Meditations: James 4:6-7

Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014
Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014

James 4:6-7
KJV

6But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith,
God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

     Pride has no place in God’s kingdom. “God resisteth the proud,” we are warned, and if we are wise we heed the warning. The word “pride” does not only apply to that person who stands off from others with his nose in the air. It applies when we grow prideful of our accomplishments and forgetful of the fact that we attain nothing without Him. It applies when we look at others and pridefully assume that we have traveled further down the road of righteousness. It applies when we determine that our offering is better, our position of ministry more worthy, etc. The word applies much too often, I’m afraid.

Oh, but when we humble ourselves…then He gives us grace. And how can we not humble ourselves when we consider Him? In Him we have all things, can do all things and can be all things, but only IN HIM. Step outside of Him and we are nothing – no better than the sin-filled scum we were before He saved us. When one meditates on this, can one not be humbled? Being so humbled by the reality of all He is compared to all we are not without Him, the next reasonable step is to submit one’s self to Him.

The one who can say they are God’s bond-servant – one who has willingly turned himself completely over to God – receives the fullness of God’s grace. This one also receives something else – a promise.

 

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

The one who has fully submitted himself to God can resist the devil; indeed, this one is commanded to resist him! And when this one resists, the devil will flee; it is inevitable. Why?

I tend to visualize things, and I have this picture of me standing sure and proud against the devil as a child of God who has been given the authority. But this is not all. Behind me, towering over me and radiating ultimate authority, is my heavenly Father. Only a complete idiot challenges Him.

Only when I’ve put down pride, humbled myself, and submitted to Him, do I have that authority; only then does He stand behind me so.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

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Meditations: Hebrews 10:22

Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014
Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014

 

Hebrews 10:22
NKJV

…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

 

A lawyer type once said that Hebrews 10:16-31 is written like a contract, with verses 16-21 sharing God’s part, 22-25 sharing our part and 26-31 sharing the consequences of our breaking the contract. God, of course, does not break contracts.

Bearing this in mind, verses 22 through 25 become vitally important to the believer. Verse 22 first calls for us to draw near to God. In my experience, this is one of the most consistently disobeyed commands God gives. It is one thing to think, “I love God,” or “I live for God,” and another thing entirely to climb up into his lap like a child does with his father. Why? Time is an obvious excuse. We fill our lives so completely that we effectively push God right out of them, repeatedly promising to get with Him later. In too many cases, later never comes.

Another obvious reason for our failure is that when we draw close to God our faults become entirely too obvious for our own selves’ comfort. Indeed, Scripture commands us not only to draw near to Him, but to come with true hearts, a thing that requires self-judgment and humility. Too, we are to come in “full assurance of faith.” Few children have the nerve to approach their fathers, to draw truly near to them, when they’ve done wrong. Their hearts are not pure and they know it; they cannot come in “full assurance of faith” because they know they’ve earned punishment rather than their father’s loving touch. So it is with us; flesh shrinks back, drawing away from God rather than straining towards Him, so we must deal with the flesh first. We must put it down so we can exalt Him.

But oh the rewards that come when we judge ourselves, repent of our sins, and are able once again to draw near to Him, when we do take the time and put forth the effort to draw near to Him. As a little girl, climbing up into my earthly father’s lap might have been a wonderful thing, but climbing up into my heavenly Father’s lap is so far beyond this earthly experience that it denies the comparison.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

If It Were My Funeral

I swiped the idea for this post from one I once posted to a blog I shut down ages ago. That post was prompted by hearing a minister say, at a funeral, “If _____ were here right now, he would say…”

Why, I wondered, should things I would say wait until my funeral to be said? So, if this were my funeral, I would say…

I hope you miss me, because that will mean I’ve touched your life, but you have no need to mourn. Finally, at last, I am where I’ve longed to be for so very long. I love you, and I’ve loved the life we’ve shared, but I love my God so much – so very much – more. Sometimes, especially in recent years, the homesickness for Heaven has been almost painful.

“I knew you before you were in your mother’s womb,” He says. I’ve believed this for years, and believed that I knew Him that early as well, that I was with Him in Heaven before ever being sent to Earth – and I’ve longed to go back. Paul said, “For me to die is gain.” YES! For the longest time, I’ve totally gotten what he meant by those words!

Loss is hard, and I get that too. “Losing” Mother was painful, but it helped when a friend pointed out that in reality she’d only moved away to a place I couldn’t go yet, that though we would be separated for a while I’d see her again when I made the same move. I’ve really been looking forward to seeing her again, and Daddy, and Granny and Grandaddy, and Mema and Pepa, and…

Now I ask you, please prepare to come meet us again too. If you’ve never accepted Jesus as your Savior, don’t know Him as your Lord, accept Him today. I look forward to visiting you in your mansion.

If it were my funeral, I think that’s pretty much what I would say.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Meditations: II Timothy 2:15

Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014
Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014

II Timothy 2:15
NKJV

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

 

“Be diligent,” Paul says to Timothy. “Be diligent,” God says to us. Diligence requires action…sincere and consistent action. Again, we are reminded that it is completely unacceptable for us to sit and hear the word but do nothing with it.

 

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God

Here, then, is our goal – our reason for being diligent. We desire, in truth we must have, our heavenly Father’s approval. How? What must we do? In what are we to be diligent?

 

…a worker who does not need to be ashamed…

So we are to be workers, and not just ordinary workers, but workers who are so good at what we do, so thorough, so careful, that we need never be ashamed of either ourselves or our work.

 

…rightly dividing the word of truth.

And this is why we, as these diligent workers, need not be ashamed. We are mature and learned in the Word. We do not ignore the Word – we cannot if we are to divide it. We do not take the Word and twist it into new meanings to suit ourselves. No, we are to be “correctly analyzing and accurately dividing – rightly handling and skillfully teaching – the Word of Truth.” (AMP) We are to diligently do this; and in this diligence we will receive God’s approval.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Meditations: I Thessalonians 5:14

Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014
Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014

I Thessalonians 5:14
NKJV

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly,
comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.

 

Here’s an odd verse to find seeking its home in this book. Yet it did not only seek this place; it demanded it. Paul has just exhorted the church at Thessalonica to “Be at peace among yourselves,” and the very next thing he says is, “…warn those who are unruly.” He is actively working to help the Thessalonian church become as strong as it can be and the four things he speaks of here are vitally important to such strength.

 

…warn those who are unruly

Interesting. He doesn’t say, “mutter and complain behind their backs.” Rather, he says, “warn those…” The warning is to be given in love, of course—that should be understood where Christians are concerned—yet it is to be given, and given directly to the person. If we would all do this one thing, and shut down the behind-the-back griping, what a difference there would be in the church.

Now, I am well aware that not everyone can warn everyone else. It may be that my flesh is too irritated and I know I could not approach a particular person in love, or perhaps the unruly person is one who, for whatever reason, specifically will not receive from me. There must be someone they will receive from, however, someone they will listen to, someone who can give the warning in love and it be received in the same way.

 

…comfort the fainthearted…

We’ve all had our times of faintheartedness and thank God for those who brought comfort in those times. I do not refer simply to the shoulder given to cry on, but also the voice that shares the comfort of God’s Word. For years, I was a member of multiple email loops and, in one particular loop, I had a friend who, whenever anyone in our group faced trials, would respond briefly and remind us to read her signature and remember God’s promise. Her signature contained the text of Jeremiah 29:11 and her gentle reminders were often that one thing needed to bring comfort and peace.

 

…uphold the weak, be patient with all.

I’ve included these two phrases together because this is the way they presented themselves to me…to my dismay.

Most of us have things that really irk us, things people do or characteristics they exhibit that really get under our skin. In my case one of those truly irksome things is perpetually baby Christians. I get horribly tired of seeing someone who ought to be mature in the Lord still fighting baby battles – deciding not to go to church this evening because they have a headache, moving from one church to the next in search of that elusive “perfect church,” continually needing reassurance on the same foundational principal… or, different angle, but still babyish behavior… never bothering to be on time, continually arguing over or ignoring basic church or ministry rules, whining, gossiping, backbiting… babies!

I suppose it was really no surprise when, after one grouch session with God (“God, why are so many Christians still babies? Will they ever get their acts together and grow up?”), a minister read this verse and I heard God answer, “Tammy, they are weak; uphold them. Be patient with them in all things.”

And there it is. I don’t have to like dealing with baby Christians any more than I have to like changing dirty diapers, but God has commanded me to uphold the weak, to be patient with them, and baby Christians (even perpetually baby Christians) fall into this category.

Others fall into this category too, of course. Many, like the elderly and physically infirm, I do not mind upholding, being patient with; it is those who create the weaknesses within their own selves that drive me nuts. What God has reminded me is that He sees all types of weaknesses the same in this case—as weaknesses in those He calls us to uphold, to be patient with.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

One in a Million

Christian, born-again one, think about how precious you are to God.

Consider a loving earthly father. He values all of his children, would give his life for any one of them. If all but one walks away, however, the one who remains becomes especially precious.

Since God created man, most of His creation has turned away from Him. If you count all those who were destroyed in the flood, it may well be that only one in a million has been true to Him.

You may well be one in a million, and that makes you VERY precious to your heavenly Father.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

The View from Inside the Furnace

Our church is in the midst of a sermon series on the greatest Bible stories, and it started me thinking. If I were to preach on a Bible story, which would it be, and what would I say?

I decided I’d preach on the 3 Hebrew men and the fiery furnace. More to the point, I’d preach on the view from INSIDE that furnace.

Most of us probably know the story from the book of Daniel. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to bow down to the image King Nebuchadnezzar has commanded them to worship, so he has them bound and thrown into a furnace that is so hot it kills the guards who throw them in. However, it isn’t long before the king realizes something strange – there are FOUR men WALKING AROUND in the furnace, and the fourth looks like the Son of God.

So, being a snoop, I can’t help but wonder… What’s going on in there?

I mean, think about it. What has the fire – the fire that was supposed to destroy them – accomplished? It burned off their bonds, freeing them to walk around. Other than that, I see nothing. They’re inside it, yes, but they’re walking around with Jesus!

They are with Jesus! They have boldly declared that God is able to save them, putting their trust completely in Him, and HERE COMES JESUS! He doesn’t just rescue them; He rescues them and sticks around to hang out with them. What is He telling them while they’re in there? What are they discussing? Is He giving them encouragement, instruction, revealing what’s coming next?

There have been times in my life when I’ve been, through no fault of my own, thrown into a fiery furnace that should have destroyed me. What I’ve discovered is that, when I put my trust solely in Him as these three did, the fire ends up helping me grow instead.

When you’re in the furnace, you only have two things to look at – the flames and His face. Watch the flames and you’ll go down in them. Focus on His face and your life changes. Suddenly it’s just you and Him. In that setting, when God has your complete attention… It is truly amazing. In fact, I remember one time when I was in the midst of the fire and I begged Him to help me maintain that same walk even when I was brought out and surrounded once again by the distractions of the world. I knew my own weakness, you see, and my tendency to get distracted.

I think about those young men and wonder how they felt when they heard the king’s voice calling them out. What was their reaction? Did they ask Jesus, “Can we stay here with You for just a little longer?”

Could be.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C