Blog: James 5:16 – Verse for Dec. 15th

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

James 5:16


Ⓒ 1996-2018 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent.

Source: Daily Wisdom from Heartlight

Modern Spiritual Crisis

The modern crisis, in which the West itself is entangled more deeply than its leaders suspect, is therefore a religious crisis. Decision for or against the living God is revealed as the upper side of the decision for or against the dignity and worth of the individual.
The Hebrew-Christian religion of redemption, of the self-revealing God, vindicates a special view of human freedom—its source, its sanction, its scope. The Mosaic Law and the Gospel of Christ crackle with relevance for the modern debate over man and his worth. The Great Commission is not tangential to the crisis of the twentieth century.

For Christianity is the purveyor of human freedom on the only level adequate to repel the communist revolution. It can show that lying, cheating, stealing, and murder are wrong because God by commandment forbids them—not simply because the United States forbids them (after all, in America adultery is not treated as nearly so objectionable), nor because the United Nations forbids them. They are wrong not merely because some state or super state deplores them, but because God forbids them. Whoever therefore is bound by party discipline to perform them is obliged by the will of God to resist the will of the party.

Unless the sensitized individual conscience is bound to the ultimate source and sanction of all values, freedom deteriorates until democracy becomes a struggle for factional advantage, free enterprise becomes animal competition, capitalism becomes economic imperialism. Whenever conscience is loosed from the will of God, human liberty is placed swiftly in the service of inordinate selfishness.

The Free World will be strongest when the citizen of the West is “free indeed,” since in the absence of true freedom the human spirit is easily lured by deceptive freedoms. And the sendee of siren freedoms leads to lawlessness, and that in turn to excessive controls and enslavement. Without personal freedom over the enslaving power of immorality in individual life, national and social freedoms still leave the soul a vacuum, and its inner incompatibilities and disorders provide an invitation to the Soviet orbit of ideas.

The solution of the national problem of freedom is no different from the solution of the individual problem of freedom. Human freedom is a divine gift. Jesus Christ can restore it to a shackled generation: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.… If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:32, 36). While the West is still free to chart its destiny, no reminder confronts its restless multitudes more urgently than this, that the Christian proclamation is still the bearer of life’s firmest and its finest freedoms.

Henry, C. F. H

Five Commands for Doing Business

These five risky principles from the Scriptures—if fully obeyed—can radically transform our ways of doing business.
1. The principle of an “honest weight” requires us to give full quality for what is paid for. 2. We are to be totally honest with everyone—employer, co-workers, employees, and customers. 3. We are servants. The interests of others must come first. 4. We must accept full personal responsibility for our actions. 5. We are to seek neither unreasonable profits, nor unreasonable wages.

Ethics is a word that means whatever you want it to mean. Nearly all businessmen would say they are ethical, despite the varying degrees of integrity to be found among them.
But a more precise definition of ethics is not enough to guide us into ethical behavior anyway. Many companies have codes of ethics that outline accepted conduct and practice, but these codes don’t ensure right actions.
Every ethical decision is ultimately a decision of the will. We must know what is right and then do it. “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it sins” (James 4:17).
Ethics to the government is law. Ethics to the philosopher is a concept. Ethics to religion is morality. But ethics to God is obedience.
Knowing what the Bible says is a first step in this obedience.
Use honest weights
God commanded Israel,
Do not have two differing weights in your bag—one heavy, one light. Do not have two differing measures in your house—one large, one small. You must have accurate and honest weights and measures, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. For the Lord your God detests anyone who does these things, anyone who deals dishonestly.
(Deuteronomy 25:13-16)
This concept of an honest weight is found frequently in the Old Testament. In their business dealings using balance scales, on which the proper weight of a product was determined by placing balancing weights on the other side of the scale, the Israelites could cheat by using similar-sized pieces which actually varied in weight. It was just as if they added a little pressure to the scale with their thumb. But God detested and prohibited such deceitful dealing.
The principle behind this commandment against differing weights was the giving of a full amount in exchange for a fair payment—which can be expanded to include giving full quality for what is paid for and according to what is advertised. Honesty extends to quality as well as amount.
Honesty requires a Christian to sell not “what the market will bear,” or even what the market “demands,” if the product or service is of questionable quality. A Christian businessman or businesswoman must accept responsibility for the quality of his product, and establish a fair price for it. To represent a product of inferior quality as equal to one of proven higher quality is a “dishonest weight.”
Deceptive advertising has become an accepted practice in American culture. But, more disturbing, Christians have been influenced by this practice and follow it out of competitive self-defense. Christians must be willing to risk the loss of business to maintain a clear conscience. Although a reputation based on honesty and true quality will ultimately benefit a business, such a reputation takes time to build and maintain. The lure of short-term, dishonest gain can be tempting.
Now look at the matter of an honest weight from another viewpoint: What is an employee’s responsibility to an employer?
A Christian employee is bound by Scripture to give a full day’s work for a full day’s pay. He is also obligated to do his work in the way he is directed.
Can a Christian, in good conscience, participate in a “work slowdown” or purposely degrade the quality of his work? The scriptural answer is no. We are responsible to do our best and to be obedient to our employers. Circumstances may occur where the employer is truly unjust or dishonest, in which case there are legal and acceptable ways to voice grievances and change the situation.
Paul said, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23). He said slaves were to obey their masters “not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart” (Ephesians 6:6).
Be totally honest
Can we be totally honest without becoming overly burdened about the absolute truthfulness of every minor issue? What does total honesty mean?
James said, “We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check” (James 3:2). This statement has two thoughts of particular interest. First we cannot keep from sinning with the tongue. Even when we intend to speak the truth, we often slip and communicate a half-truth or even a lie.
The second thought is that if we guard and control our tongues, we can control the entire body.
Think of the magnitude of this. What a motivation to guard our speech! This statement from James assures us that if we can control what we say, we can also control our thoughts, motives, and actions.
To the best of our knowledge we must always speak the truth. We have both the freedom and the authority to be entirely honest. Paul said, “Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody” (Romans 12:17). Or as the Living Bible paraphrases it “Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honest clear through.” We must speak truthfully—to everyone.
Although we will sometimes fail, our intent must be total honesty with our employer, our co-workers, our employees, and our customers. An employee must be totally honest with his employer in his use of time, in reporting what he has or has not accomplished, in stating his ability to do a specific task, in reporting business expenses, and so on.
Likewise, an employer is obligated to be totally honest with his employees and subordinates. The Levitical law states,
Do not steal.
Do not lie.
Do not deceive one another—
Do not defraud your neighbor or rob him.
Do not hold back the wages of a hired man overnight.
(Leviticus 19:11, Leviticus 19:13)
To withhold wages, to deceive an employee about pay or job potential, or in any other way to defraud an employee is being untruthful.
Honesty with customers is good business, but what about total honesty—especially with customers who don’t know the real value or quality of a product they’re inclined to buy? Should you volunteer information? Scripturally you are compelled to do so, even though you may lose a sale.
This, of course, forces us to evaluate our product in both quality and price. It is not wrong to produce and handle items of lower quality, but advertising and selling them as higher quality merchandise is deceptive.
Be a servant
An observer wrote in one Christian magazine that most Christian businessmen operate on the same basis as non-Christians—profit, products, people, and principle, in that order.
We enjoy thinking of ourselves as God’s servants. Who would not want to be a servant of the King? But when it comes to serving people, we begin to question the consequences. We feel noble when serving God; we feel humbled when serving people, especially those who cannot repay our service.
Yet Christ gave us this example: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). To be a servant of God we must be a servant of people. This concept must undergird all that we do in business and work.
Service is a key word in any business, but serving without the goal of a sale is quite another matter. We will experience God’s blessing, however, if we put our customers’ interests first and genuinely attempt to serve them.
Assume personal responsibility
We often try to shift responsibility for our questionable actions to the way others have acted in the past. Every company has ethical “soft spots” which have developed as standard practices over the years. But that does not excuse the Christian employee in any way.
We are all responsible for our own actions and decisions. A watchword of a Christian’s business ethics must be personal responsibility.
James said, “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed” (James 1:14).
We are totally responsible for our own actions, not only before God but also in every court of law. When we compromise our ethics we can blame only ourselves. Let us not be lulled into conformity with the world’s practices.
Commenting in Eternity magazine on the Watergate scandal, former presidential aide Jeb Stuart Magruder said,
We had conned ourselves into thinking we weren’t doing anything really wrong, and by the time we were doing things that were illegal, we had lost control. We had gone from poor ethical behavior into illegal activities without even realizing it.
Every Christian is warned: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold” (Romans 12:2, Phillips).
In opposing practices that are unethical or dishonest we may risk losing a job. But if the company is determined to follow questionable practices, we probably do not want to continue working for them. Our conscience will quickly be dulled if we must constantly fay to justify our actions.
Accept a reasonable profit
Of these five guidelines, accepting a reasonable profit may be the most difficult to describe, define, and defend. Consumers want to give the producer as little profit as possible. But businessmen know that profit is vital for their survival. Also, some items need a larger profit to make up for less profitable or slow-moving items. So the seller’s definition of “reasonable” may be quite different from his customer’s.
We can’t define here a reasonable profit rate that could apply to all situations. Each man or woman involved in business must seriously grapple with that issue in his or her circumstances. Certainly the oft quoted and seldom applied “Golden Rule” gives significant guidance: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). The seller needs to imagine himself on the purchasing end and ask if the price is just and fair.
Reasonable profit and reasonable wages are inseparable. Are we willing to be satisfied with our wages, or do we always want more no matter how much we get now? What a reasonable profit is to a businessman, so must a reasonable wage be to the employee.
The words of John the Baptist to some soldiers apply also to employees today: “Be content with your pay” (Luke 3:14). A Christian’s chief end is not self-profit. He acts differently. He can be content.
Should he never ask for a raise? He may ask, but he must be satisfied with wages that are a just and fair return on the time and effort he has invested.
The employer also has a scriptural mandate to pay a just wage, for “the worker deserves his wages” (Luke 10:7). Is this not the balance of profit and wages—the sharing of profit with those who make it possible?
God’s perspective
In business and work, other people’s standards tend to become ours. We hear so many arguments for “accepted practice” that we begin to believe them—even when we know the accepted practice is questionable. Why make a fuss over “little” things that really don’t matter? After all, the company plans for some of those little losses.
But fortunately, we do have guidelines for knowing what to do—from God’s perspective. And we can use these biblical principles every day in our own lives and work.

Jerry White

The Real Reason ‘Fixer Upper’ Had to End

When Chip and Joanna Gaines decided to walk away from their wildly popular HGTV show Fixer Upper, the news left fans shocked and disappointed. But it made a lot more sense when Joanna announced she was pregnant. But Baby Crew’s arrival is only part of the story. And now, Chip Gaines is opening up about the real reason Fixer Upper ended.
Part of what makes Chip and Joanna Gaines so loveable is how, no matter how popular they get, they remain down-to-earth, normal folks. Fame has a way of chancing people. But despite their celeb status, they don’t act differently. They just act like Chip and Jo.
In fact, it’s their genuine passion and raw talent for home renovation and design that got them “discovered.” The couple never set out seeking the limelight.
“We came into this whole thing sort of shock and awe,” Chip explained when the couple appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. “And we had never had any inspiration to be on television. We didn’t know anything about the business.”
And while becoming a TV star sounds like a dream come true to most, the Gaines family soon found it can be equal parts burden and blessing. And now, Chip Gaines is opening up more about their decision to leave HGTV.
The Real Reason Fixer Upper Ended
Certainly, the success Chip and Joanna Gaines experienced on HGTV is something they’ll always treasure. And to Fixer Upper fans, their decision to leave seemed to come out of nowhere. Of course, this opened the door to all kinds of rumors. But the couple has always been quick to point out there is no bad blood or scandal between them and HGTV.
And now, with some time and distance between the show’s final season, Chip Gaines gave some more insight into the real reason Fixer Upper ended.
Chip and Joanna Gaines truly love what they do. And turning their passion into a reality TV show was exciting at first. But the more things became about the camera, the less the duo was enjoying themselves.
“TV was a funny thing for me. I’m an authentic, sincere person,” Chip said. “So, as long as things are natural and organic, I’m in my element. But the more staged something becomes, or the more required something becomes, it boxes me up, and I felt like toward the end of the Fixer Upper journey, I felt caged, trapped.”

There was no big blow up. The real reason Fixer Upper ended isn’t that something bad happened. But as time went by, Chip and Joanna’s uneasiness grew and they had to face the reality that the show no longer felt right for them and their family.
“Jo and I couldn’t figure it out,” Chip went on to explain. “I mean, why? You’re getting to have all this fun, right? But it’s like if I put a camera in your face and said, ‘Hey, say something funny.’ Or if I put a camera in your face and said, ‘Hey, be smart.’ I just struggled with that environment. Especially at the end of it.”
Chip And Joanna Gaines Aren’t Finished Yet
The end of Fixer Upper was a tough pill for fans to swallow. But as faith-filled Christians, Chip and Joanna know God has more in store.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
And thankfully, there has still been plenty of this sweet couple to go around for the fans.
For starters, we’ve rejoiced with Chip and Joanna as they welcomed Crew Gaines into the family. And the two have made their rounds in TV interviews, even announcing the exciting news that they’ll be returning to television, eventually. Though the logistics are still in the very early stages, Chip Gaines let the cat out of the bag when chatting with Jimmy Fallon that Discovery Network is setting Chip and Joanna Gaines up with their very own TV network!
So, for now, may the couple’s Fixer Upper reruns, books, Chipstarter campaigns, and, of course, adorable photos of Crew tide us Chip and Joanna fans over!

7 Ways to Love Christians Who Are Overweight

Imagine approaching someone at church, looking her over, and telling her which sin patterns you think she’s stuck in—based solely on her physical appearance.
As ridiculous as it sounds, it’s not an uncommon experience for the overweight Christian.
I was 25 when a respected older woman in my church invited me to participate with her in a Christian weight-loss program. She promised this “biblical” diet (it wasn’t) would help me give my sin to the Lord and shed unwanted pounds. She thought mutual accountability would be good for both of us. Wouldn’t I like to join her?
Ouch. And no thank you, I would not.
Her invitation was presumptuous. Why had she assumed I was actively a slave to food-related sin? Of course, I knew the answer: I was overweight. Neither of us was fit and slim like many of the other women in our church, and she wrongly assumed both our problems were the result of sin.
At that point in my life I was over my ideal body weight—a postpartum, busy pastor’s wife with a sluggish thyroid—but I was not living in ongoing, unrepentant gluttony or sloth. What I needed in that season was a cup of coffee, a listening ear, and a friend who understood what I was and was not struggling with.
Too often, instead of helping Christians who are overweight, we unintentionally hurt them and create guilt and shame. We can do better.
Truth About Obesity
In the recent Huffington Post article “Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong,” Michael Hobbes reports:
About 40 years ago, Americans started getting much larger. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 80 percent of adults and about one-third of children now meet the clinical definition of overweight or obese. More Americans live with “extreme obesity” than with breast cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and HIV put together.
Hobbes states that the medical system has failed to offer patients a range of resources, support, and compassion. Rather than considering emotional, physical, and socioeconomic contributing factors, doctors simply blame fat people for being fat. Obesity, we’re told, is a personal failing: just stop eating Cheetos and take a walk! But condescending and cursory suggestions offer little tangible help and rarely result in lasting change.
Inside the church we can take this callous attitude one step further—assuming that the more overweight someone is, the more sinful he or she is. Extra pounds become scarlet letters, marking saints as idolaters, gluttons, and sluggards.
Extra pounds can become scarlet letters, marking saints as idolaters, gluttons, and sluggards.

As a Christian who’s struggled with my weight all my life, my chief goal should be gaining holiness, not losing pounds. And while pursuing a healthy body as a means of stewardship is part of my progress in holiness—that I must choose to take up every day—my weight isn’t a measuring stick for my growth in godliness.
As someone who’s been hurt by well-meaning Christians who simply don’t know how to help, I concur with Hobbes’s conclusion that often “the biggest problem is our [negative] attitudes toward fat people.”
In the church, I’m afraid we’re often no more cautious or compassionate than the medical system when it comes to shepherding the growing demographic of overweight saints and sufferers in our midst.
Loving the Christian Who Is Overweight
As an overweight Christian, here are some helpful ways I’d like to see church members, lay leaders, and pastors engage with people who are overweight or obese:
See me, not a sin. My extra weight may or may not be tied to indwelling, unrepentant sin. Don’t assume.
Ask yourself if you are the right person to help. Weight is a sensitive subject. Just because you can see my extra pounds doesn’t mean you’ve been invited to speak into a problem. Consider your relationship with me and the role you’ve been called to play in my discipleship or accountability.
Listen and learn. Avoid the temptation to “fix” physical problems with spiritual answers, or spiritual problems with physical answers. Listen first, pray for discernment, then ask how you can help.
Don’t shame me. Encourage me. If I am struggling with habitual sin, shaming me isn’t the best way to help. (Yes, I know my body is a temple, but thoughtlessly tossing Bible verses is hurtful.) Remind me of the gospel and that my worth isn’t based on what I look like. “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thess. 5:14).
Appreciate the burden. Grieve the trial. Understand that sin involving food is complicated in ways that differ from drugs or other addictions. We all must continue to eat daily. Every time I enter church, nourishment and temptation sit on a table near the welcome desk. Show me grace, understanding, and compassion by comforting me in my affliction (2 Cor. 1:4).
Help me not to stumble. By design, food will always be a part of church. Communion, fellowship meals, and celebratory feasting are all part of our life together. And yet, not all church events need to be an opportunity for over-indulging. Be sensitive in considering which ministry events need food, and eliminate the distraction of food from events where it isn’t integral. Not every Bible study meeting requires punch and cookies. Consider contributing delicious healthy options for those trying to exercise self-control at the potluck. If you know I’m attempting to abstain from something, don’t lead me into sin by telling me “it doesn’t matter” or offering permission to indulge. It is “wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats” (Rom. 14:20). Protect me by encouraging my self-control.
Be patient. Don’t expect my lifelong struggles to be solved immediately because of one conversation. Or a few conversations. I may wrestle against this part of my flesh for years to come. The key to helping me is encouraging me to remain engaged in the fight for holiness and to not give up. Point me to God’s forgiveness when I fall, and encourage me when I stand against temptation.
To be clear, this isn’t a request to overlook sin. It’s not a bid for “body acceptance” at the cost of holiness. This is simply a plea to see people, not their pants size. The obesity “crisis” in our neighborhoods and churches is growing. Let’s be prepared to respond with countercultural empathy and compassion.

Morning Prayers

Because of Your great love for me, You, God, who are rich in mercy, made me alive with Christ even when I was dead in transgressions. It is by grace I have been saved (Eph. 2:4-5).

O Lord, I earnestly pray that I may live a life worthy of You and may please You in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to Your glorious might so that I may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified me to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light (Col. 1:10-12).

Praying God’s Word

Blog: Colossians 3:17 – Verse for Dec. 14th

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17


Ⓒ 1996-2018 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent.

Source: Daily Wisdom from Heartlight

Blog: Quote for Dec. 14th, 2018

"Watch your thoughts; they become words.|Watch your words; they become actions.|Watch your actions; they become habits.|Watch your habits; they become character.|Watch your character; it becomes your destiny."

—Frank Outlaw


Ⓒ 1996-2018 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent.

Source: Quotemeal from Heartlight

Vesper

Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Matthew 20:15

This parable preeminently sets forth the spirit of humility and the sense of unworthiness that should characterize the servant of God. The servant should always remember that even after he has done all, he is unprofitable, for he has only then done his rightful duty.
Moreover, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:25). Who is the servant to question His justice?

It is very obvious that the grumbling servants of this parable were more concerned about their pay than about their faithfulness to the landowner who had called them into service, for no other reason than the fact that he was full of grace and kindness. Who am I? Why should I be called—let alone chosen—to serve God, when thousands are not? This must be our spirit.

Lord, I am humbled that You would call me to serve You.

According to Your Word