Note from Jesus
Yesterday I talked to you about letting the Spirit lead the dance of your life. Today, I want you to notice what happens when a person takes the lead of his or her own life. This is what happens when a person’s “constant pursuit of gratification” and continual “focus on self-indulgence” have control of his or her heart:
- Prayers go unanswered.
- Envy and jealously control life in ways similar to an out-of-control addiction.
- Pride and arrogance rule over a person’s heart.
- Overbearing criticism shows up regularly in conversations.
- Accusations are made against good people.
- A sense of control of one’s destiny makes a person oblivious to the fragility of his or her own life.
- Good things that need to be done go undone and neglected.
Just as Paul emphasized in the verses yesterday, James reminds you today with strong words that you must consciously and humbly offer yourself to the Father. Don’t be afraid to be physically demonstrative with your humble repentance. Not only ask for His forgiveness but also offer Him control over your heart and your life. Offer your whole self to the Father — heart, soul, mind, and strength — to be used as His person and controlled by His Spirit.
Rid your heart of the evil influences that poison it and that make it inhospitable to the Holy Spirit. I sent the Holy Spirit to live in your heart. The Spirit wants to bring God’s character, compassion, and blessing to life in you. So resist the power of evil, Satan, and the demonic world. Drive the evil one away and invite the Holy Spirit to take control!
Verses to Live
In the verses below, James uses his typical straightforward style to challenge his readers to look at their hearts. He wants you to be aware of what motivates your heart. He warns of all sorts of ways pride and arrogance sneak in and steal a person’s heart from God. So offer yourselves to God… in humility.
Where do you think your fighting and endless conflict come from? Don’t you think that they originate in the constant pursuit of gratification that rages inside each of you like an uncontrolled militia? You crave something that you do not possess, so you murder to get it. You desire the things you cannot earn, so you sue others and fight for what you want. You do not have because you have chosen not to ask. And when you do ask, you still do not get what you want because your motives are all wrong — because you continually focus on self-indulgence. You are adulterers. Don’t you know that making friends with this corrupt world order is open aggression toward God? So anyone who aligns with this bogus world system is declaring war against the one true God. Do you think it is empty rhetoric when the Scriptures say, “The spirit that lives in us is addicted to envy and jealousy”? You may think that the situation is hopeless, but God gives us more grace when we turn away from our own interests. That’s why Scripture says,
God opposes the proud, but He pours out grace on the humble.
So submit yourselves to the one true God and fight against the devil and his schemes. If you do, he will run away in failure. Come close to the one true God, and He will draw close to you. Wash your hands; you have dirtied them in sin. Cleanse your heart, because your mind is split down the middle, your love for God on one side and selfish pursuits on the other.
Now is the time to lament, to grieve, and to cry. Dissolve your laughter into sobbing, and exchange your joy for depression. Lay yourself bare, facedown to the ground, in humility before the Lord; and He will lift your head so you can stand tall. My brothers and sisters, do not assault each other with criticism. If you decide your job is to accuse and judge another believer, then you are a self-appointed critic and judge of the law; if so, then you are no longer a doer of the law and subject to its rule; you stand over it as a judge. Know this — there is One Who stands supreme as Judge and Lawgiver. He alone is able to save and to destroy, so who are you to step in and try to judge another?
Listen carefully, those of you who make your plans and say, “We are traveling to this city in the next few days. We’ll stay there for one year while our business explodes and revenue is up.” The reality is you have no idea where your life will take you tomorrow. You are like a mist that appears one moment and then vanishes another. It would be best to say, “If it is the Lord’s will and we live long enough, we hope to do this project or pursue that dream.” But your current speech indicates an arrogance that does not acknowledge the One Who controls the universe, and this kind of big talking is the epitome of evil. So if you know the right way to live and ignore it, it is sin — plain and simple.
Response in Prayer
O Father, please forgive me. Forgive me for trying to live my life by my own power. Forgive me for the times I’ve wandered from the Spirit’s lead in the dance of my life. Forgive me for my willful sins. Please forgive me for those sins of neglect and laziness when good things have gone undone. I humbly offer myself — my heart, my mind, my spirit, and my body — to be controlled by You and used for Your glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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