Thursday 30 April, 2015

James 5: 13-18

13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. 17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

In this passage, James gives really practical encouragement about when and how to pray. I love how relevant & relatable these verses are. It’s pretty wise and straightforward instruction, but I can’t help but think about how many times I unintentionally ignore it. When I am in trouble, is God my first port of call for help, or do I try to fix things in my own strength? When I’m ill, do I ask for pastors & leaders in church to pray for healing? When I sin, do I confess to those I have sinned against and ask for forgiveness from them?

Sometimes it’s so easy to read passages like this, and brush over the fact that I am a part of the intended audience, and this applies to me! It’s a great reminder to read the Bible as wise instruction for every day living.

God, thank you that you have provided encouragement & helpful instruction through your Word. Instead of just reading the Bible, may I actively apply it to my life!

Written by Madelaine Tarasenko

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Wednesday 29 April, 2015

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.

This verse starts off with, “But most of all” so we know that it is more important than preceding advice given to believers

Believers are encouraged to keep their language simple yet truthful ie. don’t beef things up by swearing an oath to some higher power. Tell it how it is, no more and no less.

Believers will be held to account for the things they say.

This passage reminds us that the words we speak are important. The world we live in has much spin and gloss and I am challenged here to not get caught up in it. Rather God’s word directs us to communicate simply and truthfully. This way our own language can’t tie us up in knots!

Dear Lord, please help me to honour you by letting my “yes be yes and my no be no” Amen.

Written by Ainslie Woods

2 replies
  1. Richard Botta says:

    James 5:12

    The exhortation “do not swear” echoes the teaching of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount. James reminds Christians that integrity lies close to the heart of kingdom life. James is speaking against using oaths to shore up one’s word to make it more believable.

    Christians are to speak plainly, saying “yes” when they mean “yes” and “no” when they mean “no.” If a person’s word is true, and we are known as people of integrity who reflect the values of the kingdom, “yes” and “no” do not need strengthening with an oath, they are simply reliant on an honest character.

    I am challenged by this passage as I am aware of the sense of need I have for ‘supporting’ evidence. Am I too quick to rely on another authority because I question my character.

    Father help me to speak truly in all my words.

  2. Justin Ware says:

    Upon reflection on this passage I realise how much I personally agree to it’s principle, but that I actually need to also continually develop my ability to obey it’s command.

    For me, this passage is dealing with level-of-commitment. It is calling me to simply allow my “yes” to the one, right; wise; well-decided cause; event; project; belief; commitment; meal; routine or discipline mean that the answer is by default “no” to all other options.

    This is not saying that once I am committed to something I have no way out or no excuse to change my plans in the face of an emergency, but it is a call as much to have my priorities clear and lined up as much as my schedule.

    The direct out-working of this all, and the specific call of this passage of scripture is around how I communicate. There should not be varying levels of integrity to my commitment to doing something depending on the framework and context of my commitment, but in every circumstance, my agreement or commitment needs to be simply communicated but with the highest degree of integrity.

    Lord, help me with my priorities, plans and my level of commitment and help me to communicate these in the right way so that I can bring honour to you and peace into the situations where a “no” answer might bring discomfort.

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Tuesday 28 April, 2015

James 5:7-11

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! 10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

The most difficult lesson for Christian is not faith, hope or love, but “Patience”.

Many people can easily ‘grow-up’ faith or hope or love by listening/watching an exciting/encouraging message or video. But the question is how long is it going to last?

Especially when we are in the middle of suffering or been offended. We may do the same thing, just like disciples James and John said, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them”. We like to see the results or justice quickly. We want our prayers granted by the Lord immediately. We don’t want to wait because we are lacking in patience.

That’s why James asked the disciples to learn the patience from the farmer who waits for the land to yield it’s valuable crop and Job’s perseverance what the Lord finally brought about.

The challenge of this passage to me is:

  1. Do I truly believe God knows everything that is happening with me or my family?
  2. Do I complain all the time about everything?
  3. How many times have I made decisions by myself without waiting for God’s leading?

Dear Jesus, you are my Lord and Savoir. None of your words will be delayed any longer. Thank you for loving me all the time even though I am not patient. Help me and give me strength to practice patience with you step by step, as it is not that we are waiting for You Lord, but that You are waiting for us.  Amen.

Written by Allen Leu

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Monday 27 April, 2015

James 5:1-6

5 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. 2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.

This passage reminds us that we need to be true to God in our motives. It is very easy to want nice things and to work towards achieving them but we need to do it the right way. We need to love our neighbours and love God with all our hearts. When we treat other people poorly just so we can have what we want should feel wrong and it should make us think twice about whether the things are what God would want for us.

The nice things are not the problem – it is how we go about obtaining them and why we want them that may be a big mess. If we want them to fill spaces inside that God should fill then that can lead us to make very poor choices. If we bring that idea of God’s love for us and the love He asks us to have for Him and those He puts in our lives to the front of our minds each day it can help us to pick up when we are zooming down the wrong path more quickly.

Lord help us to keep a good eye on our motives, to notice when we are feeling like it might be ok to ignore or mistreat someone (even when they may never know). Help us to pull ourselves up and to talk to You about the situation – asking for Your help and wisdom to bring our motives back to where You would want them to be. Thanks

Written by Therese Manning

1 (reply)
  1. David Newton says:

    Quote of the day
    “The nice things are not the problem – it is how we go about obtaining them and why we want them that may be a big mess.”

    Thanks Therese

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Sunday 26 April, 2015

James 4:13-17

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Wow – this is a sobering passage. The Message versions translates v 14 this way…

“You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog…”

It is such a tension to hold a right view of myself – on the one hand: I am beloved of God (Roms 1:7) – a masterpiece (Eph 2:10) fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14) – and then James warns me here in this passage (and as the Message version puts it)

I am a wisp of fog! In the grand scheme of eternity my life and my plans here on earth are but wisps of fog. But in the hands of my Master, my Lord and My King – my life has meaning and purpose – and I am called to walk in His ways and do the good things that He has planned for me to do. What God wants for me is what’s important.

Lord may I walk confidently in the knowledge of who I am and YOUR plans for me – and not be caught up in the importance of MY plans.

Written by Ps. Linda Quinn

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Saturday 25 April, 2015

James 4:11-12

11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

I note that the context of judgement into which James is speaking is slanderous judgement. In other words, accusations or utterances that are false and defame or damage another’s reputation. I am thinking that James is saying that when you slanderously judge a brother or sister, you are taking the law, as it were, into your own hands. You become the Lawgiver and the Judge. But there is only one. In essence, I read James to be saying here – allow one person to Judge another person’s life and work…the Lord God Almighty. And perhaps I could also say that when we become too obsessed with how our neighbor is living and what they are doing, we are perhaps conveniently eschewing our own responsibility to be living the word of God ourselves. It’s far easier to judge someone else’s life and work rather than to do what we’re called live and work towards.

I must be careful to keep my heart and my thinking free from the slanderous judgement of my neighbour. I must remember that there is only one Lawgiver and Judge, and I am certainly not Him. I must be careful, whenever the temptation or opportunity comes to judge my neighbour, to ask myself, “how are you going in that area of your life?” “Are you walking in obedience to God there?” And even if I should find myself to be doing ok in an area of Christian life, instead of casting judgements and slandering my neighbour, I must instead ask, “how can I encourage, help or otherwise build up my neighbour in this area of life?” This shifts me from a propensity to slander, to a will to love, build up and support my neighbour.

Lord, help me to keep my heart free from harsh, false and damaging thinking towards my brother or sister. Help me keep my eyes upon my own life and work first, and earnestly seek to live as you’ve called me to live, and where ever it is possible and opportune, to assist, encourage and bless my neighbour in their life and work.

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

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Friday 24 April, 2015

James 4:1-10

4 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. 4 You adulterous people,[a] don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us[b]? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”[c] 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

James is describing in this passage the most likely reason why we find ourselves at odds and fighting with others. The bottom line seems to be that we always want something that someone else has (lust) and if we don’t get our hearts and minds right before God, then we will do anything to get it. James also goes on to add that we don’t even ask God for these things, “Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to.” (Msg)

But James also gives us an answer to overcome this, pray! Draw near to God with a humble heart, find out what He wants (not what I want – pride) & He will come to you. Prayer is the great leveller. If we’re serious to allow God in He will bring the calm to the fight, give us the ability to overcome the devil, to stand and say no, & to purify the motives of our hearts and minds.

I’m in the midst of asking God for something at the moment, something pretty big, and this passage speaks to me, to make sure my motives are right. Verse 8 especially, “Come near to God, and he will come near to you.” Regardless of the version I read, that promise is the same. God is not far off but walking with me.

Lord, thank you for your encouragement to me through this passage today. As I continue to pray, may my heart be pure & humble before you and were it is not, change me to bring this situation to the best conclusion possible. Amen

Written by Suzie Hodgson

2 replies
  1. Phil Pearsall says:

    Let us all be more humble of heart. God said in Samuel “he that honours me, I will honour”. Putting God first is critical to a healthy heart.

  2. David Newton says:

    V8 is definitely a scripture worth meditating on.
    I like your comment Phil. You cannot get much more concise than that!
    Thanks Suzie

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Thursday 23 April, 2015

James 3:13-18

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

James is talking about ‘envy and selfish ambition’, a spirit which is always criticizing, which cannot let a nice word go by without adding a nasty one.  And when someone with that kind of spirit claims to be healthy, James says, they are telling lies against the truth.  He goes further, he says that a mindset like that comes from the world of demons. It may give some appearance of wisdom.  Cynicism often does.  We are faced with two kinds of wisdom.  Criticisms may be fully justified, as they certainly would have been in James’s day.

But the challenge for God’s people is to be able to tell the truth about the way the world is, and about the way wicked people are behaving, without turning into a perpetual grumble, and in particular without becoming someone whose appearance of ‘wisdom’ consists in being able to find a cutting word to say about everyone and everything.  There is, after all, a vast amount of beauty, love, generosity and sheer goodness in the world.  Those who follow Jesus ought not only to be celebrating it but contributing to it.  And this is how James says it when he describes real godly wisdom – I love how he puts it, “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”.

Father may I be careful to always speak with encouragement and in the manner James describes here and keep me from mumbling and grumbling!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

1 (reply)
  1. David Newton says:

    It always amazes me how cruel people can be in online forums. The internet seems to reveal the worst in people.

    Thanks Richard

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Wednesday 22 April, 2015

James 3:5-12

5 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. 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. 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Here James personifies the tongue as though it was an autonomous entity. He describes its character as pure evil. Look at all the phrases used: a world of sin; a fire from hell; defiles the body; unruly evil; full of deadly poison.  A powerful and nasty thing. James says that a person is unable to tame their tongue, that it speaks praises to God on one side and curses people on the other. He shows us how unnatural this is by the metaphor of a spring which can’t give both fresh and salty water, and trees which can’t produce two different types of fruit. The point of all this is made when James says ‘my friends these things ought not to be so’

This image is powerful and scary; do I have this evil thing in me which I am unable to control? I don’t think so. I agree that I can cause trouble and hurt by the things I say, especially when I speak without thinking. But I don’t agree that I am unable to tame my tongue. I have learned to stop myself saying things which would be hurtful or judgemental or gossip a lot of the time. It’s difficult to hose down the tongue fire sometimes and many times I have wished I could take back words out of the air which breathed them. A curse spoken is given life and power. Words are heard by others and influence others, a racist comment reinforces hate, a hint of gossip causes curiosity, a criticism crushes a willing spirit.

If I praise God and His spirit is in me then I want my tongue to be a blessing to everyone. A spring can’t give bitter water and fresh from the same opening and so If my tongue is controlled by the spirit, it won’t be able to speak bitter words. I am reminded to pause before speaking to check what the impact of what I say will be. If I take a breath in before opening my mouth, in this short time I can take that air captive to the Spirit so that it goes out in words of blessing. I need to do this more consciously, especially in the heat of anger.

Lord please help me to speak the water of life and not the sparks of hell from my tongue. I give you control of my tongue and my ears, help me to tame them.

Written by Dimity Milne

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Tuesday 21 April, 2015

James 3:1-5a

3 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 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. 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 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. 5 Likew
2 replies
  1. David Newton says:

    I find this passage interesting because it gives an insight into a principle which is important to God. – That is: ‘Your words should match your actions’.
    A teacher is ‘judged more strictly’ because not only do they use words to convey ideas but they are training others to do the same. Several times in His ministry Jesus uses the word ‘hypocrite’ to describe the Pharisees. This is a Greek word which actually mean ‘to be an actor’. – A actor is a person who’s external words do not match there internal condition.
    When ever we speak to people in our daily life our words are teaching them things about us and hopefully about God as well. The question is: Do our words match our actions?
    Dear God, I ask you to help me to be more careful in the words I use in my daily life and that you would empower me to speak words that are in line with my inner beliefs.

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