:) Finally had some time! Next week should be fun... we're heading into some messianic prophecies... :)

Happy studying!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

James Chapter 3

vs. 1

- Not everyone should be a leader. Not all of us have the skill set we need to be great leaders/teachers.

- If someone takes a leadership or teaching positions without being prepared for it, the church as a whole will suffer.

- And, if you have a church completely made up of leaders... There are going to be divisions.

- Teachers need to know what they're teaching in depth. Baby Christians can't teach deep theology (unless God decides to speak directly and teach them in unnatural ways.)

- footnote- “Teaching was a highly valued and respected profession in Jewish culture, and many Jews who embraced Christianity wanted to become teachers. James warned that although it is good to aspire to teach, teachers' responsibility is great because their words and example affect others' spiritual lives. If you are in a teaching or leadership role, how are you affecting those you lead?”

- Romans 2:17-24, 12:6-8
- Psalm 37: 30-31
- I Corinthians 14:26-40
- Matthew 23:8-12
- I Timothy 4:15-16

vs. 2-6

- Everybody makes mistakes... even our leaders/teachers.

- James says, “if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect...”

- You know those moments right after the words come out of your mouth and you know you just dug yourself a grave?

- or when you see a flicker of pain across and friends face and realize you just brought up a subject or a memory that cut them deeply?

- Or how about those days when everything is going wrong and your kid comes up with something he's just bursting to tell you and you in turn, snap at him and tell him “not right now”?

- How many times have I cut a student off when I had an agenda for that class period and didn't let them tell me something exciting that was going on in their life? Or “tell me later sweetie okay?”

- Do we think before we speak?

- Do we take others into account when we're talking... even if they're not present?

- James says if you could control the tongue, you could control yourself in every other area of life too... (Good luck, right?)

- footnote- “What you say and what you DON'T say are both important. To use proper speech you must not only say the right words at the right time but also not say what you shouldn't. Examples of an untamed tongue include gossiping, putting others down, bragging, manipulating, false teaching, exaggerating, complaining, flattering, and lying. Before you speak, ask, “is what I want to say true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?”

- You've heard the phrase “if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all”? This is applicable here...

- James gives two analogies. A small bit in a horses' mouth can make it go wherever we want. Just as a small rudder can turn a huge ship.

- Psalm 32:8-9

- The tongue is the same. It is a small thing that makes grand speeches. It might be small, but it makes itself known.

- It only takes a spark to start a forest fire. And the tongue? Is no spark. It's a flame. It's already on fire. Just waiting to light something off.

- Proverbs 26:20-21, 16:27

- the tongue “is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your whole body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.”

- This next part... seems... extreme... a little... drastic to describe something so small. To describe the tongue as a whole world of wickedness that will corrupt your whole body. But a little leaven will leaven the whole batch of bread. Everything else about you may be perfect... but that little tongue will throw all your perfection out the window.

- Matthew 15:10-20

- footnote- “James compares the damage the tongue can do to a raging fire—the tongue's wickedness has its source in hell itself. The uncontrolled tongue can do terrible damage. Satan uses the tongue to divide people and pit them against one another. Idle and hateful words are damaging because they spread destruction quickly, and no one can stop the results once they are spoken. We dare not be careless with what we say, thinking we can apologize later, because even if we do, the scars remain. A few words spoken in anger can destroy a relationship that took years to build. Before you speak, remember that words are like fire—you can neither control nor reverse the damage they can do.”

- If left to its own devices, the tongue is a dangerous weapon. (sometimes an unintentional one...)

- Matthew 12:36-37
- Psalm 34:11-14
- Proverbs 13:3, 15:4, 17:20

vs. 7-12

- People have learned to tame all kinds of things. Birds, animals, fish, reptiles... even dangerous ones... lions and tigers and bears... oh my!

- But NO ONE can tame the tongue. What? Yep. That's what he said. NO ONE.

- The tongue is restless and evil and full of deadly poison.

- This verse led me on a train of thought. You have to follow me for a second...

- Why is the tongue evil? Why would God put something in us that would be inherently evil? And if we can ask that, then we can ask why would God create US if He knew we would be inherently evil after the fall?

- Well the answers to those all have foundations in the idea of free will. God gave us free will so that we could willingly enter into a relationship with Him. In order to do this, we had to be able to make choices. This gave us the ability to choose between the doing of good or evil. And how we use our tongue and for what purposes is a choice. Which gives Satan the ability to use it for evil in unguarded moments...

- So why then, is the very thing that was supposed to be the method of creating the relationship, the communication God was longing for... the very thing that breaks relationships apart? The very thing that tears us apart from even God?

- The thing that God held most dear... the very reason His heart longed for someone to love, to love Him, the very reason He decided on creating us in the way He did... Satan took and corrupted in a major way.

- Holy vessels being used for profane things.

- In Daniel 5, Belshazzar, the king of Babylon, is giving a great feast. And for this feast, he had the cups brought in that had been taken from the temple in Jerusalem. Something that was used in the worship and service of God Almighty, has been reduced to use in a drunken party. In the middle of all this, they saw the hand of God come down and write on the wall. When they finally bring Daniel in to read the writing, is says that God has numbered the days of Balshazzar and has ended his reign. The king has been weighed in the balance and found wanting. And the kingdom is to be divided between the Medes and the Persians. That night, Balshazzar was killed and Darius, a Mede takes over the kingdom.

- In Leviticus 10, Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu used something they weren't supposed to in the temple. They had just been ordained if you will, into the Lord's service. The laws have just been given for sacrificial rites, and they walk in and do something wrong (the assumption is that they went in drunk and used fire from the wrong place because just a few verses later God tells Aaron that the priests are never to drink alcohol before entering the Tabernacle because they must distinguish between what is sacred and what is common.) God strikes these two down because they didn't follow directions and used something that was supposed to be holy, in an unholy way.

- In I Samuel 5, the Philistines have captured the Ark of God. They carried the Ark into the temple of Dagon and placed it beside the idol. Dagon was the chief god of the Philistines. He was god of grain and harvest. Worship to Dagon included human sacrifice. The temples were also entertainment centers... like... a theater. People would sit on the roof and look down into the courtyard. They often held torture sessions for prisoners in the courtyard of the temple as a kind of worship to Dagon for helping them overcome the enemy. So the Philistines bring the Ark in to set with Dagon. They think they're stronger. They have defeated the enemy. The next morning, they go into the temple, and Dagon (the idol) has fallen on his face in front of the Ark. So they set him back up again. But the next morning, it's the same thing... Dagon's on his face before the Ark... and this time, his head and hands are broken off and lying in the doorway... Then God did some other nasty things to the Philistines... you can read the rest if you like... I'm not going to tell the whole thing...

- Point in all this is that through history, there's been a lot of times that people have taken those things which were dedicated to God and used them for things that they weren't meant to be used for. And God has never been pleased with it. Satan will take anything he can to use it against us and against God. And much of the time, he takes God's things and profanes them... like... a slap in the face... “oh yeah? You think this is a good thing? Let me show you what I can do with it. Gonna create a new earth? Think it looks good? Let me show you what I think it should look like. Let me show you how GOOD things are after I get done playing with them...” It's like the neighbor kid that comes over to play and breaks all your toys before he leaves.

- Satan took that which was meant to bring great joy. Meant to be used to express love. Meant to be precious... and uses it to slander, to gossip, to rave about one's self, to speak evil...

- Proverbs 26:17-19, 22-28, 21:23

- Sometimes our tongues praise God. But sometimes it curses our fellow men... who have also been made in the very IMAGE of God.

- Blessings and cursings pour from the same mouth.

- We are divided between the good and the evil.

- Is this right? Surely not!

- A spring does not bubble out with both fresh and bitter water. They cannot exist together. The bitter will overtake the fresh and pollute the whole.

- A fig tree cannot produce olives. Or a grapevine, figs. Nor does a salty spring produce fresh water.

- Matthew 7:15-20
- John 15:1-17
- Colossians 1:9-10
- Ephesians 5:1-14

- In other words, if something is evil, it will produce evil things. Whereas something that is holy, will produce holy things.

- We are not holy. Because of original sin, we are all born into sin. We are inherently evil.

- So why try? If we are bound to be evil, why try to be holy?

- because God has commanded it. He said “be ye holy, as I am holy.”

- How!? If we're inherently evil, we're incapable of holiness.

- footnote- “If no human being can tame the tongue, why bother trying? Even though we may not achieve perfect control of our tongues, the Holy Spirit will help us learn self-control. Remember that we are not fighting the tongue's fire in our own strength. The Holy Spirit will give us increasing power to monitor and control what we say, so that when we are offended, the Spirit will remind us of God's love, and we won't react in a hateful manner. When we are criticized, the Spirit will heal the hurt and help us to not lash out.”

- Will the Holy Spirit make us automatically perfect? No. It's not a shock collar... It's still a process of learning. But knowing that, we should enter the classroom every day with all our supplies and be prepared to soak in as much learning as is possible.

- Will we learn everything in a week? A month? A year? Not even a lifetime... And sometimes, lessons have to be repeated because we're slow learners... but we have to keep trying and keep pressing forward.

- footnote- “Our contradictory speech often puzzles us. At times our words are right and pleasing to God, but at other times they are violent and destructive. Which of these speech patterns reflects our true identity? We were made in God's image, but the tongue gives us a picture of our basic sinful nature. God works to change us from the inside out. When the Holy Spirit purifies a heart, He gives self-control so that the person will speak words that please God.” The more we read and study God's word
the more He will bring it into our minds as we face temptations.

- John 14:23-26
- I John 2:27

vs. 13-16

- If you are wise and understand God's ways, prove it by living an honorable life.

- Last chapter talked about your faith being proven by your actions or your works.

- So, if you understand God's ways, prove it!

- How? By living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.

- Again, the fruit you bear, proves the heart.

- If you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don't cover up the truth with boasting and lying.

- In other words, if you are trying to walk out this walk, don't deny the problems when they surface. When weaknesses are revealed, work on fixing them.

- Such feelings and states of mind are not of God. Jealousy and selfish ambition are earthly, not spiritual. They are demonic.

- ambition is wrong? Demonic even? Okay... we are taught in today's society that we have to excel. We have to be the best we can be. Do the most we can etc.

- So what's wrong with doing well? Is it wrong to want good things for our kids? Or to want to provide the best for our families? To want to do as well as we can?

- Only when it becomes a SELFISH thing. When ambition is all about yourself, you cease to see the need to take anybody else into consideration. Families suffer. Relationships suffer. We're willing to go to any length, hurt anyone in our way, to get where we want to be. To get where we're ENTITLED to be. So many moms and dads start out working so they can provide for their families. A scriptural thing to do. But as they go along, they grow accustom to more “things” and before they know it they neglect the very ones they say they are working to provide for. There is a moderation to all things, and in all these things we have to keep God focused or everything will be out of focus.

- Jealousy is kind of obvious. The first murder stemmed from jealousy.

- Both of these revolve around ME. They are completely self-based.

- Wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

- footnote- “Bitter jealousy and selfish ambition are inspired by the devil. It is easy for us to be drawn into wrong desires by the pressures of society and sometimes even by well-meaning Christians. By listening to the advice: “Assert yourself,” “Go for it,” “Set high goals,” we can be drawn into greed and destructive competitiveness. Seeking God's wisdom delivers us from the need to compare ourselves to others and to want what they have.”

- This walk is not about us. Quite to the contrary, it is about losing ourselves in Christ. Less of me and more of Him.

- Whenever we start thinking about our wants and needs and desires more than those of God, we are letting Satan direct our thoughts in the place of God.

- So seek God's wisdom.

- I Corinthians 3:1-23
- Galatians 5:16-26

vs. 17-18

- Because first of all, the wisdom from above is PURE. The only PURE wisdom. Absent of evil. Absent of self.

- Wisdom from God brings a love of peace, gentleness and a willingness to yield or submit to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.

- This brings to mind a couple of things: The fruit of the Spirit, the Beatitudes, and the Love Chapter.

- All these things speak through actions. And they tell a story of an ultimate Love. A love that knows no bounds, knows no end, knows nothing that can break it.

- They speak of a change wrought in a heart that can only come through the miraculous shedding of Christ's blood to purify these unclean vessels.

- Those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

- footnote- “Have you ever known anyone who claimed to be wise but who acted foolishly? True wisdom can be measured by a person's character. Just as you can identify a tree by the type of fruit it produces, you can evaluate your wisdom by the way you act. Foolishness leads to disorder, but wisdom leads to peace and goodness. Are you tempted to escalate the conflict, pass on the gossip, or fan the fire of discord? Careful, winsome speech and wise, loving words are the seeds of peace. God loves the peacemakers.”

- What kind of fruit are you producing?

- What kind of tree do others see when they look at your life?

- Romans 12:9-21
- Matthew 5:3-12
- Philippians 1:9-11
- I Corinthians 13:1-13
- Galatians 5:19-10

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