Wednesday, March 25, 2020

A Proper Response

Because of the Covi19 Pandemic many people are living in fear. This disease is serious, but many others have come before and mankind has survived. We must not panic and lose all sense of rationality. We must not allow fear to drive our lives. For those who are in Christ, our God is still sovereign and in full control over life's events. Nothing catches God off guard. The Psalmist proclaims in Psalm 121:2-4  "My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep."  So, don't fear! What should we do then? What is an appropriate response? Let us observe James 4:1-10.

Here in James 4, James is dealing with selfish, worldly believers and the conflicts that naturally arise from such behavior. In verses 6-10 James provides us with the remedy for the problem in verses 1-4, which also provides a good response for us in the face of our present situation. 

1) Ask for Grace: James 4:6 states, "But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." God desires to dispense grace to us. God will give grace in our time of need if we humble ourselves, walk in step with the Holy Spirit (v.5), and ask the Lord for it. With our wonderful God, we have all that we need to walk in peace through any storm that comes our way. 

2) Submit to God: James 4:7a states, "Submit yourselves therefore to God."  We must bring our lives under the total control of the Lord by recognizing His absolute sovereignty over us! Stop trying to live life your way. You do not know what is best- He does! Even if that means that you must go through difficult circumstances. He cares for you- He will see you through. He has a reason for everything we go through.  Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." The Lord molds and shapes us by every circumstance that He brings into our lives. He has your best interest in mind! 

3) Resist the DevilJames 4:7b commands us to "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Don't let the devil, the deciever fill your mind with fears and lies. Claim God's promises from His Word! Immerse yourself in God's Word. Know God's truth and ignore the Devil's deceptions. He would love for you to listen to everything you hear on the news and lose sight of God's love and care for you. He wants you to fear! He wants to fill you with anxiety and confusion. Resist Him and James says that "he will flee from you." 

4) Draw nigh to God: James 4:8a challenges us to "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you." The beauty of Christianity is that we have a personal God who desires an intimate relationship and has provided a way to have it through the atoning work of His Son. Observe  Hebrews 4:14-16  "Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.  (15)  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  (16)  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." We can come boldly before God through the blood of Christ. God wants us to come! James says that "he will draw nigh to you." Take time to read His Word and to talk to Him. He is listening and ready to comfort you! 

5) Deal with your sins: One of my favorite professors was Dr. Robert Delnay who use to always tell us "to keep short accounts with God." What great advice. Listen to Jamess 4:8b "Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded." Sin, including a weak faith, will hinder our drawing nigh to God for strength and peace!  Cleansing your hands involves keeping your conduct pure, and purifying your hearts involves the purity of your thoughts and motives. Deal with sin quickly and keep your "pathway to God" clear in order to enjoy comfort. peace, and guidance.

6) Know when to be serious:  James 4:9 instructs us: "Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness." To boil the verse down, James tells us to take sin seriously. Know what sin is and despise it! Have a true sorrow for sin in yourself and in others. In the context of James 4, James is challenging his readers to get serious about worldliness and the constant pursuit of personal, selfish desires that led to conflict with others and with God. Know what sin is and when you commit it- confess it and repent of it. 1John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." When we truly repent of sin and learn to despise it, then we can enjoy the goodness of the Lord.  We have serious pursuits to follow. There is a time to laugh and be more light hearted, but we must also know how to be serious with God and with His Work. God has a job for us to do- Go and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). 

7) Humble Yourselves: James 4:10 states, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up."  We come full circle and return to humility- bowing down before God’s greatness and sovereignty. Putting God before ourselves! He must be our priority! Then, He will lift you up- exalt you now and in the future. This may come in different forms now. He can raise up your spirit, strengthen you, give you joy, peace, dignity and honor before others if these things fit His plan for you. The point is that humility before the Lord will be rewarded.  

By following James prescriptions (in reality the Holy Spirit's prescriptions) we can come rightly before God and enjoy His presence, direction, and peace in the midst of troubling times! God is with His children! Draw comfort and direction from Him!!