Not Good Enough

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in the one point has become accountable for all of it.

James 2:10

Good people are good enough for the world’s standards, and even some religions. Being a good person alone just isn’t good enough by heaven’s standards. We need Jesus!

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Romans 3:23-24

Double-Minded

he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

James 1:8

In context, this verse refers to praying in faith without doubt. I saw this scripture in a different light this morning. There’s a common phrase people use: “The ends justify the means.” This is not true. It cannot be true.

In God’s eyes, honest and good intentions (godly intentions) cannot be paved by dishonest means. Such a person is double-minded, unstable and doomed to fail.

So, honest ends cannot justify dishonest means.

Workings of the Spirit

And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Romans 8:27

This is a lovely verse that I just keep reading over and over. The Holy Spirit is a working person of God living within me, as a baptized follower of Christ. Wow.

Whole Armor of God

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand inthe evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Ephesians 6:10-20

I just love this passage. It is a great and comprehensive list of what we need as we walk out our faith:

  • Belt = truth
  • Breastplate = righteousness (being right with God)
  • Shoes = gospel of peace
  • Shield = faith
  • Helmet = the hope of our salvation
  • Sword = the Holy Spirit, the Word of God

Parallels:

  • Belt = holds our pants and our dignity up
  • Breastplate = protects our heart and vital organs
  • Shoes = protects our feet, enables us to walk great distances
  • Shield = keeps bad stuff out
  • Helmet = protects our brain, our minds
  • Sword = offensive weapon to cut down our enemy

I’ve worked through a marvelous study called “Your Strong Suit” by Donna Pyle. I highly recommend it! Reading this passage again makes me want to go back and do Donna’s study again. It’s now a DVD too!

Works and Faith

So faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works… You see that faith was active along with [Abraham’s] works, and faith was completed by his works,… For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

James 2:17-18, 22, 26

Living, good works grow out of our faith and love of Christ. If there’s no faith at the root of your works, they are spiritually dead. Works born of faith are more than just works, they are a witness to our faith in Christ; they are practice for our love of Christ; and they are teaching others how to walk in the faith.


How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Hebrews 9:14

Perfectionism

“Perfectionists always loose.”

Esther by Beth Moore, p172

This statement and the discussion around it really spoke to me this morning! As a programmer, perfectionism is an occupational hazard. If you have a single character in the wrong place, the program will likely fail. It has to be perfect. However, life isn’t like that… thank you God!

Moore continues with some brilliant Laura Fraser quotes:
“If your identity is wrapped up in the magnificent things you’re destined to achieve… the thought that you might produce something mediocre can be devastating.” This thought leads to a crucial question – “Couldn’t the craving to do something great keep us from doing something good?”

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until  I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.

1 Timothy 4:12-15

Paul’s instructions here help guide Timothy through the work involved with the gifts that he’s been given. Beth Moore’s study points out that genius or exceptional talents “rarely exempts people from having to work hard.” Timothy was encouraged to work often and work hard, and to practice his talents regularly and publicly. All of this Timothy was to accomplish to be an example, teaching fellow believers. Not only was Timothy to keep practicing and building up his talents, but also he was to do so in such a way as to build up those around him.

If we are paralyzed into inaction because perfectionism holds us back, we need to let it go. I’ve come to this realization recently when it comes to doing crafts with the kids. It is pretty much guaranteed that the craft will not turn out as expected. It is also pretty certain that there will be a giant mess to clean up afterwards. I no longer allow my perfectionist-self out of her cage when I want and need to spend time with my kids. There’s no room for that nonsense when teaching. Life isn’t perfect. Only Jesus is, and his way to heaven (though sometimes NUTS to us) is, in fact, perfection.

Jealousy

Esther 7:8
And the king returned from the palace garden to the place where they were drinking wine, as Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was. And the king said, “Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?”


Walking through Esther via Beth Moore is an interesting journey. Unfortunately, I’ve missed the last two DVD sessions, but I can still hear her voice ringing through the pages of my study. I admire this word-nerd, passionate speaker. This particular Esther verse really stood out to me today. Jealousy is not an emotion I consider very often. It was interesting to see jealousy in comparison with anger, and how effective both are at blinding you to reason and reality.


Proverbs 27:4
Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?


Jealousy trumps anger. That’s powerful to think about simply because anger IS an emotion I’ve considered often. It is a dangerous emotion that can easily be allowed to overcome you, and cause you to sin. Jealousy is worse!

The situation Esther brought to the king’s attention made him angry. The king left for the garden. He returned, and jealousy sealed Haman’s fate right then and there. For all the crimes of ambition and hatred he did commit, Haman hung on the gallows that night for a crime he did not commit… because the mere appearance inflamed the king’s jealousy. Yeah. Jealousy is some seriously dangerous stuff.

Watch out for the jealousy within you! You will get stupid, and do stupid, sinful things. Not everything can be fixed. Our God forgives immediately when we come to him in repentance, BUT there are still consequences in this fallen world. Don’t let jealousy mow down your life. Stay close to God, know his will for you, be in prayer and be in His Word – wear the full suit of armor that God provides. Live free and victorious in Jesus.

Amen.