November 24

Isaiah 1:18-20 (NIV) 18"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. 19If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; 20but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword." For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Any culture will express the value of their beliefs in the justice and compassion of their social life. Isaiah was prophesying to a culture that went through the motions of religion without sincerity of heart. Though they said they believed in God and justice, they lived lives that denied that claim. Greed was the driving force of the nation. Scales were not accurate. Justice was determined by bribery. The weak and poor were taken advantage of.

God allowed the enemies of Judah to rob and defeat them over and over again so that they would turn back to Him. They would turn back for a brief period and then would go right back to their idols that promised them the prosperity their greed desired. Still, God's arms were open to them, and His voice called out to them to repent.

Your life expresses the value of your beliefs just as that culture expressed the heart of the people. In every action that God is dishonored, there is some kind of idolatry in our heart. God calls to us just as He called to them. Sit down with Him. Reason together with Him. He is willing to cleanse you and help you if you are willing. If you continue to be willing and obey what He shows you, then you will find the goodness of God in your daily life. If you rebel against His instruction, your sin will eventually destroy you.

Consider: What belief does my life express?

November 24

James 1:5-7 (NIV) 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;

What a wonderful promise we have in this passage! We are always in need of divine wisdom. James says that all we need to do is ask, but he also encourages us that God doles it out generously. God does not only give it to the perfect, holy person, but to whoever would ask. He is just waiting for us to ask. Wisdom that is from above will lead us in the way of righteousness. That is why you don't have to have attained some state of perfection to ask for it. It is the path to a righteous life. It is a revelation of the ways of God.

Lest we think we can ask in any state of mind, James warns that the one thing that is required is to believe and not doubt. Perfection is not required, but belief is. God will not inspire you with wisdom when you will doubt the wisdom He is ready to give. The picture is of a wave blown and tossed by the wind.

It is not that you must attain to some great state of faith, but you need to believe in the character of God. If you ask and doubt what He gives, you will treat His wisdom with skepticism and be worse off than when you started. That is an indication of self-trust. Then, with your own wisdom, you will weigh what God has given as just one of many choices. That makes you more accountable for ignoring His direction. If you are going to ask for wisdom, believe it is coming and accept it without wavering. He is glad that you asked and glad to give it.

Prayer: Lord, I need Your wisdom each day of my life. Help me to understand what is of You and by faith to follow it explicitly.