Episode #221. Today we’ll read James chapter 4 together: The author warns us that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble and describes the difference between our will and God’s will.
Joy: You’re listening to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Episode #221. Today we’ll read James chapter 4 together: The author warns us that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble and describes the difference between our will and God’s will.
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast. I’m your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me as we simply read God’s word together. Some things require discipline and sometimes that’s just not easy to muster by yourself, no matter how badly you want to do it or how much you know you should. It’s just easier to do it with a friend. So refill your coffee or tea, get comfortable in your favorite chair and follow along as I read aloud. I’m so glad you’re here!
My husband and I grew up in Long Beach in Southern California. It was a nice place to grow up, with many sunny days and sandy beaches and lots of fun things to do. Disneyland was just a 15-minute drive away, and this was when it cost only $3.50 for entrance and a book of ride tickets.
When I was in high school, my friends and I used to go to Disneyland every Friday night to dance. And there were times when the park would be rented out for “Credit Union Night” or “Church Youth Group Night” and there were only a few thousand people in the park. We would run to the front of the line, ride a ride, get off and get right back on it again. It was so much fun.
The last time we went to Disneyland was about 10 years ago. Our extended family was there, about 30 of us. My husband paid for 4 of us to get in for the day, and it cost $500. We were both a little in shock. Since then, I’ve heard stories from friends who have gone there for a few days with their families. …young families! By the time they pay for entrance and food and hotels and souvenirs, they always spend more than Mitch and I do for a week in Maui. It seems…excessive.
Nothing in This World Lasts Forever
I will always treasure the time we spent at Disneyland when we were younger, but those days are gone. Sadly, nothing in this world lasts forever. In this chapter, James compares our lives to a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Much of life is like that, isn’t it? Perhaps that is why it is so precious. I try not to mourn for the days that are gone. Instead, I thank God for the time He has given me, and the memories of the family and friends I love. Thank you, Lord.
James Chapter 4
Proud or Humble
What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from your passions that wage war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and wage war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
You adulterous people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God. Or do you think it’s without reason that the Scripture says: The spirit he made to dwell in us envies intensely?
But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says:
God resists the proud
but gives grace to the humble.
Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Don’t criticize one another, brothers and sisters. Anyone who defames or judges a fellow believer defames and judges the law. If you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
Our Will and God’s Will
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring — what your life will be! For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes.
Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So it is sin to know the good and yet not do it.
As Christians, we are set aside for the Lord’s purposes. The Biblical term for this is “anointed” – that’s your Bible word for the day. We are taught to be “in” the world but not “of” the world. And that is a tall order for some of us! For all its flaws, the world is a very seductive place, full of beauty and wonder and lots of shiny objects. But the Bible tells us that this is a temporary place, a poor imitation of what waits for us in eternity with God.
James points out right away that the source of most of our woes is wanting what we cannot have, because we are proud. We seek after power and money and status and sex with insatiable appetites, a hunger that can never be filled with what the world has to offer. And still we want more.
For a non-Christian, their hope must be placed in this world…after all, for them this all there is and all there ever will be, so get it fast ‘cuz he who dies with the most toys wins!
But we are to humble ourselves before God, to fully recognize how helpless we are before Him, how eternally indebted we are for His mercy and grace, how everything we have we owe to Him and Him alone.
James tells us to “…resist the devil, and he will flee from you…” We cannot do that if our focus is on the world. After all, this is the devil’s playground. But if we draw near to God, he will draw near to us. And with God’s help, everything is possible. Let’s pray.
Lord, our lives really are like a vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes. And the older I get, the easier it is for me to understand this. Help us to set our hopes not on this world but on the world above, an eternity with you, Lord. We don’t know how long we have in this life. I pray that we would approach every day as a precious gift from You, to be spent according to Your will. Amen.
Thank you for joining me here today. I pray God will grow in you what has been planted and watered here. In this time of unprecedented struggle worldwide, we can look to God for guidance and comfort. Be sensitive to those in your circle of influence who need a word of encouragement and invite them to join us. If you like this show, it would be great if you give it a five-star review. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. See you right here tomorrow. Be well!
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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