Yes, Examine Yourself

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves… 2 Corinthians 13:5

According to seventeenth-century British clergyman Joseph Hall, there are three reasons we aren’t as thankful as we should be: envy, pride, and covetousness. Envy, said Hall, is looking more at someone else’s blessings than at our own. Pride is looking more at ourselves than at our blessings. And covetousness is looking more at what we wish we had than at what we actually have.1

When church members, coworkers, schoolmates, or family members become jealous of each other, it eats away at the foundation of a loving relationship. This spirit can only be replaced when we recognize it for what it is—the sin of coveting. We want something possessed by another person—time, money, popularity, success, or whatever it is.

When it exists, covetous jealousy is a sin to be confessed. Loving compassion is an attitude to be embraced. As we examine ourselves, we recognize where sin exists. Only then can we confess it and replace it with a thankful heart.

The cure for the sin of envy and jealousy is to find our contentment in God. Jerry Bridges

You Can Overcome Distractions

Nehemiah 6:15-16

As we saw yesterday, distractions have potential to get us off track. Gossip. Criticism. Financial pressure. Poor health. Conflict. Desires. Praise from others. Any of these can cause us to turn away from God’s perfect plan. But Scripture gives us a role model to emulate (Neh. 4:1-23, Neh. 5:1-19, Neh. 6:1-16). Nehemiah shows us the value of:

Single-mindedness. Nehemiah feared the Lord and conscientiously applied himself to His work. He didn’t have a divided mind. By setting our attention solely on God’s plan, our minds will stay fixed, regardless of the difficulties.

Obedience. The Lord wants to show us His favor; His blessing is always upon us when we are obedient to Him. This knowledge should bring us confidence in hard times, just as it did for Nehemiah.

Accountability. The king wanted progress reports on what Nehemiah was accomplishing. One day we will stand before Jesus, our King, and give an account for how we used our resources and gifts (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

Consistency in our prayer life. When the Israelites were ridiculed, they were helpless to stop their opponents’ taunts. So Nehemiah prayed, and the people received strength to continue. As the plotting worsened, Nehemiah and his fellow workers cried out to God, who not only provided His people with discernment but also frustrated the enemies’ plans.

Nehemiah completed the ambitious project in just 52 days. When we follow his example, God can accomplish great things in and through us. Which of the above points from Nehemiah’s life can help you overcome whatever is distracting you?

The Measure of Better

“Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.” (Proverbs 15:16-17)

There are many such comparisons as those in our text that have been incorporated in the book of Proverbs. We tend to think in financial terms, but the true measure of “worth” has nothing to do with money. In fact, one could almost develop an inverse law to the effect that the more money one has, the less happiness and contentment he enjoys. Note the frequency of such “equations” in Proverbs.

“Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right” (16:8). “Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife” (17:1). “Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud” (16:19). “Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich” (28:6).

That which is better, therefore, is to be found “with the fear of the LORD,” “where love is,” “with righteousness,” and “quietness therewith.” It is better when one is “of an humble spirit,” who “walketh in his uprightness.”

This is a lesson that the many affluent Christian men and women of our prosperous nation urgently need to learn today. Note Paul’s counsel to young Timothy. Speaking of men who are “destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness,” he warns, “From such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:5-6). Then comes a very sobering commentary: “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, . . . and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:9-10). HMM

I am the Lord, I do not change

Job 23:1-17

Our space will not allow us to give much of this wonderful book of Job, but the following is an instance of the patriarch’s expressions of distress.

Job 23:1-2

Most men cry before they are hurt, or more than they are hurt; but such was not Job’s case: he had good reason for every groan, and when he groaned most he fell short of expressing what he felt within.

Job 23:3

Even at his worst estate the good man knows his true refuge. When sinners turn from God in anger the saints fly to him with hope. Yet sometimes the Lord is a God that hideth himself. In this he has wise ends to answer, and he will continue it no longer than is absolutely needful.

Job 23:5

Job wished to have the question, which his three friends had raised, fairly tried in the highest court. He felt that he could with freedom plead with so righteous a judge. It is only the pure heart which can court such an investigation. He who knows that he is clear through Jesus blood is not afraid to appear in the courts of heaven.

Job 23:6

Innocence fears not power, but like Una rides on the lion. The Lord never crushes a man because he is down, but rather he delight’s to lift up the prostrate.

Job 23:10

He comforts himself with the assurance that if he could not find the Lord, and speak in his own defence, yet the case was already known to him, and would in due time be decided in his favour. How blessedly his faith held its anchorage though the storm raged terribly.

Job 23:12

Again in answer to the accusations of his three unfriendly friends, he protests his innocence of their charges, and scouts the idea that he is suffering for some secret apostacy.

Job 23:14

He accounts for his trials by considering the immutable and inscrutable decrees of God, and suggests that many more troubles might yet befall him, for which he might be unable to find a reason.

Job 23:15

Great suffering could not kill his faith, but it damped his joy. He had also come to think of an absolute God doing as he willed, and it is no wonder that he trembled at the contemplation. Only when we see Jesus do we see that God is love.

Job 23:17

He wished that by an early death he had escaped suffering, but all such wishes are vain. We cannot go back: let us therefore by faith press onward.


God is a King of power unknown;

Firm are the orders of his throne;

If he resolves, who dare oppose,

Or ask him why, or what he does?


He wounds the heart, and he makes whole;

He calms the tempest of the soul;

He rescues souls from long despair,

And snaps in twain the iron bar.


A Guaranteed Way To Infuriate the Holy Spirit!

James 4:5

I know you want to please the Spirit of God with your life, so today I want to tell you about something that is guaranteed not to please Him. By knowing this, you can avoid grieving Him and can concentrate your attention on doing those things that are sure to bring Him pleasure.

James 4:5 says, “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, the spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” I want to draw your attention to the word “envy” in this verse. But first I want to back up and speak to you about the “lust” that the Holy Spirit feels for you and me.

I noted in the February 14 Sparkling Gem that the word “lust” is the Greek word epipotheo, a word that portrays an intense desire; a craving; a hunger; an ache; a yearning for something; a longing or pining for something. Usually this word is used to indicate an intense yearning for something that is morally wrong and sinful. But in James 4:5, this Greek word describes the intense yearning that the Holy Spirit possesses to have us entirely for Himself. Because the word epipotheo is used to depict the Spirit’s longing to have us, it expresses the deep love and affection that the Spirit of God has for every believer.

However, James goes on to tell us that in addition to this intense yearning for us, the Holy Spirit also experiences “envy” regarding you and me. The word “envy” in James 4:5 is the Greek word phthnos, a word that describes a person who is jealous about something; a person who feels rivalry or envy; or a person who holds a grudge because of someone else’s behavior. It also carries the idea of ill will and malice.

This word phthnos is the very word that would have been used to illustrate the emotions a young man experiences when he discovers his spouse is being romantically pursued by someone else. Because James uses this word to depict the Holy Spirit, we need to stop and think about what it means for a few moments.

Anger, resentment, rage, envy, jealousy— these are the emotions a man feels in such a situation. He takes this threat to his marital relationship very personally and holds a grudge against the pursuer. Every time the husband thinks about what that romantic bandit is trying to do, feelings of malice and ill will toward the violator rise up in his soul.

Even more significantly, a man who really loves his wife is not going to sit by and watch his wife be stolen! The envy and jealousy he feels will move him to action— to do everything in his power to win back his wife and permanently eliminate his competitor.

Because the husband is envious, he does all he can to see his relationship with his wife restored. All of these ideas are conveyed by the Greek word phthnos used in James 4:5 when the Bible tells us about the “envy” of the Holy Spirit.


One scholar says the picture contained in the Greek word phthnos could be understood this way:

“The Spirit takes it very personally when we share our lives with the world. He wants us so entirely for Himself that if the world tries to take us away, it infuriates Him. You need to know that in these cases, the Holy Spirit will not idly sit by and watch it happen. He’ll do something to change the situation!”

Not only does it infuriate the Holy Spirit when believers turn their devotion to the world, but it drives Him to intense jealousy. At this point, He will release His full rage against that unholy relationship, moving on the scene like a Divine Lover who has come to defend and rescue the relationship He holds so dear. This is something you can be sure of: If you commit more of your heart, soul, and attention to worldly things than you give to the Spirit of God, He will not take it lightly.

Never forget that the Holy Spirit is a Divine Lover. He is preoccupied with you. He wants to possess you totally, and He desires that your affection be set wholly on Him. That’s why the Holy Spirit feels like a lover who has been robbed if you walk and talk like an unbeliever or give your life to the things of this world. He jealously desires His relationship with you to be restored. He has divine malice toward the worldliness that has usurped His role in your life.

The Holy Spirit is not a passive Partner. He aggressively and actively pursues you. He fiercely wants more of you. When you give part of yourself to something or someone else’s control, the Holy Spirit wants to seize that part of your life and bring it back under His divine control. He even has malice toward your preoccupation with things in this natural realm.

So make your relationship with the Holy Spirit your top priority. Don’t give Him a reason to feel betrayed by or envious of other things in your life that have taken His place. Get to know the Holy Spirit’s voice in your spirit so He can help you set your life in order. Make sure every area of your life is under His loving control!


Lord, if I ever turn my devotion to the world, please move on the scene like a Divine Lover who has come to defend and rescue that relationship You hold so dear. Help me never to forget that You are preoccupied with me and want to possess me totally. I know that You want my desires and affection to be set on You, so if I begin to walk and talk like an unbeliever and give my life to the things of this world, please nudge me and bring conviction to my heart to change. And if I refuse to listen, I ask You to please move with divine malice toward those things that have usurped Your role in my life.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!


I confess that I respect the Holy Spirit’s Presence in my life; therefore, I am careful in the way I think, the way I speak, and the way I connect with the world around me. I do not grieve the Spirit of God by allowing worldliness to become a part of my life. He fiercely wants more of me, and I want more of Him. The Holy Spirit is the top priority in my life, and I never do anything that would make Him feel wounded, grieved, or envious. I live a life that pleases Him!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!


  1. Is your relationship with the Holy Spirit the top priority in your life?
  2. Have you allowed anything in your life to usurp the position that only the Holy Spirit should have?
  3. Why not take inventory of your “love life” today, asking the Holy Spirit to show you areas in your life where you have allowed your affection to be diverted from Him to other things?


Seven Laws Of Business Success

1. Always put God first in your life and business.


No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:24, 33)


2. Get to know God’s Word and apply it to your life and business.


The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyesThe ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” (Psalm 19:7-11)


3. Expect big things from a big God.


Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20)


4. Place more value in people than in products.


Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (Colossians 3:23)


5. Give God the first pick of your profits.


Honor the Lord from your wealth, and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.” (Proverbs 3:9, 10)


6. Be committed to honesty and integrity.


The Lord demands fairness in every business.” (Proverbs 16:11 tlb)


7. Be diligent in your pursuit of business success.


Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.” (Proverbs 10:4)