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Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Dreaded "S" Word (James 4:7)

"Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).

Submission, the despised "S" word, is a training issue. Once your intellect understands the value of submission, it informs the will to soften its neck and bow its knee in surrender. It all comes back to one's view of God. We think that a compassionate and merciful God should remove suffering. No, He simply converts suffering, for the saint, into something redemptive. Joni Eareckson-Tada sums this up best, "Suffering is when God uses what He hates in order to accomplish what He loves."

Unbowed people covet, fight, and quarrel. Why? They don't believe that God is at work in their lives or that He can be trusted with their welfare. Submission first begins with God, "Submit yourselves to God."

James uses Job (5:11, emphasis added) as an example of submission to God during suffering, "You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy." Because we know the end of Job's story we see the value of submission to God during suffering. And it is submission to God in suffering--not merely submission to suffering itself, which is what happens to a lot of people; they become a martyr--full of bitterness.

When we only see the natural realm, suffering seems futile; yet God uses the suffering in the natural realm to accomplish eternal wealth in the spiritual realm. Think of Jesus' attitude toward suffering, "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame and has set down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2). Christ's suffering did not diminish His joy. 

Enough said. 

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
James 4:1-5:20

  • What are the symptoms or indicators that a person is proud?
  • What characterizes humble people?
  • How does James describe the attitude of those who are wealthy?
  • What is James' solution to quarreling, fights, and worldliness?
Acts 11:19-12:25
  • How does the Gospel spread to Antioch?
  • Describe Barnabas.
  • What events does God use to get Saul to Antioch? What does this tell you about how God works?
  • What event brings the body of Christ together in prayer?
  • How does Peter escape? Does Peter expect to be released by an angel?
  • How does God deal with Herod? What does this tell you about God? about leaders?
Turning truth into prayer
Are you suffering? Ask the Lord to help you trust Him to convert your pain into something redemptive.