Sunday, October 21, 2018

Jesus gives a "slap on the head"

Fr. Phil Eberhart
Pentecost XXII
October 21, 2018







A slap on the head


I need a couple of volunteers this morning... Oh... let's see...
Doug and Duane ---

Come up here and stand on each side of me...

Any of you watch NCIS?

Doug knows what's coming.

Sometimes I wonder if Jesus ever wanted to just do the head slap that Denozo gets every once in while from Gibbs? In this case, a double head slap!! For James and John!!

Ok you guys can sit down. They were chosen at random, you know~~

Look at the last few phrases of your gospel this morning...
let me read from the Passion Translation...

You are to lead by a different model. If you want to be the greatest one, then live as one called to serve others.44 The path to promotion and prominence comes by having the heart of a bond-slave who serves everyone. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come expecting to be served by everyone, but to serve everyone, and to give his life as the ransom price in exchange for the salvation of many.”

Over and over and over again with the disciples and with us, Jesus deals with our ego needs to be first, to be greatest, to be seen, to be known -- we constantly have to check our intentions and motives for working "for the Lord."  Is it truly "for" HIM, or is it subtly for me?  

This weekend at the healing seminar I met a new friend who asked a great question:

How do we know that when we get to the end of the road, we won't be among the ones that Jesus said "He never knew?"  You remember the end of the sermon on the mount in Matt 7 - there are the scariest words in scripture...

Jesus Warns of Pretenders

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the realm of heaven’s kingdom. It is only those who persist in doing the will of my heavenly Father. 22 On the day of judgment many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, don’t you remember us? Didn’t we prophesy[j] in your name? Didn’t we cast out demons and do many miracles for the sake of your name?’ 23 But I will have to say to them, ‘Go away from me, you lawless rebels! I’ve never been joined to you!’[k]
24 “Everyone who hears my teaching and applies it to his life can be compared to a wise man who built his house on an unshakable foundation. 

Here Jesus is warning of false prophets and spiritual pretenders.  As my new friend asked the question, the Lord said to me, "the pretenders are the people who take my glory to themselves."  

Look at the opening verse of our Hebrews passage this morning, - it's one of my favorite "word" verses... again I'm reading from TPT:

12 For we have the living Word of God, which is full of energy,[j] and it pierces more sharply than a two-edged sword.[k] It will even penetrate to the very core of our being where soul and spirit, bone[l] and marrow meet![m] It interprets and reveals the true thoughts and secret motives of our hearts. 13 There is not one person who can hide their thoughts from God, for nothing that we do remains a secret, and nothing created is concealed, but everything is exposed and defenseless before his eyes, to whom we must render an account.[n]

Jesus himself is the "living Word of God" and what the writer of Hebrews is saying here is that it is Him with whom we deal when it comes to our "true thoughts and secret motives!  

I've always been a bit fearful of that passage in Matthew, because I know well how self-deceived and self-aggrandized I can get - how I am most of the time.  Pastors and people in ministry have to constantly take their spiritual inventory according to the Word of God, to allow the light of the Word to penetrate down to those places of thought and motive and to bring purity there.  We must be careful not to touch God's Glory for ourselves.

When we start taking a census of the powerful things that God has done through us, we are in danger of moving into that realm!  That's not to say that we can't share testimonies of His power, but the emphasis needs to be in the fact that we are, in Paul's word, "broken, clay pots" that only shine because the glory of God shines through the cracks.  We're all "cracked pots!"  And God's power is seen to NOT be from us.

So what is our stance on these things and how do we proceed.  Jesus gives us a strong clue right after his warning when he starts talking about the house build on bedrock. 
He says, "everyone who hears and applies my Word - who hears and does."  It's that last step of OBEDIENCE to God's word and His way that makes us a "keeper" in God's kingdom.

Paul said his goal was to "know Christ in the power (dunamis) of His resurrection and in the fellowship (koinonia) of His sufferings." (Phil 3)  When we share in Christ's sufferings for doing good (works of power) in His Name, it tends to burn out the dross of our ill intentions and our impure motives.

Over the years I've had many opportunities to walk away from the pastorate.  Pastors do that today in the thousands each month!  My call to this work that I received when I was 10 years old has been tested in fire so many times I've lost count.  I've had to stop myself and take stock of who I am doing this for many times!  It is a constant fight, that all ministers, professional and lay, must contend with.

So what?   What now?

Let's read on a bit further in Hebrews:

Jesus, Our Compassionate King-Priest

14 So then, we must cling in faith to all we know to be true. For we have a magnificent King-Priest,[o] Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who rose into the heavenly realm for us, and now sympathizes with us in our frailty.[p]15 He understands humanity, for as a Man, our magnificent King-Priest was tempted in every way just as we are, and conquered sin.[q] 16 So now we come freely and boldly to where love is enthroned,[r] to receive mercy’s kiss and discover the grace we urgently need to strengthen[s] us in our time of weakness.[t]

So what did you just hear?

1.  Cling in faith to what you know to be true - HIS WORD
     "HOLD FAST" TO OUR CONFESSION~  What is that?
That... We have a magnificent King-Priest, Jesus Christ who rose into the heavenly realm for us!  We are never more in danger than when this belief slips to a back burner in our consciousness!

2.  Clearly comprehend WHO is in Heaven, making Intercession for us!  JB PHILLIPS puts it this way:
For we have no superhuman High Priest to whom our weaknesses are unintelligible—he himself has shared fully in all our experience of temptation, except that he never sinned.

3. So... therefore ... because of that!  We get a bowl of lettuce!
4:16 Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with fullest confidence, that we may receive mercy for our failures and grace to help in the hour of need.
Turn with me to Heb 10 for more lettuce!
19-25 So by virtue of the blood of Jesus, you and I, my brothers, may now have courage to enter the holy of holies by way of the one who died and is yet alive, who has made for us a holy means of entry by himself passing through the curtain, that is, his own human nature. Further, since we have a great High Priest set over the household of God, let us draw near with true hearts and fullest confidence, knowing that our inmost souls have been purified by the sprinkling of his blood just as our bodies are cleansed by the washing of clean water. In this confidence let us hold on to the hope that we profess without the slightest hesitation—for he is utterly dependable—and let us think of one another and how we can encourage each other to love and do good deeds. And let us not hold aloof from our church meetings, as some do. Let us do all we can to help one another’s faith, and this the more earnestly as we see the final day drawing ever nearer.

Friends, we're in this together, as we say in our marriage vows, "for better or worse."  

One of the greatest dangers in the modern church is the ease with which we leave.  One of the greatest pains I ever experience is when someone leaves our church, for whatever reason, good or bad.  But our consumer culture "churchianity" that is a mile wide and an inch deep has set us up for what we see now all across western Christianity.

We are in a culture that will be standing before the throne of Jesus and he will say "I never knew you!"

Please eat your lettuce!  Inwardly digest the steps that God has given us in His Word to 

DRAW NEAR TO HIM WITH PURE HEARTS

HOLD ON TO OUR HOPE

ENTER INTO A COMPETITION TO ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER, GIVING HONOR TO EACH OTHER AND SPURRING ONE ANOTHER ON TO LOVE AND TO GOOD WORKS.  CHEERING ONE ANOTHER ON!

DON'T SKIP OUT ON WORSHIP AND KOINONIA FELLOWSHIP IN THE CHURCH - OUR MEETING TOGETHER FACE TO FACE.

SPEND YOURSELF LOVING ONE ANOTHER, AS JESUS LOVES YOU AND HAS SPENT HIMSELF FOR YOU!

Now a final "lettuce"...

Let Us...  PRAY...

Eternal God, Heavenly King.  You have made a way through the curtain of Jesus' body, torn in two, for us to come, to draw near in faith.  But even the drawing near we need help with Lord!  We love to do our own thing ... we love to get the glory ... we love to hear the praise ... Forgive us and help us to never touch Your glory or Your praise!  
We come to you in time of need, asking for your mercy and for your grace to help.  We want to "know you" even as we are known by You!  Let us experience Your love in its fullness, the depth, height, width and length, even though we have no capacity to comprehend it.
Bring us close to You, Lord Jesus and enwrap us in your arms of love.  We want to hear in the depths of our hearts Your Words - I KNOW YOU - I LOVE YOU - YOU ARE MINE.

In Jesus we ask, seek and knock...
for the sake of His Kingdom and the fame of His Name.

Amen.


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Effectual, Fervent Prayers Availeth Much!

Pentecost XXI
October 14, 2018
Fr. Phil Eberhart

God, our refuge and strength, true source of all godliness: Graciously hear the devout prayers of your Church, and grant that those things which we ask faithfully we may obtain effectually; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who sits at your right hand to intercede for us, and who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns in everlasting glory. Amen.

Well, it's good to be back in the fold here at REZ.  I've been traveling for the past two Sunday's, one on Kingdom business and one on personal, as our family gathered last weekend over Columbus Day weekend with my 88 year old mom in Burlington.

I've been on an interesting journey across America the last couple weeks - to a place in Indiana called Heartland Church - a former Vineyard become Anglican church that has a growing influence in Anglican worship music - to a songwriter's retreat!  First time for me and I'll be previewing a new song for you at the offertory this morning.  I told someone yesterday it was the first time I've ever been in quite such a community of "creatives."  It was good for me and I feel that there may be another song or two brewing!  

From Indiana I went to Washington DC last week - yes, last week!

The National Prayer Assembly happens each year and is scheduled about a year in advance - this year meeting at the Ronald Reagan Center, just about 3 blocks from the White House on Pennsylvania Ave.  We had opportunity to prayer walk the Supreme Court building and the Senate office buildings (all three) on Tuesday, stopping to pray at specific, important races for the coming election.  

Then on Wed and Thurs we gathered at the Reagan Center to pray in concert and unity over the themes and issues in our nation.  Needless to say, when the dates were picked, the organizers had no idea the strategic nature of the times we would be in DC for.  Just a couple of highlights...

I got to go personally and pray with Senator Gardner and his chief of staff on Wednesday morning.  I discovered that his mother-in-law is my mom's pastor in Burlington!  Small world!  
Our prayer time on Wed and Thurs at the National Prayer Assembly was electric.  Because of all that was going on in the media with the Kavanaugh hearings and the weight of the upcoming elections, we knew that we were there "for such a time as this."

One fun fact -  How many of you received the "Presidential Alert" on your phone last week?  First time that that alert system has ever been used, tested or otherwise!  The alert came at 2:18 p.m. and we had just moments before began praying for the President and his cabinet at the Assembly!  It was like a God-wink and affirmed the crucial timing and nature of our work of intercession!

Several of the intercessors who could go were invited to the Senate gallery for the debate on Friday last week before the Senate took their vote on Saturday morning.

Friends, we were the invited guests of several of the Senators, to provide intercessory prayer cover over these important debates, in person!  I just want you to know that these things are happening.  They're certainly not going to be covered by our media!

But I want to turn for a few minutes to our scriptures this morning, in light of all this!  How incredible that these scriptures were chosen for today - 400 years ago!

"The Word of God is living, and active - sharper than a two-edged sword - It divides between soul and spirit,  down to joints and marrow, between the thoughts and intentions in our hearts."

I came away from this week with a sense of awe.  Awe at the immensity of our God.  And the nearness of His Spirit and His direct concern for us and our lives and affairs!

Malcolm Muggeridge was quoted in the Alpha Course by Nicky Gumbel, as saying, "The primary difficulty in our grappling with prayer is grasping and comprehending Who it is that we are praying to!"  Nicky goes on to articulate the bigness of God by reminding us of the Voyager I satellite - interstellar probe and its journey to the stars. It will take hundreds of years for the satellite to reach anything like a neighboring star, and Genesis 1:16 adds all the stars as almost a tag line... "and He also made the stars." Almost an afterthought!

Who is it that we pray to?  God

How do you comprehend ... God?  What or whom do you see when you close your eyes?

Big grey-bearded Gandolf in the sky?  

Our scriptures this morning are just a few of many, many passages that "set us straight."  We confuse God with some mortal figure in heaven, a kind of judge that watches us when we slip up, or on the other end, a kind of sugar-daddy who hands out gifts and presents on demand!  Almost a kind of celestial vending machine.

This past week I had a sense of the awesomeness of our God and of the incredible privilege that we have of coming to Him through Jesus in prayer.

Today we are in the midst of our 24 hour prayer day for the 1 Church Initiative - a group of churches that each take a 24 hour "watch" to pray over our churches, our communities, our state and our nation.

We take for granted the access we have to God and are ignorant of the power that our prayers have, when we pray in accord and in alignment with Jesus' own intercessions!  We heard that in our opening prayer this morning...

Graciously hear the devout prayers of your Church, and grant that those things which we ask faithfully we may obtain effectually; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who sits at your right hand to intercede for us,

I want to urge you to do your duty - fulfill what we have been called to - to partner with the God of the universe, the most powerful force in the universe, to interceed with him!  To enter into the intercessions of Jesus at the right hand of the Father.

That is the picture I want to plant in your mind when you close your eyes to pray.  You are entering into an ongoing conversation between Jesus and His Father in the throne room of Heaven.  This is the privilege we have of ACCESS to God and to His presence.  Because of Jesus we can just "walk right in."

But never forget where you are and what you are engaged in!  Probably the most important work of your life!  

So I want to encourage you this morning to stand fast in prayer, especially in these days that are just ahead of us.  These are not going to be easy or comfortable days.  We already feel the pressure and weight of the times that we live in, but you need to know that, as James has said, "The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous person... of righteous people...  availeth much!"

And so we introduce the most pressing needs in our lives to the most powerful force in our lives... with three little words!

Let Us Pray!

Lord God Almighty, who has made all the peoples of the earth 
for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to 
the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength 
of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance 
with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who 
lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, 
for ever and ever. Amen. 


Almighty God our heavenly Father, you declare your glory
and show forth your handiwork in the heavens and in the
earth: Deliver us in our various occupations from the service
of self alone, that we may do the work you give us to do in
truth and beauty and for the common good; for the sake of
him who came among us as one who serves, your Son Jesus
Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy

Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 


Glory To You

Glory to you, Lord God of our Fathers;
     You are worthy of praise; glory to you.
Glory to you for the radiance of your holy Name;
    we will praise you and highly exalt you forever.
Glory to you in the splendor of your temple;
    on the throne of your majesty, glory to you.
Glory to you, seated between the Cherubim;
    we will praise you and highly exalt you forever.

Glory to you, beholding the depths;
    In the high vault of heaven, glory to you.
Glory to you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit;
    we will praise you and highly exalt you forever.

Let us confess our faith!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Fr. Phil: Quick, Slow, Slow 2

Resurrection Anglican Fellowship
September 23, 2018
Fr. Phil Eberhart

James 3
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.

I've entitled this "Quick, Slow, Slow 2"

Our epistle reading this morning takes up where I left off two weeks ago...

If you recall:

So here's the checklist:   (before you open your mouth to speak!)

[ ] Purity... check your motive for saying anything at all!  Why do I need to speak?

[ ] Peace... is Peace from Christ going to be conveyed in what I say?

[ ] Consideration...  Who's first here?  Is it about me, or about the person who is hearing?

[ ] Humility ...  If I am teachable, I am coming humbly, willing to hear correction to my thinking and speaking.

[ ] LOVE...  over and over and over and over again, we cannot emphasize this enough!  

[ ] Without Prejudice ...
[ ] Without hypocrisy ...  probably the two chief accusations made by people against Christians who open their mouths!!

So if we check the checklist before we open our mouths, perhaps we will see...

A BEAUTIFUL HARVEST OF RIGHTEOUSNESS!! Just a final word from James...

Good seeds of wisdom’s fruit will be planted with peaceful acts by those who cherish making peace. (TPT)

I wanted to start with the checklist this morning by way of a reminder of our QUICK- SLOW- SLOW dance steps and the further outcome of this kind of life style!

But James doesn't stop there... he goes from preaching to meddling!

As we move into chapter 4 we find him digging a little deeper into our motives... as Heb 4:12 says: into "the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

Let's re-read the first few verses of chap 4 from the Passion Translation :

What is the cause of your conflicts and quarrels with each other? Doesn’t the battle begin inside of you as you fight to have your own way and fulfill your own desires? You jealously want what others have so you begin to see yourself as better than others. You scheme with envy and harm others to selfishly obtain what you crave—that’s why you quarrel and fight. And all the time you don’t obtain what you want because you won’t ask God for it! And if you ask, you won’t receive it for you’re asking with corrupt motives, seeking only to fulfill your own selfish desires. You have become spiritual adulterers who are having an affair, an unholy relationship with the world. Don’t you know that flirting with the world’s values places you at odds with God? Whoever chooses to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy!
James (Jacob) 4:1‭-‬4 TPT

https://bible.com/bible/1849jas4.1-4.TPT

What is the cause?

We're told to always look inside first! The problem is the heart- Jeremiah says it is : deceitfullly wicked! And James has already told us in the previous chapter about the danger of the tongue! Thus our dance steps... Quick to listen... Slow to speak, and Slow to anger!

Proverbs tells us that it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks!

So the problem is here... inside of us!

The heart - the mind and the tongue are our most important battlegrounds when it comes to faith and our living lives that are worthy as Paul urges us - lives that are faithful to the gospel and to the Name of Jesus.

The selection this morning from the apocrypha reads like the morning paper!

Let us lie in wait for the righteous man,
because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; he reproaches us for sins against the law, and accuses us of sins against our training.
He professes to have knowledge of God,
and calls himself a child of the Lord.
He became to us a reproof of our thoughts; the very sight of him is a burden to us, because his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange.

Several times this past week I've heard commentaries on the politics of our day likening them to the days just before the Civil War (interesting name don't you think for the most uncivil thing we've ever seen in our history! ).

We live in days where civility has died. Discourse across lines has died a horrible death. And like Rome under Nero, Christians are seen to be to blame.

We are and have been for decades in a "War of the World-views!" Biblical vs. Secular Humanist.

This morning I received a communique from a Christian organization in Washington DC urging me to PRAY - VOTE - STAND. On the subject I will just go on record to say that I believe that a biblically - informed vote is the most powerful form of citizenship that we can exercise today... Along with committed prayer and the internal fortitude to stand up for our beliefs in the marketplace and the halls of government.

We're in an epic conflict, that is not new!
It's as old as the world is... almost.

The conflict begins in the human heart. And it is finally won in the human heart. Turn back to James with me for just a moment more.

What is the antidote? The antidote to pride and avarice, selfish ambition, James calls it.

The antidote is humility! Jesus gave the disciples a healthy dose of humility when he turned on his heal and asked "What are you guys arguing about? " Jesus knew perfectly well the hearts of these ordinary men and what they were discussing!

Who's on first! No not the radio skit.

Who has the first place in the coming restored kingdom that Jesus will bring? That was their main concern. Each vying and competing with the others for Jesus' attention. Some even went so far as to ask him straight out : can we sit at your right and left?

They were being childish, when Jesus wanted them to be childlike. And so comes the object lesson. A child on his lap. Simply enjoy him! Be in his presence! Draw near to him and he will draw near to you! Humble your self.
James puts it this way...

Does the Scripture mean nothing to you that says, “The Spirit that God breathed into our hearts is a jealous Lover who intensely desires to have more and more of us”? But he continues to pour out more and more grace upon us. For it says, God resists you when you are proud but continually pours out grace when you are humble.” So then, surrender to God. Stand up to the devil and resist him and he will turn and run away from you. Move your heart closer and closer to God, and he will come even closer to you. But make sure you cleanse your life, you sinners, and keep your heart pure and stop doubting.
James (Jacob) 4:5‭-‬8 TPT

https://bible.com/bible/1849/jas.4.5-8.TPT

Jesus said it best...

He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

Jesus' way is the way of the dance...

QUICK SLOW SLOW
QUICK SLOW SLOW
QUICK SLOW SLOW

Have you ever picked up a son or daughter and danced with them in your arms. That's what Jesus wants to do with us! I still have a picture of one of those moments with Kiri on my fridge!

And just a few weeks ago I did a last dance with her at her wedding. To the song My Girl!

The Lord God of the universe desires you as a dance partner! He wants to pick you up and hold you close and swing you around in the dance of life...

QUICK SLOW SLOW
QUICK SLOW SLOW
QUICK SLOW SLOW

LET'S PRAY...

Our dearest Father and our God.

Take our hands... we reach up to you now.
Pull us up on your lap, Papa! Take us in your arms and dance with us. Give us humble, receiving hearts; give us willing and available minds and help us to walk, to dance, finally, in your steps.

Have mercy on us Lord. Have mercy. Draw near to us as we draw near to you. Pour out your Grace as we come humbly to your throne this morning. Give us all of yourself as we humbly give you all of ourselves.

For the sake of Jesus Name and your kingdom's fame.

Amen and amen.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Fr. Phil - Sept 9, 2018 - Quick, Slow, Slow

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Resurrection Anglican Fellowship
Fr. Phil Eberhart

QUICK - SLOW - SLOW

Has any one here taken dance lessons ... other than me ... that totally failed?

The sermon this morning is titled:  QUICK, SLOW, SLOW!  It just sounds like the instructions for a samba or waltz dance step...  I can hear the count, 1,2,3...  1, 2, 3...  1,2,3
And it is a kind of dance step count --- for all of life!!

James' instructions for the dance of life!!
1,2,3... 1,2,3... 1,2,3...
and what are the dance steps?   I thought you'd never ask!!

1. be QUICK to listen

2. be SLOW to speak

3. be SLOW to anger

James' dance steps for a successful life!!!

James 1:19 (& 20)
19 My dearest brothers and sisters, take this to heart: Be quick to listen, but slow to speak. And be slow to become angry, 20 for human anger is never a legitimate tool to promote God’s righteous purpose.
 
QUICK, SLOW, SLOW!

QUICK TO LISTEN
SLOW TO SPEAK
SLOW TO ANGER

Let's look a little closer at the steps...

QUICK TO LISTEN
Two greek words that made it into modern useage...  Tach and Acoustic

When I say I have a tach in my car, what am I talking about?  An instrument that reads the RPM's of the engine -  A speedometer for the engine!

TACHYS is the Greek word for speed, quickness.

The second word is simply the word for hearing ... 
AKOUO  from which we get the word acoustic.

Have you ever had a hearing test?  It's an acoustic booth or a headphone set that they place over your ears to test your ability to hear frequencies of sound.

My point in all this is that this emphasizes two things:  Speed and Hearing.

Be quick, be swift (the translators tell us)
To listen, to hear!

Interesting sidelight here - when Solomon was asked by God to ask for anything, he prays for wisdom, but if you look at the Hebrew there, what he actually says is give me a "hearing heart."

Oh, even more interesting... the word in Hebrew for hearing is shemah or sh'ma

As we began our service this morning we heard the Sh'ma - the great command of God to 
His people: 


Look in your bulletin and read it with me.

Barukh shem kavod malkhuto le’olam va’ed


Shma Israel, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai ekhad.


Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you shall love the 
Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your 
might. (Deut. 6:4-5) 

So James is pointing us back to the original HEAR ISRAEL!

To Solomon's prayer for a HEARING HEART ... and I want to add another note here, from 
the notes in the Passion Translation...

Although the Greek does not supply an object we are to listen to, it is obvious in 
the context that we should listen to one another, to God’s voice, and to his 
Word.  May God give us listening hearts.  

In fact, this verse is the front verse for a whole section in James 1 about hearing and 
obedience to the Word of God!  That's another sermon!!

So QUICK TO LISTEN!!   ANY QUESTIONS?

2.  SLOW TO SPEAK

One of the striking features about encounters with God in the Bible is how often one sees 
references to NOT SPEAKING.

One striking example is the call of Isaiah in Isaiah 6:5-7

Isaiah's response to being in the Presence of God is "I am undone!  I am a man of unclean 
lips and I live among a people of unclean lips."  And God's response was to send an angel 
to the altar of incense in heaven and bring a hot coal to touch Isaiah's lips and cleanse 
them.

Solomon's counsel in Proverbs and Eccl...

[Pro 10:19 NKJV] 19 In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his 
lips [is] wise.

[Pro 29:20 NKJV] 20 Do you see a man hasty in his words? [There is] more hope for a fool 
than for him.

[Ecc 5:2 NKJV] 2 Do not be rash with your mouth, And let not your heart utter anything 
hastily before God. For God [is] in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be 
few.

And David's prayer...

[Psa 19:14 NKJV] 14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be 
acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer. 

So our speaking should be circumspect.    Almost a unanimous witness from Scripture!!
Does anyone else here suffer from occasional bouts of "foot-in-mouth" disease?  Yeah... 
thought so.

UM....    Nuf' Said!!

3.  SLOW TO ANGER

Anger here is the word that goes back to the OT word for WRATH

It includes a kind of anger that includes judgement and punishment - as we say - all in one-
fowl-swoop!!

I've seen anger exposed that is this kind of anger - that punishes with words, that threatens.  
Today we call it Road Rage!  We've seen people shot and killed, because they cut someone 
off or changed lanes to quickly or slowly.

Our anger can be righteous, but in my experience that is fairly rare!  Jesus got angry, mostly 
at sin and disobedience, at hard-heartedness, at the Pharisees.  It was based in 
righteousness, and so there is that possibility, but for most of us anger or angry outburst, do 
not "work the righteousness of God!"

We are not THAT HOLY, friends!

Later in his letter, James turns his attention on the power of the tongue more completely.
He says, in 3:2 ... we all fail in many ways, but especially with our words! (TPT)

[Anger + your words = disaster!!]       Anyone?

So stay away from anger, even if you think its the righteous kind!

Here is a good formula from the end of James 3...

13 If you consider yourself to be wise and one who understands the ways of God, advertise it with a beautiful, fruitful[j] life guided by wisdom’s gentleness. 

17 But the wisdom from above is always pure,[o] filled with peace, considerate and teachable.[p] It is filled with love[q] and never displays prejudice or hypocrisy[r] in any form 18 and it always bears the beautiful harvest of righteousness! Good seeds of wisdom’s fruit will be planted with peaceful acts by those who cherish making peace.

So here's a checklist:   (before you open your mouth to speak!)

Purity... check your motive for saying anything at all!  Why do I need to speak?

Peace... is Peace from Christ going to be conveyed in what I say?

Consideration...  Who's first here?  Is it about me, or about the person who is hearing?

Humility ...  If I am teachable, I am coming humbly, willing to hear correction to my 
thinking and speaking.

LOVE...  over and over and over and over again, we cannot emphasize this enough!  

Without Prejudice ...
Without hypocrisy ...  probably the two chief accusations made by people against Christians
 who open their mouths!!

So if we check the checklist before we open our mouths, perhaps we will see...

A BEAUTIFUL HARVEST OF RIGHTEOUSNESS!! Just a final word from James...

Good seeds of wisdom’s fruit will be planted with peaceful acts by those who 
cherish making peace. 

QUICK - SLOW - SLOW...

QUICK TO HEAR
SLOW TO SPEAK
SLOW TO ANGER

Let's pray...

Gracious Lord, God our Father, and Lord Jesus Christ,

You love us so much, that you have given your Word to us to hear, read, mark, learn and 
inwardly digest!  Give us grace to so quickly hear You speaking to us, that we may quickly
obey.  Teach us to consider our own words and like Isaiah, cleanse our lips, O God, with 
the burning coal of Your Truth.  Set us free from unclean lips and unfruitful words.  Help
us to let our words be few.  And finally, cure us from unrightous anger.  We are told to be
angry and sin not!  Help us Lord to be silent in own anger and to seek your
righteous ways, in all we say and do.  

All this we ask for the fame of Your great Name, Jesus and the sake of Your Kingdom.

Amen.