James & the Path to all Joy and Flourishing when we share the Love

James 5:19-20

19 My brethren, if anyone among you strays from the truth and one turns him back,20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

I love that James says anyone,  that stood out to me!  We are all candidates to join in the redeeming process.  We are all invited into the rescue mission of His children.  We are all to be wooing the lost into the love of Christ!
“will cover a multitude of sins.”
Not a hook or a trick to “save us” not a “get out jail free card”  But a reflection of our hearts and the hearts we are leaning into.  When we are drawn to, or drawing others into the fold of Christ, we walk straighter, we think clearer, we act kinder.
So to recap James:  
First he told them of their importance in Gods family and James has urged them to stand strong.
Then he encourages the church to make their faith their own and be doers of the word and to bite their tongues.
And explains that this is important because the tongue has great potential, and to not simply to use that power for our gain, but for Christ because He is the point.  
That our only hope is to seek wisdom from above and to die to self.
That we must be humble and surrender our plans and agendas and that we must not be deceived by our own prideful hearts, we are all sinners in need of saving.
He encourages, just examine your priorities and the things you cling to for security, and if you love money and put your hope in it, watch out!
He has empathy and says, I know its not going to be easy, in fact, it might be kinda hard but I promise it will be worth it, so pray and stay in the fight for delight in the Lord.
Then finally he says, Love Gods children and share the Love of Christ with them.  
Because all Joy and Flourishing is on the line.
This is the message of James…
Advertisements

James & the Path to all joy and Flourishing when we stay in the fight

James 5:13-18

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.

“Is anyone suffering? Then he must pray.”

How often have I looked questionably upon “that church Lady” who always has “some little” or “trivial” or “seemly silly” prayer request.  But we are called to pray and we are basically told to get out of the way of the mourning and the sad and the depressed and just PRAY!  Let us all, require the comfort of prayer.

This makes me think of a dear friend sharing with me her burden to morn the loss of her first little baby.  She felt judged and as if she needed to keep her agony to herself, “because of a lack of tolerance from her peers”  Who thought she should “be past her mourning”.  What a lost chance to grow deeper in friendship, when we refuse to allow others to morn and weep and be welcome in our presence as they are sad.

But rather encourage the mourning and the suffering to pray.  To name their needs and anxiously and hopefully await the Lord and His comfort.  Pray and seek the Lord.  Allow those going through the suffer to marinate in prayer and not put expectations on them, or ourselves to “Get over it”.

This is different then pouting.  It is praying.  The same is true for Joys and Celebration.  Let the Happy be Happy.  They aren’t bothering you, and its not about you.  Other emotions won’t diminish your own, they only bring fullness to life together.

and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.

I don’t think this has anything to do with the link sometimes put between sin and suffering.

ie. you have cancer, you must have unconfessed sin in your life….

I think it is for those on the side lines who can be proud and judging.  Cause it is easy to see suffering, and those giving compassion to the suffer and feel left out.  Life, “Hey I’m suffering too, give me love and compassion…”  With self-centredness that can turn into “Well it serves them right, don’t you see the sawdust in their eye?  No wonder their are suffer…”

Yet this is following up on “Its not about you”  Its about Love, Humility, and living Christ out into our community.

We must offer hope and love and encouragement to our brothers and sisters.  So we can be perfected in our faith and find all Joy and Flourishing.

Prayer brings humility and healing.  Its hard to have conflict with a person you are praying for.  Wether it is for the suffering or the cheerful, everyone needs tolerance as they journey through their process.

I see a call for tolerance for those who are continually expressing their struggle or sadness.  Also for the “obnoxious bliss ” of the new bride the new mom or the new truck owner.

Share the Prayer of the Suffering and the Joyful.

We can fulfill this when, we understand others journeys to joy have nothing to do with our own path of, mountain top and valley walking.  Because some one is happy, dose not mean my life is sad.  Because someone is suffering, dose not demising my struggle.

Its about us all coming together and praying alongside each other and holding one another up to the light of love.  Learning to name our experiences good and bad and laying both at the foot of the cross with either thankfulness or petition.  Always staying faithful to see Gods love in all circumstances.  That is the Peace that grows from Love Tolerance and Prayer.  That is the journey that brings us to faithfulness and Contented knowledge that God is good all the time.

That is the message of James.

 

James and the Path to all Joy and Flourishing, wile we wait.

James 5:7-12

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

12 Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.

What a reminder to be anxiously kingdom minding.  Patience not for our own gain and relief but for the Glory of the coming of Christ.  James was written to the suffering and persecuted, Jewish Christians, living in the shadow of Jesus Death.  We are reminded of the suffering of the profits and the virtue of a steadfast faith.  Remember these were baby Christians and they were under great pressure. This letter was to be an encouragement, a reminder, a battle cry, to Keep the Faith.

Am I much different.  I do not worry for my spiritual freedom from powers or violence.  But the power and violence of media invading my very home leaves me isolated and out of step with the world I liven.  It is the silent, gentle persecution of the complacent, non-offending, Canadian culture that is killing the family and the faithful and the Church.

This is my battle to fight.  This is my challenge, I must to quicken with the hope of eternity.  I must see it in the eyes of every child.  If I do not put my heart and hands to the task of the Gospel and the infusing of virtues, that point to the cross,  I am but a wasted pawn in the war with life and death.  Just standing in the way not contributing to the promise of hope and everlasting Joy.

My complacency condemns the lost Children, I see them as just fine, and a hope for this worlds future.  When I fail to see the gruesome fate of those lost from the truth. I fail to see the potential suffering an eternal damnation I am inactivity a part of.

I must keep the faith and stay in the fight for spreading the Gospel.  I am to be counter cultural.  That is as simple as committing to modesty and as challenging to accept my husband as the Head of our Home.  It is to die to self and to see it as gain.  It is to stand for truth even when it offends, thought I must be committed to impartiality, as I pour out Jesus Love equally, even when I don’t agree.

pa.tience : noun – the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering with out getting angry or upset.

stead.fast : adjective – resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering

suf.fer.ing : noun – the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship

The point is to remember God is still working on us all, so stay humble, stay faithful, stay in the fight for faith because the furthering of the kingdom is on the line.  We are to allow Jesus to touch every aspect of our person our mind and our soul so nothing in our lives is exempt from the changing power of the Holy Spirit.  Including the Power of Prayer for those lost in the wilderness, brushing in and out of our days.

I am to be a woman of truth and commitment and I must follow through.  My yes is my Yes and my No my No.  If I can not stand by my own word and know what is right and wrong for me to do.  Then how can I stand by Gods word and discern what is good and true?  How could anyone take my faith or the bible seriously if I’m so inconstant?  Who would have hope in Christ with wishy- washy Christians?

So be steadfast, as you commit yourself as ambassadors of Christ, so the Lords Love will be known.  Do not lose focus, do not lose hope, do not lose sight of eternity…

This is the message of James….

James & the Path to all Joy and Flourishing, when we go with Gods Flow

James 5:1-6

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabbath. You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.

Its a warning, in the end your sin will be the only thing counted, not your earthly treasure.  A warning against a self-centered way of living, a warning to not resist righteousness.

We see a repeat of Jesus teaching from Luke 6:24-31

24 “But woe to you who are rich,
    for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
    for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
    for you will mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
    for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

But don’t freak out if you got a little money in the bank.  Money is like fire, its good and keeps you warm but if you are silly with it, you will get burned.  Money is also a good limpness test of where your heart is.  What are you spending your money on?  Think about it…  Our desire for money and what it buys reveals more about ourselves then both our words and our actions.

I hear this great quote and Ill share it with you because it calls to light the false teaching of the world, that money solves everything.

“Earthy goods deceive the human heart into believing that they give it security and freedom from worry.  But in truth, they are what causes anxiety.  Dietrich Bonhoffer”

Bonhoeffer knew that when you get extra cash you worry about what to do with it.  “Should I put in on debt or save it?  What is best RRSP RESP Tax Free saving account?  Maybe we should purchase that thing we keep “not affording”  we will never get new couches with the budget we have, may be this is our only chance…  Fixed mortgage or open?  Bank or Credit Union?  Think of all the the fights you have with your spouse around money?  Think about all the stereo types you unintentionally place in your children minds about money, just to have an excuse as why you can’t get them this or that, but you don’t want to say no to them.  “Thats what rich people buy”  “We can’t afford that because mommy choose to stay home with you”  “Study hard so you can get a good education some day, and then you can buy whatever you like”  None of this is helpful…  Money is not the cure to our worry.

And stuff create anxiety too, you buy a new couch and suddenly your stressed out every time the kids look at it.  You buy a new truck and you lose your mind with it gets dinged by the door beside you in Walmart.  Now Im not saying just have crappy stuff so you don’t need to teach your kids respect others property.  Im saying that being a good stewart of, and placing your value and hope in, is 2 different thing.  And we have to take inventory of our hearts when we find ourselves, counting our pennies instead of generously living with Gods children.

“You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.”

Our self-centredness is in stark opposition to everything God has in mind for us.  The more we focused on our gain, our desires and our agenda.  The further we move away from Gods leading.  It is a narrow path that requires us to push others out of the way to get ahead.  In the moments we step on Gods, Children’s, toes we condemn ourselves.

So love generously, lavishly, sacrificially.  Because God first loved us and gave us everything for us, even His own Son, and we are to be generous with what He has lent to us here in this world.

That is the message of James…

James & the Path to all Joy and Flourishing as we Reject the Worlds Message.

James 4:1-12

 What causes wars, and what causes fightings among you? Is it not your passions that are at war in your members? You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people!  Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is in vain that the scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit which he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace; therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you men of double mind. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to dejection. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will exalt you.

“You adulterous people!”

I have always said with disgust, “I could never cheat on the Trucker!”  We all can not imagine how we could betray our spouse.  And yet, every priority I put on self and not on God is me cheating on my first love, my creator.  A lack of gratitude is a unfaithful love offering.

“He yearns jealously over the spirit which he has made to dwell in us”

God is jealous to fill and fulfill me.  So my lack of attention to His calling is a betrayal of His sacrifice.  His invitation into flourishing and joy.  My attention to the temporary, the looking to fill my empty parts with worldly satisfaction.  This is my lack of commitment to Gods end game of Joy in my life.

But Grace….  Be Humble….

“Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

The devil is not long-suffering, if I resist he will eventually move on, for he has bigger fish to fry.

“Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to dejection.”

My heart must not only break for the sins of society but I must be broken first for my own transgressions.  No one blind to their own short comings can grow strong in wisdom, love, humility, and grace.  Sometimes we must burn down all that is overtaking our resolve so purification can take place and new life can bloom.  Our faith will only flourish when the weeds are removed. Then we will once again see the sun and be warmed by the light of life.

Again and again in James I see “Don’t speak evil against another…”  My self centric desire is my number 1 war criminal. I want, I long, I sin…… I praise God and yet curse His image…..   What is the cure to self-centred living?  Serving?  Thankfulness?  Giving all I have to the poor?  Still I seem to be able to make it all about me….

The world wants me to celebrate me, wile it creates the unattainable image of beauty, productivity and wealth that will perpetually draw me into discontentment.

Humility, Humility, Humility!  So I must hold fast to understanding that we have sinned and fall short of Glory.

I am equal to all, the wealthy, the poor, the pretty, the disfigured.  The smart, the slow, the clean and sober and the down and out user.

I am equal not above the foolish, the prideful, the vain, the boastful, the criminal, the murder, the thief, the prostitute. We are all of equal value in Gods eyes, an equal recipients in the blessing and the curse of the cross.  I am no better then any man or woman.

I am equal, I am no less important then the men who lead the church, the fit runners, the pretty blonds, the successful workers, the educated, the wealthy, the privileged, the ones who cover their heads and are soft spoken.  I am equal to the business woman and I am equal to the mom of 10.  God will love us all the same, and use who He choses, for His plan and not our glory.

I am not better or worse in Gods eyes then any of His beloved children.

Embrace Humility Every Day in Every Way.  That is how we die to self.  That is how we defeat the message the world is telling us.  There is no Classes, no Clicks, no Pyramid that God dosen’t see as a level playing field.

When I understand that God is the point and I am not, and neither are you.  That is when I can live out the Gospel and find resting in the equality of the cross.

We are meant for another World so our standing here is irreverent in regards to our salvation and your self-image, your conduct and your love offering, should reflect that.

This is the message of James…

 

James & the Path to all Joy and Flourishing, when we Realize we are not the Point

James 4:13-17

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. 17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

“But as it is, you boast in your arrogance;”

Arrogance:        an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions.

I have been super arrogant with my assumptions about others choices, we all are.  It come from many places in the dark corners of my heart.  Pride, comparison and jealousy… Sigh….

Seeing the manifestation of sin in my own life is both humbling and devastating.  In these moments of raw reality in my own soul, I am also starkly aware of Gods mercy and love toward me, regardless of my flaws and insecurities.

Because in the end it is not about me….  Ya Ill say it again ITS NOT ABOUT ME,  or you.  Because “MY” plans are insignificant and “GODS” plans are the whole point.  So I need to be thinking on, praying over, and anxiously awaiting, Gods plans, not mine.

And I know the type A planner in you just freaked out a bit but take a breath.  This is God releasing us from so much pressure and rejection.  When His plans are the agenda,  when He is the most glorified.  It releases us to to not be offended when everyone else dose not realize that we “should be” the point.

When I think my plans are first priority, but everyone else has their plans as the top of the list, that only mixes up a recipe for strife and disappointment.  Too many cooks spoil the broth and it is true.  Because we are all adding to the same pot in the end if we are working as one body.  My chicken soup might be your minestrone, and without prayer from the communal body, the Church, we all might be missing the fact that Christ was making mushroom soup all along.

And that is not to say we aren’t to plan.  That we can’t move ahead in life and ministry without a committee meeting.  We all know that we are to be good stewards of our finances and families and bodies and such.  We are all to be daily taking part in the great commission.  But be ready for change.  Be ready to make Gods agenda your number one and then tailor your life here to work with in that vision.

When we are living holistically with Christ, He will to touch every aspect of our existence.  What are all the labels we place on ourselves , mom, teacher, cook, minister leader, farmer, employee, friend, wife…  Are they honouring Gods plans?  Then hang onto them. But if it is earthly temptation,  if you are placing your identity in anything other then Christ, let it go.

This spring I sold some horses.  It was hard.  But not because I was emotionally attached to these particular horses.  Actually I was happy to get rid of theses few.  They were bossy in the herd and hard to catch.  It was just more feet to trim and more coats to shed out.  More feed to buy and more pasture to be managed.  It was work and money I was spending on horses I hadn’t rode in years.

But it met me in a prideful place, where I was basing my identity in “Being a Horsewoman”.  I wasn’t ready to let go of that part of myself for many years and its shameful, all the time we wasted and money we burned just to prop up my assessment of myself.

But the time had come and they needed to go.  I didn’t want to do it alone.  But the Lord called me out into my wilderness once again, because deciding in  my heart wasn’t anouf.  I had to obey with my feet.  The trucker got called out to drive and I was dropping the kids off with Grandma and headed down the hwy. with the trailer in tow.

And despite my tears of anxiety the night before. The anxiety to have to face this taring away, this revealing of what lay beneath the layer of Horsewoman to what the Lord was working out underneath that facade.  It was a pleasant drive.  It was a freeing realize as I opened the back gate into the ally, as I watched the ponies get marked and prepared for sale.  I was free,  I was home, there in the dusty stock yard.  Because I had let go of the label I had clung to all these years, and I was still whole.  I was still loved, and I was drawn onto the solid ground of Christ and not in the things of this world.

Stand in Christs calling, not in the plans of this world.  That is the space you will feel most free.

This is the message of James…

James & the Path to all Joy and Flourishing, when I die to self

James 3:13-18

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.

The importance of Confession

But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth.”

It is not wise to keep up the image that “my feet don’t touch the ground”  That is boastful and only creates an identity that I can’t sustain.

“Who is wise and understanding (in their own option?)”

I have set the bar for my self worth to be based on my perfect performance and that is folly.  It also dishonours Christ’s sacrifice.  If I could have ever attained perfection why would He have ever suffered so much?

“For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind.”

Warning!! Warning!!! This applies to marriage.  They are to abound with grace, love, long-suffering, and mercy or we are doomed!!!!

There may never be a space in your life that requires a death to self like your marriage will need from you.  Truthfulness and vulnerability, are the keys that will unlock intimacy in your marriage.  So allow your spouse to see your fears and your ambitions,  your victories and your struggles.  Be known and know the Joy that comes from sharing a honest identity.

“But the wisdom from above is first pure,”

Every blessing and every direction from above is PURE.  Uncontaminated by selfish ambition.  Never lacking in wisdom.  It see the whole picture.  God is always impartial because He is for His plans and loves all His childern.

“a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.”

To behave righteously I must die to self and become humble.  That the wisdom I glean and the love I absorb must translate into actions that display humility and impartiality.  This is the cure for selfish ambition and jealousy and insecurity.

Your potential power to bring Peace comes with walking out of your comfort zone and into the path of righteousness.  Stepping out and bringing the Good news that God loves His people and will bring them life, is our calling.  It is our destiny to hear and receive and repay it again and again with the  fulfilling of the Gospel. Accepting and sharing the message that grants a chance at wisdom.  It is the work of the Gospel rolling off our lips with Holy power that brings life and joy.

The wisdom of accepting that we are not the point of this whole existence is to be held close to our hearts and ever in our minds.  Accepting that, God is for God.  God love His children and God has directed us to understand that Joy comes with understanding we are not the point.  That would be a burden to heavy for us to bare.

Wisdom is understanding that we are helpless with our our saviour, so worship Him and allow the work of the Gospel to guide your steps.

Bring the peace that accompanies a selfless heart, passionate about the vision of the gospel.

This is the message of James…

 

 

James & the Path to all Joy and Flourishing, when we bite our tongue

James 3:1-12

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters,[a] for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.

How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature,[b] and is itself set on fire by hell.[c] For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters,[d] this ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters,[e] yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.

“If we put bits into the the mouth of horses so that they obey us, we guild their whole bodies as well.”

If we put the word of truth into our hearts and speak the Love of Jesus with our tongues.  Then we will have a better chance to control our whole beings.

Its all right there, the power of the tongue and the potential for destruction.  Some things can’t be repaired and our words once spoken can’t be taken back.  Also James compares our tongue to a wild fire (gossip??) and wild animals (uneducated, base desires) and a great ship  and rudder (the comparison of the size and power in comparison to the ease of use)

He is saying our words are our truth because though actions speak louder, words speak truer and cut deeper.

So what are we to do?  Think twice before you teach because with much power (words are power) comes great responsibility.

I was reminded of the serpent and how easy it is to have a slip of the forked tongue…

Imagine the first forked tongue slithering into our thoughts.  Just by the words spoken into Eves afternoon walk, the entire earth and future of all man kind was set ablaze, by the sparks of Hell.

Words were step one to the undoing of all Gods plans.  With only words doubt was birthed, and with doubt, disobedience was enacted.  With disobedience we felt shame, sin, and paved the road to our deaths and separation from out Father God.

The entire emphasizes of this passage is that words are our undoing, there is no hope offer in the potential control of our tongues…..

We all stumble, and we will always stumble.  But don’t lose hope because Christ fills the gap.  So how can we all stay in the fight to tame our tongues?

1 Read the word.  Remember that the word of God is to be the foundation we are to move, live, believe and speak from.  The scriptures don’t change, so we can safely place  our identity in Christ not on what others are saying about us or what we are saying about ourselves.

2  Root your identity in Christ.  If my identity is in Christ I can celebrate others strengths, victories and joys, because my self worth ins’t at stake.  If I feel good about me, then I don’t need to say anything bad about you to keep myself looking or feeling like I’m the best.  It about Christ not me.

3  Get good friends who speak life.  You will become the average of the 5 or 6 people you spend the most time with. So if you surround your self with people that are stronger and more interesting than you, you will be lifted up and edified.  Not weighed down with negative influences.

4 Remember sometimes hard words are helpful.  To hear and to say.  But hard words don’t need to be spoken harshly.  When we root our identity in Christ we make it ok for other to correct us, because our identity isn’t on the line.  And honesty in friendships is the key that unlocks a deep connection.  If you can be venerable anouf to receive correction, or to offer it, you know you have a solid friend.

5 Never hold back a compliment or encouragement.  Why have all this power for giving life and hope, if your not going to speak life giving words.

6  Pray.  Prayer holds the most powerful words we can speak, because we are releasing our burdens, our requests and our praises to the One who has the power in His hands and He longs to bless His children.

Don’t lose hope, we are all in this together.  

This is the message of James…

 

James & the Path to all Joy and Flourishing, when Faith is Worked out in us.

James 2:14-26

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. 20 Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. 23 Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.

jus-ti-fied / adjective: Having done for, or marked by a good or legitimate reason.

“Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way.”

or you could say;

“Rahab proved her faith with actions that showed she trusted God would protect her as a result of her obedience.”

Our words glorify our faith.  Our actions glorify Gods plans.

“So also faith by itself, if it dose not have works is dead.”

faith / noun: complete trust or confidence in someone or something.  a strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension, rather then proof.

ap-pre-hen-sion / verb: the act or power of receiving or comprehending somthing.

Faith is born within us, with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. So with the Holy Spirit planted in our hearts, fruit should grow from that.  The fruit of works like, an ability to trust when the future is uncertain.  I have often been caught up with the concept of “works and fruit” only looking like “missions and serving”.  But Gods works in our hearts transform us from the inside.  Biting your tongue can be a work of faith that no one will recognize.  As I realize the vastness of Works, I am less caught up with challenging verses like this one.

“Faith apart from Works is dead”

Why have faith if it doesn’t change you?  What is the use of that?  Faith and Works is not about productivity.  Rather it is the conviction of the Holy Spirit working out the roots of sin and self-centerdness in my soul.

Think about your life, if your outlook is never challenged, if you aren’t becoming more compassionate for Gods children.  That is when you need to ask yourself, “Is my faith dead?’

If love is not evidently growing in your heart, your faith may have never taken root in the first place.”

The marks of the faithful Christian walk is love, compassion, grace, thankfulness, joy, humility, servant heartedness…..  Theses are the products of God working out the sin, shame, guilt, self-centredness, pride, vanity, materialism, and every foot hold of the devil.  This is Works.

Works is not what I am doing.  It is what Faith is doing to me.

As the sin is worked out and the love is given room to grow in your heart that is when behaviours will reflect the faith in you.  If the work of compassion is knead into your heart the result will become an extension played out in where you place your time and how you spend your money.

Have faith but be faithful.  That is the space works are born.  These are the moments our Faith is confirmed.

That is the message of James…

James & the Path to all Joy and Flourishing, through Partiality

James 2:1-13

2 My brothers,show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

“Become judges with evil thoughts”

Oh dear I have a very active thought life.  I have to ask myself what part of that do I need to get a handle on…

It is the part where I imagine that I am the point.  That God is for me to be lifted up and not His glory.  God has plans and deeds for me to do, but it is all for His glory, and not for me to be considered cleaver or wise.

I long for partiality and so I put my best foot forward and forget that the whole point is for God to be centre stage.  He is MVP and I called to warm the bench till called upon to take part.  Not because I am needed but because I am needy.

When the light shines on my truth, it appears ungrateful…

And is that not partiality?  When we see things and people on scales of what is most and least. When we align ourselves to glean what those better and more influential are dropping, for us to run and gather. Just to position ourselves to receive the approval of the fallen and not the blessing of the Father?

So what are we to do to avoid a life of lost chances and regrettable choices?

Don’t Judge a book by it’s cover and don’t connect your hospitality in a manner to reach personal gain.  Hospitality shown with an agenda is a tainted Love offering.  We are all Gods children and all deserve the same treatment.  We all struggle with different sin and require the same salvation.

We can’t only focus on the victories that come easily, for every sin I overcome, more are reigning in my life and in my heart.  But this is where God honers the fight.  That is where strength for the flourishing is built.  That is where the Joy if the Law is revealed.

Because the Law is whole and we have no chance of getting it all right. Therefore we must rely on Mercy.  And Mercy begets Mercy, so show Mercy so you can receive it and receive the Joy that sustains in the fight and in the struggle.

When we look at others through the filter of the gospel. Through the branches of our own family tree, starting with Adam in the garden.  That is when we find the strength to show grace.  Partiality falls away when we recognize our own faces and failing, in the flaws we perceive in others.  That is when Love can be released in a flood we can saturate the lost and hurting with what will bring wholeness and healing.  

And what is that which we are all aching for?  Acceptance without requirements.

When we choose the relationships we lean into through prayer and not through partiality we fulfill the gospel.  Likewise, when we see the Do’s and the Don’t laid out for us in red letters, we are receiving an invitation into a better way.  Into a deeper offering of Grace and Kindness.

Recently I have had opportunity to offer my home and my time in specify ways.  As I have leaned into individuals in intentional ways, with caring for, and teaching skills.  Skills and offerings that seems simple and minimal to me.  I have been blessed to see the fullness of Gods abundance in my home and in the privileges I have.  My thankfulness for the chance to stay home with my littles full time, and recognizing the homemaking and homesteading skills I take for granted are rich blessings for me to offer.  Not only to those who fully understand the depth of my offering, but to those who might never know the opportunity to simply live and dwell in the places that bring stillness and nourishment.

The Lord presented to me who He would have me lean into. I never could have know who needed my love offering most.  Who could have given me a new perception on my own day to day living.

A lack of partiality has returned the blessing to me in dynamic ways, I never could have imaged.  It takes dyeing to self and surrendering my time and relationships. To enter in to a better way.  To enter into the gospel, and be blessed in the unexpected places by the unexpected people in my life.

Do the Word!  Love all equally, with the intention of fulfilling the Gospel and walking out the warmth of Gods Love to ALL HIS CHILDREN.  Not just the easy to love but those with prickles and thrones as well.

This is the message of James…