James 1:22-27 4/22/16

IBS

4/22/16

James 1:22-27

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do.

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight reign on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Reveal to me your Word Lord. I am listening for you to speak.

“Do what it says.” This statement always sticks out to me when I read James 1. Don’t just listen to what the Bible says and deceive yourselves, James says, but do what it says. James then goes into describing an interesting yet accurate metaphor explaining this concept. Anyone who only listens to what the Bible says and doesn’t apply it to his life is like a man who looks at himself in the mirror and, after he walks away, forgets what he looks like. Now, what does this mean? For example, I wake up in the morning and look in the mirror. I have gross morning breath, crusties in my eyes, and my hair is everywhere. If I walk away without changing anything what good was looking in that mirror to me? None! So is the same for hearing the Word of God. If I wake up in the morning and read, or hear a teaching or sermon, but then proceed to doing nothing different, I am deceiving myself James says! Reading God’s Word is like looking in the mirror. The difference of this mirror however is, instead of seeing my flawed self, I see the epitome of perfection, Jesus Christ. Obviously there are things in my own life that do not line up with Jesus. That is where, as I read and hear the Word of God and see that a change needs to be made, if I do not make that change, if I do not apply the word to my life, I become that man who looks in the mirror and then immediately forgets what he looks like. It is of no use. Biblical wisdom is Biblical knowledge applied.

James continues. He makes a serious accusation against those who claim to be “religious” yet do not have a tight reign on their tongues. What does that mean? As a follower of Christ I am called to be like Him. Christ did not lie, he did not gossip and he did not wrongly represent God in heaven in the things that he spoke. So if I do these things, James says I am deceiving myself because at that point calling myself a Christian means nothing. And often times, I do just that. I read the Bible, then I forget what I read. I hear a teaching, and I do nothing to change. I know the Bible, but often times I refuse to accept it in a way that I live by it. The only thing I’m good at applying is Romans 7:15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” So many times, every time, I wreck myself. I know what I want to do. I know what God wants me to do; but those are the hardest things to do. I end up doing exactly what I hate. I think I’m good, then right then and there the devil sticks his foot in the door and then proceeds to open it as wide as he can. Why God? Why do I always do what I hate? Why? I’m so sick and tired of it! The things I want to do are so hard to continue in. They are the things that I want to do. I really do. God you know I do. But why is it so hard? I know it’s because of my sinful nature. But I wish it could get easier. I want to follow you. I want to know you, know the intimate things about you. I want you to reveal to me your Word. Reveal to me the secrets in your Word. I want to grow completely reliant on you. Not my strength, but yours.

James closes chapter 1 with these powerful words, “Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” I want to be pure and faultless. But how? Caring for widows and orphans. Caring for those who cannot care for themselves. It is the greatest command, Love. Unfortunately most people stop after that statement but James continues saying, and to “keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” What does that mean? The world constantly does everything in its power to suck me in. The devil is the tempter, the world is the temptation, and I am the tempted. Every day I wrestle with the enemy in my mind. I am bombarded every second of the day with thoughts that are clearly of the enemy. Toxic thoughts. Sexual thoughts. Negative thoughts, constantly. I get so tired of getting wrecked by the enemy in my head that often times I don’t do what I should, “what I want to do.” 2 Corinthians 10:5, Take every thought captive. God knows I try. Sometimes I just get tired of failing at this all the time. God help me take these awful thoughts constantly thrown at me to you because I can’t do anything good with them on my own. They tear me apart. They tear me away from you! I feel far from you. I feel like I disappoint you constantly. I feel worthless.

God I know this is wrong thinking. I’m just tired of myself and need to share these things out loud with you. To kill my pride. To squash the misconception that I’m always okay. Thank you for your forgiveness. Remind me every day of that sacrifice you made for me. You came to earth for me. You died, the most gruesome of deaths for little me. Thank you Jesus. Wash my mind with your blood. Drown me in it. I want to be filled with you and nothing else. Grow in me the desire to do just that. I love you. Thank you for never leaving me.

Application: I’m sick of my mind being polluted by the world under my own supervision. I’m tired of sitting back and letting the devil abuse and dominate my mind.

How: Today, every time I am battling the enemy in my mind not only will I actively give my mind to the Lord in each moment, but I will tell Sean or Matt so they can pray for me. Why drown when I can call for help.

 

Thank you Jesus.

 

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Update

Hey everyone,

Just got home from Guatemala on Saturday. What an incredible three months. On Monday the 11th I head out to Kenya for 6 months. Please keep my team and me in your prayers as we prepare to head out. Please pray that we have unity in our team, for ministry can only be done when the team is unified in Christ. Also pray for boldness as we teach and boldness as we share God’s word with the people of Kenya.

Thank you for your prayers!

Sammy

2 Timothy 2:2 3/28/16

IBS

3/28/16

2 Timothy 2:2

“And the things you heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”

Good morning Lord. I need you today, more than yesterday. Please fill me with your spirit. Thank you for your faithfulness. Please reveal your word to me.

This is Paul’s second letter to Timothy. Paul is encouraging Timothy to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus,” in verse one. In verse 2, Paul is speaking to Timothy about raising up leaders. “And the things you heard me say in the presence of many witnesses.” What was is that Timothy would have heard him saying in the presence of many witnesses? The Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have many accounts in Acts alone of Paul preaching the Gospel to large crowds in many different places. What is Timothy supposed to do with the things he has heard Paul preach? Paul goes on to say to entrust it to “reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” So what does that mean? Paul is simply telling Timothy to raise up other reliable Christ followers so that they may teach the Gospel as well. The word reliable really stuck out to me. What is reliable? Being reliable means being dependable, consistent, Steadfast, unswerving. Am I reliable for the Lord? God I want to be like Timothy. Thank you for the Paul’s in my life that continue to pour into it. Speak to me Lord. Give me a desire to read your word. Give me a desire to talk to you. Not just in the morning, but all throughout the day. I want to be reliable in what you give me no matter how small.

Application: To be reliable for the Lord I need to be deep in relation with Him. The only way to do that is to make sure I set time aside to spend with Him. To read His word, to talk with him, and most importantly to listen.

How: These “how’s” help keep me accountable. So, tomorrow I will wake up at 6 to make sure I have a good amount of time before breakfast to spend with my Lord and Savior

2 Samuel 11:11-13 3/24/16

IBS

3/24/16

2 Samuel 11:11-13

“Uriah said to David, ‘The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!’ Then David said to him, ‘Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.’ So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat, among his masters servants; he did not go home.”

Lord, you know I don’t feel like writing this right now. Please change my heart and give me your joy.

This passage of scripture is David’s cover up scheme in action. He has just slept with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, and gotten her pregnant. He now invites Uriah home from war to get him drunk to then have him sleep with Bathsheba so he thinks the child is his. Now, context aside, because that’s really how Uriah saw it, he didn’t know David was hatching a devious scheme to cover up this devious deed, Uriah made a sacrifice by not going home to his wife. Uriah knew all his men were still off to battle and were not receiving the same enrichments he was. So he decided to sleep right out side of the palace, instead of going home. He disciplined himself sacrificing his comfort to participate in the sufferings of his men. He could’ve easily went home and spent the night, no harm done right? But no, Uriah doesn’t make even the slightest of compromise. Small compromises lead to big drifts. What I mean is that if I’m constantly making one degree compromises, though they don’t look that drastic than the one degree compromise before, eventually I’ll be so many degrees off that I wont even know where the right line is. Uriah, though given a short cut, disciplined himself and refused to compromise. Ok so I got it, don’t compromise. But how do I not compromise. Instead of compromising, verse 9 says, Uriah slept at the entrance of the Kings palace. The same is true for me. In order to not compromise, I need to constantly be finding my rest at the entrance of God’s kingdom. The only way to refuse compromise is to be on the same page as Christ. I, in my flesh, can’t say no to compromise. But if I’m constantly seeking the Lord, He will help me refuse. “Delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart,” Psalm 37:4 says. This does not mean the Lord is going to give me everything I want or ask for. It means that as I delight in the Lord, reading His word and praying, His desires will then become my desires. So the things that I will than desire will only be things of the Lord. Jesus, please help me to continually sleep at the entrance of your palace and reject compromise. Help me be disciplined.

Application: On my own, I will give in to compromise every time. But with the Lord, he is my strength in rejecting compromise.

How: To reject compromise I must be spending my time at the entrance of God’s kingdom. Delighting and abiding in Him so that he can shape my desires to those of Him. Tomorrow I will fast breakfast setting that time aside to sit at the entrance of God’s kingdom and seek his face.

Psalm 119:9-11

IBS

3/23/16

Psalm 119:9-11

“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

Alright Lord, I’ve heard these verses many times. Help me not become numb to the powerful meanings behind them. Please reveal to me your Word, your precious and Holy word. Give me insight Lord, please. I want to be wise in you. I want to have knowledge of your Word. I want to have your word hidden in my heart.

I want to be pure and stay pure, in every way possible. Physically, mentally, verbally. Unfortunately I am not most of the time. I have done things that I regret. My mind goes to terrible places in which I am ashamed. I have said things that are most definitely not wholesome and uplifting. I hate the thought of that. The scary thing is, is that it is really easy to think of myself as pure compared to the next guy. But the reality is that I am in fact the antonym of pure. So, how do I “stay on the path of purity?” Well David talks about this very concept in Psalm 119. He opens up in verse 9 with that very question. “By living according to your word,” is David’s answer. When I truly seek the Lord and follow his commands, only then can purity cultivate itself in my life. Praise be to Jesus that I can be seen as pure in God’s sight because of him. 1 John 1:7 says “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another,” and here it is, “and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” The blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin. Romans 8 talks about how Jesus has met the righteousness requirement for me. The gravity of that hits me every time. Jesus’s righteousness has been imparted to me! God no longer sees gross Sam, but sees me through a filter of his Holy Son Jesus. God help me to seek you with all my heart. Help me to delight in your Law oh Lord as Psalm 1 proclaims. I want to be like that tree planted by streams of water, yielding fruit and not withering. Give me a passion and desire to spend time every day seeking you. Give me a longing to read your Word daily. I want to have it hidden in my heart as David says in verse 11 of Psalm 119. I want to have scripture always coming to mind. I don’t want to grieve you Lord. I do not want to sin, but I do. Help me to combat the lies of the enemy with your word as you did in the desert in verbal combat with the devil. May scripture be what comes to mind in trial, in the fire. Please Lord Jesus I want to stay on the path of purity. Thank you that when I am not, you are. And you died for me so that I can be pure. Thank you that your purity is my purity. That because of you, I have eternal life. Thank you Jesus.

Application: I want to keep my way pure. How do I do that? Live according to the Word of God. Seek Him whole-heartedly. Hide His Word in my heart.

How: Tomorrow I will wake up at 6am to have ample time to spend seeking the Lord asking him to make my way pure and begging for his help to hide his Word in my heart.

Philippians 3:10 3/16/16

IBS

3/16/16

Philippians 3:10

“I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,”

This verse is intense Lord. Please shape my desires and the desires of my heart

This verse falls into place right after Paul finishes telling his Philippian brethren that he counts everything of this world as garbage. To contrast the things of this world, Paul continues in saying he wants to know Christ. He wants to be knowledgeable of Christ rather than the world. Paul continues with specifics. He wants to know the power of Jesus’s resurrection. Paul, daringly so, says he wants to participate in Jesus’s sufferings as well, even becoming like him in his death. Oh how I wish I could pray this in confidence. Lord what am I afraid of. I want to know you and the power of your resurrection. But if I’m honest with myself, I don’t want to participate in sufferings, let alone your sufferings, which were to the worst degree. Paul had such great faith in you Jesus I am discouraged. Help me get to a place where my prayer is to be like you in every aspect, including the sufferings that you had to endure. The last part of the verse has just hit me in a new way. It says, “becoming like him in his death.” It says “like him in his death.” Not necessarily sharing the same death but becoming like him in his death. Jesus was obedient to the father in his death. He exemplified the epitome of love in his death. He had grace for those who killed him. I think Paul looked on at Jesus’s life and saw, through Jesus sufferings and death, the kind of man he really was; which was a beautiful example of how to live life; Even more so in his sufferings in death. Jesus, I need you. I can’t become like you, without you. Help me, in the participation of sufferings to become like you. In your death, you were merciful, you were graceful, you were obedient, you were love. God help me to be those things.

Application: Jesus I want to be more like you. This encompasses every aspect of your life. Not just the good, but the bad and the ugly as well.

How: Today, when I start getting bombarded with fiery arrows from the enemy, I will turn to scripture as you did when confronted by the devil himself. I’ll open up the Bible to combat the devil with the greatest weapon of all, God’s word.

Philippians 3:9 3/15/16

IBS

3/15/16

Philippians 3:9

“and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through the faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”

Please speak to me Lord.

This verse is in the midst of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. It comes with a group of scriptures where Paul is explaining to the Philippians how he puts no confidence in his flesh. After he talks about counting everything gained in this life rubbish, he goes on to say in this verse that he would rather be found in Christ than the things of this world. It is not about what he can do; rather it is what Jesus has already done. “not having a righteousness of my own,” Paul says. Meaning, it’s not about how he measures up to the law and the good things he has done, but as he goes on to say, it’s about the righteousness that is found through faith in Christ. That is the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith that Paul is talking about. Praise be to Jesus that I am not judged based on my own righteousness, for then I could never enter the Kingdom of God. But, as Paul says in this verse, it is through faith in Jesus Christ that I am saved! His righteousness is imparted on me! I am then seen with a filter of Jesus’s righteousness. Romans 8:3-4 says, “For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the spirit.” Thanks to Jesus death on the cross for my sin, I am accounted with His righteousness in the sight of the Lord! Thank you God for that reminder once again.

Application: It is important to be reminded of the Gospel every day; not only for the sake of thankfulness but to remember it’s not about me. It’s about what Jesus has already done!

How: I have a piece of paper on my dresser door that says “Not Mine, but Yours” so everyday when I get dressed I am reminded that it is the Lords strength that I need to operate in, not mine. So today I will add “his righteousness” to remind me to operate not only in His strength, but his righteousness as well.

Thank you Lord for your righteousness.

Matthew 18:15 3/11/16

IBS

3/11/16

Matthew 18:15

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.”

Thank you for your Word Lord. Please continue to show me the importance of seeking you through your Word. Show me now Lord what you want me to learn from this verse.

In Matthew chapter 18, verses 15-20 speak about the dealing with sin of fellow believers. First go to that individual by yourself. If they don’t listen, bring one or two more with you to confront them. If they still don’t listen get a leader in the church involved. And if all fails, treat them as you would a non-believer or a tax collector. This doesn’t mean slander them because they are a tax collector. No, how did Jesus treat tax collectors and pagans? He loved them! He spent time with them. He invested into them. They just aren’t held to the same standards as a believer.

So, Matthew starts out verse 15 by saying “If your brother or sister sins.” Personally, I think he should of started by saying, “When your brother or sister sins.” Though I desire to follow Christ, I am human and therefor will sin. Matthew says if they have sinned go and point out their sin just between the two of you. Do this that they may listen and an authority doesn’t have to get involved. Often times if you go to the person by yourself that person is more receptive because the one on one shows sincerity. You aren’t just going straight to others or authority to malign them or get that individual in trouble. Often times people get a bad taste in their mouth from Christians because of the insincerity that can so easily prevail in certain confrontational situations. The idea is to help out your brother or sister by helping them see their need for Jesus. Show them where they are going wrong so that healing may come. It says in Matthew 5:13 we are to be the salt of the earth. Along with many other things, one of the properties of salt is that it can be used for healing. If you soak a wound in salt it heals that ailment. If you put too much salt in however, it stings really bad and makes you want to take that wound out of the salt soak as fast as possible. The same goes for confronting others. Unfortunately often times when people confront others it is too much truth and no love. Paul says in Ephesians 4:15, speak the truth in love. When there is no love with the truth, because we are humans, people get turned off immediately. Without love sincerity is hardly found. So is the same with the opposite side of the salt scale. Too little salt has very little effect. Often times I give too much love and don’t give enough truth. I don’t like to rustle many feathers, so often times I will drench the truth in love so much so that it becomes soggy and ineffective. I pray that the Lord can grow me in this manner to show me the balance of sharing the truth in love that Paul talks about in Ephesians.

Jesus calls us to be, Jesus calls me to be, the salt of the earth. That through the coming along side of others, I may help bring God’s healing. Not because of me, for I am only the conduit, but so the Lord can use me to help turn others from their sin and bring them closer to himself.

Thank you Lord for the everlasting truth that you never fail to reveal to me when I humble myself and allow you to do so. Let me not forget that dynamic Jesus

Application: When I see a brother or sister in need of Godly corrections. I will confront them by myself in hopes to restore and bring healing.

How: Today, I will take some time to seek the Lord asking Him to teach me the balance of sharing the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) so that I may be a tool the Lord can use to bring others closer to himself.

 

Romans 12:16 3/9/16

IBS

3/9/16

Romans 12:16

“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”

Good morning Lord thank you for new breath and mercies this morning. Please reveal to me the knowledge in your word.

Romans 12:9-21, the passage of scripture that this verse falls in, is all about love in action, practical love. Paul talks first of sincere love. “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” He goes on talking about hospitality and blessing those who persecute you. Then comes our verse. Paul starts by saying, “Live in harmony with one another.” This is a command. It not a “oh if you can” or “if they aren’t being difficult.” No this is in all things. No matter who they are. Paul continues with an explicit example. He says don’t be too proud to associate with those who are deemed “of low position.” Be willing to associate with those people, because inside they are no different than me. We are both sinners, equal at the cross of Jesus. For me, this isn’t as difficult for me on the outside as it is on the inside. I can much easier be hospitable and “love” someone on the outside than have a pure heart in that love. Too often I don’t have the right heart and motives. I’m not saying I have the outward love down every time either. I know I don’t, but I know for me, it’s a lot harder for me to have the right heart. Sometimes the Lord asks me to show love to certain individuals who I really have a hard time doing so. Whether its because I deem myself better or because I don’t deem them worthy of my love it’s a sick twist thought process. It’s embarrassing to verbalize this out loud but it’s the truth. The Lord has shed some serious light on certain areas of my life showing me how imperfect I am. So many times I set these really high expectations for myself and then get bummed when I fail them. I so want to do things perfect that often times my actions don’t match my heart. Why do I want to be perfect? Because people will see. Because I want praise, I want rewards. Too often my actions are connected to a wicked heart seeking affirmation from man instead of actions that are driven because Christ’s love compels me. I want to be perfect. The Lord has wrecked me with this revelation. Though it has wrecked me, I’m so thankful for it because he has given me a counter revelation as well; that I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to be this flawless person that always does the right thing. I don’t have to walk this slack line constantly being afraid of failing. I don’t have to be perfect, because Jesus is! The less I worry about myself and focus on allowing the Lord to fill me with his Spirit that is when the Lord fixes my heart to match my outside actions. Those are the moments where I am able to abide by this verse. Not because of me, in fact it’s the opposite. Only when I force myself out of the equation and allow myself to be used as a conduit can the Lord fully use me to convey His perfect love. The Lord is the only one whose love is perfect. I am only able to purely love those “in low position,” anyone for that matter, if I allow the Lords love to flow through me.

Application: I cannot love on my own. I need the Lord Jesus’s love in order to love anyone

How: Today I wrote love on my hand to constantly remind me to get out of the way and let the Lord love others through me.

Lord, please fill me with your pure and beautiful love for I cannot love on my own.

 

1 John 1:5-7 3/8/16

IBS

3/8/16

1 John 1:5-7

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

John starts off with a powerful statement: God is light. Where God is, there is no darkness. Darkness cannot dwell with Him or within him. He is the antonym of darkness. James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Every good thing is from him. The “Father of heavenly lights” James calls him. The sounds like the complete opposite of darkness to me. “… all that we have accomplished you have done for us” Isaiah 26:12 says. I am a filthy sinner. I cannot do anything good in it of myself. That’s exactly what Paul is talking about in Romans 7:18. He says good itself does not dwell in him because of his sinful nature. “For I have the desire to do what is good, but cannot carry it out.” This perfectly describes my struggle. I know the good I aught to do but don’t do it. John continues with a powerful convicting statement. “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.” I claim to have fellowship with God. But how many times am I subconsciously recanting that statement with the thoughts and actions that I do. When my sinful nature becomes evident in the disgusting thoughts and harmful actions I commit. I am not living out the truth of the gospel. But, John continues, if we walk in the light, we have fellowship with one another and we are purified by the precious blood of Jesus. I don’t want to walk in darkness. It is a dark and perilous road to go down. It is not the road Jesus wants me to walk down. I want to live in the purification of Jesus. I don’t want to continue putting Jesus back up on that cross with the sins I commit. I want to live in the light, because as John says, “he is in the light.” Because God is light, darkness cannot be in his presence. If I am living in darkness, how can I walk with God? That thought scares me. To be walking in darkness, alone, absent from the presence of my God. Jesus, help me live in the light. I am sorry for my sins. Thank you for your forgiveness Lord. May I show you the gratitude I have for you in the way I live.

Application: To live in darkness is to live without God. I want to always be in God’s presence. I want to constantly be reminded that God is with me. I want to live in the light. I’m tired of getting drowned in my dark thoughts.

The greatest weapon I have against the enemy is the awareness of Gods presence.

How: Today I wrote on my hand “Presence” as a reminder that the Lord is with me to help me fend off the fiery arrows of the enemy.

Thank you Jesus for never leaving me.