Book of Rememberance

Malachi 3:16

Slippery: Proceed with Caution

Studying the book James has had huge impact on my thought life (hopefully also my physical life when all is said in done!) But I do think that the first changes begin inwardly before they are manifest outwardly.

I have read James countless times in the past, I am sure. But this is my first time to study it chapter by chapter and verse by verse. It is a hard word to take in.

I am only just into chapter 3 but I have noticed that there seems to be some repeat of thoughts and lessons from chapter 1 to chapter 3. In chapter 1 James gives us 27 verses that are lessons in and of them selves but then he unpacks them more in later chapters. In chapter 1 James talks about the tongue and the connection between it and our religiosity. He lets us know quite bluntly that if we think were religious, and do not have control over our tongue/words then guess what…. all that religion is USELESS! Yikes.

In chapter 2 we are confronted with our tendency to prefer some over others and show partiality.  But then we get into chapter 3 and BAM we are hit once again with the need to control the tongue.

I recently heard a quote that made me laugh as much as made me gasp.

“The tongue is in a wet place and can easily slip”.

That is just so true! It makes me want to grab a big sign “caution slippery when wet” and stick it in front of my face! (I just was thinking that naturally when we have a dry mouth we are apt to speak fewer words)

But scarier yet is James’ caution to us in verses 5-8. Basically he is reminding us that the tongue has the power of both life and DEATH (Proverbs 18:21) and also that when we use it for death we are tapping into the power of hell. (James 3:6) If this does not make anyone want to shut up and really tread lightly maybe the fact that James’ continues to inform us in verse 8 that no man can tame the tongue. No man can tame the tongue? WHAT!?  Not even you James?

Something brought to my attention as I read through chapter 3 after spending 4 weeks in chapter 1 and 2…is that in chapter 1 and 2 James is talking to “us” I mean he uses the word you, or my brethern, brother or sister when he is writing. But suddenly in chapter 3 there comes a turn. James has switched to WE in the next 9 verses. He is now including himself with us as we struggle in this area, and knowing that people alone can not fulfill the necessary expectation. What are we to do then? How can we over come this if not through self-control?

I am graciously reminded that self-control is a fruit OF THE SPIRIT. (Gal. 5:22-23) Not a fruit of man, or a fruit of striving, or even a fruit of religion, church going or discipline. It is a fruit of The Spirit.

In some ways this really takes the pressure off. WHEW. No man can tame the tongue, BUT the Holy Spirit CAN and WILL tame the tongue. When HIS fruit is what we are bearing then with it comes the fruit of self-control. and only then are we able through HIS grace and HIS fruit to accomplish it.

James 1:19 says each one us should be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.  This does take a conscious effort to be aware and tuned in to those around us. But let me tell you from my experience, do not even bother to try this without seeking God for His help and Spirit. Ask Him to constantly remind you to listen to what others are saying (not just use that time to think of what you want to say next…Bree!) and then cautiously weigh what you will say, slowly and carefully. This is the only way that I know how to bear His Fruit in my life and it is a very new journey that I am beginning, I barely have buds just yet (let alone fruit), but my branches are firmly attached to the vine and growing steadily….

I pray others will know each one of us by our fruit and not by our useless religion.

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Joy in Obedience

I need joy!

Then again, who doesn’t? Especially now,  in the world we live in,  in the craziness happening all around us. It’s so easy for me to lose my joy when i see the news. I often tend to avoid the news for this very reason. It sometimes causes me confusion, fear and all things that are the exact opposite of that which Jesus brings to my life.

Part of this is a need for me to grow and mature more in the things of the Lord, in His Truth and His promises. I know that bad news should not cause fear or stress to me or in any way override The Good News!  but no matter what I know mentally this does happen and so I say again – I need Joy!

I am so glad Jesus himself promised to supply my joy, and not just at the level it was before, but actually the Words He spoke bring my joy to FULL! (John 15:11)

I have recently learned that in the book of James, he is also talking about Joy. In the first verse he has a salutation of “Greeting”. In the Greek this word is Chairein (ka-ee-rain) which means “Joy to you”. (James 1:1) The book of James is about living out what we say we believe. In other words it means to be living in obedience to God’s ways and percepts.

The best part of this is that actually when we are obedient, our Joy increases in those areas where we submit. It sounds kinda counter-culture  -that obedience would breed Joy; but this is actually more true then we give credit. I think naturally our sin nature wants to rebel and be in control, but at the same time God has placed in each of us another desire. A desire for order, rules, boundaries and safety. This is harder to see in adults maybe, but in young children its very clear.

I teach 2-5 year old’s and have been doing so for 7 years. I spend hours day in and day out in a unique setting and a unique role. I do everything from toilet training them to teaching them how to eat with utensils and basic manners of life. I am more inclined to say “I raise kids in English” rather than “I teach English”. But the one thing that’s very important for the kids is guidelines, consistency, rules and boundaries. They need them – but more than that they want them! They are uncomfortable with too much freedom, they look for an answer to everything and even more precious is their desire to be obedient and pleasing to me.

Is that not our hearts desire also? I know I WANT to be obedient and pleasing to my Great Teacher. I want to live a life and way that is honouring to Him. I want him to say to me just as my students want me to say to them “Good Job! Your doing very well! Thank you for your great listening!” 🙂

So, on further reflection about my joy and The Lords joy in me. I have to admit that the times I am most Joyful is when I am in His presence (no sinning there!) or when together God and I have overcome a previously sinful attitude/ behaviour. When I am changed and walking in obedience in that area I have so much more joy! Thank You Lord!

Have a Great week,  Chairein!!!!   Joy to YOU!!!

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