What words would your friends or family use to describe you? Jesus referred to two brothers’James and John’as Sons of Thunder. Why? We’re given a glimpse of their fiery personalities in the Bible. After some people rejected them, James and John asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to consume the village. Jesus rebuked them for their impulse to retaliate.
Yet that’s not the end of their story. Jesus worked in these brothers’ lives so that they became known for love and forgiveness.
Though the two brothers had once been ambitious for their own personal gain, they became ambitious to share God’s love with others. The brothers discovered that when you understand and experience God’s love, you are free to live and grow. And as you grow and share with others, you be used by God to touch the lives of many in need of God’s healing help.
Can you relate to the anger and selfish ambition of these men? If so, be encouraged by God’s work in their lives. He wants to do the same in you!
Most Americans admire those who practice ‘rugged individualism.’ But in our emphasis on individual freedom, we often lose sight of our corporate responsibility. As Christians, we’re individuals but we’re also part of a people. We’re called to benefit from the work of others, to suffer with others, and to bear responsibility with others. This may not seem fair, but it’s a fact.
You see, our ties reach all the way back to Adam and Eve. We need to be saved because, as it says in the book of Romans, ‘Adam’s one sin brought condemnation upon everyone.’ But Roman’s goes on to say that this very principle of corporate connectedness makes salvation possible through our unity with Christ, for ‘Christ’s one act of righteousness makes all people right in God’s sight and gives them life’.
When the Israelites returned from their exile, they realized how both they and their ancestors had failed God’s commands, and they were overcome with grief. In that repentant grief, however, they heard the good news of grace, and this revived and renewed their love for God and their desire to obey him.
Ask God to bring to mind any sins or wrongdoings you, or even your family, has committed so you may confess and let go of them. It’s a powerful exercise, but seeing God’s mercy over all your sin can be one of the most liberating experiences ever.
Have you chosen to seek God and surrender to him?Are you seeking His direction of your life?Even if you are, if you’re like me you probably still choose to take the occasional detour.Do you continue to keep options open to do things you know you shouldn’t be doing?Living a life like that will fill you with guilt, shame, anxiety, fear and keep you from living the abundant life.
In order to help you guard against this kind of behavior, James wrote, ‘So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you hypocrites.Let there be tears for the wrong things you have done’.
Don’t you love James? He doesn’t sugar coat things. He gives us a coat of tough love.
Even those of you mature in the faith face decisions and have to make choices every day.It’s both the hardest and easiest thing you’ll ever do. In your surrender, you draw close to Him, and in turn He’ll draw close to you, just as James tells us.