Daily Devotional - 4 August 2020
“If you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it” (James 1:25).
One Sunday morning, a visiting minister asked the children of the church a question, “What is a good climber, has a bushy tale and collects nuts?” After a considerable amount of silence, one brave young boy raised his hand and said, “I know the answer is supposed to be Jesus, but it sounds an awful lot like a squirrel.” Too often, like this boy, we have been programmed to respond with particular answers. For instance, if I were to ask a group of Christians how much they valued the Bible, on a scale of one to ten, the vast majority would unhesitatingly rank the Bible as a ten. If I asked similar questions about prayer and deliberately setting aside time with God, the answer would be the same–a solid ten across the board.
However, if those same people were asked to reflect on the amount of time they actually spent reading the Bible, praying and spending time alone with God–given that they’ve ranked it a ten out of ten in importance–I suspect the results would provide a much lower valuation. Talk is cheap and what we ‘do’ is far more accurate in demonstrating what we consider to be of true value. Many of us give lip service to the importance of God’s Word, praying and spending time with Him, but in truth struggle to set aside time for our relationship with God on a regular basis. And when we do, sometimes it is treated as a item on our to do list that requires checking off, but has little impact on the remainder of our day. We are left unchanged.
James tells us that this type of religious observance does nothing but provide us with a smoke screen–it allows us to pretend that we are in right relationship with God, but in actual fact, we are only ‘fooling ourselves.’ We need to do more than just read the Word–we must do what it says. We need to allow it to identify the areas in our life that need work and then allow the Holy Spirit to change us and to do the work of demolition to make room for setting a foundation upon which He will do His good work in our lives. He continues, “For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like” (James 1:23-24). It is a ridiculous picture–to look at yourself in a mirror and then immediately forget what you saw–but that is what James compares the person who reads God’s Word and then immediately forgets how it should bring about change.
And make no mistake–a student of God’s Word recognizes how poorly we measure up to God’s standard. Change is called for. For as long as we walk the face of this planet, we are to be allowing the Holy Spirit to be doing His good work in us–growing His fruit, equipping us for spiritual battle, empowering us with His gifts for the good work we’ve been called to do. God’s Word, prayer and time alone with Him deserve a ‘ten’ valuation in our lives, but these will never be truly given their full due until we take our relationship with God and need to change seriously. Both take effort, time and attention. If your habits indicate that God receives less than ten out of ten, ask Him to help you make the necessary changes that will prove His value in your life.
~ Pastor Jane
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!