The Weak Link

James 2:10-11: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘You shall not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.”

James is continuing his explanation of the Royal Law to love your neighbor. He picks two of the ten commandments, ones that directly tie into how we treat our neighbors. If we have broken even one point of law, we are guilty of breaking the whole thing. Romans 3:23 adds, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” 

I remember having to walk across a bridge once while I was out fishing with my dad. The bridge was very dilapidated, and I hate heights. Some boards were missing, most were loose, and the bridge wobbled all over the place—a scary moment for a kid. Since just one panel (in this case many) was broken, the whole bridge was broken. Another illustration is the weak link in a chain. It only takes one for the entire thing to break. It is the same with the law. Break one commandment, and you’re guilty. 

That’s where grace comes in. If salvation comes from law-keeping, then the cross becomes unnecessary. However, as James and Paul point out, it is impossible to keep the law perfectly. So, we need grace.

Also, don’t use this verse to justify more sin. Don’t tell yourself that because you can’t keep every demand, so why try. Instead, ask for forgiveness where you need it and renew your effort to pursue faith and Christian maturity.

Some questions to consider:

-Where have you stumbled at obeying God?

-Why is grace so amazing?

-Are you using your guilt in one area of life to excuse sin in another?

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MWM: Mission Partners

Did you ever participate in 3-legged races as a kid? What was awkward for me was my height. I was taller than a lot of kids, so my gait was longer. It was hard to run with short kids. I had to learn to shorten my stride to stay in-step with my partner. When we were in sync, there was no stopping us! Paul had partners in spreading the gospel. Prayer partners, financial partners, and people who went with him. Who is on mission with you? Are you in-step with them? Are you in-step with God?

Philippians 1:5: “…for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.”

#MinuteWithMaxon #MWM #Philippians #Partners

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MWM: Joyful Prayer

When was the last time you expressed emotion during prayer? Often, prayers can grow stale over time, especially when we do not see God answering our prayers in our way. We can get in a rut in the day-to-day routine of prayer. Prayers should be vibrant, full of life! The Psalms are ancient prayers and songs. They are full of emotions. Sadness, anger, gratitude, happiness, confusion, and many more. When Paul prayed for the believers in Philippi, he was filled with joy-great happiness or pleasure. What word characterizes the emotion of your prayers for others?

Philippians 1:4: “Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy…”

#MinuteWithMaxon #MWM #Philippians #Joy

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MWM: Thanks

For whom are you thankful? Have you told them? Have you shown them? Paul usually opens letters with a prayer of thanksgiving for those he is writing to. These are genuine and personal thanksgivings. He knows them. He smiles when he thinks of them. In this crazy world, there is much to be thankful for. As you read this verse if someone comes to mind, would you take a moment and write a note of encouragement to them? Tell them how much they mean to you. Some of my favorite letters are encouraging ones.

Philippians 1:3: “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.”

#MinuteWithMaxon #MWM #Thanksgiving

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MWM: Greeting

Have you ever wondered why Paul would greet people with both “grace and peace?” Why not just grace? Or just peace? Grace is the Greek word charis and peace is the Hebrew word shalom. In this simple phrase, Paul was uniting two worlds, binding them together in Christ. Peace is more than an absence of tension, but a presence of wholeness. Peace was a standard greeting that expressed a wish for prosperity, physical health, salvation, and harmonious relationships. It was more complicated than our everyday, “hello.” May we bless those we greet.

Philippians 1:2: “May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.”

#MinuteWithMaxon #MWM #Philippians

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MWM: One Word

If you had to pick one word to describe yourself, what would it be? American? Christian? Husband? Father? Teacher? Cornhusker? Would you prefer the word slave? Slave was the word Paul chose. A slave is someone who is legally owned by someone else and whose entire livelihood and purpose were determined by their master. A slave was devoted to their master to the disregard of their interests. Of course, Paul was not a slave to just anyone; he was a slave of Jesus Christ. While this may sound strange given the history of slavery in the modern world, it was the main identifier for Paul and Timothy. To whom or what are you a slave?

Philippians 1:1: “This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus. I am writing to all of God’s holy people in Philippi who belong to Christ Jesus, including the church leaders[a] and deacons.”

#MinuteWithMaxon #MWM

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MWM: Freedom in Christ

I am overwhelmed by what Christ has done for me. The freedom that Christ purchased on the cross at Calvary is total. May we never take freedom from sin for granted, and may we demonstrate our love by good works. May we be committed to showing others the love, grace, and forgiveness that are freely available to all through Christ. May we demonstrate the cleansing power of Jesus to everyone. May people believe.

Titus 2:14: “He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.”

#MinuteWithMaxon #MWM

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MWM: Politics

I could talk about politics all day. But that wouldn’t be helpful right now, nor would it be good for my soul. However, we all know there is something wrong with the morality and direction of our culture. We must get back to mutual love and respect. We must get back to the golden rule. We must follow the Royal Law to love our neighbor as ourselves (James 2). We must elect wise and knowledgeable leaders. We must look at character, calling, competence, and compatibility. Change starts with individuals surrendering to Christ and living right and moral lives.

Proverbs 28:2: “When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily. But wise and knowledgeable leaders bring stability.”

#MinuteWithMaxon #MWM #Politics #Morality

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Sin of Favoritism

James 2:9: “But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.”

By this time in James, we know that favoritism is a sin. Remember, favoritism is “Making a value judgment on another person based upon unbiblical criteria.” It isn’t just treating people differently, but doing so because you’ve prescribed worth to them and looked down on someone else.

What does it mean to sin? To sin is to transgress God’s commands or character. When it comes to commands, we can sin by omission-failing to do what we should. We can also sin by commission-doing something we shouldn’t. We can sin in either our thoughts, feelings, speech, or actions. Sin has devastating consequences on our life, most notably death. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). A lot of Christians focus on that half of the verse. There is good news! Romans 6:23 continues, “but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” There’s a big but in the Bible! All it takes is believing in Jesus’ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and defeat of death, and you are saved!

When it comes to living the Christian life, there is a need for ongoing repentance and confession, not to maintain your salvation because Christ does that, but to grow in maturity and holiness. When it comes to the sin of favoritism, we must guard against selective obedience. It is easy to justify bias. If your rich buddies ask you for a favor, you may inconvenience yourself more than you would if a poor brother asked for help. This is wrong. The context of this verse is the “Royal Law” to love your neighbor as yourself. There is no clause for income.

Some questions to consider:

-Are you showing favoritism to anybody right now?

-Are there any hidden sins (related to favoritism or otherwise) that you need to confess?-How can confession of sin lead to maturity and holiness?

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MWM: Flocks

More time at home is giving us a unique opportunity to connect with our families. I have learned new things about each of my girls over the past few months. The Bible encourages us to know how our flocks (=family, church, anybody under your care) and put our hearts into caring for them. Care involves showing concern and caution, looking after with safety and protection, paying attention to. We often define love as meeting needs. This means you look to what the others need, not what you think they should do. Genuinely listen, engage, and play! As the world starts turning again, take stock of what is truly important, and protect time with your flock.

Proverbs 27:23: “Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds…”

#MinuteWithMaxon #MWM

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