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Posts Tagged ‘James 1:22’


Isaiah 36Strategy

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Sennacherib and his troops play a central role in today’s reading; these several sites may have something you will want to know: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/article_index/s/sennacherib,_king_of_assyria.aspx

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/701sennach.html

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/534613/Sennacherib

Sennacherib

Isaiah 36 is the introductory chapter of an appendix inserted into Isaiah’s prophecy (and it parallels the account we can also find in 2 Kings 18).  When we read these verses carefully, we discover that this is more than an historical account.  It is also the story of fear and trust, loss and gain, rebellion against the Lord or obedience to him.  It is the story of failing and successful strategies.

In today’s Noontime, taunts are delivered to those inside the besieged city and if we read beyond this chapter – or if we recall the telling of this story from Kings – we will see that God never abandons the faithful.  We will also see that God has ways of resolving conflict that are far more creative, and far more meaningful, than any solutions we might devise.  Our only task – our only successful strategy – is to trust and follow God.

On what do you base this confidence of yours?  Do you think mere words substitute for might and strategy in war?

The commander ridicules his opponents for thinking that words alone will frighten his troops; he mocks them for their belief in an unseen God.  But he has also miscalculated.  Placing his confidence in military supremacy and acumen, he teases those guarding the city walls.  Perhaps the true reason for his jeering is that he knows that none of his gods can be stirred to help him.  He has conquered whole regions through the strength of his warriors, but perhaps he fears that he cannot conquer these people who believe in the authority of Yahweh and who have been saved so many times by this Living God.  He has heard about the God who saves the Israelites, but he has not personally experienced Yahweh’s awesome power.  Perhaps he cannot fathom a God who serves his people in such a faithful way.  He will soon have a lesson in obedience and trust.

On what do we base this confidence of ours?  Do we think mere words substitute for might and strategy in living?

As followers of Christ we know that words alone do not make us disciples; we must act in Christ and not rely on personal strength or a store of information.  James reminds us that we are to be doers of the word and not sayers only (James 1:22).  Thus, the strategies of the Christian fold into one plan: Love one another as Christ has shown us – do not judge, do not seek revenge, pray for all . . . even our enemies.

The ultimate end of the Israelite story is one all of us know and it teaches us the lesson that reliance on God when in danger is important but that ultimately we cannot succumb to corrupt and easy living.  We must be persistent in maintaining an honest relationship with God.  We must adhere to this new Law of Love rather than multiple empty rules that foster rote worship rather than genuine communion.

On what do we base this confidence of ours?  Do we think mere words substitute for might and strategy in living?

We base our confidence on God.  We substitute nothing for an authentic relationship with God and we publicly display this relationship daily in the way we treat others.  The only strategy we employ . . . is to hone true to God’s plan like a homing bird headed for home.


Image from: http://emp.byui.edu/SATTERFIELDB/Rel302/Sennacherib.htm 

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 5, 2011.

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Titus 1False Teachers

Saturday, February 11, 2017beware_of_false_teachers_png_by_madetobeunique-d30spqt

This reflection was written on February 18, 2010 and is posted today as we reflect of false leaders, teachers, and the alternative facts they present as truth.

Paul is not the only one who warns early church members of false teachings and false teachers.  In Chapter 3 of his letter, James warns us that we must make the distinction between earthly and divine wisdom.  Throughout his letter he cautions us that faith without works is dead.  Words without action are meaningless (1:22).  And we humans are clever at rationalizing our actions, making sense where there is none to be made.  Today, we hear Paul’s words to Titus that he is to silence those who would spread falsehoods, he is to refute counterfeit arguments, he is to witness against the emptiness of any doctrine which does not carry the true message of the new Law of Freedom.

Like James, Paul speculates about what these false teachers may hope to profit for their own sordid gain.   As a minister designated to lead Christ’s flock, Titus is required to speak and act on the deception he hears and sees.  He is asked to call God’s people back to honesty and integrity.

How many of us are willing to do the same if it means we make our family, friends, and colleagues – and ourselves – uncomfortable?  Are we willing to act if we know that our words and actions may cause discomfort?  Are we prepared to give up our worldly wisdom for the divine?  Are we willing to sacrifice our earthly life in order to belong to God?

Both Paul and James remind us often that we are known by the fruit of our labor.  Our deeds either support or deny our claims about ourselves.  As we make our pilgrimage toward Easter, as we investigate what we are willing to change about ourselves, can we see the places in these verses where Paul speaks to us?  As stewards of God’s word, how do we live, how do we play, how do we work, and how do we pray?  Are we sayers of God’s word only as James challenges us to ask?  Or are we doers of the Word as well?  Are we following false teachers or – even worse – are we acting as false teachers?  Or do we seek to full members in the unifying body of Christ?  Do we exhort with sound doctrine to refute opponents?

Paul makes a simple list for us to use as a measuring stick for ourselves.  We may want to spend time with verses 7 through 9 sometime today as we explore God’s call to be . . . hospitable, a lover of goodness, temperate, just, holy, and self-controlled, holding fast to the true message as taught so that one will be able both to exhort with sound doctrine and to refute opponents.

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