Tuesday, April 26, 2011

James 3:1-12- Taming the Tongue: Part 1

Now that I have a computer again, I can continue to blog once more. I hope this is a blessing to you as I finish up what I originally started so long ago on the book of James. If you need to refresh your memory on what was said prior to this point, feel free to go here. The formatting on my blog has always been better than that of Facebook notes, so if it still looks junked up with code in the FB note, feel free to click on the link to go to my blog.

James 3:1-12

Taming the Tongue: Part 1- Illustrations of the Heart at Work

  1. True Wisdom Taught (vv. 1-2)
    1. Is James commanding us that there should be few teachers of God’s Word, or is he telling us to recognize the responsibility that comes with being a teacher?
    2. James most likely here is referring back to what Jesus taught in Matthew 23 about hypocrisy in regards to them that were teaching.
    3. In that passage, Jesus makes it plain and clear that those who teach, but do not teach the truth are in danger of sending themselves and those that they teach to hellfire and damnation (this is what James means when he says that we’ll receive the greater condemnation).
    4. Also, what he is speaking of here is the idea, “To whom much has been given, much more shall be required.” If you’ve been given the responsibility of having an influence on others around you (and you always have that responsibility; it’s just a question of how much influence you have), then you need to make sure that you own up to that responsibility.
  2. True Wisdom Communicated and Lived Out (vv. 3-12)
    1. Communication is a show of what lies in the heart (though the heart may not always show itself in communication, eventually it will).
    2. This section is not separate from the previous; rather it is a continuation (hence, why I include it here). If you cannot allow the Holy Spirit to control what you speak, then you have no business in teaching.
    3. Allowing the Holy Spirit to control your tongue is a qualification for being a pastor (1 Tim3:2-3).
    4. First Illustration: Bridle in a horse’s mouth (v. 3)
      1. A picture of allowing God to lead in what we say.
      2. When we allow God to direct our words, we won’t stumble (not in the sense of stuttering, but in the sense of sinning).
    5. Second Illustration: Sailing ship (v. 4-5a)
      1. Comparison of the tongue to a rudder- idea here is the proportions
      2. “Inclination the pilot desires”- compares our hearts and God to a captain steering a boat with the rudder, which is what causes the boat to keep on course, even though the winds power it.
    6. Third Illustration- Spark that sets the forest on fire (v. 5b); idea here is that such a little thing causes GREAT destruction
    7. Fourth Illustration: Influence and stumbling block (v. 6)
      1. Jesus taught that it was what comes out of the mouth that defiles a man, rather than what he puts in his mouth as the mouth speaks forth that which comes out of a person’s heart.
      2. “Sets on fire the course of life”-
        1. James is using another illustration of how the tongue can be used improperly in how speech sets on fire the lusts and temptations that a man will respond to when a woman talks sensually to him, and vice versa for a man talking sensually to a woman.
        2. This expression can also refer to what happens when a person is goaded into losing their temper. Be careful to speak when all you’re looking for is a reaction to what you say. Such a one is guilty of this sin with their tongue.
      3. This is referring back to Matthew 5:22 where Jesus teaches how what we say is just as condemning of eternity in Hell as what we do. We need to live remembering that Jesus paid the price for our verbal sins, too.
    8. Fifth Illustration: Taming of the animals vs. taming of the tongue (v. 7)
      1. The animals have been tamed by man as they were put under our dominion by God.
      2. The tongue cannot be tamed by man as we do not belong to ourselves. The only way for the tongue to be tamed is for us to recognize that our tongue is under the ownership of God (1 Corinthians 6:20).
    9. Sixth Illustration: Poison (v. 8)
      1. It can poison the heart to bitterness depending on how we use it
      2. It can poison the mind to evil thoughts and actions
    10. Seventh Illustration: Blessing and Cursing (vv. 9-10)
      1. John writes this in 1 John 4:20 “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
      2. As James says, this ought not to be!!!!!! This is hypocrisy at its finest!
    11. Eighth and Ninth Illustrations: Fountains and Fig Trees (vv. 11-12)
      1. Fountains-
        1. Roman aqueduct system was set up so that a person could get either fresh water over long distances, or salt water depending on which aqueduct line they wanted to tap into. One line was used for the healing hot spas, the other for regular plumbing and washing.
        2. So, should our tongue be in hypocrisy by sending out both bitter words on one side and words of encouragement from the other?
        3. This is a rhetorical question. The answer is obviously a resounding, “NO!”
      2. Fig trees-
        1. Just as fig trees only produce figs, olive trees olives, grape vines grapes, salt water line salt water, and fresh water line fresh water, so should God’s tongues only be producing words that God would want said (It is His tongue, not mine because I have been bought and am not my own; 1 Cor. 6:20).


  1. As you influence and teach others around you, is your tongue a blessing to others or is it a stumbling block? Remember, you are not an island to yourself. Everything you do affects others around you.
  2. Who controls your tongue? You or the Holy Spirit of God?
  3. Is your tongue full of hypocrisy or does it demonstrate to all your love for God?
  4. Are you producing only the fruit that God would want your tongue to be producing?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Free Soccer Camp in Minneapolis, MN

Soccer Camp in Minneapolis

Exciting Drill Training!
Awesome Scrimmages!
Life-Changing Biblical Truth!

Boys and Girls Ages 5-12
August 10-14 (Monday-Friday)
6:30-8:30 PM

Jewell Park
1400 89th Ave
Brooklyn Park, MN 55444

Registration and Information:

Map to Jewell Park here.

Register for Camp here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

James 2:14-26- Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Christmas break was very busy and there were some issues as to how go about this next post.  I have been debating much over the last couple of months as I have not only done this next passage for my personal devotions, but also preached through it for church in a message titled, "Cruise Control Christianity."  I've finally decided to post the devotions side of this as it flows better with the previous studies, and the sermon was originally published on Metamorpho 1.0 (you can still view it there) and will someday be republished on here with the rest of the old archives from Metamorpho 1.0.

I.                   Faith Without Works (14-17)

A.    What’s the use of it (v. 14-16)?

B.     Can faith be exercised without actually making a change in how I live my life?

1.      According to the passage above (v. 8-13), no.  Obedience is the demonstration of the exercising of our faith.

2.      So, what do we do when we see others who aren’t living out their faith?

3.      This passage isn’t for us to look at others around us and judge their spirituality, let alone try to determine if they are saved or not.  This passage is for us to take a close look at our own lives and examine if we have a heart that is close to God and is living that out in the faith, or if we only have a heart of legalistic righteousness that needs to be made right with Him (either through salvation if that’s needed, or repentance so we can restore our walk with Him).

4.      Now, this thought does not mean we are not still to confront brothers and sisters in Christ who are living in bondage to sin.

5.      In summation, faith -when truly exercised- always results in making change.

II.                The Works are the Exercise of our Faith (17-26).

A.    Obedience to Christ means that we need to make some changes in how we live, speak, think, and act.

B.     Some Illustrations of Faith in Action

1.      Negative-demons-they believe, but they don’t have saving faith unto repentance.

2.      Positive-

a.       Abraham- he obeyed God because he believed that God would do as was promised.  As Abraham exercised his faith, God counted it to him for righteousness.

b.      Rahab- believed the spies report that if she let them go, she and her family would not be harmed.  As she exercised that faith, coming to know Jehovah God as her God, it was counted to her as righteousness.

c.       Body without a spirit = faith without works; you can’t have faith without the works, though you may sometimes have the works without the faith, so that brings us to another question….

d.      What’s our motive for doing what we do?  Is it to satisfy our own conscious, or is to live out the change that God has made in our lives?


1)      Am I exercising my faith and making changes in my life as God shows me to do so?

2)      Am I seeing myself as God sees me through the mirror of His Word and being honest with Him about it?

3)      Am I obeying Christ by living out my faith in the actions of my life?

4)      Do I judge myself before I judge others (pull the beam out of my own eye before I pull a speck of dust out of someone else’s)?

5)      What’s my motive for doing what I do?

6)      Do my actions speak the same as my words?  Am I really as spiritual as I make others to believe that I am?

Unless I obey God, I cannot say that I truly believe what He says is right."

Monday, December 01, 2008

James 2:8-13- The Sin of Partiality: Part 2

James 2:8-13- The Sin of Partiality: Part 2- Loving God More Than Men Leads to True Fruit

I.                   True love does not show partiality (v. 8-9).

A.    The royal law according to The Scripture:  James is equating the commands of Christ as a command of authority or kingly law

1.      Love = agape

2.      Partiality = schism, division, favor

a.       In the Jewish mind, the highest authority was the king: in this case the one who had the right to rule the Davidic throne.

b.      James plays off of this and even though Jesus isn’t yet ruling on that throne (He is, however, seated at the right hand of God), he claims Jesus’ teachings are from the highest authority: The Holy Anointed One (Messiah) who has the right to rule on the Davidic throne.

B.     The command itself does not show partiality.

1.      If we love others AS ourselves, we do not show partiality even to ourselves, let alone to others around us.

2.      It’s all about motivation.  Why do we “love” those around us (speaking of love as an action, not a feeling)?

C.     When we fail to follow this law (which is the second greatest commandment in all of Scripture), we are guilty of sin.

 II.                True love exalts and obeys Christ (v. 10-13).

A.    Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point

1.      This was to show them that though they weren’t stealing, lying, or perhaps even murdering, they were still in sin because they failed to keep the overlying principle that resulted in those parts of The Ten Commandments: Love one another as God loves you (v. 10-11).

2.      The point here is this: if you can’t keep part of the second greatest commandment, then how is it that we can claim that we’re keeping the first: To love the Lord our God with all our hearts, with all our souls, and with all our minds?

B.     We are no longer judged by The Law of Sin, but by The Law of Liberty, or freedom (v. 12).  Though we do have the liberty in Christ to sin, why would we want to sin against each other when we know:

1.      The pain it caused Christ to suffer it for us?

2.      That we are bringing ourselves back as a slave to The Law that Christ freed us from?

C.     If we truly believe and love, then we will obey and do (v. 12-13)

D.    Consider this thought: if it was truly best for us to judge one another based upon appearance, then why doesn’t Christ do the same to us based upon our spiritual appearance?  Why is it that He shows mercy if condemnation is the best answer?  That’s because in God’s Plan, though condemnation is the correct answer, mercy and grace are better answers.  Like the verse says, “Mercy triumphs over (or boasts against) judgment.”


1)      Are we loving each other as God would want us to?

2)      Are we so caught in our own legalism that we’ve forgotten who we really are?

3)      Does mercy triumph over judgment in our lives?

Monday, November 17, 2008

James 2:1-7-The Sin of Partiality: Part 1

James 2:1-7-The Sin of Partiality: Part 1- Loving Men More Than God Leads to Disastrous Results


I.                   Partiality does not exist with God. (vv. 1-4)

A.    God sees right to the heart of a person.

1.      Fine clothes- Greek: “bright”- Idea here is that someone who had bright clothing was rich because they could afford to pay for the expensive dyes that were put into that clothing.

2.      Gold ring- in almost any culture, including our current culture, jewelry of one sort or another is used as a status symbol.  Now, instead of gold rings (anyone can get a 10k gold ring for a decent price) it’s a Rolex or a Mercedes, or some other possession that has a way of showing monetary status in this world. At our age, class rings, varsity jackets, medals, trophies, and even diplomas are often tokens of status for us.

3.      Reality check: Though appearance can reflect some things about the heart, does appearance always accurately do so?

B.     All man sees is the appearance

1.      Notice the adjectives here used to describe the two different types of people:

a.       gold rings, fine or bright clothes

b.      poor, dirty clothes

2.      Notice how each is treated, though each has the same sin nature and (hopefully) the same heart of repentance towards God that saves them through faith:

a.       The rich man is told, “Sit here in a good place,” or, “Sit here by my side.”

1)      If you were the host, you would be at the head of the table, and the honored place of the guest was at the side, “seated by his bosom” as the Jewish custom was called of giving the seat of honor to the guest (See Upper Room Discourse in John 12 for more details).

2)      He is treated as if he has somehow earned the right to sit here because of his appearance or social status.  The question that must be asked is would he be treated the same way if he were the same person but with different clothing and such?

b.      The poor man is told, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool.”

1)      If you were the host, often your slaves would be seated at the foot of the table (Hence, the argument amongst the disciples of who would be the greatest and least in Jesus’ kingdom, and his great analogy of the servant being made greatest as He washes their feet, as ONLY a servant would be required to do). 

2)      In other words, you’re treating the poor person as if he was your slave or hired servant.

C.     The desire to be a man pleaser based upon someone’s status or appearance is a grievous sin that can often become a stumbling block between the people that you are treating differently, as you have just created a division between them based upon on their status or materialistic wealth.




II.                God wants us to be rich in faith, not rich in materials. (vv. 5-7)

A.     “...the poor of this world...” = not our material possessions, but our spiritual possessions.  We were incredibly poor before we had Christ because of our sin debt, but now we are rich in Christ because of our faith.

B.     In treating people based upon appearance and status, we blaspheme God who “...commendeth His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).”  So, is our motive to get respect, or to show the love of God?

C.     Often times, the people we respect based upon appearances, we do because we’re afraid.  James points out in verses 6 and 7 that often times, those we are trying to please could care less about what we’re doing to please them as long as it benefits them.  In other words, to please them, we will often have to compromise.

D.    The ultimate result, as is seen fully in verse 8, is that we fail to please God because we are not doing what God has commanded of us.



1)      Are you judging people based on appearance, or based on their attitudes/actions?

2)      Have you given in to the Fear of Man by allowing your desire to please people around you to cause you to compromise on your faith in Jesus Christ and His Word?

3)      What is your motive when you show respect to people around you?  Is it to bring glory to God or glory to yourself?

4)      Do you trust God or riches?  What will satisfy you?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Psalm 42- Trusting God

At about this point in the semester, just before Thanksgiving, many students are in a serious trial of their faith.  For some, it's as simple as finding the time to get that homework done a little earlier so they can get a little extra of much needed rest.  For others, they are seriously questioning right now whether or not they should be changing their major.  Students are wondering, "Lord, why am I doing this?"  "What's the point?"  "This is too hard, Lord.  I can't do everything that I need to do to pass, let alone get a halfway decent grade."  It used to be that this was the point in the semester where I would be crying- literally- my heart out to God in one of the practice rooms behind Burkart Hall, asking God, "Why am I doing this, Lord?  Why do You want me to be Music Ed?  This major is so much harder and longer than any other major; I'm expected to not have a social life of any sort outside of band and orchestra, and I just can't grow the way I need to in You without that!"  That may not have been my exact prayer every time mid-way through the semester, but you get the point.  Courtesy of Pastor Kurtz (my Sunday School teacher), we were discussing somewhat on this point of our neediness and how we need to be open and honest with one another as Christians, the way that David is open and honest in the Psalms.  That got me thinking about a message I preached earlier this summer on this very same topic about Trusting God.  Something that taught me how I need to be brutally honest with God about the way I feel so that, as I acknowledge my condition before God, I can put my trust in Him to do a work that cannot be done apart from Him in my life.  I'll just let the rest of the sermon speak for itself.

Psalm 42

Trusting God

Today, I’d like to examine Psalm 42.  As we come to this Psalm, I hope that we will walk away having seen God and His glory a little better.  But, before we begin, let us start- by way of question- examining what key components make up true worship.  This will help us to understand David’s point for this Psalm.  So, what is a key part of worship?  In other words, what attitudes and aspects of our lives make up worship?  What is that, if you don’t have this, you cannot have worship?

A right heart and a right life are both required for worship.  But, even for prayer and repentance to take place, whether it’s an unbeliever getting saved or a believer taking a step of faith, there is this one key component that is needed for worship: trust.  Trust, also known as faith, is the aspect of worship that we’re going to study tonight.  You see, prayer- which shows dependence on God- cannot truly take place if you don’t trust The One to whom you’re praying.  Sure, you can go through the motions of pretending to pray outwardly.  God is not fooled by this, though.  Trusting God is not always easy.  It requires that we break our normal sinful habits of trusting ourselves, or in trusting the things that we have grown accustomed to trusting- which aren’t God.  However, if we are- as Christians- going to be truly worshipful, we must trust God.

 Sidenote:  If you want to, I have been doing this for my personal devotions for a while and I’ll pass this blessing on to you, take the time, next time you read through the Psalms, to look for themes and promises relating to trust.  I know that I was greatly surprised to study this book of songs and find how much encouragement David and the other authors give to trust in and believe God’s promises.  Not only that, but they also show why we can trust God.  He is a great God who is so good to us, and the Psalms will help you in seeing that better.

 So, let’s go through the Psalm and see how David is going to encourage us to trust God.

 I.                   David expresses his need for God. (v. 1-4)

A.    Until I started studying this Psalm for this lesson, I had failed to put the first verse within its context.  When you isolate the first verse from the rest of the Psalm, there is a tendency to think of this verse as a verse that speaks to how we should desire for God and want to worship Him.  Now, don’t get me wrong, we should have that kind of desire for God.  However, this verse, within the context, helps us to understand the depth of David’s depression.  The next two verses go on to further elaborate on the state of David’s mind and emotions. 

B.     We see that- for whatever reason- David feels like God’s presence is very, very far away.  All three verses here illustrate for us his desire to be close to God.  Obviously, David was going through some trial in his life that caused David to recognize his utter need for and dependence on God.  However, and we’ve all experienced this at times, David felt that God was not near during this trial.

C.     His depression was so great that it affected his ability to worship, not just personally, but publicly.

1.      David shows a discrepancy between the way he used to feel and act while in worship at the temple, versus how he felt and acted now.

2.      Are we no different than David?  We have a balance that must be upheld.  We should not wear our feelings on our shirt sleeves, but we do the body of Christ a great disservice when we try to hide our problems and feelings from everyone.  Let us not forget, that just as some have the gift of teaching and preaching, there are those within the body who have the gifts of helps, service, encouragement, and hospitality (1 Cor. 12, Romans 12).  Don’t be so proud that you rob others within the body of the opportunity to be a blessing and encouragement to you.  When others ask you, “How are you doing,” I understand the feeling that if you tell them you’re not doing well or fine that they will ask why and you’ll feel obligated to tell them.  However, God’s Word never tells us that we must explain ourselves to everyone who asks.  It does tell us, however, that we should ask the body for prayer.  Perhaps you can’t or don’t want to give details, but you can request the prayer of the saints.  So often, our greatest weapon- prayer- is the least used weapon.  We are liars if we tell people that we are doing well spiritually when we’re not. I’m so thankful that David is honest with us in publicly sharing his feelings.

II.                David expresses the greatness of God. (v. 5-11)

A.    In verse 5, we begin to see why David continues to trust God, despite His feelings.

B.     David tells us that God is to be the central focus of his hope, not his circumstances.  David knows that there will be brighter, happier days.  He knows that- even should these days of sadness and trial last him the rest of his life- there will be a day when all will be well and God will never feel far away ever again.  The trials of this life are temporary compared to the blessings of heaven.  David states that he will continue to walk with God no matter how much it costs him.

C.     Matthew Henry puts it this way: “The best way to forget our miseries is to remember the God of our mercies.”

D.    How does verse 9 factor into this remembrance of the greatness of God?  David here shows us the duplicity of trust.  Though our feelings may tell us that God is not near, does not hear, and cannot work, we must always trust in fact over feeling, faith over sight, and God’s wisdom over our might.  No matter how strong our feelings may be, we must always trust in God’s Truth over our strongest feelings of experience.

 Application-  When your soul is cast down and God feels far away, remember that the God you need is the God who promised, regardless of your feelings, He will never leave you nor take his eyes off of you.  Trust Him.  Only trust Him.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

James 1:26-27 A Pure and Undefiled Heart of Fruit

 I.  Appearance of Worthless Fruit (v. 26)

A.    Looks good on the oustide, but bad on the inside.

1.      Religion/ religious = heart, lifestyle, relationship with God

2.      Christ told us that out of the abundance of our heart, we speak (Matt 12:11, 17-20).  Bridle = control

3.      We have deceived ourselves, because we have not applied God’s Word in regards to humility if we think we are great, when our mouth shows just how filthy we really are on the inside.

B.     Though men may see the facades that we put up, God always knows our hearts.

C.     Men will, however, notice our inconsistencies because we cannot keep up a perfect lie over a lengthy period of time with everyone, especially those who are close and personal to us.  As Jesus said, eventually, our heart will show itself through our speech in one way or another.

II.                Appearance of True Fruit (v. 27)

A.    Sometimes, our mindset becomes, “Well, if I can make everyone think I have good fruit, then I’m okay.”  What we forget is that the fruit is supposed to be a result of our love for God, not the fruit resulting in us loving God.

B.     James uses the phrase, “In the sight of God”- yet another way of saying God’s standard of holiness, or according to God.

C.     If we go back to Zechariah 7:8-14, we see a passage where the people of Israel were told what would happen if they stopped loving God, how they would oppress the poor and orphaned, they would not dispense true justice, peace, loving kindness and compassion, and go the way of the world around them.  Here James, tells us in a slightly different way the same warning that God gave to the Israelites:

1.      If we truly love God, we will show it in our service towards one another

2.      If we truly love God, we will do all that we can to stand up for what is right, and to make a difference in the world around us.

D.    “Unstained” = set apart, made holy, sanctified; (present active tense) This has the idea that the object which has been sanctified for God will continue to be sanctified for Him.  It’s the idea that this sanctification is a continuing action (until glory, that is, when we shall receive our perfect sanctification by being made into the very likeness of Christ’s holiness)

E.     Though we have been sanctified and made holy positionally, we have not been made holy practically.  Though all of our sins have been washed by The Blood of Christ, we will spend the rest of our lives fighting against our old sin nature even though we now have the new nature of The Holy Spirit indwelling within us.


1)      Are you focused on self or God?  Do people just see a façade with inconsistencies, or do they see that you are who you claim to be spiritually?

2)      Are you doing things because you have a heart for God, or because you’re trying to make people think that you do?

3)      Are you living as if you’ve been set apart for God?

4)      Where’s the fight?  Are you even struggling against sin and trying to bear fruit for Him?