July 19, 2016
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 19 July 2016
On 6 June 1944, there were 160,000 Allied troops who invaded France on the beaches of Normandy with the purpose of fighting Nazi Germany. General Dwight D. Eisenhower said the crusade would be one in which “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” I cannot imagine that any of those troops were confused as to their duty when the gates from their vessels were lowered into the water. Even though there would be trials that the troops would encounter, this was the moment for which they were trained.
In the same manner, those who trust in God will encounter trials in this life and need to be prepared for “nothing less than full victory.” Indeed, it is for this reason that God gave his Word; it is to prepare us for the victory by teaching us how to be faithful in this time of life. Consequently, the response of those who trust in God is vastly different from those who do not hear and heed God’s Word.
What is the relationship between faith in God and considering it joyful when we encounter various trials? Scripture teaches that it is possible to claim you are a Christian, and yet not to be a Christian. The book of James addresses this reality with relentless precision, especially from 1:19 to the end of the second chapter. For instance, trials will often reveal whether we are “double-minded” and “unstable” in how we live our lives. God’s Word, of course, would have true believers to be single-minded in their trust in the Lord.
Scripture does exhort all humanity to be “born again” (John 3:3), and the reality of that spiritual new birth is evident in how we live our lives. The difference between false Christianity and true Christianity is as simple as the dissimilarity between false godliness and true godliness, that is, the distinction between those who profess to be righteous but are not, and those who are, indeed, made righteous by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, verses 19-20 of James 1 teach that true Christianity permeates the behavior of a Christian. Verses 21-25 then teach that a true Christian is one who not only hears God’s Word, but also obeys the Word of God. Finally, in verses 26-27, the reality that one will experience eternity with God is evident in both their personal godliness and public morality.
Surely everyone reading this Bible study has experienced some sort of “orientation” class. Generally, there are no requirements in such classes, except to listen to the person speaking. Since nothing is demanded from the listeners, it is easy to hear the words and ignore the content. The same can occur with one’s faith in God. We must never confuse obeying God with merely hearing and learning his Word, the Bible. We are to be hearers and learners, yet not merely so, for we must also be “doers of the word.” God is not pleased when individuals merely listen to preaching or teaching from the Bible. He wants us to appropriate the message of Scripture, which is evident in life change.
The wisdom of Scripture exhorts us to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (1:19). American educator and writer Laurence J. Peter (1919-88) wisely stated: “Speak when you are angry—and you will make the best speech you’ll ever regret.” The ability to control one’s temper and tongue is a desirable character trait, and an indication that one possesses spiritual maturity and wisdom. Similar exhortations are found throughout the book of James (cf. 1:26; 3:1-12; 4:11-12), which is not surprising since difficulties and trials can often result in interpersonal conflict and angry outbursts, if not received with a godly attitude (1:2-3). Proverbs 17:27-28 instructs, “He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.
Your Capitol Missionary-Pastor,
Ron J. Bigalke, Ph.D.
Capitol Commission Georgia
Capitol Commission is prepared to encourage and enable local churches to participate in reaching our capitol communities for Christ (1 Tim 2:1-4). We only need to hear from you, if you have not already contacted us. We also seek to enlist individuals, businesses, and churches to become strategic partners with us in this ministry (2 Cor 8:3-6). Our success as a ministry is based upon God blessing all facets of the ministry, which certainly includes partners in this ministry. We earnestly desire to engage those who desire to participate in the ministry by offering their time and talents (Matt 25:20). If you have not already done so, join us and experience the joy of bringing hope, light, transformation, and truth to those who constitute our capitol communities.