Proverbs | Generosity

Proverbs | Generosity

A stingy man is eager to get rich and is unaware that poverty awaits him. // He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses. [Proverbs 28:22, 27]


The wisdom in these verses show us the significance of living generous lives. Here’s what these verses are saying: a stingy person who stubbornly holds onto money will bring upon themselves poverty instead of wealth. And on the other hand, one who is willing to generously give to the poor won’t be in need.

To be honest, it doesn’t make sense for us to think this way unless God is the originator of our blessing. James 1:17 reads, “Every good and perfect gift is from God.” So what this means for us is that our money really isn’t ours. The way God is calling us to handle money is as a good steward. In other words, we get the privilege of taking care of the money we have in a wise and productive way. (Jesus speaks about this way of living in Matthew 25:14-24 if you want an additional example.)

With this in mind, generosity isn’t a foolish financial choice, it’s actually a wise and appropriate response to what God has given us.

Living generously is an act of faith saying that God will continue to provide for you as you faithfully give away to others. There’s deep value in generosity.

  • Generosity directly blesses other people

  • This type of sacrificial love opens up your heart to loving others more deeply

  • You are filled with life as you generously give to others

  • God honors your choice to give generously, and He will bless your faith

Your generosity doesn’t have to look the way others might do it, but it will probably require some level of faith and sacrifice. And this is why generosity is difficult. I believe God is urging us to be the most generous people on earth, because when people experience the result of your generosity, they get to know a little more deeply what God is like. God is the most generous person in existence, and you get to reveal that part of His heart to other people. This week, find a way to be generous with the blessings you’ve been given.

-Tim

PRAY

God, I just pray that You will give me Your spirit of generosity. I ask that You will give me a divine wisdom of how to steward my finances and belongings in a way that honors You. I repent for wherever I tend to prioritize greed over giving. And I ask that You will continue to show me the way. I love You!! Amen.

Proverbs | Community

Proverbs | Community

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” [Proverbs 27:17]

If you have been around modern Christianity for even a second, you have probably heard the word “community” thrown around quite a lot. What exactly is community though?  What does God say about community? Why is it important?

The truth is community looks like a lot of different things to different people. The important thing when thinking about community is not that it looks like someone else's  but that you feel supported and that you are getting what you need from the people around you. Please understand I am not saying that community is something you have just to get things from people. What I am saying is that community should make you feel refreshed when you spend time together. It should lift you up when you are having a hard time. It should be people who know you—like, really know you. From what you like to eat to what makes you tick, and everything in between.

Community is a gift from God. He gives us people to enjoy and do life with, and that is amazing.  I also think that beyond that, God gives us community to kind of be a mirror into ourselves. This leads us to our verse in Proverbs. Perhaps one of the most important roles of community in our lives is to help us grow and push toward the person God is forming us to be. Sometimes this means that community tells us the things we don’t really want to hear. I think it’s important to remember that usually when someone is calling us higher, it is from a place of love. When you really love someone, you want the best for them. You want them to be exactly who God made them to be. The best thing you can do for your community is to listen to what they have to say to you... both the encouragement and the critique. In the same way, be encouraging, and be someone who is willing to say the things that will help people grow.

For a few of you, this type of community is a reality, and you are set. That’s amazing. For most of you though, I would venture to guess that you are nowhere close to this. You are in a new city with a bunch of new people. Maybe no one has really stuck yet. Maybe you have a couple of friends, but you aren’t really “together” yet. That’s okay. Community that is worth it takes time. Be patient with yourself and the people around you. Never underestimate the power of prayer when it comes to community. Ask God to bring you people. His heart is for you and for community. And remember: you belong when you decide you belong. Don’t count yourself out of community before it can even start. You deserve to have people in your life who love, support and show you the heart of God.

-Natalie

Pray

God, thank You for the gift of community. I pray that You will surround me with people who will encourage me, support me, love me and push me toward You. I pray that You would allow me to be that for someone else. Thank You that You are preparing me a place to belong. Amen.

Proverbs | Pure Hearts

Proverbs | Pure Hearts

 

“Like a muddied spring or polluted well are the righteous who give way to the wicked.”  [Proverbs 25:26]

 

Imagine a beautiful spring of blue water that is so clear you can almost see right through it. There is something so refreshing and pure about springs and the coolness that it brings when you step into it. Now imagine that same spring that is polluted with dirt, mud and trash. It’s not as refreshing and pure anymore, and you might be way less likely to even touch the water, much less get near it.

The same can be said about us as Christians. When we live our life according to God’s will and follow his calling for our life, we can compare our life to a beautiful spring that flows God’s spirit and brings life to people. We find that people are drawn to us as Christians because of the beauty and refreshment we bring. However when we have any type of sin in our life, it pollutes the rest of us and keeps others from wanting to approach Christianity. Just like polluted water has no use because no one wants to drink from it, Christians that are polluted with sin are unable to live out their purpose in life. 

 

Ask Yourself

When this verse talks about giving way to the wicked, the term “give way” has the same meaning as falling down in front of. So when you think of falling down in front of the wicked, what comes to your mind? What areas of your life are you letting the sin win in? This can be morally or within a lack of accountability.

Beyond The Verse

We are told in Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Our mission in life is to be a light of the world. So we can’t be lights in darkness if we are living in sin that will pollute and hinder people from experiencing God.

 

What Now?

I encourage you to take a second to really think about your life and the way you live around your friends and others. Is there any area of your life that you might be ‘polluting’ that could hinder people from knowing God? If so, ask God to come into the middle of whatever it is you are dealing with. Know that He is powerful enough to remove things that you might feel stuck in or chained to.

-Macie

Pray

Lord, I ask that You could help me be a light in this world. I pray that it would be my goal and priority in life to see other people come to know You more. Will you reveal to me any area that I might be polluting my life that could be standing in the way of others coming to know you? I love You, Lord. Amen.      

 

 

 

Proverbs | Righteousness

Proverbs | Righteousness

“The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” [Proverbs 24:1]

The Book of Proverbs is packed with lil’ nuggets of wisdom. It’s an collaborative book penned by generations of godly and insightful people, such as King Solomon. It’s main goal is to promote a life of wisdom and virtue so that readers can experience the fullness of what God has for them. In chapter 28, where we get our scripture, there is a frequent use of contrast. It’s an important tool that the writer is using, because it allows us to see both sides of the spectrum, the wicked and the righteous. With that being said, we can look closer at verse one!

The scripture compares a wicked man to a righteous man. The wicked man, or the guilty man, lives in fear. It says that he flees even when no one is pursuing him. It makes me think of being really small and doing something you know your parents will hate. I can remember the sensation of trying to hide that I hadn’t brushed my teeth from them and being eaten alive with that guilt because I knew what they expected of me. That’s what I think the proverb is referring to, the feeling that might attach itself to someone who knows what they’re doing is wrong.

On the other end of the spectrum is the righteous man, bold as a lion. The Hebrew word for bold is “batach.” It’s used around 120 times in the Bible. One hundred three of those times, the word means “to trust” or “trust in.” That’s kind of cool! I think that means that the righteous man is bold because he is trusting in God. Knowing this, we can differentiate between the wicked and the righteous. The wicked man does not have his heart in the right place while the righteous man is trusting God and seeking to honor Him.


IT’S ABOUT THE POSITION OF YOUR HEART

What I think is really important to note here is that the writer is speaking in extremes and using those contrasts to make a point. Proverbs often emphasizes fear of God. What I don’t want you to take away is that you are immediately labelled as wicked or bad if you do something wrong. That wouldn’t make any sense because we know God to be filled with grace and love. I do want you to take away that the position of your heart is important, and that when you take a position as a child of God, you get to walk in the boldness that the righteous man in the proverb walks in. Just a few verses later, it says that “Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it fully.” You, as someone with a relationship with God, have an innate understanding of what justice means, and you don’t have to reach very far to know the basics. When you live out of that knowledge, you are a positive influence to the people around you and an integral part of the Kingdom.

-Sarah S.

PRAY

God, thank You for being You. Lead me and guide me today. Teach me how to walk boldly as one of Your children, and put people around me that call me higher. Help me to know Your heart better and to know what You say about me! Amen.


Proverbs | Justice

Proverbs | Justice

When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers. [Proverbs 21:15]

Justice seems like a loaded, complicated word sometimes. What is right? What is wrong? What role do I play in making wrong things right? Maybe you haven't ever asked yourself those questions, but I guarantee if someone asked you about certain topics, you would have some sense of what is right in the situation. Like what if I asked you about sex trafficking, or the hundreds of thousands of kids in the foster care system in America, or the billions of people worldwide living in poverty? You don’t have to think too hard to decide that those scenarios just aren’t very good. You can take it on a lot smaller scale too. What about that group member that you have in class who always gets talked over and never gets to share their opinion, or your roommate who has a really difficult home life? In all those scenarios, you probably have a sense of what right is. But for Christians, the point of justice isn’t just to do what is right.

The point of justice isn’t only to be right, it’s to restore God’s plan and purposes in people’s life to a greater extent than it was before.

You don’t have to look very far to realize that we live in a broken, corrupt world. No matter where you are on the scale of positivity or realistic, you can think of examples of how life isn’t what it should be for some people. Guess what? As God’s children, we have been chosen to help restore the world to how it should be.

In this verse in Proverbs, it mentions that when justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous. Because of Jesus, we all are able to be righteous, and therefore get to partner in seeing heaven come to earth. Jesus came to bridge that gap between heaven and earth, and we don’t have to wait until heaven to experience wholeness, and purity. We now get to experience moments and glimpses of heaven in this life, and welcome other people into that.

So ask yourself this question: What are the things in the people nearest me and in the world around me that break my heart?

Whatever your answer is to that question, you get to bring justice to those situations by praying for them, by speaking hope to the people in the midst of them, and by actively meeting those people’s needs. You get to partner with God to see Him move in power in those things!

-Nick

Pray

Father, reveal more ways to me that I can partner with You in seeing Your kingdom come in the lives and the world around me. I trust and declare that Your Holy Spirit it alive and active inside of me, so fill me with power, courage, joy and hope so that I can see more of You in myself and the people around me. Amen.


Proverbs | Integrity

Proverbs | Integrity

“Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool.” [Proverbs 19:1]

What Does It Say?

I think this is such an interesting verse because it is so opposite of our culture. Anything that starts off implying that being poor is a better option immediately grabs my attention. The overarching theme of this verse contrasts the idea of integrity and perverse speech. Perverse is defined as “turned away from what is right and good.” So perverse speech can refer to slander, gossip, lies, or anything else not “right and good.” Since in the case of Proverbs 19:1 perverse speech is paired with integrity, it is probably referring to dishonesty or a general lack of strong moral principles.

So What?

Overall, this passage is making the point that integrity is better than riches. You can be poor according to the world’s standards, but rich in God’s Kingdom. The writer of Proverbs, King Solomon, is making the claim that being a person of integrity and a strong moral character is more valuable than having a lot of money, status or possessions. This also lines up with the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 6:19-21. Here Jesus says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust does not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Riches come and go. No one can take your integrity away from you. It allows people to trust you, it makes you more reliable in general, and it honors God. Prioritizing what God prioritizes seems to be a huge deal to God and should be a important to us.


So I would love for you to answer some questions with me:

What are the ways that I compromise my integrity?

How can I be a person of integrity today?

-Avery

Pray

Father, thank You for who You are and for all that You have done for me. Thank You for dying for me. Please help me to be a person of integrity and show me areas where I can grow. Give me Your perspective. May I see myself how You see me, and may I see others how You see them. Amen.

Proverbs | Rest

Proverbs | Rest

Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich. A wise youth harvests in the summer, but one who sleeps during harvest is a disgrace.

[Proverbs 10:4-5]

Let me guess. In high school, you were the president of two clubs. You joined three other clubs for good measure. You didn’t get home most nights until after dinner because you had practice. Then, of course, you stayed up until 1 a.m. each night because you wanted to do at least semi well in your 3+ AP classes you were taking that semester. You basically had no time to rest. And this is all before you even dare include church or a social life. Throw that in there, and not only is rest impossible, but you’re barely going to get a night of okay sleep. And now you’re in college. And I just have a feeling that this may apply to a lot of you: You now have a fear of being lazy. And instead of keeping you from laziness, this fear is actually just preventing you from living a life of rest. Which is resulting in living an overly busy life or feeling guilt any time you take five minutes just to do nothing. And let me tell you: God did not create you for that. He created you for abundance.

Hear me when I say this: busyness does not equate to fulfillment. Busyness will not inherently help you bring more glory to God either. And now you may be saying, “But Hannah, this verse from Proverbs literally says that hard workers get rich and are wise and lazy people are the worst!!” And to that I say, I know!!! Laziness isn’t good!!! But also laziness and rest are not the same thing. And neither are busyness and hard work.

What is the difference between rest and laziness?

Rest is intentional and purposeful. Laziness is unintentional and unmotivated. Rest is refreshing. Laziness is draining. Rest is saying no to some things so that you can say yes to the most important things. Laziness is avoiding necessary obligations. Rest is knowing your limitations but going after your strengths. Laziness is knowing your strengths but giving into your limitations. Rest is setting time apart to energize yourself now so that you can work hard later. Laziness is not working hard even when the time has come to reap the harvest. Rest is saying no to busyness just for the sake of busyness. Laziness is not working hard because of a fear.

So what now?

My hope for you is that you understand that rest is Biblical. In Genesis, after God created the world, He rested. One of the Ten Commandments tells us to honor the Sabbath which is a day of rest. Jesus Himself tells us to come to Him because He will give us rest. God asks us to rest in Him, so that when the time comes to work hard, we are ready. We are rejuvenated. We have energy. Now, this may require you to redo your schedule a little. Choose the things that you really need to give your time to. And do those things well. But I guarantee you that you will do those things infinitely better when you are well-rested.

So, I encourage you to discover what it looks like for you to rest. It may be taking a nap or sleeping in. It may be listening to your favorite album or going for a drive. It often looks like prayer and worship. It also often looks like sitting and doing absolutely nothing (not even checking your phone). Find the rhythm that works for you. Ask God to join you on that journey. And He will come in, and He will use the rest that you give yourself to live a full life instead of just a drained one.

-Hannah

Pray

God, thank You for being who You are. Thank You for allowing me to rest. I just ask that you will begin to show me the difference between laziness and rest. I just ask that I will begin to live a life of rest that gives honor to You. And I ask that in the midst of learning how to rest, I do not lose a drive to do things well. I love You, God. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


Proverbs | Conviction

Proverbs | Conviction

“Do not despise the Lord’s instruction, my son, and do not loathe his discipline; for the Lord disciplines the one he loves, just as a father disciplines the son in whom he delights.” [Proverbs 3:11-12 CSB]

Have you ever been watching a crime drama movie and gotten really passionate about it? You know, the kind where you become really engrossed in the story and know exactly who committed the crime because you saw it in the opening scene but all the other characters are oblivious? You spend the entire movie screaming at the tv trying to convince the other characters that it was actually the wretched step-mom while they keep trying to accuse Ms. Winkler two doors down!! You painstakingly watch as mistake after mistake is made while all you want to do is jump through the tv, grab someone by the collar and scream, “HEY! SHIRLEY, THE STEP-MOM!”

Do you know what it is that you’re desiring in those moments? Conviction. You’re desperately wanting the wrong to be set right. You’re wanting the truth to be made known. You want the guilty criminal to be convicted of their crime. A defintion of conviction is “the act of convincing a person of error”. That’s what you’re doing when you’re screaming at the TV. You’re playing the part of the detective who knows something that nobody else does: the truth.

In John 16:13, Jesus gives some of His last instructions to His disciples saying, “When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.” That’s one of the Holy Spirit’s roles as our Advocate and Helper. He reminds us of and leads us into the truth of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is always tethering us to truth. So when we stray from truth into darkness, the Holy Spirit fills you with a sense of conviction. It’s the Spirit making you simultaneously aware that you have sinned and that your sins are forgiven. The Spirit is convincing you of your error. Just like you saw the opening scene of that crime drama when other characters did not, God saw you when you stumbled into sin even if nobody else did.

The good news is that the Holy Spirit convicting us is always IN LOVE. Conviction is not condemnation. Condemning thoughts are those that say you are what’s wrong. The Holy Spirit’s conviction says what you did is wrong. Look at Proverbs 3:11-12 above. God is disciplining you and correcting you because He loves you. He loves you too much to let you wallow in your sin. He loves you too much to let you stay in darkness. It’s also good news that the Holy Spirit is a lot more gentle and kind than we often are. He isn’t screaming the truth at us. He doesn’t need to. When we sin, if we pay attention, there is a part of us that is grieved. The Holy Spirit is there to take you from the place of guilt and conviction back into the Father’s love. That’s the thing about conviction. You aren’t meant to stay there.

The only response to the conviction of our sin is repentance. I understand that for many people the term “repentance” is loaded, but I’ll make it simple. All you have to do to repent is receive God’s forgiveness and turn back to His love. He loves you. He wants you to abide in His love.

-Adam

PRAY

God, thank You for Your Spirit. Thank You for not allowing me to sit in my sin, but calling me higher and having better for me. God, I repent for my sins, and I ask that You will help me walk in the freedom that is a fruit of conviction. Guide me. I love You, and I am so grateful for You. Amen.

Proverbs | Wisdom

Proverbs | Wisdom

“...for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight”

[Proverbs 1:2]

Why Wisdom?

The purpose of the book of Proverbs is to provide wisdom for followers of Christ.  King Solomon, often referred to as one of the wisest men in the Bible, wrote most of Proverbs.  The intention behind this book is to challenge us to gain a greater understanding of what it looks like to love and pursue the Lord the best we know how.

Google tells us that wisdom is the “soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge and good judgment.” Wisdom is more than knowledge, it’s more than obtaining information, it’s more than simply understanding right from wrong. Wisdom is given to us specifically by God through gaining insight from the Word.  It’s a gift. It’s actually applying knowledge. It’s appropriately acting on obtaining information. It’s knowing right from wrong and living that out.

Wisdom is powerful.  It’s a humble confidence in knowing God intimately.  The more we read Proverbs and the rest of the Word, the more we know God.  The more we know God, the more we love Him and His people. Wisdom is not exclusive.  It’s not synonymous with intelligence. Wisdom does not come with education or age.  Wisdom enables us to be good stewards of our knowledge and relationship with God.  It’s an opportunity for us to receive insight from the Lord and then share it with others.

People are drawn to others with wisdom.  Some of the wisest people I know listen to others intently and are in no hurry to respond.  They are receptive to what the Lord wants to say about something, and then react to a situation accordingly.  A person with wisdom is slow to speak, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide their thoughts and direct their steps.  Our soul is happy when it’s led by wisdom.

What now?

Dig in to the Word.  Proverbs 2:6 says that the “Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”  The Lord gave us the Word, so He’s offering us wisdom. He wants to speak to us so we can grow closer to Him.  In the first chapter of James, he says that “if any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”  It’s as easy as asking. Let’s wake up each day and ask God to increase our wisdom.

-KB

Pray

God, thank You for Your Word.  Thank You for providing me with a book like to learn from and gain understanding of all that You are.  Give me a greater desire to read your Word and know You better. Amen.


James | Living Out Wisdom

James | Living Out Wisdom

“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” [James 3:16-17]

Did you know that wisdom is a spiritual gift? In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul says that God gifts people with the ability to give wise advice. And I really believe that it is a gift that God loves to give graciously and extravagantly, especially when we ask for it. So, if Godly wisdom is something that you desire, ask for it!! God is a good Dad who loves to give good gifts. And wisdom is a good gift for sure, so ask ask ask!!

However, how do we know if we have wisdom that stems from God? In today’s verses, James lays out what Godly wisdom looks like. And it says that wisdom looks like this: pure, peaceful, gentle, humble, merciful, righteous, loving, sincere. But how do we actually measure if we are seeing these things in wisdom in our lives? I think that there are two ways that are easy to measure if we are living in the gifting that God has given us.

Do you live out the advice that you give to others?

Do you see these fruits in your own life? Do you seek peace over chaos? Do you give your friends one piece of advice but then go and do the exact opposite out of pride? Or do you stick to your word even when it’s hard?

A great mark of a truly wise person is his or her character. And a great mark of character is not only talking the talk, but also walking the walk. And while this concept may seem so simple (because it is), that doesn’t devalue the importance of walking out the truth that you claim to others.

How do you give advice to others?

When giving others advice, do you give it out of a place of love or judgment? James gives us the marks of love in these verses. If you are real with yourself and truly believe that you are sharing advice in a way that loves others well, expresses God’s heart for them, and calls them higher, then I think that you are in a good starting place.

What now?

If you truly want to be seeing the marks of God’s wisdom in your life, use this verse as a checkpoint. Are you loving others well? Are you seeing the fruits of the wisdom that you give to others in your own life as well? If so, amazing. And if you’re not, that’s okay! There’s a grace for that. Now is the time to ask God to help you see more of these fruits in your life and to grow and mature you in spiritual wisdom. This is the time to hear that God is calling you higher and to walk into that with Him hand-in-hand. Remember, if we ever realize that we haven’t been walking perfectly in God’s will for us, there is so much grace. Of course, it’s not an excuse to continue to live in less than His best for us. But there is no shame, just more God!! So walk into more wisdom, walk into more freedom, walk into more GOD!!!! He and His abundance are always so worth it.

-Hannah

Pray

God, thank You!!! Thank You for being merciful. Thank You for giving good gifts. Dad, I just ask that You give me more and more of the spiritual gift of wisdom. I ask that You will convict me where I need growth but also show me where wisdom is a good fruit in my life. I just want more of You, Lord. I love You!! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


James | Prayer

Comment

James | Prayer

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” [James 5:16-18]

CONTEXT

The Book of James shows readers how to live a Christian lifestyle. Towards the end of his book, James focuses on prayer. Prayer is such a huge part of faith, and I find it easy in my life to overlook. James 5:16-18 shows us the power of prayer, and paints a beautiful picture of prayer rooted in community.

WHAT DOES IT SAY?

First of all, the verses about Elijah praying and it not raining for three and a half years is WILD (It’s actually one of my favorite passages, so check out 1 Kings 17-18. It’s good). Stop and think about that. Imagine if you prayed for a three year drought, and God stopped the rain. That’s a powerful prayer. That’s the kind of prayer that can only be accomplished by one of the Biblical “all-star Christians” right? WRONG. Verse 17 of James 5 says “Elijah was a man just like us.” Another version (NASB) says “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours.” This teaches that Elijah was not somehow a better Christian than us who was able to pray big prayers and convince God to answer them in a way we cannot. He had the same sinful nature as you and I. To me, this is so encouraging because it shows me that I can pray in faith and God will listen. And so can you. You don’t have to be perfect to pray.

SO WHAT?

We get to talk to God! The Creator of heaven and earth. This is who we get to talk to when we pray! The fact that the God and Creator of the universe not only listens to our prayers, but actually wants us to pray to Him is mind-blowing. So I want to challenge you to pray big. I truly believe praying big prayers honors God. Have faith that He can do what seems impossible. Think of that one thing in your life that you would do anything to see happen. It could relate to a broken relationship, a hopeless situation, the salvation of a friend, or a number of other things. Think of that one thing that if God did, it would blow your mind. Now pray for that. Ask God to move in your life and ask Him to give you the faith to believe it.

PRAY

Father, help me to pray big prayers. Move in my life powerfully. Show me Yourself when I pray, and may I get to know you more and more deeply as I pray. Thank you for loving me and wanting a relationship with me. Amen.

P.S.- I find it interesting that verse 16 starts by “Therefore confess your sins to each other...so that you may be healed.” James shows us that confession to other trusted Believers brings healing to our lives. Feeling captive, hurt, hopeless, or broken in sin? Confess your sin to a mentor, a small group leader, or trusted friend. See what happens! God provides healing when we humble ourselves and expose our sin!


-Avery

Comment

James | Called Higher

James | Called Higher

You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.” [James 4:4-6]

This verse makes me think about the rules we had when we were little. You know the ones - you thought they were silly or stupid but your parents insisted they be upheld. When my brother and I were little, we were not allowed to go past the tree line when we were playing outside. We could play anywhere in our front yard - as long as our parents could see us. If we passed the tree line, they couldn’t see us anymore. I used to hate that rule. We would want to play just a little bit farther down the road, because from our perspective everything looked fine and safe. I think that idea that rules and guidelines exist, in some contexts, for our own benefit is important to understand. God doesn’t call us to be higher to be manipulative or bossy or controlling. He calls us higher because he loves us, and he wants the absolute best for us.

THE LORD ALWAYS CALLS US HIGHER OUT OF LOVE

It’s so important to know that when this verse calls God “jealous” that it is referring to the same idea - that God loves us so much that He wants the best for us. His jealousy is a reflection of his deep love for us. It is so encouraging to me to know that God isn’t complacent or indifferent towards us. When we do things that he doesn’t like, his heart breaks for us. He cares enough to want better for us. He is so active and present in our lives. James wants these readers to know that when they choose other things over God, that God doesn’t gaze on with an indifferent attitude. I think this verse reminds me of the times that God has shaken me up a little to help me realize how in it he is.

Pray that you gain a heavenly perspective on your life. Ask God to speak truth and encouragement into your life. Know that shame is not of God, and that when He calls us higher, it is out of love.

-Sarah S.

James | More of God

James | More of God

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:7-10

 

My hope and prayer for anyone reading this is that you would never be in a position of life where you feel content in where you are in your relationship with God, but that you would always want more. More of God, more growth, more of his love, more of his power, more of his grace, more of his goodness, so much more. The problem is, we make receiving more of God way too complicated than what it should be.  In these few verses of James we are given five specific ways to come near to God and have more of him.

 

We first learn that we must submit to God. When I think of submitting to God I think of a relationship with God that is totally and fully committed to him and his will. Submitting to God means laying down our wants, dreams, and desires, and seeking God above it all. To submit to God we must make our relationship with him our biggest and greatest priority in life.

 

Secondly James tells us to resist the devil. The simplest way to put this is don’t allow the enemy to entice or tempt you. Think about an area of your life that you struggle with weather it be with sin, temptation, or lies that from the enemy? I want to encourage you to resist it by not putting yourself in situations that will bring that temptation to surface. For example if you know you struggle with drinking, going downtown might not be the best situation to put yourself in because you will be surrounded with people drinking and encouraging you to life a lifestyle that might not be best for you. Notice James says that when we resist the devil he will flee from us. So as we avoid putting ourselves in tempting situations, the enemy will have no option but to give up.

 

Another way to come near to God is when James tells us to wash our hands, and purify our hearts. As Christians we are called to live a pure life. Of course we are human and will not be perfect, but it is important to live a life that strives to be cleansed from sin. We should come to God and replace our desire to sin with a desire to know him more.

 

Next we see that we are called to grieve, mourn and wail in regard to the sin in our life. Keep in mind that James is not saying we need to walk around and pity party about things. Instead James is encouraging us to deeply hurt about sin or mistakes that we have made where we would want nothing to do with it ever again.

 

Finally we must humble ourselves before the Lord. Remove any pride you might feel, and just fully give yourself to God. He wants every single part of you, the good and the bad. In that moment of being humble before God, we are told that God will lift us up.  By humbling ourselves we will be able to see that our worth comes from God alone.

 

Lets pray

 

Dear God help us to know that you are near, and that we can have more of you simply by seeking to be more like you. Change our hearts and cleans us from anything that distracts us from you. We love you Lord.

-Macie

James | Don't Worry About Tomorrow

James | Don't Worry About Tomorrow

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” [James 4:13-15]

Why should we think about the future less?

As a college student, it is common for many of our anxieties to be centered around the future. What should I do? Where should I go? Who am I going to do it all with? These are good and necessary questions to ask, but what if I told you that you couldn’t mess up your future? That sounds way too good to be true, doesn’t it?


I think if we were to really dig into the root of these anxieties, it would all lead back to a wrong picture of who God is. Ouch. That stings a little but I am guilty of it too. It isn’t always easy to trust God with the future. Maybe you have felt let down by Him before. Maybe you feel pressure to work really hard to make your future happen and God just seems too slow. Maybe you're afraid that God will abandon you and leave you to figure it all out alone. If you find yourself leaning toward any of these I would encourage you to grab a hold of these truths today.

God is always with me.

God will never leave me.

God has amazing plans and purposes for my life.

I do not have to strive to make my life happen.

God is building my life even when I do not see it or believe it.

Declare these things over yourself today. Choose to believe these even when it feels impossible. Ultimately, the best way to combat anxiety over the future is to just draw near to God. This sounds a little counterintuitive, but I believe as we become more rooted in the truth of who He is and who we are we become assured of what He wants to do in and through us. When we know Him and His heart for us, it so much easier to surrender our lives to Him in humility and dependence.

Let’s Pray.

God, thank you that you never leave me. Thank you that you are a good Father who guides and teaches me. Help me to surrender my future to you. Help me to believe you are active in writing the story of my life. Give me peace, Lord. Amen.

-Natalie


James | Check Your Motives

James | Check Your Motives

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” [James 4:1-3]


When’s the last time you actually got in a fight with someone? I don’t know about you, but I’m not a very confrontational person. It’s kind of hard for me to relate to what James is talking about when it comes to fighting and arguing with people. Or maybe you’re the opposite. Maybe you wear your emotions on your sleeve and freely let people know what you’re thinking and feeling. No matter where you fall on that spectrum though, we can all relate to the heart issue behind what James is talking about here. The issue behind what James is talking about here comes down to comparison and jealousy. Too often we look to our friends, our family, our classmates, or the people we follow on social media, and think “I wish I had what they have”, or “I wish I look the way they look”, or “I wish I was as talented as they were.”

But what if you let God define what your life should look like instead of comparing your life to someone else’s?

Don’t get me wrong, having people in your life that you look up to and model your life after isn’t what I’m talking about here. That’s amazing. But the truth is that too often in our lives’ we miss what life God has for us because we are trying to emulate someone else’s. In reality God has given each of us different lives’ to live.

James mentions that we do not have the things in our life we want because we ask with wrong motives. It’s easy to read that and think, “so I will just change my attitude and God will give me what I want.” A better thought to have actually begins with a question.

“God, what do you want to do?”

From that question comes ideas, feelings, and thoughts about what your life should look like. There’s no magic word to figure it out. It just comes from spending time with God and letting him realign what you want with what He wants.

I don’t know what your prayer life is like, but I do know that it is through prayer that you get to understand God more. When you know God more, you will know what he wants more, especially what he wants your life to look like.

To end you can pray this:

“God I want what you say to be what I build my life around. I don’t want comparison or jealousy of other people be what I build my life around. Reveal your heart to me. Reveal your plans to me. Amen.

-Nick

James | Speaking Life

James | Speaking Life

“Sometimes [the tongue] praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.” [James 3:9-12]

Do you find it easy to get caught up in venting? Same. Do you sometimes think that you’re not gossiping because it’s technically true? Same. Or do you think that the mean things you’re saying are okay because you’re saying them to your mom or to your best friend? Again, same!

But then I read verses like this, and I realize that my being able to justify something in my mind does not make it any more justified to God. He gets to set the standard, not I. So, if that’s the conclusion that I come to, my next realization is that if I want to walk in accordance with the Lord, there has to be a change in the ways that I handle hardship in my life with other people.

Am I speaking life or death?

If I ever find myself in a situation where I am gossiping or something like that, I try to ask myself the question: When I’m talking about this person, am I speaking life or death over them? Because our words have power. So I want to make sure that I am using these words to bring life to people instead of speaking things that disagree with God’s heart for a person. Because truly the last thing that I want to do is distance myself from God’s heart for a child that He loves wholly and completely. I want to be the spring of fresh water that James writes about, not the bitter water!!

So, what do I do when I realize that I am “speaking death” over a person? I want to find ways to speak life and encouragement over them. I ask God His heart for them, and I try to change my way of thinking. I ask God to help me love them in the ways that He does. And I think that helps soften my heart and show them the love and respect that they deserve. It helps me speak the life of God into them!

What if speaking life is hard?

I won’t lie to you. Sometimes we are irritated or angry with people for some pretty legitimate reasons. But God doesn’t want us to live or act out of that bitterness, so what do we do? Well, in Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus explains how to handle these types of conflict. This is my summary: basically go to them one-on-one and address the situation. If it goes well, then great! That’s the end of it. If it doesn’t, bring in a few trusted individuals to help alleviate the situation between both of you.

Basically, when we have an issue with someone, don’t let bitterness rest inside of you and don’t spew bitterness out to those around you about another person. Yes, it can be hard, but there’s reward in aligning ourselves with the Father’s heart!! So, speak life, y’all!!! Ask God what He thinks about a person. Speak truth, live and love over the people around you. It’s worth it.

-Hannah

Pray

Dear Lord. Thank You for allowing us to speak words that have power. I ask that you will help me align my words with truth and life instead of words that speak death over the people around me. Please help me align my heart with Yours, so that I more and more become a fountain that speaks the life that only You can give. I love You. Amen.


James | Faith in Action

James | Faith in Action

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without your deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that- and shudder.” [James 2:14-19]


Have you ever been really passionate about a certain thing? Maybe it was a sport, a hobby, a political platform, a charity or a job. Whatever it was you were passionate about did you just say you were passionate about it or did you do something about it? I think we can all realize that it’s pretty easy to see the things that we are really passionate about and the things that we just give lip service to. It’s those things that really stoke our passion that push us to act on our desires.

I think James is saying here that our relationship with God isn’t so different. He says that faith without works is dead. He says it doesn’t do any good to say you hope the poor find clothes and food if you’re not willing to help them get it. He even goes as far as to say that even the demons believe in God. So if we say we believe in God, but don’t live it out in our actions how are we doing anything different? That seems pretty intense, but James is making a very intentional effort to connect faith and action. He’s saying that demons believe there is a God and they do something about it. They seek to do the work of Satan by stealing, killing and destroying life. So if we believe in God and we believe He’s good, then let’s do something about it by seeking to speak, restore and give life!

Here’s what I’m NOT saying. I’m not saying that your salvation is based on works. Just go read Ephesians 2:8-10. It says that we have been saved by grace through faith, not by works. But then it immediately says that we’ve been created to DO good works. So we’re not saved by works, but we’ve been created to do good works. I’m also not saying that God expects you to be perfect. Opportunities to act on our faith will come and go that we miss, but God’s grace is always sufficient. There is always grace for the present and hope for the future to walk in faith the next time an opportunity presents itself.

So if you’re not passionate about who God is then what He’s done, then that’s the first step. Go read the Gospel story and ask God to stir up your passion and desire for Him. You cannot act on your faith without first receiving the love of Jesus. Then ask Jesus what passions He’s put inside of you that He wants you to act on!

-Adam

James | Just Do It

James | Just Do It

“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 and 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 have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” [James 1:22-25]


Just Do It.

James, Jesus’ brother, uses a child-friendly simile to explain the importance of being doers of the Word, and not just hearers.  He makes it easy to understand how critical is it for believers to not only know the scriptures, but also live them. James tells us to “do what it [the Bible] says.”  He communicates Jesus’ heart towards the Word, saying that reading or hearing scriptures is sufficient. We’re called to act upon our knowledge of the Word.


Imagine looking in a mirror and then not remembering anything you saw.  You would have no knowledge of your physical features. That would be really strange.  I can’t help but compare this image to those videos that we see of dogs barking at themselves in mirrors because they aren’t aware that it’s a reflection.  James warns us of the deceit that comes with not doing the thing we know to do. Believers can easily pride themselves in knowing a lot about what they Bible says, but Jesus would really prefer that we actually apply the Word to our lives.


There’s a parable in the Bible, called the Parable of the Sower, found in the Gospels.  In the parable, Jesus talks about a seed that could fall on four different soils. Matthew 13:18-23  explains how a seed has the opportunity to flourish and produce a crop if it falls on good soil. Jesus is encouraging his followers plant their seeds in good soil: to read the Word, receive it, make every effort to understand it, and then apply it.  A person that knows the Word and truly understands the weight of its impact will want to go the extra measure to act on it, to just do it.

What now?

This passage isn’t about striving to always do, do, do.  It’s about knowing and experiencing the freedom that comes with doing the work of the Lord.  God loves to advance His kingdom WITH us. He wants us to hear truth and speak truth, to receive love and give love.

In Luke 8:21, Jesus says “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”  Jesus is talking about more than just His mother and brothers, though. He’s referring to His family, a family that comes together to love their Father.  

Let’s study the Word like we study for our tests. Let’s apply the Word like we take our tests.

“...they will be blessed in what they do.”  That sounds quite nice.

Pray

God, thank You for Your grace.  Thank You for giving me Your Word so that I can follow You better.  Give me courage and boldness to act on the things that I read in the Bible.  Bless me with a confidence of Your goodness and faithfulness. I ask that you give me opportunities to do what I know to do.  Help me to be not just a hearer of Your Word, but also a doer of Your Word. In Jesus name, Amen.

-KB


James | Communicating to Reflect Christ

James | Communicating to Reflect Christ

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” [James 1:19-21]

The more our lives look like Jesus, the more our communication differs from those around us. People are desperate to be listened to, but it so rarely happens. Have you ever shared something personal and felt like the people around you didn’t care? It hurts, and it closes us off from the people around us. No wonder people walk around with a bunch of walls up. The walls are there because no one listened.


Think about what would happen if we took the time to ask questions without an agenda other than genuinely caring about their response. Think about what would happen if hurt people finally felt listened to and validated... Walls would come down, hearts would be opened up, collaboration would be an option. In short, our culture as a whole would look wildly different. As the people of God, we are called to listen to those around us and, in doing so, simply reveal the heart of God


Choosing to listen to someone is a deeply humble act. It expresses value to that person and their perspective, and it mutually opens up the hearts of those communicating. However, most people are rushing to get to the next thing. The time it takes to slow down, take notice of the people around us, and listen seems like a distraction rather than an opportunity. Yet, seeing the life of Jesus unfold in the Gospels, I see in Him one who allows himself to be interruptible. People who are neglected, overlooked and hurting come to Him and are validated and honored. And these peoples’ worlds are completely transformed because someone listened to them.


Today, choose to listen. It’s a choice. It’s a reflection of the heart of God. Everyone is desperate to be listened to. You get to be the starting point of someone’s world being transformed because you chose the simple but powerful opportunity to listen.

Pray

Dear Lord, I ask that you help me to listen to others in a way that deeply cares for them. Help me to help be apart of transforming peoples lives to know you better by simply being there for you. Amen.

-Tim

James | Trials & Temptations

James | Trials & Temptations

If your faith remains strong, even while surrounded by life’s difficulties, you will continue to experience the untold blessings of God! True happiness comes as you pass the test with faith, and receive the victorious crown of life promised to every lover of God!

When you are tempted don’t ever say, “God is tempting me,” for God is incapable of being tempted by evil and he is never the source of temptation. Instead it is each person’s own desires and thoughts that drag them into evil and lure them away into darkness. Evil desires give birth to evil actions. And when sin is fully mature it can murder you!” [James 1:12-15]

How do we face trials and temptations?

I think that this passage of verses says a lot about the character of God. What if we actually believed that God is for us? What if we believed that He really wants us to do well? He wants us to be free. Why would he ever purposely try to lead us into sin or bondage? The answer is that He doesn’t. When we really get this revelation, I believe that it will dramatically change the way we face trials, temptations, and the difficulties of life. It will allow us to keep a strong faith that James refers to in verse 12. From this faith, James says we have access to the untold blessings of God. I think it is important to remember that these blessings aren’t because of anything we have really done. We didn’t earn them. But when we act in faith, I think it grows an intimacy and history with God that is a blessing greater than anything on this earth. We begin to see his fruits all over our lives as we commune with Him. We have access to peace when our lives feel chaotic. We can feel joyous when there appears to be no hope. We can walk fearlessly into the unknowns of life just because we know the God of the universe. This is the abundant life Jesus died for us to live.

In verse 14 and 15, James makes a big point to let the reader know the dire reality of our sin. He states that is in our own minds that temptations prevail not by God’s doing. He even goes so far as to say sin will murder us. That’s heavy, I know. However, I think there is a surrender and dependence that only comes when we realize just how broken and in need of help we are when it comes to sin. For a lot of us, It’s so much easier to ignore the unsavory parts of ourselves. For some of us, it could even be easier to blame God or other people for the sin in our lives or the circumstances we wish were different. The truth is; until we become aware of our sin or accept responsibility for our actions, it is a lot harder for us to actually seek God and depend on him for change. When we repent and ask God to help us, He will always, always meet us in that. He can’t resist surrender or humility. He want His children to do well, to live free. He will be faithful to help you overcome, just ask Him.

Let’s Pray.

God, I thank you for the ways that you have helped me to overcome in the past. I pray that you would help me surrender my life to you. Reveal to me how to depend on you daily. Help me to have faith in who you are in the midst of trials and give me strength to overcome. Amen

- Natalie