Lifestyle Christianity 2: Crown of Life

 
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JAMES 1:5-12

5  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7  For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8  A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. 9  Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: 10  But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. 11  For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways. 12  Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

Have you already taken God up on this guarantee that He will bestow wisdom upon "any of" His people who will "ask" Him? The way you can know if you are receiving His wisdom is if you refuse to doubt Him. In fact it says if you doubt God, it will do you no good to ask Him for anything. God loves all His people; He is in them. But we are of no pleasure to Him if we can't make up our minds. Your self opinion must also change if you're in a humble, economic state. While those who have riches must discover they are still servants of God. Regardless, our love for God cannot be hid; for if it is manifested, it is sure to be rewarded. The ones who endure adversity and trials en route to where God wants them to be, will be blessed and "shall receive the crown of life".

JAMES 1:5

5  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

God is the Giver of the only kind of wisdom we need. We have too much of the world's wisdom and that's what causes us to doubt; our logic and reasoning. Though we may have learned a few lessons the hard way, we can receive this wisdom without having to mess up. This wisdom is essentially the ability to follow God by controlling your mind. All the answers we need exist within the God Who lives within us.

God wants His people to have His wisdom because He wants us to yield to His Spirit and experience His benefits. It begins by simply asking God to give it to you. We all "lack wisdom", it's just overcoming ourselves enough to recognize it. This does not come from the world, but from within. Are you receiving the wisdom only Yahweh can give? The more we ask, the more He will provide.

One of the biggest things about godly wisdom is realizing you cannot do it yourself; you must depend upon Him. It takes "wisdom" from God to be a lifestyle Christian. If you feel you lack the wisdom to live the way Christ wants, just "ask of God". This wisdom is of a spiritual nature. Again, if you haven't already, you need to take God up on this offer. Just "ask of God" and "let" the Spirit lead you. God wants you to get as much out of life as you can. If you truly desire wisdom, you will approach Him in faith:

JAMES 1:6-8

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7  For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8  A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

From a purely spiritual standpoint, God's wisdom is very simple to understand: The only way we "shall receive any thing of the Lord", including wisdom, is by faith, or believing God will give it to you. THE MOST FOOLISH THING WE CAN DO AS A CHRISTIAN IS DOUBT. This lifestyle is solely based on trust. There is no room for questioning God. The Scriptures give us all the support we need to understand the Omnipotence and purposes of our King. Therefore it all comes down to one thing: do you trust God enough to ask Him for things and to do things for you? Why shouldn't we take the Scriptures concerning faith totally to heart and experience the Christian lifestyle the way God intends for us?!

It does no good to ask or pray if we can't do it "in faith". Alot of why we go back and forth in our minds is because we've been programmed to settle. We've been taught that to want anything more is worldy or wicked. Therefore the whole idea of asking God for things in faith is uncertain in our minds because we have been conditioned to feel guilty for doing something that God wants us to do. Yet according to this, God wants us to ask Him for things believing He will provide them.

Someone who "wavereth" can't make up their mind, going back and forth in their thoughts whether or not to trust God. Of course we maybe never have thought of it in these terms, while coming up with reasonable excuses. However, one who simply asks in faith proves they are wise because they have spent the time making up their mind what they desire. THEY'VE DECIDED THEY WANT TO LIVE THEIR LIVES TO THE FULLEST SPIRITUALLY, EVEN ON THE EDGE, TO GET WHERE THEY WANT TO BE BY FULLY TRUSTING GOD. The phrase "ask in faith" is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #154 to call for, crave, desire, require and #4102 pursuasion... conviction... reliance. The battle whites must win is waged within, whether to believe God, or to waver and doubt. We live in a world we must be skeptical of, where what you see isn't what you get. However with faith, it isn't at all about what you see, but believing in what will one day become yours. Everything we see all around us was at one time in the imagination of someone. Why do we have such a hard time believing this? Especially when Christ taught it so emphatically:

MATTHEW 21:17-22

17  And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there. 18  Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. 19  And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. 20  And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! 21  Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. 22  And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

Our people seem to have been taught to fear or avoid understanding Christ's words like these here. Afterall, this is Christ and the Disciples. Christ speaks in vivid language when it comes to faith and believing: "Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done." Christ warns us not to doubt, but believe! Concluding these profound statements with absolute language concerning faith: "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." So obviously what we see here in James is merely elaborating and expounding upon what his Brother Yahshua Christ had already taught.

Faith requires your reliability. Is your mind dependable? If we doubt, but claim that we trust Him, then our minds are not dependable and neither are we. You are like a "a double-minded man" who "is unstable in all his ways." ASKING GOD FOR "ANY THING" WHILE BELIEVING, THEN RECEIVING IT IS LIFESTYLE CHRISTIANITY. The only thing we need to have on our minds on is obeying and pleasing God. Yet if one cannot make up his mind what he wants from God, he should not expect to receive anything from Him. This isn't difficult to understand, so why do we act like it is too difficult to do? Just trust God.

Doubting God removes us from receiving anything from Him. Why should God give us something if we won't even believe He is able to do it? This day and time most think anyone who practices faith, going after their desires, and using their imagination must be "unstable". Yet according to the wisdom taught here, we are stable only when we determine what we desire, ask it of God, then trust Him to deliver.

None of us should ever think we will "receive any thing of the Lord" if we go on settling. We must take the time to figure out what we want; what we have the most feeling and excitement about. So there's the mind of Christ and there is everyone else's mind. Those who think all of this is far fetched have a different mind than God. For they cannot make up their mind to live by faith because they are double-minded. Lifestyle Christianity is about having your mind set on pleasing God and wanting to see His power. Without faith it is impossible to please Him. If a person won't believe God, they are double-minded, going back and forth between faith and fear, trust and doubt, flesh and spirit. Now how far do you think you're going to get with God that way?

We immediately then see the connection between faith and receiving something from God. If God is against us having desires then what is the purpose of faith? Look closer at those who teach it is wrong to desire things from God- they have no faith themselves. They already have God figured out; they have all the answers. Yet they have no power and are double-minded. They don't even realize it because they have not asked for or received the wisdom of God.

Not only can we be wealthy in wisdom, but God's wisdom can leads to actual wealth. What we will see now is how faith is the great equalizer; it's what can bring balance to the poor in this life:

JAMES 1:9-10

9  Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: 10  But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.

Have you been depressed and humiliated? Then God says "rejoice"! Though one lives humble, if God's wisdom reaches you, you'll realize everything in your life is going to change for the better: "Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted." Though a flower appears glorious for a time, it will "pass away". But if we believe God has exalted us in this life, we have begun our entrance into His kingdom by faith.

Are you "a brother of low degree"- a blue-collar, working-class white person? You have nothing to be ashamed of! In fact, you are in the prime position for God to raise you up for His glory, if you'll only trust Him in your mind. God wants you to receive His abundant blessings. While the challenge for the rich man is that he must humble himself or else his wealth will not last, if he does not use it for God.

Is James telling the poor man to lie to himself? Absolutely not. He is telling him that his present state of lack can change if he will just believe. Again and again, he says "Let" or allow yourself to do it. In other words, there is something inside you that wants to do this but you won't allow yourself to. Something is trying to happen in your life. Someone is wanting to do miraculous things to change your personal world: will you let it happen? If we choose not to obey this by refusing to allow ourselves to rejoice, we will not get there. You must come to feel the joy, excitement, and fulfillment that comes with receiving what you want from God.

If all the brother of low degree ever does is mope around and settle in his poor circumstances, he'll assume he has no way out and will remain there. But he who will allow his spirit to soar into the realm of the impossible, there are no limits to what God will do thru his faith. We are to live in the now, to be and do the best we can because we know God has something ahead for us that is way above this temporary, low degree.

Just look throughout the Bible, there is nothing that can stop a believer: Abraham, Joseph, David... they all began their journey believing they were exalted. They didn't have to have pews and preachers pounding pulpits to get them to believe in God. They listened to the Spirit within- the same Spirit that's in you. The last thing a humble man wants to do is exalt himself; that's not what this is. According to our verse "he is exalted" already, it is his place to acknowledge his belief in it by living a life of rejoicing. All we are to do is acknowledge what is already a done deal with our Father.

All we must do then- like Abraham, like Joseph, and like David is keep trusting God's Word until the blessing comes. A HUMBLE MAN PROVES HE BELIEVES GOD HAS EXALTED HIM BY REJOICING. Again, it's something your spirit wants to do, so just "Let" it happen. In this state we cannot help but boast about what our God has done and is going to do. Our people need to see living examples of Christians who are willing to put it all on the line for God. How do we do this? Living by faith.

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance for "exalted" is #5311 which is elevated... altitude... the sky. God has lifted you up. The only reason one is not experiencing it is because he has not yet embraced the key to God's wisdom which is faith! According to this we are already exalted. The question is when will we begin to rejoice and make the most of it by believing God?! If you are poor the way God has chosen to raise you up is by your faith in Him. God has already elevated us but we must personally heed His wisdom by believing it.

In order for a rich man to maintain a healthy Christian life, he must humble himself as God's servant. This is how he reflects that he knows "he is made low". A rich man must realize that just because he has much money and possessions, that doesn't make him any better than any other white man, thinking he can live his life by his own set of rules. He must deliberately humble himself by being a servant and seeing his wealth as a doorway into his white community to help his brethren. Many times the rich become immoral and completely ignore their spirit. The more they lean upon their own reasoning to guide them, the further they continue to drift from God:

JAMES 1:11

11  For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.

Are you seizing all the opportunities God is giving you in this short life? If you're rich God has certain things He wants you to accomplish for your people, but time is running out. If you are rich, when you leave this world, nothing else will matter other than whether or not you humbled yourself and listened to God in this. For if a rich man is only concerned with his own agenda outside of God's purposes in his life, what he thinks he is accomplishing will not last.

Rich or poor, we must never be too busy to acknowledge God by being thankful. The rich are seen as having the greatest opportunity to be a blessing to their brethren and owe God more gratitude. But if the rich get too busy to remember Him from Whom all blessings flow, their riches will soon become a curse unto them.

JAMES 1:12

12  Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

God loves us and He wants us to love Him. He has demonstated His love for us in ways beyond our comprehension. FAITH IS THE WAY WE DEMONSTRATE OUR LOVE FOR GOD. We prove that we love Him by trusting Him thru our trials. This is the way of the "Blessed"- to endure the trial by faith. Here we return to the topic of conquering adversity. If you love God He will release His wisdom within you. The impact of this wisdom is being recognized among your people as one who is blessed, rewarded with a special "crown", within your head, not merely upon it. The way to test your wisdom and to receive any thing from God is through faith. And you use your faith even through your toughest circumstances. You must endure knowing God will always keep His promises.

The best way to endure the trials of this life is thru loving God. Those who truly love God can endure anything. To live this life to the fullest extent is to endure and persevere to the end. Therefore "the crown of life" signifies some reward or distinction which God bestows upon those who live this life for His purposes, embracing the faithfulness of God as the foundation of their lifestyle. In this context, the only thing this can be is power, wealth, and influence. This "crown of life" provides us more usefulness and greater opportunities as servants of the Most High King in this life.

REFLECTION

Wisdom and knowledge are not the same. Wisdom is knowledge put to use with the Light of God's power shining thru you. The indicator that one has God's wisdom is that they believe and trust in God. Lifestyle Christianity involves more than going thru the motions of revolving-door churchianity. It is every moment knowing that God has a higher purpose for your life, and each day living to pursue excellence for Him. This is the crown, this is the reward of the abundant Christian life.