26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. — James 1:26-27 NIV
In the days that James lived and penned this book through the leadership of the Holy Spirit, people were weighed down with ritualistic religions. They were bound by rules that said “you must do this”and “you must not do that”, particularly, in the areas of eating and drinking. Those that did a decent job of following the rules considered themselves to be “religious”. They attended the services at the temples or synagogues and prayed at the right times, etc. Much like today, when we go to church on Sunday morning for a couple of hours and mumble a few (if any) prayers or spend anytime reading the Holy Scriptures during the week. We seem to feel that if we do those things, we are fulfilling our duties as Christians. We can spend the other 166 hours of the week doing whatever we please. We can gossip, criticize and say and do all kinds of things. We Christians would never steal, kill or destroy, we don’t commit the “big” sins. But the two areas in which we do fall short are in our speech and in our “not doing”. Jesus gave us a solemn warning about the things we say:
10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” — Matt. 15:10-11
We must take this warning seriously and be very careful of what we say. There are also many verses about how we should treat others. Jesus says that if we see a brother or sister in need and take care of that need for them, it is the same as doing it for Him. If we don’t take care of that need, it is the same as refusing to do it for Him. Helping others is how we show them the love of Jesus Christ. It is these actions that will draw others to Jesus.
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. — 1 John 3:16-17
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
I wish I had never said that! Sound familiar? Unfortunately, our spoken words are like our texts and our emails, once we have hit the send button, we can’t get them back. Words can pierce us to depths of our heart and the wounds are slow to heal, if they heal at all. In the carpenter trade (which Jesus was very familiar with), they have a saying” “measure twice, cut once”. Of course, the implication is that if you take the time to measure correctly, you want have to cut the lumber again. That would be a good rule for us to follow in our conversations. Think twice about what we are about to say before we say it and maybe no one will get cut to the bone. We should choose words that build up and create rather than destroy. We need to show our faithfulness to Jesus by caring for those around us that need our help. Not just physically and materially, but also spiritually. We need to walk carefully so that we are not corrupted.
30 There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. — Romans 3:30 NLT Romans 3:23-31 NLT “There is only one God”, the great “I AM that I AM”, Yahweh. Yahweh is the third person form of the Hebrew root word, haya. It actually could be translated as “I am present with you”. God has been with us in one way or another ever since He created us. No religion can make that claim about the god they serve regardless of what name they call their deity. We come to know our God through Jesus Christ. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said there is only one way to the Father and that was through Him. Jesus also said that to know Him was to know the Father as well. John 14:6, 7 NLT The Holy Spirit calls all of us regardless of what we may call ourselves here on earth. He calls us to come to Jesus, accept Jesus and become one of the family of God. Once we have done this, the Holy Spirit abides within us. Though we sometimes may feel lonely because of a lack of being with those we love, we can never truly be alone again. We are a new creation, we have a new family and we have a new friend who is with us constantly. This new friend is unique in many ways. He is really three friends in one. He is our Father, our Brother and our constant Companion. If we allow Him to do so, He can fill every void in our heart.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Let’s be sure to always remember that salvation is a free gift from God. There are no “good deeds” that will save you. It is not that we believe there is one God that saves us. Every religion has their own god, but none of them have Jesus Christ or any one else that gave their life for their redemption. James is saying that faith alone might be enough to scare a person or a demon(demons tremble) but it won’t save you. Abraham lived a long time before Jesus died and was resurrected, so he didn’t have the choice we have today. Therefore, God in His great mercy counted his actions as righteous. Abraham and the others from the Old Testament did not receive everything God had planned for them at that time. Their total salvation and perfection had to wait until Jesus was resurrected and we all join Him in heaven and we will receive our rewards at the same time. There, we will be totally saved and we will worship Jesus forever.
We live in a society that could very easily be described by these verses. People follow their own desires and look for religions and worship centers that confirm their way of life. They do not want to be accountable to anyone. That is why the Name of Jesus upsets them. They don’t want to hear about relationships because having a relationship with someone requires us to know them and be accountable to them. So, the world rejects truth and chases after all the “feel good” religions that pop up. But we are to be clear about our beliefs and stand fast on the Word of God, never wavering. Yes, we will criticized and despised by the world. So was Jesus and He said we (the created) could expect the same treatment that He (the Creator) received. Nevertheless. we are to be “steadfast and immovable” in our faithfulness to Jesus Christ.
If you have been keeping an eye on the Middle East, you can see that God’s clock is ticking down the minutes until Jesus returns. All over the world and especially here in our great country, we can see the signs of the “last times”. We hear people more and more saying that there is no God, scoffing at Biblical principles and the words spoken by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Atheists are becoming more outspoken and militant with their comments. When people say there is no God, what they are really saying is they don’t accept the truth of the God of the Bible. Their pride is saying “I will not accept any god that I have to be accountable to. Everyone has a “god”, someone or something that they are devoted to, even if it is their self. False prophets will rise up with such convincing truths that even the most devout Christian can be deceived unless we are “rooted and grounded” in the truths of the Bible. We must spend more time with our God. If you are having trouble finding answers, do not dig a wider hole or forsake your first Love, just dig deeper into the Holy Scriptures and meditate on them. The answer is there and God is waiting to reveal it to you.
There is only one Creator who would create a creature knowing that it would require His death to redeem that creation. What kind of Creator has that much love for His creation? God, and God alone, because He alone is complete, pure love. God, as the man Jesus did not die for some bogus religion of the world. He died to renew the relationship that He had with man in the Garden of Eden. We call that relationship, Christianity. There is no comparison of Christianity to any religion in the world. Christianity is eternal because it is based on Jesus Christ, who died and was resurrected for our sins. He knew from before the foundations of the earth that He would have to do that. Sin took away that relationship and introduced all kinds of false hopes, which the world calls “religions”. All those religions are named after and founded on the teachings of dead men. But, praise God, Christianity is named after and based on the teachings of a LIVING GOD and SAVIOR! One who longs to talk to You and show You His love in the tiniest details of Your Life.
If, up until now, you have only experienced “religion”, it is time for you to get into a “relationship” with the One and Only Living God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is standing at your heart’s door and knocking. Open up to the most beautiful and meaningful relationship you will ever know.
In this passage of Scripture, we find the reason that Christianity is different from all religions and philosophies of life. Every religion had a leader that lived and died. Most have books of the good works and good lives they lived here on earth. Some of the leaders claim to have had great visions and were given new scriptures to write. Some believe in life beyond the grave, some don’t. But Christianity is the only one that claims to have a risen Savior who is still alive today. That claim is the difference maker setting Christianity alone as the only one where we can have a daily relationship with our leader, our God, our Lord and our risen Savior. Christianity is the only belief system that allows you to be able to talk with the Author any time you want to. Though Jesus Himself never physically wrote any of the books of the Bible, He is the Spirit that breathed every word into existence. We must be kind and show love to those of other faiths and belief systems. But when it comes to the bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, we stand alone and we must stand firm at all times in all situations.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. —– 1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV
We should spend as much time as possible each day praying and praising God for all that He has done and is doing for us. We should make every effort to start and end our day with a conversation with God. That prayer will lead us to praise and we will find that our days go so much better. We, of all people, should be filled with praise and joy all day long. We are the only ones with a hope of eternal life with a living Savior and Lord. We have received this hope as a gift from God that was purchased with the death and resurrection of His Son. Through the blood of Christ, we have become sons and daughters of God and we have an eternal inheritance that “can never perish, spoil or fade”. No religion on this earth can make such an offer, a gift that is available to everyone but only received by those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are kept and shielded by God’s power. That resurrection power will keep us until our “the coming of the salvation ready to be revealed in the last time”. Until that comes for each of us, we should practice the three Rs of Christianity:
Remember all the good things that God has done and is doing for us.
Rest in His everlasting arms that will never fail to catch us.
Rejoice because you are filled with the Holy Spirit and have eternal life.
If this doesn’ t fill our hearts with joy and our mouths with praise, perhaps we need to re-examine our relationship with Jesus.
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. — Titus 2:11-14 NIV
We who have accepted Jesus are saved by grace through faith. That offer is made available to everyone. Once we accept the gift of salvation, there will be a change in the desires of our hearts. Worldly, material things will mean less and less to us as we allow the Holy Spirit to change us. There will be things that we used to do, that will no longer hold any attraction for us. Whereas, before the flesh was in control and we followed after the things of the flesh, now, the Spirit is in control and we follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit. We now want to live a lifestyle that is upright and Godly. If we have truly repented and turned from our sins, we will now focus on Jesus and use His lifestyle as an example for us to follow. As Christians, we have a living God and Savior, a claim that no religion can make. We have a high Priest who became flesh and has endured the same temptations that we endure. Our hope, the hope of an eternity with Jesus, cannot be offered by any religion. God, as Jesus, gave Himself to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify us. This purification process starts after we accept Him and continues as long as we are in the flesh. We are being changed from “me first” creatures to “Jesus first, others second and us last” images of the living God. The death and resurrection of Jesus fulfilled the law and brought the dispensation of grace. There are those who will choose not to believe, but others will believe and turn to the Lord, It is God’s desire that everyone should be saved and transformed into His image.
15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. — 2 Cor. 3:15-18 NIV