Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Monthly Archives: February 2014

Are you driven and tossed by the wind?

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If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. James 1:5-6 (ESV)

 

Welcome to the verse that started a cult in the Christian movement! In the LDS history, (Mormon) Joseph Smith was historically noted as pondering this verse and in a revelation he wrote that all the churches were wrong and he had to start a movement that was the true church of Jesus Christ.

Before you click away from the page assuming I am a Mormon. I am not! I used to be, (for a very short period of time) however in yesterdays blog article we looked at the dangers of division and division for the wrong reasons. I don’t believe that the churches in the early 19th century were all wrong. I have my denominational differences with many of them but if they are preaching Jesus and people are growing and learning through sound doctrine and solid discipleship, then they are not wrong. They, in my opinion are just doing it a different way.

The previous four verses talk about trials. I personally don’t enjoy trials and I believe that I have not received the full blessings of God because my first reaction to a trial is not ” I rejoice in this trial O LORD” or “What are you trying to teach me LORD” rather than “Get me outta this please LORD” for me the two (wisdom and trials) go hand in hand. If you applied wisdom you may have avoided some of your trials and in some cases you don’t know you needed wisdom until your have trials.

I am not privy to the master plan of God in all areas, but what I do know is that God has us in trials to persevere by faith or maybe God is showing us that something in our life needs to go. This is where this verse comes in. We need to not just have “earthly wisdom” but seek “Godly wisdom”.

This verse has been a great blessing to be and I have it posted on top of my computer at work. When I look at it I see four things:

The NEED
The SOURCE
The SUPPLY
The REQUIREMENTS

The NEED

If any of you lacks wisdom…

I have heard quite a few preachers compare and lump this in with having Godly knowledge. That for me doesn’t sit well and here is why. You can have a dry theology, you can know all of the facts, figures and have the bible road mapped and be factually correct about 100% of the bible, but fail to believe in the holy words of God. It fails to impact your life and it simply is a good book or a great historical document that you have memorized and can quote verses verbatim. That is tragic!

Knowledge and wisdom are really different things; wisdom from God takes a little knowledge and allows for application. God is not interested in holy knowledgeable robots that are not heavenly wise with any application to your own life or others. With wisdom we apply the pieces that God has given us and put them together into our lives.

The SOURCE

…let him ask God…

What a source huh? The very same creator that created the heavens and the earth in six days can and will give you what you ask. This doesn’t mean that if you want in your heart a Ferrari or a Mustang that God will automatically give it to you. These are wants that may or may not benefit you in the end. Only God knows what is best for us, he may have you go through poverty to train you up to be a missionary and be a vessel of God in a mighty way.

When I did Sunday School back in Scotland in a local Brethren hall we used to sing the following song:

 

“HE owns the cattle on a thousand hills,
The wealth in every mine,
He owns the rivers and the rocks and rills,
The Sun and stars that shine,
Wonderful riches more than tongue can tell,
He is my father so their mine as well,
He owns the cattle on a thousand hills
and so I know he cares for me!”

 

Anything that is in your wildest desire God could (note I say could) supply, but we will see later the requirements of what and when it will be given.

The SUPPLY

…who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him…

I love the words “without reproach”, I have learned as a father that kids will ask for stuff all the time and in many cases at the wrong times and at the times where my thread is at it’s barest! I am grateful that my heavenly father does not have that. God is a generous loving God who will give and bless beyond what is in our wildest imagination to ask for and thankfully much more than we deserve.

This verse confirms this, that he is so generous that he put in the bible that he doesn’t despise us asking for wisdom, he welcomes it, God desires us to come to him with everything. He encourages us to come to him and he responds open handedly.

It is very God that he puts this in the Bible. This is the beginning and the end of wisdom. In a recent televised creation/evolution debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye, Ken Ham kept bringing the conversation back to the fact that God left this document, called the Bible and it answers many of life’s questions. The bible is a great barometer of whether you are walking in true wisdom or not.

The REQUIREMENTS

…But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind…

Here is the fine print, but with an honest open God the fine print is not tucked away in the part of the contract that you never read. (If you always have then you are a better man than me!) God states up front the full picture in the next sentance in the letter. Many folks quote only James 1:5 and you dont get a full picture of what is being said here.

We have to be pure in what we are asking for, we have to come to God with appropriate reverence and fear, we have to come in faith knowing that whatever we ask in Gods will he can provide. We have to be assured in our hearts prior to asking that it can be done if it is in the will of God.

If we are asking in faith, we are demonstrating the kind of heart that God is looking for, we are literally seeking wisdom from the blueprint, the Holy Scriptures, we are demonstrating our belief in the word of God and the belief of its relevance and living power in our lives. (Compare this to the man with dead knowledge?)

If a man is coming to the LORD while doubting, what does that say about his faith? It reminds me of the parable told by our LORD Jesus of the man who built his house upon the sands with no foundation. (Matthew 7:24-27) Will that faith be like the verse here? “Tossed like the wave of the sea”.

A bad example of a man not praying in faith, but praying for personal desire was yours truly. I wasn’t even a Christian or following any organized faith at that time (I occasionally visited a Messianic Jewish place of worship, but even then it was when United were not playing on a Saturday) so I was certainly in the boat of being tossed like the wave of a sea. I was not walking at all with the LORD and my lifestyle was mine and mine alone, my religion was me and Dundee United.

At my new place of worship Tannadice Stadium, Dundee, DD3, Scotland, my team were losing 2-1 to Glasgow Rangers with bout 10 minutes to go, from my personal place of worship in the East Stand seat T34, (Now called Eddie Thompson Stand) I prayed out of desperation for my team to triumph against the team from Govan, Glasgow. Why I prayed I have no idea, I didn’t believe it would work. I had relegated God to a benevolent genie that would grant my every wish that I desired. That is not who God was, is and will ever be.

Can you see a problem with my attitude to God before I became a Christian?

In conclusion

I pray that you (and I also) take the words from this passage to heart, we need to examine our faith and anchor it in on the solid rock. My prayer is that this will help us in our personal and family devotions.

God bless you and TGBTG
TTE

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Division isn’t just long!

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Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (ESV)

I love the apostle Peter, I suffer from the same “foot in mouth” syndrome that he did. As he grew in his Christian faith he became a dynamic ambassador for Jesus Christ. I pray that for myself also.

Time and time again, Christians fall into a trap that is set by the evil one sets (see verse above) in military terms it is called “divide and conquer” it is a well known military technique and begins as follows.

Step one – Confusion

Cause confusion, cause a diversion, pepper it with good stuff, step back and watch the chaos ensue. This is done in warfare by the enemy flanking, reducing visibility by means of a smoke bomb or canister that will disorientate and then the aggressor will fire from the new position making the victim think they are firing on their side and fire alongside not realizing they are harming rather than helping.

Step two – divide

At this point he victim is in disarray, radio chatter forecasts that the enemy is everywhere and the best chance of getting someone back alive is to scatter into either individual formations or at the very least smaller formations to increase the targets and to make it harder for the enemy to prevail (theory being that multiple targets are harder to catch that a formation of “sitting ducks”)

Step three – conquer

Like most plans borne out of panic, they have decreased the chances of survival, instead of increasing the targets, the confusers are able to take out the remaining victims out one by one due to out numbering and seeing the direction they are fleeing to. Eventually it turns into a huge game of “British Bulldog” with a company searching for the “strongest” one of the company who by this time is weak. Defeat ensues.

What is this to me?

We are at war dear Christian! 1 Peter 5:8 tells us that the devil will do what I have stated above, he will attempt to cause confusion, he will send in people that call themselves pastors, teach against the word of God, teach the word of God in error and lead people astray.

I am not talking “minor theological issues” such as do we do one cup communion versus little cups, or interpretational issues that have formed little quirks in peoples beliefs. I am talking about Pastors who are leading the people who are seeking Gods word astray to heathenistic, man made ideas that are contrary to the word of God.

Like the above introduction, they will state that they are on the side of the LORD. They will walk like a duck and talk like a duck, however they cause harm rather than help. They quite often introduce Jesus + something else. Regrettably these movements will be popular as they will focus on giving entertainment as opposed to the whole counsel of God. They will be very religious but not relational. This is fertile ground for the adversary as he can move onto step two.

They are easy to divide having no root in the word of God. They split from the flock, go it alone and are in a worse situation than before. Eventually they fall out of fellowship (even the bad one they chose for themselves) and become as the world.

I pray for the church

The devil will do this on a grander scale with churches. I go to a church that “benefitted” from a church split. There is nothing more harmful for koinonia of believers than toxicity of previous hurt stemming from an in amicable break up from a previous church. Regrettably, even in a Christian setting, controversy is far more able to breed than forgiveness.

This is the Devils playground. The fires of pride will be stoked and unless the heat is taken from it, I know that it will cause fragmentation and division. I have seen churches split over minor disagreements, I know a church in Glasgow that was Presbyterian in denomination, and they split from their Pastor and moved in next door with the Baptists, horrible situation and proof that even although we are forgiven, we are still fallen men and women.

I am not advising us to unite in the face of heretical doctrines; I am however stating that we should not seek to be quarrelsome, looking to divide at the drop of a hat. (Really what I am trying to say is summed up wonderfully in 2 Timothy chapter 2)

Learn from my mistakes

How do I know this, I lived this! Be careful dear Christian! If you are in a church that doesn’t teach the Bible first and last and teach it well, then get out of there. I wish that when I was younger I head read an article like this. I was young, impetuous, proud and thought I knew better.

I started by having a little Jesus and the World, thought I could get the % right! Boy was I wrong, I church-hopped, escaped accountability, hid the fact that I was slipping away from Jesus and the things of the LORD. Eventually I did not return, the hangovers became more frequent on a Sunday morning and in my opinion it just wasn’t worth the effort. I had no grounding, no roots, hadn’t read the Bible in months and eventually I walked out of a church door for the last time in a long time.

I had no beef with God; I just wanted what i wanted. I didn’t see myself at war with God. Just apathetic towards him and the blessings I had. I had to learn many slow, hard lessons before I came back, humbled, no longer proud and willing to listen this time!

My prayer for you as you read this is that you become broken, if you know someone that needs to read this then please forward it to them. I came back to God a different person. My prayer is that this article will help someone turn to God.

See also

A vision of clarity for the church (part 1)
A vision of clarity for the church (part 2)
A vision of clarity for the church (part 3)

God bless and TGBTG
TTE

Be careful dear Christian who you judge

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Romans 2:1 (ESV) Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?

There is a steady stream in the church today who judge on a pharisaical level the things that don’t sit quite right with us. In many cases these are not major doctrinal issues, but they are trivial in the great scheme of things.

This is a series in the book of Romans, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills.

We have to look at the bigger picture as to what will have a greater impact for the Kingdom of God. What type of witness will we have to Non-Christians if all they see is bickering between people who have the same common faith. Let me assure you, as a former sceptic, nothing drove me further away from Christianity quicker than Christians arguing petty dogma.

I know that as a defender of the faith of Jesus Christ I am grieved when I read futile arguments by brothers and sisters that will never bear fruit. I am sure that it grieves the heart if the father also.

We are told in Matthew 7 the following:

Matthew 7:1 (ESV) “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.

Those are the words of our LORD Jesus Christ. What higher authority could you ask for?

In this letter, the Apostle Paul, after 20 years of ministry, whilst still in communion with the Colossian church, he writes to the Roman church, a church that he didn’t plant to address this important issue. This issue is as relevant today as it was then.

I address you all dear Christian as a group, because we all have that wee “inner Pharisee” in us. We all have that wee hot button that causes us not too. We are of course sinful beings.

That is not an excuse, but simply an explanation to why we mess up in this area. We read in James 2 not to show respect among persons. In my experience (I am normally the one overlooked as my talents are very few) the beautiful, the talented, the ones from good families usually are favored over the “rough diamonds”.

We have to be careful that we do not mistake our holiness due to our conversion as something that we can boast of, but we are simply a product of Gods grace.

We get a false moral superiority and that gives us a false moral high ground that we use to judge people for those who fall at things that we have overcome (through the strength of the LORD)

Likewise we use this to make similar judgements on those still living in the world. I quote the Roman passage as many of the Roman church were converts who were Gentiles. (There were also Jews) the Gentiles had no moral prior obligation to the Law, but this didn’t stop the judgement.

We can learn so much from these few verses. I am personally convicted on what I judge on. (Also in some cases the standards I try to hold others too)

I suppose a question we could ask as a Christian is “where is the heart behind the judgment we make?” If we are passing judgement on a teacher, is he a false teacher? Is he leading people away from Jesus it is he simply doing Jesus a different way?

I ask these questions as I see more and more Pastors being attacked by bloggers and social media enthusiasts (who are still Christians) because they have a style of fulfilling their calling that doesn’t sit well with them, folks who are doctrinally sound but they use techniques that would not sit well with the person presiding judgement.

God won’t be mocked and he knows the heart (even of this author) of every thought, deed and action we do. He desires that his followers advance the kingdom of God, can we do that by judging the way we do?

If you have a “righteous reason” to “call someone out” make sure it is Biblical, we have to be careful not to use bias, preferences or personal reasons.

Please comment and let us know should you have anything to say about this article.

God bless
TGBTG
TTE