Saturday, November 17, 2012

If It Isn't Practical, It Isn't Spiritual

James, a bondservant of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad:  Greetings.
James 1:1 (NKJ)

James, in a straight forward and no nonsense manner, gives us some of the best advice we could ever receive when it comes to "walking the walk and talking the talk."  His approach in writing this book is imperative in nature which is evident in the fifty-four commands he gave (taken from my bible footnotes*).  As we study the book of James, there is something we will come to appreciate about the author.  He was a practical man with great advice for Christian living.

According to Funk & Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary, the word practical means, "1.  Pertaining to or governed by actual use and experience or action, as contrasted with speculation.  2.  Trained by or derived from practice or experience.  3.  Applicable to use." 

I can receive those fifty-four commands given to me by James because they are things he has worked out and walked out in his own life.  They have come about through his own life experiences.  For example, James doesn't speculate as to how we can count it all joy when we fall into various trials (1:2-4)...he knows that we will face trials but he also knows we can consider it a great opportunity for spiritual growth.  How does he know these things?  He experienced that joy in his own life even when he knew the personal cost of living such a life. 

Let me give you an example from my life as well.  One of the experiences my husband, Mike, and I can relate to is the faithfulness of God in meeting our needs.  We don't have to speculate about God's faithfulness.  We've experienced His faithfulness time and time again, and as a result, can encourage you since we know He will be faithful to you.

We own a business, "Hofer's Auto Repair, Inc."  God has blessed our business and we consider it a joy to minister to others in such a practical thing as fixing someone's vehicle.  Occasionally, money has been tight and it's been a challenge to make payroll and keep the account payables current.  We have been at this for twenty-two years and the one thing we've learned over the years is, when those bills absolutely have to be paid, the money comes in.  God has never failed us in providing the finances we've needed.  Not one single time did the bills not get paid; maybe not always right on time but they were paid when they couldn't be delayed any longer.  We have come to learn that God is our Provider and very seldom do we lose sleep at night, no matter how dismal things may seem.  On a couple occasions, we owed several thousand dollars which had to be paid by the next day.  At the end of that day the money was in our account and we were writing checks like crazy.  We live by Philippians 4:13 and 4:19 on a daily basis.

Over the years I've heard the pastor of The Family Room, Don White, make the statement, "If it isn't practical, it isn't spiritual."  I'm excited about learning from James and about exploring the more practical issues of our faith.

Application of God's Word:

1.  Look at the definition for "practical" again.

2.  Is there room for "practical" and "faith" in our lives?  How?

3.  From your own life how have the two (practical and faith) operated together?

4.  Read Philippians 4:13, 19.

*Jack Hayford's New Spirit Filled Life Bible (NKJ)

Personal Matters:

According to the above definition "practical" means learning from life's experiences.  One of the greatest life lessons I've learned over the years is about the faithfulness of God.  He consistently takes care of us and meets our needs time and time again.  His faithfulness to love, provide, protect and offer His grace and mercy is never based on my worthiness or my performance.  It is based on His love and compassion for me, His child.  My God truly does supply all my needs (and many of my "wants" too) according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

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