The Source of Conflict- James 4:1-6

Weekly Devotional- July 24, 2017

Conflict is inevitable. Different personalities, backgrounds, and experiences make this a normal part of life. However, some conflict has a more serious root — a spiritual root. This is where James is helpful. James 4 deals with three different levels of conflict. Here is what we can learn.

1- We experience conflict with others.- vs. 1a

James begins with asking why this is a reality. Why do we have conflict with others? Why is this so common? We know it to be true — we all have experienced it. It even takes place in churches. Far too often we simply accept it as normal without answering the question James poses. He begins to answer that question in the next point.

2- We experience conflict within ourselves.- vs. 1b-3

The second half of verse one is the key.

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?

Did you notice what he said? The conflict that is among you (with others) is really a symptom of the conflict within you. Inner conflict leads to external conflict.

Where does this inner conflict come from? It comes from our own selfish desires, lusts, and passions. There is one other key place that it comes from. This is seen in the next point.

3- We experience conflict with God.- vs. 4-6

The conflict we have with God leads to inner conflict which leads to interpersonal conflict. It is all related. Here is the truth. Constant and ongoing conflict in someone’s life is a sign that there are some spiritual issues. It is a sign that there is selfishness. It is a sign that there is pride.

Conflict is normal, but it shouldn’t be common in our lives. If you are someone who is constantly living in conflict with everyone around you, take a look at your heart. Chances are, there is a problem between you and God that you need to address.

Why You Should Pursue Spiritual Growth

Weekly Devotional- July 17, 2017

For many people, spiritual growth seems unattainable. It is a mountain that they love to look at, but never climb. It is something they view as being for the spiritually elite. As a result, spiritual growth is not something they ever put much effort into pursuing. There are some important reasons why we need to make spiritual growth a priority in our lives. Here are a few of them.

1- The pursuit of spiritual growth offers protection against error.

We live in a culture that is permeated with error. This includes doctrinal error, philosophical error, and moral error. How do we guard ourselves and our families from all of this error? How can we remain firmly planted in Truth? Both Ephesians 4:13-16 and I Peter 3:17-18 teach that it is the pursuit of spiritual maturity that offers such protection.

2- Individual spiritual growth leads to the spiritual growth of the entire church.

Ephesians 4:15-16 teaches that as we as individuals grow spiritually the entire church grows as well. Our individual growth leads to the growth of the Body. When we fail to grow as individuals we not only hurt ourselves, we also hurt the entire Body.

3- The pursuit of spiritual growth protects us from being useless and unfruitful Christians.

There are many Christian lives that, from an eternal perspective, are somewhat useless and unfruitful. How do we guard against this being how our lives are characterized? According to Peter, it is through growth in godliness. When we are growing spiritually we are ensuring that our lives are in a position to be used by God in any way He chooses.

4- When we are not growing spiritually we lose sight of what Christ has done.

II Peter 1:9 teaches that those who refuse to pursue spiritual growth have lost sight of what Christ as done for them, or perhaps never have experienced what Christ has done through a relationship with him. Just as God’s grace brings salvation, so God’s grace brings growth.

Closing Thought

Spiritual growth requires regular time in God’s Word. It is in the Bible that we learn about who God is, what God does, why He does it, and how He wants us to live. To ignore God’s Word is to refuse spiritual growth.

Spending time in God’s Word take intentionality. We must put forth effort to be growing spiritually. Spiritual growth is not just a prize to be imagined, it is a goal to be pursued.

Take some time and think about what you can do to increase your spiritual growth.

Why the Old Testament Law?

Weekly Devotional- July 10, 2017

One of the greatest sources of confusion when it comes to understanding the Bible is centered on the Old Testament Law. Why did God give it? Is it all still binding on believers today? If not, why not?

People naturally respond in one of three ways. (1) Some people think that all of the Old Testament Law is binding on all believers, and so they strive to obey all of it. (2) Some people think that the Old Testament Law is now meaningless and serves no purpose, so they ignore it. (3) Other people have no idea what to think about it, so they don’t give any thought to it.

All of the above responses are incorrect. It is when we understand what the law does that we can begin to understanding the “Why?” of the Old Testament Law.

What the Old Testament Law Does

 

1- The Old Testament Law reveals the nature and the character of God.

It is through the O.T. Law that we learn that God is holy, righteous, and opposed to sin. Leviticus 20:26 says that we are to be holy. Why? Because God is holy. The law of God flows from the character of God, and it is in the O.T. Law that we see that character.

2- The Old Testament Law reveals sin.

Several verses in Romans point to this truth such as Romans 3:20 and Romans 4:15. But perhaps none is more clear than Romans 7:7 which says, “…if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin…” The law reveals sin, but more than that, it also shows the seriousness of that sin.

3-The Old Testament Law shows God’s desire for His people to be distinct.

Many of the dietary and ceremonial laws were all about God demonstrating his desire for his followers to be distinct from the world around them. Believers are to be holy and distinct from the surrounding world, and this is demonstrated in the O.T. Law.

4- The Old Testament Law points us to Christ.

Galatians 3:24 says that  “the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ…” While the law demanded righteousness, it could not create it. The law cannot give life. The Law proclaims, “I cannot save you.” It points us to Christ because not only did Christ fulfill the Law, but it is only though faith in Christ that we can have salvation.

Closing Thought

So the next time someone you know seems confused about the “Why?” of the Old Testament Law, feel free to explain how it is through the Law that we learn about God, the seriousness of sin, and God’s desire for his people to be distinct. Also, share how that the law points us to Christ — the only source of true life.