You have likely glanced in the mirror recently. Each morning I catch a few glances in the mirror while getting ready to start the day. But then I walk away and the mirror does not follow. As you go along through your day, you are not continuously looking at yourself. You cannot remember all of the fine details that you saw earlier in the day.
When we read in James about the mirror glances, it is compared to people listening to God’s Word and then walking away as if it was not even heard. This letter speaks about the need to have God’s Word written on your heart so that you can remember what you have read and heard. It also reminds us that we simply cannot be hearers of the Word, but we must also be doers on the Word. If you live out the Word (instead of the glance and then fading away), the Word is not only in your heart but demonstrated for others to get a glance too.
Today, have you read the Word? Have you taken some time to sit down and read a passage, a verse, a chapter of the Bible? Have you glanced and went back to your day, or have you taken what you have read and put it to memory? If people would look at your day, would they see God’s Word being lived out or are you taking mirror glances?
“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” – James 1:22-25 [NLT]
Jesus said that we could not serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). We know it’s true. Time and time again we find ourselves with divided loyalty. The Holman Christian Standard Bible translates it as “an indecisive man… unstable in all his ways.” Other translations say “double-minded.” That wasn’t even a word until it appeared in the Bible!
All of us have a divided loyalty. We can say we are devout Christians and that we have placed God first, however, we are still in this world and we are still in the flesh. Romans 7:15 says, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate” (NLT). This is the Apostle Paul saying that he wants to do what is right, but yet he doesn’t do it. He recognizes that we have a sinful nature. The struggle is real. We keep on doing evil.
As we are living in this world, trying to live for Jesus, we need to keep in mind that our loyalties are divided a times. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Keep your focus on His Word. When the world tries to pull you closer, remember that we are not of this world. God has a bigger plan for you and I, and it requires a desire for Him. Always aim to take steps toward Him, and the loyalty will become less and less divided, and more and more God-centered.
“Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” – James 1:8 [NLT]
We live in a world full of choices. Sometimes I stand before a menu or I look to make a purchase of coffee or gum, and I wonder what to decide. We have so many choices, so many options. But when we look at life, there is no gray area. We have life and death. We have a blessing and a curse. God’s Word is very clear. You have the choice. He paved the way.
Don’t complicate God’s Word. The options are clear. You can choose life or death, heaven or hell, a blessing or curse. The world tells you that God sends people to hell; that is a lie. People choose hell. God’s Word is very clear. Anyone who believes in Jesus Christ is saved (Romans 10:13). Anyone who chooses not to believe in Jesus Christ will be condemned.
Today, look at the big choice you have made. Have you made the choice of life or death, prosperity or disaster? Have you made the choice between a blessing and a curse? Do not think because you are good, that you are going to heaven. Only those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ will find everlasting life. Know this truth. Share this truth. Don’t love your family and friends to hell. Tell them that there is only one way to the Father, and His Name is JESUS (John 14:6).
“Look, today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse!” – Deuteronomy 11:26 [NLT]
“Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. For I command you this day to love the LORD your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy. But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy. Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” – Deuteronomy 30:15-19 [NLT]
I was driving my son to the dentist when the truck in front of my van suddenly slowed down, but there were no brake lights. As we got to the fork in the road, the turn signal apparently didn’t work either. Without the signals, driving is not as easy. The signals are a way for drivers of the vehicles to communicate to each other. This makes it clear as to the direction the drivers are taking, and when a vehicle is slowing down or stopping.
Signals are nice. I prefer signals. In life, we have signals for driving. We also have signals (or warnings) when the stove burners are still on (or hot) or when bad weather is approaching. There are other signals too, signals that we have from reading God’s Word. As we read the Bible, we receive the Word of God. The Holy Spirit will remind us of His Word as we do life. We will better know how to navigate in life when we are receptive to Him. We will know when to turn, when to hit the brakes, and when we are off course.
Today, dig into God’s Word. Understand that if you aren’t in His Word, the Spirit cannot remind you of what you received. Often we say God is silent, but we don’t intentionally pursue Him. God is not hiding my friend. If you want to know Him, seek Him. If you want to know His will for your life, walk with Him. Spend time in His presence. Sit with Him. Converse with Him. Engage with Him. Seek and you will find.
“You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13 [NIV]
Even though Lot chose the land to the east, it didn’t remove the promise of God. Remember, God promised Abram descendants, land, and blessing. Lot making a choice for some land, does not cancel a promise of God. No one can take away from the Word of God. This is why it is so vital for us to have His Word written in our hearts. This is why it is so important for us to be deep in the Word, reading it, meditating on it, cherishing it. So that we know these promises. So that we know what He says, what He commands, what He desires. So that we know Him.
Abram was given these promises and these promises would stand. Abram never saw all of the promises come to fruition; his descendants did. At this moment in the narrative, as Lot goes in one direction and Abram is to go the other, it would appear as if this promise of land would now not happen. That’s how you and I think so often. Well I guess this won’t happen now. God says this, God promises that, but I’m not seeing anything appear to be moving in that direction. At this point, God told Abram to stand and walk the land He would deliver.
Arise, walk into the promise of God. That’s basically what He told Abram. Arise, walk into the promise of God. See, God promises you and I a lot. He promises you things. Look into His Word. Read His promises. Speak to Him. Through the Holy Spirit, He will reveal His Word to you. Listen. You will read of His promises. But these promises do not just fall upon you. The world will tell you they aren’t true. Some will make you think they couldn’t possibly happen. You will look around and think that it’s never going to come to fruition. Arise, walk into the promise of God. Stand up. Walk forward in faith. Embrace the promises of God. Hold onto them. Trust that He will deliver.
“Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” – Genesis 13:17 [ESV]
This is the time of the year when things start to get interesting as I leave the house for my morning walks with my dogs. The mornings are starting off a bit darker than before, so I find myself fumbling around to attach their leashes to their harnesses. As I walk by the arborvitaes bushes, I do the quite routine, yet not-so-normal to onlookers, flinging of my left hand in front of me to feel for webs so I don’t walk into a spider web and forever be itching for the rest of the day.
As I get myself ready in the morning, I am pretty good at feeling my way around. I am familiar with the same walk, the same location of items, the same surroundings. I know what is supposed to be there if the sun was lighting the path. But even so, even though I know what is supposed to be around me, I do not see everything. We do not see everything around us. There is a great battle happening. The angel armies of God are all around us, protecting us, shielding us, battling it out against the evil that lurks all about us.
There have been moments when I considered what is going on around me. I know my imagination is nothing close to reality. But I also know that we serve an awesome God, and He has already won the victory. I know as well that He promises that NOTHING can snatch us from His hand (John 10:28). Find rest in His refuge. Find confidence in His victory. Find strength in His power. Keep pressing onward. The battle is around us, but we will win this fight my friends! The God of Angel Armies is fighting for us each and every moment. You do not even know how great the fight is—but you know the Victor—and you know the length He will go for you.
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:12 [NLT]
When God sends the plague of flies, He says that He will make a “clear distinction” between the people. Everyone would know what people were His people and what people were not His people. The actual word used for “distinction” is “peduth,” which means division, ransom, or redemption.
Today, there should be a clear distinction of God’s people as well. You will not see this division by looking at where the flies hang out. Instead, the distinction should be something everyone visibly sees by the way a person lives. A person who is a child of God should stand out as a rebel. A person who is a child of God should not look like a person of this world. Remember, God’s people are not of this world. We should not be transformed by this world—we should be transforming the world.
Continue to shine for Jesus. Focus on what is good, pure, and lovely. Don’t allow the world to infiltrate your life, but instead, spread God’s Word through your words and your deeds. By living this way, there will be a clear distinction between you and the world. By the way you live your life, people will know that you are a child of God. By the way you live your life, people will see Jesus.
“I will make a clear distinction between My people and your people. This miraculous sign will happen tomorrow.” – Exodus 8:23 [NLT]
We do not think like God thinks (Isaiah 55:8). That being said, there are many times when we are unable to grasp what God is doing and we become frustrated. We may even cry out to the Lord, “You have don’t nothing,” just like Moses did.
Moses was upset with God. He was angry because his requests of Pharaoh, requests that were refused, brought about consequences. The Lord had Moses go before Pharaoh and it continued to bring trouble. But Moses couldn’t see what God was doing. He only saw the consequences. This caused him to claim God did “nothing.”
Perhaps today you are crying out these same words—You have done nothing. Perhaps you feel abandoned. Perhaps you wonder where God is even at right now because you cannot see Him moving in your life. Remember, even when you do not see God’s presence around you, He is alive and active. He continues to work everything out for His good purpose. Keep your heart open to hear Him. Dive deeper into His Word. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Trust in His faithfulness.
“Then Moses went back to the LORD and protested, ‘Why have you brought all this trouble on your own people, Lord? Why did you send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh as your spokesman, he has been even more brutal to your people. And you have done nothing to rescue them!’” – Exodus 5:22-23 [NLT]
In Hosea, we read a lot about the sinfulness of God’s people. Judgment was given. In Hosea 5:15, we read that the people needed to acknowledge their guilt. After they acknowledge their guilt, then they must seek God’s face. You cannot seek God, you cannot move in His direction, until you acknowledge you have sinned against Him. You first repent, which means change your mind. You recognize that you don’t want to sin. Read that again. It doesn’t mean you won’t sin. You don’t want to sin. You wish you wouldn’t sin.
The verse says that in the distress of the people, the people would “earnestly seek.” This is a powerful thing. The word choice “earnestly seek,” means seeking early in the morning, seeking diligently, even seeking painstakingly. We are to earnestly seek God—to seek Him diligently. This is a search that should start early. This is a search that you need to be all in for doing. This is also a rewarding search. Remember, God’s Word says if you search for Him with all your heart, you will find Him (Deuteronomy 4:29, Jeremiah 29:13).
Today, you have a choice. You can acknowledge that you have a great need for Jesus and you can seek Him wholeheartedly. You can recognize that you fall short just like everyone (Romans 3:23). Or you can make the choice to continue forward with life without acknowledging anything. I pray you earnestly seek Him. It will be a blessing!
“I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me.” – Hosea 5:15 [ESV]
After we read about the sinfulness of God’s people in the beginning of the fourth chapter of Hosea, there is this one verse that follows which talks about accusations. The verse says, “let no one contend, and let none accuse.” Then we read the reason why. The contention has a place—it is towards the priest.
Wow! This is harsh to chew upon. The finger is pointed at the leadership. The priest who was put in charge of God’s Word, who was to lead the people to God and His Truth, was on the receiving end. That was where the contention was placed. But why? Because the people were led astray. The people were so far from God that they had no knowledge of Him. What was the priest doing? Why was the Law absent? Why was God not known?
Leadership is hard. Each day I recognize the opportunity I have been given, but more importantly the responsibility. I have a tree of people in my office at work to look at to remember this responsibility. At my home office, I have a card I was given by the church congregation. I read over the names often. I remember this great responsibility. Lead to Truth. Lead with grace. Lead with love at the center. Whether you lead in an area of ministry, lead your children at home, lead at your workplace—no matter where you lead, it’s always the same. Lead to Truth. Lead with grace. Lead with love at the center.
“Yet let no one contend, and let none accuse, for with you is my contention, O priest.” – Hosea 4:4 [ESV]