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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

When we lack humility.....

 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them  James 4:11-17




We need to remember that this book was written as a letter.  So it flowed from one subject into another.  This passage followed verse 10 which exhorts believers to humble themselves.  Then the next thoughts from Brother James are demonstrating the behavior we exhibit when we DO NOT humble ourselves.........


The lack of humility -- that would be, duh, PRIDE -- shows itself in these three areas:

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Attention Parents of Middle or High School Students

I will be doing a workshop about preparing your student for high school and college.  Designed primarily for homeschool parents but applicable to all parents of students 5th-12th grades.


Topics include -
graduation requirements
SAT/ACT preparation
college admission process
dual enrollment
all sorts of Q&A


February 12, 2015


If you are interested, contact me chamfam@bellsouth.net  for more information

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The conflict on the outside..........

 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. 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. 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”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 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. 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. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you    James 4:1-10


The fights among us................are due to the battles within us..........the conflict on the outside........is because of the war on the inside.


Boom.


What does this mean and how can it make a difference in our relationships?

In verses 1 and 2, we find the reason for the conflicts in our relationships - this translation uses the word "passions" but others use the word "pleasures" or "desires".  What they all point to is that we experience conflict because, simply put. there is something we want and if we perceive someone is blocking the fulfillment of that desire, we fight to get it.


These "passions, pleasures or desires" are not necessarily for bad things!  We might long for a well-behaved child, or a loving husband, or a good night's sleep :)  And if those desires (which we all too often label as "needs".....) are unmet, then we fight, quarrel, or get angry (which, by the way, Jesus explains in Matthew leads to murder). 


Underneath our "desires" are foundational longings for security, acceptance, significance, love.  What we might label as "wanting to be pretty" could actually be a deep God-given need for acceptance and esteem.  And it probably is.
It's not wrong to want to look pretty ( or be treated respectfully or to be appreciated or to feel safe)  but when we assume we can find a consistent source of attainment apart from Christ, well, that's when we run into trouble.  No other person can meet those needs deeply enough to satisfy us fully. 


No matter how much we might fight to get them to.


God stands ready and overwhelmingly able to meet our deepest needs.


Instead, we either fail to ask Him or we ask for the wrong thing.


Like asking for friends to make us feel better..........when He's the only one who can.


Now, granted, often He manifests Himself through the kindnesses of others.  But we gotta realize that other people are just the delivery boy.  God Himself is the Source for what we need. 


And in verses 3-5, we see that He makes that very point by allowing us to experience conflict.


Galatians 5:17 puts it this way : For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
When we think someone or something other than God can fill our need for security or significance or acceptance, in essence, we are seeking to worship it.  And God loves us too much to allow that!  He doesn't need to be "made Lord" - He IS LORD!  And all those lesser things that try and set themselves up on the throne of our heart are waging a useless war.  HE IS LORD.  He will let the battle rage but He will not step down from the Throne.


In the next few verses of this passage He explains how to resolve the conflict. How to find genuine fulfillment of those longings deep within 

Verses 6 -10 - realize who He is... And who we are not. When we humble ourselves He floods our hearts with grace. With the desire and the power to obey Him 
This grace is what we need to trust His goodness - to submit to His authority - and to withstand the one who tempts us to believe anything else but Christ can satisfy. The grace we need to draw near to Him in worship....where we will see who He is...and who we are not. The grace that shows us our sin and breaks our hearts over our unholiness. And the grace that empowers us to be made pure, to be cleansed.

The grace that is only found in the presence of The Lord. 

That's what meets our deepest needs. 

That's where and only where our soul will be exalted .

And the conflict will cease. Within ... And without.

Amen.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Are you a peacemaker? Or a peace-faker? Or a peace-taker?

We ended the last post from James with this verse


And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (James 3:18)


Pretty clear.  If we want righteousness in our lives..........and in the lives of those around us........we must be peacemakers.


Sounds good!


But what's a peacemaker?


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Wisdom applied

We took a break from our study of James.  I'm glad to get back to it.  It's one of my most favorite books in Scripture.  If you want to check out the earlier posts, this will get you started  http://livingletters4.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-h-factor.html


This week we are in chapter 3, verses 13-18


Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.


Just a reminder - the preceding verses were all about the tongue.  How it holds such potential for evil and is liable to just break out with poison.  The impact it has on the hearer....and the speaker.  In the passage for today, James exhorts us to apply the truth he's just imparted.