Stepping Out

Hello Church!

Before we began this five week series through the book of James, I wrote down a thought that I believe catches the heart of these messages: “Be who you say you are, yes!; but more importantly allow God to work in you to transform you to the person He created you to be.”

James 1:22-25 CEB “You must be doers of the word and not only hearers who mislead themselves. Those who hear but don’t do the word are like those who look at their faces in a mirror. They look at themselves, walk away, and immediately forget what they were like. But there are those who study the perfect law, the law of freedom, and continue to do it. They don’t listen and then forget, but they put it into practice in their lives. They will be blessed in whatever they do.”

The first verse we come to is a verse that I am sure everyone of us has heard many times. We must be the kind of people that don’t just learn and not do anything. We have to put our faith into practice. This seems very straight-forward and is easy to understand.

Another verse that comes to mind is Ecclesiastes 12:12 “studying too much wearies the body.” I used to tease high schoolers to give this verse to their teacher to say that they don’t need to give so much homework. They never did go to their teachers (I’m glad 🙂 ); but there is some truth to this verse that we can see through the lens of today’s passage.

If we only study, and don’t do anything about it, our studying has really been done in vain. Same thing with our faith. If we do not move to help those who need help, visit those who need to talk, giving or going where we need to go, then we have not let the words we learn for our faith to strengthen our bodies. If all we do is take time to study and not apply the message to our lives, we actually miss a grand part of life: being a vessel for the Holy Spirit to touch the hearts and lives of people around us. This is a great and joyful thing to do.

Then there are these verse about looking into a mirror and then forgetting what we see. Have you looked at a picture, turned away after a few seconds and remembered everything? No. There are times I am getting ready in the morning and I look into the mirror to brush my hair or shave and can forget if I did everything I needed to. Why is this? If the image has not seeped into our minds, and then our heart, we will easily and quickly forget what we saw. The same thing is true for our faith.

The works we do mimic what we really have faith and believe in. Our lives are a reflection of what we believe in. Simply learning new information does us no good unless we put it into practice, unless we teach another person.

This is why it is important to be doers of the word and not just hearers. If we look into the mirror and see God changing us through His Spirit and through His word, we are looking at His reflection and remembering what He says.

Today, I invite you to think about what areas you have had a difficult time doing in your faith journey. What are aspects of what you hear about faith that make this challenging?

If you’re ready to, I invite you to say YES to Christ. Allow Him to come into your life. Allow Him to guide you. See how much more you’ll be able to see much more by stepping out in faith.

Lord, today I say YES to you. Guide me to love the people you love and step out when you call me to. Amen.

Reaction Time

Hello church!

The book of James is a good one to challenge us to live deeper in our faith. The thought I believe we should take time to unpack during this worship series is, “Be who you say you are, yes!; but more importantly allow God to work through you to transform you into the person He created.” This is something that can challenge us since it has us go beyond our human desires and become something even more than we thought because we live out our faith deeper and become closer to God through Jesus Christ.

Today we continue looking in James chapter 1 and come to some verses I need to hear, and my guess is that there are others who need to read these verses as well.

James 1:19-20 CEB “Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to grow angry. This is because an angry person doesn’t produce God’s righteousness.”

Children are funny and incredible people. They go from happy to angry to throwing a tantrum faster than we adults can react to. We pray and work with children to learn to slow down and control their anger and emotions so they don’t hurt themselves or other people. Do we adults do this as well?

A couple days ago, I was in the store and found myself getting frustrated and upset because people kept cutting in front of me and I kept thinking “they need to think about other people and not try to only do what they want.” I think a similar thought happens in most people. We do not like it when people stop us, or slow us down from doing our tasks. We are busy people who do not like to be redirected.

What do we do with children? We attempt to redirect them in order to guide them to utilize their energy in an appropriate way. Is this something we can do as adults? I love the speed analogies used in these verses “quick,” and “slow.”

We should be fast in our reaction time to listen and observe the situation and what people are actually saying. We should be slow in our reaction time to speak because we may say something not helpful, something we might regret, something we can’t take back, something that doesn’t build the character of the person just tearing it down. Finally we should be slow to become angry.

We make brash decisions when we’re angry and lose our ability to see the entire picture. There are times when it is okay to become angry. Most of the time we become angry about trivial things. These verses are showing us that we should take the time to listen and observe so we can discern the appropriate thing to say (if needed) and so we do not act out of anger which could actually hurt the relationship.

What are some things that make you angry? Football team losing? Traffic? Long lines to check out at the store? Spouse not do the dishes? Children without food? Abuse? What makes you angry? Is it worth allowing that emotion to be fueled?

This is why we take time to observe and listen to the situation. Our reaction time of our emotions can help or hurt our witness to show people the grace of God. Everything we do is an opportunity to bring people to faith, and give a tangible witness to what we really believe.

I work on my reaction time daily. This is possible because the Holy Spirit is our counselor and guides us in our lives.

Lord God, you have given us the gift of faith. Help us to live righteously, in Your sight, so we can have our lives reflect Your glory, Your love, Your holiness. In Christ’s name, Amen.