Reflecting On Samson’s Finale

After many times disregarding YHWH’s instruction, Samson was ultimately done in when he told a prostitute about his hair and it was cut. The Philistines finally had the upper hand with Samson. We could probably say that Samson “got what he deserved” for his poor judgment and arrogance. However, there is more to ponder here.

I can’t help but wonder why YHWH did not leave Samson earlier with all his indiscretions and sin, his disregard for YHWH’s instructions. But none the less, the LORD left Samson after he allowed his hair to be cut.

It would be easy to assume YHWH was through with Samson. However, Samson’s hair grows back (clumsy on the part of his captors) and he humbles himself before YHWH and asks for help once more. YHWH shows grace and mercy to him. What an encouragement to us when we make mistakes. We can also humble ourselves and ask the LORD to forgive us and work through us again, though we should be truly repentant and change our sinful behavior.

Judges 16:21-31

21Then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze chains, and he was a grinder in the prison. 22However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it was shaved off.

      23Now the lords of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice, for they said,
“Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hands.”

24When the people saw him, they praised their god, for they said,
“Our god has given our enemy into our hands,
Even the destroyer of our country,
Who has slain many of us.”

25It so happened when they were in high spirits, that they said, “Call for Samson, that he may amuse us.” So they called for Samson from the prison, and he entertained them. And they made him stand between the pillars. 26Then Samson said to the boy who was holding his hand, “Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, that I may lean against them.” 27Now the house was full of men and women, and all the lords of the Philistines were there. And about 3,000 men and women were on the roof looking on while Samson was amusing them.

Samson Is Avenged

      28Then Samson called to the LORD and said, “O Lord GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and braced himself against them, the one with his right hand and the other with his left. 30And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he bent with all his might so that the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life. 31Then his brothers and all his father’s household came down, took him, brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. Thus he had judged Israel twenty years.

One more thought I find interesting… I do not see a lot of reference to Samson actually being a leader in Israel, though verse 31 says he judged Israel for twenty years. Most of the history we read of Samson is all about his personal life and poor judgment and revenge. Even in death, there is no recording of Samson repenting or regretting his choices, but rather simply another desire for revenge one more time against the Philistines. Always something interesting to ponder in the scriptures.

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Samson’s Repeated Poor Judgement Brings Him Down

Samson clearly disregarded much of YHWH’s instructions and did things his own way. YHWH used him as he was “seeking an occasion against the Philistines” (Judges 14:4). We should take care not to assume YHWH approves of all the things which Samson did. We have previously covered some of his prior poor decisions and now in Judges 16 we see again his arrogance and poor judgment when it comes to dealing with Philistine women, including spending time with a harlot). He had every opportunity to see that Delilah was going to betray him, and ignored it. He knew he should not tell her, but eventually caved to stop the whining. He already faced a similar situation previously with his Philistine wife and he apparently did not learn from it.

We see now in chapter 16 that Samson, despite his great strength given to him by YHWH has put himself in a position to be defeated and humiliated.

Judges 16:1-21

Samson’s Weakness

      1Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her. 2When it was told to the Gazites, saying, “Samson has come here,” they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the gate of the city. And they kept silent all night, saying, “Let us wait until the morning light, then we will kill him.” 3Now Samson lay until midnight, and at midnight he arose and took hold of the doors of the city gate and the two posts and pulled them up along with the bars; then he put them on his shoulders and carried them up to the top of the mountain which is opposite Hebron.

      4After this it came about that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. 5The lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, “Entice him, and see where his great strength lies and how we may overpower him that we may bind him to afflict him. Then we will each give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.” 6So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me where your great strength is and how you may be bound to afflict you.” 7Samson said to her, “If they bind me with seven fresh cords that have not been dried, then I will become weak and be like any other man.” 8Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh cords that had not been dried, and she bound him with them. 9Now she had men lying in wait in an inner room. And she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he snapped the cords as a string of tow snaps when it touches fire. So his strength was not discovered.

      10Then Delilah said to Samson, “Behold, you have deceived me and told me lies; now please tell me how you may be bound.” 11He said to her, “If they bind me tightly with new ropes which have not been used, then I will become weak and be like any other man.” 12So Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” For the men were lying in wait in the inner room. But he snapped the ropes from his arms like a thread.

      13Then Delilah said to Samson, “Up to now you have deceived me and told me lies; tell me how you may be bound.” And he said to her, “If you weave the seven locks of my hair with the web [and fasten it with a pin, then I will become weak and be like any other man.” 14So while he slept, Delilah took the seven locks of his hair and wove them into the web]. And she fastened it with the pin and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he awoke from his sleep and pulled out the pin of the loom and the web.

Delilah Extracts His Secret

      15Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have deceived me these three times and have not told me where your great strength is.” 16It came about when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was annoyed to death. 17So he told her all that was in his heart and said to her, “A razor has never come on my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaved, then my strength will leave me and I will become weak and be like any other man.”

      18When Delilah saw that he had told her all that was in his heart, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up once more, for he has told me all that is in his heart.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hands. 19She made him sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his hair. Then she began to afflict him, and his strength left him. 20She said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him. 21Then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze chains, and he was a grinder in the prison.

Reflect on the poor choices that Samson made and the consequences he faced as a result. Despite great advantage given by YHWH, he managed to bring himself to ruin. Let us seek to be wise and use the gifts that YHWH gives us to his glory and not just to our own selfish purposes. There is so much more we can learn from studying Samson than just God gave him strength and he killed a lot of Philistines. Sadly, much of what we can learn is related to what we should not do.

Perhaps one simple summary would be that if YHWH puts an anointing on you with some great gift(s), do not think you can rely on that alone and ignore YHWH himself and his instructions.

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Open our eyes that we may behold the wonderful things of your law, O’God

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. It is written originally in Hebrew in a literary style that begins one section after another, each with the next letter of the aleph bet (Hebrew alphabet). It is beautiful and passionate. It focuses on the law of God. It is only one place in scripture that speaks about the law of God, but it is a great place to start. Read and digest all that it claims about the law of God and then ask yourself, does describe the law as burdensome? difficult? harsh? or does it describe it as quite different than that? Does it describe something that we would want to be set free from? Is it bondage?

Take time and consider what was said about the law of God by New Testament writers like James. James calls on us to be doers of the word and then refers to the “perfect law, the law of liberty”. Those who abide by it will be blessed.

James 1:22-25

22But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

Paul is often misunderstood by many who take scripture out of context to claim he taught against the law. In truth, he calls on the law as holy and righteous and good. He teaches against following the law for salvation. He does not teach against following the law once we are saved through Yeshua.

Romans 7:12

12So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

Put aside what you think you know about the law from those who do not understand it and listen to how it is described by one who understood it well and loved our heavenly Father very deeply. Don’t worry for now about what is the full content of “the law” or if we can fully follow the law today, but instead let us just try to better understand if scripture reveals it to be burdensome or something else.

Pray that the Lord would open our eyes that we may behold the wonderful things of His law!

Is God’s Law a Burden?

For more Biblical examples of prayer, and for personal prayer requests, please visit our Prayer Requests page.

Fond Memories of Holiday Traditions

I have many fond memories of holiday traditions growing up. As a child my family participated in many common traditions such as hunting for Easter eggs. My family has celebrated this way for generations. It is quite difficult even to consider changing these ingrained generational traditions.

Is that reason enough for me to continue these traditions? What does God have to say about common holiday traditions? If we are honest with ourselves, most of us never even think about it. We just continue with what is “normal” and “traditional” based on how we have been raised on based on culture around us.

The truth is that if we have really decided to model our lives after Jesus, then we should take time to explore and study what He celebrated and also the origins of what we may be celebrating. Don’t assume traditions are pleasing to God just because “everyone else is doing it” or even because “everyone else at the church is doing it”. Test everything against the truth of God’s word. Challenge yourself to truly seek to honor Him without bias toward rationalizing and accepting certain traditions because they are associated with fond memories or because it would upset your family to change. After all,  what is more important… pleasing people or pleasing God?

I encourage each of you to take some time and really study the origins of the common traditions and celebrations you take part in. Many are based on pagan worship which have been adapted with “new meaning” whereby people basically have accepted copying and participating in what was once a pagan worship rituals, only now they just call it something else. If you put lipstick on a pig… it is still a pig.

Ask God for help and then challenge yourself to really seek the truth. You can start with any number of sources like online encyclopedias or web search. If there is conflicting information… seek out the truth objectively. Do not just seize upon the rationalization that supports your current practice.

God does not want us to worship Him in the way that the pagans worshiped their gods. Jehovah has provided specific information on how He wishes to be worshiped… we must study the Bible and pray to learn and understand.

Deuteronomy 12:1-8

1“These are the statutes and the judgments which you shall carefully observe in the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess as long as you live on the earth. 2“You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. 3“You shall tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and burn their Asherim with fire, and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods and obliterate their name from that place. 4“You shall not act like this toward the LORD your God. 5“But you shall seek the LORD at the place which the LORD your God will choose from all your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come. 6“There you shall bring your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the contribution of your hand, your votive offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock. 7“There also you and your households shall eat before the LORD your God, and rejoice in all your undertakings in which the LORD your God has blessed you.

8“You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes

 

Deuteronomy 12:28-32

28“Be careful to listen to all these words which I command you, so that it may be well with you and your sons after you forever, for you will be doing what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God.

29“When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, 30beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?’ 31“You shall not behave thus toward the LORD your God, for every abominable act which the LORD hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.

32“Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.

We are to be set apart and holy, different from those that do not worship YHWH. We are not to follow after Him and worship Him in the way that others worship their gods. We are not to simply do what everyone else is doing or what our parents did… but rather what our Lord instructs us to do.

Pray for wisdom and discernment. Don’t ignore what scripture teaches because it is unfamiliar or uncomfortable at first. Explore it and seek to understand it. You can get more information to understand these holy days of YHWH fairly easily, but you need to test everything against scripture. Some aspects are not completely clear and people have varying opinions on them. I suggest starting with Leviticus 23, but I have also included some additional websites I have found helpful below.

Hebrew For Christians

119 Ministries

Set Apart People

The Moedim

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

 

Faith Without Works Is Dead

Do not be distracted by those that say we are saved by faith, and thus works have no value or significance… they are unnecessary. What a selfish view to think that works are only for your own purpose to get into heaven. James makes a strong case for us to consider that our faith, if genuine, leads us to do good works, to live the way Yeshua tells us. We do good works because we serve Yeshua, not to be saved. One can readily ask, “If you have not works evident in your life, are you really submitted to Yeshua? Are you really saved?”

James 2:14-26

Faith and Works

      14What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

      18But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God. 24You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Love Your Neighbor

We do well to pay close attention to the guidance in James.

James 2:1-13

The Sin of Partiality

      1My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. 2For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, 3and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” 4have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? 5Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? 7Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?

      8If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,” you are doing well. 9But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11For He who said, “DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” also said, “DO NOT COMMIT MURDER.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

The first warning we get from James 2 is not to show partiality based on economic status. More generally, he is getting at not showing partiality in others based on our own selfish motives. It may be to get the benefit of someone’s wealth, but it could be for other reasons as well.

The second part is important to take in context. James says that those who are guilty of one thing are guilty of breaking the whole law. The context is that we should not be content to only do some of what YHWH commands. Do not take this to mean we should not try to obey any of the law as if it is pointless to try. James is specifically instructing to obey as fully as possible.

Recognizing that we are guilty, however, James reminds us we are judged by the law of liberty. The law of liberty refers to freedom from the punishment due us for sin because of our submission to Yeshua. This is not an excuse to disobey or disregard YHWH’s law. It is an opportunity to be truly thankful for his grace and mercy.

Keeping in mind we are receiving YHWH’s mercy, we are reminded that we must be merciful to others. Be merciful to receive mercy. A good reminder.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Great Is The LORD And Highly To Be Praised

It is all too easy to take for granted having a relationship with the LORD. Let us remember to praise him.

Psalm 145

The LORD Extolled for His Goodness.

A Psalm of Praise, of David.

1I will extol You, my God, O King,
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.

      2Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever.

      3Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised,
And His greatness is unsearchable.

      4One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.

      5On the glorious splendor of Your majesty
And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.

      6Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts,
And I will tell of Your greatness.

      7They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness
And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness.

      8The LORD is gracious and merciful;
Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.

      9The LORD is good to all,
And His mercies are over all His works.

      10All Your works shall give thanks to You, O LORD,
And Your godly ones shall bless You.

      11They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom
And talk of Your power;

      12To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts
And the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom.

      13Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.

      14The LORD sustains all who fall
And raises up all who are bowed down.

      15The eyes of all look to You,
And You give them their food in due time.

      16You open Your hand
And satisfy the desire of every living thing.

      17The LORD is righteous in all His ways
And kind in all His deeds.

      18The LORD is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.

      19He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He will also hear their cry and will save them.

      20The LORD keeps all who love Him,
But all the wicked He will destroy.

      21My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD,
And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

The LORD Was With Samson, Despite His Flaws

I sometimes find myself in a bit of awe at how much YHWH was with Samson despite the fact that he was not living in a holy manner or fully in accordance with his Nazirite vow. None the less, Judges 14:4 tells us that the LORD was “seeking an occasion against the Philistines” and was going to use Samson to get it.

We see a constant “revenge” approach from Samson resulting in escalating the conflict with the Philistines. This is not righteous and we should not seek to emulate this approach. It really creates a mess, but as noted above, in this case it seems the LORD was looking for conflict with the Philistines and seems to have used Samson’s flaws to get it.

Judges 15

Samson Burns Philistine Crops

      1But after a while, in the time of wheat harvest, Samson visited his wife with a young goat, and said, “I will go in to my wife in her room.” But her father did not let him enter. 2Her father said, “I really thought that you hated her intensely; so I gave her to your companion. Is not her younger sister more beautiful than she? Please let her be yours instead.” 3Samson then said to them, “This time I shall be blameless in regard to the Philistines when I do them harm.” 4Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took torches, and turned the foxes tail to tail and put one torch in the middle between two tails. 5When he had set fire to the torches, he released the foxes into the standing grain of the Philistines, thus burning up both the shocks and the standing grain, along with the vineyards and groves. 6Then the Philistines said, “Who did this?” And they said, “Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he took his wife and gave her to his companion.” So the Philistines came up and burned her and her father with fire. 7Samson said to them, “Since you act like this, I will surely take revenge on you, but after that I will quit.” 8He struck them ruthlessly with a great slaughter; and he went down and lived in the cleft of the rock of Etam.

      9Then the Philistines went up and camped in Judah, and spread out in Lehi. 10The men of Judah said, “Why have you come up against us?” And they said, “We have come up to bind Samson in order to do to him as he did to us.” 11Then 3,000 men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam and said to Samson, “Do you not know that the Philistines are rulers over us? What then is this that you have done to us?” And he said to them, “As they did to me, so I have done to them.” 12They said to him, “We have come down to bind you so that we may give you into the hands of the Philistines.” And Samson said to them, “Swear to me that you will not kill me.” 13So they said to him, “No, but we will bind you fast and give you into their hands; yet surely we will not kill you.” Then they bound him with two new ropes and brought him up from the rock.

      14When he came to Lehi, the Philistines shouted as they met him. And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily so that the ropes that were on his arms were as flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds dropped from his hands. 15He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, so he reached out and took it and killed a thousand men with it.

16Then Samson said,
“With the jawbone of a donkey,
Heaps upon heaps,
With the jawbone of a donkey
I have killed a thousand men.”

17When he had finished speaking, he threw the jawbone from his hand; and he named that place Ramath-lehi. 18Then he became very thirsty, and he called to the LORD and said, “You have given this great deliverance by the hand of Your servant, and now shall I die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” 19But God split the hollow place that is in Lehi so that water came out of it. When he drank, his strength returned and he revived. Therefore he named it En-hakkore, which is in Lehi to this day. 20So he judged Israel twenty years in the days of the Philistines.

Though we do not want to act as Samson did, we can be encouraged that the LORD can still use us to his purposes despite our flaws. We should also be reminded that sometimes situations that look like chaos or conflict or violence are actually occasions being used by YHWH for his purposes. Let us take care, however, not to assume this is constitutes approval by YHWH of Samson’s poor behavior, lest we rationalize all manner of sinful behavior.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Be Doers of the Word Rather Than Just Hearers

As I mentioned while covering the first half of James 1, there is much to cover and we should be sure to go through it slowly and thoughtfully, careful not to skip over important points.

James 1:19-27

    19This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. 21Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. 22But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

      26If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. 27Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Listen first, genuinely, before speaking. This is tough for a lot of folks, including myself at times. Avoid anger. Put aside wickedness. Receive the word with humility, avoiding defensiveness and avoiding the arrogance of assuming we already know everything, but really receiving the word and letting it transform us. YHWH does not want simply hearers of the word though, but doers of the word. In doing the word of YHWH, in abiding in his perfect law, we will be blessed.  Let us recognize also that when James refers to the perfect law of God, the law of liberty, he is talking about the Tanakh (the Torah and the writings of the prophets). The New Testament was not written yet. Clearly James did not find the law obsolete.

Control our tongue lest we hurt others and distract from YHWHs glory as we represent him. Let us help orphans and widows in their distress and remain set apart from the world, unstained by its wickedness, ready to be used by the LORD.

Prayerfully reflect on these and be sure to focus on a few for your life today. This guidance will help bring you closer to walking the way the LORD wants.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

 

Blessed Is The Man Who Perseveres Under Trial

The book of James is very direct and to the point. There is a lot of solid guidance inside and I find I must go more slowly in order to avoid skipping right over some. As such, I will break James 1 into more than one article.

James 1:1-18

Testing Your Faith

      1James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings.

      2Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

      5But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

      9But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; 10and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. 11For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.

      12Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. 16Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. 18In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.

Considering it joy when we face trials is certainly not the reaction of the flesh and self. James highlights one way in which YHWH uses such difficulties to develop us personally. It is a great attitude and if you need to ask YHWH to help you experience your trials with that attitude, go ahead and ask for his help.

James encourages us to ask for wisdom if we need it. Who doesn’t! I do indeed ask the LORD for wisdom and often. I can try to study and think and understand a situation, but sometimes he has something in mind that I will not possibly put together on my own. I need his wisdom.

The warning from James is also a good reminder… don’t ask if you don’t expect him to answer. Ask with confidence that he is able and will help you. Ask with faith. This does not mean you will always get what you ask for, but the LORD does want us to approach him with a confident faith.

The next round is a bit challenging. For a person of humble background to glory when in a high position sounds easy enough, but the flipside for a rich man to glory in his humiliation… that sounds tough. I believe the context is that rich people may have a tendency to be self reliant instead of reliant on YHWH. When they  face defeat or challenges (e.g. humiliation), perhaps that brings more humility to help them submit more fully on YHWH and recognize their dependence on him.

James also warns about a common misunderstanding that still is around today. YHWH is not the one who tempts you. He may allow you to be tempted, but he does not tempt you into sin. That comes from our own lusts. James does not even point to Satan here, but to ourselves. Let us remember we inherently have a sin nature. Through Yeshua we are made clean and through the Spirit we are led to more holy living.

I find it very interesting that the next chapter talks about every good and perfect gift coming from above, after talking a lot about humiliation and hard times. These can indeed be gifts to the one who endures and grows stronger and more faithful in the LORD. I would definitely say in my life that enduring trials has helped me to grow closer to the LORD, though I still don’t ask for more trials!

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