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How Dare You?

This is a short story about a little girl.  A girl without a name.  A Jewish slave girl, taken captive by the Syrians 1000’s of years ago.  But first, let me tell you about another little girl, one who few have heard of yet recently saved so many.

In 2004, 10-year-old Tilly Smith was vacationing on a beach in Phuket, Thailand. At some point during the beautiful, sunny day the sea began bubbling “like on the top of beer.” As others watched out of curiosity, Tilly remembered her recent lesson on tsunamis in her geography class.  An early warning sign? That the water would froth and suddenly recede.  

Tilly pleaded with her family to escape the beach. Her father took her warning seriously and went back to the hotel to bring it to the attention of the staff.  Her mom, however didn’t believe her.  Out of fright and frustration she announced,  

“Right, mum, I’m going. I’m definitely going. There is definitely going to be a tsunami.”

Tilly’s father, impressed by his daughter’s conviction, alerted an on-duty security guard, and the authorities quickly evacuated the beach. The Smith family and all the beach goers sought refuge at their hotel, just minutes before the tsunami hit.

Throughout that day, tsunamis in Southeast Asia killed nearly 230,000 people.  But Tilly’s persistence saved the lives of every person on that beach.

She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” 2 Kings 5:3

This was the pleading voice of the little Jewish girl.  Her new beginning began in a strange land as a slave.  Taken captive by King Aram, living in the house of Naaman, commander of the army.    Naaman, although an impressive warrior and highly regarded by the king, was stricken with leprosy.  And this little girl, far from home, was urged to tell her mistress about the healing powers of the prophet Elisha, the man of God.

Without fear, without thought of not being believed because of her youthfulness or gender or race or faith, this no named child saved a man both physically and spiritually.  She doesn’t appear to harbor malice toward her captor.  She shows the love and mercy of God.

As for Naaman, he was urged to take this little child’s advice and travel to a far off land in search for a cure.  With the prophet Elisha’s help, Naaman became a follower of the one true God.  He too took this gift and quietly weaved it into his surroundings, eventually converting the royal household.  

“And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.” Luke 4:27

When Jesus spoke these words in the Nazareth synagogue he was thrown out.  How dare he speak of saving gentiles!  How dare he encourage the saving of their enemies – ones who had taken them as slaves?  Yes, how dare He?  How dare Tilly think she knew something that could save so many?  How dare this Jewish slave girl share her God’s love for everyone?

I can only imagine how grateful Naaman must have been toward this little slave girl.  I can only imagine because she’s never mentioned again.  Her new beginning, as her master’s first guide in his steps toward salvation, had to have brought that household so much joy.  Just like Tilly will always know how much of a difference one person can make.  

How dare we all direct just one person toward the loving grace of our Savior?  Who are we to give others the gift of a new beginning?  To have our own beginning as a servant of Christ? How dare I, a person of lowly origins, share in the hope and salvation of someone?  How dare you?

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35,000 Decisions

…yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 
Habakkuk 3:18

According to Psychology Today we make an average of 35,000 decisions each day.  That’s about 2,000 decisions per waking hour.  I remember when I was working as a public relations and marketing executive at a mid-sized company.  At the end of each day I felt exhausted.  I couldn’t even think about what to make for dinner.  I realized at some point I had decision-making fatigue.

So many of our decisions are ones we don’t really think much about – if we are going to get up and go to work, if we are going to brush our teeth before leaving the house, if we are going to get dressed.  We just sort of do them out of habit or necessity.  

But what about our faith lives?  How many of us have, along our journey, made the decision to fade away from our faith?  Not realizing we’ve made a decision to shut out God.  For some people, because of issues at their church or maybe a difficult time in their life they actually made a conscious decision to completely turn away.

There are basically three types of people shown in the Bible.  First there is the nonspiritual person who has not accepted God at all.  Second there is the person who has accepted Jesus as their savior but still lives by the world’s expectations. And third is what is considered a “mature believer.”  This person learns to do the will of God no matter how he/she feels or how difficult it is.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  
1 Corinthians 13:11

This is where the term “baby Christian” arises.  It’s the second type person described.  Picture how a baby lives its life.  Crying and throwing a tantrum when things get uncomfortable.  Babies are very self-focused people.  They don’t care if you haven’t slept all night or exhausted from a long day at work.  They want, they need, they demand.  If they don’t get it, they aren’t happy.  They live off feelings and wants and needs.  It may sound harsh, but how many of us are living our Christian lives this way?

No matter what level we are on, we should want to grow , but if we find we are still in the baby stage of Christianity, we should certainly make a commitment to God to start working with His Holy Spirit toward maturity.  

Joyce Meyer, Change Your Words, Change Your Life

That’s why I like the verse from Habakkuk today.  Prior to verse 18 the prophet lists all the things that are going wrong – the fig tree isn’t budding, there’s no grapes, the olive crop is failing, and there’s no livestock.  Yet he will rejoice.  

Great faith is maturing faith. Great faith is growing faith. And great faith is becoming stronger and great faith is standing on the truth of the Word of God. Not feelings, not other people’s opinions, not the past, great faith stands on the truth of the Word of God. Here’s what God is saying. And the focus is on God. Great faith is always focused on God. 

Charles Stanley

And growing faith means choosing to be faithful. We humans don’t tend to like to be the cause of our problems. We want our lack of commitment to God to be about something that happened to us, an absence of the right feelings, or because of the world’s demands. But it’s really about where we have placed so many of our 35,000 decisions. In how many of them did we even consider God’s desires for us?

When you feel like quitting or running away, remember that you can’t run away from your troubles and you can’t run away from yourself. The solution is not running away; it’s running to. It’s running to the throne of grace and finding grace to help in time of need.

Warren W. Wiersbe, Prayer, Praise & Promises: A Daily Walk Through the Psalms

Take the time today to consider your decision making and how it relates to your commitment to God.  Sometimes we are tasked to just decide to run to Him – not waiting for a feeling or some grand emotion to well up inside us.  If we can make the decision to get up and go to work today or the decision to do the laundry or get the kids off to school we can make the decision to open our Bible. We can make the decision to have a conversation with Jesus. 

Most of the 35,000 decisions we make today will be for the world of the flesh.  How many can we carve out to be the ones that matter for all of eternity?

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Free To Be

But one thing I do: Forgetting 
what is behind and straining 
toward what is ahead, I press 
on toward the goal to win the 
prize for which God has called 
me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 3:13-14 

A prayer to live without regret

Holy God, it’s been many years since I accepted your gift of salvation, which along with that gift came forgiveness.  And yet, so often I am unable to forgive myself.  My heart still twinges when I think of the times I lived in sin.  And once saved, I look back at the years I realize I wasn’t fully committed to obeying your Word.  I’ve wasted enough time, however, not accepting your grace.  I am learning how much you love me, LORD.  And with that, I’m working to accept that I am a new person because of your son Jesus.  The old me can’t take up any more precious time when you are filling up my heart with overwhelming love.  I admit I sometimes need stern admonishment from you to keep me on track.  But at other times please send me a gentle kiss or unexpected hug to remind to live in today, not the regrets of the past.  I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.


I don’t know about you but I’ve done some very non-Christian things in my life.  I spent about five years of my younger life seeking inappropriate relationships with men.   I thought that if I turned over my precious gift of intimacy that I would find love.   We can watch endless movies, read countless novels, and dispense wisdom about how fruitless this path is and yet never seem to apply it to our own lives.

The first time I said a desperate prayer was when, at 19, I thought I was pregnant.  I begged God to save me from myself.  And He did.  I don’t really know why since I know others were not.  I bargained with God to do His part and I would stop such reckless behavior.  And I did not.  I wasn’t a Christian at the time – although I believed in God.  So maybe He was giving me a few allowances.  I won’t know until the day of my eternity when I can ask Him.

Fast forward a few years and I was a young mother with two kids.  I was a Christian by then.  And yet I continued, time after time, to disobey God.  Boy did that lead to a lot of unnecessary hardship.  Of these two situations it’s actually this second that I tend to regret the most.  Because I truly knew better.  I think of all the wasted hours of tears and painful relationships I could have avoided.  I think of the times I could’ve been a better mother and wife and friend had I just surrendered myself completely to God.

If we confess our sins, he 
is faithful and just and will 
forgive us our sins and purify 
us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9

I realize that by holding on to my forgiven past it’s like a log tied around one ankle.  It hinders me to fully grab onto the joy of today and promises of God.  It’s not that we need to forget our past.  We can learn a lot from our choices and their consequences.  But when we accept Jesus as our savior we must accept that we are now changed in our spirit.  Sometimes we just need to remind our heart and mind of that change.

Friend, I don’t know what sinful choices you may have made in your past, but Jesus came so we don’t need to live an entire life of repentance for our past regretful choices.  We need to turn those sins over to God only once.  And turn our faces toward today.  

There’s a lot from my past that I’m still working on fully releasing to God.  He has already forgiven me for them.  I just need to let go of the string and allow them to float into the heavens.  With His gentle reminders of His love for us we can be free.

If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!

bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

His Last Amazing Words

If you were to Google “Jesus’ last words” what you would get is a long list of references to Jesus’ last words on the cross and their meaning.  And while those last words are very important, if we think those were His actual last words recorded in the Bible we miss the amazing glory of who Jesus really is.  

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”

REvelation 22:16-17

Jesus wasn’t just about the physical man here on earth.  He is so much more.  The book of Revelation, written by John, reveals God’s plans and purposes for His church.  It’s is the revelation of Jesus.  According to Dr. Merrill Tenney, Jesus is the chief subject of Revelations.  Christ is the exalted priest.  And three times in the last chapter of Revelations Jesus interrupts John with His words.

These last amazing words of Jesus in the Bible are also the last of my commentary on Living Amazed through Jesus.  And appropriately so.  Looking back over all the topics they can all coalesce into two words – follow Him.  We can thank God, Jesus and His Holy Spirit every single day that the prophesy of Jesus’ return has yet to be fulfilled.  Why?  Because we still have a lot of His work to accomplished.  God is giving us an opportunity to not only get our own lives in line with Jesus’ amazing ways but to also share with as many people as possible about the savior.  

These last few words of Jesus should be at the front of every church.  Let anyone who is thirsty come and take the free gift of living water that only He can provide.  He has designed us to be His hands and feet to bring sinners into this amazing grace. 

“Indeed, when the church lives in expectancy of Christ’s return, such an attitude provokes ministry and evangelism as well as purity of heart.”

Warren Wiersbe

As I have grown in my faith, I find it odd that there are “traditional” churches and “evangelical” churches.  It’s clear in Jesus’ last (and many other teachings) Bible words we are all to take up the mantel of “evangelical.”   I was discussing this topic in one of my Bible studies the other night about sharing the gospel with others.  One friend said she doesn’t feel comfortable “opening that door” with people.  I shared how I am praying every single day for just one believer to “open that door” to my eldest daughter.  I know God is asking me to be a good example for her but I also know He is seeking someone else to bring her to Christ. 

Aren’t there numerous people in your life that you hope would accept Jesus as their savior?  It’s hypocritical of us to pray for a miracle in someone’s life if we aren’t willing to be that miracle.  

Of all the amazing things Jesus said and did throughout the Bible He was always clear on our role in God’s Kingdom.  We are to help gather up as many as possible and place them solidly in His hands.  Our job has never been to sit nicely in church, enjoy a few songs and hear a good speech.  It’s to be compelled to share His amazing love with the world.

Thank you for joining Madison and me on this journey through Living Amazed.  Please join me starting December 7 for my next series, “Hold the Line: 25 Promises of God.”

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Amazing Directives

Saul’s Conversion

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

 The men traveling with Saul stood there amazed; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.

Acts 9:1-6


These last 11 months my BSGs have completed four different Bible studies. We have to laugh now after every question that asks something along the line of, “What does God expect of us?”  The answer is always to obey.  If only we humans could figure that part out.  Yes, at times Jesus’ teachings seem a bit fuzzy.  In fact, during His last few hours His disciples were very confused.

At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?”

John 16:17

And as Jesus continues in John 16: 28 with, “I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father,” the disciples reply with “Ah, now you are speaking plainly!”  So often we may think that Jesus is only the figurative speaker.  And we need to pray on and discern what He may truly want from us.  But by studying the Word and therefore the character of Jesus we find His is more the plain speaker than not.

When Jesus told Saul, “Now get up and go into the city” there were no ifs, ands, or buts.  Do it.  Obey.  Yes, Saul had the choice to do it or not.  Thankfully, he listened and obeyed Jesus’ amazing directive.   Twice I have had God speak to me in very loud, definitive terms. Once in hearing His actual voice convicting me to true action in my spiritual life.  And once in a vision directing me to do His works.  And I obeyed.  And yet there are many, many other times when I have heard His quieter voice directing me and I questioned or even ignored Him.

How many times has He clearly told you to stop and speak to someone and you refused?  How many times has you told you exactly what you need to do to lose weight, stop smoking, stop hating, stop doing something destructive and start living out His Word?  In one of my Bible studies this week a friend told me of a vision she once had.  Her relationship with Jesus has been tumultuous because of family issues.  She leans a lot on Eastern religions.  In this vision she was being loved as a baby and coddled by the Dali Lama.  And then Jesus approached and the Dali Lama handed her over to Jesus.  She screamed “NO!”  What I found so fascinating about this and all the times I, myself, have refused to obey, is how we humans so easily place ourselves above the Divine.  You realize that is exactly what we do when we ignore the amazing directives of Jesus?  We think we know better.  But we can never see the whole story of our lives.  We can never fully understand how interconnected all our actions or inactions are and the impact they may make.

About three months ago my friend Caroline was asked to obey an amazing Jesus directive.  While walking through the patio at church she saw a young woman sitting by herself.  Jesus said, “Go talk to her.”  Now, my friend is not some uber, outgoing person so this made her feel a little uncomfortable.  But because of the Bible study we were doing at the time she said, “ok” and sat down with the young woman.  During the conversation she found out that this young woman, who recently moved from out of town to go to college nearby, was in fact a college classmate of her own daughter.  She passed along her daughter’s phone number.  The tasks being obeyed, the young woman and my friend went about their lives.  Fast forward to yesterday.  This is the text my friend received from that young woman:

“Hi!! I know this seems so random but I’m actually heading back to Hawaii for Thanksgiving until January and I’ve just been doing a lot of reflecting on all the amazing people I met here in the last 3 months and feeling so grateful! I just wanted to say thanks for reaching out to me that one night, I remember feeling kind of uncomfortable but it was so special and such a gift from God that I was able to chat with you and see that we had so many connections already!! Anyways, just wanted to say thank you again and I’m so appreciative of that time that you took to chat with me!”

My friend obeyed Jesus’ directive of a simple act of hospitality and a life was changed.

Trusting God means looking beyond what we can see to what God sees.

Life Principle 9, Charles F. Stanley

Jesus says to, “Follow me.”  It’s an opportunity for us to obey.  And as my faith journey this year has evolved, I realized my growth spurts have come each time I have listened to an amazing directive and obeyed.  Each time my trust grows is each time His trust in me grows.  Yes, His trust in me.  Because until we can be trusted to obey His small directives, like helping the person in the grocery store parking lot, He won’t entrust with something bigger.  And I don’t know about you but I want Jesus to trust me enough that I will do His amazing works till the end of my days.

Today when you hear that whispered directive from Jesus, obey.  You know His voice.  You know His character.  He and satan are clearly differentiated.  So stop questioning Him.  Obey.

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Amazing Presence

As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”

Luke 24:16-26


Depending on how Messianic scholars classify the prophesies in the Old Testament about the coming of Jesus, you will find between 200 and more than 400 statements about the Son of God becoming a man to teach us and be our ultimate sacrifice.  Given that information, which was taught throughout the Jewish faith, you have to wonder why anyone at the time of Jesus’ death didn’t understand what was going on.  It shouldn’t have been a surprise that He would also be resurrected.  Yet disciple after disciple, woman and man, we see either their disbelief or shocking amazement when Jesus stood with them after His death.

But we can’t be too hard on those people of old.  I mean we have 1,000s of years of Bible study, the hindsight of the entire New Testament, and more Bible scholars and preachers than we could ever count explaining the connections and the truths of this amazing story.  And yet so many of us, even Christians, have a hard time truly accepting that Jesus is with us, even today.  He stands in front of us with an open hand almost pleading with us to surrender and follow Him.  He stands next to us, holding our hand, as we take scary, daring steps of faith.  And He stands watch over us guiding and protecting us.  When we fully accept that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, we can feel His constant, amazing presence.

I heard a sermon the other day by Joyce Meyer called, “What is Faith?”  In it she encourages those whose families are grown and left the nest, who have lost spouses, who feel as though no one loves them, to grasp on to the knowledge that Jesus is ever-present in our lives.  He is with us when we go to the grocery store.  He is with us when we sit and watch a sunset.  He is with us when we lie down, alone, in our beds.  

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

John 18:22-23

When we read the verses today in Luke 24, we might gloss over the fact that Jesus had already died.  What happened on that road to Emmaus could have just as easily been written today.  There was nothing special about the two men to which Jesus appeared.  They are you and me.  We can leave church or a Bible study waxing philosophical about the amazing presence of Jesus “way back when” and completely miss that He is walking right there with us!  

I once heard a woman in a Bible study say to the group, “How come God doesn’t talk to us like He did in the Bible?”  I found it fascinating that this person has somehow missed the prolific authors who have received urgings and messages from the Holy Spirit.  She somehow has ignored all the testimonials she has heard in church from people who have been miraculously saved.  She somehow missed my own telling, to that very group, of my Jesus vision.

“Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” 

John 4:48

Are you ignoring Jesus’ amazing, constant presence?  Has he walked along with you, sat at your dinner table and you didn’t acknowledge it was Him?  Are you looking for a burning bush outside your door to speak in a Charlton Heston-esque voice to make decisions for you?  I’m not saying that won’t happen but Jesus’ character is a lot more quiet and gentle.  He wants you to have the “ah ha moment” like the men in our story today.  He leads you, tiny step by step to clearing the mud from your eyes and ears.  And if you will only accept the burning bush as “proof” of His presence you will surely miss Him along the path.

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Amazing Grace

At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.

Acts 9:20-22


Apart from the amazing miracles of the Messiah, these verses tell one of the most amazing stories in the Bible. 

Saul of Tarsus was a wretched man. He was the LAST and I mean THE LAST person in Israel who would’ve been saved. The disciples and all Christians feared Saul for he was responsible for murdering and slaughtering anyone who professed belief in Christ. He was infamous amongst the Christians – comparable to terrorists in ISIS today. Saul was the head honcho terrorist to the Christians. 

And then he was saved. 

Whenever I read about the conversion of Saul, I always like to immerse myself in what it truly would’ve looked and felt like to see a man who I so deeply feared, now confessing Jesus as the Messiah. To say I would be amazed would be an understatement. I wouldn’t believe my eyes, in fact, I could see myself rubbing them to make sure I was not dreaming – maybe even pinch myself. To the Christians AND the Jews living in Damascus, they couldn’t believe their eyes either. How could this man go from murderer to disciple in a matter of days? 

The answer? His amazing grace. 

You see, it had to be Saul (Paul). There was no one else so broken, so poisoned by bitterness and revenge who would’ve fallen to their knees any harder than Paul did. God chose the most feared man in Israel as His ambassador to show His people that EVEN Saul, the Christian Killer, could be saved by His amazing grace. Now the housewife, the common man, the prostitute, the tax collector could look upon themselves and consider what the Lord did with Paul and see that EVEN they could be saved by His grace. Again, it had to be Saul. 

Saul the Persecutor

We may not all be murderers or terrorists, but I know many of us look upon ourselves with the same attitude as Paul did. “I was the last person people would’ve thought would be saved.” Maybe you were an outsider in your family, a rebel amongst your friends, or even an enemy of God’s for a time being. The fact is He is still saving Pauls each and every day. He saves people like you and me for the great testimony we have to tell to those who do not believe. He uses the wretched to display his amazing grace. He uses the broken to shine His redeeming light through. That’s pretty amazing. 

Saul the Saved

Because of the sins Paul committed, he carried his salvation with great responsibility. He lived his life after Christ with a great thorn in his side – a thorn I believe (though many have their theories) symbolizes the guilt he feels for all those he was responsible for murdering. Because of this thorn, Paul lived his life like it was not his own. He lived his life for Christ because he knew that it was Christ alone that gave him a second chance at love, joy, peace – eternal life. The fact of the matter is, Jesus did the same for us. Our salvation, while maybe not as dramatic as Paul’s, is the same as Paul’s. We were wretched sinners, in need of a Savior and Jesus gave us that second chance. For that, I pray we all realize that our lives are not our own, but the one who reached down and pulled us out of the sinking sand that was engulfing us. 

Go in that amazing truth today and pray that you find ways to continually lay your life at His feet, just as Paul did. 

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Heart Lessons


Before I became a Christian and even when I was a “baby Christian” I’d hear a lot of phrases from the Bible thrown about by believers and non-believers.  Passages such as “judge not, lest you be judged” (Matt 7:1) and “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13) are frequently taken out of context and misused.  And then there’s the quotes that aren’t even in the Bible such as, “God helps those who help themselves,” “God will never give you more than you can handle,” and “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”  While all those sound good, we must always be careful not to put words in God’s mouth.  Along with all of these I think one of the most misunderstood concepts people have is about being wealthy.  Non-believers will use this against successful Christians.  And believers sometimes think having wealth is a sin.  When Jesus said,

“How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!  Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Luke 18:24

This was in response to asking a wealthy ruler to give up all his power and wealth and come follow Him.  The ruler was very sad because he was very wealthy and he wasn’t all that honest.  It’s necessary to know that no one is saved by giving up all their wealth.  What Jesus was really asking of the ruler was to be honest about what he coveted.  There was much more going on in this story than a man being told to give up his wealth to follow Jesus.  This is why I keep hearing over and over these days to not just read the Bible but to study it.  Take, for instance, this famous poem by William Wadsworth:

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze …

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud

If we were to just read it for what it basically says we would think he was a lonely man who thought he was a cloud.  And when he saw some flowers he thought they were actually dancing.  Sounds like someone on drugs.  But when we study the poem, we find a beautiful short tale about a man who loves nature and finds joy whenever he sees daffodils. Therein lies the need for great Biblical teachers and pastors. 


As we explore the last chapter of James, we find him being very angry with the wealthy members of the church.  Not because they are wealthy, but just like the ruler Jesus admonished, they have turned their wealth into their god.  They have cheated and lied all in the name of increasing their wealth.  How many of us today covet our bank account in lieu of helping those in need?  As an American, even our poorest are considered wealthy in relation to other countries.  Just having a home, a steady job, owning one or two cars, having three meals a day, a closet full of clothes, a tv and more, far and away exceed what others have.  And none of that is wrong.  James condemns the wrong use of riches – using wealth as a weapon rather than a tool to build others up.  I’ve heard so many people over the years actually worry that Jesus will ask them to give up all their money and become a poor missionary.  I say, if that’s truly what you are worried about then be careful, that just might be what God asks you to do!  

How many times have you heard people say they’re worried God will ask them to be another ‘Mother Teresa?”

James doesn’t stop there.  Our lack of patience, our lies (both little and big), our lazy prayer life, and our lack of desire to help our fellow Christians grow and be their best in the eyes of Christ, are all on display this week in James 5.  

If we aren’t careful so much of James can turn into one of those misused verses or phrases.  If we remember two things as we work on the final week of this study let them be this: 1) it is always about what is in our heart that Jesus cares about and 2) thankfully we are given grace each and every time we confess that we have forgotten the first.