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…

 

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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…