If I were to use “Psychic Vampires” in the title, I would title this message: “Conquering the Psychic Vampire Within.” Last week the lesson from James was importance of looking at the 3 fingers pointing back…Today it’s about being consistent in what we profess we believe, and to quit playing games that sidetrack us…James is practical.
James sees the world as black and white. Either you are living for Christ or you are not.// In following Christ we tend to muddy the waters, we love gray areas so we never have to make a commitment, in the great moral issues of the day rather than standing firm on principles we focus on exceptions. We know the theory of turning the other cheek when somebody strikes us, but in practice, rather than let the other person “win,” we curse them, or we follow the wisdom of the world ~ “Don’t get mad, get even.”
God’s ways are higher. It is no accomplishment to follow God when it is easy…. It is when we are offended, put down, slighted, challenged, facing enemies, rights violated… Following God is black and white… to put him first means to put him first even when the world tempts us to respond in a self first way…. Conquering the psychic vampire within…
Follow the way of Jesus Christ even when it is hard…. READ James 4:5. God wants a whole relationship with us, not a half hearted commitment only when it is easy. When we reject him by getting caught up in the silly games, he is jealous, like the wife that longs for the full affection of her husband instead of spending all day anywhere but home. Quit playing the way of the world games and follow the way of the Lord. You say you want to follow God but the world is complex, bad things happen, and you feel so far away….
I learned a powerful phrase this week from Psalm 61 in the Thurs. bible Study, “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Take me to that place of security, a place I cannot climb in my own strength, a place of peace when others are against me, when things don’t go my way in the world, when plans fall flat, the place of peace and security that only God can take me. James says it this way, READ James 4:6a.
You made a commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ, but the world is pulling you into it’s patterns of games, fighting and quarreling (see James 4:1). Double minded is the phrase used in James 4:8 to describe the pull. When you think you don’t have the will to let go of the world’s ways, that is when God will reach down and lift you to a rock that is higher than your ability… “He gives us more grace.” Grace upon grace.
The way of God is black & white: READ James 4:6b. Proud or Humble. No muddy middles. HUMBLE is key to describe the personfully living for Jesus Christ.
The remaining of this scripture is the HOW to conquer self serving demons. READ James 4:7. Submit to God and resist the devil. I’m a simple person. I believe in God. I believe there is a Satan (I don’t like even speaking the phrase “believe in Satan” because I “believe” he exists but I don’t believe in him in the sense that I give him no recognition of authority.) Submit means to acknowledge God’s ways are the authority. If you are a worker you submit to the boss ~ he has the authority and you don’t. The teacher sets the rules in class, to submit is to follow them. To submit does not make you less of a person, it makes you a wise person.
Quit playing the power games of the world by consciously living as Christ would have you live. Learn to ask forgiveness from God and from those you hurt. READ James 4:8. Our hands represent our conduct, and our hearts represent our attitude. To be double-minded is to be pulled in the two directions and inconsistently live for God. Paul is saying: Clean up your act. Be sorry for your self-centeredness. It is a big deal when your spouse’s feelings are hurt, when you hurt the people around you, when you don’t follow through. Take it seriously. If someone says you hurt him, then you did! It may not be a big deal to you, but it was to him. You must be willing to ask forgiveness.
Think of the person who causes the most conflict in your life. Would you like to begin to resolve the conflict with that person? Are you willing to apologize for your part? Maybe he or she is 95 percent at fault, but your responsibility is to take care of your 5 percent and let God handle the rest. Let it go. Quit playing games. No more justifying yourself. So what if the other person wins. You are not the judge of the universe with the responsibility to keep the stars in alignment.
The way you’re going to change is to be humble as it says in James 4:6 and the only way to be humble is to ask forgiveness. Wash your hands, purify your hearts, your patterns/habits and attitudes must be godly….It’s humbling to let offenses go and instead seek forgiveness for your part, but God gives grace to the humble. Maybe this week you need to write a letter or make a call. Take the first step. Put hands & feet on your re-commitment to fulfill the covenant you made with God to live according to his desires. Get rid of as much mud as possible in your life and simply look to God, not caring any longer about your reputation with the world or promoting your own interests.
Take heart! God’s goal is not for us to be groveling lowly worms. James 4:9 at first sounds like that may be the case, but read through James 4:10 to see God promises to add grace upon grace, he will lead us to a rock that is higher than I. READ.
A life of honor is found through humility. The lie of Satan is to seek honor by status, accomplishments, money, power. How many husband think the way to be honored by his wife and children is to never admit they are wrong. One person testified, “I figured if my kids thought I was wrong, they wouldn’t respect me any more. It wasn’t a surprise when I found out they already knew I wasn’t perfect. I found that the way I gained honor before my kids and my wife was to admit I was wrong.” (yesterday I thought Manny was reading my notes when he said something about admiring his own father for the same character) To be honored by your community, friends, enemies, husband or wife, to be honored by the Lord, humble yourself.
“Change your joy to gloom” ~ we are not to be superficial in this world in which it is tempting to play games and pretend we are strong when we are weak. Sally and I went to Costco on Friday ~ an old friend saw me that just lost his wife, she was 59. I had gone to the f uneral, but he did not realize it and told me the news. Soon we were standing in the middle of the main aisle of Costco and he was crying his eyes out. He was just being real. Be real, when you need to cry, cry. This old world is becoming more and more superficial as we muddy right and wrong, we know longer seem to know what to do with our emotions, how to feel.
We are called to cry over this old world. Then something amazing happens as we humbly recognize our lack of power to control ~ THEN the Lord lifts us up. The bible says, “Change your joy to gloom” but in another place it says, “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” Joy from my accomplishments are not lasting, but when we humble ourselves, give up control, be real, quit being dramatic about every detail, the deeper joy comes when the Lord lifts us up….”
James 4:11-12 are more practical ways to follow the ways of God rather than the way of the world ~ don’t slander others and let God be the judge of people’s hearts.
Those who live with the Joy of the Lord are amazing people ~ What an awesome faith to see Jerry and Norma, their world is so different from what they ever imagined on Dec. 23 prior to Norma’s stroke, and somehow they have this incredible commitment to Jesus Christ. YES, Norma gets frustrated with her inability to articulate her thoughts, but then she sits back with her signature BIG smile.
Horace Stokes is another…last week when I saw him in the hospital he physically looks weak, but just focus on the smile on his face and you’d never know…his faith in Jesus Christ sustains him. He is on a rock that is higher than he can climb in his own strength. I gotta tell you something that “tickles me.” I’m talking with Horace and soon notice he is trying to straighten out the sheets covering his feet, but he could not reach them. Suddenly it dawned on me what he wanted. Not long ago he had a toe amputated. I said to Horace, “Do you want me to see your toes.” Yep. I was right. That is what he wanted. He was like a little boy showing off a wound! I saw a man of faith that certainly would never choose a failing body, yet God gave him more grace to overcome complaining, to overcome lamenting, and have a deep joy.
Refresh your walk with the Lord everyday, seeking to follow him in all ways. The constant temptation is to fight the world on the world’s terms, but God wants us to live for him, repenting of our own misguided solutions. How do you do it? The Wiki How article on Dealing with Psychic Vampires has all sort of advice about identifying the type of Psychic Vampire that’s invading your world, setting boundaries, getting in touch with your own feelings, going to a therapist if needed, and all sorts of other limited solutions. James has a one word answer: Humility. “God opposes the proud and shows favor to the Humble….Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up….”
Humility is accepting your need for God ~ I do not have the ability to control my own life but I need the Lord Jesus Christ. Humility allows me to say I am wrong, to ask other to forgive me when I offend others, to admit I am weak and cannot make in my own strength. A few words of wisdom on pride and humility:
- A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves. Henry Ward Beecher
- “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” ― C.S. Lewis
- “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom … seemed insufficient for that day.” ― Abraham Lincoln
- “Humility is perfect quietness of heart…It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and above is trouble.” ― Andrew Murray