Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Good

Good deeds must accompany faith, otherwise it is not faith at all.  It's just a good idea.

"What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?  Will that kind of faith save him?  Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  Show me your faith apart from your works and I will show you my faith by my works."  James 2:14-19

Faith is demonstrated by our actions.  Jesus tells the same truth about the good apple which can only come from a good tree.  It sounds simple, yet, what are "good" deeds which result from faith and NOT FROM SELF-SATISFACTION OR SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS?

How does my faith determine my deeds?  Do my good deeds "feel" good? Or do I engage in deeds which require me to be uncomfortable because they are from God.  In fact, when I operate out of "my" gifts, I may tend to take credit for the deeds.  Excess turns all gifts into curses, says Richard Rohr.  What should be used for God's good is used to help me feel purposed, useful or more gifted.    

My deeds must originate from who God is, not who I am.  If God means to draw all men to him or for his people to be unified or to be love itself, which deeds honor his character/his truth?  Jesus said it simply, as you treat the least (by whatever definition that is for you), that is how I treat him.  Am I patronizing? Am I empowering?  Am I meeting their needs or my own?

What is "good" is determined by God and points to his goodness (not mine).  Knowing God guides me to understand how he sees people and what he wants for them.  I want to bridge cultural divides so more can have access to material goods and spiritual good because Jesus often talks about meeting the needs of the poor, both physical and spiritual.  

I also have to confront systems which oppress.  Isaiah 58 uses strong language of a true fast:  loosen the bonds of wickedness, undo the straps of the yoke which oppresses and to break every yoke.  These are action-centered efforts, which often cause me to be uncomfortable.

It is  the Lord's good when I march for change, when I write my representatives, when I advocate for changed legislation, when I empower others to vote.  I stay uncomfortable so that others can be set free.  Not as fun as teaching a class - not as succinct nor with immediate feedback - but for the cause of Christ in the world, I do this unlikely "good."

The Perfect Psalm

Psalm 19:7-10

God's law is perfect, turning lives around.
His words are reliable and true,
instilling wisdom to open minds.
The Eternal One's directions are correct,
giving satisfaction to the heart.
God's commandments are clear,
lending clarity to the eyes.
The awe of The Eternal One is pure,
sustaining for all of eternity.
The Eternal One's decisions are sound;
they are right through and through.
They are worth more than gold -
even more than abundant, pure gold.
They are sweeter than honey
or the drippings of the honeycomb.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Come Alive!

Listen to me:  You must be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.  For human anger does not produce the righteousness of God.  So, get rid of the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept this word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.
Don't just listen to God's word, you must do it.  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 who you are, 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 1:19-27

I am so convicted by this set of verses.  While I am not prone to anger, I am prone to speak first and listen later.  What a practice to keep my mouth shut!

Actually, the thought-provoking statement is "forgetting who you are, forgetting what you look like."  The challenge is for my statements to reflect God's ultimate Truth about me (and not the sinful-evil/filthy truth).  If I claim the truth that I am a child of God, that I follow Jesus Christ, that I desire to obey his commandments for me, then my speech should follow accordingly.  My actions should follow in such a way to produce the "rightness" of God.

This is neither novel nor complicated.  It is quite simple, but incredibly hard.

I think though, there is clear directive about how to do it.  If I can keep my thoughts in my head and measure it by the righteousness (rightness) of God then my words would change.  "Slow to speak" gives me time to evaluate the tone and emphasis of my words within the context of the intent of God.  Then my words would be first loving, then clearly constructive and, finally, a blessing.  They could still be a challenge or correction, but more readily received and God more easily seen.

What a great opportunity!  To have my words reflect God!  Glory!


Saturday, August 17, 2019

Share


My dearly loved brothers and sisters, don't be misled.  Every good gift bestowed, even perfect gift received comes to us from above, courtesy of the Father of lights.He won't change His mind or play tricks in the shadows.  We have a special role in His plan.  He calls us to life by His message of truth so that we will show the rest of His creatures His goodness and love.
                                                                 James 1:16-18

I do have so many gifts:  salvation, resources, family, good health, choices.  Lord, I have you!  (Or you have me!)  Show me how to use them to show your love.  Some are obvious:  I use my resources to benefit others.  I use my health in social justice and taking care of others.  I see that I can use the outcomes of my salvation - assurance, freedom, love, right living - the same way.

Sometimes those things appear most clearly when you carried and sustained me through dark times.  Are you seen better at the margins?  The proliferation of wealth and resources seems a murky presentation because it resembles and is mixed with cultural standards.

I want to distinctly pull out the gifts and use them to show your goodness and love.  I think that includes never taking credit for them, using it for the welfare of others, living thankfully, learning how to celebrate properly and by pointing to you constantly.  Each of those deserves expansion.

You are a generous God!



Thursday, August 01, 2019

Sanctification


Items which were pure,

or of first or best effort,

were then dedicated for a holy act of God:  

sacrificed or used.


The purposes were many:

to atone for sin,

as a mark of gratitude or

as a blessing to God.


Lord, sanctify me.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Endure

Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the proofing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach and it will be given. Be sure to ask in faith with not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is drive and tossed by the wind...
James 1:1-12

My favorite part of this section in James is that God is gladly generous.  He will not fail us.  He wants to sustain and equip us.  It's fun for him!  

I understand and accept the need for endurance - like endurance training - and as the hill gets steeper, I see the growing need for maturity, "complete," and a satisfaction (humble acceptance) of the task ahead. This climb will end.  

I can rest and relax into the life I yet have because God is gladly involved.  Not only does He know, but He is also strong and strongly in favor of helping me.  I need it!  I can approach God without hesitation because of His generous availability to help!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Transformation

I appeal to you, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, that which is good, acceptable and perfect.
                                                                     Romans 12:1, 2

Holy.
Pleasure.
Discern.
God's good.

To please you, Lord?  You are pleased by my focus to be set apart for your service, that I keep my eyes open to be yours in every situation.  The situations in this day.

I want to discern God's good from any other definition of goodness, especially cultural goodness.  What is pleasing to you, Lord?  What completes your intentions and goals for this day?  He wants transformation.  I want to know His will, every time.  

To become aware of you and your path and agree to be on its path is true repentance - a change of mind.  True transformation.