November 20

James 2

The law of liberty was mentioned in chapter 1 and again in chapter 2 verse 12, “so speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.” The first part of this chapter is about the sin of showing partiality, showing favor to the rich. In verse 4 it says, “have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?” To show partiality means to make a distinction among people based on their rank and influence. These people were in the church, a spiritual gathering, discerning who had money and then giving them preferential treatment in consideration of how the rich could be of a benefit to them.

My pastoral experience with the rich is that if their heart is humble, they won’t want preferential treatment. They will pursue God and obey Him as a yielded vessel, like anyone else. If the rich, or even the well-off, are arrogant, they will want special treatment. The arrogant will want control, and they want to tell the pastor how to run the church. This is displeasing to God. Some have unknowingly hurt their local church by putting such arrogant people in position as elders, who are not called to be spiritual overseers in the slightest. These proud ones have been given voting power to control the church vision. False elders have been stopping pastors and churches from fulfilling vision for centuries. God is against such control in His churches.

God’s principle of mercy is one of faith, where we’re relying on God in a relationship with Him. We’re not relying on the rich. We’re not controlled by the rich in the church. We’re free to follow God because it is God that we serve. This law of liberty is not based on control, but based on God’s mercy.

Faith is a position of dependency, and from a yielded heart, we obey. We do what God asks us to do, relying on His grace to carry us through. If we think we are relying on God, but refuse to obey the One we’re yielded to, then we’re really not living in dependency on God. Verse 20 says that faith without works is dead, meaning faith without action is unproductive, useless. A person living surrendered to another person will obey. A child will obey a parent. An employee will follow instruction. A church member will serve as given responsibility. If we don’t obey God, then we really aren’t surrendered to Him to the point of taking action. They may have a faith that believes, but they don’t have a faith that obeys. James compares that kind of faith to a body without a spirit. It’s dead, useless. Let’s lean on God to the point of taking action. He’s faithful! God will do what He promised when we act in our faith on Him!

Ezekiel 22-23

In chapter 22 we read about the sins of Jerusalem and Judah. We also read about the wickedness of spiritual leadership. God is going to deal with the sins of other nations in the next section, but first God is dealing with His people and His leaders. Judgment always starts in the house of God. Often the spiritual condition of the house, in general, is directly related to the spiritual condition of the leadership. This is true of the Hebrew nation, and this is true of the church today. Do we want a spiritual awakening today? If so, then expect God to clean house, exposing sin in church leadership and in the church family. Don’t be shocked when people get sick and die. Don’t be surprised when the proud and arrogant leave or move on. Pray for your leadership and for one another. Value humility and transparency.

Chapter 23 is an allegory of two harlot sisters. The older one is a portrayal of Samaria and the younger is illustrative of Jerusalem. Both were unfaithful to the Lord. The concept of prostitution shows how personal and deeply painful their rebellion is felt by the Lord. In verse 22 Ezekiel delivers a message of judgment. Again in 23:49 and 22:16 we see the phrase “then you shall know that I am the Lord.” This is God’s aim in judgment; He is always looking for repentance and restoration.

Ezekiel 22:30 is a well known verse about intercession, or someone who will take up the cause of another. The intercessor is someone who will “stand in the gap.” The idea here is when a wall has been broken down, leaving the people inside vulnerable to an enemy or a threat. An intercessor tries to repair that gap or bridge that gap, illustrative of standing in their place so God can move on behalf of the one praying. This is a powerful truth! Intercession is a responsibility of every Christian to make himself or herself available for carrying up the cause of another before God. We can make a difference in prayer!

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