James 4:10- "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up."
This is a promise that should comfort us when we have allowed ourselves to let other things come between us and God. Whether these things are good in themselves, or we have deliberately sinned, when we lack the peace that we are supposed to possess when we abide in Christ, this verse in James points the way back to a restoration of that peace.
To humble ourselves is not just to know that God is great and that we are nothing in comparison. James gives us a picture of what our humbling should look like. In v.7, we are told to resist the devil and submit to God. For too long I thought that every battle against sin had to be a long, dragged out affair which caused me to live in dispair. Yet when I finally followed the command this verse contains, I found that the devil does flee, and quicker than you think. We are told in v. 8 to draw near to God. Is this just a passive stance on our part of waiting till God does something on our behalf? No. We are to repent of our willful disobedience ("...cleanse your hands, you sinners...") and our refusal to put our faith in Jesus ("...purify your hearts, you double-minded.") We are to weep over our sin, the sins committed within the body of Christ, and the sins of the world that breaks the heart of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (verse 9) We will be lifted up after we have turned our laughter into mourning. (verses 9,10) We will not be neither morose nor humorless, but we will be at peace with our Father. And this peace brings a different kind of happiness, a happiness that attracts those who have no peace, a happiness that attracts people to Jesus.
These verses in James can be applied by you and I to bring revival to our own lives. However, this Epistle was written by James not to individuals, but to "the the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad..." (James 1:1) James was writing to all the Jewish believers in Jesus scattered over a vast geographic region. He was writing to a collective body of people giving instruction as to how to bring about a revival to that entire body of believers. And as stated above, they were to do specific acts, such as repent, mourn over their sin and place their faith totally in Jesus Christ. They were not to wait in passivity while God "did something." This applies to us as well. Many believers today believe that God is going to just sweep through this nation bringing revival to the Church. Without relizing it, they speak of God as some "force" that will blow through this land like the wind. All we have to do is pray this revival down from heaven. Yet, to paraphrase one of my favorite Christians, A.W. Tozer, prayer without obedience will bring no revival. Revival will come when those in the Church follow the pattern of behavior as found in these verses from James. A friend of mine once made the following observation after she heard someone from the pulpit at my home church declare that the coming revival was about to sweep the area: "I have heard this for years. When is this supposed to happen?" I am sure that many ask this question and come to conclude revival will never happen. But it can. But obedience is the Biblical first step. If you think I am advocating works to attempt to make God act, I am not. The behavior outlined in these verses creates the atmosphere where God's grace can sanctify the believer.
Sunday, April 1, 2007
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