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Friday, October 30, 2015

A GREATER GRACE – James 4:1-10

Introduction

In James’ introductory chapter, he spoke of four themes he would teach upon in this epistle. One of those is the theme of the first ten verses of James 4. James expressed that theme saying Christians are rich because they enjoy an inheritance with Christ in the kingdom of God. He said in James 1:9, “But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position.” The difference in chapters one and four is chapter one compares believers (the poor) to unbelievers (the rich), but chapter four compares believers who are rich and poor.

In the first ten verses of chapter four, James spoke about envying other brothers and sisters and the greater grace – God’s grace. He spoke about the character of those who envy, quarrel, and fight and what God felt about the people who do these things. As a resolution, James stated what Christians must do to return to a right relationship with God and what God would do as a result.
These verses are pertinent for us because we, too, at times begrudge a person of his or her possessions. We become embittered and quarrelsome. James spoke to the heart of every person knowing we are all weak and need to hear this lesson about returning to God and receiving His grace.

The Situation

Envy.

James explained the situation in the first verse. He said, “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?” Before we dissect this verse, let us study the words. “Quarrels” comes from the Greek word polemos and means a verbal fight or dispute[i]. “Conflicts” comes from the word mache. It means a physical fight of people at variance or in contention[ii]. When James spoke of “pleasures,” he used the word hedone, which meant desires and pleasures[iii]. From this word comes our English word hedonistic. The final word we must understand is “members.” It comes from the Greek word melos, which can be a limb or member of the human body or members of a group of people[iv]. As we understand this, we realize James taught about the conflicts between brother and sister Christians over desired things, which the rich could more readily afford. James confronted these Christians about their quarreling and fighting over “pleasures,” things unnecessary for living, but chosen additions from one’s desires and wishes. Titus spoke of this, too, in Titus 3:9. He told believers, “Avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” James, in later verses, said the same as Titus, avoid these controversies.

Lusting.

With verses two through five, James explained what happens when a person desires what another has, why that person does not get what he or she wants, and what God considers these people. James stated explicitly what fighting over pleasures was. He said in verse two the Jerusalem Christians lusted over what they did not possess. A person’s lusting over something is not an innocent thing. God calls it a sin. He called it “coveting” in the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 and commanded the Israelites not to covet a neighbor’s house, wife, servants, ox, donkey, or anything that belongs to the neighbor (Exodus 20:17). The word “lust” James used comes from the Greek word epithumeo and means to have a desire for those things forbidden by God[v]. The word “covet” from the tenth commandment comes from the Hebrew word meaning to desire greatly and to take pleasure in. In James 4:2, James noted the believers lusted for the things other Jerusalem Christians owned. God forbade covetousness because it turned the person’s attention from seeking God and following Him to seeking something or someone else instead of God. When someone lusts after a person’s possessions, it refocuses that person’s attention primarily to getting what he or she desires instead of focusing on God. That which should have been first in the life of the believer – God - took second place in the heart of the person. For this reason, God forbade coveting/lusting after what another person had.

Murder.

James addressed, too, when a person lusted after something another person had, quarrels and fights could lead to murder. Murder occurs when one puts him or herself and his or her desires about the value of another person’s life. Possessions are of greater value than God and human life to the person who lusts. This way of thinking and living goes against what Moses taught in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Jesus taught in Matthew 22:37-40. Relationships with God and other people are to be paramount to any other thing in the hearts of people. James continued in verse two by telling the Jerusalem Christians the lust, quarrels, fights, and murders occur because a person envies another person. Lust comes from wanting something God forbids. Envy is the heart action from which lust comes. The Greek word for “envy” is zeloo, and it means to desire earnestly[vi]. Envy leads to boiling with desire for something in another’s possession so that hatred and anger occur. From that hatred, fights and murder can happen if envy is not checked.

Unwise.

James did not leave his hearers with definitions and results of envy and lust. He explained the envious believers did not get what they desired because they did not ask. This statement takes the hearer back to what James said in James 1:5. He said the Christians did not possess because they did not ask. Notice though, James told them to ask for wisdom when they were going through trials. Lust and envy arise because of temptation and are a trial. Instead of asking to receive what the other person has, as James instructed, the believer must ask for wisdom from God to combat the temptation and grow more Christlike. Besides this reminder, it brought attention to another lesson from James 1. James taught them in James 1:12 followers of Jesus are richer because they will inherit the crown of life. Their riches are not comparable to the world’s riches, so do not seek the riches of the world.

Self-Absorbed.

James went a step further in chapter four. He implied the person did not have what he or she desired because they did not ask, not just did not have wisdom. This meant God wanted them to receive the good things of the world. Yet, James qualified this in verse three and stated, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” Wrong motives are the reason people do not get that which they want. “Wrong motives” comes from the Greek word kakos and means improperly or wrongly[vii]. The Jewish Christians did not receive what they wanted from God, James said, because they asked improperly. They wanted to use what they received solely for themselves and not for God’s service – not to give God glory. The believers, James said, wanted to “spend it on their pleasures.” John spoke about this in 1 John 5:14 when he said, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” James pointed out in chapter four, the people did not ask to receive what they wanted from God. He said they would not have received it because they did not ask for the right reasons. The believers wanted the other person’s possessions for their own pleasures.

Adulteresses.

James spoke with conviction and called the Jerusalem Christians “adulteresses” in verse four. This meant the people desired what other people had to the extent they did not ask God for them because they knew God would not give it to them. They relegated God to second or third in their lives behind their own pleasures. When a person chooses something or someone else as having greater priority in his or her life than God, God calls that adultery. “Adulteress” comes from the Greek word moichalis and means those who relapse into idolatry to play the harlot against God by having an intimate relationship with that person or thing instead of God[viii]. It is a faithlessness to God that makes a person unclean in the Levitical sense or makes the person apostate. The adultery of the Jewish Christians, James said, came from “friendship with the world.” Desiring things of the world instead of God is “hostility toward God.” Paul explained this in Romans 8:6-7. He said, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God, for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

God’s Jealousy.

Lest the Jerusalem believers think James fabricated this teaching, he reminded them in verse five what Scripture says and its pertinence for daily living. He said, “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us.” James did not take this statement verbatim from any one part of Scripture but from the intent of it in many places. Proverbs 3:32-34 indicates this saying. Paul spoke on the situation in 1 Corinthians 6:19 when he said, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” Because God’s Holy Spirit lives in believers, He jealously desires we stay in relationship with Him. God is jealous for His people. Moses told the Israelites the same thing in Exodus 34:14 while they wandered the wilderness. When a person sins by putting something else at a higher priority than God, the relationship is not as close as it was earlier. The more a person sins, the higher the wall that separates the person from God. This point is what James made in verse five. By lusting after and envying what others possessed, the believers put their desire for the things over their desire for a close relationship with God. These things caused a separation from God and a greater alliance with things of the world – “friendship with the world and hostility toward God.” These Jerusalem believers sold themselves to sin and the world to get what they desired and they became adulteresses.

The Exhortation

A Greater Grace.

James began the second section of this lesson with an assertion in verse six. He said, “But He gives greater grace.” What God gives is of a greater degree and comes from the pre-eminent Giver. What He gives is best. James said God gives grace. “Grace” comes from the Greek word charis, which means that which brings joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness to life, and loveliness. It comes from God’s loving-kindness, goodwill, and favor to strengthen, guard, and increase a person’s faith, knowledge, and affection toward God and lights within the Christian a desire to exercise Christian virtues[ix]. God’s grace gives greater pleasure, if pleasure is what the believer seeks, and with it comes joy, delight, loving-kindness, and goodwill from God and from the person toward other people and God. What God gives is greater than what can be had from the world.

Pride and Humility.

Lest that not deter the Jerusalem believers from envying and fighting over possessions of each other – sinning against God and man, James gave another reason. This reason must have gripped the hearts of the church members and then gave them hope. James said in verse six, “Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” The word “proud” comes from the Greek word huperphanos and means showing one’s self above others with an overweening estimate of one’s means and merits, despising others or even treating them with contempt[x]. God opposes those who consider themselves more worthy of honors and things because of their status or monetary position in the world. He gave to the person whatever the he or she has. To take the glory from God and apply it to self places self before God in importance. Counter to this, James said God gives grace to the humble. God gives joy, pleasure, delight loving-kindness, and goodwill to the humble, those who do not consider themselves above God or other people. Humble people realize they are not greater than God and do not take the glory from God, but rely upon Him for their every need and for His plan for greater good. By saying this, James implied God does not give grace to the proud. They are never satisfied or sated and always seek more things and honors only to never have lasting joy, pleasure, kindness, and goodwill. This verse was James’ warning to those who envied and fought over things of the world - things other people had and they did not.

To Receive God’s Grace.

With verses seven to nine, James explained how to receive God’s grace. He listed six things people must do to receive God’s grace. These verses read like a to-do list. James said:
·         Submit to God
·         Resist the Devil
·         Draw near to God
·         Cleanse your hands
·         Purify your hearts –
a)      Be miserable and mourn and weep
b)      Let your laughter turn to mourning and your joy to gloom
·         Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord

Submit to God

      Submitting to God means subordinating yourself and your plans to God and yielding to His advice and warning. Submitting is subjecting yourself to another person. Peter encouraged his hearers “to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt them at the proper time” (Peter 5:6).

Resist the Devil

      Resisting is not just a refusal to do something, but is actively opposing something or someone. Here James told the believers to “resist the devil and he will flee.” Actively seek God -  His will and strength - and the devil cannot stand against you. For Paul, this is putting on the armor of God to stand against the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:11). By doing this, the believer relies on God and uses His power to combat Satan.

Draw Near To God

      Drawing near to God brings a promise of God drawing near to the believer. “Drawing near” means to join another person, in this case God. The believer forms an intentional bond with God subjecting him or herself to God’s will, love, grace, and power. By drawing near to God, believers have lasting joy and hope. The Chronicler stated to the Israelites in 2 Chronicles 15:2, “The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.” James stated this promise as a lesson and reminder for the believers of the Jerusalem church.

Cleanse Your Hands

      Cleansing one’s hands means making one’s self clean from physical stains and dirt. For one’s relationship with God, it means a moral cleanness from evil and the contamination from sins and guilt. In the Levitical sense, a moral cleanliness occurred when a person removed his or her sins by the method God commanded in the Old Testament – via the sacrifices at the temple and the washing of hands and garments. God never meant this cleaning to be sufficient to remove sins forever, but as a means to be in God’s presence at that time. By cleaning one’s hands from sin, a person could go into the presence of God.

Purify Your Hearts

      To remove the sins of people for all time, God gave the new covenant with the better sacrifice, His Son, Jesus Christ, whose blood removed the filth of sin and guilt and paid the judgment penalty for every person who believes in Him. This sacrifice provided the purification of hearts of all believers so they can have access to God anytime they return to Him. From this, we learn James meant for believers to turn to God, confess their sins with earnest hearts, and live in union with Him. Peter extended James’ teaching in 1 Peter 1:22 when he said, “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart.”
      James made one other statement about cleansing hands and heart. He called them double-minded. It alluded to James 1:8. When they cleansed their hearts and hands, they were not to do it just for the moment, but in earnest and with all their heart and mind. They could not expect forgiveness when they wavered and doubted about God’s desire to bless them with His grace – love, goodwill, and joy. They had to return to God with sincerity seeking to follow Him completely. This required mourning and weeping over their sins and separation from God realizing the joy and pleasures they sought would not fulfill them but would bring gloom. That joy was a false joy.

Humble Yourself Before God

      The final thing James commanded the believers to do was to humble themselves in the presence of the Lord. This called for them to realize they themselves were nothing compared to their Creator, Jehovah God. When a person humbles him or herself, he or she recognizes his or her pride and lowness and seeks forgiveness from God recognizing He is greater. He provides all they need for physical and spiritual life. Nothing they do or can grasp for themselves would be adequate or enough. None of it would bring joy or the greatest riches - the crown of life in God’s kingdom. What is of the earth perishes. What God gives is eternal.

Exaltation - God’s Action Toward You.

      James said when a believer arrives at this point – humbling him or herself before God – God will draw near to and exalt him or her. He will lift the person up in dignity, honor, and joy. This person knows God loves him or her and wants the best for him or her. Job expressed this exaltation in Job 5:11 when he said, “So that He sets on high those who are lowly and those who mourn are lifted to safety.” Ezekiel expressed this in Ezekiel 21:26.

Recap

When a person desires what another person has be it things or people so he or she thinks continually on that desire, envy and lust occur. When a person gives envy and lust free rein, anger and hatred happen. From that, quarrels and fighting ensue so that the one who has defends his or her right to have and keep the thing or person and the one who does not have fights to get it. Both people in this situation show pride and lack of care for the other person. When this fighting escalates to an intensity where one or the other person is killed, a devaluing of human life occurs. From this situation, the relationship with God and other people becomes secondary to the desire to have things or people. When people replace God as primary in a person’s life, adultery occurs. Adultery comes from idolizing something or someone more than God and shows the person desires “friendship with the world” more than a relationship with God. When that occurs, the person becomes an enemy of God. Because of this sin and because God jealously desires the Spirit He made to dwell in believers, He disciplines and judges people from His righteousness.

James made clear the Jerusalem believers realized they placed their lusts before God in their lives. He reminded them God gives a greater grace – a greater joy, love, goodwill, mercy, and pleasure – than can be found in things from the world. James exhorted them to return to God by telling them God opposes the proud. He encouraged them to return to God because He gives grace to the humble. James explained to the Christians of Jerusalem how to return to God. He told them to submit to God, resist the devil, draw near to God, cleanse their hands, purify their hearts, and humble themselves in the presence of the Lord. God wants every person to return to Him, and He promises He will forgive them.

Relevance and Conclusion

James reminded the Jerusalem Christians God’s grace is the greater blessing and benefit for the people than what they could give themselves. By relying solely upon themselves, they created pride in providing and continued to turn away from God creating a bigger wall between Him and themselves. The pleasures and desires they sought caused strife between them and the surrounding people, including other members of the body of Christ.

Today we see this happening in daily life and in our churches. God blesses some people with more physical prosperity than others for His purposes. When people who do not have the same blessings from God envy their richer brothers and sisters, hatred builds in them which then creates a wall in their relationship with the person and with God. That person who envies no longer sees the blessings God have him or her and discounts it wanting worldly things. Contentment is not found in God’s provisions. Just as James brought this situation to the attention of the Jerusalem Christians, he warns us, too, of this situation in our own churches and within ourselves.

As a good teacher, James reminds us that God gives a greater grace than any we think we could give for ourselves. Our joy will not be better with possessions provided by our own hands. In addition to this, God’s will not smile on our self-reliance instead of Him nor on our pride in having done so. Because the natural human tendency is to walk away from God and become worldly – being prideful, angry, envious, hateful, James reminds each believer, and even each person, a better grace - God’s grace - is available for those who turn to God. He gave six things each person must do to receive God’s grace as above outlined. The biggest step is to humble yourself before God. This step is the hardest for any person. It requires a yielding of our desires and plans to God and His better plan. It requires a submission of our goals to God’s best goal – proclamation of the Good News of salvation available to every person.

As a Christian today, have you allowed Satan to convince you to strive for that bigger house, higher position in the company, industry, or organization? Have you allowed him to convince you to strive for things beyond necessary because you deserve them? Or have you stopped asking God what to strive toward and are now doing your own thing without His guidance regarding what is best for you and your family?

If you are a Christian in service to the Lord, have you sought greater income in fear you will not have enough on which to retire? Have you sought leadership positions so that your works will be more visible and praise be given to you? Maybe you simply stopped seeking God’s will because you are tired and you have lost sight of God’s calling.

We each can return to God. God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. He wants to renew a relationship with you. Remember, that is why He gave Jesus Christ to be the living sinless sacrifice on a cross. God’s plans are the best plans for us, our families, and the world. God’s plan from the beginning of the world is to be in a relationship with every person. Through you, His child, He desires to make His love known to other people. Will you return to Him and allow His grace to pour to you and through you? Will you be the conduit of His love and mercy so other people will see God through you, seek Him, and come to know Him in a saving relationship? 

If you do not know God in this personal way, He waits for you to call to Him. You only have to admit Jesus Christ is God’s Son. Believe He died as the sacrifice for your sins to give you salvation and eternal life. Confess your sins to God with an earnest and contrite and He will forgive you. You can be rich because you have an inheritance in the kingdom of God, too.
Whether you already are a Christian and just need to return to God seeking forgiveness or you are not a Christian and want to be, God waits to welcome you into a relationship with Him.
What will you decide?
What will you do today?






[i] Thayer and Smith, The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon, 1999. (http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/polemos.html).

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Void and God’s Grace: A James 4:6 Devotional


“But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” (James 4:6 [NASB])

Many times in our lives, we want what other people have. As a small child going through the shops with our parents, we beg for one thing or another our eyes see. We may even reach out and secret something from a shelf into our hand gripping it tightly so no one will know.
Later in life, we see our friends in school wearing the latest style in clothes or driving a new car and we desire it, even envy the friend. It’s even possible we see a person in school get good grades and we look furtively when they take exams to steal their answers.
As an adult, we compete for better jobs with higher pay and/or prestige. We spend our money on bigger houses, more cars, boats, and expensive vacations, but maybe not filling a void we feel. We may keep spending and find no peace in that so work harder spending more time at work to earn more accolades and money to buy something bigger and grander. Still, the void, the joy and pleasure we sought is not filled.
James taught God gives the greater grace (James 4:6). That for which we sought throughout our lives – there’s got to be more. I want to experience gratification. – is never achieved. That joy, pleasure, love, goodwill, and kindness does not come from this world, from things and relationships. True fulfillment comes from God through His grace.
If you understand this and realize you are not fulfilled, you cannot seem to reach that point of “ah, this is it,” then you recognize that God-void. James tells us what we must do. Turn to God. Submit to Him. Resist the devil. Come near to God. Wash your hands. Purify your hearts. Humble yourselves before God.
This sounds like a big list. Really it is only two – ask God to forgive you and follow Him.
Are you tired of seeking for more and finding it does not fill the desire in you?
Fill that void with God. He is what you are missing. God created all humankind to be in relationship.
Come to Him, find relationship and peace, and receive His greater grace.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Declare God: A Psalm 92 Devotional


Declare God: A Psalm 92 Devotional
It is good to give thanks to the Lord
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
To declare Your loving-kindness in the morning
And Your faithfulness by night,
With the ten-stringed lute and with the harp,
With resounding music upon the lyre.
For You, O Lord, have made me glad by what You have done,
I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.
How great are Your works, O Lord!
Your thoughts are very deep.
A senseless man has no knowledge,

Nor does a stupid man understand this:
That when the wicked sprouted up like grass
And all who did iniquity flourished,
It was only that they might be destroyed forevermore.
But You, O Lord, are on high forever.
For, behold, Your enemies, O Lord,
For, behold, Your enemies will perish;
All who do iniquity will be scattered.
10 But You have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox;
I have been anointed with fresh oil.
11 And my eye has looked exultantly upon my foes,

My ears hear of the evildoers who rise up against me.
12 The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree,
He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 Planted in the house of the Lord,
They will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still yield fruit in old age;
They shall be full of sap and very green,
15 To declare that the Lord is upright;
He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. [NASB]

David speaks from a thankfulness in this psalm. Each of us come to days where thanks to God rings from our lips. We have other days when we become too rushed to think about thanking God or we are too overwhelmed with the burdens of life to see beyond what we face at that time. For these kinds of days, we most importantly need to praise God.

When we reach days of despair or difficulties, speaking praise, though it may not at first be in our hearts, renews our hope and lifts our spirits. As we continue speaking praise, what our lips say reaches into our beings, into our hearts, so we begin to take to heart what we are saying. After that, our minds comprehend the depth of the praise and the worthiness of the recipient so that our whole being joins the lips in praise. When we get to this point, we no longer must make ourselves praise the Lord. Instead, it bubbles over from the depths of our soul and nothing can contain it. That is when we realize the despair and difficulties we are facing are nothing compared to God – His greatness and His love.

From this point is where David speaks in Psalm 92. Though he did not know what the next day held, whether enemies would surround him or famine fall on the land, he knew Who was mightier than these and upon Whom he could rely.
David declared it good to thank the Lord and sing praises to Him. Even when in the depths of difficulties, God does not change and is always worthy of praise. David gave reasons God deserves praise as if being majestic almighty God is not enough. He praised Him for what He has and continues to do.
·         Praise God because of His loving-kindness and faithfulness.
·         Praise God for the works of His hands.
·         Praise Him for the depth and wisdom of His thoughts.
·         Praise God because He was, is, and always will reign as Lord over all.
·         Praise God because He always wins the battles and wars against His enemies.
·         Praise God because He judges and He will scatter people who do evil will (so they cannot group up and cause devastation)
·         Praise God because He provides abundantly so you are strong, have all you need, and are His child.
·         Praise God because He gives hope knowing our foes will be defeated.
·         Praise God because He has given you deep roots to stand strong with him and the ability to bend and not break, like the palm tree, when difficulties arise.
·         Praise God that He keeps you standing strong and upright like the cedars of Lebanon.
·         Praise God that He planted you in His house as His child so you will flourish and dwell in His courts.
·         Praise God that He will not discard us when we age, but continues to use us to yield fruit in old age. We are never cast aside and always taken care of.
·         Praise God because He is righteous and strong. He is the rock upon which I stand.
·         Praise God no unrighteousness is in Him. We can trust He is always fair, always loving, always right.
We can join David in this psalm. I believe when he wrote this He was remembering his walk with the Lord from the time he was a lonely shepherd to his current time as king. David also remembered who God was and had been for His chosen people Israel. With the magnitude of who God is and what He has done for all His children, David could only praise God. Nothing would stop him from praising God.
Whether we are in a place of difficulties or ease, reading David’s psalms re-center us in who God is, and who we are and what we face. As children of God, we are small in the face of trials, but our God is greater than anything we face and wiser than any person. He will get us through it, but more than that, our relationship with Him can grow as we stand back and let God be God and in control of everything. Then, we will be able to declare God’s loving-kindness, mercy, and righteousness as David did here.



Friday, October 23, 2015

TEACHERS, TONGUES, AND RIGHTEOUSNESS – James 3

Introduction

We are well into our study of the book of James. James taught Christians are to be “doers” and “hearers” of the Word. This requires a balance between a person’s spiritual life and his or her physical life. The person must make sure everything he or she does and says comes from a Spirit-filled inner being pursuing righteousness.

In chapter three, James continued to teach about specific actions a Christian should put into practice to be a doer and not just a hearer of the Word. He especially taught about the Christian’s use of his or her tongue. James specifically taught about teachers and generally taught about every Christians’ use of their tongues. He gave guidelines explaining how to know the wisdom and knowledge a person shares with another person or people is from God and when it is not. James used examples to show the power of a tongue in daily life. At the end, He said a person who speaks truth from God does so in peace, makes peace, and reaps righteousness. We need to consider with care each of the eighteen verses in James 3 to understand well what James stressed in this chapter.

Consider Teachers

Bible scholars have looked at this chapter and considered it made of two distinct lessons – God’s strict requirements and judgment of teachers (vs. 1 & 18), and taming the tongue (vs. 2-17). I propose that we see this chapter as one lesson. The chapter speaks pointedly to teachers – the seriousness of their teaching responsibility to God, the damage a tongue can do, the wisdom needed to speak rightly, and the result of using the tongue for godly purposes.

Because James began and ended this chapter speaking about teachers, we can conclude he meant for the chapter mainly to speak to and about teachers. This technique of enveloping helps point readers’ and hearers’ attention to the primary lesson of the chapter from the beginning and refocuses their attention back to the primary lesson at the end. It is an effective literary technique.

James said in the first verse, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” Let us look at the definition of some of the words from the Greek language. The word “teachers” comes from the Greek word didaskolos. It means one who teaches about the things of God and the duties of man by the special help of the Holy Spirit[i]. This word includes anyone who teaches about God and humankind’s duties according to God’s Law. “Teachers” include pastors, preachers, evangelists, and other teaching ministers. “Knowing” comes from the Greek word oikeios and means belonging to a house or family, an intimate by Jesus’ blood of God’s household[ii]. From these definitions, we can see this verse encourages actual and potential teachers to make sure God called them to teach about Him and what He requires of His children, knowing they will receive a stricter condemnation for teaching wrong.

This teaching of James’ about a stricter judgment should make a person consider with care whether he or she is called by God to teach or whether he or she wants to teach to gain followers and acclaim. Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:6-7 saying, “For some men, straying from these things [love, good conscience, and sincere faith], have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.” To be a Rabbi or teacher in the first century and later eras was to gain a higher standing in the community. The people of the towns and cities looked up to Rabbis and teachers. This gave them influence and power in the communities. Because of this, people wanted to gain a following and gather disciples. Many times, though, what the people taught was not according to God’s Word. From selfish ambition and jealousy, those teachers allowed their sinful nature the freedom to speak as if they had God’s authority. James spoke about this in James 1:16; he spoke about a lust in one’s heart that gives birth to sin. From this, we understand the desire for greatness can cause the tongue to lead to sin. Teachers, as spoken of by this passage, have a greater likelihood of falling victim to this temptation to sin through use of the tongue/speech.


Consider the Tongue


Guard the Tongue.

James began verse two with a preposition (“for”), which shows this thought continues from the earlier thought. He said, “For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.” Here James made the point that every person make mistakes and sin in many ways, not just in speech. We must remember no person is perfect/righteous except Jesus Christ. So no one can control their natural, earthly desire to serve him or herself exclusively without God’s help. In verse two, James’ use of “perfect” comes from the Greek word teleios and means wanting in nothing, complete, perfect such as consummate human integrity and virtue[iii]. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” No one is perfect and no one can be perfect without God.

James continued by saying if a person can remain righteous in what he or she says, then he or she can control his or her actions. Righteousness in a person shows through a person’s words and actions, which comes from the person’s heart, the place the Holy Spirit dwells in the believer. Jesus taught this when He said what goes into a person is not what defiles that person, but what comes from him or her – what comes from the person’s heart (Matthew 15:11). We need to understand when James spoke in this chapter about “a perfect man,” he used the Greek word aner. Aner is a word used generically to refer to both men and women[iv]. Because of James use of aner, we understand James meant everyone sins and fails to be righteous, men and women. Added to this, everybody need the Holy Spirit’s guidance to change their hearts, words, and actions.  

When James used the word “bridle” in verse two, he applied the same idea of guiding a horse to guiding our bodies. “Bridle” comes from the Greek word chalinagogeo and means to guide, to hold in check, or to restrain[v]. This brings to mind what James taught in James 1:26 when he said, “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.” James began this book speaking about bridling tongues and developed it to bridling the whole body. That does not mean he wants his hearers to forget what he said in chapter one, but to include other parts of the body in the metaphor. Foremost, though, James dealt with bridling the tongue since he specified it in his opening statements of the book and said God would judge teachers (people who use their mouths in service to the Lord) more strictly. Since “bridling” means guiding and directing something or someone to hold true to the path to get to a goal, we can see what James meant in verse three. Any part of the body can be bridled for a goal by guiding a person’s tongue, arms, hands, legs, and feet. Each part of the body is controlled by the mind and heart where the Holy Spirit lives when a person becomes a Christian. James’ goal was righteousness, staying away from temptation and sin. Followers of Jesus must bridle every part of their bodies as James said in 3:2 and in 1:26. What a person says shows his or her heart and how much he or she allows the Holy Spirit to teach, grow, and lead him or her to perfection/completion in Christ.

We must understand another thing James said in this verse. When he used the words “whole body,” we recognize he spoke about a person’s physical body. We should realize James meant the body of Christ - the Church - too. The word “body” comes from the Greek word soma meaning a person’s body or the body of Christ, the New Testament church. With this understanding, we realize James spoke to individual Christians about bridling their bodies and tongues and to Christian teachers who taught and led the body of Christ to greater understanding of God and His Word. Here we begin to see this chapter is not made of two lessons, but of one – teachers bridling their tongues to teach correctly of God from the Holy Spirit within them and Christians in general bridling their tongues so they speak righteous words. When people speak according to God, it gives evidence they are growing more like Christ. God will judge teachers more strictly because they have greater influence on more people. What a teacher says can affect the direction of his or her listeners (plural) - what they think and do. To lead people in the right way – God’s way – a teacher must teach things true to God’s Word and character. When a teacher does that he or she glorifies God and not self. It shows humility and recognition of the greatness of God and the smallness of self. By using James’ figure of speech, a teacher bridles his or her tongue and by that act bridles/leads the body of Christ to grow closer to God and follow Him, not the world. What the tongue says affects the whole body – the physical body of the speaker and the spiritual body of believers.

Power of the Tongue – Metaphors.

In verses three through six, James gave three metaphors depicting how the tongue, though the smallest member of the body, wields great power. He used common things of the time so people would understand his instruction. James used of horses’ and bits, a ships’ and rudder, and flame and forest fire as metaphors to explain small parts often make the whole miss the mark. With careful and judicious leading/direction by the rider, pilot, and fire starter, the goal can be attained.

Horses’ Bits

James said in verse three, “Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.” The first thing we must see is that “bits” and “horses’ mouths” are plural. By this, we realize James spoke of directing more than one person, such as an assembly of believers or churches. He spoke of influencing by speech one person at a time, too. The fact James used a possessive plural noun allows us to understand the middle of chapter three is not just a lesson to Christians in general, but applies to teachers in specific. That means this metaphor is more for teachers. The groups of horses are a group of people taught by the Christian teacher. The horses’ bits are the spoken message by the teacher that guides the horses to a goal - loving and obeying God. When James taught this metaphor, he meant, too, for it to reflect every Christian’s speech as well. (Christian teachers are a subset of all Christians.) The horse bit reminds each Christian to guard what he or she says by allowing the Holy Spirit to guide his or her words. By doing that, God is glorified and the hearer is not mislead to believer the speaker is Christian when he or she is guided by secular wisdom. That could make the listener believe the speaker’s faith did not change him or her.

What is the message James taught in verse three? He told Christians, and, in specific, teachers, actively to “put the bits into the horses’ mouths.” Intentionally teach God’s righteous Word (teachers) or speak right words (Christians) to lead others to see God at work in Christians’ lives and to love and obey Him. The only way God’s righteous words can flow from a Christian in secular work or in Christian service is by the power of the Holy Spirit since every person is sinful and unrighteous. When a person speaks from selfish ambition or out of jealousy to gain followers or power, what the person says will not be from God. We must not underestimate the power of words to influence and guide people to action. As people who have influence in a community, teachers who speak for the Lord must make sure they speak from the power of the Holy Spirit and not from the old sinful nature. Because teachers are people of influence, God will judge them with stricter judgment. Teachers must put the bit into their own mouths to guide themselves to speak what the Holy Spirit directs so they can lead the body of Christ (put the bit in the people’s mouths) to follow God. James said, as teachers, “We direct their (the church’s) entire body as well.” (vs. 3b)

Ships’ Rudder

In verse four, James used a different metaphor to explain his point. In this verse, James said, “Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires.” Once again, an everyday occurrence provides a teaching picture for Christians as a metaphor for the teachers of God.

As we look at this verse, we notice “ships” is plural. Besides this, the pilot must actively guide them ship (the church) by the rudder or the strong winds will knock the ship off course. Here, too, James spoke to teachers in specific as they educated Christians about God and His Word. He spoke to individual Christians in general as they spoke and went about their days in the secular world, too. In this metaphor, the rudder is the tongue used to guide/speak.

The pilot is the teacher who must allow the Holy Spirit to lead him or her to speak about God and His Word. By doing that, he or she will speak right and lead people to God and His Word. The Greek word James used that we translate as “pilot” is euhtuno[vi]. It means to make straight, level, or plain. The pilot is to make paths straight or plain/clear so people can hear and know God and obey Him with righteous service. (This sounds like Isaiah 40:3-5 when he said the Messiah would make the crooked roads straight and the rough places plain.) Wherever the pilot’s goal may be, that will be the direction his or her rudder will direct the ship. If the pilot’s goal is selfish ambition and influence, then his or her teaching will direct people to follow him or her and see God as second in life. If the pilot’s goal is to love and obey God, then his or her teaching will direct people to follow God. James said, even if the ships are battered about by strong winds, the teaching and leading by the righteous teacher/pilot using the very small rudder will lead people to seek and follow God. The teacher must actively choose to use the rudder to direct people to follow God, just as the rider had to decide to use the bit to guide the horse to God. Because the teacher is a leader in the community able to influence more people to follow God, or him or herself, God will judge him or her more strictly.

Flame and Forest Fires

James made his point about teachers being more accountable to God from verses three and four, but emphasized it again in the beginning of verse five. He said that even as the bit and rudder are small parts that direct the whole, so, too, the tongue is a small part of the body. The next part of his statement gives a notable point to this message. James said in verse 5b, “Yet it boasts of great things.” The tongue is just a small part of a body, but when unchecked it can wreak great damage. As a teacher in the church that person can be considered the “tongue” of the church. The physical tongue of each person and the spiritual tongue (the teacher) of the body of believers is small, but boasts of great things either to lead people to God or to gain a personal following.

The word “boasts” most often refers to negative things because it compares one thing or person to another to show superiority over another person. This often happens because of jealousy or self-centeredness. Boasting, too, can mean speaking well of something or someone, referring to someone or something else as great or better than one’s self or one’s accomplishments/abilities. When the Bible speaks of this kind of boasting, the people who boasted spoke of the Lord God and were zealous He receives the glory. Paul spoke of this in 1 Corinthians 1:31 when he said, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” He said this because boasting should reflect toward the greater person. When we compare ourselves with the person and work of God - sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins, and His wisdom, holiness, and righteousness –we must recognize God is greater than humankind. So only the Lord should be the recipient of boasts. This positive boasting is not about what James spoke though. He spoke about negative boasting, a boasting that took away from the status of another person and gave the glory to the speaker. James found amazing that so small a thing as a tongue could boast and cause such wide-ranging negative reactions by hearers.

James used a metaphor to express the result of boasting. He said the tongue is a small fire that sets aflame a great forest. What a person says kindles a small fire that leads to great fires that consume forests. The tongue can do great damage when used for personal advantage instead of God’s purposes. From a person, one word can kindle anger in another who gets other people to back him or her and come to his or her defense. Then people gather to support the speaker and before much time passes, the organization to which these people belong smolders in anger and dissension. With this dissension, people cannot work together and find it hard to care about or like other people. The organization then falls apart and disintegrates to be unrecognizable from what it was before the flame ignited the great fire. The flame is the speaker. The forest is the people within the community circles of the two people involved in the disagreement.

In relation to teachers, the flame is the teacher speaking for personal advantage. The forest is the church set aflame by false leadership and doctrine that creates a fire, a rift in the church. From that, the trust in which the community held the church is destroyed and the community of believers go their ways leaving the church scarred from burns left by the errant fire/tongue/teaching. James explained this in verse six. He said, “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 is set on fire by hell.” James stated emphatically this fire began by a false teaching that came from hell, as all false teachings do. We need to be careful to understand James was emphatic to make a point. Speaking can be used for good, too. Yet just as we know the tongue can cause great good to happen, so it can cause great wickedness, too.

As a Christian in secular employment, you, too, can influence people toward God. If you continue to speak and act righteously as God is righteous even when strong winds batter you, people will consider your great faith and seek God to understand and know Him for themselves. James said every Christian must allow the Holy Spirit to guide what they say whether the person is a Christian service worker or a Christian in secular employment. What a Christian says will influence a hearer to seek God or sneer at the idea of God. Every Christian must “pilot” his or her tongue to give God glory. By doing that, the Christian will grow toward perfection in Christ Jesus (Christ-likeness).

Tame the Tongue.

Lest his hearers misunderstand James and think the tongue was full of evil, he gave hope and said tongues can be tamed. In verse 7, James said, “For every species of beast and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race.” Just as humans tamed the animals of creation, so can their tongues be tamed. The key here, though, is God. In Genesis 1:28, “God said to them [Adam and Eve], ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” God gave them the power to tame the animals using their tongues, but then humans sinned. Sin comes when a person puts his or her desires before the needs or desires of another person, including God. This makes the person unrighteous. Unrighteousness makes a person unable to tame the tongue. That unrighteousness comes from and is influenced by the person’s unrighteous heart.

James made sure his hearers understood him. He explained to them in verse eight, “But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.” The key here is James’ words, “No one can tame the tongue.” The two-word indefinite pronoun, “no one,” comes from the Greek word anthropos[vii], which means “human being.” James implied only God can tame the tongue since because of selfish purposes, sin caused Adam and Eve to lose the power He gave them to tame the tongue. Sin affects the person’s life so that skewed decisions and actions occur to gain the best for him or herself with little regard for God or other people. As for the tongue, because of the fall, people will speak to get glory for themselves, to get more followers, and to gain influence and power. Because of sin, people cannot tame their own tongues by themselves. To tame a tongue requires a righteous person. That person is God. He made His righteousness available to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. Without God’s power and righteousness, selfishness cannot be overcome so that the tongue can be used for right reasons – to teach of God and His Word.

James said in verse 8b the tongue is “a restless (akatastatos – unstable, inconstant[viii]) evil and full of deadly poison.” He stated in verse nine, “With it [tongues] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who have been made in the likeness of God.” If humans could tame their own tongues, they would not have good and evil coming from them. They would not curse men whom God made in His image (imago dei – the symbolic relationship between God and humanity from Genesis 1:27). James emphasized the tongue’s instability by comparing things that cannot go together in the created world. He said in verse ten blessings and curses should not proceed from the same mouth. If the tongue is dedicated to proclaim blessing, filthy curses should not be able to come from the same lips. A fountain/spring that has fresh, sweet water will not spew out bitter water (vs. 11). A fig tree will not produce olives nor a grape vine produce figs. Finally, James said salt water cannot produce fresh water. Each of these explain God did not intend the tongue to bless and curse. God created humankind in His image and from Him only righteousness flows.

What is good, righteous, and expected, as created by God, cannot usher from something  exposed to evil and producing unrighteousness. Since this is so, what comes from man and woman, whom God created in His image, should not be evil and unrighteousness. God created humankind to be in relationship with Him. People cannot be in a relationship with Him while they produce unrighteousness, which comes from sin – a selfish desire to please self at the expense of another. To break the wall sin builds between God and people, God sent His Son to die the sin judgment and take away the sin of each person who believes in Him. Jesus Christ gives each believer His Holy Spirit to teach, admonish, edify, and guide him or her to speak and act righteously, just as God is righteous.

Call on God


Wisdom and Understanding.

      As we return to James, we find in 3:13 he revisited one of his lessons from chapter one – calling on God for wisdom. James said in 3:13, “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.” First we must notice, James again spoke to every Christians here, which includes teachers. Next, notice any person can be wise and understanding. God gives wisdom to every believers, not just to leaders. Third, James explained Christians are to show wisdom and understanding. What God gives Christians must live out in their lives. Fourth, deeds/actions based on wisdom are to show by good behavior in gentleness of wisdom. By this latter point, James meant while using your wisdom and knowledge for good deeds do it with meekness, kindness, and care. Let your knowledge and wisdom be used to help other people not to gain you honor. Peter spoke of this in 1 Peter 2:12 when he said, “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deed, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation (the day God looks into the character of every person)[ix].”

The wisdom and understanding James spoke about that produces good behavior that helps people comes from God. It comes from righteousness and love of God and people. James spoke of it in James 1:5 when he explained believers could ask God for wisdom while going through trials so they could endure the trials and become more Christlike – grow toward perfection - because of it. The wisdom from God is not self-serving, but serves God and other people. It does not come from a teacher who seeks to build his or her influence or increase his or her wealth. That teacher does not show God’s wisdom and understanding.

Wisdom not from God.

James said the teacher who seeks to build his or her influence or wealth is of the world and is lead by wickedness – selfish ambition and jealousy. It comes from an unstable tongue and heart, one of restless evil and deadly poison as James said in verse eight. That kind of tongue cannot lead to selfless service and love. James counseled in verses fourteen and fifteen, “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 earthly, natural, demonic.” He meant do not be so self-absorbed to presume you have a greater knowledge and wisdom than God gives. That would be a lie against truth – moral and religious. Remember, God gives wisdom to His people to overcome trials and to serve Him and other people. Nothing needs to be added to God’s truth to make it perfect, complete, right, and worthy of glorifying God.  No man or woman can make God’s truth any better by adding to what God proclaims in His Word.

This kind of wisdom bears these characteristics:
·         Selfish ambition
·         Self-centeredness
·         Jealousy
·         Arrogance
·         Unloving
·         Lies against the truth
·         Glorifies self

Wisdom from God.

From the earlier verses and especially verses seventeen and eighteen, James gave his hearers guidelines on how to know when a person spoke truth. He said the person who speaks God’s truth - His wisdom - would bring God glory, would not be motivated by selfish ambition or jealousy, would seek to serve God and other people with meekness and love, and bring about righteousness. Besides these, he said a person who spoke truth and wisdom from God would show godly characteristics. This speaker would be pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering (stable and constant), without hypocrisy, and produce the fruit of righteousness. How do we define these godly characteristics so we know them when we see them?

·         Purity of person shows a person who is modest, chaste, and free from sin. A person clean from sin is pure and can enter the presence of God, James taught in James 4:8.
·         A peaceable person is one who loves and brings peace and who is free from internal and external conflict, which sin brings. Jesus proclaimed blessing on the peacemaker in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:9).
·         A gentle person is one who is fair, mild, and shows consideration for other people.
·         A person who is reasonable easily obeys and is compliant.
·         When a person is full of mercy, he or she shows care, kindness, and love with a desire to help people, including the destitute, downtrodden, and afflicted. That person shows mercy because God showed him or her mercy like Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Luke 6:36). James encouraged a merciful character in James 2:13.
·         When someone shows by word and action God’s goodness and reflects Him, he or she has good fruits.
·         To be unwavering, the person must be stable and constant, without uncertainty, ambiguity, or doubt. James spoke of this kind of person in James 2:3-4. He said when someone judges the value of one person over another to give preferential treatment to the one who can help him or her in the future that person wavers in righteous.
·         For someone to be without hypocrisy, he or she must live life with sincerity and genuine and fair consideration for every person. Paul spoke taught the Corinthians to love without hypocrisy, abhor evil, and cling to goodness in Romans 12:9.

The most important point James taught in this section of the chapter comes from verse eighteen. He said, “And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” The leader who teaches in peace with the wisdom and understanding of God bridles the tongue, is not jealous, does not have selfish ambition, and bears the characteristics mentioned in verse seventeen. Paul told the Galatian Christians in Galatians 6:8, “The one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

                                
                                          Teaching from and sowing peace
                                            by wisdom and understanding
                                                  as servants of the Lord seeking His glory
                                              brings a harvest of righteousness.

 
 






Righteousness is the fruit of the seed sown by any Christian who speaks for God, more so for teachers and pastors who teach and lead in church because they will affect many more people inside and outside the church. The growth of that seed is amplified for teachers, just as the growth of untruths are amplified and bring stricter judgment.

Recap

In this chapter of James, we learned God judges teachers more strictly than non-teachers. Through the metaphors James used, we understand the teaching about speaking righteousness and truth applies to teachers and individuals. The metaphors of horses and bits, ships and rudder, and flame and forest fire provide a way for hearers and readers to understand the magnitude of the impact from unrighteous speaking by a teacher. It leads to amplified chaos, discord, and untruth. Because of the great possibility of leading many people to confusion and away from God, God judges teachers more strictly. For wickedness not to happen with either what individuals or unrighteous teachers say, James taught people to bridle their tongues. He added that if they could do that, then they could bridle their whole bodies.

In later verses, James explained “no one” can bridle their tongue. Because of sin, the righteousness God gave Adam and Eve no longer rested in them or gave them power over their sinful bodies. Sin removed the power of humans to do anything righteous of their own accord. God prepared a way for righteousness to be available through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. Through the power of Jesus’ indwelling Holy Spirit, Christians can bridle their tongues and overcome every temptation.

Still, Christians must act upon the power available to them. They must call on God for wisdom (James 1:5) and believe without doubting. These followers must will to use the power the Holy Spirit makes available to them by claiming it and living with that power.

By living in the Spirit, a person or teacher will show good behavior in meekness, kindness, and care. People will bring God glory, not be motivated by selfish ambition or jealousy, seek to serve God and other people, and bring about righteousness. Because of living in the Spirit’s power, the person will show godly characteristics and spiritual fruit - be pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy, and produce the fruit of righteousness. The people who show these godly characteristics are people to be trusted and followed.

Relevance and Conclusion

This leads us to personal consideration of James’ teaching. He implied in verse eight only God can give the power needed to bridle a person’s tongue or any part of his body. That power comes by accepting Jesus Christ as Savior, allowing the Holy Spirit to prompt and guide your thoughts, words, and actions, and seeking God’s wisdom without doubting. With these directing your life, you will grow more and more Christlike - toward maturity and perfection - and will reflect God’s glory and characteristics in and to the world. Selfish ambition and jealousy along with other evil, worldly desires will have less sway in you each day as you live life to glorify God and care for people. For teachers or pastors within the body of Christ, James stated God would judge them more strictly because their position of influence, when ungodly truths were taught, could lead more people away from God than non-teachers could.

Today, if you are a Christian, you need to come to a place where you seek God to determine whether you are a noisy gong and clanging cymbal. You need God to shed light on whether the words you speak come from Him and reveal His Word, truth, love, and righteousness. Will you obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit in your heart and mind?

James wrote this chapter for every Christian, but he purposely pointed to teachers challenging them to look at their reflection in God’s mirror to see if they reflect Him and His glory. As one called to teach, preach, or minister by teaching for the Lord, are you reflecting God and His righteousness? James gave us a stark reminder in verse one; God will judge teachers, pastors, evangelists, etc. more strictly than non-teachers. What you say and do has an amplified impact because more people listen to you. Do you need to give Him the keys to your life again and let Him be the Master?

If you are not a follower of Jesus Christ, but want to know more or feel yourselves wanting to have the peace and righteousness of God in your life, today is your day. Take the time right now. Accept in your mind and heart that Jesus Christ is God’s Son. Believe that Jesus Christ hung and died on the cross to pay the death penalty for your sins. Confess to God your sins, wrongdoings, and selfish desires and actions. God promises He will forgive your sins. John the disciple of Jesus said in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He [God] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Will you come to God today and let Him fill you, lead you, and show His love?
We each have decisions to make today after James’ lesson.