

There is an ancient Indian legend of a king who loved Chess. He challenged visitors to a game, and he was usually victorious. One day a traveling sage visited the kingdom and was challenged to a game. To entice him to play, the king offered to gave the sage whatever reward he asked if he won. When the king was defeated, to honor his word, the king asked the sage what prize he would like. The sage asked for one grain of rice to place on the first square of the Chessboard, and then, that it be doubled on each following square.

The request seemed modest, and the king asked for a bag of rice to be brought. It soon became apparent the terms of the request were impossible to meet. By the 21st square, more than 1 million grains would be required; by the 31st square, the total would go over 1 billion, with more than half the Chessboard still left to go.

Small things have a big impact when they are added together. It is important that we seek God’s wisdom for every decision we make regardless of how small it seems to us. When we add to our wisdom and understanding, it grows stronger and stronger.

Getting God’s wisdom.

James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

The Bible records Solomon being able to ask for whatever he wanted, and he asked for wisdom to lead Israel. The Lord was so impressed by Solomon’s request that he granted it as well as all the others things he could have requested. Wisdom was the foundation for Solomon’s success. It is also the foundation for our success.

Wisdom is the foundation for success.

Ecclesiastes concludes wisdom is the foundation to everything else. Solomon writes in 12:13, “That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: fear God and obey his commands. For this is everyone’s duty.”

Wisdom has a good look.

James 3:13 says, “If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.” Wisdom is humble.

James 3:17 says, “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure.

According to the IVP New Testament Commentary Series, “James is deliberate to state a foremost characteristic of the wisdom from above. It is first of all pure, and only then the other qualities. His term speaks of holiness and provides the immediate contrast to every evil practice. The first and foremost reason for valuing wisdom is that it will lead people to do what is morally right. Today’s popular relativism makes it all the more pressing Christians do what is right.”

Verses 17-18 go on, “It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.”

Is true wisdom from above our guiding force? Are we allowing wisdom to guide our decisions? Will we do what is wise?

As we move forward in our lives, these are good questions to ask ourselves.