The restless soul is never satisfied with wealth and success. A deceased country music icon could testify to this truth. He had nearly forty of his albums appear on Billboard’s country music top-ten charts and just as many number one singles. But he also had multiple marriages and spent time in prison. Even with all his achievements, he once lamented: “There’s a restlessness in my soul that I’ve never conquered, not with motion, marriages or meaning. . . . It’s still there to a degree. And it will be till the day I die.” Sadly, he could have found rest in his soul before his life ended.
Jesus invites all those, like this musician, who have become weary from toiling in sin and its consequences to come to Him personally: “Come to me,” He says. When we receive salvation in Jesus, He will take the burdens from us and “give [us] rest” (Matthew 11:28). The only requirements are to believe in Him and then to learn from Him how to live the abundant life He provides (John 10:10). Taking on the yoke of Jesus’ discipleship results in our finding “rest for [our] souls” (Matthew 11:29).
When we come to Jesus, He doesn’t abbreviate our accountability to God. He gives peace to our restless souls by providing us a new and less burdensome way to live in Him. He gives us true rest.
“He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (James 4:6).
A person cannot be saved unless he comes to God with a humble attitude.
Today’s verse is a challenge and a promise to anyone who is not sure about his salvation, or who thinks he is saved but does not measure up to the tests of faith in James’s letter. Even the worst sinful character traits—relying on worldly wisdom, having enmity against God, lusting after fleshly and selfish desires—are no match for God’s abundant grace.
The kind of grace James is referring to here is simply God’s saving grace—His undeserved favor of forgiveness and love bestowed on all sorts of sinners. Included within that favor is the Lord’s promise of the Holy Spirit, an understanding of God’s Word, Heaven, and all spiritual blessings. Such grace is available to all who will come in faith to Christ. Nothing in this universe can prevent the truly humble and repentant person from receiving grace—not the strength of sin and depravity, not the might of Satan, not the pull of the flesh, not even the power of death.
Scripture often links humility with saving faith. That’s why James quoted from Proverbs 3:34 (“God is opposed to the proud”) to support his point in verse 6. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us: “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven” (18:3).
If you are confused or doubtful regarding your salvation, just ask yourself, “Have I humbly submitted myself to God in faith and repentance?” If you have humbled yourself before God, rejoice! You are by definition a believer, one of the humble. Otherwise, you need to pray with the attitude of the tax gatherer in Luke 18:13, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!” and receive His abundant grace.
Suggestions for Prayer
Thank God for His continual grace, which He pours out to those who are humble before Him.
For Further Study
Read James 1—2.
What tests of true faith are discussed there?
How are we to respond to each of them?
Reflect on your response to these issues in the past. How could you improve?
Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.
— James 1:2-3 (AMPC)
One of the mistakes many Christians make is that, when trials come, they pray for their troubles to stop. I believe that, instead, we need to pray for strength and endurance; we need to ask God to make us steadfast. If the enemy is aiming his best guns at us—doing everything he can to upset our lives, ruin our businesses, tear apart our families, or otherwise steal our peace—and we stay steadfast and patient, he will be exceedingly frustrated, and ultimately defeated, because we are not cooperating with him.
Philippians 1:28 (AMPC) says: And do not [for a moment] be frightened or intimidated in anything by your opponents and adversaries, for such [constancy and fearlessness] will be a clear sign (proof and seal) to them of [their impending] destruction, but [a sure token and evidence] of your deliverance and salvation, and that from God.
This verse encourages us not to be frightened or intimidated when the devil comes against us, but to remain steadfast. As we do, we not only show the devil that he cannot handle us, but we also demonstrate to the Lord that we have faith in Him. The fact that our actions affirm our trust in Him is God’s signal to release His power into our situations and deliver us. I believe God wants you to hear Him telling you to stand firm and not be afraid.
Prayer of the Day: Thank You, Father, for providing ways to defeat and frustrate the enemy. Help me to remain steadfast and positive so that I can ultimately win this battle, in Jesus’ name, amen.
Having established that the fourth commandment remains what it has always been—a commandment of the Lord—and as such is relevant to our lives, we can now think profitably about how to keep it. But we must be careful as we get specific about honoring the Sabbath. The Lord Jesus, after all, had some very strong words for the Pharisees regarding the way their moral specificity had become a means not of obedience but of self-righteousness (Mark 2:23 – 3:6).
With trembling and humility, then, let’s consider how are we to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. How do we prevent worldly concerns—those of leisure, recreation, and work—from infringing on our enjoyment and worship of God?
Let’s think first of public worship. What kinds of conversations do you typically have prior to the worship service? Are they concerned at any point with the things of God, or only ever with sports, family, and every other thing? It takes an act of the will to give eternal matters priority in our minds and mouths. If you were to determine that in your preparation for worship you would set aside every priority which looms so large on other days, I guarantee your time at church would be changed.
The same goes for after the service. When the last song has been sung and the service is over, how long does it take for your mind and conversation to return to worldly matters? If we were instead to commit to spending time after the service speaking to one another about the greatness of God, the truth of His word, and the wonder of His dealings with us, and praying with one another about the week ahead and the trials we face, then we would begin to understand better the “one another” passages in the New Testament about encouraging one another (Hebrews 10:25), speaking the truth to one another (Ephesians 4:25), and building one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11)—for we would be living them out.
Similarly, in our private affairs on the Lord’s Day, spiritual improvement should still take priority. That may mean family worship, reading edifying books, prayer, discussion of what was preached that morning, and more—but whatever it means, we should make it our aim not to let the cares of the other six days push into our spiritual enjoyment of the first day of the week.
If you want to profit from keeping the Sabbath, and if you want to take the fourth commandment seriously, then your conviction must fuel your action, and aspiration must turn into practice. Avoid making rules that only foster self-righteousness, but consider whether anything needs to change. How will you keep the Sabbath holy the next time Sunday comes round?
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)
Have you ever been lost? Isn’t it a scary feeling?
When Philip was five, he lived on a ranch in California. Philip loved riding around the ranch with his dad, who oversaw the care of the cattle and sheep. He almost always had another companion with him–his dog, Rusty. Rusty was a German shepherd and a “working dog” on the ranch. Philip’s dad would give Rusty specific commands, and Rusty would help him herd the cattle and sheep. But whenever Rusty wasn’t needed on the ranch, he could always be found at Philip’s side. Rusty was very protective of the boy. If Rusty ever sensed that something was threatening Philip, he would get in front of him and not move until everything was ok.
One day, Philip was with his parents on a part of the ranch with which he was unfamiliar. Somehow, he wandered away from his parents, so far away that he finally couldn’t find the way back to the family car. Fortunately, Rusty was with Philip when he got lost. Although Philip didn’t realize it as he was trying to find his way back to his family, Rusty had been leading him in the right direction, almost like he was herding lost sheep or cattle. Eventually, Philip became very tired and had to sit down on the ground. When his parents found him, it was two hours later, and Rusty was almost covering Philip. Philip did not know where he was, but it was a comfort to be able to put his arms around his dog and know that Rusty would never leave him there alone.
Do you ever find yourself in situations that make you feel afraid or confused? Perhaps you have felt lonely, or even lost. Psalm 23:4 assures believers that no matter where they go or what they have to face, they can depend on God. God stays continually with those who trust Him and obey Him. He gives comfort and guidance. He is there anytime to hear those who call upon Him for help. Are you dealing with really hard things right now? You do not have to deal with them all by yourself. You can count on God, anytime and anywhere.
God is always present to help, guide, and protect me in any situation.
My Response: » When I am in the middle of a difficult time, do I think biblically about God’s character and remember to call on Him for help? » What other verses in God’s Word help me to know that I can turn to God at any time and anywhere?
A California high school gym teacher has been fired from the Jurupa Unified School district because of her religious beliefs on gender identity.
Although Jessica Tapias had never had a transgender student in her classes, the school district demanded that she be willing to refer to transgender students by pronouns not matching their biological sex, according to the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), which Tapias has hired to help her get reinstated.
“The school district further required her to agree to lie to parents who are unaware of their student’s gender identity confusion,” PJI said in a news release. “She was also ordered to permit transgender students to use locker rooms at the same time that students of the opposite sex might be changing and possibly be completely naked.”
Tapias ultimately decided her Christian beliefs would not allow her to go along with hiding students’ gender transitions from parents and lying to them. She requested a religious accommodation to the demands, and the school district subsequently fired her. PJI has submitted a discrimination complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Tapias has spoken out about her firing to Fox News, Newsmax and other outlets.
“I knew immediately, like in my gut, in my heart, in my soul, that there was a decision I had to make because, you know, these two things were totally butting heads,” she told Fox News. “I essentially had to pick one. Am I going to obey the district in the directive that [does not line up] with … my own beliefs, convictions and faith? Or am I going to stay true … choose my faith, choose to be obedient to … the way the Lord has called me to live? And so it was crazy to be in the position where I realized that I couldn’t be a Christian and a teacher.”
According to the PJI release, Tapias posted her personal views on Instagram, during her own time, about the use of pronouns and teaching gay pride to 3-year-old children, and although she didn’t identify her employer or state where she was a teacher, the post prompted an investigation and multiple hypothetical demands by the school district.
During an interview with Newsmax’s American Agenda, Tapias said that some students found her on social media and sent some of her posts to her school district. She was immediately removed from her tenured position and put on paid administrative leave while the district investigated.
“It very much feels like the school is taking on these parental responsibilities and taking away the students’ actual parents’ rights,” she said during the interview. “It’s interesting … the district asks us as educators to uphold honesty. And so, I looked them in the eye, and I wanted to be very clear, ‘Are you asking me to lie to parents,’ and they said ‘yes, it’s the law, and it’s for the students’ privacy.’ And it hit me that they want us to be honest in only … certain situations.”
According to Fox News Digital, a notice written under Superintendent Trenton Hanson’s letterhead informed Tapias that the district couldn’t accommodate her Christian beliefs, which prohibited her from withholding information on gender transitions from parents.
“Consequentially, the District will release you from your employment effective at the end of the day on Jan. 31, 2023,” the notice said.
“Based on your religious beliefs, you cannot be dishonest with parents … If asked about student gender identity by a parent, you cannot refer the parent to a counselor, defer the inquiry and suggest they speak with a student … or otherwise deflect the parent’s inquiry,” a letter, signed by the assistant superintendent of human resources, Daniel Brooks, said.
Tapias also refused to allow “male genitals” in the girls’ locker rooms.
“I don’t believe in my faith that that’s how God’s calling us to love, by affirming those lies and confusion,” she told Fox. “I believe firmly that God created man and woman, and you are who He made you to be. And when someone has confusion about that, I believe that’s lies and confusion from the devil.”
Tapias said she originally went into teaching because she loved the idea of helping and supporting kids.
“I thought how amazing it would be to be a light to [kids] possibly coming from very rough homes like I did when I was a child. And so it was just so exciting … to get to work in a field where it was just way beyond a paycheck, [where I would be] able to make a difference in a way that was priceless on young lives.”
Franklin Graham expressed his support for Tabias on Facebook.
“I appreciate this teacher!” he posted. “She has the guts to stand up for what’s right. And they have absolutely no right to fire her for it! We need many more like her … This is a crime against children. It just shows how upside down the world has become.”
Tapias has a strong case, PJI Attorney Brad Dacus told Newsmax’s American Agenda.
“We at Pacific Justice Institute in fact are taking on cases like this in the hundreds, of people of faith being purged from their jobs because of their faith. Her situation is particularly strong because it’s not about what she did in the workplace. She has a spotless record of what she does as a teacher. It’s because of her beliefs.”
Beliefs that are solid and reasonable.
“She doesn’t want to lie and use pronouns affirming something that violates her conscience and her love for those children,” Dacus said. “She doesn’t want to hide information and lie to parents. She doesn’t want to allow biological boys, teenage boys, to go into the girls’ locker room at the same time when girls could be changing, could be naked … We at Pacific Justice Institute intend to take this case as far and as long as we need to make sure there’s justice.”
Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!
The promises of God’s Word may take longer to come to pass than your impatient self wants, but if you wait on the Lord, He will strengthen your heart and keep His promises. He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it. He will make a way where there seems to be no way. He is the God who can do exceedingly abundantly above all that you could ask or think. He’s the One who said that when you call on Him, He will answer you and show you great and mighty things that you know not. He’s the One who said that He will provide your every need according to His riches in glory. He’s the One who brings you peace that surpasses understanding and joy in the midst of great sorrow. He is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.
Wait upon the Lord for He is worthy. He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the fairest of ten thousand, the Lamb of God for sinners slain. He has conquered death, hell and the grave. He is your Savior, Redeemer and Good Shepherd – faithful and true. What a mighty God we serve! Wait, I say, on the Lord!
Now may the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you and give you His peace. May your children and your children’s children live in the liberty we enjoy because in our generation, we stood up and were counted for righteousness’ sake. In Jesus’ name, I pray you receive this blessing all the days of your life. And all of God’s children said, “Praise the Lord.”
Although the phrase is ancient and, therefore, the origin uncertain, one of the earliest uses of “green with envy” came from the pen of William Shakespeare. In Othello, Iago warns Othello, “Beware, my lord, of jealousy; it is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.”
Why do we envy others? Why does jealousy sneak in like a silent fog, clouding our vision of God’s blessings? It is because we fail to appreciate that God has blessed each person with unique gifts and abilities to be discovered and enjoyed by each one. The psalmist David wrote that God created each of us “fearfully and wonderfully,” in a “marvelous” way (Psalm 139:14). Therefore, our gifts and blessings are unique to us, as are those blessings God has given others. Paul wrote about gifts another way, likening us to the individual parts of the human body (1 Corinthians 12:14-26). Each part is unique and important and should be honored as such.
Whenever you feel a twinge of envy or jealousy, let it remind you to thank God for how He has made and blessed you. Then put your blessings to use for Him and others!
Hem your blessings with praise, lest they unravel. Unknown
Sometimes we wish the Christian life could be a constant state of euphoria in which we’re always experiencing God in some wonderful way.
But we need to realize that when we go to church, we won’t always have a strong sensation of God’s presence. We won’t always be deeply moved by a message. Then again, sometimes we will. When that happens, we can thank God for it.
Still, we don’t live for those times. We don’t depend on them. When we mature spiritually, we understand that we need to apply ourselves to the truths of God. We realize that we need to come down from our spiritual mountaintops to the valleys, to the real world of temptations, challenges, and trials.
Church should equip us, challenge us, and build us up. Something wonderful happens when God’s people come together for worship and Bible study. Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20 NKJV).
Not only is God’s presence manifested in a unique way at church, but we often find a resolution for our problems while there. Or at least we gain a better perspective on how to deal with them.
The psalmist Asaph grappled with the age-old question of why the wicked prosper, and then it dawned on him: “When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me—until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end” (Psalm 73:16–17 NKJV).
In other words, “I didn’t understand why things are the way they are. But when I came into God’s presence to study His Word with His people, my questions came into their proper perspective.”
When we think about the greatness of God, when we remember the truths of God, it puts our problems in perspective.
Scriptures, Lessons, News and Links to help you survive.