Last week we realized that walking in the light is how we are meant to live our lives. This week we are going to look at our "kitchens" and honestly evaluate them!
It amazes me how many times I have deceived myself about certain behaviors. When I'm walking in the light, the truth is that those areas are sin. One big one, that comes straight to mind, has to do with what I watch. We can call it entertainment, and we can even say it has no affect on us, but we are deceiving ourselves.
Every so often, I test myself by not watching a program for a few weeks. Then I go back and watch it, and see if the Holy Spirit, in me, has a heart attack!
Can you think of an area where you have, maybe, deceived yourself?
How can you keep a check on it?
So what is "the truth?" God's Word is the ultimate truth for our lives. It is our standard; a mirror that shows us our sin, so that we can forsake it, and leave it in the dirt. The goal isn't to stop doing this and that, but to live a life that is pure. Then we can DO the things God has called us to do.
In today's scripture, we are going to see James compare God's Word to a mirror, and list what he says we are "to do." Ready? Grab a colored pencil and mark these words, listing what the Bible says about each:
Read James 1:19-26
Do/Doing Religion Deceive
Walking in the light, by walking in the truth, will cause us to do certain things and refrain from others. When you look at yourself intently, are you doing what the Word of God tells you to do?
If you are willing to start today, work on your memory verse. God's Word will change us, but only when we are intent on letting it take root in our lives!
In today's world, truth is a slippery slope. We have got to get a grasp on God's Word, so that when the world's version of truth changes, ours will be firmly attached to God. When we know the truth, that is when we experience real freedom.
One of the best things I ever had to do was take a LONG look in the mirror of God's truth and really see myself. Every one of us is different, but we all have our own set of favorite sins.
Now some of you might be saying, 'Not me!' If that's you, then can I just say, in love, that you're lying.
The key is identifying these sins, and then committing to work on them until they are under the control of the Holy Spiritfor that day. Although there are some sins that, once forsaken, no longer trouble us daily, unfortunately, that's not always the case. Our flesh is always going to try and rear its ugly head, one way or another.
What do you know is your favorite set of sins? (That is so painful to read and admit, isn't it?)
The truth is, until we are willing to confess these sins to God, every day, and commit to bring them under His control, we are going to continue deceiving ourselves.
What do you know is out of bounds in your life?
What are you willing to do about it?
Look at James 1:23-25. The key is:
JUST DO IT!
No matter how far we come with God, sin is going to try to trip us up daily. The more we see sin for what it is, and ask for forgiveness and the strength to leave it, the purer and more effective our lives will be.
Yesterday, in James 1:19-26, we saw something that we need to key into today.
In verse 27, what does James tell us pure religion is?
That's freeing! Care for people in distress and don't be polluted by the world. Let's put this into action today!
Notice the first part that says "widows and orphans in their distress" are to be looked after by us? Do you know a widow or an orphan? If so, send them a card or an email, or call them on the phone, and see if they need anything.
Think of someone "in distress." Pray for them today, and then show them that you care.
Many of you have extremely busy lives, but that is part of the problem. We are too busy to care. Make an effort today, and do it! When you do, please share it with us, so we can be encouraged and challenged too.
If you truly don't know anyone personally, I know the nursing homes are full of people who could use a little something. I'm sure your local church could also give you some names.
Remember, "walking" in the light implies movement, so let's put our feet to walking.
Yesterday we focused on a "do." Today is a "do," too, but a lot harder and more painful! The last part of James 1:27 says:
"and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
Now look in 1 John 2:15-17, and fill in the rest of these:
The _____________ of the sinful man
The _____________ of the eyes
The _____________ of what he has or does
What does "the cravings of the sinful man" mean to you?
How can you see that in your life, either in something you are currently struggling with, or in an area where you know you are weak, but are refraining from?
Cravings! They can consume you. You wake in the morning thinking of them; you go to lunch with them; you eat dinner with them; and then you go bed with them.
Can you think of anything with that kind of hold on you, either from your past or your present?
Boy, I canand it's something I hope to never repeat! It had a hold on me that was hard to break.
What is the key to stopping a craving? The realization that it is harming you! Can you see that about your own craving?
When I realized how my craving was harming me, it opened my eyes to the truth. The one I'm thinking of right now is something that many of you would say, "That's not a bad thing," and in the right amount it wouldn't be. I chose to let it go from something neutral, to a craving, because I put it in place of God. It was my consuming thought, and that makes it an "idol"sin, pure and simple!
Examine yourself intently, and make sure you don't have anything as an idol in your life.
"The lust of the eyes;" what about that? How do you see yourself struggling against it? Where are you struggling, and what are you doing to restrain it?
"The boasting of what he has or what he does." Again, look for that in your life, and consider how you can combat it.
Can you see how truly walking in the light, by walking in the truth, is going to take effort and commitment? But we can do it, because we can do all things through Christ! The key is walking in obedience, which is where we are headed on Tuesday.
Today is our prayer day. This may be the most important partusing what we are learning to pray.
In Ephesians 3:14-21, Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus. Using these verses, from the NIV translation, write a prayer for someone you care about.
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledgethat you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Think about transferring that to a card, and showing the person how much you care. Nothing means more than knowing someone cared enough to pray!
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