Monday, May 16, 2011

God, His Plan and His Gifts

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures. (James 1:17-18)

A bit of background to start with this week...  James is writing to the Jewish Christians that were scattered all over the world because of the persecution that broke out against the church in Jerusalem.  He has told them to consider their trials joy because God uses trials to refine and to qualify His children.  He also told them that they should not mistake trials of temptation as being from God.  Yes, they are used by God, but God does not tempt people.  Now, in verse 17, we see that after James tells us that evil does not come from God, he lets us know that just the opposite does in good and perfect gifts.
A mother asked her little girl what she was doing. The girl responded, "I'm drawing a picture of God." "But," the mother responded, "No one knows what God looks like." The little girl's quick response was, "They will when I get through."
James has drawn and continues to draw a picture of God for us.  He shares how God works in the life of His children.  He has been teaching how faith is strengthened through the means of trials and temptations.  Now He speaks of how God blesses us out of those very same things.
Every religion that acknowledges sin sets forth some process by which man can be brought into a right relationship with their concept of God and have their guilt removed.  Even psychologists view this as a favorable means of helping the psyche overcome its fears, guilt, and apprehensions.  From this you have a broad array of human endeavors aimed at appeasing their concept of God.
Some animistic tribes offer human sacrifices in an effort to find their god’s pleasure.  In eastern religions, the practitioner denies himself food or sleep or pleasure, while enduring grueling ordeals aimed at appeasing the gods.  While most in our culture would dismiss such actions as pagan and a sign of ignorance, we find many who labor in charitable acts and works of the law in an attempt to place them into a favorable position with God.  Some even claim to have God’s help in their endeavors.  All of these have the common root of being self-generating ways of approaching God.
But our interest is not in concepts of God or multiplying human endeavors acted out in religious services or cultic ritual.  Rather we desire to stand righteous before the one true God in His revealed holiness and righteousness.  All of Scripture and even our own history tell us that we have nothing to offer God that will satisfy him.  Our hope rests in his mercy.  God’s actions are necessary for sinners to have eternal hope.  
While some may rationalize from their human thought what a god might demand, we have the revelation of the one true God through His actions and His Word to guide us.  God has not merely acted, He has spoken.  What we must do is open our minds, our spirits and our hearts to His revelation through His creation, His Word and His Son.
You may know some who speak of what “they believe” about God.  It is important that we not speak from the same context of opinion but speak from the revelation we have received.  Our faith is not an opinion but substantive in historical fact and personal experience.

Scripture to Claim:
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.  Hebrews 1:1-2

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