Category Archives: Bible study

What do we do about the end?

Have you ever seen a person in movie or in real life who is walking around carrying a placard? One placard that seems to be common in caricaturing is the crazy looking man in long robes carrying a placard reading, “The end is coming!” Sometimes I think of Jonah and his short sermon in Jonah 3:4 that had amazing results. In 1 Peter 4:7 I found that placard again: “But the end of all things is at hand.” What follows is a list of things we ought to be doing because the return of the Lord is soon. I thought it worth sharing.

“The end of all things is at hand!”

Therefore

  • be sober (literally in your right mind) (1 Peter 4:7)
  • watchful in prayer (1 Peter 4:7)
  • above all fervently love one another (1 Peter 4:8)
  • practice hospitality without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9)
  • as each of us have been gifted by the Holy Spirit, use those gifts to minister to one another (1 Peter 4:10)
  • if any one speaks (a longer prolonged speech, like teaching or preaching) let him speak the oracles of God (the Word of God) (1 Peter 4:11)
  • minister with the abilities God has given you (1 Peter 4:11)
    • that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ
    • to whom belong the glory and dominion forever

The last one particularly made me think of Philippians 4:3. We are to minister with our God given abilities for the glory of God. We are not (as Phil 4:3 states) to minister seeking our own vain glory. It is not our glory to receive. We are to have the mind of Christ. So, what is the purpose of man? What is your purpose? If you knew you only had one week left to live, what would you seek to accomplish? This list is an interesting perspective. “The end of all things is at hand.” What are you going to do with it?

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Pure Religion – James 1:26-27

My kids recently found an old children’s book of mine that explains how to do some simple magic tricks. They decided to perform a magic show and invited us adults to attend. We watched as they showed us a dollar bill with George Washington right side up, folded the bill, unfolded it and showed us George Washington was now upside down. They did a couple of other tricks, but at no point in time did they deliver an incantation and actually perform magic. The key to magic tricks is not magic. The key is deception. The magician is not deceived. He is trying to deceive the people watching. In James 1:26, however, we see a person who has deceived himself.

Think about the Pharisees with me. These are the religious leaders of the day. They uphold the law (and more) and seek to live their lives before men in the most rigid standards they can. They teach men the outward conformity to the law. They teach men how to look religious. Now James comes and tells the believers that if a person seems to be religious but has an unbridled tongue, that person’s religion is vain — it is empty. Have you ever seen those play bottles for doll babies? From the outside they look full. Then you turn them over and they empty even though nothing comes out of the bottle. These religious people with unbridled tongues are just that. They look full of all the “right things,” but the truth is, they’re empty. The unbridled tongue they display is unbridled in sin, it speaks of things it ought not (Titus 1:10-11), and it is unbridled in excess, it speaks too much (Proverbs 10:19). This unbridled tongue is a sure evidence of an empty religion.

James 1:26 also tells us that this person has deceived his own heart. Once again think of the Pharisees with me. Most of them probably thought they would stand righteous before God one day. After all, hadn’t they kept all of the commandments? Yet, it was their unbridled tongue that showed their heart. Read Matthew 12:23-37. The Pharisees have accused Jesus of being in league with Satan. How unbridled can you get? Pay attention to Matthew 12:34. This is a very familiar verse to us, but think about how closely the tongue and the heart are tied together. The tongue reveals all that is in the heart. In the very outwardly religious Pharisees, the tongue revealed a heart void of the understanding of God. It seems that a person who has a religious exterior and an unbridled tongue could very well be unsaved. This person has an unregenerate heart.

I don’t want to close all doors there though. There are some who are simply carnal Christians. In 1 Corinthians 3:1 Paul is telling the Corinthian believers that they are carnal, “babes in Christ.” They are indeed “in Christ.” They have Christ, but they haven’t built anything of lasting value on that foundation. Further down in the chapter in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 we see that we can have the foundation of Christ but still be laying up no treasures in Heaven. This person who seems to be religious but lacks self-control in her tongue could simply be revealing a lack of growth. The person has faith but has not added virtue (2 Peter 1:5-8). And still, this person’s religion (outward show) is empty. There is no reward in empty labor.

Then in James 1:27 we see the contrast. Pure religion is seen in the merciful and humble acts of the doer. The great show is not where we see a truly pious woman. True piety is seen in the servant. Pure religion is not evidenced only in visiting the fatherless and widows in their affliction, but it is in these merciful acts that we see the embodiment of the pure, outward focus of religion. Also, the one who is religious keeps himself unspotted from the world. To keep oneself is to have a jealous watchfulness. We are jealous to keep pure. We are keeping our hearts with all diligence (Proverbs r4:23). We are learning to number our days so we may apply ourselves to wisdom (Psalm 90:12).

I have talked to several people recently who have expressed that growing up they felt like they had a checklist to gauge their Christianity by. If they did all those things on that checklist, things like wearing the right clothes, going the right places, talking about the right things, if they did all these things then they were spiritual. When they grew up, however, they realized that Christianity was more than external conformity. Christianity was a change of heart and thinking. That change of heart and thinking shows up in the externals. It shows up in the things I wear, the places I go and the things I talk about. But the change is first in an inward conformity to Christ not a conformity to an external standard (Romans 8:29). We can’t live our lives by a checklist to see if we’re OK. This passage in James points to that. James has just gotten done talking about being a doer of the Word and not just a hearer. Then he pauses to remind us that this doing does not begin with our hands, but it begins with our heart.

I can’t leave this without asking where are you? Consider what you are conformed to. Are you ruled by an exterior standard in your life or is your exterior ruled by a heart conformed to Christ?

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Devotional Help

I really enjoy and recommend books by Elizabeth George. In one of her books (sorry, I can’t remember which one), she related a devotional help that was useful for her. She referred to it as her Spiritual Temperature chart. Every day that she had her devotions she colored in that day’s date. As she looked back, she viewed the chart as a sort of thermometer. If she missed a lot of days she could see that her chart looked like chicken pox. When she was doing well, she could see the steady “temperature” rising. I am posting a pdf of a chart I made based off the one she had available in her book. I hope it will be a help to you.

Bible Reading Chart

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Action is the Key – James 1:22-25

The other day my 7-year-old was singing a song called “Obedience.” One phrase in the song is, “Action is the key, do it immediately.” She then asked me why the song said that action was the key. My reply was to tell her the parable of the two sons found in Matthew 21:28-31. You probably remember how Jesus told of the father who went to his first son and told him to go work in the vineyard. The son replied no, but later repented and went and worked. Then the father went to the second son and told him to work in the
vineyard. This son said he would, but then he never went. Jesus then asked which son did the will of his father? Which son obeyed? Obviously the first son is the one who obeyed. Action is the key.
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Those Dirty Clothes – James 1:21

My husband and I enjoy a show on the Discovery channel called “Dirty Jobs.” Mike Rowe, the host, goes every show to new places and new dirty jobs. The jobs are as varied as can be imagined, with many different skill levels for each position. There is one common theme though, the people who perform these jobs (and film Mike doing these jobs) get dirty. One particular show, the job was so filthy and disgusting that Mike commented that no one on the crew wanted to even talk after the show was done. They just all wanted to get back to their hotel rooms and wash away as much of the filth as possible from their bodies.

James 1:21 states, “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.” Continue reading

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Be Quiet and Listen!: James 1:19-20

I have three children. Each of them is unique. Even when they were babies their personalities were showing themselves evident. For instance. My oldest liked her independence as a baby. She didn’t like to be held and cuddled. She cried when I tried. She was happiest sitting somewhere where she could observe and laugh, but not have her personal bubble invaded. My middle one liked to be cuddled. She was still a very happy baby. She just liked Mommy more and liked to be held and loved on. Then came my youngest. No more happy baby. To his credit, there was something wrong with his digestive system that was never figured out. He was an unhappy baby though. He screamed. A lot. I once figured that he screamed about eight hours a day besides some other more normal crying. He did this for about four months. I think it’s because of this early exercise of his lungs that he has an amazing ability even now to be unbelievably loud. On top of that he likes to talk. He is a sweet, loving hearted, generous little boy who just has a hard time listening. Therefore, in an attempt to teach him to pay attention to what was coming out of his mouth, I recently taught him James 1:19, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” The verse is not just good for a five-year-old. I find that its truth is frequently a good reminder to me.
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O the Deep, Deep Love of God: James 1:17-18

We are fast approaching Thanksgiving. It’s only three days away! Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I am thankful for each of you who have told me you are reading my blog. You are my sisters and friends. I am thankful for the ways you have impacted my life, and I love those times we get to spend together face to face. Although we should be giving thanks every day of the year, our thoughts seem to be more tuned in with giving thanks on this particular day of the year.

So, let me ask you. When you give thanks, what are those things that you include on the list? I’ll tell you some of mine. Continue reading

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