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.