Tag Archives: James

The Most Unruly Member!

The Most Unruly Member – James 3

This week we will be celebrating July 4th with all of its hoopla and yes, fireworks. Our tongues, James says, are like those fireworks. They erupt with power and noise yet leave a residue that is unbecoming.  Our author James is comparing our tongue to the power of fire or fireworks. it erupts with the spark of a match yet can be deadly if not handled carefully.

James doesn’t just use words to this flock to whom he is writing and far from his presence, but he is wanting them and us to observe and analyze our world around us. What do you see, what do you hear, what is the effect of these images? Words may reveal a truth but visual images grab our attention and stay with us. For example, as we observe the waves of the sea, the wind, a wildflower in a meadow, the rising and setting of the sun, our attention is arrested to see our physical world around us, how it arrives and passes away with time. A crown of life, the Father of lights, a mirror, a gold ring and fine clothing vs filthy clothes, a prostitute named Rahab, bring our attention to God and His character. A ship and its rudder, a horse and its bridle bring our attention to how men have learned to control both physical objects and animals. But, now he will use the image of fire.  James is trying to get us to see how desperate we are to be children of God but without Him having first place we are facing a spiritual battle that cannot be won.

Our tongue, James says, is a small part of our body yet it has great pretensions—that is it is boastful and arrogant just like a fireworks presentation. Our tongue represents the worst of us because it is ignited with just a small flame. It can be only controlled by timing and care. Fire too, if not quenched becomes destructive. It starts small and then is fanned by the wind destroying all in its path. The tongue slanders, is a false witness, is scolds, boasts, flatters, profanes the Word of God, swears, seduces, murmurs, scoffs and is unjust. Beloved, these should not be—- but we seem to be helpless because we have not put our mind in gear before we unleash the power of the tongue.

The psalmist gives a way to handle this unruly member.”

“Lord, place a guard on my mouth! Protect the opening of my lips!” [Ps 141]

I need this prayer today and every day. I need to post it where I will see it and hide it in my heart that I might not sin against Him whom I call Lord and Savior. How about you?


Mo Matter What, Who, When, Why, How or Where…God Can Be Trusted!

bible2a“No Matter What, Who, When, Why, Where, How…”

Are you are a believer in Christ? Then you need to read and reread the book of Job because you need to know the God you serve and His and your adversary. This is not just a well I will but it is a book that YOU MUST devour until you understand each and every character’s profile but mostly your own and God’s!

Beloved, when you are faced with afflictions and situations that seem ‘out of character’ you will be like Job asking the proverbial question: WHY?  As you wander the book of Job you will unearth this question more than once. Job’s friends have been saying he has sin in his life.  Yet Job has been saying to his friends God Knows All. Job 31: 4 “Does he not see my ways and count all my steps?” God cannot, nor will He ever lie. That is why he can trust God.  Although he has been through the fire and continues to feel the heat, one thing he knows is this: God knows all and therefore no matter how bad life has become and how despondent he is over this strange set of circumstances he will not walk away from his belief that God is God and He knows the reason; this is true EVEN IF WE OR JOB NEVER DOES!

Job knows this about God: He cannot, nor will He ever lie. That is why he can trust God.  Although he has been through the fire and continues to feel the heat, one thing he knows is this: God knows all and therefore no matter how bad life has become and how despondent he is over this strange set of circumstances he will not walk away from his belief that God is God and He knows the reason; this is true EVEN IF WE OR JOB NEVER DOES!

If we fail here, Satan wins.  

God has, as one author noted, “locked himself in” to consistently adhere to the laws He has established and that is why we can trust Him. He cannot lie, change, break a promise or allow his power to be stopped. His word cannot be broken, annulled, and he cannot sin. All of these are true about God and that is what Job is clinging to even as he wonders what all of this is about. We too face these same dilemmas.

James reminds us that when we are in a trial to ask for wisdom and that is what Job is doing. This is where the rubber meets the road and we must decide: will I trust God or not. Ask yourself: Has God been faithful in the past? Then you can trust that he be faithful now and as well in the future.  If we can say yea and amen to this we can know for certain that at some point in time God will end our suffering, our pain or our dilemma. And if perhaps we need to know, He will also reveal its purpose. May you be encouraged to know that as Job wondered you may as well. But, even in his wondering, he still trusted God. You can as well.



James 2 “WWJD?”

James 2 WWJD Blog pictureHave you ever encountered someone who said: “You are a hypocrite and churches are filled with hypocrites—that is why I do not go there.” That word hypocrite conjures up and inflame emotions. As we hear that we are hypocrites we must stop and ask:

How did they come to that conclusion and is their conclusion right?

Christ ministered to a Canaanite woman; asked for a drink from a Samaritan woman and answered questions of a prominent Pharisee, Nicodemus. Do we offer mercy, love and the Fruit of the Spirit to all we meet without favoritism or partiality as Jesus did?  We are to follow his example because we must not be just hearers of the word but doers as well. God in His love sent His Son to redeem us and he did not do it based upon race, gender or national heritage. God is not only impartial but he loves the world—not just you and me.

“Favoritism is not compatible with the Christian faith.”[B. Deffinbaugh].

James is asking his readers do you truly want to show the world that God has saved and transformed you?. If so, they, as we, must fulfill the royal law as expressed in this scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,”

Ever wonder who you will stand next to in eternity? Take a look at those you pass by each day….it could be one of them. Remember this WWJD?



Continuing Through Acts: Chapter 12

“Do You Believe in Prayer or Not?”

acts 12 prayer2King Herod, of Herod fame, inflicts harm on the early church to please the Jews. But, God is at work both in and behind the scenes as we read this chapter and see the fulfillment of the words of Jesus “Upon this rock I will build “MY” church and the gates of hell shall not prevail.” [Matt 16] Satan may seek to bring the church into disfavor but he fails to realize that what he seeks to disarm God will use to bring about good. [Rom 8:28]

But, just as then, we are often befuddled at God’s working. Why did God allow James to be executed but released Peter? This is one of those “secret things” that belongs to God alone and will be revealed in eternity. [Deut 29:29]

Dr. Luke refreshingly gives us some comedic relief of the persecution of the early church with his account of Peter’s release from jail. While Peter sleeps, King Herod gleefully waits for daybreak of the day after a solemn religious holiday to murder him. Sound familiar? We remember that was the plan for Jesus as well. Into this mix we find the church persistently praying for Peter. But after an angel miraculously releases him and he arrives in the middle of their prayer meeting they tell Rhoda “she has lost her mind.” Again, like the account of Jesus’ resurrection, it is called nonsense.

Dr. Luke gives us this chapter to show us that God not only hears the prayers of the church but opens the windows of heaven.

From the Inside Out

ImageContinuing on our journey to the cross we stop today on top of a mountain and learn a valuable lesson in transforming power. In this account, the scribe Mark records Peter’s recollection of this amazing story of Jesus’ Transfiguration.

Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John and is supernaturally metamorphosed from his humanity to his divinity thus giving them and us a picture of our heavenly reflections that we will one day receive. 1Co 15:52 in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

Until then we live in our humanness as Jesus did and yet, once we receive the indwelling Holy Spirit we should also be in the process of being transformed from the inside out that the world may see a new “us.” 2Co 3:18 And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Before this process can begin we must repent of our sins and turn from our sinful ways to He who has the power to change us from the inside out and then live in this way: Rom 12:2 Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,

Beloved, how does the world see each of us …as we “were” or as we “are becoming?”

Photo credit: allyouhavetogive.com


Acts 15 “Sharks, Woodpeckers, and Ants”

ImageThe animal kingdom teaches us much about behaviors, how we (animals and humans) act and react to conflict which is inevitable due to the fallen sin nature. Some of these behavior might be found lurking in our church body. For example; meet the shark- alias the dictator…do it my way or you will be my dinner; the woodpecker-alias nagging faultfinder–I look for your ‘bugs’ and come knocking over and over;  the ants-alias team builders looking for ways to bring about resolution to problems by being steadfast to unify the Body of Christ.  I am sure you have noted others in your community with similar nicknames and behaviors. There are at least one or more of these personalities in our midst today just as they were in Antioch in Acts 15. Their aliases are revealed as well as their motives.

First to surface were the legalists who arrived on the scene with supposed credentials from the Jerusalem church. They were the sharks and woodpeckers with these items on their agenda;: “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Translation: you are Gentiles and God only accepts Jews, so if you want to be saved you must do it the way it has been done for centuries. Second to surface were the busy ants of reconciliation and restoration; Barnabas and Paul. The sharks and woodpeckers nagged with their legalism but Barnabas and Paul sought to build unity. The sharks and woodpeckers insisted on circumcision and the Law of Moses for salvation. Paul and Barnabas insisted on faith alone. Clearly this was a problem that needed resolution and so the church wisely sought an outside mediator by sending all parties to Jerusalem to resolve the issue. In Acts 15 we learn the basics of how to resolve conflicts.

  1. Problem stated. They were received warmly until the sharks and woodpeckers rose up: “It is necessary to circumcise the Gentiles and to order them to observe the Law of Moses.” Point: You can’t change what has been done for centuries! Translation: Phariseeism.
  2. Gentle Reminder:  After the sharks, woodpeckers and ants stated their “facts” Peter, who  “Clearly recovered from his temporary lapse at Syrian Antioch,” (Gal. 2:11-14) [Dr. Constable] reminded them of God’s dealing in the past with Cornelius. He received the Holy Spirit without circumcision or the Law of Moses.
  3. Listening.  The whole group kept quiet and listened to Barnabas and Paul
  4. The Mediator, James, reviewed what had been said; recalled biblical passages to show God’s plan; wrote a letter and sent it to the Antioch church with Silas and Judas.
  5. Reconciliation. When the letter was read the church rejoiced.

It seems from this crucial chapter that James formulated his own letter at a later date based on what he learned from this conflict. You can read his letter to glean his ideas and thoughts. Today perhaps you have woodpeckers, sharks and yes even ants in your church or family. May you resolve your conflicts as the early church using biblical steps. Our motive should be restoration not division lest we open the door to the enemy’s ways.