Aug 30, 2017

Oh brother....

"Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." James 1:22

The book of James is wrecking me. WRECKING me, I tell you.

Do you know about James? He was the brother of Jesus. The BROTHER of Jesus!

I tend to sit up straight and lean in close when reading James' words. He lived, slept, ate, laughed with, and probably did a little brotherly wrestling with...Jesus Christ.

Here's the thing about James though..

He didn't believe Jesus was the Son of God until after Jesus' resurrection. James saw with his own two eyes the miracles that Jesus performed. He witnessed the character of Jesus, the love, the compassion...

Yet, he didn't believe.

Can you relate? Oh, I can.

How many times has Jesus shown me unbelievable mercy and miracles that blow me away...yet, I still doubt Him at times.

Maybe that is why I can relate to James. He is flawed. He missed out on believing while Jesus was right next to him. Yet, James eventually saw the Truth. And, he never stopped proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus. Until he drew his last breath.

James' words live on. They speak to the deepest parts of our hearts. They are stamped with truth. Hard truth at times. Conviction laden truth.

This year began with an awakening of my soul.

It started in January. In Memphis, Tennessee You know the story. If not, you can find it here.

God used a homeless man to awaken my heart to suffering and poverty.

I thought I had opened eyes, but I did not. Hey

Like many of us, I was immune to poverty on this level. I live in a safe little bubble in a safe little town.

Robert, the homeless man, opened my eyes.

The theme of poverty has been going on since I met Robert. I am disgusted by my own selfishness. My own greed. My own discontent.

How many times I have repented since meeting Robert. Lord, forgive me of greed and ingratitude.

This morning as I watched the news I saw many without homes, without clothes...without anything.

A hurricane can ravage a town, but it cannot ravage a soul.

When we lose everything, we gain everything.

We see life in a way that we have not seen life before. We begin to be thankful for things we daily took for granted.

Like bread. Like water. Like showers. Like clothes.

Honestly, I think the toughest layer to remove from our hardened hearts is greed and love of money.

I never in a million years thought I was greedy. Until I saw my mom offer her new jacket to the homeless man, and I felt relief that I didn't have to give him mine. Shame, so much shame I felt in  Thank the days to follow.

Conviction followed the shame. I didn't know the condition of my heart until it was put to the test.

Oh, but the Lord knew. He knew there were some places that needed softened, buffed out, and shaped.

Since January, poverty has been a common theme. I see it everywhere now. I beg and ask God, what can I do, Lord? I don't have much to give. How can I give when I have so little it seems?

I think of the lady with the alabaster jar of perfume. She gave all she had to pour over the head of Jesus. The people thought she was out of her mind. [Matthew 26:7-11]

But, Jesus praised her sacrifice. He knew that her faith and love were greater than all the religious teachers combined.

She gave all she had because she knew that Jesus was all she needed.

God can take the very little we have and invest it into a very big eternal treasure. Treasures we may never even see here on Earth, but we will surely see when we get to heaven.

The gift is more about the heart. The sacrifice. The willingness to lay down treasures in order to receive the greatest treasure of all....Jesus.

If we know the Word of God upside down, can quote scripture like a theologian, but don't have a heart to give...what will we gain?

James tells us this:

14What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If 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? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-and shudder.

We can have all the faith in the world, but when our faith is not accompanied by deeds, we are useless.

Faith leads to action. Every single time.

What is the Lord asking you to do?

What is He asking you to lay down for the sake of following Him?

I know it's hard.

So hard.

But, not following Jesus in obedience is much harder. I don't want to go anywhere that God has not told me to go. Or do anything that He has not asked me to do. We will never find life there. Only death and barrenness.

Every time we pass a homeless person I tell my children to show kindness. We may very well be serving them in Heaven one day.

God's economy looks a lot different than ours, friends.

His wealth is different than what we consider wealth.

May we do well with what He has given us.



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