Friday, January 27, 2012

Digging Deeper (James 4:1-5)

Digging Deeper 18 James 4:1-5
 The word of the of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 Briefly before we look at this week’s text let me share some thoughts with you concerning this description of God’s Word. First, it is living, Greek word “zao” to be warm as opposed to being cold, dead. Second it is active, it is not the ink and paper God’s Word causes things to happen. Thirdly it is sharp, it is decisive it does not hack way at something trying to conform it, it is the clean cut truth no options. The purpose of the study of the Word of God is not to gain information, we can get that from any book. The Word of God is not really a book at all the piece of leather, paper and ink that we carry and read is a conduit for the living, active, sharp breath of God! And listening to what God has to say will change our lives. Now let’s dig a little deeper.
James 4:1 What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? James asks a simple question, what is the source of our difficulties getting along with one another? Now this is certainly a rhetorical question, we know that because he goes on to answer it but how would we respond to that question. Would it be? “Because I want it my way”  If we would consider our conflicts quarrels where would we find the source? Most often we would look outside to find the source but the instruction is to see the source as a problem within ourselves.
James 4:2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.  Have you ever wanted something so bad in your life but simple there was no way to get it. Not speaking of just materiel things but really just wanting things your way and was willing to fight for it. Than in the midst of that battle somebody else gets what you are so desperately desiring. Envy grabs on and now our lives are in disarray and conflict and quite frankly we just can’t get along. The source of the conflict and quarrels among us is quite often because we are not able to make things be the way we want them to be and the source is from within not from without.
James 4:3-4 You ask and do not receive, because you ask  with the wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. The reason simply put that we don’t get what we want is because are motives are wrong, we want it for the wrong reasons. We want what we want so that we will be pleased. God will always honor a humble heart that comes seeking what God wants in our lives so that our lives please Him. James continues in verse 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself and enemy of God. We fuss and quarrel because we are trying to make our way in this world but that is not our purpose, there is no call in God’s Word for us to accomplish anything that befriends the world.
James 4:5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: He jealously desires the Spirit which dwells in us? Two passages come to mind: Exodus 20:5 tells us the character of God You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate me. And what is the Spirit which He has made dwell in us? Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Where do all the quarrels and conflicts go when we exercise the Spirit that dwells in us not because the world deserves it or because it gives us popularity or power but simply because of our  love for God.

Now that we have dug a little deeper what do we believe?

What do we believe about God? 
1.   God desires our full devotion.
2.   The fruits of the Spirit belong to God for His purpose which is His glory.

What do we believe about ourselves? 

1.   We commit adultery when we befriend the world.
2.   We have the Spirit of God dwelling in us that we can exercise the fruits that bring honor to God.
3.   Our conflicts resolve when we walk in the Spirit with God.

Covenant Church 210 Station Rd, Wilmington, NC 28405 (910) 395-5800

Friday, January 20, 2012

Digging Deeper (James 3:13-18)

I pray that God will change our lives for His glory by the study of His Word!

Digging Deeper 17 James 3:13-18
 There is a difference in being smart and being wise. We live today in a culture full of knowledge for the taking. Uncountable numbers of books fill the shelves, the internet grows every day bursting with information there is now a greater availability of knowledge than there has been in the history of man yet man continues to slip further and further from the precepts of God. It profits us nothing to gain all knowledge but be ignorant of the precepts of God’s Word. Titus 3:9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Knowledge without wisdom is destructive and filled with pride. Let’s dig a little deeper in God’s Word.
James 3:13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in gentleness of wisdom. James begins with a question who is wise and understanding? But before the question can be answered he says that it will show. Careful consideration should be taken before we answer such a question “Who among us is wise and understanding because there is a way to test the answer. Good behavior, deeds in gentleness. Someone who is wise does not throw their knowledge around like punches from a prize fighter. Someone wise does not use their knowledge to conquer others rather to build up others up and to encourage. True wisdom is understanding kind and gentle and it will show in how you use it.
James 3:14-15 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthy, natural, and demonic. “I know something you don’t know” sounds like something a child would say to another child but truthfully those same sentiments play out every day in the in our lives we get a little knowledge start feeling pretty good about ourselves pride takes hold create bitterness and jealousy. This is not the wisdom that comes from God. This kind of wisdom is the product of our natural prideful tendency spurred by Satan, strong words but James calls this kind of wisdom demonic.
James 3:16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. It is true if someone processes knowledge that others don’t they have a distinct advantage and when that wisdom is coupled with jealousy instead of kindness, selfish ambition instead of compassion there is confusion, heartache, and evilness abounds.
James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. This list describing wisdom from God looks remarkably like the fruits of the Sprit. Wisdom from God first is pure, it is not taint by man’s theory or logic. The wisdom of God is not for a weapon but to bring peace. The wisdom that comes from God is gentle or maybe better translated appropriate. The wisdom that God offers to us is reasonable it fits our lives. God’s wisdom to us is full of mercy it is forgiving and holds no bitterness. God’s wisdom manifest in our lives as good fruits it is desirable. The wisdom that God’s extends to us is unwavering it is consistent it does not change with circumstance. Wisdom that comes from above does not say one thing and do another it is without hypocrisy. The wisdom that God gives to man isn’t just knowledge it is a condition of the heart.
James 3:18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James could certainly be referring here back to his discourse he has just given concerning controlling the tongue. When we plant seeds of righteous with wisdom from of above it is done to bring peace not judgment which belongs only to God. Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.
Let’s go back to James initial question Who among you is wise and understanding? It is sometimes easy for us to see ourselves as wise but does the wisdom that we claim come from above? Is it understanding? Is it pure, peacable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy, producing good fruit, constant, and without hypocrisy? James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach and it will be given to him.
Now that we have dug a little deeper what do we believe?

What do we believe about God? 
1.     True wisdom comes from God
2.   God gives wisdom for the purpose to promote righteousness

What do we believe about ourselves? 

1.    Knowledge that we use to promote our own selfish agenda is not from above
2.   Wisdom that is selfish and arrogant is earthy, natural and demonic
3.   We should exercise wisdom from God with mercy not judgment.

Covenant Church 210 Station Rd, Wilmington, NC 28405 (910) 395-5800

Friday, January 13, 2012

Digging Deeper (James 3:7-12)

Digging Deeper 16 James 3:7-12
 Knowledge is a powerful tool, without it physical strength can do nothing. We put a lot of emphasis on doing the right thing which is very important but how can we do the right thing if we do not know the right thing to do. God tells us in the James 1:5 But if any of you lack wisdom , let him ask God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But wisdom does not just fall out of the sky, there is a wealth of knowledge to be had, more than we could ever imagine in the precepts of God’s Word but we must seek after it. 2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. How much does our life change if we start reading and following the directions.
Digging deeper is an effort to increase our knowledge that our faith is increased enabling us to be pleasing to God. Now let’s dig a little deeper.
James 3:7 For every species of beast and bird, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed, and has been tamed by the human race. James is continuing his discourse concerning bringing our communication under control. He is using the illustration that somehow we have managed to tame all the animals. Hidden in here is a lesson, how do we manage to tame wild animals? We take an animal when it is young and we train it not to do the things that would come natural to it. Maybe the tongue is the same way, maybe when it is young it can be trained not to do what comes natural. Here is a quick illustration when I was young maybe 7 or 8 years old me and a buddy of mine were outside but close to the house and we were using some words that we had heard, we knew they were not good words but for some reason they felt really cool to say. When I came in the house my mother had heard every word and to my surprise did not scold me but said these six words that would change my life “Jesus heard every word you said” I think it was my first experience with real conviction. My intention here is not for you to think that since then I have always been able to control my tongue, I have not, but because I was taught young who Jesus is and His expectations of how we should communicate certainly made a difference.
James 3:8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. What an awful description, restless evil and deadly poison. Restless means that something has a difficult time waiting so the tongue is not only evil but it can’t wait to be evil! In the flesh man just looks for opportunity to use communication as weapon. Do we not find ourselves in situations where we can’t wait to share and or hear the latest gossip? And not only can the tongue not wait but when it lets go it is a killer. The word that James uses is deadly. Poison will make someone sick but deadly poison will murder someone. These are powerful words but they really bring to light the awesome power of our communication and I use the word communication because too often in our contemporary high tech society we hide behind texts and emails and claim to have not said anything. Lives are being affected by the quiet yet poisonous use of social sites and texting.
James 3:9-12 With it we bless the Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does the fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Neither can salt water produce fresh. There is a reason that we do not use the same pipes for our water and our sewer, it would be disgusting. What does our praise on Sunday morning sound like to our Holy God from the same mouth that gossiped and poisoned and complained all week. James makes it very clear that we cannot bless God with the same mouth that spews deadly poison. A fig tree does not produce olives and neither does a gossip produce praise.
Now that we have dug a little deeper what do we believe?

What do we believe about God? 
1.    God desires to give us the knowledge to do what is right.
2.   God will not receive praise from a filthy mouth.

What do we believe about ourselves? 

1.    It is important for us to train young mouths to say good things.
2.   Man’s tongue cannot wait to be evil.
3.   Our communication can be a deadly poison.
4.   We cannot praise God with the same mouth that spews filthy communication.

Covenant Church 210 Station Rd, Wilmington, NC 28405 (910) 395-5800

Friday, January 6, 2012

Digging Deeper (James 3:1-6)

Digging Deeper 15 James 3:1-6
There is a saying “Be careful what you ask for you may get it.” I believe there is scripture that walks along side that quote. Luke 12:48 But the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrust much, of him they will ask all the more.  Jesus is teaching His disciples about responsibility. The principle here is that the more opportunity, resources and knowledge that is received the level of responsibility greatly increases. As we approach this week’s text with that mind set we can see that we have been given so much, but how responsible are we with this blessing from God?
God has given us the ability to communicate and when James wrote these words communication was very limited in comparison to the vast ways we communicate today but the principle of scripture has not changed “Everyone who has been given much, much will be required” Chapter 3 of James is a good place for us to understand the power of both positive and negative communication.
So let’s dig a little deeper in God’s Word. James 3:1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment. Is James saying that we should ignore God’s call to teach His Word, of course not, God not only calls teachers but He gives the gift teaching and woe be it to those called if they do not teach. James is simply saying to teach is a powerful thing and because it is has so much influence it should not be taken lightly a single error can have grave consequences for the student it can change their whole perspective and character. Just as someone called to teach should never recoil from that responsibility someone that is not should consider the consequences of teaching amiss. James admits that we all have messed up but our propensity to stumble does not allow  an excuse or a relief from the responsibility.
James 3:3-5 Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they may obey us, we direct their body as well. Behold, the ships , also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boast of great things. Behold, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire. Now James approaches the power of communication in general. He gives three examples a horse, a ship and a forest. Two of  these will only go where they are suppose to go when something very small is in control and one can be destroyed by a very small thing. God has given us the ability to communicate but with that comes awesome responsibility. Even a small child can control a very large horse if it can control the bit in its mouth and regardless of the size of the ship if someone responsible is at the helm controlling the rudder the ship will go as directed. Forrest do not need a roaring flame to be destroyed a very small spark can set into motion huge destruction.  
James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and set on fire by hell. These are very strong words. We need to consider the power of the things we say as they affect not only the hearers but ourselves as well. Everything that we say, everything that we write, and everything we “post” affects those who hear it or read it. Have we forgotten how powerful our communication is to destroy and damage or have we decided to use it for just that purpose. We tend to follow our words they set in motion how we think and how we act. We sometimes use the phrase “I am just putting it out there” but maybe not realizing that “just putting it out there” can and does change the course of our lives and has the power to destroy others.
James will continue this discourse concerning the tongue in the next few verses but there is enough instruction in these first 6 verses of chapter 3 for us to guard all our communication.

What do we believe about God? 
1.   God requires His Word to be taught with responsibility.
2.   The gift of Communication is given by God. 

What do we believe about ourselves? 

1.   What we say has great impact.
2.   What we communicate directly affects the course of our lives.
3.   Our tongue can be used for destruction.