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?

What do Balaam, Donkeys, Bluebonnets and the Wilderness have to do with Trials?

bluebonnetsJames 1: Count It All Joy!

Donkeys that talk are out of the ordinary and we giggle at Balaam’s response but oftentimes we act just like him when God is trying to get our attention. We are a stubborn people when we are in a trial just like Balaam. But, James, God’s servant, is not talking about these “in your face” trials but rather the everyday ordinary ones such as a computer that is fried, as I am facing, or a simple water leak as in our bathroom.

As Creator, God has given us a myriad of word pictures so we understand His plan and the way He works in our lives. Sometimes He uses donkeys that talk, bears that scare or sometimes it is the innocent and beautiful wildflowers like the Texas Bluebonnet that grow in the meadow in spring. They cover the farmland, the roadsides, and the yards so that we will stop and ponder their beauty. But, just as we are enjoying them, the heat comes and they wither and pass off not to be seen again until the following spring. That is like the trials we face. Know this whatever He has chosen you can know that it has a purpose to get our attention.

As God’s servant, James wants us to learn how to face and handle trials that we face. Trials teach us about our mindset and how we respond to them just as the bluebonnets. Just as a bluebonnet faces the test of heat, God tests our faith. Peter reminds us that we should not be surprised when life seems to be beautiful and then SMACK!  summer heat arrives in the form of a trial. God uses each trial to reveal how we look to Him, how we are responding or how we are going to weather it. We want it to just go away but God is saying I am teaching you about character building and this is my way of doing that. We say, I just don’t understand it. God is saying then why don’t you ask me for wisdom to understand it? But, like Balaam and the donkey story, in the heat of the trial, we reveal that we are a stubborn people who think we can find our own solutions and our own answers.  Like the wildflower that sprouts in spring with its beauty, at first we face it head on but when the heat comes we fade. We look in God’s mirror and walk away because we don’t like the image we see. However,  if we do choose to look and then respond in humility God’s grace is sufficient and the beauty of the bluebonnet is a reminder that we passed with flying colors. But, sometimes we see and then walk away and don’t respond correctly. It is then that we may have to do, as the Israelites, another lap around the wilderness until we learn how to respond properly.

You can be a Balaam, an Israelite or a Bluebonnet that bursts forth with beauty in spring. It is up to you.

Thorns; Thistles and God’s Will

thorns 1thess 5aThorns and Thistles are part of our world and when experiencing them we respond with “ouch.”  But, we also meet them as thorny people. Their attitude and countenance say, leave me alone.  You ask how they are doing but their response is a cold shoulder. OUCH. We think what did I do to deserve that? You fail to respond instantly when another is hurting and they offer unkind words. OUCH!   It seems they carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. They have been pricked and want you to feel their prick as well.  Yet holy people don’t prick with thorns but God’s compassion. The prescription is to

  • Always rejoice.
  • Constantly pray.
  • In everything give thanks.

But how do we do that when with the thorny people who unruly, fainthearted, weak and yes antagonistic? We are to admonish them and to esteem them highly in love. The “thorns” remind you to rejoice, pray, and be grateful knowing that God is in charge, not us, and He is working this that they might know and trust Him in all circumstances.  This is God’s will for them and us because we are reconciled to Himself through Christ’s sacrificial death and are therefore a new creation in Christ.

Stop and think about this. When we respond in a thorny fashion we are grieving or extinguishing the Holy Spirit’s power. OUCH.  Don’t be a thorn. Today choose joy, prayer, and gratitude. Don’t let the thorns prick you taking away your joy and don’t you be a thorn in return. Listen carefully to the voice of the Spirit!


Who Are You Walking With?

crowd walking1Thess 4 “Which Crowd Do You Walk With?”

The Pharisees were hypocrites because they were like the whitewashed tombs outside the city. They looked the part of righteousness and acted the part of the righteous but inside they were full of dead men’s bones. We are the same when we walk with the Jesus crowd on Sunday and walk with the worldly crowd on Monday. Often we partake of communion with the saints on Sunday but partake of liquid spirits on Monday.  Those we meet do even recognize we are different because our “walk and talk” are just like theirs, the Gentiles/unbelievers.  Our behaviors are no different and we justify it by saying “everybody is doing it.” Really? If charged as a Christian would there be enough evidence to prove it?

Paul reminds the Thessalonians that they are on view before the unbelieving world. Their lifestyle had to be pristine if they hoped to win others to Christ. He challenged them to look at the crowd they were a part of.  Were they walking circumspectly or like the world? The first test is to see if you live a life of holiness and separateness from the world in purity without promiscuity.

Everybody is NOT doing it so why do you use that argument?