October 21, 2018
Resurrection Anglican Fellowship
September 23, 2018
Fr. Phil Eberhart
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
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
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
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.