Posts Tagged ‘James’

armchairWho is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. (James 3:13 ESV)

The Superbowl is right around the corner. Inevitably sports reporters, fans, and anybody watching the game will become an “armchair quarterback”. You know the guy or girl, who is watching the game and critiquing world-class athletes as they compete on the professional football field.  He or she knows exactly what the athletes should be doing yet considers the walk to the pigs in a balnket a form of exercise! Somehow in modern Christianity it has become popular to criticize other Christians, churches, and ministries who we think just don’t get it.  It’s very easy to become cynical about what others are or aren’t doing without actually making a difference ourselves.  We can quickly become the ministry equivalent to the Sunday afternoon “armchair quarterback.”

James wrote that our wisdom and understanding are not ultimately displayed by our words or our critique of others, but instead by “deeds done in the humility that come from wisdom.”  Anytime we see the good that should be happening and critique others, yet do nothing, we are responsible and accountable.  James went on to write in chapter four, verse seventeen, that “anyone, then, who sees the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” It is easier to sit on the “sidelines” and complain instead of rolling up our sleeves and getting dirty with the ministry that needs help. Don’t be that “armchair quarterback” at your church. May you be known as a James 3:13 brother or sister in your ministry or church.

In what ways have you been overly critical of other Christians, churches, or ministries? What does this tell you about the good you should be doing?

I know that the title of this blog caught a lot of people’s eyes. Everyone wants and needs to know how to solve the issues they’re facing, so here it is….prayer. Yip, it’s that simple.

Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray.James 5:13

As James writes, from his pastor‘s heart, to the people of God, his entire letter is full of practical instruction and direct admonition. He does not have a flowery style or a theoretical bent; he is interested only in getting clear, candid counsel into the hands and hearts of believers.

And when he comes to the matter of affliction — gut-wrenching, spirit-pounding, heart-crushing affliction — this practical pastor gives his guidance in only three words: let him pray.

“Is that it?” we might ask. What about formulating an exit strategy? What about checking all our options for circumventing the pain? What about gathering a support group to cheer us up and cheer us on? The greatest therapy, the surest solution, the sweetest healing that we will find, James says, is in fervent and honest and faith-full conversation with God.

James is not suggesting a momentary, fleeting mention of our trial — perhaps in the middle of blessing our breakfast food — as the answer to affliction. The verb he uses is in the present tense: let him, in other words, continually be praying.

Perhaps you know what it is like to be so pressed by a sorrow or pain or trial that you pray, not only as you breath, but in order to be able to keep on breathing. There are times when God’s people truly find Him their only source of strength, of life, of purpose, and of joy. They pray, not because they have to, but because they can’t not pray.

Whether your affliction is earth-shattering or hardly-worth-mentioning, take your trial to God in prayer. And out of the fountain of close communion with your Father, will flow the calming, refreshing, restoring waters of spiritual renewal.

James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

The challenge of being a Christian is the temptations we face every day. Resisting temptation is a very important part of every Christian’s life. Christian temptation is different from any other kind, but we CAN be tested and we WILL resist temptation. It’s never easy, but Christians have the inner strength to do so if we turn to God.

Todays verse is one of my favorites. We need to learn to resist and “Flee” from sin, but sometimes we need to stand up and face it down as well. Here’s an example…

Like many sheep ranchers in the West, Lexy Fowler had tried just about everything to stop crafty coyotes from killing her sheep. She has used odor sprays, electric fences, and ‘scare-coyotes.’ She has slept with her lambs during the summer and has placed battery-operated radios near them. She has corralled them at night, herded them at day. But the southern Montana rancher has lost scores of lambs–fifty last year alone. “Then she discovered the llama–the aggressive, funny-looking, afraid-of-nothing llama…’Llamas don’t appear to be afraid of anything,’ she said. ‘When they see something, they put their head up and walk straight toward it. That is aggressive behavior as far as the coyote is concerned, and they won’t have anything to do with that… Coyotes are opportunists, and llamas take that opportunity away.

Apparently llamas know the truth of what James writes: “Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you” (4:7). The moment we sense his attack through temptation is the moment we should face it and deal with it for what it is.

Take the time today to find the temptations that are the strongest to you, and face them head on. Take the offensive against Satan, and remove the foothold that he has in your life. Do this, and I can assure you that the temptations will not only become fewer, but easier to handle in the future.

Handling anger is an important life skill. Christian counselors report that 50 percent of people who come in for counseling have problems dealing with anger. Anger can shatter communication and tear apart relationships, and it ruins both the joy and health of many. Sadly, people tend to justify their anger instead of accepting responsibility for it. Everyone struggles, to varying degrees, with anger. Thankfully, God’s Word contains principles regarding how to handle anger in a godly manner, and how to overcome sinful anger.

Anger is not always sin. There is a type of anger of which the Bible approves, often called “righteous indignation.” God is angry (Psalm 7:11; Mark 3:5), and believers are commanded to be angry (Ephesians 4:26). Two Greek words in the New Testament are translated as “anger.” One means “passion, energy” and the other means “agitated, boiling.” Biblically, anger is God-given energy intended to help us solve problems. Examples of biblical anger include David’s being upset over hearing Nathan the prophet sharing an injustice (2 Samuel 12) and Jesus’ anger over how some of the Jews had defiled worship at God’s temple in Jerusalem (John 2:13-18). Notice that neither of these examples of anger involved self-defense, but a defense of others or of a principle.

That being said, it is important to recognize that anger at an injustice inflicted against oneself is also appropriate. Anger has been said to be a warning flag—it alerts us to those times when others are attempting to or have violated our boundaries. God cares for each individual. Sadly, we do not always stand up for one another, meaning that sometimes we must stand up for ourselves. This is especially important when considering the anger that victims often feel. Victims of abuse, violent crime, or the like have been violated in some way. Often while experiencing the trauma, they do not experience anger. Later, in working through the trauma, anger will emerge. For a victim to reach a place of true health and forgiveness, he or she must first accept the trauma for what it was. In order to fully accept that an act was unjust, one must sometimes experience anger. Because of the complexities of trauma recovery, this anger is often not short-lived, particularly for victims of abuse. Victims should process through their anger and come to a place of acceptance, even forgiveness. This is often a long journey. As God heals the victim, the victim’s emotions, including anger, will follow. Allowing the process to occur does not mean the person is living in sin.

Anger can become sinful when it is motivated by pride (James 1:20), when it is unproductive and thus distorts God’s purposes (1 Corinthians 10:31), or when anger is allowed to linger (Ephesians 4:26-27). One obvious sign that anger has turned to sin is when, instead of attacking the problem at hand, we attack the wrongdoer. Ephesians 4:15-19 says we are to speak the truth in love and use our words to build others up, not allow rotten or destructive words to pour from our lips. Unfortunately, this poisonous speech is a common characteristic of fallen man (Romans 3:13-14). Anger becomes sin when it is allowed to boil over without restraint, resulting in a scenario in which hurt is multiplied (Proverbs 29:11), leaving devastation in its wake. Often, the consequences of out-of-control anger are irreparable. Anger also becomes sin when the angry one refuses to be pacified, holds a grudge, or keeps it all inside (Ephesians 4:26-27). This can cause depression and irritability over little things, which are often unrelated to the underlying problem.

We can handle anger biblically by recognizing and admitting our prideful anger and/or our wrong handling of anger as sin (Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9). This confession should be both to God and to those who have been hurt by our anger. We should not minimize the sin by excusing it or blame-shifting.

We can handle anger biblically by seeing God in the trial. This is especially important when people have done something to offend us. James 1:2-4, Romans 8:28-29, and Genesis 50:20 all point to the fact that God is sovereign over every circumstance and person that crosses our path. Nothing happens to us that He does not cause or allow. Though God does allow bad things to happen, He is always faithful to redeem them for the good of His people. God is a good God (Psalm 145:8, 9, 17). Reflecting on this truth until it moves from our heads to our hearts will alter how we react to those who hurt us.

We can handle anger biblically by making room for God’s wrath. This is especially important in cases of injustice, when “evil” men abuse “innocent” people. Genesis 50:19 and Romans 12:19 both tell us to not play God. God is righteous and just, and we can trust Him who knows all and sees all to act justly (Genesis 18:25).

We can handle anger biblically by returning good for evil (Genesis 50:21; Romans 12:21). This is key to converting our anger into love. As our actions flow from our hearts, so also our hearts can be altered by our actions (Matthew 5:43-48). That is, we can change our feelings toward another by changing how we choose to act toward that person.

We can handle anger biblically by communicating to solve the problem. There are four basic rules of communication shared in Ephesians 4:15, 25-32:

1) Be honest and speak (Ephesians 4:15, 25). People cannot read our minds. We must speak the truth in love.

2) Stay current (Ephesians 4:26-27). We must not allow what is bothering us to build up until we lose control. It is important to deal with what is bothering us before it reaches critical mass.

3) Attack the problem, not the person (Ephesians 4:29, 31). Along this line, we must remember the importance of keeping the volume of our voices low (Proverbs 15:1).

4) Act, don’t react (Ephesians 4:31-32). Because of our fallen nature, our first impulse is often a sinful one (v. 31). The time spent in “counting to ten” should be used to reflect upon the godly way to respond (v. 32) and to remind ourselves how the energy anger provides should be used to solve problems and not create bigger ones.

At times we can handle anger preemptively by putting up stricter boundaries. We are told to be discerning (1 Corinthians 2:15-16; Matthew 10:16). We need not “cast our pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6). Sometimes our anger leads us to recognize that certain people are unsafe for us. We can still forgive them, but we may choose not to re-enter the relationship.

Finally, we must act to solve our part of the problem (Romans 12:18). We cannot control how others act or respond, but we can make the changes that need to be made on our part. Overcoming a temper is not accomplished overnight. But through prayer, Bible study, and reliance upon God’s Holy Spirit, ungodly anger can be overcome. We may have allowed anger to become entrenched in our lives by habitual practice, but we can also practice responding correctly until that, too, becomes a habit and God is glorified in our response.

soulConfess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.—James 5:16

Have you ever been wrong and refused to admit ot confess the act? I have recently been put into the position where I am being persecuted to the point of disbelief. I watch these people accuse me, then refuse to admit they were, or did, anything wrong. While I wish I could get an apology from them, my biggest concern is for the damage they are doing to themselves by not admiting their sin.

No one enjoys admitting they are wrong. We hope our spouse or kids or friends will overlook our shortcomings and not call us out on the mistakes we make. We want to preserve the appearance of having our life pulled together. No one wants to say, “I was wrong, and I’m sorry!”

But by avoiding those painful words, we miss the blessing that follows. When a wound is cleaned, the healing can begin. If we live with sin festering in our life, we miss the healing and wholeness that God has made available to us.

James tells us the next step after confession is also important for healing—we must also pray for each other. It’s hard to be angry with someone for whom we are honestly praying. By asking God to work through each other to advance his kingdom, we might find we can forgive as we have been forgiven.

Prayer

Gracious Lord, grant us the courage to admit our failings and to confess them to one another. Help us to forgive each other and to pray for those whom you have placed in our lives. Amen.

Temptation-of-Christ-_Ary-SchefferTemptation…it whispers to us. It appeals to our pleasure, arouses our attention, and can make us fall quicker that a ton of dynamite. Temptation is like stepping into the quicksand of sin and sinking fast.When temptaion leads to sin, people respond in many different ways. Some cry like they’ve never cried before, filled with shame and remorse, but most hide in the deepest parts of their hearts, afraid, alone, hurt and ashamed with waves of guilt crashing around them like the ocean waves. These, and feelings like them, are common when we know we’ve gone to far, made the wrong choices, and and led a reckless life. We self-destruct, but it was our chosing that got us there.

Temptation seems to creep around when we least expect it. We fool ourselves into thinking that we’re strong and can handle it. Satan knows just when to push our buttons, however. At just exactly the wrong time, when we least expect it and our defenses are down, the enemy shows up with His bag full of temptations. He has a way of tricking us into thinking it’s all right, aking us see various shades of grey rather than the black and white of right and wrong.

Sometimes temptation comes in the form of things, places, and people to bandage the wound in the soul that cannot humanly be met. The need was created by God and for only God to fill. Everything else will feel empty and incomplete. Everyone has emotional needs that they try to meet in inferior ways, like ungodly friendships, emotional affairs,  obsession with work, food, and money, and the list goes on and on into infinity. In other words, they they grab on to false ways to meet their needs that only the Lord can satisfy.

We have to look at temptation for what it really is. Temptation, when it stands alone, is just a withering, shrinking lure. Despite how often we see it, it has no power unless we just give in to it. Remember that temptation itself is not a sin, Jesus was tempted, but giving in to the lure is where we fall into the catagory of Sinfulness.

Remember that we are never alone in outr struggles with temptation. We have a mighty God who has the transforming power to change us into Godly people, satisfy our deepest needs, be our greatest defense against the enemy, protect us, keep us from temptation, and deliver us from evil. Our victory over Satan has already been won through Christ.

Some passages to study the issue of temptaion include:

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

James 1:12-16 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Hebrews 2:18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

Matthew 4:1-11 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple …

madI don’t know about you, but one of my biggest struggles is dealing with mean spirited people. I wish I could sit here and tell you that I have the patience of Job, and was able to remain calm when others start snapping at me for no reason. I wish I could sit here and tell you that there wasn’t some small, worldly part of me that would find satisfaction in letting them have a taste of their own medicine. Sometimes, I want to do these things, but we all know that remaining calm and not retaliating are the right and mature things to do, but sometimes it’s also the hardest thing to do.

One of the ways that I chose to deal with people who like to lash out is to realize that there is usually something else behind their actions, and to pray for them. Sometimes this doesn’t help the anger I still harbor against them, but then I realize that I need to pray for myself as well. The bottom line is that holding our tongues and our anger against others is always the best thing to do no matter how much they agitate and antagonize us. Remember that Jesus took a lot more abuse than we did, and He never retaliated. Yet when we look at it He could have done anything He wanted to to exact revenge…He chose instead to love them where they were at. An example that we need to live by.

We all face people who are just plain old mean. The question is how do we deal with them? By denying our own inclination to strike back and to show them a Christ-like love. I know that it’s not always easy to do but think about it from another angle; how would you feel if you lashed out at someone without really meaning to because you were having a bad day, and that person just gave you a hug or a kind word? You’d probably feel guilty at first, love for them the second, then that’s usually followed by a feeling of joy because someone finally cared and showed you that your troubles are only a big as you let them be. So the answer to how do we deal with difficult people is simple…put your own emotions aside, and just show them that you care no matter how mean they are. Jesus did it.

There are a million other ways to handle mean people, and I’d love to hear how you do it. So for now, I’m going to post some Bible verses on the topic and ask you to think about what you feel is the best way to respond. I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Proverbs 20:22 Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.

Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

James 1:19-20 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;

Hebrews 12:14-15 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;

Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

James 1:26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.