But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment. James 5:12
One of the reasons parents give children a weekly allowance of money is to teach them financial stewardship. Save some, share some, spend some—and set aside some for the Lord’s work. There is an easy way to accomplish that last responsibility—by setting aside money for God. It’s called tithing.
The principle is this: The tithe belongs to the Lord (Leviticus 27:30). The easiest way to make sure we remain faithful to give the Lord His tithe is to build our personal or family budget around ninety percent of our income instead of one hundred percent. If ten percent of what we earn belongs to God, then we build our own savings and expenditures based on ninety percent of our income. That takes the decision-making out of the process. Setting aside God’s tithe first every month means our budgeting doesn’t include decisions about what is His.
Tithing to God is a step of obedience in the Christian life. And like all steps of obedience, God will bless our faithfulness to Him.
God demands the tithe, deserves the offerings, defends the savings, and directs the expenses. Stephen Olford
Lie Not – James 5:12 – In Depth – Pastor Chuck Smith – Bible Studies
You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19
“In moments where tragedy happens or even hurt, there are opportunities to demonstrate grace or to exact vengeance,” the recently bereaved man remarked. “I chose to demonstrate grace.” Pastor Erik Fitzgerald’s wife had been killed in a car accident caused by an exhausted firefighter who fell asleep while driving home, and legal prosecutors wanted to know whether he would seek the maximum sentence. The pastor chose to practice the forgiveness he often preached about. To the surprise of both him and the firefighter, the men eventually became friends.
Pastor Erik was living out of the grace he’d received from God, who’d forgiven him all of his sins. Through his actions he echoed the words of the prophet Micah, who praised God for pardoning sin and forgiving when we do wrong (Micah 7:18). The prophet uses wonderfully visual language to show just how far God goes in forgiving His people, saying that He will “tread our sins underfoot” and hurl our wrongdoings into the deep sea (v. 19). The firefighter received a gift of freedom that day, which brought him closer to God.
Whatever difficulty we face, we know that God reaches out to us with loving, open arms, welcoming us into His safe embrace. He “delights to show mercy” (v. 18). As we receive His love and grace, He gives us the strength to forgive those who hurt us—even as Pastor Erik did.
Reflect & Pray
How do you respond to this story of amazing forgiveness? Can you think of someone you need to forgive? If so, ask God to help you.
Father God, You love us without ceasing, and You delight to forgive us when we return to You. Envelop us with Your love, that we might demonstrate grace to those who hurt us.
Yesterday we read how praying in Jesus’ name affirms our relationship with Christ and our direct access to the Father. It also declares our …
Authority to Petition God. Christ sits at the right hand of God, where He intercedes for us (Heb. 7:25). He says to ask for what we need and gives us authority to enter the throne room at any time and speak with the Father. Everyone who trusts in the Savior has the right to use Jesus’ name.
Agreement With God’s Purposes. In the Savior’s name, we can make requests to the Father, but we must agree with His purposes. This means aligning our prayers with His character and will, and making His work the priority—not ours. We can learn to pray in accordance with God’s plan by abiding in His Word and letting it influence our thoughts.
Assurance of an Answer. “In Jesus’ name”is also a phrase of confidence. It shows we believe that our prayers will be heard and answered.
In Jesus’ name. These three words powerfully touch the Father’s heart. Using them is a mighty prerogative we have as children of God. Let’s exercise this privilege well.
“For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” (Romans 12:4-5)
All too frequently in today’s Christian circles, we place certain individuals and certain gifts on a pedestal, and all too often the resulting pride is devastating. Pride may be the favorite tool of Satan. Pride was the reason Satan rebelled and lost his exalted position (Isaiah 14:13-14). He appealed to Eve’s pride in the garden (Genesis 3:6), similarly tempted Christ in the wilderness (Luke 4:6), and uses it on us today. Be warned! “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6): “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
Paul, through the Holy Spirit, chose to introduce his teaching on the use of spiritual gifts and unity of the entire body with a warning against pride, admonishing “every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3). His discussion on the many-membered body that follows leaves no room for pride. Nor does the parallel passage in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.
The apostle points out that each Christian forms an equally essential part of the whole. Since we are all equal in God’s eyes, and all mutually dependent upon one another, what room is there for pride? Likewise, Paul points out that each Christian possesses an equally vital connection with Christ. Who are we to tell Christ a part of His body is less valuable than the rest? He is concerned for each one equally. “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). JDM
The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation.
—2 Samuel 22:47
God, be Thou exalted over my possessions. Nothing of earth’s treasures shall seem dear unto me if only Thou art glorified in my life. Be Thou exalted over my friendships. I am determined that Thou shalt be above all, though I must stand deserted and alone in the midst of the earth. Be Thou exalted above my comforts. Though it mean the loss of bodily comforts and the carrying of heavy crosses, I shall keep my vow made this day before Thee. Be Thou exalted over my reputation. Make me ambitious to please Thee even if as a result I must sink into obscurity and my name be forgotten as a dream. Rise, O Lord, into Thy proper place of honor, above my ambitions, above my likes and dislikes, above my family, my health and even my life itself. Let me sink that Thou mayest rise above. Ride forth upon me as Thou didst ride into Jerusalem mounted upon the humble little beast, a colt, the foal of an ass, and let me hear the children cry to Thee, “Hosanna in the highest.” POG101-102
Be Thou exalted in my life. Amen.
For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge.
God may allow His servant to succeed when He has disciplined him to a point where he does not need to succeed to be happy. The man who is elated by success and cast down by failure is still a carnal man. At best his fruit will have a worm in it.
God will allow His servant to succeed when he has learned that success does not make him dearer to God nor more valuable in the total scheme of things. We cannot buy God’s favor with crowds or converts or new missionaries sent out or Bibles distributed. All these things can be accomplished without the help of the Holy Spirit….
Our great honor lies in being just what Jesus was and is….What greater glory could come to any man? BAM059
Oh, to be like Thee! blessed Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer.
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh! to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art!
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart. HCL231
1 Thessalonians 5:23
John Wesley’s teaching on holiness was both novel and radical—in fact revolutionary. Wesley followed in the wake of Luther’s reformation. In Luther the pendulum had swung from “salvation by works” to “salvation by faith” but, as always the pendulum had swung too far in certain quarters. For some the wine had been too strong! “What a relief,” they had said in effect. “Thank God we have been shown the evil of salvation by works! All we have to do is “believe” and everything will be well on the judgment day.”
In pondering this sorry consequence of Luther’s doctrine, Wesley realized that the fault lay in the narrow meaning which had been given to the word “salvation.” In popular thinking “salvation” was simply a question of getting by on the day of judgment. It was strictly a heavenly matter.
Relentlessly Wesley stressed the need for personal holiness here on earth. Salvation was not a future question but a present concern. It was the duty and privilege of every Christian to live uprightly. Thoughts, motives, actions—all were within God’s sphere of interest and influence. Holiness was not the concern of a handful of religious specialists; it was the very heart of religion—for everyone. Salvation and holiness were but two sides of the same coin. They could not be separated. Every “saved” man was a saint in embryo.
Wesley took Luther’s doctrine one step further. Where Luther had said, “You are saved by faith,” Wesley said, “You are saved and sanctified by faith.”
The emphasis on holy living was long overdue. The preaching of entire sanctification as Wesley had taught it was an outstanding feature in the early revival days of our own movement. The doctrine is especially linked with two names: General Bramwell Booth and Commissioner Samuel Logan Brengle. Due to their influence The Salvation Army has maintained a dual emphasis: salvation and holiness. We go so far as to name our Sunday meetings by the doctrines that are taught in them. Wesley’s teaching shook the church of his day, and there is little doubt that in Article 10 (1 Thessalonians 5:23) we have one of the most radical doctrines of holiness within the whole Christian Church.
John Larsson, Doctrine Without Tears