Paul told the Philippians to “stay true to the Lord.” This is all about being totally committed to God, not letting anything come between you and your relationship to God. In Matthew 5, we read that those who are pure in heart are blessed. They will see God! How awesome is that?! Staying true to the Lord is having a pure heart—a heart for Jesus.
James speaks of a divided heart, a heart that is for the world and for God. This isn’t a pure heart. This is not staying true to the Lord. In James 4:7, we read that we should submit to God, resist the devil, wash our hands, and purify our hearts. We should stop being double-minded, and stay true to the Lord.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Do all you can to stay true to the Lord. When you find your heart divided between God and the world, ask that He give you a clean heart and a steadfast spirit (Psalm 51:10).
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work.” – Philippians 4:1 [NLT]
We spend a lot of time trying to label sin and rate sin. We will list certain sins as worse than others. We group some sins together. Some sin is more acceptable than other sin to some people.
The truth is that sin is far stretching. Some sin we overlook because we don’t have a label for it. We forget that sin is anything that goes against what God says. Sin is desiring something more than God. Even knowing what you should do and not doing it is a sin! Yes, if you know the right thing to do, but you don’t do it, that is a sin.
Today, recognize that you are a sinner. Through Christ alone are you made right with God. Consider if there is any sin lurking in your life. Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal anything that you need to address. Remember, it is a sin to know what you should do that you fail to accomplish.
“Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” – James 4:17 [NLT]
My dog Max is laying on the sofa by my side as I type this devotion. If I get up and go into the kitchen, I have moved away from him. We then are not as close in position. When it comes to God, some people will say they feel like God isn’t around, like He moved from them. But the truth is, it is they that have moved.
James reminds us that if we come close to God, He will come close to us. We simply need to reach toward Him, and He is ALWAYS reaching back.
Today, be intentional with your relationship with Jesus Christ. Recognize that if you dig into the Word of God, you will hear God speak. If you spend time in prayer, you will feel the presence of God. If you feel like God is faraway, take a few steps closer to Him and you’ll find you had strayed. Thank God, He continues to keep His arms wide open awaiting His children.
“Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” – James 4:8 [NLT]
James says if we resist the devil then he will flee. That seems so easy. We resist him and he leaves us alone. But it’s not as easy said and done. The devil continues to press upon us.
We must continue to resist him through the power of the Holy Spirit. Yes, he will flee at some point. When he realizes that there’s no breaking you, he will move onward. But don’t think that will happen anytime soon. It’s likely that he will attack again and again, trying to find his way in. He will look for weak spots. He will try to sneak through the cracks. Continue to resist the devil. He will flee from you.
“So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” – James 4:7 [NLT]
We are in the world though not of the world. We will be in the world until we are called home to be with the Lord. But James reminds us that we cannot be a friend of the world. This doesn’t say we cannot be part of the world. We are a part of the world. We are still in the flesh. This verse says that we aren’t to be a friend of the world.
A worldly friendship is something we have when we decide to choose the flesh and the temporary rather than God. A worldly friendship is when we turn ourselves away from our Creator and to something less. This kind of friendship has eyes taken off of Jesus and focused on everything around us that will one day fade away.
Today, are you a friend of God or an enemy? Have you made friends with the world? Or do you have a heart for God?
“You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.” – James 4:4 [NLT]
In James, we read about wrong motives. Sometimes we ask for things but our motives are wrong. We want something for the wrong reason, and because God is gracious, we don’t get what we want. What a blessing!
Consider what you request. What are your motives? Are you seeking something that will allow you to press forward with God in your journey? Or are you seeking something for pleasure? Do you want something that will benefit you with temporary pleasure or do you seek something that will bless many for eternity? Is what you are asking for something that will bring you closer to God or pull you away from God?
It’s okay to request things from God. He wants us to come to Him. He wants us to make the desires of our heart known. But the desires of our heart should first be Him. And the requests we make should reveal this desire we have for God Almighty. If they don’t – if our motives are wrong – God can see our heart. Isn’t it awesome that despite us not placing Him first in our lives, He still withholds something that is not good for us, because He does not want to withhold goodness in our lives?!?
“And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong–you want only what will give you pleasure.” – James 4:3 [NLT]
Have you ever been a guest to someone? Perhaps you stayed in someone’s home for a short period and were a “house guest.” Maybe someone invited you to their home for dinner so you were a “dinner guest.” Being a guest means you are spending a brief period somewhere different, a place or an occasion that is not your own. When you go to another person’s home for dinner, do you tell them what they need to serve? Do you criticize the way they set the table? When you stay as a house guest visiting someone, do you rearrange their furniture? Do you call up the cable company and change the cable subscription?
Considering these questions probably resulted in some laughs. Most people would never think of doing these things, because you know you are a guest. You know that you are only temporarily spending time there. You know it’s not your home; it’s not your place to change the way things run.
Now consider being God’s guest. Do you know that you are God’s guest? Yes, God’s guest. God created us and we are only here a short time. Verse 5 says, “You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to You; at best, each of us is but a breath” (NLT). Yes, life is but a breath. James wrote, “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog–it’s here a little while, then it’s gone” (4:14 NLT). As God’s guest, do you act like a guest? Do you realize you are “a traveler passing through” this place? Do you thank your gracious Host? Or have you become a rude guest who has decided you will hunker down and change the order of things?
“Hear my prayer, O LORD! Listen to my cries for help! Don’t ignore my tears. For I am Your guest–a traveler passing through, as my ancestors were before me.” – Psalm 39:12 [NLT]
People many times say that God is hiding from them, that they cannot tell if He’s around. The truth is that God never moved—you did! Again and again, we read in the Bible of people who fall short, people who do not walk with God. A holy God cannot look sin in the face. Even so, God is gracious and merciful. Again and again, He forgives us. Each day we are offered the opportunity of a daily cleansing, a new day. It is through Jesus Christ alone that we are able to stand before the throne as white as snow.
In Zechariah 1, we read about a call to return to the Lord. Zechariah declares what the Lord says, “Return to me… and I will return to you.” It’s that simple. Don’t allow it to be complicated. Don’t allow people to put stumbling blocks between you and God. Don’t think His grace and mercy are for everyone but you. Return to Him and He will return to you.
Every day we have an opportunity to decide which road we will take. Every day we can move closer to Jesus or in the opposite direction. When we seek Him with all our heart, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). When we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). Today, take time to reach out to Him. He’s already reaching out to you.
“Therefore say to them, Thus declares the LORD of hosts: Return to me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts.” – Zechariah 1:3 [ESV]
“Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese, clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.” – Job 10:8-12 [NIV]
“You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me.” – Job 30:21
“You have become cruel” (NLT) – basically saying God changed toward him.
1) God does not change
Malachi 3:6a says, “I am the LORD, and I do not change.” (NIV)
Job realized that God was gracious, kind, and his Creator
But thinks God changed because of his situation.
2) God does not think like us
“’My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the LORD. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.’” – Isaiah 55:8 [NLT]
“Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.” – Psalm 139:16 [NASB]
3) We cannot understand everything
“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11 [NLT]
“I realized that no one can discover everything God is doing under the sun. Not even the wisest people discover everything, no matter what they claim.” – Ecclesiastes 8:17 [NLT]
“God’s riches, wisdom, and knowledge are so deep that it is impossible to explain his decisions or to understand his ways.” – Romans 11:33 [GW]
“Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.” – Ecclesiastes 11:5 [NLT]
4) Ask – Show me Your ways
Moses said to God, “If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor. And remember that this nation is your very own people.” – Exodus 33:13 [NLT]
“Now show me Your glory” (v. 18)
I want to KNOW YOU
I want to SEE YOU
I want to BE IN YOUR PRESENCE
Psalm 103:7, the Psalmist writes,
“He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.” [NASB]
God’s ways must be MADE KNOWN.
- He MADE KNOWN them to Moses
- Ways – Intimate Relationship
- Know God (Hosea 6:6)
- To the Israelites He taught them by His actions, but his words were concealed. The relationship wasn’t the deep relationship like that He had with Moses.
- Works – Observation – What God does
- Parting Red Sea / Water from Rock / Walls of Jericho
“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
– Jeremiah 29:13 [NASB]
“Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” – James 4:8a [NLT]
“I long to look on the face of the One that I love
Long to stay in Your presence, it’s where I belong”
(Jesus Culture “Show Me Your Glory”)