James 5 B

And a final word to you arrogant rich: Take some lessons in lament. You’ll need buckets for the tears when the crash comes upon you. Your money is corrupt and your fine clothes stink. Your greedy luxuries are a cancer in your gut, destroying your life from within. You thought you were piling up wealth. What you’ve piled up is judgment.  All the workers you’ve exploited and cheated cry out for judgment. The groans of the workers you used and abused are a roar in the ears of the Master Avenger.” 5:1-5 MSG

You thought you were piling up wealth; what you’ve piled up is judgment. 

God is unbelievably clear about how the rich should treat the poor.

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.” Matthew 6:24

Maybe it’s not money for you. But what else are you trying to serve? What else do you pile up and worship instead of God? Who do you step over to preserve your own quality of life?

Tomorrow we start the book of Chronicles!

 

-Carly

 

 

 

 

James 3 B

“If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.” 3:13-16 NLT 

I like the phrasing of prove it. It reminds me that godly behavior isn’t something I need to do to earn God’s love, but simply a symptom of it in my life. It’s proof.

And that counter part? Jealousy and selfish ambition? That’s always proof that I’m acting on the desires of my ego and pride.

“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” 3:17-18

Gentle, pure, peace-loving, self-sacrificing, merciful, and sincere. These are the marks of true wisdom from God. What a great checklist to reference!

 

-Carly

James 1 B

“If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” 1:26-27

I’ve looked at this verse a lot in my life, but I feel like I’m just starting to gain some understanding. I’ve always read it like this: your relationship with God is worthless if you can’t watch your mouth. (Which I can’t, by the way. If I’m not gossiping, I’m losing my temper. It’s gotten better over the years but will always remain a struggle of mine.)

Today I read it like this: Religion has nothing to do with being on your best behavior, that isn’t going to happen. What God expects out of your ‘religion’ is caring for orphans and widows in their time of need and staying separate from the culture around me. Don’t act like them, act like me.

Bethany and I are listening to seminar sessions Richard Rohr put out in the early 90’s. The only thing that dates the material is when he mentions purchasing his first answering machine for his land line. Otherwise, it’s still perfectly relevant information.

In the session I listened to yesterday, he off-handedly mentioned that he’s never seen a church fight over who is caring for widows and orphans the best. No, instead, we are constantly at war over leadership, aesthetics, religious tendencies, etc. Or as he describes it, our egos. Talk to anyone in ministry and they will nod in agreement. In my experience, even the “godly” topics that get debated are still rooted in a power struggle.

“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” 1:22-25

This is always my prayer. Sometimes I worry that the pace in which I read and process the Bible is too rapid, and I’m not applying it enough. But then I think about how quickly and immediately I imitate what secular culture teaches me. What catch phrases people are saying, who’s dating who, what politician did what, and so on. Information is flowing in and out of my life at a very rapid pace, but I get to control what I retain and mimic.

How do you exercise being a doer of the word and not just a hearer? 

(James gives a pretty clear picture of this in the next chapter. I’m thankful Bethany is going to cover it! I love her wisdom on works vs. faith.)

 

-Carly

Psalm 146-147 B

What a wonderful pair of chapters to study today!

“He covers the heavens with clouds, provides rain for the earth, and makes the grass grow in mountain pastures. He gives food to the wild animals and feeds the young ravens when they cry. He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse or in human might. No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love.” 147:8-11

I needed this today. Honestly, I need it every day! I need to remember what’s true about God, because my tendency to return to slavery and performance runs deep.

Things that are true: (you know I love making a good list)

-God brings the rain. He brings the rain that quenches thirsty people and he brings the rain that washes houses away in a flood. He’s sovereign; he gives and he takes away.

-God feeds the wild animals, he tells the wildflowers when to bloom and he hears the cries of the baby birds. He sees & knows every need. Again, he sees and knows every need.

-He is not impressed with human (or animal, apparently) strength. He’s not asking you to be strong, to meet every need, accomplish every task or fix every problem. What delights him and when we trust him and when we hope in him. I love this reminder! There’s so much pressure to be strong, and cool and not need anyone or anything.

Hope has been on my heart lately. I tend to get it mixed up with my superficial optimism, or let it be smothered by my anxious doubt.

What situation in your life needs a dose of hope?

What does it look like to truly hope in God?

-Carly

Psalm 140-143 B

“When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn.” 142:3b

Admittedly, I get overwhelmed easily. Psalms like this are great to underline and memorize, but even better when we apply it in the midst of anxiety.

I’m overwhelmed easily, but God is calculated, intentional, all-knowing and he speaks to us.

He knows what you should do; he has the answer to the things that keep you up at night.

What are you overwhelmed about? Take it to him!

-Carly

Psalm 132-135 B

“The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of humans hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths.”

Sometimes we need it spelled out for us: the things we worship instead of God are lifeless and dead. They don’t hear us, answer us, love us, or have a solution for us. They’re meaningless and will break, spoil or die.

God is eternal, breathing and alive. He listens, he responds, he answers. He loves, he cares, he provides and he solves.

What are you choosing to worship? What are you building an altar for? Who do you turn to?

-Carly

Psalm 124-127 B

“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” 127:1

The verse is washing over me after a long week of stopping myself from Doing. (Bless Bethany’s heart, she is on the receiving end of my ups and downs. Find yourself a good friend like her, who will discuss religious sin cycles and Veronica Mars with you in the same text thread.)

Isn’t that verse great? We don’t need to waste our time and energy coming up with plans or our own projects. We don’t need to labor in vain.

This verse says more than I ever could, so I’ll keep my response brief. How does this hit you?

Are you spinning your wheels on something? Eating the bread of anxious toil? This is not of God. When he drops building materials and blue prints in your lap, peace will wash over you.

He makes it so easy, and we make it so complicated. Maybe the project itself won’t be easy, but at least you’ll know it’s of Him and not of yourself.

-Carly