Posts Tagged With: Ministry

Spiritual Boot Camp Day 20

Way to go! You have made it to Friday. Today we will wrap up our study of James 3.

James 3:17

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 

James is referring to godly wisdom in this verse. It is described as “pure” which comes from the Greek word “hagnos”. It means “divine wisdom, simple in its ethical character and absolute in its goodness”. It is then described as peace-loving. Godly wisdom brings peace to situations and relationships, not division and dissension. Would your wisdom be described as peace-loving?

James goes on to further describe this wisdom as “considerate, submissive and full of mercy”. Having wisdom that is submissive means putting other’s needs above your own. It means yielding to your desires in a particular situation to the desires the Lord has for you. Being submissive means you are not in control or in charge – is that difficult for you? Wisdom that is full of mercy is not judgmental. Do you bring mercy or judgment to the table when making decisions or working on a team?

The remaining characteristics of godly wisdom are “good fruit, impartial and sincere”. Impartial refers back to what we discussed in chapter 2 about favoritism. Being wise requires looking at situations and people objectively – from God’s perspective and not our own. It is seeing others and situations through His eyes. It is also being sincere. It is easy to determine if someone is being sincere or if he/she is simply telling you what you want to hear. Are you sincere in your interactions or do you tell people what they want to hear even when you feel something very different?

James 3:18

18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

As we approach the weekend, I want you to reflect on your relationships and circumstances in your life right now. Are you a peacemaker in them? Are you willing to put other’s needs above your own? How do you respond when you want to be in control or in charge? What relationship do you need to bring peace to in your life? What situation are you facing where you can show your godly wisdom by being a peacemaker? Seek the Lord and His wisdom in these relationships and situations and put it into action!

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Spiritual Boot Camp Day 19

Remain strong and faithful! We are making our way through James 3 and only have 2 more days this week. I know it is hard to commit to doing this everyday but you can do it and you will be blessed for it!

James 3:13

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.

The Greek word for “wise” in this verse is “sophos”. The meaning of “sophos” in this verse means “in respect to divine things, wise, enlightened, as joined together with purity of heart and life.” This word for wise means more than the definition from Merriam-Webster of “marked by deep understanding, keen discernment, and a capacity for sound judgment” because it is not referring to worldly wisdom. “First of all, the biblical concept of wisdom is God-centered rather than man-centered. It denotes a fear of God and an understanding of His ways. Sophos indicates the ability to apply skillfully what one knows (especially religious truths).”

Do you see how being “wise” should be evident by the way we live our lives? If we have this type of wisdom, it will be evident because we will be walking out biblical truths in our lives. Are you wise and understanding? Are there areas in your life where you wisdom shines brightly and others where it does not?

James 3:14-16

14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

The “wisdom” James is talking about in verse 15 is in contrast to the “wise” discussed in verse 13. This second type of “wisdom” is worldly rather than godly; it is man-centered rather than God-centered. “Such ‘wisdom’ evaluates everything by worldly standards and makes personal gain life’s highest goal.”1 When envy and selfish ambition are our goals, we can be assured that we are using worldly wisdom versus godly wisdom. 

When making decisions, which type of wisdom do you use? Have you made decisions recently that were made out of envy, jealousy or selfish ambition? What were the results of those decisions? What decisions are you facing now? Approach those decision from a godly perspective and how God would have you walk out your faith rather than what would  get you ahead. Make decisions that will bring glory to God’s name rather than your name.

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Spiritual Boot Camp Day 16

Welcome to week 4 of Spiritual Boot Camp! We will begin looking at James 3 today. If you are just joining us, jump in and when you have free time you can go back and look at the first two chapters of James. For those of you who have been on this journey, remain strong and persevere. Nothing could be more beneficial to us than spending time in God’s Word and with Him in prayer daily.

James 3:1

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

As someone who teaches, I take this verse very seriously. According to the notes in the ESV Study Bible, which states the end of this verse as “judged with greater strictness”, “greater strictness” literally means “greater judgment”.

Luke 12:48

…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

People didn’t have access to the Scriptures in the time of James the way we do today. One of the main ways they learned was from teachers. This put a lot of responsibility on the teachers to teach people about Christ and to not vary from what the Scriptures said. The apostles were taught so much by Jesus and much was demanded of them as they spread the good news. We are to be careful when we teach people about Christ to be teaching the truth and all of it. We are not to teach only the easy parts of Scripture but to teach all of the Word of God. We are so blessed to have access to the Word in the Bible and on the internet and we should take full advantage of this access and read it so that we know what His Word says for ourselves and don’t have to only rely on others to teach us.

James 3:2

We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

Remember we learned earlier that the synonym for “stumble” is “sin”. According to “The Expositor’s Bible Commentary”, ‘If anyone could be found who never sins with his tongue, he would never sin in any other way, either. Since sins of the tongue are hardest to avoid, anyone who could control his tongue would surely be able to “keep his whole body in check”. This is a great reminder for us of how easy it is for us to sin with our tongues and how difficult it is for us to control them.

How well do you feel you know God’s Word? Do you need to spend more time studying His Word for yourself? What plan can you make to be in His Word more? What do you think about the statement that if we could control our tongues, we probably would be able to control the rest of our bodies? Do you struggle to control your tongue? What steps can you take to keep your tongue in check?

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Spiritual Boot Camp Day 12

Yesterday was a holiday here in the United States to honor those who have served in the military. May the Lord bless our military personnel for their service and reward them for their many sacrifices. I hope you all had a relaxing and restful weekend and are ready to jump back into James.

James 2:10

10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

James is making the point that we are responsible for following all of the Lord’s commands. We do not get to pick and choose which ones we will follow. A synonym for “stumbles” in the Greek is sin so when we sin in one area we are guilty of breaking all of God’s law.

Sin is something that we take too lightly in our world today. According to John Stott in “The Cross of Christ”, “The emphasis of Scripture, however, is on the godless self-centeredness of sin. Every sin is a breach of what Jesus called ‘the first and greatest commandment,’ not just by failing to love God with all our being but by actively refusing to acknowledge and obey him as our Creator and Lord.”

That quote sure puts sin into perspective – the right perspective. Every time we sin, we are “refusing to acknowledge and obey him as our Creator and Lord.” Not sometimes, not when we consider our sins to be “big sins”, but every time. We justify and rationalize our sins and try to make them seem less offensive to the Lord. However, sin is sin and we need to recognize our sin as rebellion against the Lord by choosing what we want to do versus what the Lord would have us do.

James 2:11

11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

Verse 11 continues to reiterate that breaking any of God’s laws makes us a lawbreaker. There are not degrees of being a lawbreaker, simply being one or not. We have minimized our sin in order to not feel so bad about what we do, but no where in Scripture does is say we are to minimize our sin. We are to acknowledge it fully, seek forgiveness from the Lord and then turn from our sin and walk in His Spirit. It is a three step process and it begins with acknowledging our sin as sin.

What sins do you need to acknowledge today? Allow the Lord to search your heart and mind today and reveal your sins to you. Then take the second step of seeking His forgiveness and being remorseful for your rebellion and self-centeredness. Really take the time to feel the weight of what our sin does to the Lord and recognize how much it hurts Him.

Finally we are to repent or turn from our sin. That means we must choose to follow His ways for our life and yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit rather than following our own ways. What steps do you need to take today to turn from your sin? Allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you in the ways the Lord wants you to go. My prayer is we would all take time today to acknowledge our sins, seek His forgiveness and repent of them. Don’t let another day go by where we are “refusing to acknowledge and obey him as our Lord and Creator.”

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Spiritual Boot Camp Day 7

 

Hope you all had a great weekend and are ready to dig back into our study of James.

James 1:22

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

This meaning of this verse is pretty clear. Hearing the word of God is just the beginning. We are to internalize it in our hearts and minds and then put it into action in our lives. If we merely hear it read on Sundays at church or read it for ourselves, but the words never take root in our hearts, we deceive ourselves into thinking we are pleasing the Lord.

James 1:23-25

23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

The verb for look is the Greek verb katanoeo and it means “to observe, consider, contemplate”. “So the man carefully studies his face and becomes thoroughly familiar with his features.  This illustrative act is paralleled by the person who listens to the Word, not momentarily but attentively, and at length, so that he understands what he hears.  He knows what God expects him to do and any failure to respond cannot be blamed on a lack of understanding.”1 We are held responsible for what we know and are expected to put it into practice in our lives.

It is impossible for us to look at ourselves in the mirror and really study what we look like and to then “immediately forget” what we look like. James is pointing out it is just as absurd for us to read or hear the Word of God and to forget it and not let it change how we think and act. God’s Word is a living word, but we must put it into action to bring it alive in our own lives and the lives of others.

Verse 25 describes the person who puts God’s Word into action and says “he will be blessed in what he does.” Do you want to be blessed in what you do? Then these verses line out what we must do to be blessed. We must read His Word and put it into action in our lives. How often do we attend a church service, a conference or retreat and have an spiritual experience only to return to our every day lives and never put what we learned into practice? Often, we don’t even take time to meditate on what we learned or experienced or even take time to praise God for the teaching and revelation we have received.

When was the last time you took notes or really felt like you heard something or read something new in His Word? What did you do with this knowledge? Did you praise God for it and put it into action? What have you learned from these seven days of studying the book of James and how are you putting it into action? Take some time today to praise God and ask Him how you need to put what you have learned into action. The purpose of this spiritual boot camp is not to simply gain knowledge of God’s Word but to truly internalize it so we can walk it out in our lives and live the lives we were created to live.

  • Scripture references are from http://www.biblegateway.com

  • Definition of Greek is from “Key Word Study Bible”, AMG Publishers

  • 1 quotes from “Expositor’s Bible Commentary”, Zondervan
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