Monthly Archives: July 2015

One Small Spark

We, who live in the Northwest, have been experiencing an extremely dry spring/summer. It has been so dry, that there have been strict water bans in effect for our little town. Every time we turn on the news, there is a new forest fire that is threatening to destroy homes and communities.

About two weeks ago, while we were camping, we took a boat ride on Lake Pend Oreille and saw firsthand the devastation one fire, imparticular, had caused. Let me tell you, it was not pretty. Yet, the fascinating part of the story is how the fire started. A boat was sinking on that lake and it shot off a flare for help. One tiny spark from the flare landed on the dry ground and that singular small spark set that side of the mountain aflame, causing devastation and destruction.

You can imagine my surprise this morning, when I read James 3:3-5 as part of our churches Summer Bible Reading Plan. James is a very challenging read, because he calls you out time after time. Just when you get done reading about rejoicing in trials, you hear about doing what God says, then you’re convicted about showing favoritism, then he says that your faith must be accompanied by actions, by the time you get to chapter three, he starts in on taming the tongue . . . YIKES!

In James 3:5, he uses the example of a forest fire to get us to understand that what may seem like an insignificant, even off-handed, comment has the potential to be one small spark that lands on dry ground and erupts into a mighty fire, bringing devastation and destruction along with it.

James 3  5

Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.  James 3:5b 

There are two ways to respond to this verse:

  1. The first is to think about the condition of your own heart and life. Is it dry and desolate? Or is it nutrient rich and lush? A heart that is rich and lush is one that’s been nourished by God. It drinks deeply from the Word of God, it receives comfort from the Holy Spirit, it is planted in the house of the Lord. All of these things make you resistant to going up in flames over what was said about you, because you know that what God says about you trumps what anyone else says (or even thinks!).
  2. The second way to respond is to examine the words that come out of your own mouth. Are they life-giving or do they damage others?
  • Just because you think something in your head, doesn’t mean you have to say it with your mouth.
  • THINK before you speak. Is what you’re about to say:
  • T – true
  • H –  helpful
  • I – important
  • N – necessary
  • K – kind
  • Mom really was right, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Have you ever met someone who rarely, if ever, said anything bad about anyone else? That’s the type of person I want to be. How about you? One of the greatest compliments anyone could give us is, “The thing I’ve noticed about ____________ is that she never says anything bad about anyone.” That may seem like an impossibility at this point in your life, but take heart . . . the longer you walk with Jesus, the more His character changes and shapes your character, including the words you say! With a little discipline on your part and a lot of grace on His part, your words can turn from “one small spark” James 3:5 into “the tongue of the wise that brings healing” Proverbs 12:18.

Your Friend in Ministry,

Name3

The Only Thing That Counts

Good morning friends! I hope you are enjoying these summer months. We are in Montana, visiting family right now, and last night as we were sitting outside eating ice cream (yesterday was National Ice Cream Day in case you didn’t know. . . however, I think every day should be considered National Ice Cream Day!!) I was reminded again how much I love summer. It is by far my favorite season.

One of the things I love about summer is the time I get to spend in God’s Word with my kids. We are doing a summer reading plan together and it does this mama’s heart good to see them reading God’s Word. In fact, this was my 16 year old daughter’s observation from today’s reading in James 2:18-19: “People will know you by what you do, not just what you say you are.” Isn’t that good, and so true?

As I was trying to read my Bible, I had this cute little companion. I think she was intrigued by my morning breath. *smile*

Eva

Kate and Eva

I had two days of reading to catch up on, and Galatians 5:6 is the verse that spoke to me – “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” I used the T I M E method of Bible study to interact with this verse:

T(heme): Our faith in Jesus isn’t expressed by merely saying we’re a believer, it is expressed through our love for others.

I (mportant word/s):    Value & Expressing

M (eaning of word/s): Value – to be of force, avail

Expressing – to display one’s activity, show one’s self operative

E (ncouragement): Lord, please help me to express my faith in You through my genuine, agape (Your) love for others. This is the kind of love that never gives up on them, just like You never give up on me. In Jesus’ Name and for His sake, Amen.

Isn’t it interesting that our faith in Jesus is not a force to be reckoned with until it is expressed through our love for others? Love is the most powerful force in the universe. The good news is that as we continue to walk with Jesus, His love saturates every pore of our being and we begin to love Him and others with the same love He has showered upon us.

Let’ love with Jesus love today, it’s the only thing that counts!

With God’s Great Love, Your Friend in Ministry,

Name3

 

FREEDOM!

Happy Independence Day! How are you choosing to celebrate? A BBQ with family and friends? Packing up the kids and watching a parade? Or just lounging around because you have the “freedom” to do so? (*smile*)

As I sit here writing this, my daughter is with some family friends at a cabin for the weekend and I just sent my guys off to go crawdad fishin’ with some friends for a couple of hours. So I have the “freedom” to do whatever I want for the morning. Last night as I was thinking about what I would do, the concept of “freedom” kept rolling around in my mind. Although I consider myself patriotic and am so grateful for the “freedoms” we enjoy as Americans; whenever I think of “freedom” I can’t help but think of the “freedom” we have because of Christ…

“Freedom” is an antonym for the word “slavery”. You and I might not be able to relate to physical slavery, but I sure can relate to being a slave to certain things. How about you?

  • A slave to sin.
  • A slave to sickness.
  • A slave to fear.
  • A slave to addiction.
  • A slave to worry.
  • A slave to anxiety.

The moment Adam and Eve disobeyed God, slavery entered the world. Mankind has been subject to slavery ever since.

That’s why I love the promise of Galatians 5:1, one of my favorite verses of the Bible:

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” The moment you accepted Christ, the figurative yoke of sin that was harnessed around your soul was shattered and you were released from it. Yet, notice Paul’s warning . . . “Stand firm and do not let yourself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Because slavery is part of sin entering the world, it is easy to get caught back up in it. The original recipients of the book of Galatians were becoming enslaved to following old, religious laws. Even though God had given those original laws, the cross of Christ enacted a whole new way of doing things. Therefore, we are under the law no more, but under grace. Because slavery is a condition of our sin-sick society, our flesh desires to be enslaved to something, even if it is something good. Yet the message of the New Testament, in its entirety is “freedom” from slavery.

Why are we called to be free? Galatians 5:13 gives us the answer . . . “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature, rather, serve one another in love.”  Christ made us free, so we could be like Him, to love and serve others.

Isn’t it interesting that one of the main jobs of a slave is to serve others? Christ freed us from bondage so that we could serve, not because we have to, but because we want to, out of a heart of love and compassion. Just like Jesus.

How will you celebrate your “freedom” today?

  • To serve yourself?
  • To indulge in your flesh?
  • To love and serve others?

You have the freedom to choose. And the good news is, God will still love you the same no matter what you choose. His love for you doesn’t waver based on the choices you make. But to live a full, rich, rewarding, blessed life, let’s be people who choose to be like Jesus. Let’s walk about in “freedom” today as we love and serve whoever God places in our path.

It is for “freedom” that Christ has set us free!

Your Friend in Ministry,

Name3