Ezekiel 40:28-41:26, James 4:1-17, Psalms 118:19-29, Proverbs 28:3-5
Today is the 20th day of November. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I am Brian and it’s great to be here with you. And I hope it’s great for you to be here as we come in from the…from the hustle and bustle that is all around us and kind of amping up here for the holiday season that we’re about to enter into. So, we can always remember, we have this little oasis that we’ve carved out for ourselves throughout this year, this safe place to hear from God’s word. So, let's…so, let dive in. We’re reading from the New Living Translation this week and we’ll go back into the book of Ezekiel today from the Old Testament. Today, Ezekiel chapter 40 verse 28 through 41 verse 26
Okay. So, we’re working our way through the letter of James, and as we have noticed and as we have talked about, James is very direct, is attempting to leave no room for misunderstanding, is speaking very clear and pointedly. And it’s interesting because this is written a couple thousand years ago, right? So, this is appointed direct letter from a couple thousand years ago, but my goodness, if…I mean it could’ve been written yesterday and apply. So, James says today as we began our reading, “what is it that’s causing you to quarrel and fight? Like, what’s causing the quarrels and fights among you?” If we just stop there, we know that he is speaking something very practical into our lives right now even though it’s a couple thousand years ago because that is an important question. “What is it that’s causing the quarrels and fights among you?” James answers it rhetorically by saying, “don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you.?” In other words, aren’t the fights that you are experiencing externally actually fights that are happening inside yourself first. Ahhhh…like we could just stop right there and ponder that for the rest of the day. James is basically saying, “look, the fights and quarrels, this conflict it seems to be ever present comes out of our sense of not having what we want or desire or…or not having what we think we deserve.” Like we’ll see somebody else who works less hard than us who has more than us and we think we deserve what they have…like we want their story or their things because we’re perceiving a lack inside of ourselves, because we’re comparing our lives to someone else’s life and it can get pretty nasty, right? It can be just us shunning that person and losing the relationship, it can be in our family, I mean, it can be that we are dominating to make up for our own deficits because we’re like trying to force out of others what we think we deserve, which of course brings quarrels and fights. And after a quarrel or a fight like that, even if you get what you were looking for, even if you get the thing or the words you were looking for, do you walk away going, “There. Now the world is right again. All is shalom. Balance has returned, right? No, because the deficit you feel inside is still there and it will never be full. We’re always gonna come up empty because we’re looking in the wrong place. James said, “you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it and when you do…when you do ask Him you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong. You only want what will give you pleasure.” So, we can be like, “well…I have had enough of this James guy, right? Like, I mean, he’s so full of condemnation but that’s not what he was trying to do. He was trying to like…it’s like a smack across the face, which is not pleasant but wakes you up or like ice water thrown into your face, which might make you mad, but it wakes you up. Its liking condemnation isn’t the point. He’s working his way down to the root of all this. “Don’t you realize” and I’m quoting James here, “don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you and enemy, an enemy of God? I say it again. You want to be a friend of the world, you’re making yourself an enemy of God.” This is why he’s being so direct. If we’re gonna to try to get an identity by trying to be relevant in our culture and follow the ways of the world, then we need to understand that we are living so backwards that according to James, we are at odds with God, that we’re making ourselves God’s enemy. I don’t know about you. I think I do a little bit, but I think I know enough to say we might all be in agreement on this, nobody wants to be the enemy of God. So, that means we need to look at what we’re doing here because James says, “if we’re gonna live this way we are going to make ourselves an enemy of God.” So…so what we do, especially if like in this moment we’re realizing…this is me….like…I…I do this all the time…looking at everybody else to find an identity and I’m continually living in jealousy and envy and I’m continually passively aggressively acting that out in my words and deeds. And it’s right. Even if I get what I’m after I’m still empty inside. So, if we realize this, what do we do? Thank goodness James wasn’t just pointing out problems. He was leading away from problems by naming them and then offering insight. So, James says, “here’s what you do. Humble yourself before god. Like, don’t wait for life to humble you, to crush you, humble yourself before God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Now that part we probably all know and can quote because it’s one of the most famous verses in the Bible, but do you see why context matters when we’re reading the Bible? Because we can say resist the devil and he will flee from you all day long. But now we at least know when James was even talking about when he said that, and we realize what he’s saying is we must resist the devil and he will flee from us. We must humble ourselves before God because we don’t want to be the enemy of God because our lives are diametrically opposed to the way of life. So, James says, “humble yourself before God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come close to God and God will come close to you. Wash your hands you sinners, purify your hearts. Your loyalty is divided between God and the world”, right? That’s not going to work. You’re never gonna get there from here. And James is really encouraging strong repentance. “Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up in honor”, right? So, you can demand honor, you can demand possessions, you can demand identity, you can demand status, and you can become envious and frustrated when you don’t get it. And, so, you can by force try to take it from another, only to find that you are empty and that you have now made yourself an enemy of God by using worldly tactics or you can humble yourself before God and come close to God and He will come close to you. There is a fork in the road for us today friends. We have a path to choose. By default, we’re going to choose one or the other and as James has pointed out clearly, the path we have chosen will be borne out in our actions. We will actually live what we believe. So let’s invite the Holy Spirit. Where are our loyalties divided?
Holy Spirit. We invite You into that. Right here at this crossroads, now that we’ve had a couple of days working through James here, we see very clearly that there are implications to what we do and think and the decisions that we make, those choices matter, and they lead to their logical conclusions. And so often we’re not even paying attention to where we’re going, we’re just reacting to everything and it’s not working. And, so, we invite Your Holy Spirit to come so that we can be proactive, so that we can see what we’re doing before we do it so that we can, in the moment, humble ourselves before You and draw near to You and resist the devil and he will flee from us so that we can live free. Come Holy Spirit into all of this that we’ve discussed today. We are powerless to change ourselves without Your transformative power in our lives and we need to change here. It’s not right that we bless and curse out of the same mouth. It’s not right that there are fights and quarrels among us because of our own deficits and our own emptiness when fullness is available when You have offered Yourself and that You have come to indwell us. We have no business behaving some of the ways that we’ve been behaving and it’s leading nowhere, and James is confronting us with it as he’s been doing for thousands of years. And, so, here we are, confronted. Come Holy Spirit change us. We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
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And that is it for today. I’m Brian I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.