Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Looking Intently

James 1:25

But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

IMG_0301Most of my churches will remember – when I preach – I often either have a mirror or put my hand up like a mirror – and remind folks that I am preaching to myself – as well as the congregation and/or those listening online. A number of times I’ve mentioned how my toes hurt – because the message God has given me for that moment is stepping all over my toes.

James – the brother of our Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ – wrote the following in his epistle/letter – James 1:19-27 – 19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. 26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

The question I often ask of us is to look intently – with purpose – into the mirror and see what we are doing in our life. No one can judge us from the outside – but we can judge ourselves from within – we know if we are striving or not – to follow after Christ.

There was a young pastor was at his first church and he preached an awesome first sermon. The folks were greeting him after worship and telling him how the message was wonderful. The second Sunday arrived and the young pastor preached the same message. People greeted him again and said the sermon was wonderful. The third Sunday the young pastor preached the same sermon. He must have been preaching at a United Methodist Church because by now the church members had formed a committee and greeted him at the door. They said how wonderful the sermon had been but wondered if the pastor had any other sermons. Without missing a beat the young pastor responded, I have a number of sermons, and when you do what I said in the first sermon, I’ll bring them out.

As a pastor who has had people greet him at the door with wonderful words about a sermon – only to wonder if that wonderful sermon would cause any change in my life or in the life of the congregation – I know that today’s passage speaks about us. We look in the mirror and forget. We hear the Word of God and it slips away. We look intently into the truth only to slip back into sin and complacency.

Scripture says we will be blessed when God reveals something to us and we act on it!   James 1:25 – But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.  Today – as we begin Lent – let us practice denying ourselves and doing what God reveals to us.  Let us humble ourselves – seek His face – and turn from our wicked ways – our sins – and turn toward God!

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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February 18, 2015 - Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Personal, Theology | , , , , ,

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