Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hear and Do It!

     Do you ever experience dry skin, especially in the cold winter months? I do. Sometimes it feels so nice after a warm shower to moisturize my arms and legs with a great-smelling lotion. First I put the lotion into my hands and rub them together to warm it up a little bit. Next I apply it to the top of my skin but as I rub it across my arms and legs, the lotion begins to sink in. That reminds me of God's Word....

     Sometimes I get so busy with my life that I don't take a lot of time to really absorb the Word while I am reading it. It just kind of stays on the surface of my mind and never sinks down into my heart. The Psalmist says:

Psalm 119:11

King James Version (KJV)
11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.

     Have you ever really thought about that? We can read God's Word over and over and still not hide it in our hearts. We can memorize scriptures until they are as familiar to us as our favorite song lyrics but not fully grasp all that God wants us to get from His Word.
     It is not enough for us to go to church once or twice a week, listen to someone quote some Bible passages and go home. There has to be more to it! Why else would God have taken the time to give us an entire book of promises and hope if we were not supposed to apply it to our lives? We can find all about this very subject in James! Let's take a look at what the Bible says:

James 1:21-25

King James Version (KJV)

21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

     I realize that is a lot of food for thought, so let's break it down. Shall we? Let's take verse 21. I think we can understand that "lay apart" refers to removing something from us, and we can understand filthiness as something we would definitely not want to be a part of us. But what does the superfluity of naughtiness mean? According to Merriam-Webster, superfluity means more of something than is needed. So what the first part of this verse is saying is to remove all filthiness and behaving badly in such a way that it is more than is needed. Let's face it, we are all human. We have bad thoughts or take bad actions from time to time. This is suggesting there was an abundance of this behavior happening and it had to be addressed. So in James it says for us to stop doing this!

     Staying in that same verse, let's continue. We are to receive the engrafted word with meekness. Meekness refers to being quiet and gentle; not wanting to argue with people. If something is engrafted, it can be thought of as joined or held together in order to function normally. So here we are instructed to receive the Word of God with gentleness so we can function normally as followers of Christ! I love that!

     The last part of this verse tells us why we need to make the change from excessively bad behaviors to gently accepting God's Word without challenging others. It is able to save your souls! Wow!!! Isn't that powerful? When we change from our sinful nature to a more Christ-like way of life, we can then open our hearts to receive Christ as our Savior!

     Now, you may be reading this as a Christian and think to yourself, 'What about those of us who have done that?' Well, great! That is wonderful and I am so thankful that you have accepted Jesus as your Savior but it doesn't end there. Now it's time to apply our lotion! Let's read on.

     James 1:22 tells us plainly what we must do. It says that if we just hear the Word it is good but not enough! We must DO IT! Nike had a slogan for years, "Just Do It!" And I think that is what James is saying here. Do not just hear the Word but DO IT! Apply it to your life and really let it soak in so you can LIVE the Word. If you don't, it says you are only deceiving yourself. If we do not obey the scriptures after we have heard them, we are lying to ourselves about our walk with Christ.

     In verse 23 and 24 he expounds on this. He really wants to drive home the point that we must let the Word of God transform us and change us into something more like Christ. He says if we just listen to the preacher or Sunday school teacher share the message of hope and life but we don't ever act on it, it's like we are looking at our own reflection in the mirror and once we walk away we forget what we even look like. Do you see that at church our ministers are supposed to hold up these big spiritual mirrors so that you can really look at yourself and examine your inner man? But if you look at yourself in the reflection of God's Word and you see that you aren't measuring up, but you walk out the door and continue to live your life the way you always have been, then you have not allowed God's Word to change you at all. You are lying to yourself. You know if you are doing what God wants you to do or not. He wants you to see the places you need to improve and ask Him to change those things about you: make you stronger and better than you ever were before. Don't just listen to the Truth, obey it!

     Last verse in this passage, verse 25 gives us a beautiful promise! Ready for this? It says but whoever looks into the PERFECT law of LIBERTY. It's perfect! The law of God found in His Word is flawless! But it is also liberating! There is freedom in the truth. There is power to change in the perfect law of liberty! Note that it doesn't just stop at looking into the law. It says BUT CONTINUES IN THE PERFECT LAW OF LIBERTY! See that? DOING it makes the difference! It says the one who looks into the law, continues in it, AND doesn't FORGET IT! Don't think it's too hard, too painful, too much trouble and just walk away. Remember what you saw in the mirror and work on changing it. It says not a forgetful hearer but a DOER of the work, this man shall be blessed! You will be blessed! There is your promise!!!

     Do you want to be blessed of God? Do you want to please the LORD? Let your life be meaningful. Make your days count. Live your life DOING what you have HEARD the Bible say. Look at the perfect law of liberty and don't just look at it, but remember it and DO IT. You can do it! It's not too hard for you. Remember, this verse?

Philippians 4:13

King James Version (KJV)

13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

     It takes a willing heart and a desire to leave behind the selfish, sinful nature to walk in the Spirit. You can look into the mirror of God's Word and be transformed when you start DOING what it says and don't ever forget what you look like without God at work in you. Ask Him to help you and He will! You can do this as Jesus Christ strengthens you.

     My prayer each day is this: "Lord, help me to be more like You and less like the world." And every day I see another change that He is making in me. I am not perfect. I have to keep examining myself daily. Sometimes I blow it big time but I know how to make it right again. I can repent and He will forgive me and He will help me to do better the next time. You can live in this liberty, too. I pray God blesses you and encourages you today with these words!