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A Word of Encouragement with Pastor Jim

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT) reads

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

As I read that passage, I am firmly reminded that God is firmly committed to us with His love. He will not allow anything to come between His love and us – not even pestilence and disease.

 

Throughout this passage, I see that these things may attempt to separate us from God’s love: death, life, angels, demons, fears for today, worries about tomorrow, powers of hell, power in the sky above, [power] in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation. In addition to those things, I specifically state that viruses (viruii) and lack cannot separate us from His love.

 

God is watching over us in His love. He meets all our needs. Even the psalmist in Psalms 23 reminded us that the Lord is our Shepherd and in Him, there is NO LACK or WANT.

 

I write this today because, my friends, there is no reason for us to walk in fear and trepidation – even through our current situations; God loves us and meets our EVERY need. He walks with us in the midst of whatever place we my find ourselves.

 

I do need to note what I did NOT say: God may or may not deliver us from that place – but He ALWAYS walks in and through them with us.

 

This day, put a renewed trust in Him to walk with you and to surround you with His love. Receive His victory. Receive His love.

 

Pastor Jim

 


Let me start my giving all praise and glory to God as He has walked every step in of this journey with me.

One year ago today I sat in my surgeon’s office as a follow-up to my lumpectomy and was diagnosed with DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ) … breast cancer. The story actually started in the spring of 2018 when I discovered a lump in my right breast. After seeing my GYN and having a mammogram and an ultrasound they believed it was probably a contusion that should absorb back into my body over some months.

Fast forward to the beginning of 2019 and the lump was still there. Back to the doctor with another mammogram and ultrasound. This time they are concerned… there a lot of blood flow to the lump so they order a MRI which after some back and forth insurance denied and wanted me referred to a surgeon.

So I find myself in a surgeons office … a God connection for sure. Dr. Robert Maxwell. From the very first day he went above and beyond to take care of me. His excellent care and compassion are unmatched. I had peace when I chose him as my surgeon and from the very first visit through all the twists and turns of this journey that peace has been foundational and solid. Jim & I are so very thankful for him. I found out at that appointment that they had actually discovered a second lump that I wasn’t told about. He immediately contacted a radiologist that he trusts and took my results to look at with her. She recommended a biopsy of both spots. He made a point that she was the only radiologist that I saw throughout this entire process. I’m also thankful for Dr. Ava Powell.

At this point my life went into a whirlwind of craziness. She did an ultrasound guided biopsy and while looking at the ultrasound she discovered a third spot of concern. So, I had three biopsies that day. And I waited for a follow up with my surgeon.

In the midst of all this I knew God had prepared me for this health challenge. I knew that He was empowering me to choose joy through it all! I had just been studying James 1:2-4 and taught on it at our church. So with Him as my strength I determined to choose joy no matter what came my way. I’m so thankful He prepared me.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

James 1:2-4

At my follow up I found out that two of the lumps where fibrocystic so no reason for concern. The original lump came back as a papilloma which is not cancerous but they were concerned with the size so the recommendation was a lumpectomy. So surgery was scheduled for April 4th.

We prayed and spoke God’s promises over me and sang healing over me believing God for good results while knowing we would choose to trust God no matter what. My surgeon said he was cautiously optimistic that they wouldn’t find anything.

Surgery went well and my follow up was April 9th. I went in strong, believing God for no cancer. But that was not the case. When Dr. Maxwell walked in the room I looked at him and asked if we were smiling today(his reassurance when all was well). He shook his head and I saw the concern in his eyes. He sat down and compassionately gave us the news. DCIS … breast cancer. His concern for me was comforting and his concern for Jim got my heart. He cared for both of us in this process. DCIS… what’s next … the one thing I remember him saying is “if you are going to have breast cancer this is the best kind to get”. Oddly enough I found comfort in that and came back to it many times over the following months.

This appointment was a punch in the stomach but I quickly found my faith legs and determined to choose joy no matter the outcome or circumstances.

After much discussion and information we decided to get a MRI to see if anything else was going on. We just felt that it went from one lump to two to three and we needed to know if there was more lurking and to see if there was anything in the other breast.

I must say that in all of this the MRI was the worst procedure I endured. It wasn’t being in the tunnel … it was the horrible noise! And the lady-like crawling up and over and positioning myself. Humbling to say the least.

I followed up with Dr. Maxwell the next week to find out the MRI showed 3 additional spots of concern. The positive was that the left breast was clear … as Dr. Powell said “it is hanging out minding its own business”.

So back to Dr. Powell for 3 more biopsies. She felt that two of the spots didn’t warrant a biopsy so she only did the one. I followed up with Dr. Maxwell the next week to find out this is another papilloma presenting like the one that had the DCIS.

At this point he was concerned with the many complexities of my case and I was strongly considering a double mastectomy. He suggested that he take my case to conference the next Wednesday where specialists from radiology, oncology and genetics review and discuss the case and give their recommendations. We agreed this was the next best step so he rearranged his schedule to accommodate that conference. And following is one of the things I love about Dr. Maxwell … he told us to keep living and encouraged us to take our scheduled vacation the next week and see him when we returned.

We followed his advice and left for a much needed time in the Outer Banks. We laughed and cried and prayed and trusted and had a lot of fun and relaxed and ate some wonderful seafood! In all of this God surrounded us with his presence. I am so grateful! And my husband covered me … he changed his schedule to be with me for appointments and procedures and tests and surgeries. He held me. He laid hands on me and prayed for me. He loved me completely and made me know that in everything that I am beautiful, desired and valuable. He has been amazing. So we vacationed well and came back ready to move forward in the journey… and to continue to trust God and choose joy.

We are in May now and back from vacation and sitting in Dr. Maxwell’s office. The specialists at conference came back with the same recommendations as he had shared with us at our last appointment. Due to the my complexities and family history they suggest genetic testing. Along with that biopsies of the remaining two spots that Dr. Powell didn’t do previously, removal of the other papilloma, surgery on the original place of the DCIS in an effort to get clean margins … or a mastectomy. If I take the first option I will see a radiology oncologist for radiation treatments and a medical oncologist for hormone therapy (because the cancer was estrogen and progesterone positive …the hormone therapy blocks the hormones to help prevent reoccurrence or new breast cancer). With a mastectomy there would be no radiation treatments unless more cancer was found. There would still be hormone therapy.

This appointment was overwhelming and I’m leaning strongly toward a double mastectomy … especially if the genetics comeback positive for BRCA1 and BRCA2. And a positive would probably lead to a hysterectomy too. He also brought up the option of a second opinion.

Praying for healing and wisdom and good results I find myself seeing the genetic counselor and a plastic surgeon the very next week in Columbus!

I thought the genetic counseling would be easy so I convinced Jim that he didn’t need to come. I was wrong. It was very emotionally draining. But I got through the counseling and had the bloodwork and headed into a 3 week wait for results … a very long 3 weeks!

Then there was the plastic surgeon. I went to Columbus because he supposedly offered more reconstruction options than the plastic surgeon in Mansfield. This wasn’t true. I wasn’t impressed with him at all and was not happy about the outcome. He would not do immediate reconstruction and would not consider it for the future without some major changes. But more than that I didn’t care for his bedside manners and didn’t have peace. I asked Dr. Maxwell to refer me to the plastic surgeon he works with regularly for breast reconstruction.

Now we are in June waiting on genetic results so we can make decisions and move forward. Dr. Maxwell mentioned the Bing Cancer Center in Columbus for a second opinion. You spend about a 1/2 day there where you see a breast cancer doctor who goes over your records and does an examination. He then meets with a multi-specialist team to discuss my case. The team is made of of top specialists in radiology, radiology oncology, medical oncology, genetics, breast surgeon, plastic surgeon and more. Then they all meet with you to share their recommendations. We decided since we were playing the waiting game that we would take that time to get a second opinion. They got me in right away.

On June 4th I saw Dr. Villalobos for a second opinion for breast reconstruction. He is a character and I like characters so we connected. This appointment was very positive and gave me some good options.

On June 5th I headed to the Bing Cancer Center. On the way I got a call from the genetic counselor that my genetic testing came back negative. Such relief! And so very thankful to God for this win! And thankful for my daughters!

We spent about a 1/2 day at the Bing! I expected it to be overwhelming and emotionally exhausting but we walked away hopeful but with some things we wanted to get Dr. Maxwell’s thoughts on. He was still where God gave us peace. The Bing doctors recommended re-excision of the original site to try to get clean margins. Sometimes this can take 3 or 4 surgeries. Not a pleasant thought! They recommended no further biopsies of the other two spots and not excising the other papilloma. This was disconcerting … I asked about this several times as I was confused on how we just leave these when we don’t know if they are cancer or not. They also recommended radiation treatments and hormone therapy and weight loss. Or a mastectomy. We left hopeful but confused.

After what seemed like forever for Dr. Maxwell to get all the information from these referrals I finally saw him at the middle of June for what was a long, intense, overwhelming appointment. He was perplexed by the Bing recommendations to not biopsy the other 2 spots nor excise the other papilloma. He didn’t think we could just ignore them and move on. He was so committed to this that he would not be willing to do the surgery and would refer me back to the Bing if I chose this route. This spoke loudly! Jim and I both knew that our peace was keeping me in the care of Dr. Maxwell.

So the next BIG part of the discussion was whether to have additional biopsies, excision of the other papilloma and re-excision of the site of the DCIS to try to get clean margins. Or have a single or double mastectomy. I was very conflicted. Jim was concerned about my emotional well-being if I went the mastectomy route and I understood. It all was just a LOT! Dr. Maxwell suggested he call Dr. Powell to see if she thought she could get what she needed through an ultrasound guided biopsy of the other two spots. So he called and we waited while she reviewed my previous results. She confirmed that she believed she could do it so two more biopsies were scheduled “only with her” Dr. Maxwell impressed on us … “don’t let them schedule you with anyone but Dr. Powell”!

So the next week I’m back for two more biopsies! That makes a total of 6 biopsies! Then a follow up with Dr. Maxwell the next week. This was our “then God stepped in” moment and a u-turn from a mastectomy to another lumpectomy and re-excision to try to get clean margins. The 2 biopsies were both fibrocystic so negative for breast cancer. We celebrated God’s goodness and this win in the battle.

With the following week being a holiday week he had openings to do surgery on 7/5 IF Dr. Powell would be in to do the wire guided excision biopsy to show him where the papilloma was since it was deep. She was working that day! So surgery is scheduled for 7/5! Surgical clearance on 6/28. We put out prayer requests to our army of intercessors. Pray for me – to be cleared for surgery, for successful surgery and quick recovery. For Dr. Maxwell – to be able to get clean margins (he reminded me that many times it can take multiple surgeries to get clean margins and there are times that they just can’t and we would be back at a mastectomy), to guide his hands. For Dr. Powell and all the other medical staff involved in my care for success and wisdom and compassionate care. We are trusting God step by step.

July 5th arrived and I found myself being prepared for a second surgery. It was a good day. Dr. Powell had a little challenge with the wire but she got it. Dr. Maxwell came in to see if I was ready and he asked if we were all prayed up. We said yes and then he asked if we all wanted to pray together before they took me back. Of course we did! After weeks of sharing our trust in God and all the prayers going up for us and for him … praying with him before surgery was so great! I’m thankful God connected us to a surgeon who prays! And I chose being referred to him from a picture and profile and God’s wisdom and peace! Only God!

Surgery went perfect! And I was home recovering quickly. But this surgery knocked me on my butt. I just couldn’t get my mojo back so I was home recuperating for 10 days and slowly got back to normal.

I followed up with Dr. Maxwell two weeks after surgery. I can’t begin to explain how wonderful it was to sit in his office and hear him tell me that the papilloma they removed was benign and that he got clean margins on the original DCIS area… he said they just took their time and got it done. Let me remind you that many time it takes multiple surgeries to get the margins and he was able to get them first time. God answered our prayers! Jim and I are more thankful than we can express for my surgeons excellent care, compassion and kindness! And God has been with me and in me and for me in every big and little thing. I am blessed and so very thankful!

He referred me to Dr. Nabhani for radiation therapy and to Dr. Exten to discuss adjuvant therapy. And he said I’m stuck with him as he would be directing my care and I will see him regularly. For someone who is use to going to see my 2 doctors one time each year this will be a kink in my style as I follow up with multiple doctors on a more consistent basis. Fun stuff! The positive is having exceptional doctors.

Dr. Nabhani was wonderful. He was a bit perplexed after going through my breast cancer journey at the size of the DCIS and all I had endured. He recommended 20 radiation treatments all directed to the area where the cancer was removed. I must say that this was difficult as I experienced medical fatigue that was more than I could have imagined. But through all of it God gave me rest and peace and good health. I only had one small area under my arm where my skin was affected. It was minimal and healed quickly. Again, God carried me.

After completing the radiation treatments I saw Dr. Exten, my medical oncologist to discuss adjuvant therapy. This therapy is to protect me from reoccurring breast cancer or new breast cancer by blocking the estrogen and progesterone that caused the DCIS.

My first step was a bone density test which came back with me having osteopenia. This begins an Xgrva injection every 6 months to protect my bones while on the adjuvant therapy. Next was a trip to the dentist to be cleared to start the therapy. Then the medication which has so many possible complications … of which I am thankful to report I’ve had none of other than some fatigue. I see Dr. Exten every 3 months. She is a wonderful and caring doctor.

I had another consult with Dr. Villalobos in October to discuss some reconstruction due to a lot is shrinkage from the radiation … I was just looking for some balance. I had no idea what I was going to go through!!! We scheduled the surgery for 12/20 and I was to be feeling well by the time the family came for Christmas which over New Years.

We had a trip scheduled to Israel in November leading a group of 31 from our church. All year I focused on being ready for this trip. I was ready and we had a wonderful trip! So thankful that God gave me health and strength.

We enjoyed Thanksgiving with our family and had so much to be thankful for and prepared for Christmas! December 20th came and I found myself being prepared for surgery again. Surgery went great but the recovery was much harder than anticipated. I had some wonderful people help me wrap and be ready for Christmas with my family. I was even able to attend our Christmas Eve service and participate in it by speaking alongside my husband.

We enjoyed Christmas with the family. I wasn’t 100% but we had a good time with everyone here. It was right after that when I just wasn’t feeling well. Before I knew it I was in the middle of an infection in full force. I was already on antibiotics and they were extended. The day I followed up with Dr. V and his face went gray and they sent me straight over to the surgery center … I knew I was in trouble. We were trusting God…

He flushed out the surgical sight and gave me stronger IV antibiotics. They also cultured the wound and found out the infection was a nasty one… probably hospital acquired and was antibiotic resistant. I went home on antibiotics and was to follow up with him in a week. He called a few days later and wanted to see me earlier. From that visit I was admitted to the hospital where I stayed for 6 days getting very strong IV antibiotics. Here I got to add another doctor to my growing list, Dr. Ezeki, an Infectious Disease Specialist. He is a godly man and a great doctor.

This was suppose to be a simple surgery to make things better and I was facing an infection that wasn’t going away and could threaten my life.

During my stay at the hospital the wound opened up hugely and was so gross and discouraging and scary. I had to find my faith legs again and choose joy when there didn’t seem to be a lot to be joyful about …

I went home on a wet to dry dressing twice each day with a cleanser and medication. I must say that through all of the ups and downs and health challenges my husband has been right there, my support and my rock. But he really lived the “for better, for worse; in sickness and health” part of our vows. He did all the dressing changes which protected me emotionally as I didn’t have to see the wound every day.

At my follow up with Dr. V he scheduled me for another surgery on February 14th to clean out the wound. What a way to spend Valentines Day! This would make 5 surgeries in less than a year. He was always so reassuring that it was all going to be good … He cultured the wound and the one infection had cleared but this time it showed MRSA so I went on a second antibiotic! The antibiotics were taking a toll on my body. After the cleaning of the wound he put on a wound vac which I’ve been on since 2/14 until last week … 3/30. The wound vac did miracles!

I started my second week without the wound vac on 4/6 seeing positive results. If all goes well this week there will be no more wound vac! It has done an amazing job of promoting new tissue growth and closure of the wound! Now my body is healing without it. I can’t believe this journey with the infection and the wound. All of last years challenges with the cancer were nothing compared with this wound and infection storm.

God’s provision has been amazing since I have been out of work since 12/19/19 other than a few hours the week I tried to go back and the infection set in. God has provided through the generosity of people and decisions I made 2 plus years ago and many miracles and answers to prayers.

Today I followed up with the infectious disease specialist who gave a wonderful report and released me from his care! No more infection! Thanking God!

My next step is a skin graft which due to the CoVID-19 pandemic it can’t be done right away. I am on the urgent list and looking at 2-3 weeks until that surgery can be done. For now I’m told to stay home and protect myself from the virus or any other infection.

I will continue to see all my doctors for follow ups … this along with tests and injections and my family doctor and gynecologist. My life will be medically busy for sure. And more sure is God’s presence and healing in my life.

This is one of the promises we have stood for on from day one of this journey and we still stand strong on it today.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not one of all His benefits—

He forgives every one of all my sins, He heals each one of all my diseases,

He redeems my life from the pit and corruption, He beautifies, dignifies, and crowns me with loving-kindness and tender mercy;

He satisfies my mouth, my necessity and desire at my personal age and situation with good so that my youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s – strong, overcoming, soaring!”

Psalm 103:1-5

What a journey this has been and continues to be … a journey of trust and joy.

Thank you to all who of you who has taken this journey with us through prayer, encouragement, visits, cards, food, flowers, gifts and so much more. You have been His hands and feet all over our lives.

Bless the Lord O my soul! Forever grateful. Forever changed. Choosing joy.

~Cheri💜🦋

(The picture is from my doctors visit Thursday … 😷)

#stillbecoming #itsaaprocess #mypassion #HeHealsAllMyDiseases #forevergrateful #foreverchanged #choosingjoy


Quarantined!

I guess a lot of us finally have time to sit and ponder a little. It’s funny how something (such as this current quarantine) that is meant to simply keep us healthy can actually be used not only for protection but for our benefit. I am convinced that many great ideas are squashed because we just don’t take time to sit and think – we’re ALWAYS busy.

And this week, it has occurred to me that quarantines and isolations are nothing new or strange. In fact, what really got me to thinking is the fact that this year, 2020, we cannot celebrate Resurrection Day and Passover as we have in yearstw before – we are quarantined.

We are quarantined much like the Hebrew people were just before they left Egypt. They were quarantined because God had instructed them to come together as individual households, to slaughter a lamb, to gather the shed blood of the lamb, to dip branches of hyssop in the blood, and to paint the lintels of their home. And they were in their homes – quarantined. They were there as a household, sheltered by the marks of the blood of the lamb. They were isolated from other households because God was calling them to this task – not as a nation – but as households, as family units, as peculiarly chosen people – because the Lord God Almighty had chosen to protect them – to keep them from death.

They were quarantined under the marks of the blood of the lamb because the angel of death was passing over their “foreign” land. That angel was bringing death upon the firstborn males of every household that was not marked by the blood. But that angel would not bring harm to the Hebrew peoples who were quarantined under the mark of the blood of the lamb.

This was the first Pesach (or Passover). It was a time of being quarantined. It was not fun. It was not interesting. It was, in fact, a time of difficulty in the midst of their hardship. BUT, as they were isolated as a household under the mark of the blood of the lamb, they were safe. They were protected. They were sheltered. And they were His – chosen by the Lord God Almighty.

Today, we face a different time – in a different situation – WITHOUT all the spiritual understanding and innuendo. We, too, are quarantined – called apart as individual households for the purpose of “flattening the curve” of danger, contagion, and contamination. Ours is not, perhaps, a spiritual venture wherein God separates His chosen people from all the rest. But perhaps, this is a time God has set us aside to think, to rest, to trust, to believe, and to demonstrate to others what obedience to the law of the land and faith in the Lord God Almighty can do for a person. Perhaps, it is filled with spiritual innuendo after all.

So, I encourage all of us today as you perhaps sit at home in quarantine. Please do not find this to be a strange thing. Please do not find it to be a burden. And please do not find in it an occasion to grovel and bemoan your existence. As a believer in Jesus Christ, perhaps you are being quarantined – isolated, if you will – so that you can think, rest, trust, believe, and demonstrate to others what obedience to the law of the land and faith in the Lord God Almighty can do for a person. And could it be that you and I are isolated as a household in faith — under the mark of the blood of THE Lamb. We are safe. We are protected. We are sheltered. And we are His – chosen by the Lord God Almighty.


Overwhelmed???

Have you ever felt overwhelmed with something in your life? In our current, quarantined situation, do you feel overwhelmed? Is fear and/or depression taking root within you?

For the past several days and weeks, we have been continually bombarded with daily news reports of COVID-19. This has seemingly taken the place of war in the Middle East, world-wide terrorism, and the growing threat of militant Islam. (I guess on a side note that this is good news – at least these other issues have moved to the back-burner.)

But you know what, the truth is that we are going about this all wrong!

Oh, but before I go further — then we have movies and books telling us that Christians are all about to escape these life events. That’s what is really scary because such teaching provides a false hope of escapism.

Now I DO believe that Jesus IS COMING to meet His bride BUT…

There are people groups RIGHT NOW facing horrors that many of us cannot even imagine.

Tell the Christians in Syria that they are going to escape the threat and reality of being murdered for their faith. (My friends, they are already facing these threats and realities.)

Tell the families of victims of COVID-19 all over the world (and, at the writing of this encouragement, that number is 19,805 and growing)—tell them that they are going to escape sickness, pain, and death.

We are all looking for a present and future escape …

… and missing the reality of the NOW hope of Jesus Christ.

He is with us when we are overwhelmed.

He is with us when sickness attaches to our bodies.

He is with us when death enters our familial homes.

He is with us when terror strikes.

He is with us regardless of the circumstances and His Word tells us that He never leaves us or forsakes us (Matthew 28:20b).

Again, Jesus IS coming to meet His bride BUT, it is a false hope for us to believe that we (as Americans) are somehow going to escape all of this when Christians all across the earth are facing a NOW reality of these things.

So here is my plea:

 

1) Let’s renew our trust in Christ. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (NLT).

 

2) Let’s pray with a fervency greater than we have ever known. James 5:16 reminds us that God DOES hear the pleas of His people- “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results” (NLT).

That means that if we will really mean business with God, He means business with us. He hears us. He answers us.

Go ahead, lose sleep while you’re praying.

Go ahead, weep some tears while you’re praying.

Go ahead, see God move while you’re praying.

 

3) Let’s do our part in the trust process. Solomon had just finished the construction of the Temple and God appeared to him in the night with certain words (2 Chronicles 7:11-22). Among these words, God set forth some conditional statements. He told Solomon that there would be times of disaster and horror in the earth. And then He introduced a VERY IMPORTANT word, “Then”.

“Then” means “at that time” or “in that given event.” In other words, God was telling Solomon that difficult times would still be ahead — but that WAS NOT time to turn FROM God; instead, it was time to turn to Him as never before.

2 Chronicles 7:14- “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land” (NLT).

 

So, God sets this before His chosen people who are called by His Name:

 

  1. We are to humble ourselves. This means that we are to recognize WHO God is and in turn, we are to recognize who we are. We are, in fact, nothing without Him.
  2. We are to pray. Not only are we to speak with God BUT we are to listen to Him, and we are to be willing to respond accordingly to what He speaks to us.
  3. We are to seek God’s face. Remember, this was written to the people who had heard the following blessing often:

‘May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace’ (Numbers 6:24-26 NLT).

The Israelites of old equated the Face of God with the favor and grace of God. In other words, they were to seek His face or His favor in their lives, upon their people, and upon their land.

  1. We are to repent. We are to turn from our wicked ways.

And in this sense, wickedness is further stretched to mean ALL thoughts, words, and actions that are displeasing to God. We are to change our ways of thinking AND our corresponding actions.

  1. And in turn, God will heal our land.

 

Now, many would tell us that this is Old Testament and therefore, no longer applicable to God’s people. But Jesus NEVER disavowed the Old Testament; in fact, He Himself told us that He came to fulfill or complete the Old Covenant. And His continual quoting and referencing of the Old Testament clearly indicates His approval of what was written therein.

 

So, when we are overwhelmed, when we are diseased, when we are threatened, when we are fearful — it is not time to look for the big escape. It is not time to put our trust in the doctors or in the military (although we ARE thankful for both the medical profession AND the military profession.) Instead, it is time to put our trust in Him.

 

Will you join me in taking this endeavor to task — to humbling ourselves and recognizing His magnitude and simultaneously, our smallness — to praying to Him with a preparedness to listen to and to obey — to seeking His face, grace, and favor — and to repenting of ALL of our sins, wrong-doings, wasted words, and uncontrolled thoughts.

 

We live in a world of uncertainty — and we DO look forward to being with Jesus soon — but let’s NOT wait until that time of His returning to do something.

 

Let’s not get caught up so much in watching for His return that we forget to maintain a close relationship with Him today.

 

Let’s do something NOW!

 

Let’s stay prepared NOW!

 

Hope in the future is always a NOW hope.

 

Hope in Christ is ALWAYS in anticipation of Christ fulfilling His promises as revealed in His Word.

 

Let’s trust HIM!

 

Let’s put our hope in Him … Now!


Announcement re: Church Cancellations

Dear Ontario Christian Fellowship Family,

We love you dearly and, as pastors and leadership team, we want to offer reassurance and guidance concerning the Coronavirus issue. Let us ALL be reminded, at all times, that we are to walk in faith and wisdom.

President Trump, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, and the CDC have issued various statements this week concerning mass gatherings. Officially, groups of 50 or more individuals are banned from congregating. (And again, as per last week, this announcement DOES NOT affect churches or other religious gatherings.) BUT, they are also strongly recommending that we keep groups to 10 or less. WE think there is wisdom in heeding this information AND, as a church, we are supportive of the leaders God has placed in authority over us. As such, we are taking the following precautions:

We are cancelling services for the next two weeks. (This statement refers to March 22 and 29.) We will then move on a week-by-week evaluation as more information becomes available. In the meantime, we understand that this is, perhaps, an opportunity for the Church to be the Church and to step out beyond its walls and into our community.

Here’s what you can do:

You can join our online community through our Facebook page or our website: www.OCFChurch.org. You can join the preaching portion of Sunday’s service on FaceBook Live around 11:00 AM Sunday.

We have Pastors, Elders, and Deacons who will be calling on you to check up on you, see what you might have need of, and take prayer requests.

In the meantime, please contact us and let us know your prayer requests so we can pray for you.

We love you and look forward to seeing you again really soon.

We are convinced that ‘this too shall pass’, but we want to operate in a spirit of wisdom in order to protect those in our church family who may be vulnerable to this virus. And, we want to protect our medical services so that they will have the needed supplies WHEN they need them; we do not want to over-burden the medical aspect of our community. Again, these precautions are being implemented with a spirit of love and wisdom, not fear and anxiety.

We look forward to worshiping online with you this Sunday. These are great days filled with great opportunities!

Pastor Jim and the entire Leadership Team


Dear Ontario Christian Fellowship Family,

We love you dearly and, as pastors and leadership team, we want to offer reassurance and guidance concerning the Coronavirus issue. Let us ALL be reminded, at all times, that we are to walk in faith and wisdom.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued a statement Thursday banning mass gatherings of 100 or more individuals. This announcement DOES NOT affect churches or other religious gatherings. Additionally, in a meeting with faith-based leaders, US Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, stated “don’t panic … stop buying masks … wash your hands. And, stop shaking hands in church.” We are heeding his advice and taking the following precautions:

We are asking, if you have any type of flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, fever, nausea, achiness, or if you have been in contact with anyone who has or is suspected of having this virus, or if you have recently traveled to any country where there is a major Coronavirus outbreak, please stay home.

If you are elderly or battling serious health issues such as Diabetes, serious infections, or other reduced-immuno-defense issues, you might be wise to stay home as well.

If you cannot attend one of the regular services, you can join our online community through our Facebook page or our website:

www.OCFChurch.org  . You can join the preaching portion of Sunday’s service on FaceBook Live around 11:00 AM Sunday.  (Again, we will have our normally scheduled 9:00 AM and 10:30 AM services in-house — on-line is simply an alternative for those who cannot attend.)

Please contact us and let us know your prayer requests so we can pray for you. We love you and we look forward to seeing you again really soon.

Also, we are reminding all of our staff and volunteers to be extra mindful of good hygiene practices – especially concerning those who are serving our infants, children, and/or elderly members.

We further recommend that all greetings, for this awkward period of time, should be limited to verbal greetings instead of handshakes and hugs. This pertains to all ministry areas.

We are convinced that ‘this too shall pass’, but we want to operate in a spirit of wisdom in order to protect those in our church family who may be vulnerable to this virus. Again, these precautions are being implemented with a spirit of love and wisdom, not fear and anxiety.

We look forward to worshipping with you this Sunday. These are great days filled with great opportunities!

 

Pastor Jim and the entire Leadership Team

A Visitation to Worship


Does it ever bother you that God doesn’t accept all sacrifices (See Cain and Abel)?

It certainly bothers me — not from the standpoint of God BUT, from the standpoint of me.

I want my worship to be pure and holy– from a proper motive — and received by God–but do I sometimes simply just go through the motions?

Something to think about.
Jim


2020 Vision- Understand the Vision

Proverbs 29:18– “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.

Habakkuk 2:2- “Then the Lord replied:

Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.’”

Matthew 28:19-20– “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.””

Matthew 21:13a– “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer …”

John 4:23-24– “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

This week, as we conclude our exploration of God’s 20/20 vision for OCF, we are reminded of the importance of discipleship, prayer, and worship as they are vitally important to OCF. Because these three are so important to God, they are also important to OCF.

Thank you for joining us today at Ontario Christian Fellowship as we conclude our exploration and discovery of the direction God has given us at OCF with our series of messages, “2020 Vision”.

Life Principle: Because Discipleship, Prayer, and Worship are so important to the Kingdom of God, they are important to all of us to value, cooperate with, and practice.

  • This vision is brought to us by the Holy Spirit through the Pastors and the Leadership Team — and is presented for each of us to put our trust in God, cooperate with Him, and carry out His mission among us.
  • It is up to Him to empower each of us to receive this task and to carry it out.
  • It is up to us to cooperate with what God desires to do and is doing among us.

Here are the specifics of what God is speaking to us as His purpose among us at OCF:

  • The Bible and specifically, the Gospel, is to be at the Center of our preaching and teaching
    • Grace is also a significant and important part of the center of our teaching and preaching
  • We are to build the Community in which God has placed us and surrounded us.
    • A loving fellowship enacting Living Worship
  • We are to take a deeper refocus and enactment of Evangelism
    • We are to broaden/enlarge our constituency with the Great Commission through Compassionate Outreach
    • We are to bolster and enhance OCF’s Missions efforts – both in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the world.
    • We are to intentionally focus on becoming more of a sending church—sending out teachers, pastors, and missionaries
  • We are to focus on being a house of Discipleship
    • Growing, challenging faith
    • Spiritual Warfare- Not fighting the personalities in and among us but knowing that our conflicts come through the spiritual realms and then, fighting against those principalities and powers while protecting those blessed brothers and sisters among us.
    • We MUST learn to Celebrate our wins
  • We are to be a house of Prayer through an increased emphasis on and practice of prayer throughout the entire church.
  • We are to make efforts toward becoming a house of genuine Worship
    • Music
    • Gifts, arts, and talents
    • Deeds

Life Principle: Because Discipleship, Prayer, and Worship are so important to the Kingdom of God, they are important to all of us to value, cooperate with, and practice.

We are to focus on being a house of Discipleship

Illustration: CORPORATE DISCIPLESHIP

Did you know that there is not a single example of “one-on-one discipleship” in the entire New Testament? The choice to become and remain a disciple rests with individuals, but discipleship is always nurtured corporately. Discipleship is not a course you go through; it’s a life you live out, fostered in a community of interdependence, support, teaching and admonishment. This is why faithfulness to and active participation in a local church and its small groups are so vital. The local church is the nursery for discipleship.

— Pastor Chuck Sligh

Why should we have such an emphasis on discipleship.

Matthew 28:19-20– “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.””

This is one of those instances where we miss some things in the translation of the Bible.

Please understand, this is NOT a mistranslation of the Bible; I believe God has intentionally preserved His Word better than that.

Rather, this is an occasion where a wrong emphasis has been given by the readers.

This is a case where we have over-emphasized the “going” – and that is important

  • But due to the grammatical parts of speech used, we need to see that the participle, “going” –
  • Along with the other two participles in this sentence, “baptizing”, and “teaching …”
  • These take a secondary place next to the imperative or command, “Make Disciples”.
  • These participles actually describe “How” we should act in doing the command OR “what we should be doing” when we act upon the command

And just what is a disciple?

2 Timothy 2:2- “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”

Illustration: “Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer

What is the fruit of discipleship? A growing, challenging faith

And where does Spiritual Warfare come into play in discipleship?

Ephesians 6:12- “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Spiritual Warfare is NOT fighting the personalities in and among us.

Spiritual Warfare is knowing that our conflicts come through the spiritual realms.

Then, we fight against those principalities and powers while protecting those blessed brothers and sisters among us.

Further, we must learn to let God fight our battles for us.

Friends, we MUST learn whom our warfare is against.

This does not mean that we take a passive stance BUT, it does mean that we fight in His strength and against His enemies – not personalities and faces

Life Principle: Because Discipleship, Prayer, and Worship are so important to the Kingdom of God, they are important to all of us to value, cooperate with, and practice.

We MUST learn to Celebrate our wins.

This celebration includes getting the word out concerning ALL victories God sends our way.

We as a church must communicate better through every mean we know and through other means as we discover them.

We will increase our opportunities of Baptisms

Already, we have doubled our baptism events here at the church by adding one more at or around the month of February.

Our soonest particular baptism will be March 1 in the Chapel at the 9:00 AM service.

We will have an increase in Communion services.

We already have doubled communions here at OCF by making Communion on the third Sunday of EVERY month.

Communion is that time when we remember – and even proclaim – the Lord’s death (and remember, without His death, there could be no resurrection.)

Life Principle: Because Discipleship, Prayer, and Worship are so important to the Kingdom of God, they are important to all of us to value, cooperate with, and practice.

We are to be a house of Prayer through an increased emphasis on and practice of prayer throughout the entire church.

Matthew 21:13a– “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer …”

Prayer is that conversation with God wherein we talk to God AND where we listen to what He speaks to us.

Probably one of the most recognized examples of prayer is found in Matthew 6:9-13-

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’”

It is appropriate to pray with an open Bible when the opportunity is there.

Illustration: A Prayer and Joy

In his book Living Life on Purpose, Greg Anderson shares the story of one man’s journey to joy: … his wife had left him and he was completely depressed. He had lost faith in himself, in other people, in God — he found no joy in living.

One rainy morning this man went to a small neighborhood restaurant for breakfast. Although several people were at the diner, no one was speaking to anyone else. Our miserable friend hunched over the counter, stirring his coffee with a spoon. In one of the small booths along the window was a young mother with a little girl. They had just been served their food when the little girl broke the sad silence by almost shouting, “Momma, why don’t we say our prayers here?” The waitress who had just served their breakfast turned around and said, “Sure, honey, we pray here. Will you say the prayer for us?” And she turned and looked at the rest of the people in the restaurant and said, “Bow your heads.”

Surprisingly, one by one, the heads went down. The little girl then bowed her head, folded her hands, and said, “God is great, God is good, and we thank him for our food. Amen.” That prayer changed the entire atmosphere. People began to talk with one another. The waitress said, “We should do that every morning.”

“All of a sudden,” said our friend, “my whole frame of mind started to improve. From that little girl’s example, I started to thank God for all that I did have and stop majoring in all that I didn’t have. I started to choose joy.”

We will continue to send out prayer sheets every Monday and Thursday via email and Facebook.

Additionally, our FaceBook Prayer page is open for anyone to present prayer requests AND to comment on/pray for others’ prayer requests.

We will continue to post Prayer Captains at the Welcome Desks at the beginning of both the 9 AM and 10:30 AM services who will take prayer requests and pray as necessary.

We will continue to have all church prayer in the Prayer Room each Sunday at 9:30 AM.

We will continue to have all-church prayer at 11:00 AM every Monday in the Conference Room

We will continue to have Men’s Prayer Meeting every Saturday at 7:30 AM in the Conference Room

We will open the chapel every Wednesday evenings from 7:00 PM until 8:00 PM for a time of structured OR unstructured prayer.

We are also looking for other corporate opportunities for prayer throughout the weeks ahead.

We Will Be and Are a House of Prayer.

Life Principle: Because Discipleship, Prayer, and Worship are so important to the Kingdom of God, they are important to all of us to value, cooperate with, and practice.

We are to make efforts toward becoming a house of genuine Worship

John 4:23-24– “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

Meaning of “worship”

Proskuneo is the Greek verb that the word for worship is derived from.

  • It is a word with two parts
  • The prefix is a preposition meaning simply “to or toward”.
  • The main root word is the Greek word “kuneo” and it simply means “to kiss”
  • Combined, this word “proskuneo” literally means “to kiss toward”.
  • Historically, it has been used as “to kiss the hand to (toward) someone in token of reverence, and among many Asians, it means to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence.
  • Note: there are several other Hebrew and Greek words telling us HOW to worship. This could be a message in and of itself and we will not take the time today to explore all those today.

We will walk in the revelation that worship is much more than just music

Certainly, throughout the entire Bible, worship has been observed through music.

Worship is an act of spiritual devotion usually directed towards God. An act of worship may be performed individually, corporately in an informal or formal way, or by a designated leader. Such acts involve honoring God in a respectful and sovereignty-recognizing way.

Methods of worship

  • The Bible also clearly describes physical acts of worship:
  • Lifting of holy hands
  • Bowing down
  • Bended knees
  • Speaking words of praise
  • Shouting words of worship
  • Weeping
  • Writing words of Worship (See the Psalmist)
  • I believe God also gives His people Gifts, arts, and talents to be used for His praise
  • And even deeds have been deemed as acts of Worship

And we are looking for volunteers – these will have to go through a training and screening process BUT we are committed to helping you develop the gifts and talents God has placed in you.

  • Singers
  • Musicians.
  • Writers and poets.
  • Actors and mimes.
  • Spoken word artists.
  • Painters, drawers, and graphics design people
  • If you are interested and realize that God has gifted you contact Pastor Jim or the Church office and let us know.

Life Principle: Because Discipleship, Prayer, and Worship are so important to the Kingdom of God, they are important to all of us to value, cooperate with, and practice.

Conclusion:

As we have looked at the Vision God has given us, we see some important emphases:

  • The Bible and specifically, the Gospel, is to be at the Center of our preaching and teaching
  • We are to build the Community God has placed us in and surrounded us with
    • A loving fellowship enacting Living Worship
  • We are to take a deeper refocus and enactment of Evangelism
    • We are to broaden/enlarge our constituency with the Great Commission through Compassionate Outreach
    • We are to bolster and enhance OCF’s Missions efforts – both in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and among the uttermost parts of the world.
    • We are to intentionally focus on becoming more of a sending church—sending out teachers, pastors, and missionaries
  • We are to focus on being a house of Discipleship
    • Growing, challenging faith
    • Spiritual Warfare- Not fighting the personalities in and among us but knowing that our conflicts come through the spiritual realms and then, fighting against those principalities and powers while protecting those blessed brothers and sisters among us.
  • We are to be a house of Prayer through an Increased emphasis on and practice of prayer throughout the entire church.
  • We are to make efforts toward becoming a house of genuine Worship
    • Music
    • Gifts, arts, and talents, videography
    • Deeds

Life Principle: Because Discipleship, Prayer, and Worship are so important to the Kingdom of God, they are important to all of us to value, cooperate with, and practice.

Life Action Steps:

  • Be willing to give your life for God’s vision. That’s owning His vision
  • Be willing to give your life savings for this. That’s owning His vision
  • Be willing to say, “Though none go with me, still I will follow and His vision”? That’s owning His vision

Wisdom, Faith, and Endurance

James 1:2-12

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know (while knowing) that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Sermon Blurb

Often, we come into situations where we really don’t know what to do. And many would guide us to follow our hearts or to go with our gut. But the Word of God clearly tells us that if we lack wisdom — we should ask for that wisdom from God.

Thank you for joining us today, this One Service Sunday, at Ontario Christian Fellowship, as we seek wisdom from God — and in addition, as we pursue unwavering faith and endurance — and as we find His joy — in all life’s challenges.

Life Principle: We must always remember that there is the work God does for us — the work God does in us — and the work God does through us.

Introduction

The author of this book has identified himself simply as James, a Servant of God.

Because of that simple introduction, I believe this is probably James, the brother of Jesus

He presents himself as one who is already known by his readers.

He is clearly not a name-dropper; he doesn’t need to be

He sees no reason to present further qualifications of who he is.

Besides being his brother, the Resurrected Christ had appeared to James. (Nothing will turn a man around more than encountering the risen Christ.)

This same James, at the time of this writing, was the head of the Jerusalem church that we see in the book of Acts — especially Acts 15.

Even the Apostle Paul came to consult with James—as we also see in the Book of Acts.

Facts about the Book of James

There are 108 verses in James — 54 of those verses are imperatives– commands.

James is telling us what to do.

James is not open to our suggestions; he really does not want to know what we believe or what we think.

James is more concerned with our walk than he is with our talk.

Because of James’ direction of writing to the 12 Hebrew tribes, it is clear that he writes with a Hebrew mindset.

“The 12 Tribes” is a clear reference to the Jewish People scattered throughout the world.

Because of this, James deals more with concrete function—as opposed to abstract theory. Again, this is part of the Hebrew mindset.

James is writing people who are enduring adversity.

Key words used in James

  • Pistisfaith, confidence, reliance, trust
  • Dipsychosdouble-minded, wavering, doubting
  • Sophawisdom, skill, ability to act on what you know
  • Hupomonepatient endurance, perseverance, steadfastness
  • Peirasmostrial, test, temptationDokimiontesting– Genuine, without alloy

Life-Thought: What makes the complete Christian?

  • The work that God does for us
  • The work that God does in us.
  • The work that God does through us- service.

Life Principle: We must always remember that there is the work God does for us — the work God does in us — and the work God does through us.

As God works for us, in us, and through us, He often uses Troubles to work toward maturity.

James 1: 2-4- “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Note that James does not tell us, “if trials come”— instead, he says, “WHEN” trials come – My friends, TRIALS WILL COME.

1 Peter 4:12- “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

Trials affect everyone

The Greek word translated both as “trial” and “temptation” is the same                                  word—peirasmos

And further, trials will come in all shapes, forms, colors (literally),                                            and sizes.

Trials may be frequent and frustrating, and life-changing.

But notice what Paul says in 2 Corinthians,

2 Corinthians 4:17– “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

And when compared to the eternal glory they bring, trials are simply light and momentary.

The testing of faith produces endurance—endurance.

Romans 5:3– “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance (or endurance) …”

Testing refers to a means of authenticating something.

Maturity only comes after – or through– testing.

And here is how the Biblical progression of our faith works: Trials- Testing- Perseverance- Maturity.

Even when God called Abraham to live by faith, He tested him – He put him through trials and testings– in order to increase his (Abraham’s) faith.

Testing, from the Greek, dokimion, means without alloy, genuine

My friends, our Faith will always be tested.

And also, God wants to use these trials – these testings — to remind us how faithful He is and how real He can be.

Illustration: Tapestry- Don’t judge the worker or the work by looking at the wrong side of the project.

In other words, don’t put off your life of faith until times get better.

Life-Point- Right now, in the midst of your suffering, is the very time to be putting your servanthood toward Christ into practice.

Life Principle: We must always remember that there is the work God does for us — the work God does in us — and the work God does through us.

James is addressing hardships and sufferings that Christians encounter even as they are following Christ.

Poverty can be included in trials of many kinds. Humble circumstances were a common trial often mentioned among early Christians.

And even as we stand up underneath the trials, James says that we are blessed individuals.

  • The Greek word here, Makarios, means one who is genuinely happy.

Matt 5:11-12– “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

All throughout Scripture, what satan meant for bad—and often it was very bad– God used it for good.

In the Book of Job, God not only sustained Job all the way through his ordeal BUT, He rewarded Job ultimately.

Throughout the Bible are people who turned defeat into victory and trials into triumphs.

The ultimate result of this victory is spiritual maturity through Godly character.

It is God’s desire to process and develop our true character.

God is a good trainer—concerned with our spiritual exercise, diet, and schedule.

God is developing our spiritual muscles.

God is proving our character and maturity.

The directive is for us to develop a joyful attitude, an understanding mind, a surrendered will, and heart — that wants to believe.

Outlook determines outcome—attitude determines action.

Life Principle: We must always remember that there is the work God does for us — the work God does in us — and the work God does through us.

Obeying while thinking “poor old me” is different from obeying with pure joy.

Choose joy.

Endurance is also a part of this goal of perfection/maturity/completeness/character

We can stay steadfast in joy BECAUSE we know that the attitude of joy is leading us and guiding us.

And we cooperate with God’s work because we are cooperatively being led by Him into His perfect result.

We are called to Joy.

1 Peter 1:6-7– “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven (tested) genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

My friends, here is a secret: to end with joy – begin with joy.

“Count” or “consider” is a financial term meaning to “evaluate.”

 Pasan charan means “all joy” or “pure joy.”

We are therefore, called to pure, total, ALL joy,

Do not be robbed of your joy by supposing that your trial is not a suitable context for applying this passage. Instead, look for the spiritual dynamics of trials. In particular, look for the testing – or proving — in the trial.

Life Principle: We must always remember that there is the work God does for us — the work God does in us — and the work God does through us.

Seeing God’s faithfulness manifested in the situations, we will be made entire and complete; we will become mature.

When trouble comes, we should respond in faith.

God’s Spirit strengthens our personal faith within the community of faith.

1 Thess. 3:2– “We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith …”

Hebrews 10:24- “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds …”

Faith is made pure only when the fiery trials burn away the dross.

Again, the Biblical context of testing as James uses it here, is one that reveals the genuineness of a person’s faith.

A test is also designed to develop something that is not yet present in full measure in a person.

This is why, for the one who wants to live by faith, the trial can be (and should be) a time for rejoicing.

But why do trials overwhelm us?

Because we operate in lack of knowledge concerning what God is doing.

My friends, if we value comfort more than character, trials will surely upset us.

BUT, Wisdom comes from God (5-8)

James 1:5-8– “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

When troubles come, it is essential that we respond not only with joy – but also with wisdom.

Wisdom can be understood as the ability to view life from God’s perspective.

Someone once said that knowledge is the ability to take things apart while wisdom is the ability to put it back together.

God has not left us on our own to endure these things.

God tells us to ask Him for wisdom- Wisdom comes only by prayer.

James 1:5- “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

Matthew 7:7– “Ask (and keep on asking) and it will be given to you; seek (and keep on seeking) and you will find; knock (and keep on knocking) and the door will be opened to you.”

We should ask God for the wisdom we are lacking.

And you may ask God for the wisdom you need without fear, for God gives without holding your failures or lack of wisdom against you.

The very heart of the Gospel of Christ will certainly not be contradicted by God when we come to Him for wisdom.

And what, again is that heart of the Gospel? God gives to all who ask — without finding fault.

One of God’s characteristics is that He is a giving God.

It is His constant nature to be gracious and giving.

God gives generously.

Stand the test of faith by asking God for the wisdom you need.

When asking, do not be unbelieving toward God or frightened by your lack of wisdom.

A lack of faith can cause us to fail in times of lack of wisdom.

Understand, God does not help us by removing the tests, but by making the tests work FOR us.

Satan wants to use the tests to tear us down, but God uses then, to build us up.

Again, as a reminder, all throughout Scripture, what satan meant for bad, God uses it for good.

Life Principle: We must always remember that there is the work God does for us — the work God does in us — and the work God does through us.

Christ builds character before He calls to service- a surrendered will.

The Greek word translated “purify” in this passage literally means “make chaste.”

This is a picture of an unfaithful lover.

This lover has been unfaithful to his marriage commitment.

But somehow, God is able to once again make him chaste.

SO, in that light, testing purifies or makes chaste.

And testing produces perseverance

Stand the test of faith by asking God for the wisdom you need.

And that is Faith in the grace of God which enables faith to be exercised– even within hardship and deprivation.

  • It works to purity.
  • It works to perseverance.

There is no substitute for an understanding and wise mind; Satan can defeat the ignorant believer BUT, he cannot overcome the Christian who knows his Bible and who understands the purposes of God.

Stability only comes through Christ … That is unwavering faith

The greatest enemy to answered prayer is unbelief.

James describes such deep-seated doubt as being “double-minded”

James uses the Greek word, Di-sychos which literally means “to be two-                              souled”

  • James records the first historical usage of this term that we are aware of.
  • James defines Di-sychos as an impurity in our inner person

Life Principle: We must always remember that there is the work God does for us — the work God does in us — and the work God does through us.

In the double-minded individual, where there should be one thought, goal, attitude, or devotion, we find instead two competing thoughts.

This is a vacillation between self-reliance and God-reliance.

Illustration: The South Indian Monkey Trap

The “South Indian Monkey Trap” was developed by villagers to catch the ever-present and numerous small monkeys in that part of the world. It involves a hollowed-out coconut chained to a stake. The coconut has some rice inside which can be seen through a small hole. The hole is just big enough so that the monkey can put his hand in, but too small for his fist to come out after he has grabbed the rice.

Tempted by the rice, the monkey reaches in and is suddenly trapped. He is not able to see that it is his own fist that traps him, his own desire for the rice. He rigidly holds on to the rice, because he values it. He cannot let go and by doing so retain his freedom. So, the trap works and the villagers capture him.

A double-minded person is one who wants his will and at the same time wants God’s will. This type of person is unstable in everything he does.

Doubt is an immediate contrast to belief.

Such doubt is instability

My friend, Doubt makes a person unstable.

Single-minded, Single-focused faith means to make a conscious decision, with God’s help, to choose our attitude: joy—and to move on to Christian maturity.

God’s goal for us, then, is to be mature and complete.

James wants to help suffering Christians find the strength to make tough personal moral choices beyond the realm of sentimentality.

Because we value the Lord and His Kingdom life more than we value ease and comfort, it becomes the choice of realism and wisdom to consider it pure joy whenever we face trials of many kinds.

This becomes, then, courageous perseverance in the face of suffering and difficulty.

Habakkuk 3:17-18

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

God does give the ability to endure patiently – in steadfast faithfulness

Life Principle: We must always remember that there is the work God does for us — the work God does in us — and the work God does through us.

Conclusion:  While it seems that perseverance may be a valuable end, there is a more valuable and ultimate ending- Godly character and maturity – and that perseverance and endurance and joy and maturity will ultimately result in praise, glory, and honor – all unto Him.

James 4:8- ‘Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

Life Points:

What makes the complete Christian?

  • The work that God does for us
  • The work that God does in us.
  • The work that God does through us- service.

Life Action Steps

  • Let God do the work He does for us
  • Cooperate with the work God does in us
  • Choose joy in the work God does through us

James 3:1-12- The Taming of the Tongue.     

1Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 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.

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 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. 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. 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.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

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. 

Sermon Blurb

The tongue! We are told that no man can tame it – and that it has the ability and strength to set on fire a raging inferno. Yet, the same tongue that has the ability to create so much destruction also has the potential to bring life, order, and peace into various situations – if surrendered to the power of God Himself.

Thank you for joining us today as we seek to understand, direct, and submit to God the power of our tongues.

Introduction:

  • Today’s message is one of those that hits us right where we are. As a matter of fact, it is one of those messages I really don’t want to preach because it touches everyone of us – where we live – and it challenges us for change. But, we must realize that our Spirituality is only a feeling, an illusion, if it cannot and does not purify our behavior in a practical manner.
  • As we hear today’s word, let us be struck by a sense that a strong characteristic of the mature Christian is that he has power over his tongue.
  • The ability to speak words is the ability to influence others and accomplish tremendous tasks for God

Life Principle: Christ has given us power that we might speak words of life or death; let each of us vow to speak only words of life.

Our tongues have the ability to influence (vs. 1-5a).

“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 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.

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.

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. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.

Against what seems obvious, James is NOT specifically speaking into the lives of only those aspiring to be teachers; rather, he is addressing those who aspire to positions of authority in the church.

(James 3:1)Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

James was not concerned with giving everyone career counseling; instead, he was addressing the sin of pride and self-righteousness.

In other words, he is saying, “Remember, you are subject to judgement even more strongly if you try to teach others — and you are highly vulnerable in that judgement because we all sin in many ways.”

James is prescribing humility to all who want to be leaders in the church.

And his emphasis is specifically on matters of the heart – but he arrives at those heart matters by way of instruction regarding the tongue.

James does not simply expect perfection.

BUT, he is making a case for and a call for — maturity, perfection, and completion– because he knows how strongly sin knocks on everyone’s doors.

There are two inescapable facts that James is addressing.

He is addressing Judgement.

There is a greater strictness of judgement for ones who teach and those who lead in the church.

Matthew 7:2– “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

He is addressing Failure –and we will get to that one in a minute

Life Principle: But know this: Christ has given us power that we might speak words of life or death; let each of us vow to speak only words of life.

It would take a truly perfect person to stay free from the sins of speech. James is clearly implying the impossibility of such perfection (in our typical use of the word, perfection) because he just has said, “We all stumble in many ways”

And this is the failure James was referring to. Most translations use the word, “stumbling.”

(James 3:2) “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.”

  • There is failure in and by all of us.
  • ptaio– meaning to stumble or to cause to stumble
  • This word is a figure for making a mistake or simply, sinning
  • The KJV actually says, “For in many things we offend all.”

And sins of the tongue are prominent and seem to head the list of “stumblings” because our words usually lead to our deeds.

Psalm 141:3-4– “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil so that I take part in wicked deeds along with those who are evildoers; do not let me eat their delicacies.

At this point – and throughout this message – I want to remind you that this is not a “self-help” or “feel-good” and “do better” message.

Someone once said, “Life Is Short, Death Is Sure; Sin the Cause,  Christ the Cure.

You and I cannot heal this looseness of the tongue; It is only the  Holy Spirit working within us, and our trust in Him, that will correct this problem of the tongue.

But even as James has declared that we should come to Christ if we lack wisdom, so also should we come to Christ and ask for help in taming our tongue.

There is hardly a sin more pervasively exposed and condemned in the Bible than that of speech.

1 Peter 3:10 (reiterating Psalm 34:12-13)– “For, Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.

The tongue is but a small member in the body, and yet it has the power to accomplish great things- for Good or for Bad.

Proverbs 18:21– “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

When Jesus Christ controls our tongues, then we need not fear saying the wrong things – or even saying the right thing in the wrong way or at the wrong time.

When Jesus Christ is the Lord of our hearts, then He is Lord of our lips too.

Life Principle: Christ has given us power that we might speak words of life or death; let each of us vow to speak only words of life.

The Bible indicates there is a very strong, decisive influence that is directed by – or guided by — the tongue (James 3:2-5)

James makes application specifically to the tongue because he sees the controlling of one’s tongue as that which influences the entirety of one’s body – and thus – of one’s life

Life Illustration: The tongue is like a bit in the mouth of a horse. This small instrument, under the direction of skilled and knowledgeable hands can influence the direction of a powerful horse.

James says the uncontrolled tongue:

  • The uncontrolled tongue is a world of evil—A multitude of evils are contained within it
  • The uncontrolled tongue corrupts the whole person — The whole person becomes corrupted by the uncontrollable tongue.
  • The uncontrolled tongue sets on fire the course of one’s life—It is destructive and extends to the whole course of the person’s life
  • The uncontrolled tongue is itself set on fire by Hell itself—In other words, James exposes the tongue as the source of evil within each human.

Control of the tongue leads to a master-control of ourselves and our lives.

Life Illustration: The small rudder of a boat, under the direction of skilled hands, is able to influence the direction of a boat – even in strong winds.

  • The tongue is a key factor in controlled living.
  • The tongue is a key factor in consistent living.

In reality, actual speech is only a small percentage of the use of the tongue.

In other words, if you control what you say, you can control the rest of what you do. Bit and Rudder

But again note, the tongue is humanly uncontrollable

Life Principle: Christ has given us power that we might speak words of life or death; let each of us vow to speak only words of life.

The tongue rages like a fire.

(James 3:5b- 6) “ … Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 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.”

Our words have the ability to start fires.

Life Illustration: It only takes a spark or a small flame to set on course and roaring, devastating fire.

Life Illustration: Warren Wiersbe shares the story that he was visiting the used bookstore along Charing Cross  Road in London, — and he remarked to a clerk that there were not as many used book stores as he expected. “There’s a reason for that, replied the clerk. “One night during WWII, the incendiary bombs hit and the fires destroyed at least a million books.” In similar manner, our words, James would say, can operate like fire and can destroy

And yes, we have the capability of holding our tongues and speaking or not speaking what is on our minds.

Psalm 39:1-3– I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.”
So I remained utterly silent, not even saying anything good. But my anguish increased; my heart grew hot within me. While I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue:

My friend, if you find that you are often creating virulent – or bitterly hostile situations through the words you are speaking, you must repent and ask God for His intervention

Proverbs 26:20-21- Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down. As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife.”

Friends, I am making a call for repentance.

James is making a call for repentance.

If we are quarrelers—people who like to create situations full of strife and division– through and from the words we speak – we – I — must repent.

Life Illustration: (From James, from The IVP New Testament Commentary Series by Dr. George M. Stulac, page 130)”

  • “To the person who speaks praise to God in the worship service and then abuses people verbally at home or at work, James commands, Purify your speech through the week.”
  • With the person who says’ “Oh, I know I talk too much,” and laughs it off, James is not amused. He insists, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak.”
  • By the person who boasts, “I always speak my mind, no matter who gets hurt,” James is not impressed. He commands, “Discipline your speaking.”
  • Of the person who says, “I know I gossip too much, but I just can’t help it”, James still requires, “Control your tongue.”
  • Of the person who is in the habit of speaking with insults, ridicule, or sarcasm, James demands, “Change your speech habits.”
  • He expects discipline to be happening in the life of a Christian. Any Christian can ask for the grace needed for God gives good gifts (James 1:17) and gives them generously (James 1:5). There is, then, no justification for corrupt habits of speech in our churches today. We simply MUST repent.

And the Bible tells us that the one who restrains his words — he is a person full of knowledge and wisdom. (Remember, James is also ALL ABOUT us gaining that wisdom.

Proverbs 17:27– “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.”

The Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition translation of Proverbs 17:26-28 says, “It is no good thing to do hurt to the just: nor to strike the prince, who judgeth right. He that setteth bounds to his words. is knowing and wise: and the man of understanding is of a precious spirit. Even a fool, if he will hold his peace shall be counted wise: and if he close his lips, a man of understanding.”

Know this: If our hearts are filled with hatred, satan will light a fire and kindle that hatred. But if our hearts are is filled with God’s love, God Himself will light the fire and stoke the love that comes out of us.

In other words, the fiery potency of the tongue starts with the character of our hearts.

To whom will we yield up the character of our hearts? Will it be to God – to stoke the fires of love ad Godliness? Or will it be to the deceiver, satan – to stoke the fires of destruction?

Life Principle: My friend, Christ has given us power that we might speak words of life or death; let each of us vow to speak only words of life.

Let me say it another way: Our Word-Fire either defiles and destroys.

Life Illustration: In Gatlinburg, Tennessee, in November of 2016, because a couple of young boys were playing with fire, violent flames took 17,136 acres, destroyed 2460 structures, caused over $500 million in damage, and killed 14 people while injuring 190 more. It was later discovered that the fire was caused by two teens dropping lit matched along the trail known as Chimney Tops. Cheri and I have walked that trail many times. These fires were caused by lit matches. My friend, a fire can begin with only a small spark.

Fiery words defile a home, a Sunday School class, a relationship, and a church.

We often say that time heals all things – BUT, a greater truth is that time does not correct the sins of the tongue.

We may confess our sins of speech, but the fire keeps spreading.

Instead, we must break the cycle of destruction before it even begins.

Life Illustration: I often think of the magazine ads and the TV commercials of my childhood featuring Smokey the Bear. He would always say, “Only YOU can prevent forest fires” or “Only YOU can prevent Wildfires.” Smokey the Bear

My friend, only you, under the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, can prevent the fires  that are kindled by our wayward, unthinking, gossiping speech.

Ask of God, and trust Him to hold your tongue and exercise wisdom.

The tongue can spread evil throughout the church family because of gossip, back- biting, and criticisms.

If Paul had written this passage, we might expect him to employ his image of the church as the body of Christ to describe the injury done to other lives by one person’s impure speech.

Notice very carefully the words James uses here: “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.”

But James’ reference to the body appears to be in the Jewish sense – after all, he is writing to the Jews dispersed all across the world – in the Jewish sense of the whole person rather than a figure of speech, a synecdoche representing the congregation.

James’ focus is more on the destruction of the impure speaker’s own life.

James is referring NOT to the reaction of others to your speech — but to the spreading of sin from your speech to the rest of your personal life.

In other words, Yes. Your words can destroy a church, a family, or a people – but more quickly—and ultimately, your words can destroy you.

Number 32:23b- “you may be sure that your sin will find you out.”

Life Principle: Christ has given us power that we might speak words of life or death; let each of us vow to speak only words of life.

And while the tongue is able to steer like a bit in a horse’s mouth or a rudder to a large boat

And while it can set a large fire even as does a small spark or flame

The tongue is also full of many inconsistencies

(James 3:8b-12) ”It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.  Can both freshwater and saltwater flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

The deadly sin of inconsistency is the poison of which James is speaking. It perhaps is the culmination of ALL the evil of which the tongue is capable.

(James 3:3:16) “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”

James says that the tongue is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

The parallel between the tongue and poison is clear.

Poison works from within and produces sickness and/or death.

The intention of poison IS to inflict pain or death.

In other words, the tongue must be controlled because it is a tool that shows one’s inner being.

And, as has been previously shown, the tongue affects both large populations, in the mindset of James it also immediately and ultimately affects the one speaking.

The tongue is also like a dangerous animal or poison

The deceptive thing about poison is that it works secretly and slowly – and then it kills

But note, when you tame an animal, you get a worker instead of a destroyer.

Matt 12:34- “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

Life Illustration: I have had the privilege of training and helping to train some animals. I have had good success with horses – not so much so with dogs. Horses well demonstrate that strong, powerful animals can be trained.

The tongue can be trained by self, the world, and the enemy – for evil; Or the tongue can be trained by the Lord for His good.

The tongue has the ability to both bless and curse.

The tongue has the power to delight.

Proverbs 18:21– “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

If you and I are going to have tongues that delight, then we must meet with the Lord each day and learn from Him

After all, all of nature reproduces after its own kind.

Or, said another way, we take on the characteristics – or we will correspondingly be the reflection of what or WHOM we spend our time with.

So, what about that truth I earlier mentioned about the tongue being full of inconsistencies?

The greater truth, again as I mentioned earlier, is this: In its inconsistencies, the tongue excellently displays one’s character.

The tongue that blesses the Father and then turns around and curses men made in the God’s image, displays a double-mind (as James described in James 1) and is in desperate need of spiritual medicine.

It is inconsistent to bless God and to curse our fellow man.

James is calling for consistency within the Christ-follower because consistency and inconsistency are indicators of our spiritual state and relationship with God.

Again, these inconsistencies are indicators of a person who is in desperate need of spiritual medicine.

James, my friend, is referring to our relationship to God Himself (James 3:9)

The One Whom we praise is no less than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

But, the one we curse is made in the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, to treat people with contempt is to treat God’s own greatness with contempt.

Life Principle: Christ has given us power that we might speak words of life or death; let each of us vow to speak only words of life.

Examples from nature in James 3:11-12 are intended to describe situations that never CAN happen.

Similarly, they are descriptive of what CANNOT be happening within the follower of Jesus.

They are exemplifying the words: “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”

The deeper problem is finally revealed; the real problem is not with the tongue; it is with the heart.

Luke 6:44 -45- “Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

As we think about these things this morning, I ask of you:

What do your words indicate that your heart is full of?

And is your heart in need of repentance and renewal by the Holy Spirit?

One person said that, before we speak or write, we should THINK

  • T- Is it true?
  • H- Is it helpful?
  • I- Is it inspiring?
  • N- Is it necessary?
  • K- Is it Kind?

Rick Warren has suggested 12 Words that can change your life

  • Please
  • Thank you
  • I’m sorry
  • I love you
  • I’m praying for you.

James is stating the obvious facts that one spring does not pour forth two kinds of water.

The implication here is that a true Christian will not make a practice of unChristian speech.

The practice of unchristian speech is evidence that the speaker is not a Christian and is therefore, in danger of Hell.

James 3:12My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

Life Principle: Christ has given us power that we might speak words of life or death; let each of us vow to speak only words of life.

Conclusion: James strongly emphasizes the purpose of the tongue.

  • The tongue has the power of life and death.
  • Our tongue betrays our true relationship with the Father
  • Our consistency in speech – and thus, behavior — indicates our depth of relationship with Christ and with one another.

Action Steps:

  • Draw closer to Christ through daily prayer, Bible reading, and fellowship
  • Guard what you speak AND what you hear.
  • Speak words of life.