Monday, October 31, 2011

Waiting Patiently

Two of the Greatest Qualities in Life--Patience and Wisdom!

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

Today is a day of consolation.  There is an end to all of the sin that we encounter in this life, both those sins that we so ungodly commit and those which are committed against us.  Praise God, there is an end!  And it is coming.  Only we must be patient.  We must stand firm.

And in the meantime, if we do not want to be judged by the Judge of the Universe, we must not stand as our brother's judge.   The Judge is already at the door waiting to judge what He sees day by day.  We will be avenged by the God of Heaven.  No need to grumble or take vengeance ourselves.  Hallelujah and Praise the Lord!  He will do a much better job!

I can't predict how long the Lord will tarry; neither could the apostle James.  Therefore, we must be patient.  But that doesn't keep us from looking forward to His return with great expectation.

Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly!

P.S.  Happy Reformation Day! (click here )

Friday, October 28, 2011

How Deep Are Your Pockets?

Do You Have Deep Pockets?

"Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.  You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence.  You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.  You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous person.  He does not resist you."
James 5:4-6

The book of James is not an easy book to journal, for several reasons.  
1.  To many verses hit too close to home.
2.  It is not a book that can be peppered with humor for the most part, so it's not easy to read and enjoy it after I write.
3.  There are some passages that I look at and think, "This doesn't apply to me!"

But then God shows me my heart.

This is one such passage.  When I first began a cursory reading of it, I wondered how in the world to apply it to my life.  I am a homemaker, a wife and mom and grandmom.  I don't have laborers or run any kind of business.  How can this possibly apply to me?

Everything we do in life generally points to one of two things--how we relate to our God and how we relate to our fellow man. I am reminded of a passage in Malachi chapter 3.  God has been asking the Israelites a series of questions (and giving them the answers.)  He says in verses 8-10:  “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.  But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ In tithes and offerings.You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it."

Jesus said in Luke 6:38, "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 

We have a missionary from Ivory Coast coming to speak to the grandchildren--girls and boys!--at a tea party on Monday.  She is leaving on Tuesday, and I have challenged the children; we are giving a donation to Lesley at the tea party.  I told them to pray about what God would like for them to give.  They can either use money that they already have or work to earn some money.  Even with children, I think the adage stands that how a person spends his money is a determiner in his relationship with God. I'm excited to see what God does in the lives of these precious children as they share what they have with Miss Lesley.

A theologian might pick this apart, but this is the message I received for myself in this.  I do not want to rob God or my fellow man, and the depth of my pockets is one of the determiners of my devotion to both.

How deep are your pockets?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

But I'm Not Rich!

Come now, you rich, weep and howl 
for the miseries that are coming upon you. 
Your riches are rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. 
Your gold and silver have corroded,
and their corrosion will be evidence against you 
and will eat your flesh like fire. 
You have laid up treasures in the last days. 
James 5:1-3

My first thought as I read this passage is, "But I'm not rich! What does this have to do with me?  How can I apply it to my life?"  And then I remember two things.  First, I am an American.  Compared to most of the rest of the world, I am rich.  Secondly, I am responsible for what I have, not for what someone who has more than I has.

How do I use my resources?  Do I place a pittance in the offering plate on Sundays, a token to God?  Do I pay fairly those who might do some work for me  or do I try to get away with paying as little as possible, leaving them without?  What about the waiter who serves me a meal when I go out?  Do I tip generously, leaving myself the opportunity to see her read the gospel tract that I may leave with her; or do I put a pitiful few coins on the table?

What do I do with the little treasure that God has granted me?  Do I "lay it up for the last days?"  Or do I use it generously to advance the kingdom of God?

As I read these verses I am soundly reminded of what Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 6: " Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also...“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." (verses 19-21, 24)

Searching my heart,

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Mist That Vanishes

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow 
we will go into such and such a town and spend a year 
there and trade and make a profit"--
yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  
What is your life?  For you are a mist 
that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 
James 4:13-14

When I took this picture there was an early morning mist, beautiful and haunting as it hung over the mountains in anticipation of the day.  Within a few moments it began to vanish, leaving only its memory behind , a slight  bit of moisture on its surroundings.  As the day progressed, it became sunny and dry, without even a hint that the day had begun with tiny drops of water clinging to the atmosphere.

God says that we, too are but a mist in the grand scheme of things. What if we live to 100?  What a short time we have on this earth!  Can we make a difference, or will we leave  like the mist, without a hint that we have been here?  How do we plan our day, our lives?  Do we assume that we are the masters of our fate, the captains of our souls?  Or do we recognize daily the One who is the Blessed Controller of All Things?

As we begin our day, today and for the rest of our lives, let's give to Him the time that we have remaining.  Let's finish strong, knowing that what we do is pleasing to Him and directed by Him.

Only a mist,

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Keep a Lid on It!

 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers.  
The one who speaks against a brother
or judges his brother speaks evil against the law 
and judges the law.  But if you judge the law,
you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 
There is only one lawgiver and judge, 
He who is able to save and to destroy.
  But who are you to judge your neighbor?  
James 4:11-12

 Groucho Marx once said, 
"I was married to a judge; I should have asked for a jury!"

Unfortunately, we sometimes try to be judge and jury.  We are warned through the apostle James that  when we judge, we are also judging the law.  The law says,"'Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor's life. I am the Lord." ( Leviticus 19:16 )  Jesus said, "Judge not, that you be not judged." (Matthew. 7:1)  

In other words, the pot has no room to call the kettle black!  We have no license to sit in judgment of another.  That's God's job.

We must distinguish, for the sake of teaching our little ones, the difference between judging another and being discerning.  We want them to be discerning in order to know good from evil.

Discernment:  The power or faculty of the mind, by which it distinguishes one thing from another, as truth from falsehood, virtue from vice; acuteness of judgment; power of perceiving differences of things or ideas, and their relations and tendencies.

Judgment:  In light of James 4:11-12, the word means the act of censuring rashly; passing severe sentence on another. 

We must teach our children to perceive right from wrong.  But we must also teach them not to judge or speak evil of others.  And we must do that by example.  Ouch!

Is it possible to keep the lid to our pot on, to look at the kettle and allow the heat of judgment to come from the Source?  It must be, because we are warned to do just that--keep a lid on and allow God to be the Lawgiver and Judge.

Duly warned,


Monday, October 24, 2011

Take a Spiritual Bath!

Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, 
you double minded.  Be wretched and mourn and weep. 
Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.
James 4:8b-10

What an interesting passage!  We are told to "consider it all joy" when we face trials (James 1:2), to "rejoice in the Lord always" (Philippians 4:4),  "the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10).  How in the world do we reconcile these verses with the ones above?

As we consider them, we must remember that we have been studying about those proud of heart who are covetous and quarrelsome, even to the point of murder in order to get what they want.  They are enamored with the things of the earth, in a state of spiritual adultery because, although they are part of the bride of Christ, they just can't seem to shake their affair with the world.  

Well!  In that case let's see what those people should do in order to correct the error of their ways.  Never mind; let's just include ourselves assuming that we just might sometimes fall into the same category. (Tongue in cheek!)

"Cleanse your hands, you sinners."  Have we dirtied our hands with the things of the world?  Worldly thinking, envy, covetousness, materialism, wrong choices...

"Purify your hearts, you double-minded."  How often do we sit on the fence between heaven and the world?  Do we allow the system that Satan has set up  on earth tempt our thinking or our actions, causing our hearts to sin?

"Be wretched and mourn and weep."  Just how much do we grieve over the thoughts and actions of our hearts that cause us to be spiritual adulterers?

"Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Be wretched and mourn and weep."  Do we laugh with the world or mourn over our sinfulness?  "There is a time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance."  (Ecclesiastes 3:4)

So what are we doing when we do all this?  We are carrying out God's demands for us as believers if we want to experience life to the fullest.  He said to "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you."

This is just another example of the world's way versus God's way.  Our joy comes from obedience, not from flirting with the devil and his perverted system that he has set up in order to trap us.

As we strive to be faithful to our groom,

Friday, October 21, 2011

Submit and Resist

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. 
James 4:7-8a

About two nights ago, I spent most of the night tossing and turning instead of sleeping.  It was, as you can imagine, a miserable night.  No, I did not get up and do something constructive.  Yes, I did pray--in a sense.  

I spent the night reviewing everything that I could think of that I had done wrong in my life, especially with my family.  I beat myself up over the fact that we could have had more family devotions, been more active in teaching them, been more sympathetic--or less sympathetic--done more activities with them--or did we do too much?  I could go on.  But that was just one area.  

I then thought through how we have spent our money.  We could have given more to the poor, supported more missionaries.  We could have done this, should have done that.  Shouldn't have bought that house, should have checked out the renter better. Didn't listen to the Lord in this area--or did we?  Ad infinitum (not sure I spelled that right, and spell check has never heard the word, it seems.)  My prayers, it appears, were self-centered ramblings which the Lord likely laughed off--or grieved over.  I was full of pride!

Not until yesterday morning did it strike me that I was giving in to satanic attack.  My Lord doesn't badger me with "should/woulda/coulda."  He says through the apostle Paul, "But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:13b-14

So today I submit to (place myself under) my Lord, who has greater things in store for me than wallowing in the past.  Today I resist (strive against;  endeavor to counteract, defeat or frustrate) the devil.  And you know what God promises?  THE DEVIL WILL FLEE FROM ME!

And praise God, through His Word He tells me that as I draw near to Him, He , my Abba Father, will draw near to me.  

Join me today in drawing near to the God, submitting in reverence to Him and to His holy will.  Join me as we strive against the enemy and his lies.  

As we watch the devil's backside,

Thursday, October 20, 2011

He Gives More Grace

But He gives more grace.  Therefore it says,
"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
James 4:6

(Daniel Webster's 1828 Dictionary)
Pride:   1. Inordinate self-esteem; an unreasonable conceit of one's own superiority in talents, beauty, wealth, accomplishments, rank or elevation in office, which manifests itself in lofty airs, distance, reserve, and often in contempt of others.  2. Insolence; rude treatment of others; insolent exultation.

Humility:   In ethics, freedom from pride and arrogance; humbleness of mind; a modest estimate of one's own worth. In theology, humility consists in lowliness of mind; a deep sense of one's own unworthiness in the sight of God, self-abasement, penitence for sin, and submission to the divine will.

Now let's see what else God has to say about pride and humility.

"Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice."  Proverbs 13:10.

"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."  Proverbs 16:18

"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom."  Proverbs 11:2

“Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride.  Proverbs 21:24

"All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble"1 Peter 5:5

" The fear of the LORD is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor."  Proverbs 15:33

"The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life".  Proverbs 22:4

"Before his downfall a man's heart is proud, but humility comes before honor".  Proverbs 18:12

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves."  Philippians 2:3

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12

"Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of
the LORD's anger.
... Search for what is right. Search for humility."  Zephaniah 2:3
"Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor." 
(Proverbs 29:23 NLT)

I cannot add to this!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Spiritual Adultery

A Battle With the World
 (spiritual comics... have fun!!! by Roxane Chapdelaine
Click on cartoon to see a larger picture 

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 to no purpose 
that the Scripture says, "He yearns jealously
over the spirit that He has made to dwell in us."
James 4:4-5

What does it mean to be a friend of the world?  It means to do and be the opposite of a friend of God.  This is a list of contrasting philosophies between God and the world, from the website The Cross and Cutlass:

  • The world says it's all about you.   God says it's all about Him
  • The world says elevate yourself.    God says to put others ahead of yourself
  • The world says grab as much power as you can.  God says be a servant
  • The world says eat, drink, and be merry for this is all there is.  God says you are an eternal being so be wise with your time
  • The world says the ends justify the means. God says the means will be judged at the end.
  • The world says outward beauty is everything. God says those with inner beauty will shine at the end.
  • The world says gather as many things as you can. God says only your treasure in heaven will last.
  • The world says death is the end. God says death is only the beginning.
  • The world says truth is relative. God says I am the truth
  • The world says man is good at heart. God says the heart of man is wicked all the time.
  • The world says there are many pathways to heaven. Jesus says No man gets to the Father, but through Me.
  • The world says to be tolerant. God says to call evil, evil.
  • The world says it's all about personal happiness. God says it's all about personal sacrifice.
  • The world says it's better to receive. God says it's better to give.
He who yearns jealously over the spirit He has put within us deserves our complete loyalty and devotion.

Desiring Him,

The Quandary

Does it always happen this way for you?
  (Presented by )

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. 
James 4:2b-3

This is a difficult passage for me when it appears very, very clear.  

"You do not have because you do not ask."  I have chosen since I was a young child to believe that God's Word is true, and there is reliable evidence that it is just that--TRUE.  Therefore, because His Word is true, I have made it a point to ask God.  I've asked Him for many things--the salvation of my children, godly mates for my children, other very big things and many small ones.  Now I am asking Him to help me, as I have entered the world of the "senior citizens," to finish strong for Him.  Some of those prayers have been answered gloriously.  But some have not.

"You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly to spend it on your passions."  In my heart, I never think that what I ask for has been wrongly asked, that I desire worldly pleasure from my asking.  And when I say never, I do mean never.  Now I didn't say that I don't ask wrongly, just that I don't think I do.  Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?" 

Herein lies my problem.  I cannot understand my own heart.  Only God can, and sometimes that really discourages me.  I want to ask and know that I will receive what I ask for, yet I don't even know my wicked heart.  It seems to put me in a quandary.  Where do I go from here?

I join the Psalmist, who said, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:  and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24)  I must take inventory of my heart and then trust His leadership, even in answer to prayer.

I love what Matthew Henry said concerning this, and it gives me great hope in my feeble attempts at prayer:  "But, if we thus seek the things of this world, it is just in God to deny them; whereas, if we seek any thing that we may serve God with it, we may expect he will either give us what we seek or give us hearts to be content without it, and give opportunities of serving and glorifying him some other way."

Continuing to pray, asking God to guide my heart as I do,

Monday, October 17, 2011

Where Do Your Passions Lie?

Poor kitty!
 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you?  Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?  You desire and do not have, so you murder.  You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel...
James 4:1-2a

In the last part of chapter 3 of James, we studied about the difference in the wisdom of the world and the wisdom that is from above.  One is earthly, unspiritual and demonic.  It is caused by jealousy and selfish ambition, bringing about disorder and every vile practice.

In chapter 4 he asks us a question and answers it with another question.

"What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you?"
Some answers we might give:
  • He hurt my feelings.
  • She always grabs all the attention.
  • He managed to get the whole inheritance and left me with nothing. 
  • Your answer here:
James responds with, "Is it not this, that your passions [Greek: pleasures] are at war within you?"  It is very difficult to fill in the blank with a statement that justifies quarreling and fighting over the things that we selfishly desire. The seeking of pleasure, in whatever form it rears its ugly head, can be a devastating thing.  

Our thought for the day:  Who has more joy in life?
  • The one who wars with the passions, or pleasures of life, desiring what he does not have, coveting what others have, hanging on to the world's wisdom which promotes jealousy and selfish ambition?
  • Or the one who has the wisdom of God which is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and sincere?
Seeking joy,

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Good Harvest

This promises to be a stellar crop!

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and sincere.  And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
James 3:17-18
In this passage I see wisdom sowing her seeds:
  The seeds of purity.  
 Pure:  innocent, modest, perfect, chase (Strong’s Bible Dictionary).  In order to be wise, we must have an innocence that can only come from being washed clean in the blood of the Lamb. 

  The seeds of peace.  
 Wisdom sows seeds of peacefulness.  Our Lord is known as the Prince of Peace.  Before He left this world He said to His disciples, “Peace I give to you; my peace I leave with you.”  Only through the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives may we have the fruit of the Spirit called peace.

   The seeds of gentleness.  
 Gentle:  yielding, pliant (Young’s Bible Dictionary).  Wisdom is not harsh and demanding.
    The seeds of reason.
 We must not always have to have the last word, but be willing to hear the views of another before making a judgment or giving final counsel.

      The seeds of mercy and good fruits.
Are we compassionate and kind, not uncompromising or rude?  And do we show beneficence to those with whom we are dealing.?
       The seeds of impartiality.
 There's that word again!  The wisdom from above is always impartial and unprejudiced in its dealings with others.

       The seeds of sincerity.
A wise person is not a hypocrite.  Her motives are right.
As we learn to have the wisdom that is from above, when we sow our seeds, the harvest will be a fruitful one, a righteous harvest.  The lives of others will be enriched by the fruit of our lives. 
Lord, make me wise!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What Wisdom is Not

Jealousy is a pretty though thing to swallow, isn't it?

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts,
do not boast and be false to the truth. 
This is not the wisdom that comes from above, 
but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, 
there will be disorder and every vile practice. 
James 3:14-16

Why did James use "bitter jealousy" and "selfish ambition" as two more evidences that wisdom might not exist in a life?  

Noah Webster said, "Jealousy is awakened by whatever may exalt others, or give them pleasures and advantages which we desire for ourselves. Jealousy is nearly allied to envy, for jealousy, before a good is lost by ourselves, is converted into envy, after it is obtained by others."  James links jealousy with bitterness.  We cannot be jealous of someone and not become bitter toward that person.  

Ambition is not a sin, is it?  My friend Noah defines ambition as, "An eager, and sometimes an inordinate, desire for preferment, honor, superiority, power, or the attainment of seek after ambitiously or eagerly; to covet." It can be a very devastating sin!

Yesterday a blogger friend said, "These are hard words."  And they seem to be getting harder as we progress through the book of James.  Although salvation is a free gift, fleshing out the Christian life is hard work.  

In Philippians 2:12 we are told, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."  But praise God, verse 13 says, "for it is God who works in you, to will and to work for His good pleasure."  Aren't you so very thankful that God doesn't just save us and then leave us to do it on our own?  We would utterly fail, opening ourselves to succumb to the very real temptation to have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in our lives, giving in to the earthly, unspiritual and demonic sins that block any attempts to be wise in God's eyes.

Speaking of our Lord Jesus Christ, Hebrews 4:15 says, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin."  And let's never forget that familiar passage in 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."

The temptation to jealousy and selfish ambition is very real, but we can be "more than conquerors through Him who loves us." (Romans 8:37)

Oh, God, give me grace in the midst of these hard words,

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Who Is Wise?

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

Three words stand out to me in this verse concerning wisdom--conduct, works, and meekness.  Let's go backward and talk about how these may relate to wisdom.

Meekness.  This seems to indicate that humility is a prerequisite to wisdom.  As defined by Daniel Webster:

MEE'KNESS, n. Softness of temper; mildness; gentleness; forbearance under injuries and provocations.

1. In an evangelical sense, humility; resignation; submission to the divine will, without murmuring or peevishness; opposed to pride, arrogance and refractoriness.
Meekness is a grace which Jesus alone inculcated, and which no ancient philosopher seems to have understood or recommended.
It certainly appears that flaunting our "wisdom" with mere talk and without humility may just indicate that we are not wise at all.
2.  WorksJames uses works once again to indicate our spiritual strength.   Earlier he indicated that without works, faith is dead.  Now he is using our good works in conjunction with wisdom.  It seems evident that unless we flesh out wisdom through good works, we are not really wise at all.
3.  Conduct.  "I don't care what people think about me. I'll live life as I please."  Have you ever heard anyone say that?  How ridiculous!  First of all, I think we all care in one way or the other.  But more importantly, if we want wisdom in our lives, our conduct must be good
 "In a general sense, personal behavior; course of actions; deportment; applicable equally to a good or a bad course of actions; as laudable conduct; detestable conduct."  (Daniel Webster's definition of conduct)
How we live is another indicator of our wisdom.
As we seek wisdom with good conduct, good works, and meekness,

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Which happens? Salty to Fresh or Fresh to Salty?

Two streams coming together
With it [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.  My brothers, these things ought not to be so.  Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?  Can a fig tree,
my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? 
Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
James 3:9-12

My sister-in-law lives on a brackish bayou in Florida.  A fresh water stream mixes with the salty waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  What do you think the water tastes like in that stream?  You're right; it's salty.  No matter how hard you might try to make it taste like the sweet waters of the stream, it still tastes salty, like the waters of the Gulf.  Oh, it may be a bit "watered down," but it is still salty.

My son-in-law loves to propagate plants from little stems of existing plants.  We have spots all over our yard with small pots of propagated plants, and some lovely hydrangeas that he has propagated from other hydrangeas.  But from a hydrangea comes a hydrangea, even though I would love for him to propagate a rose from that bush.  Plants produce the fruit of the plant.  A fig tree cannot produce olives, just as a hydrangea cannot produce a rose bush.

We are much like a brackish stream when we speak out of both sides of our mouths.  I have a feeling that when we curse our brother, all of our "blessing" the Lord may just sound like watered-down cursing to Him.  And much like the fig tree or hydrangea, what we are is shown by the fruit of our mouths.

As the psalmist prayed in Psalm 141:3, this is my prayer, "Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!"

May it be so,

Monday, October 10, 2011

Forest Fires, Ferocious Beasts, and Deadly Poison

Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small 
spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil
among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole person, 
sets the whole course of his life on fire,
and is itself set on fire by hell.
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures 
of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man,
but no man can tame the tongue. 
It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 
James 3:5-8 

James finishes up his description of the tongue with fire, wild beasts, and deadly poison.  My goodness, it makes me want to cut mine out.   Except I don't like pain!  If God's purpose in having James pen this passage is to help us to see the evil of misuse of our words, He has succeeded as far as I am concerned.  But does it cause us to quit abusing it?  

Food for thought:

How does one keep a forest fire from starting?  Don't light a match in the forest!  How does one keep a wild animal from eating him?  Tame the animal or cage it!
How does one keep from ingesting poison?  Keep a lid on it!

Since the fire of the tongue cannot be controlled, the match must not be lit in the forest of anger or revenge.
Since the tongue cannot be tamed, then it must be caged when it is inappropriate to speak.
And since one cannot ingest the poison of the tongue without a death of some kind (death of a friendship, death of a vision, death of another's self-image, death of joy, death of trust--you fill in the blank_________), then the lid must be kept on  when necessary. 

But no man can tame the tongue.  So who can?  Only the One who made it in the first place.  

Oh, that we might depend on His ability in the midst of our inability,

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bits, Rudders and the Tongue (continued)

The ship's rudder as compared to the ship

If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us,
we guide their whole bodies as well.  Look at the ships also;
though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, 
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 things.
James 3:3-5 

As I have looked at this passage again, I am seeing some things in a different light.  Interesting, isn't it, that we can look at something many times, and at a point in time we have a change of view.  This is probably very obvious and something most have seen immediately.  But it's a new thought for me.

Who guides the horse with the bit and bridle?  The horse?  Absolutely not!  The rider is the one who leads.  If the horse were to take charge of the bit, he would likely lash out like a wild stallion at the one who put it in his mouth, and he would direct himself where he wanted to go.  (How would you like to have that thing in your mouth?)

Who directs the ship with the very small rudder?  Does the ship guide itself?   No,  the pilot of the ship does the guiding.  A rudder is useless without the pilot, only a moving part that has no real value.

Are you starting to see a picture forming here?

In the same way, the tongue is a very small part of the human body.  We have two choices.  We can either guide it ourselves or submit it to the One who put it in the body in the first place.  

Somehow this thought is very profound to me.

Thinking on it,