I've been busy this week. Every spare minute I had seemed to get spent on preparing for my Sunday School lesson in the book of James. This book has been instrumental in my life over the past few months of study. I thought I had studied this book before, but God's Word is quick and powerful, alive and breathing and moving. The layers of the onion-skin pages are what I think of when I see the truths of the God-Breathed Word being revealed anew and afresh before me. Praise God!
This past week's study was on James 3:13-4:3 and I want to share a few snippets with you throughout the week of the things I gleaned. I was simultaneously reading 3 books by John Piper that found it's way into my lesson as well--now you know why it took every spare minute of last week! "Think", "The Power of Words and the Wonder of God" and Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ" (which I have yet to finish) were the three that I chose. Desiring God has many of Piper's books that you can read for free, which was how I accessed 2 of these books.
So much of James focuses on our works that prove our faith. In this section, he also says that our works are a proof of our wisdom--does it come from God or from man? Ultimately, our works and words reveal our hearts and mind.
"It is with the mind that decisions are made, whether moral or amoral in nature. It is with the mind that one chooses to accept God and obey his commandments, or to reject him and rebel against him. "
Job made a covenant with his eyes in order to bind on his heart the pattern of holiness he needed to develop. Temptation, and therefore spiritual compromise, often find their easiest access route to the heart via the eyes. By the same token, sin may find its easiest exit route from our hearts via the mouth (prov 4:23-24*). Guarding the heart involves guarding the tongue.
Remember "Garbage in, Garbage out"? It's definitely true of us, too! It all revolves around our heart and mind. What we fill ourselves with will be what comes out of us. That is why I have a new understanding for why Scripture is so vital to our daily living. It's not just so we know what to do and how to do it--following the rules...it's the very sustenance of my life!
We live by every word that comes out of God’s mouth. God’s Word sanctifies us. As the words that have been formed in God’s mouth are digested as the Bread of Life in us, they begin to form our thinking, affections, and volitions in a wonderful way.
If that's true, then we have an eating disorder on our hands! I'm struggling with spiritual anorexia! Am I now on a binge? I hope that's not true...in the sense that I'm gorging myself with no real taste or ability to digest only to find myself in another anorexic binge. Maybe this analogy makes you laugh, but I am dead serious. Starving leads to body functions shutting down and doing without. Spiritual deprivation from the Bread of Life will lead to parts of our lives being neglected and shutting down.
Sin is so elusive and slippery that we are often unaware of it until it's trap has been set. We generally know our "strengths" and "weaknesses" and have our eyes focused on working on fixing our strengths. But beware!
“We foolishly assume that our real struggles with sin are in the areas where we are “weak”. We do not well understand the depth of sin until we realize that it has made its home far more subtly where we are “strong” and in our gifts rather than in our weaknesses and inadequacies. It is the very giftedness God has given that sin has been at its most perverse and subtle.”
I am slowly becoming aware of daily grace that God grants to me. My eyes are starting to spot the gifts as they come and I can appreciate them so much more as being something that I don't deserve. The Father is the Giver of great gifts.
145. Mav is taking a few more steps this weekend at Nana & Papa's--watching his mind decide it would just be easier to carry things around if he walked!
146. Weekend alone with Tim at the Butterfly Gardens, Hot-tubbing, dinner and shopping!
147. Joy in the Spirit! Working His messages into me and Pastor M on a similar topic
148. Grocery shopping alone
149. Order of books came in the mail today!
150. Friends over to play games
151. First 2-mile run of the year
152. Colorful flowers that fill my hunger for beauty when everything around me is gray and dull