Posts Tagged With: words

Spiritual Boot Camp Day 33

It is the middle of the week and the time when we usually feel like skipping a day of boot camp. Hope you are able to persevere through the next three days as we wrap up our study of James.

James 5:12

12 Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.

James is reiterating what Jesus said about oaths in Matthew 5:34-37.

“34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne;35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

James was telling the people their word should be enough, they should not need to make oaths. It is not that oaths were forbidden, but they should not be said lightly. There is a seriousness in making an oath because it involves making it in the name of the Lord. Our word should stand for itself and we should not have to make promises, swear or make an oath in order for our word to mean something.

This verse may seem out of place because what came before had to do with patience with  others and what follows has to do with prayer. However, it is very much in line with a theme we have seen over and over again in James – the power of our words. We are pretty careless with our words and they can be very harmful to others. How often do we tell someone we will do something and then not actually do it? Or we don’t do it in the time frame we committed to do it? When we don’t follow through on our word, it becomes less meaningful and we become less trustworthy. 

In today’s world of constant communication and stimulation it is easy to become overwhelmed and become to busy to do what we say we are going to do. How often does that happen to you? Or the opposite, we say we aren’t going to do something any more and yet we do. I want you to think about what your word stands for – is your word trustworthy? Do you do what you say you are going to do and not do what you say you aren’t going to do?

In particular, I want you to think about what your word means in regards to praying for others. Sometimes we are asked to pray for someone else and say we will but then forget. Has that ever happened to you? We need to be people of our word and we need to be trustworthy, especially in the area of prayer. Instead of telling someone you will pray for them, how about simply doing it when they ask rather than waiting until later? Some people are more comfortable praying silently in their own place and time but what if we stepped out in boldness and whenever we were asked to pray for someone we simply did it right then and right there? I think we talk a lot about prayer without actually ever getting around to doing it. Praying for people right when they ask and engaging them in the prayer will encourage them, remind us both of our dependence upon God and help us both grow in our faith. I challenge you to do it the next time someone asks you to pray for them and make it a new habit.

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Spiritual Boot Camp 17

James continues to talk about the power of our tongue and the importance of controlling it. 

James 3:3-4

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 

James compares our tongue to a bit in a horse’s mouth or a rudder on a ship. Both of these are very small parts in comparison to the whole. It is the same with our tongue. It is a small part of our body, but controlling it helps control the entire body and it is amazing how powerful such small part can be. Do you think of your tongue as a powerful pat of your body? How well do you control it? What have your words been like recently?

James 3:5-6

Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

James continues to talk about the strong influence of the tongue but he takes it further comparing it to a fire. In comparing our tongue to a fire in these verses, he is referring to the destructive power of our tongues. Our words can be like a spark. It can spark a fire that destroys everything around us. Have you ever been the one who used your tongue to spark a fire or have you been on the receiving end? Our words can really impact others – not just for the moment they hear our words, but for years. How many times have you replayed a comment that was said to you over and over again in your head? Can your remember something that was said to you as a child? Was it positive or negative?

In a previous post on this subject from April 17 titled “Taming the Tongue” Bill Hogan made a powerful comment about our tongues when it was compared to a fire. He said, “Funny thing is… fire can also provide warmth and comfort when properly controlled. Our tongues can provide encouragement and support; warmth and friendliness… when controlled by the Spirit.” How true his words are! James is comparing our tongues to the destructive power of fire but Bill points out there are very powerful positive aspects to fire as well. 

James addresses our tongues and our words over and over again in the five chapters. It speaks to the importance of controlling our tongues in our lives. It is one of the areas we all struggle with and one we can’t spend too much time in prayer with the Lord for his guidance. Which describes your tongue recently – a destructive fire or a fire that provides warmth and friendliness?

I want to challenge you today to not simply answer that question based on your own thoughts, but to ask those around you which better describes your words. It is difficult to ask others how our words impact them but it is very powerful to receive their feedback. Sometimes it is through this type of accountability we can really recognize the power of our words. I pray you are brave and take this challenge today!

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Spiritual Boot Camp Day 8

Today we will wrap up our study of James 1 and tomorrow we will begin looking at chapter 2. So if you are just now joining us, you only have one short chapter to catch up on.

James 1:26

26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless

Yet again, James addresses our words. The image he uses in this verse is one of a “rein” on the tongue. Reins on our tongues would provide  “a means of restraint, check, or guidance”. Reins on a horse are used “to restrain or control” the movement of a horse and we need something to help us restrain and control our tongues. We have a built in “rein” in the form of the leading of the Holy Spirit, but do we pay attention to it? Are we sensitive enough to the guidance of the Holy Spirit or do we tune it out and go ahead and say what is on our minds?

James says there are two consequences for not having control on your tongue. The first is that it causes us to deceive ourselves. It is easy for us to not pay attention to our words and, therefore, not pay attention to the impact they have on others. We need to make sure we are aware of not only what we say but how we say things. Sometimes it is in the tone we use that impacts people the most. I often tell my daughters it isn’t so much what you say but how you say it. What has the attitude and tone of your words been like in the last week?

In addition, we can deceive ourselves by what we say when we don’t take the time to pay attention to how our words and our tone are impacting the people around us. A horse out of control can run and trample down a group of people and never look back. Is that the picture that would describe some of your conversations over the past week?

James 1:27

27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

The end of verse 26 “his religion is worthless” and verse 27 points to the second consequence James is refers to when we do not “rein” in our tongues. Our “doing” things for God or serving Him loses its power when our words and tone don’t match what we are doing. A friend of mine was in a heated discussion with her husband when the phone rang. She answered it and it was someone at the church asking her to make a meal for a family in need. When she got off the phone, her husband said, “I sure wish you would talk to me the way you talk to the ladies at the church.”

Her words to her husband were harsh and hurtful but her attitude and tone immediately changed when she answered the phone. I think this example illustrates perfectly how our service for the Lord can appear worthless when our words don’t match it. Controlling our tongues is one of the most difficult things for us to do and it is why James addresses it multiple times in this short book.

Have you had a “rein” on your tongue in the last week? What has your attitude and tone of your words been? Do you need to seek the forgiveness of others and the Lord for your words? Have you been like my friend and treated those in your family quite differently than you would people at your church? Do you speak differently to your family than you do to your friends at church? Seek the Lord and allow His Holy Spirit to reveal to you what your words have been like so you can ask Him and others for forgiveness. Pray He will give you a sensitivity to the leading of His Holy Spirit when it comes to your words and help you keep a tight rein on your tongue.

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Tongues of Fire

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Our tongues are very powerful and what comes from them can build up or destroy. Once we open our mouths and begin speaking, we have unleashed its power and it is easy for it to get out of control.

James 3:6

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

In this verse our tongue is compared to a fire. When you think about a fire, it often starts very small and quickly spreads and gets out of control. Thousands of acres are destroyed by a small flame during forest fires. The same thing happens when we begin speaking – our words can spread and get out of control very quickly.

How often do we start complaining about something and then the complaining grows and grows? Those we are talking to can put fuel onto the fire by joining in and adding to our complaints. Within a matter of a few minutes, the mood of an entire group of people can be changed.

What about gossip? Nothing spreads better than a little juicy gossip. We might share one piece of information about someone and quickly others are adding to our statement and inflaming the situation. It isn’t long before the information has spread and what may have been an insignificant comment has turned into the destruction of someone’s reputation. This happens so much quicker and easier today with all of out technology and social networking.

Our words corrupt our whole being and can change not only the course of our day but those around us as well. May we all be very conscious of what we say and who we say it to today. May we as believers in Jesus, be the water that is tossed on some complaints or unkind words so we can dampen the fire before it starts.

If you look back over the words you have used in the past few days would your words be more like the living water of Jesus or fuel on a destructive fire? Pray and ask the Lord to infuse you with His living water today so you can pour it out on those around you through your words.

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