I subscribe to a couple of different daily verse apps on my mobile device. God has used them many times to comfort, encourage, admonish and even warn me. Today’s verse is James 1:2-4
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete lacking nothing. (ESV)
Did you cringe? That seems to be the normal reaction when we either see a daily reading or mediation or if our pastor announces that he will be preaching/teaching through the book of James over the next few months. For a change, my reaction wasn’t exactly a cringe, but rather making a mental note that the day could get hairy. I believe God used this verse to as one of His graces to keep me from sinning in some of my common areas of weakness. One stronghold in particular that I have been battling hard to tear down is in the area of honoring God with my eating.
I have spent years in vacillating in bondage between the idols of vanity and food. On one hand I desired to be thin and have the admiration of others for being able to maintain my weight. And on the other hand, I would try to fill myself with food by binge eating thousand of calories in one sitting. So the cycle would sometimes look like counting calories and exercising and eating meals according to the rules of the most recent diet I was following. Then I would “hear” the call of the fridge/ice cream parlor/doughnut place and eat until I would nearly throw up. Of course I would feel terrible and ashamed, ask God for help and strength to not do that anymore. All too soon though I would be over-exercising and abusing laxatives to keep my weight down. And so the cycle continued.
God’s grace and love were too costly for Him to give in to my attempts to act sorrowful. It wasn’t until after I had finally come to the end of myself and repented that God kept His promise and gave me a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). True repentance is coming to the place where you agree with God about your sin, turning 180 degrees from it and turning fully to God. James 4:6-10 gives a good example (imagine that) of what God desires from us:
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
The way that He provided to escape from bondage is through a Bible-based study called Setting Captives Free. They have many studies that deal with habitual sins, but the two that I’ve had the opportunity to experience freedom through are: In His Image and The Lord’s Table. Completely by the grace of God, I have been walking in freedom for over a year now. Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle at times and have lost a couple of battles during that period, but Satan is no longer holding me captive in this area. Which brings me back to why I started today’s post. When I first read the verse for today, all I could think of were the battles that would ensue (and there were plenty). Now, as I reflect on the day, I can look at it with joy because God was in my day. God is actively involved in the lives of His children to give them everything they need to “perfect and complete lacking nothing.” It is most likely that I am not going to be in the middle of a battle with a smile on my face but I can be joyful that, if I am obedient to what God has commanded me to do, that I will likely be more like His Son tomorrow than I am today.
Now it’s your turn.
- What sins are you fighting?
- Have you truly repented or are you still trying to take care of it yourself?
- When was the last time you spent time reading your Bible outside of church?
If you would like to request prayer for something specific send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org