God has revealed Himself in so many ways. It is truly sad that men often overlook or take for granted this beautiful revelation. He is revealed in His created universe, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” (Psalm 19:1; Psalm 97:6). Add to that; He has clearly revealed Himself in His word, the revelation given by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). This revelation when studied and applied will produce faith in men (Hebrews 11:1-3; Romans 10:17). Thus, we can know who God is and what He expects from His creation. John, by inspiration, stated that eternal life and knowing God are joined together (1 John 5:13). James gives an insight into the character of God. To recognize and honor these attributes demonstrates our respect for Him. In James 1:12-17 we see at least three things that all men need to realize.
1. GOD IS A GIVER (James 1:17, also vs. 5).
The literal translation of verse 5 is, “let man ask of a giving God.” This would contrast the true and living God with the “dead gods” which could give nothing! God’s nature is to be loving, giving and forgiving. He gave Christ for our salvation (John 3:16), the gospel which reveals His plan of salvation (Romans 1:16), the peace which “passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), and the hope which is sure and steadfast (Colossians 1:5, 23, 27). Truly God has “given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).
2. GOD IS UNCHANGING (James 1:17).
Man needs security and stability for successful living. It is comforting to know that God is unchanging. His love for us does not change (Romans 8:38-39), His justice does not change (Romans 2:1, 11), and His demands upon mankind are unchanging. He has always required that men believe in Him (Hebrews 11:6ff), and that they obey all of His commandments (Hebrews 10:26-31 and Hebrews 11). This unchanging nature helps us to know of our relationship with Him.
3. GOD CREATED MAN FOR HIS PURPOSE (James 1:17).
Man’s whole duty is summarized in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Man’s purpose is to keep His commandments. It may not be popular, but it nevertheless is God’s purpose for us. We are told to “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
“Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name” (Psalm 86:11).
He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” Matthew 10:37.
The Bible clearly tells us that because of Biblical truth families may be divided. The Bible also tells us that when it comes to spiritual truth or following our families and friends, we must be careful which we choose. Have we forgotten about the numerous commands about putting God first? This includes putting God before our families and friends. There are congregations today who have people that know what the truth is, and that it is not being taught where they are attending. Congregations have members who know that they will gain no spiritual knowledge if they continue where they are currently attending. If you are one of these people, I ask you: Why are you there? If the truth is not taught we must go, for the sake of our eternal souls, to where the truth IS taught!
What did Christ say in Matthew 10:37? “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.” So what is Christ saying? We do not need some deep theological explanation to explain the verse to us. Christ is saying if you put anyone before Him, even family members and friends then you are “not worthy of Me.” Many of us may have family members who do not realize that the Bible is not being taught where they attend. Does this mean we should stay there so that we do not hurt their feelings? Of course not! While we do not intend to hurt people’s feelings we must do what is right. If someone becomes upset with us because we have left a certain congregation what do we do? We wish they weren’t upset but do we sacrifice or should we sacrifice Biblical truth in order to please them? How far will we go to please our own family members? Will we even go so far as to deny what the Bible teaches so long as we do not upset our loved ones? If we will go that far then we truly are “not worthy” of Christ!
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). Jesus commanded that men follow Him (Matthew 4:19; 8:22; 9:9; Mark 10:21; John 1:43; 21:22; 12:26). Clearly, He is to be our example in all that we say and do..
It is amazing and inspiring to study His life and observe how He handled the temptations, trials and problems of life. He was victorious over every obstacle He had to face. We should be happy to follow in the steps of our Master.
When we follow Him, the steps lead us through the waters of baptism. Many today claim to follow Jesus but they mock and ridicule the idea of baptism. This is inconsistent, for Jesus saw the necessity of it. Though He had no sins, He could not “fulfill all righteousness” without baptism (Matthew 3:13-15). If we truly follow Jesus, His steps they will lead us to baptism. He not only practiced it, He commanded that it be done (Mark 16:16). Will you follow Jesus or men? Our place in eternity depends upon how we answer that question.
As we follow Jesus, His steps lead us to Gethsemane. There will be trials and tribulations for those who follow Him. The way to heaven has its Gethsemane’s and we will be wounded along the way, but He who was wounded for us has promised a wonderful blessing for our every hurt (Revelation 2:10).
If Jesus' steps had ended at the cross, think of the hopelessness that would come upon mankind. Thank God, such is not the case! We can rejoice as we read of His triumph over death and the grave, and follow His steps as they lead into the portals of glory (Acts 1:9-10). This is one of the greatest motivating powers for our following Him down the stony path of life. We can anticipate the end of our road. Christ gave Martha the assuring concerning the resurrection, “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).
Jesus said, "... I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12). WE MUST FOLLOW JESUS no matter what the cost might be.
The steps of Jesus will also lead us to the worship assembly. Even as a boy, He went into the synagogue. Later He went to the place of worship and stood up to read the law (Luke 4:16). We are not following His steps if we forsake public worship. God understood the value of assembling together and commanded, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
Christ is the only way to heaven. If we follow Satan, we will be led into sin, defeat, and finally into torment (Revelation 20:10). If we follow men, we will be lifted no higher than humans can reach. Following Jesus is the only sure way (1 Corinthians 11:1). We cannot follow Jesus and forsake the worship assembly.
Following Jesus will lead us to the throne of God.
We often speak of what one must do to be saved. However, we often forget what we must do to remain saved. The Bible teaches that we can fall from grace and be eternally lost (Galatians 5:4; Revelation 2:5). Satan desires that we become unfaithful and step away from God (1 Peter 5:8; Luke 22:31). How can we avoid falling prey to Satan’s desire for us?
STUDY the Bible daily. The Psalmist tells us just how beneficial God’s word is in our daily lives. Psalm 119 lists several things that Bible study can do. 1. It can cleanse (vs. 9), quicken (vs. 25), strengthen (vs. 28), confirm and strengthen (vs. 38), comfort (vs. 50), instruct (vs. 98-99), give light (vs. 105), give hope (vs. 114) give peace (vs. 165), and deliver (vs. 170). It can deliver us from sin (vs. 11), give you understanding (vs. 169), and be your meditation all the day long (vs. 97).
To maintain our faithfulness we must study that which instructs us in the way of faithfulness. Paul told Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). We notice the passage does not say to simply READ the scripture, but to study (give diligence). Jesus overcame temptations by knowing scripture (Matthew 4:1-11).
PRAY regularly. Very often people only pray when in distress or in times of trouble. Prayer ought to be an important and ever present part of our daily lives. The Bible has much to say about our prayer life. Paul encouraged the Thessalonian brethren to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The apostle exhorted the brethren to make prayer a constant companion. We are to enjoy the privilege of prayer in the closet, with our families, in public settings as well as in the worship assembly of the saints.
Prayer keeps us in touch with our Father. Our prayer life represents our close association with God. Through prayer we thank Him for our blessings and humbly make our requests to Him (Philippians 4:6). A regular prayer life can help keep us faithful.
Sincerely DESIRE to go to heaven. The greatest desire we should have is that of going to heaven. Salvation must be the burning desire of our hearts. We are to set our affections on things above (Colossians 3:2). When we set our minds on heaven faithfulness will be our daily companion.
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