Wednesday, March 21, 2012

40 Days with James ~ Day 29 ~ Humble Yourselves

Day 29 ~ Humble Yourselves

James 4:9-10 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Lent is a season of repentance. Throughout this season, James has demonstrated to us why it is we need to repent: our sin! Sometimes, however, the true meaning of repentance is lost on us. We view repentance as nothing more than a password that gets us out of trouble with God. But repentance is not merely saying the right words with our mouths, as if God could be fooled by a false confession. Rather, repentance is the faithful response to the preaching of God's Law. To put it another way, repentance is what happens when we believe that what God says about us is true: we are sinners. Repentance isn't something we conjure up inside of ourselves. We don't just try and make ourselves feel bad enough to say sorry. Repentance is what happens when we hear about how God feels about sin, and worse, how He feels about sinners!

The Law, that is, God's will for how His creatures should live, is like being told by your doctor that you have cancer. You know your body should be healthy, but it isn't. Such news produces fear and response: "What can I do? What's next?" Thank God we live in a day and age where there are many treatments for cancer and the doctor will typically have a plan to move forward. Things aren't so hopeful when it comes to the Law of God. Under the proclamation of the Law we have no hope, no path forward. The Law kills us. It leaves us dead. The Law tells us that God loves the righteous and hates the wicked. The wicked will suffer his wrath (Psalm 11:1-7). The Law reveals to us that, according to its standards, we are not the righteous we so presumptuously presume ourselves to be. We are the wicked for we have transgressed God's righteous will. The Law diagnoses us with wickedness and leaves us for dead. Such news causes grief, mourning, and wailing. Laughter turns to mourning and joy to gloom. It causes us to despair of all righteousness inside of ourselves. We are humbled. We are killed. But God is not finished talking.

The Law leaves us without hope. But the Law is not the last word. Christ is! When we find ourselves in despair under God's law, we cry out for mercy, and God responds by being born of a virgin. In fact, it was Mary who sang, "He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble" (Luke 1:52). Jesus comes to fulfill what the Law demands of us: both its commands and consequences. He lives it out perfectly and yet dies under its condemnations; a death we sinners deserved. "He was born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law" (Gal. 4:4-5). The Law kills us and leaves us with no hope, nowhere to turn. But God turns towards us in Christ Jesus and removes the condemnation of the Law, giving us new life! All that God demands of us in the Law is given to us in Christ! He lifts us up!

Confession: I repent, dear God, for all of my sins with which I have offended you! I deserve your wrath and condemnation. I hear your will and I am brought low and made humble. Forgive me for the sake of your Son Jesus who was made low to the point of death on the cross. I thank you that His blood was shed for me. I pray that your Law and Gospel daily fill my ears so I have a life of repentance and rejoicing. AMEN!

Challenge: Pray for the sick in our church. Write a note with an encouraging Bible verse or note to someone who is sick or injured.

Pastor Bob

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