Monday, March 4, 2013

My Grandiose Self!

James chapter 4 is a tough chapter.  God holds nothing back on His children here.  I am reminded about the passage in Proverbs 3:11-12 as I read this passage.  

But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
    don’t sulk under his loving correction.

It’s the child he loves that God corrects;

    a father’s delight is behind all this.

I am really loving The Message's take on James 4, so much so that I am going to take a different approach as I post today's blog.  To refresh our memories, do not forget that the writer is speaking to Christians, those who are followers of Jesus.

Get Serious

1-2 Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.

This passage is all about believers fighting with each other.  Here in lies why so many unbelievers call us hypocrites.  The see us fighting with each other and ask, "Don't they follow Jesus?"  Unfortunately, time and time again we give them all the evidence they need to not follow Jesus.  They have a hard time understanding that we are still like them...still desperately in need of a Savior.  

Me throwing a fit!
How often am I still so selfish?  How often am I still so jealous of others?  How often do I still fight for my own selfish ambitions?  How often do I care for myself more than I care about others?  Too many times to count, I'm afraid to say.  

That is why James is so serious about how we treat our fellow Christ followers.  Why?  Because the world is watching.  We are ALL looking to fill the God shaped  hole in our hearts.  The last thing,we all know deep down inside, is that we do not need to fill it with more of ourselves.  That only leaves us empty and alone!

2-3 You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.
4-6 You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.”

Here we see our selfish nature at its best.  I think we can all agree that if we are really honest, we are all selfish in some way everyday.  I can tell you that I am a lot of times during the day.  We have this sense of entitlement.  We think somebody owes us something. And then James just nails the real issue on the head.  How many times do we want what God knows is not best for us.  So, we sneak around the back and try to get it for ourselves.  We know deep down it isn't meant for us, so we don't ask God.  Why?  Because, we know the answer.  

I can't tell you how many times I have gone and done something without permission.  I did it; because I knew that if I asked permission they would say no.  Boy, did I have a lot of reasons and/or excuses as to why they should let me do whatever it was that I thought was so important and necessary.  

When I was in the 8th grade my friend was having a boy and girl party.  I had a feeling my mom and dad would have said that I could not go.  So, I told my parents that it was just a party with a bunch of girls from school.  I even figured out a way to go with someone else so my parents wouldn't drop me off and see that there were boys there.  

Oooh you didn't know I was such manipulating, calculating lying person did you?! 

When I came home...I knew something was parents had found out.  My mom immediately sent me down to my dad's office in the basement.  All the lights were out except his small desk lamp.  As I rounded the corner of the stairs, in my gut I knew I was about to get in some serious trouble.  

I slowly walked to the tall office chair that my dad was sitting in.  When he heard the sound of my footsteps stop, he slowly turned his chair around to face me. (Yes, in my heart it really seemed this dramatic.  To this day, I think he did it on purpose to really make me feel he meant business.)  Very calmly and seriously he began to tell me how disappointed he was in me.  How my lies hurt him and my mom.  How he could not trust me.  He told me that I could have just asked them to begin with, they might have let me go.  But because I only thought about myself and what I wanted, I hurt those that love me as result.  I had broken their trust in me and now I had to earn that trust back. I could see in his face that he was hurt. I was crushed.  That conversation hurt more than the punishment did.  I had only thought about what I wanted more than anything else and anyone.  

Everyday, I must let go of my selfish desires; because, I want all of God's goodness and His perfect will to invade every fiber of my being! I want no more games with God.  I want all of Him in all of me!  

7-10 So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.
11-12 Don’t bad-mouth each other, friends. It’s God’s Word, his Message, his Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You’re supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it. God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others?

Cool picture of my sis in this alley in Ann Arbor.
I want my life to reflect all of God's goodness.  I don't want to be chained to sin.  I don't want the bad things I do to have control over me.  I don't want to bad mouth others.  Why?  Because...It’s God’s Word, his Message, his Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You’re supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it. God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others?

God, please help me not to write graffiti over Your gospel.  I never want to bring shame on Your message of hope.  I do not want my own selfish actions to ever keep others from knowing Your great love for them.  

Why?  Because my life is just a moment, and God's hope is eternal.  In the comparison of eternity, I am only on this earth for a short time.  But, what I do and say can have eternal ramifications.  I am not guaranteed tomorrow.  Only this moment is what I have.  I want to make it count.  I want God plans to become my plans.  I want God's vision to my vision.  I want God's hope to be my hope!

Nothing but a Wisp of Fog

13-15 And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.” You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.”
16-17 As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil. In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.

Yesterday, my husband, our team of people, and I were suppose to launch a new church.  I thought my grandiose self had it all figured out.  Those were my plans as of 9 months ago.  Until, God decided that was not the direction He wanted for us.  Instead....Yesterday, His plans were for me to help lead 100 kids in worship at our new church we attend while wearing a silly, funny, sweaty hat.  Instead, I talked to two little girls about their week at school.  Instead, I helped my daughter put on swimming flippers and watch her try to jump rope in a contest.  Instead, a young girl leaned her head on my shoulder while hearing God's word.  Instead, I prayed for kids to always put God first.  Instead, I sat in a room having a yummy lunch with 23 children leaders and heard a message from our children's pastor about gaining God's vision for my life.


I was exactly were God intended me to be yesterday.   And when I laid my head on my pillow last night, I knew that I am smack dab in the middle of His perfect plans for me.  

And new vision...
If the Master wills it, 
As long as I have breath,
It will become very clear with each new step 
as I follow Him.
"If He goes to the right...then I'll go to the right.
If He goes to the left...then I'll go to the left."

May, I never be found guilty of writing graffiti over the His message of hope!
May, I always desire His will over my own!
Get Joy!

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