James 1: 22

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not just hearers who deceive themselves.

This can be a difficult verse to teach because of the lack of good examples. The other challenge is distinguishing dead works from the work of the gospel. I think I have a good example today. To tell this story we venture back to the recent Fall Foliage bike ride in the Shenandoah Valley.

Remember my friend and neighbor Andy I told you about? Well, there was this other chap named William. William was camped on the other side of me. Frankly, he didn’t make a great first impression but later he was hanging out in front of mine and Andy’s tents. He did not hide his Christianity, but I was less than sure about the sincerity of his heart. I am usually guarded when I hear people popping off about being Christian. It is an easy thing to say, but not an easy thing to live and I find that in the Bible belt, there are a lot of what I call “cultural Christians.” You know what I mean, right? They were raised to be Christian, live in a Christian culture and proclaim their sainthood. As I told a friend, when I practiced law, I often encountered people who began a consultation with a disclosure of their sanctity. Through years of experience, I began to hear “I am a Christian” as “I’m not going to pay you.” So, pardon me if I am a bit jaded when people tell me, not about the greatness of Jesus, but about their Christianity as soon as we meet. This guy really had the smell of one of those folks, but I adopted an accepting posture.

He threw some scriptures around and Andy commented as did I. All of a sudden Andy stopped, looked at me and said, “You must be a minister.” I was quite surprised. First, he is Catholic right? And I am a woman. Second, I certainly was not dressed in any fashion that would indicate clergy. I was in shorts and a t-shirt, and no makeup. What did he hear? Clearly, he heard something that went off in him, but that is, perhaps, more a testimony about him than about me. The spirit within him registered something, responded to the Word of God coming out of me. Frankly, I was taken aback.

Time passes and it is dawn of the next day. Everyone was busy getting ready for the ride. I too was busy with my preparations, but the urge came upon me to pray. I usually do pray before my bike rides, but the nudge seemed to be to pray then rather than later. So, I sat down on my cot and prayed for all the riders, the organizers and the ride itself. I wondered, at that moment, whether other Christians were doing the same. I also thought that it was my duty, not only as a Christian but, as a minister of Christ’s gospel. Then, done praying, I exited my tent to begin loading my bike, etc. Andy was getting his stuff together too. As we greeted each other somehow a discussion regarding prayer came up. Sitting here now it seems odd that it did but there you go. I told him that I had already prayed for all of us and for our safety. He lit up responding that he had too! Right then I saw the gospel at work. Neither of us were going around doing “good works”, especially not good works to be seen by men. We had each quietly and privately been “doers of the Word.” However, there was a rejoicing together knowing that we were one with Christ and with each other that morning. There was a unity even though we prayed individually. The minister in me was joyful to see that Andy’s faith was real. Do you know, before we left that morning, Andy corralled another guy camped near us and led a joint prayer. He provided leadership that I didn’t.

You know, I may never see Andy again. Although we follow each other on Strava, we live far apart. None the less, I will always remember him. He was a living example of Christ with us, Christ in us. I love it all the more that he is Catholic because he is an iconic example that we should not judge each other based on labels. We may not believe all the same things, but when it comes down to brass tacks, I have no doubt that I could trust his faithfulness. He blessed me that morning by being a person of prayer, not because he prayed for me, but because he did the work of the gospel. He lived out his faith right there before my eyes. I was humbled and gratified.

Let us all be doers of the Word not merely deceived hearers. Let us not boast in our Christianity, but as Paul said, only in Christ and him crucified. And, let us pray! Let us put aside all of our prejudices, anger, and reasonings and just let Jesus be Lord. Let us be followers of Christ and devoted disciples of the faith.

Thank you, Andy, for being a shining example of the true love of Christ!

Green Pastures

Luke 6: 38

Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.

If you read yesterday’s Word of the Day, you know that Jesus gives us commands and expects them to be obeyed. You will also remember, though, that he gives them in order to guide us on good paths for our own wellbeing. Today’s verse is an excellent example that very thing.

The first word of today’s verse is the command. Give. Jesus could have stopped right there. He instructs us to give. There is a promise attached to this command, but we should understand first that it is a mandate. It is not a suggestion; it is the Word of the Lord. Jesus said, “Why do you call me Lord and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6: 46), so let us not delude ourselves into thinking this is a mere inspiration. James said we should prove ourselves doers of the Word (James 1: 22). This is the doing. Give!

Jesus is not, however, an overbearing task master. He does not stand over us with whip in hand barking out orders. He is the good shepherd leading us to the still waters and green pastures (Psalm 23). We must follow Him, submit to his direction and guidance if we wish to lie down in those green pastures. In today’s verse the green pasture is people giving to you in such volume that you cannot contain it. It is running over. Now, the path to that green pasture, the path Jesus is trying to guide us onto is giving.

How fast do you want you receive your overflow? Jesus said you are the master of the measure. If you give with a teacup, your return will be measured in teacups. If you give by the gallon, your return comes by the gallon. The measure you use will be the measure of the return. Overflow comes faster if you use a gallon jug. The more you give the greater the return.

It’s still a command that we give, and that should stand alone, but Jesus commanded it because he is trying to get blessing to you, and he understands how his Father’s kingdom works. Give and you shall receive, good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. The commandments and the blessing are tied together.  Follow the instructions of your Lord and be blessed.


Luke 6: 46

“Now why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”

Do you remember that Jesus’ brother, James wrote to us, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not just hearers who deceive themselves” (James 1: 22). We see today from where he got that idea. When you read these words from Jesus, does it sound a bit harsh? Perhaps it is a bit easier on us when we picture him in a crowd speaking to others. At the end of the day, though, we must ask ourselves the same question. Are we living our own expectations?

This sixth chapter of Luke is very instructive, but there is something else here worth noting because it shows the nature of Jesus’ Father. Although all of Jesus’ teaching is commandment simply because he is the Lord, he attaches promises to them. Not only are these commands paired with promises, but Jesus explains why God gives us the direction He does. In all cases, it is for our betterment. God’s nature is love and so love is guiding us to a better way.

I think of it this way. You may tell your small child, “Don’t touch the burner on the stove!” Is it a command? Of course it is, but it is given to protect, not deprive. That is the way of our Father. Look at verses 47 and 48, “Everyone . . . hears My words and acts on them, . . . he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when there was a flood, the river burst against that house and yet it could not shake it, because it had been well built.” Jesus doesn’t demand you obey him because he is an egomaniac who wants subservient followers. He requires compliance because he protects us with his words. Acting on Jesus’ words builds a strong foundation for our lives, and that strong foundation can weather the storms of life.

The fact that Jesus said to do something ought to be enough for any of us because he is Lord. However, we now know the command is for our protection and the improvement of our lives. Perhaps that increases the understanding of our relationship with the Father and encourages us to do as we are taught, even if we do not always understand.

Doing Christianity

James 1: 22

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not just hearers who deceive themselves.

You might like The Passion Translation of this verse, “Don’t just listen to the Word of Truth and not respond to it, for that is the essence of self-deception.” You should read the NIV version too. They are all getting to the same point but by a little different route. Jesus’ brother shows us that Christianity means discipleship of Christ. In being disciples of Christ, we do what he did and follow his ways. Surely a key part of that is in doing the Word.

I think if I moved to another state it would be Missouri, The Show Me State. I love their slogan. Perhaps I live in that state of mind now. I think about our Christian practice and think it should be less about telling people about Christ and Christianity and a whole lot more about showing them. Hopefully, when we live our Christianity, it opens up doors for us to tell people about the goodness of God and his son.

James said we are deceiving ourselves when we call ourselves Christians but don’t do what the Word says. For example, we saw last week a proverb that told us not to lie. So, that one is pretty easy. When we “do” the Word, we become truth tellers. We install that verse into the mechanics of our lives. How about another example? Matthew 5: 15 – 16, “Don’t hide your light! Let it shine for all; let your good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father.” This one seems pretty simple too but the point we might miss is that we are to do good unto others. In other words, Jesus is not leading us to showing off or bragging because he explicitly told us not to practice our righteousness in the sight of others in order to be noticed by them (Matthew 6: 1). Instead, let our light, the light of Christ, shine by showing the kindness of Jesus and Yahweh to others. One more? “Do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on (Matthew 6: 25). Don’t worry! When you practice Christianity, you must divorce yourself from worry and fear. These are an insult to God who is our provider and strong fortress. Jesus wants us to put our faith in our Father and not worry nor fret.

I could go on and on. Many verses are direct, explicit instruction. Others may need more meditation to discern how they should affect your life. Each Word of the Day is an invitation to see what God is saying to you. You can ask yourself, how should this change my life?

The bottom line is that as Christians we should demonstrate the meaning of Christianity. What are disciples of Christ? People ought to be able to look at our lives and see Jesus. Of course, the number one principle Jesus taught us is that in showing love, we prove ourselves to be disciples of Christ.

Let your light shine for all the world to see. Help others to light their candles. Let us stand up and be counted as followers of Jesus, the Christ, who gave his life that none should perish.

Doing Christianity

Psalm 119: 112

I have inclined my heart to perform Thy statutes forever, even to the end.

The New Testament equivalent of this verse is found in James 1: 22 where James, the half-brother of Jesus, importunes us to “prove” ourselves “to be doers of the word, not merely hearers.” James teaches us that it is not enough to go to church and listen to a minister tell us about the Word of God. We need to take the word we hear and put it into action.

The psalmist from this passage in Psalm 119 has made that transition. He knows that his success is tied to applying the statutes of God, not only hearing them and learning them. He has decided, has set his heart, to doing all he sees in the Word of God.

We all need to be like the psalmist. We need to make a quality decision that we will let the Word of God lead us. We should let God’s word be the final authority in our lives. Everyone wants to hear from God. Meanwhile we have His Word lying on our coffee tables and yet ignore it. He is speaking to you; it is His Word; His words to you. He is trying to lead you to the calm waters and into the green pastures but many of His kids are not listening. He wants to lead you to the paths of success, happiness and joy.

It seems that it should be enough for us that God Almighty has made a decree. That ought to be reason enough for us to set our hearts to obey. But when you begin to understand why He has made the decree you ought to want to run to perform all that He has said because everything that He tells you to do, every rule that you fuss over, every bit of guidance He is giving you is for your benefit. He is not leading you into dark alleys where something bad is laid in store for you. He is leading you into your promised land. Rush quickly to do all that God is telling you to do. If you don’t think He has told you something specific for you to do, then pick up your Bible and He will show you something. There is plenty there for us to work on. Make up your mind that you are going to dedicate yourself to doing all that you find in the Word of God. Decide that you are going to devote yourself to performing all of His statutes. Then you will find favor and every blessing.

Power in Praise

Acts 16: 25 – 26

But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.

I am a participant in a Divine Conference Call on Thursday’s. Besides seeking God and studying His Word, we have also been taking James advice from James 1: 22 which reads, “Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” Each week we perform a practicum. One week we focused on reading our Bibles every day. Another week we concerned ourselves with praying every day, and so on. This has proved a good experiment. We find our weaknesses and our strengths. We have learned the areas where we need to press in and the areas which come easily to us. The greatest thing I have learned comes from the week we determined to praise and worship God for at least five minutes every day.

First, I found that this was the most challenging of all the practices. We endevoured to lean into the worship side of things by which I mean, specifically, worshiping God for who He is rather than for what He has done. It was not a time of thanksgiving, nor a time of prayer. It wasn’t about what God has done for us but simply glorifying Him in His grandeur and majesty. The second thing I discovered from this practice was from my own experience. I found that nothing opened me to the Spirit mentally, emotionally and spiritually than worship and praise. I heard God better that week than any other week. Although I find worshiping God harder than reading my Bible, I also found that by pressing through, I learned more about glorifying Him with my words. Singing His praises releases something in me. It takes me out of my intellectual self and I connect with simply being a child of God.

God often, I could perhaps even say always, meets me over His Word. That is where we commune daily. However, this worship of God for who He is was the hardest and yet most successful of all the weeks of our practicum. I know that when I sit down with my Bible, the Father will sit right next to me. I guarantee the Holy Spirit will teach me something I did not know before. However, as I praised God, the Spirit was released in an entirely different way. All of a sudden, I was hearing God’s voice speak so much that I could barely continue for having to write things down. I began getting ideas. The flow of the Holy Spirit was exactly like the river of living waters.

You see, in today’s passage, how praise released the power of God into Paul and Silas’ situation. It can, and will, do the same thing for us, but we need to practice. We must learn how to open our hearts and let sincere praise flow forth, honoring the God of our hearts. We need to learn to connect with the intimate love we have for the Father. From that place of intimacy, it becomes a simple matter to let words of adoration and praise flow out. I adjure you to join us in our practice of the Word of God. Practice worshiping our God. Practice lifting worship up to Him. I believe you will find a new and deeper connection with Him when you do. Will you join us? Will you put feet to your faith and let God see and hear your Christian conviction?

Get a Life

John 8: 31              Amplified

So Jesus was saying to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word [continually obeying My teachings and living in accordance with them, then] you are truly My disciples.

We looked at abiding in Jesus yesterday. I posited that a key way to dwell in him was to meditate in his word. This idea is not new. Over 2000 years ago, Jesus taught that we should abide in his Word. The road to becoming a disciple of Christ is paved with Jesus’ words.

Discipleship programs are very popular. Churches host week and month long programs on discipleship. The crux of all of those programs must be abiding in Jesus’ Word. Today’s verse reveals there is more to discipleship than only reading the word. The Amplified Version highlights the active component of discipleship. We must be doers of Jesus’ Word just as Jesus’ brother, James, intones in James 1: 22. In fact, James taught those who are not doers of the Word delude themselves.

Jesus instructs us through today’s verse that we must continually apply his teachings. Disciples of Jesus live according to his Word. Meditating on the scriptures helps us to abide in Christ. The natural result of abiding in Jesus is that we follow his teachings. Our lives begin to reflect his ways when we abide in and obey his teachings. All of these ideas fit together to give us the abundant life that Jesus came to earth to give us (John 10: 10). Jesus did not come down to the earth to give us a bunch of rules. He came to give us life. One of the key ways he imparts life to us is through his Word. There is life in the Word. Let’s go get some.