James 1:21-22

Thank you for reading this devotional today. As these first few days of 2018 have come and gone, I pray it is already proving to be a great year. I pray more importantly that we are allowing God to do what He wants with our lives. There is no better way to live. As I was meditating on the thought of being used of God, the Lord took me back to a passage of Scripture that I had studied recently. He reminded me of what is necessary to live for Him. I would like to share some thoughts with you of how to live for God. While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, I have found it to be a great place to start.

Verse 21 starts out with the two words "... lay apart ..." It means to put off or aside or away. Paul uses the similar phrasing in Ephesians 4: "... put off ..." (verse 22) and "... put away ..." (verse 31). It means to cast aside or to no longer use. As James says, I must "... lay apart all filthiness ..." (that which makes filthy or foul) and "... superfluity of naughtiness, ..." (superiority of wickedness, malice, or desire to injure). I must cast those things aside. We must also understand that there are things in our lives that dirty us up. Whatever it is, we must recognize that God cannot use a filthy vessel. We certainly would not want to drink out of a cup that we found on the side of a road. Why? It is filthy. There are an incredible amount of germs in it and stuff that would make us gag when we think about it. Why then should we expect God to see us as vessels and desire to use us if we are filthy?

James then says to "... receive with meekness ..." (verse 21). Receive means to take hold of or to take up. It is the complete opposite of lay apart. This is the positive aspect of the garment - take off that which is not appropriate (the world) and put on that which is appropriate (the Word). I must not only hear the Scriptures, I must take them and clothe myself in them. They should be what surrounds me. With meekness means that I should receive all Scripture in the same spirit, whether it is convicting me or encouraging me. I need to be careful not to identify preaching that is funny or powerful any differently than preaching that is piercing and convicting. If all preaching, studying, and counseling is Biblical, I should receive it with a gentle and tender Spirit.

Engrafted means implanted by nature or implanted by other's instruction. It really is a beautiful word describing how the Word of God should be a natural part of my life. When I got saved, I became a new creature. Christ took what I was and desires to replace it with what He is - the Word. That is what should now be my nature. It does become a daily battle between the flesh and the Spirit; but when I die to self, I am able to live naturally with what has been engrafted into me - the Word! Why then do I still sometimes live in what has been replaced? The flesh is powerful. I must die to the flesh and live in the " ... engrafted word, ..."

Verse 22 shows the instruction after receiving the Word - be a doer of it. The word "... doers ... " here means to be a performer or one who obeys the law. Simple application: I cannot just hear what is being said; I must DO it! I must take preaching, counsel, and my own studies and do them. Walk in them. Live in them. What I do is a reflection of what I am. So what am I? My actions will reveal it. Regardless of past actions or an incomplete mindset, I should strive to move forward with new actions that show obedience to God and His Word. There is GREAT liberty in that!

For 2018, my heart's prayer is that I will lay aside that which filthy before God (the world), jump into that which grows me closer to Him (the Word), and do the things that I know He wants me to do (the work). "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." (James 4:17).

Have a great day in the Lord!

Written by Kenn Winn
January 10, 2018