Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
In humiliation of heart may we bring ourselves to the throne of God. James 1:9-11 Poor people generally wish to be rich, and rich people generally are thankful they aren’t poor…and yet God wishes a different mindset for both of them (cf. Prov. 30:7-9). We tend to think that the rich have it easy, when in reality there are hardships for both them and the poor, including spiritual hardships. God warned Israel not to forget him when they became rich (Deut. 8:10-17), but they did it anyway (cf. Judges, 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles, Hosea). On the other hand, Job’s wife tempted him to curse God when they lost their wealth and fell into poverty (Job 2:9). Thus, it’s not easy to be poor OR rich. On the other hand, consider this. The poor have reason to rejoice because God exalts them (James 1:9). How? He chose the poor to be rich in faith (James 2:5; cf. Is. 66:1-2). In my observation, I have found that the gospel message was more readily and eagerly accepted by the poor people in Ukraine to whom I preached than the rich Americans back home (cf. Matt. 19:23-24). However, the rich also have reason to rejoice in that they have been humbled (James 1:10). How? Riches mean nothing in the kingdom of God (Gal. 3:28; Ps. 49:6-20). In the long run, they are temporary (James 1:11; cf. Prov. 23:1-5; 1 Tim. 6:17) and you cannot take them with you after this life is over (Luke 12:13-21). The rich in Christ can rejoice knowing that they found out about these facts of riches before it was too late for them. May we all have Paul’s attitude (Phil. 4:11-13)
And Man Said, ‘Let Us Make God In Our Image, According To Our Likeness’ – (Genocide 1:26) Yes I know… the above title may look somewhat like a meaningless misprint at first glance, but sadly, I can assure you that it’s not. Ever since the dawn of time, it seems as if earthly man, dissatisfied with the dictates and desires of the one, eternal, almighty God and Creator of the entire universe, has sought to dethrone, diminish, and “dumb-down” the God of heaven, by characterizing, compromising, and/or cramming Him into some more easily understood, man-made, more man-pleasing – or at least more familiar to man – earthly creature or caricature.
In the Image of Man, not God. From the very earliest example of worship which God required, we see that man was not satisfied to simply submit, obey, and give God what He desired, but sought to “create God in his own image,” by giving God what man desired instead, while at the same time, apparently thinking that that would be acceptable. Man was, of course totally wrong (Genesis 4:3-5; Hebrews 11:4), repeatedly! And yet, he still remained totally committed and undeterred in his prideful, disobedient, and irreverent pursuit of error. As time went by, man continually sought to restructure, recreate, and recast God and His divine desires, into some of a more self-satisfying and man-made mold. And so, instead of simply submitting to the straightforward instructions which the God of heaven had so carefully and lovingly laid down for His creation to follow, man continually sought thereafter to offer to God in worship, all sorts of substitutions which man had arbitrarily decided – and outrageously somehow justified in his own deluded mind – would be okay. From the Israelites’ golden calf (Exodus 32), to Nadab and Abihu’s burning desire for their unauthorized addition to worship (Leviticus 10); to King Jeroboam’s ‘more convenient,’ counterfeit worship practices somewhat “like” God had ordained, but which he had still “devised in his own heart” (1 Kings 12:25ff); to the man-made doctrines and commandments of men which Jesus said rendered “vain” the worship of any and all of those who would practice such substitutions (Matthew 15; Mark 7), man has never stopped seeking to diminish, dethrone, and re-create the God of heaven, into man’s own “much-less” mold, in man’s own mind; into something that the God of heaven never has been or ever will be: subject and in submission to human desires, dictates, and deviant derivations (2 Peter 2 and 3)! But man wasn’t content to stop at simply recreating worship into something more man-designed and desired, but actually also foolishly sought to go so far as to create and then to serve and sacrifice to all of his humanly-devised “gods” themselves – which were nothing more than the perverted manifestations of men, women, beasts, and earthly things, then perhaps combined with some other-worldly and/or fantastic delusions from the mind of men. But all of these things God Himself had strictly forbidden since He led His people out of bondage (Deuteronomy 5, 13; Jeremiah 10; Acts 17 + 18; Romans 1; and etc.). I was recently reminded of this as my wife and I returned home one evening and found our daughter doing her homework on the living room floor, with one of the latest, computer-generated “superhero” movies going on T.V. As I later considered the characters, it occurred to me just how similar these so-called “superheroes” all were, to the ancient idea of the many false gods man has made in his own image over the millennia! Just as those false gods were nothing more than merely the human, animal, imagination combinations of men’s minds, only supposedly possessing the grossly amplified, over exaggerated or magnified muscles, powers, or uniquely-modified attributes of the creatures they resembled, so too, are all of these so-called but imaginary “superheroes” of today. Fantasy manifestations of men and women combined with the exaggerated attributes of everything from ants, to spiders, to bats, to panthers, to wolverines and everything in between; as well as from the most basic of hulking muscle-bound monsters to the most technologically-advanced and flexibly iron enhanced and clad warriors and more, all clashing in world-cringing combat – very much as the false and imaginary “gods” of old were believed to do. I am just incredibly grateful to know (1 John 5:11-13), that unlike either the false, man-made gods of old, or the imaginary man-made “superheroes” of today’s movies, my hero – Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God Himself – is very alive and real, and not some imaginary, techno-imagery which was created and lives on only in the minds and on the screens of mere mortal and misguided men. Neither does my Hero have to “suit up” to be powerful, but actually had to strip Himself of some of His power and put on human flesh just like me, in order to come and save me (John 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8). And my Hero is more powerful than all of man’s imaginary so-called “superheroes” put together could ever be, even if they did live – which they don’t – because His power extends beyond the grave. And one day He’s coming back to take me home to live with Him forever. Now, how’s that for power? (Author’s note: On Sunday, November 13th, we here at the Lord’s church in Cleveland, Oklahoma, will be starting a several-part sermon mini-series on this very subject, Lord willing, with vital insights and applications into its ramifications for today and on into eternity. These sermons should all soon thereafter be available for your listening/learning pleasure, at: www.clevelandok.church, under the “Resources” tab, in the “Sermon Audio” section. God bless + good studying!)
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. John 5:24
To pass “from death to life.” To not “come into judgment,” which means to not come into what the Greek calls krisis, condemnation. To have the “eternal life” that is God’s free gift rather than the second death of hell which we deserve because of our sin (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 21:8)! What a high, undeserved honor! What a wonderful thing it will be to hear those sweet words from the King of kings: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:21). Do you want those wonderful words to be said to you? I know I do…
Eternity with God? Do you really want it? Look very carefully at what the Master says in today’s Scripture of the Day. These blessings of eternal life and the passing over of judgment from death to life come to “whoever” does two things: the one who “hears my word and believes him who sent me.” The Psalmist wrote that the “blessed” man “who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers” is one whose “delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:1-2). The apostle wrote that Christians are to long for “the pure milk of the Word” like a newborn longs for milk (1 Pet. 2:2), and that we are to diligently grow in “knowledge” if we are to have that “entrance into the eternal kingdom” provided for us (2 Pet. 1:5-11; 3:18). The faith which pleases God (Heb. 11:6) and saves us (John 5:24; 3:16) comes from hearing “the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). Friend, how well do you hear God’s Word? How often do you meditate upon it? Day and night…or once a week for a couple of minutes? Have you ever read the entire Bible? If not, why? If you want to escape the judgment of God and walk into an eternal life of bliss, take Jesus’ promise to heart. Hear his Word. Not only that, but believe in the God who sent Jesus. This faith consists more of a belief in the existence of God, but also that he “rewards those who seek him” (Heb. 11:6). It must be stronger than the faith of demons, for they too believe in God (James 2:19). No, this belief in God consists of such a strong spiritual, mental, and intellectual conviction and trust that it prompts unhesitating obedience (James 2:14-26). It was this kind of faith that prompted Noah to obey God in building an ark (Heb. 11:7), Abraham to obey God by moving his family to places unknown and being willing to sacrifice his son (Heb. 11:8-10, 17-19), and Moses to give up “the fleeting pleasures of sin” in Egypt in order to serve God by leading Israel out of slavery through the Red Sea (Heb. 11:24-29). It is this faith that will prompt you and me to obey the will of our God as revealed in his Word, no matter what the cost. Do you want eternal life? Hear, believe, and obey…