“Acting The Fool” (James 1: 5, ESV) by Carley Evans

If you are uncertain in a circumstance, if you feel perhaps you are acting the fool; then ask God for wisdom. As you ask God for wisdom, believe He gives this wonderful gift to you “without reproach.”

If you ask with a lack of faith, you know you are “double-minded, unstable in all [your] ways.” (James 1: 8) You are not likely to receive the wisdom you think you seek, for you actually are not seeking God’s wisdom but your own.

If you are “a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind,” (James 1: 6) then you are liable to believe false prophets, wayward friends, evil alliances, and your own self-will over and above God’s wisdom to which you are not attune.

Harden not your heart, but listen:

“Wisdom cries out in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: ‘How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.” (Proverbs 1: 20 – 23)

“Like A Refiner’s Fire” (James 1: 2 – 3, ESV) by Carley Evans

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness,” writes James “to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion.” James further writes that the full effect of steadfastness is perfection, so that we are “lacking in nothing.” (James 1: 4)

God is “like a refiner’s fire and like fuller’s soap. He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He purifies the sons of Levi and refines them like gold and silver, and they bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.” (Malachi 3: 2 – 3)

Trials are common to humankind; not one of us escapes them. The son of David writes,”Whether it is love or hate, man does not know; both are before him. It is the same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, both to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and to him who does not sacrifice. As the good one is, so is the sinner, and he who swears is as he who shuns an oath. This is an evil in all the is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all.” (Ecclesiastes 9: 1 – 3)

Very few are able to count trials as joy. But Christians “know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom [God] foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” (Romans 8: 28 – 29) If we are to be “conformed to the image of [God’s] Son,” then we must be refined. The process of refinement is often painful as the dross of our daily lives is burnt off, melted away through adversity. Adversity makes as stronger, if we submit to it and learn from it. “In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other.” (Ecclesiastes 7: 14)

The manner in which we respond to the days of adversity is key — if we trust that God is at work in us for His good pleasure, to perfect us; then we are able to count those times of suffering as joy.

“A Way Out” (1 Corinthians 10: 13, ESV) by Carley Evans

We are without excuse. When we sin, we miss — by ignoring or outright refusing — the way out provided by God. We are not able to say, when we are tempted, that it is God. Rather, “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1: 14 – 15)

When tempted by desire, we ought to expect the way out we know is provided by our loving Father. As we anticipate our desire, we also should anticipate the sin blossoming within it, and ready ourselves for the path of escape.

I don’t think God means for the way of escape to be difficult to find. God also does “not let [us] be tempted beyond [our] ability.”

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4: 15 – 16)

“True Religion” (Isaiah 1: 16 – 17, ESV) by Carley Evans

“Your hands are full of blood,” declares the Lord. (Isaiah 1: 15) He does not look; He does not listen. He says, “My soul hates” your solemn assembly, vain offerings, Sabbaths, convocations, and appointed feasts. (Isaiah 1: 13, 14) He finds each to be “a burden.” He is “weary of bearing them.” (Isaiah 1: 14)

Can you imagine God not listening, not looking at your “solemn assembly” in which you sing songs, preach sermons, baptize new believers, have altar calls, light candles, share pot lucks, pray prayers?

Can you see His back as He turns from you and your “vain offerings?”

God commands, “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before My eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good.”

Can you make yourself clean? Can you learn to do good? Can you cease to do evil?

God offers a solution, “Come now, let us reason together; though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword.” (Isaiah 1: 18 – 20)

“Seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” (Isaiah 1: 17)

True religion, “that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1: 27)