James 1:26-27. RELIGION ACCEPTABLE TO GOD – 5-9-19 devotional

James 1:26-27. RELIGION ACCEPTABLE TO GOD – 5-9-19 devotional

James 1:26-27     Kevin E. Jesmer

Key Verse: 1:27   5-9-19

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (ESV)

Dear Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for the freedom and opportunity to freely meditate on your word and share that with the world. Thank you for the freedom of Christian self-expression. People are not free to do this in many parts of the world. But, by your grace we are here in America. I thank you for that. Please bless my meditation on this passage. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!

Part 1: Keep a Tight Bridle On The Tongue (26)

Verse 26, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” (ESV)

Jesus said that the words that come out of our mouths reflect what is in our hearts (Mk 7:21-23). Paul said that the depraved man has a corrupted mouth (Ro 3:12-14).

Let’s look at these verses…

Mark 7:21-23,For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (ESV) – Jesus Christ

Romans 3:12-14, “All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” 14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” (ESV) Paul quoting the Old Testament.

According to James, a person’s religion is worthless if he cannot put a bridle on his tongue.

What a Christian says, should build up and encourage others. Lies, gossip, words that damage another’s reputation or discourage him should not come out of our mouths. We must not fall into the trap of the world and allow our mouths to spew out criticism of everyone and everything.

This not easy to do. It is a lot easier to criticize and say negative things then to build each other up with our words. What are we doing when we criticize others? We are subconsciously elevating ourselves above that other person. We are exalting ourselves in our own minds. We are placing ourselves in the seat of judgement. It is a very self-centered and self-righteous thing to do.

And really, nobody is attracted to that kind of talk. It does not make people want to learn about Jesus from you. People are really moved when they hear us building up and encouraging others. If we really want to point others to Christ, we must be speaking words of truth and encouragement, in love.

We should use our mouths to teach the Bible and to praise God. How true this is. This is ultimately the purpose of our ability to communicate with others, it is to communicate to others about our Savior Jesus and to point the way to Him. I really need to do more sharing of the word. I praise God for the opportunities to do so, with patients, with friends. I thank God for the direction and the tools to speaking the word of God by a textual study of the book of James. I pray that I may be noted as a Christian who speaks about the Gospel a lot.

Part 2: Look After The Needy; Keep Pure (27)

Verse 27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (ESV)

Religion is not complex. It is simple. James puts it here very clearly. True religion is not just a matter of what we believe; it is really concerned with how we act. It is both. We must have the mind of Christ, and serve those who need our help. We must not follow the ways of the world or our peers into a corrupt lifestyle, no matter how tempting the invitation may be.

Orphans and widows under affliction can be summarized as those who are the most vulnerable in society. They must be visited and looked after. Today, who is the most vulnerable? Orphans, foster kids, homeless people, illegal aliens struggling to survive in an unfriendly land, the sick, the aged, prisoners, the lonely, the shut ins, women subjected to domestic abuse. We need to open our eyes to the most vulnerable around us and visit them, and when we visit them, we must open our mouths and speak words of love and encouragement and the Gospel truth.

We need to keep ourselves unstained from the world. That definitely does not mean isolate yourself from everything, for we should be un-isolating ourselves by visiting the vulnerable.

We are helpless to keep ourselves unstained with our own strength. We need to depend on Jesus. That is why Bible study and prayer is so important. It is one way, that is within our grasp, of remaining unstained in the world. Having an attitude of obedience to the word of God is important. Repenting of our sins is vital. God’s grace of forgiveness totally makes us unstained. Living in that abundant and overflowing grace keeps us unstained. 1 Peter 1:19, “But with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”

Jesus knows that his disciples are walking in a sin filled world. He knows that there is a tendency to get stained by it. Jesus said in John 13:10,The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” Jesus’ disciples need to wash their feet once and awhile. I believe that happens when we come to Jesus with humble, repentant hearts and newly receive his grace of forgiveness. That is one reason that daily devotions are so important. They are not just to grow in our knowledge of Jesus and the Gospel, but also to look intently into the mirror of the word of God and come to Jesus and have our feet washed of the stains of this world.

This means that we agree that we have become stained…that we are helpless to not get stained…and that we must deal with, “our dirty feet” by coming to Christ. This takes self-awareness and humility and agreement with the word of God. Lord, please grow this quality in my heart.

Prayer: “Lord, forgive me for making religion more complicated than it is. Help me to practice pure Christian faith in my life and promote Gospel faith to those around me.”

One Word: Possess a faith that pleases God

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