Pastor Adam continues our series in the powerful book of James. James is the younger brother of Jesus. He didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah until he saw the risen Christ. Then he began risking his life to help the message of Jesus Christ and the Christian church spread. It is humbling to think about the all the risks taken throughout the centuries by believing Christians in order to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Compare that to our current culture where people often choose to skip church on days when it's simply raining too hard. How important is Jesus Christ and his message in your life? How important is meeting with other believers? The book of James challenges us to live out what we say we believe.
Humility and other teachings of Jesus are sometimes called part of the “upside down kingdom.” They tend to be counter intuitive and counter cultural. It is the norm to see and experience (and perhaps practice) independence, power and control. We usually all nod in agreement about how nice and loving the things of the “upside down kingdom” sound and we claim to believe them. However, how often do they actually play out in our every day life toward others? How often do you intentionally practice humility, considering others better than yourself, gentleness, forgiveness, mercy, servanthood? In the upside down kingdom these things are indicative of a life surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In the every day ins and outs of life they are often left by the wayside.
INVITATION: If you are a follower of Christ, you are to be an imitator of Christ. Does your lifestyle imitate that of Christ? Do your thoughts, habits and behaviors speak of Jesus to those around you at home, at work, in your neighborhood, at the grocery store? Pastor Adam pointed out that wisdom is not about the amount of information you have, but about how you respond to truth. How will you respond to the truth from James this week? Will you allow God’s word to speak into your life causing change toward more wisdom and humility and reflecting the “upside down kingdom” of Jesus Christ?
MONDAY: Micah 6:8 and Matthew 11:29: Even in the Old Testament before the life of Jesus, God laid out what the Lord requires. It includes walking humbly with God. Then, in Matthew Jesus describes himself with the words “gentle and humble in heart…” Do you value humility, or do you see it as the culture tends to define it--as weakness? Humility, in truth, shows more courage and strength than control or power ever could. Ask God to show you where HE would like to work in your life regarding humility. Spend some time with the Lord examining what parts of your life and personality might be reflecting the world’s culture over the upside down kingdom of God.
TUESDAY: Phil. 2:3: Selfish ambition vs. ambition. Do you have a spiritual practice in your daily life that might help you examine motives regarding ambition? There is nothing wrong with ambition, but selfish ambition is written of a lot in scripture. It is all negative. It is a sin in our life. What might help you with some type of “hard stop” to consider motives in your daily life and where they might be selfish ambition? Maybe you need to stop before making decisions at work in order to examine your motives. Perhaps it’s before posting on social media. Perhaps it’s reflecting on ways you are passive-aggressive toward your spouse. Are you brave enough to apply the truth from James to bring conviction (which is uncomfortable), but also brings change toward more wisdom into your life? Are you ready to listen to the truth of the conviction from the Holy Spirit?
WEDNESDAY: James 3:13-18: Deeds done in humility come from wisdom. Contrast this with bitter envy and selfish ambition and boasting. Verse 17 mentions that wisdom from heaven is, among other things, “submissive.” This is a counter cultural word. How do you feel about seeking a “submissive” form of wisdom? Can you trust God’s ways are best for your life?
THURSDAY: James 4:1-12: Are you closer friends with the world than with the counter cultural and counter intuitive “upside down kingdom” of God? Verse 8 states, “come near to God and he will come near to you.” What choices can you make to move away from things of this world and “come near to God" today? This week?
FRIDAY: James 4:13-17: When you make plans in life, do you include God? How can you include God in your plans this week and in the weeks moving forward?
SATURDAY: Prov. 3:5-6. Pastor Adam suggested how to have a posture of humility in life: 1) humility toward authority. Wisdom hears truth and adjusts to it; 2) humility toward others. A lack of humility causes strife vs. peace in relationships; 3) humility toward God. This is about the posture of your heart in relationship to Christ, not just behavior modification; 4) humility toward the future. Are your plans submitted to God? As you look at these four areas of humility, do you sense the conviction of the Holy Spirit in regard to any of them? Will you respond to truth in your life, which will lead to more wisdom?