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).
Being “different” or “being an oddball” does not sound too enticing, does it? Most folks do not want to be identified as odd or different. Yet, that is just what a Christian is supposed to be! In Titus 2:14 we read, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” The word for “peculiar” is a compound word made up of Strong’s numbers G4012 and G1510; meaning being beyond usual, that is, special (one’s own): - peculiar (Strong’s Greek Dictionary). In the Old Testament we read that God’s people are a special people, “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6). Of course, these verses state that the child of God will be different from the world.
God’s people must never be conformed to the mind-set that is of the world. “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). To conform to the things of the world is to lose the “special” identity that we have as children of God. We are told “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world…” (1 John 2:15). Noah lived during a time when “… the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). The difference between Noah and the rest of the world is that “Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). Do you think those around him might have considered him just a little peculiar, an oddball? Most likely they did. As he and his family labored, building the ark, his countrymen must have thought they were different. And he certainly was different because he found “grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8).
The Christian should not seek popularity at the cost of their purity. The older women are to teach the younger to be “…chaste…” (Titus 2:5). “Chaste” means “clean, innocent or modest.” Sometimes our spelling gets mixed up, and we use the word chased instead of chaste. We see many that are dressing and acting in ways that are improper. It is far better to teach and demonstrate modesty to our children while they are young than to try and change their thinking after they mature. The younger men should be taught to be sober minded and godly. Our language should never be laced with profanities like we often hear. Our entertainment ought to be clean and wholesome. Holding to the Bible standard of right and wrong will cause many to think of us as oddballs. Be thankful they can see the difference, “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).
“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.
Micah 6:8 “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
I like to believe that all of us would like to know just what the Lord requires of us. The Old Testament prophet Micha, by inspiration, gives an answer to this most important question.
God requires more than action (Micah 6:6-7). Proper sacrifices are not measured in quantity alone. Our sacrifices for the Lord must come from the heart. External action without the involvement of the inward man is not what God requires. Our Lord said, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8). Samuel rebuked King Saul, “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22). We can “go through the motions” of worship, yet it will not please God unless it is done with the proper attitude. Jesus said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). God requires that a proper attitude be coupled with proper actions.
God requires that men do justly (Micah 6:8). To do justly is to act in an appropriate way. To always do that which is right in the sight of God. God requires that we treat all men in a godly manner never mistreating any man. The apostle Paul emphasized this attitude in 1 Thessalonians 2:10, “Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe.”
God requires that we love mercy (Micah 6:8). Notice the passage requires that we not simply SHOW mercy, but we are to LOVE mercy. The idea is that when motivated by love mercy will be genuine and meaningful. When we demonstrate Biblical mercy, we can expect to receive mercy (James 2:13).
God desires that we walk with Him (Micah 6:8). To walk humbly with God means that we recognize His authority and are willing to submit to Him. Walking with God is a difficult task for many in today’s world. Great men of faith have “walked with God.” Enoch walked with God (Genesis 5:24) because he pleased God. The way to Heaven is attained when we walk with God.
God requires obedience with the proper attitude.
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