Know Thyself

il_fullxfull_362628416_71qyOne of the best things in the world that we can do is know ourselves.  Know our strengths.  Know our weaknesses.  There’s an old saying – Know Thyself. That’s a good thing. Because when we know ourselves, we know what to be on the lookout for.  What are things that could cause us trouble.

What are the things in our lives, in our past, in our present, that could trip us up?  Tempt us?  Cause to get ourselves in trouble? Do we know ourselves?

One of the things I really believe is that the Bible is the revelation of God’s truth for us, it points us to Jesus who is the author and perfecter of our faith. But it also points us for how to live, and for is just true.  The Bible points us over and over again to truth.  In fact, that old saying really be better understood in the light of James 1: 12-15:

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

James tells us, when you are lead into tempted, don’t say – God is tempting me.  Know where your temptations come from.  Within us.  Our flesh.  Our desires.  Our stuff.

That’s why we have to know ourselves.

What tempts you?  Where are you weak?  Where are you easily knocked off course.  Where does trouble come for you?

When you know where your weak spots are, you’ll know where to be on the watch.  You’ll know what to avoid. Where to be careful.

We aren’t all tested by the same thing. We have different weak spots.  Different temptations.  Different struggles.  Different histories. Different everythings.

What tempts me may not tempt you, and vice versa.  But I need to be aware of what tempts me.

That way I can (1) avoid it and (2) guard my heart against it when it can’t be avoided.  When I know myself, and you know yourself, we can (through God’s grace) better stand.

Today, what tempts you?  What is it that gets you?  Know that, and be aware.  And, when we know our weakness, we have a better shot of being faithful.  We have a better chance of being salt and light!

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SOAP – Day Two – James 4:7-10

324904370_640I’m going to do my posts this week in the method of study that I talked about yesterday, the SOAP method.  So, let’s start!

S – scripture 

We are going to read James 4:7-10.  Read slowly.  Don’t rush through this.  Listen.  If it helps, write it out yourself.  Listen for God’s voice in this.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

O – observation 

What did you see when you read?  This is what I observed.

Submit yourself to God.  I am not the boss of my life. God is. I have to submit myself to Him.  It’s not about me.

Resist the devil, and he will flee.  The devil is not all powerful.  He is not unstoppable.  He is not the greatest power in the world, God is.  Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.  God will be there.  He has promised.  He is always there. If we turn to Him, He will be there for us.

Cleanse, and purify.  Humble yourself.  My sin, my mistakes, they cause harm.  To others. To my walk with God.  To myself. I have to turn from them. I have to repent. I have to wash myself, and make myself clean.

A – application 

How will I apply this to my life today?

Today, I will not seek to do my will, but will seek to do God’s.  I will ask myself, before each decision, is this something that God wants me to do?  I will slow myself, I will consider my actions. I will think about my plans. I will submit myself to God.  I will do all that I can do today to live for Him, not for me.

I will keep my eyes open for temptation. And I will say no.  When faced with temptation, I will pray. I will turn to others for help. I will make sure that I resist temptation. I will remind myself that the devil is the father of all lies, and if it’s a temptation, it is a lie. And, I know that if I resist him, the devil will flee. God’s Word promises that.

I will truly repent of my sins. I will not just feel sorry for what I’ve done, but I will ask God to forgive me, I will accept that forgiveness, and I will allow God’s grace to allow me to be faithful.

P – prayer

God, help your Word to be made real in my life today.  Help me to submit myself to you today, to live for your purpose.  Help me resist temptation, in whatever way that it comes. And help me to understand my need for forgiveness and to truly repent of my sins.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phone.

Before You Say It. . . .

James in his letter writes about the power of the tongue. He says that it’s a restless evil, that no one can control it. With the same mouth be bless God and curse our neighbor. He goes on to say that this should not be so.

I’ve often compared the book of James in the New Testament to the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament. They are both incredibly practical books of wisdom for the living of each day.

And both books are really concerned about our mouths and what we say.

James talked about the tongue being a restless evil, listen to what Proverbs 17: 27-28 says today:

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

Restrain your words, have a cool spirit. Even a fool that keep silent is considered wise.

So, today, keep this simple advice from both James and from Proverbs.

Be careful what you say. Before you say it, take a moment to think about it. Pray about it. Consider what your words will do.

Once you say them, you can’t get them back. Once they are out, they are out, and theirs nothing that can be done about it.

Be calm, cool, and discerning today. Pray about your words. Think about your words. Speak your words carefully. Use them for building up, not for tearing down. Use them for good, not for ill.

Use them to glorify God and help others.

Today, before you say it, think about it. And may we use all that we are, mouth and words included, for God’s glory!

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

You are not Powerless

Sometimes we focus in our devotional life about the reality of our sin.

We understand how sinful we are; our broken nature, and these things make us all the more thankful for God, for His salvation, and for His grace.

And those are all very good things. Those are all things that we need to know. We need to know that we are loved, no matter what we’ve done. We need to know that we need to never get too proud; it’s the pride that comes before the fall. We need to understand that only through grace can we stand.

It’s good for us to know these things.

But, it’s also good for us to read James.  Because James tells us to bow up. Do right.  Act right. Stop doing things that are wrong. Start doing things that are right.

Yes, we are sinful.  Yes, we have done things wrong. Yes, we will make mistakes.

But, you know what?  You aren’t powerless.

Listen to what James writes today in James 4:

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you.

Humble yourself before God.  Know that your strength comes from God, not from you. Without Him, you are powerless. Without Him, there’s nothing you can do. Without Him, we have no hope.

But, with Him, resist the devil, and he will flee.  With Him, we have the greatest power. With Him, we are not powerless and helpless. With Him, we are more than conquers.

Today, you are not powerless.  Today, you are not at the whims of the devil. Today, you have a choice to make.

Will you follow along with the plans of the devil? Or will you resist?

Today, you are not powerless. Today, through God, you have strength and power. Today, through God, resist the devil and he will flee.

Today, you are not powerless.  Today, you have a choice to make. What choice will you make?

Testing

I still have the dream sometimes where I am late for a test that I hadn’t studied for. And it always seems to be a calculus test.  I hated calculus. Anyway, in my dream I’ve always forgotten to study and I am running late and I just know that I’m going to fail this test and it’s going to be awful.

I hate that dream.

I will wake up, thankful each time that it’s just a dream.

What a terrible feeling to have forgotten that you have a test!  What a terrible feeling of impending doom. It’s a helpless feeling, one that just grips the whole of your soul.

Well, in life, we are going to have tests. And the bad thing is that they may make that calculus test look easy.  These test may be hard. They may involve sleepless night.  Tears.  Pain.  Hurt.  Doubt.  These test could be the things that try our faith and leave us shaken.

And in James, it says we should thank God for these tests.

Huh?

Yep.  James says to thank God for tests.  Listen to James 1:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that 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.

These tests we face will grow our faith. They will grow our strength. They will grow our trust. They will grow our dependence on God.

When you face a test, a real, a tough test, you can’t face it on your own.  You’re not strong enough.  You’re not able.   You can’t do it.

But, through God, you can. Through Christ, you can do all things. Through Christ, nothing is impossible. Through Christ, you can do it.

Through Christ, you can have joy in the tests. Through Christ, you can have joy.   Through Christ, we can endure. Through Christ, we can grow.

Through Christ, we can not only take these tests. We can triumph over them.

Today, and in the future, you will have tests coming. What will you do? What will we do? Will we count it joy?  Will we use this to grow? Will we let this grow us closer to God?

We can count these tests as joy. When we turn to God in the midst of the trials, they will grow us.

May we grow closer to God today and each day.

Don’t Say That!

I heard someone say once, “if you have to say – I really shouldn’t stay this. . . then, you really shouldn’t say it!”

Our mouths have a way of getting us in trouble, don’t they?  When I was a kid, most of the whoopings I got where for my smart mouth. I’d have something that I just had to say, that I knew I shouldn’t say, but I just couldn’t help myself.

So I’d say it. And I’d get in trouble.  Like I knew I was going to. But, I just couldn’t help myself!

We all find it hard to control our mouth. I’ve joked that as I’ve been in ministry longer, I’ve got callous in my tongue from learning to bite it when I wanted to say something I didn’t need to.

But, we can rejoice, that we aren’t the first folks to ever deal with this problem.  Listen to what James writes today in James 3:

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!

James reminds us that many have tried to tame the tongue, but it is a restless evil.  It’s so hard to hold it. It’s so hard not to strike back out of anger. It’s so hard not to respond to a cruel word.  It’s so hard to not respond tit for tat.  We just don’t know if we can.

On our own, we can’t. Through our own strength, through our own might, through our own power, we won’t be able to.  We just can’t do it.

But, through the power of God, we can.  Through His strength we can.  All things are possible through Him.

So, today, when you want to say it, whatever it is, stop. Slow down. And pray.  Ask for strength.  Ask for control. Ask for guidance.

God has given us our tongue to praise Him.  Not to tear others down.

Today, how will you use it?  Will you use it for good?  Or for evil?  We have a great power and a great responsibility.  Through God’s grace, may we use it right.