The Book of James has much to say about consistent Christian living. Keeping that in mind, when reading James chapter 1 we often tend to focus on James telling us to have joy in trials. That is vital in the midst of trials, but what stood out to me after reading this passage again last night was the ending of verse 12. James says, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” Trials challenge our hearts devotion. I can say I love the Lord prior to a trial. But can the same be said both during and after a trial? What about you? Is your love devoted and unwavering to God regardless of the circumstances that surround you? Or have you allowed the circumstance to turn your sights away from fully loving Him. This is why James reminds us in 1:13 to refrain from a mindset that leans towards blaming God. Failure to make wise decisions, failure to choose joy, failure to persevere, are all characteristics of one who’s heart may not be fully devoted to the Lord. God tells us in Jeremiah 17:10 that “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” So back to James 1:12, James tells us in the middle of this verse that the one who’s love is consistent towards the Lord in all circumstances, “will receive the crown of life.” In trials He tests our genuine hearts devotion for Him. Therefore, allow me to encourage each of us to practice devoting our hearts to Him prior to, during, and after trials. By doing so, we can anticipate receiving such a promise from Him. I pray that each of us will willingly choose a devoted heart for the Lord and His ways each and every day of our lives.
Practicing His Presence,
Examples of a consistently devoted heart for the Lord:
For the most part I’ll let the verses below speak for themselves. Be prepared to apply this lesson however the Lord is nudging you.
Titus 1:15 (NIV) To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.
Revelation 3:15-17 (NIV) 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
The pure are to be pure. The corrupt live a life of corruption. Lukewarm would be someone claiming to be pure yet living and or thinking corruptly.
Proverbs 30:12 (ESV) There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth.
One author states that, “Finding favor with the Lord keeps our lives and thoughts pure because we desire to please Him more than we desire to please ourselves. Hebrews 11:25 says of Moses, “He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.” When the same can be said of us, we know we have found favor with God. His delight in us will be demonstrated.” https://www.gotquestions.org/favor-of-God.html
One Final Thing:
Philippians 4:8 (NLT) And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Prayer: Lord, purify my heart. I know You desire good things for me, but more importantly I know You desire to plant the good things of Yourself in me. Help me press the restart button of repentance, realizing my need for You. Help me return to You, my first and forever Love. In Jesus’ name, Amen. https://kayleneyoder.com/pure-heart/
This past Saturday we had 32 men attend Ox Strong in person. We had three new visitors, which was also encouraging.
Scott Durr did a fantastic job sharing with us a story of unconditional love. His grandmother was diagnosed with polio back in the 1950’s. Her husband was a farmer and had to care for his wife and all the farm demands. Did his grandfather ever complain about all these responsibilities? If you weren’t able to be present on Saturday, then you’ll have to watch the video to find out…here’s the link https://youtu.be/ZzjuBnf-qBE
Keep in mind…there may be times in our life where we’re full of grace and times when we’ll experience moments of weakness. Don’t allow the moments of weakness to discourage you…doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. There are others who can relate, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to someone who can walk you through it and pray with you. And just know that others will remember you as someone who expressed fullness of grace…moments of weakness is normal. We’re all human…we all have moments of weakness. Strive to focus more on the grace side of the life of others and emulate those actions as much as possible.
If you know of someone who is caring for a spouse who has special needs, then please check in on them to see how they’re doing. Ask if help is needed and how you can help, even if it is just prayer. They’ll always remember your efforts to be there for them.
Below are a few passages that Scott shared with us…passages explaining what unconditional love looks like:
1 John 4:7-21
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Remember…unconditional love removes all “if” statements from our thinking. There’s no “I’ll love you if you…..” There are no conditions. There is no expecting anything in return. Love because He first loved you. Love because others will see Christ through your actions.
Practicing His Presence,
Below is a devotional written by Charles Stanley...hope you get an opportunity to listen to the song at the very bottom as well.
CHARLES STANLEY –EQUIPPED FOR THE VALLEY
SEPTEMBER 16, 2018
If a sermon is worth listening to, we’re wise to jot down its important points. Writing etches wisdom deeper into the heart and mind, where a foundation of biblical theology is built.
You can’t afford to let a message or scripture brush over your ears and drift away. Christians who aren’t listeners may panic upon entering a spiritual valley; since they’ve retained very little teaching, their understanding of the Lord will be limited. Those without a theological foundation don’t realize God is upholding them through their difficulty—and their trial has purpose (Isa. 41:10; Rom. 8:28). Nor do they understand they must surrender to God’s work in their life. Otherwise, though they are still believers, they’re not advancing the kingdom and could be set aside. Consequently, a Christian without a solid biblical foundation may seek counsel from worldly problem solvers who offer only temporary release from pain and fear.
David, the author of Psalm 23, said that he did not fear evil (Psalm 23:4). He knew God, so he had nothing to be scared of since the One who controlled everything was on his side. How could he be stifled by anxiety while in the Spirit’s comforting presence? David held on to what he knew of God and endured. But he had to be familiar with God’s character and promises in order to believe that the Lord would not fail him.
A spiritual relationship heavy on emotion but light on education falters in a valley. Believers must know how Scripture applies to life. Unless your belief system can withstand pressure, pain, and criticism, you are at risk. Start building your biblical foundation so you’ll have it in times of need. https://808bo.com/2018/09/16/charles-stanley-equipped-for-the-valley/
Song: Valley of Death by Skillet
Below is a devotional written by Charles Stanley...
CHARLES STANLEY – TWO WAYS THROUGH A VALLEY
SEPTEMBER 14, 2018
What do you do when the pressures of life seem greater than you can bear? Journeys through a valley are inevitable and painful, but God doesn’t waste them. The trials of life can be times of discovery about Him.
In our helplessness, we discover His almighty power to sustain us.
In our despair, God invites us to experience His peace and promises.
In our pain, He becomes our comforter and protector.
In our hopelessness, He lifts our eyes to see His sovereignty and goodness.
Other discoveries we make in severe crises have to do with ourselves. Terrible times test our faith and reveal our true character. When a crisis first hits, most of us immediately respond with alarm. But at that point, we can take one of two very different paths.
The way of fear. If our relationship with the Lord is weak, fear may cause us to panic, seek ungodly counsel, blame people or God for the problem, or try to find a way out on our own.
The way of faith. On the other hand, if our faith is strong, we’ll progressively move from alarm to trust by seeking the Lord through prayer and His Word. We do this by believing He will keep His promises despite supposed evidence to the contrary and by remembering how He helped us in the past. In this way, our endurance and confidence in the Lord is strengthened.
Every adversity God allows in our life is designed to bring us to spiritual maturity, not to devastate us. When we yield to Him in the midst of a crisis, He enables us to trust and wait on Him with patience and hope. https://808bo.com/2018/09/14/charles-stanley-two-ways-through-a-valley/
Nate Smith is a college baseball and football coach, a husband, a father of 6 girls, grandpa to 3 granddaughters, a police chaplain, and has a passion to see men grow in Christ.
#girldad including granddaughter