VIDEO Above and Beyond Living: Be Trustworthy

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

The author of the book of James was the half-brother of Jesus. It should come as no surprise, then, to find echoes of some of Jesus’ teachings in James’ epistle—like James’ emphasis (“above all”) on not using an oath to guarantee the fidelity of one’s words.

Jesus spoke at length on this subject in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:33-37). Oaths, or promises, were not forbidden in the Old Testament, but by the time Jesus arrived they had become a casual way to convince others of one’s integrity. And there were warnings against making an oath, then not fulfilling it (Numbers 30:1-2). Solomon wrote that it was better not to swear an oath than to swear and not pay (Ecclesiastes 5:4-7). Instead of prohibiting oaths, James and Jesus made a person’s character the main point: Let your “Yes” be “Yes” and your “No” be “No.”

Above all, be a person whose word can be trusted. Don’t rely on oaths (“I promise”) to convince others you are speaking the truth.

The life of an honest man is an oath. Richard Sibbes


38 Lie Not – James 5:12 – In Depth – Pastor Chuck Smith – Bible Studies

Radiant Drifters

Let us live up to what we have already attained. Philippians 3:16

Under the night sky in the spring of 2020, surfers rode bioluminescent waves along the coast of San Diego. These lightshows were caused by microscopic organisms called phytoplankton, a name derived from a Greek word meaning “wanderer” or “drifter.” During the day, the living organisms create red tides and capture sunlight that converts into chemical energy. When disturbed in the darkness, they produce an electric blue light.

Believers in Jesus are citizens of heaven who, much like the red-tide algae, live like wanderers or drifters on earth. When difficult circumstances disturb our well-laid plans, the Holy Spirit empowers us to respond like Jesus—the Light of the World—so we can reflect His radiant character in the darkness. According to Paul the apostle, nothing is more valuable than our intimacy with Christ and the righteousness that comes through our faith in Him (Philippians 3:8–9). His life proved that knowing Jesus and the power of His resurrection changes us, impacting the way we live and the way we respond when trials disrupt our lives (vv. 10–16).

When we spend time with God’s Son daily, the Holy Spirit equips us with the truth we need—enabling us to face every challenge on this earth in ways that reflect Christ’s character (vv. 17–21). We can be beacons of God’s love and hope, cutting through the darkness until the day He calls us home or comes again.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

How has your perspective on life’s challenges changed as you’ve considered what Christ has done for you? What can you do to become radiant with the character of Christ?

Merciful Jesus, when difficult circumstances come, please shine through me and help me point others to You.

Where Do You Go for Advice?

Turn to God’s Word first

1 Timothy 4:4-10

Each day we let either the world or God’s Word shape our thoughts. Although most of us are quick to say we believe the Bible, at times our actions indicate we’re influenced by something else.

Where do you go when you want advice about a big decision or lifestyle choice? Websites, blogs, and the media offer a wealth of information that can be either beneficial or harmful. Coworkers, family, and friends also provide counsel, but do they rely on worldly reasoning or godly wisdom? The best resource for true guidance is Scripture, but we often rely on human intelligence and personal preferences instead.

Hebrews 4:12 describes God’s Word as “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword” and piercing into the deepest parts of the soul. Those who are reluctant to surrender to its penetrating work essentially reject the Lord by their refusal to listen and obey. But those willing to accept Scripture’s reproof, correction, and wise “nourishment” will discover the riches of a life of faith.

Letting the Word be your guide requires costly changes in thought, attitude, and behavior. Yet any adjustments or disciplines that produce godliness also result in eternal profit. And it all starts with going to Scripture for direction.

Words of Eternal Life

“Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)

The Lord Jesus had just given a hard message to the Jews in the synagogue, where He introduced Himself as “the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51). The Jews responded, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (v. 52).

Indeed, the difficult message was also rejected by a number of Christ’s followers, as we are told that “from that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (v. 66). Jesus then posed the question to the 12 disciples “Will ye also go away?” Peter responded with the timeless truth “Lord…thou hast the words of eternal life.”

Although much of Christ’s discourse might have been difficult for Peter to understand, it appears he definitely picked up on the main point of His words. Jesus noted in verse 63, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” Interestingly, the Greek noun for “word” in both verses 63 and 66 is rhēma, which is typically used to denote the active and applied form of the Word of God (logos).

Indeed, Christ Himself is the Logos (John 1:1). Let us prayerfully feed on that Word, the daily manna that becomes the quick and powerful agent giving all-sustaining life to our hungry spirits. JPT

Not I, but Christ

…that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.Colossians 1:18-19

Someone wrote the godly Macarius of Optino that his spiritual counsel had been helpful.

“This cannot be,” Macarius wrote in reply. “Only the mistakes are mine. All good advice is the advice of the Spirit of God; His advice that I happen to have heard rightly and to have passed on without distorting it.”

There is an excellent lesson here which we must not allow to go unregarded. It is the sweet humility of the man of God….In this day when shimmering personalities carry on the Lord’s work after the methods of the entertainment world, it is refreshing to associate for a moment even in the pages of a book with a sincere and humble man who keeps his own personality out of sight and places the emphasis upon the inner working of God. OGM015-016

Oh, to be saved from myself, dear Lord!

Oh, to be lost in Thee!

Oh, that it might be no more I, but

Christ that lives in me! HCL264

Evil Is Bad for Us

Love must be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good.Romans 12:9

In considering the words “Do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one,” here we concentrate on “deliver us from the evil one.” Notice it is not a prayer for deliverance from this or that type of evil, but from evil itself. To Jesus, evil was evil in whatever form it came—whether in the evil of the flesh or the evil of the disposition, whether in the individual will or in the corporate will. Evil was never good, and good was never evil.

Someone has pointed out that the word “evil” is the word “live” spelled backwards. Evil, then, could be said to be anti-life. Non-Christians are finding out how not to live the hard way. They think they know better than God and follow a way of their own choosing, only to find, like the rats in the scientific experiments who go down the wrong path, that there are wires at the end which carry electric shocks. These shocks are of various kinds: neuroses, inner conflicts, as well as some forms of physical illness.

Society is concerned about a disease called sexual herpes which is spread through sexual permissiveness. God has made it impossible for us to live against His design or harm ourselves without His protest. And He protests because He loves us.

We can decide to have done with evil. The best way to deal with evil is to keep away from it, hence the prayer “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” I say again, evil is bad for us, and good is good for us.

Prayer

My Father, You who made me for good, because goodness is good for me, help me to abstain, not only from evil, but from the very appearance of it. For Your own dear name’s sake. Amen.

Further Study

Gn 39; 1Co 10:6; 1Th 5:22; 1Pt 3:11; 2Tm 2:22

How did Joseph resist temptation?

What did Paul advise Timothy?

Those Who Mourn

Blessed are those who mourn,

because they will be comforted.—Matthew 5:4

God wants us to experience His joy (John 15:11). Yet we cannot experience His joy until we have mourned over our sin. If we do not grieve over the weight of our sin, we have no concept of sin’s devastating power. If we treat our sin lightly, we demonstrate that we have no sense of the enormity of our offense against almighty God. Our sin caused the death of God’s Son. It causes us to fall short of what God intends (Rom. 3:23). It brings pain and sorrow to others, as well as to ourselves.

The Bible says that those who grieve over their sin will draw near to God (James 4:8–10). Those who mourn and weep over their sin are in a position to repent (Luke 4:18–19). There cannot be repentance without the realization of the gravity of sin. Regret for sin’s consequences is not the same as sorrow for sinning against holy God. Confession of sin is not necessarily an indication of repentance. Repentance comes only when we acknowledge that our transgression has come from a heart that is far from God, and we are brokenhearted over our grievous offenses against holy God.

Jesus said that those who are heartbroken over their sin will find comfort. They will experience new dimensions of God’s love and forgiveness. His infinite grace is sufficient for the most terrible sin. Do not try and skip the grieving process of repentance in order to move on to experience joy. God will not leave you to weep over your sin but will forgive you, comfort you, and fill you with His joy.