Who are You Imitating?

Matthew 5-7

Today’s reading comes from Matthew 5-7.  You may know this as “The Sermon on the Mount”, and this may be among the most well known passages in the Bible.  The Jews Jesus was teaching knew the Old Testament laws really well.  Jesus took this opportunity to focus on what God really requires – he focused on matters of the heart, not just following the letter of the law.

For example, the old law said, “Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.”  Jesus took it further and taught, “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.”  This is a difficult teaching, but wait – there’s more.  

Then, in Matt 5:42-45, Jesus tells us, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.  He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” – This is even harder to follow.

In this passage, Jesus is telling us more of the reason behind his new rules.  God loves even those who hate him, and he does them good – in spite of their hatred for Him.  And we should imitate this characteristic of God.  Jesus takes this even further in verse 48, where he said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  – Ok, now this isn’t possible to obey without some serious help from God.

In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus said, “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.”  Basically, this is asking God to forgive me only to the extent I forgive others.  Jesus then told us plainly in Matt 6: 14-15, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  – This is a pretty good reason to forgive others! – But still not easy to do.

Then, Jesus tells us in Matt 7: 1-2, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  – Did you catch that?  I will be judged in the same way I judge others.  This is a pretty good reason for me to not condemn others!  This goes back to the old saying, “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.”

As I read these passages, a couple things jump out to me.  First, I need to imitate God as much as possible. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at doing this, so I need to beg for His forgiveness.  Fortunately, He is loving and extends grace.  From His example, I recognize I need to be loving, and extend grace too.

Second, once I recognize I am a worthless sinner, saved only by the grace of God, it’s suddenly easier for me to be less eager to condemn others.  Then, if I can see them through God’s eyes – as other sinners in need of grace – that makes it even easier for me to extend grace to others.  And that grace may take the form of forgiving them, or of not judging them, or even turning the other cheek if they hit me.  On our own, this isn’t possible, but we can do these things with God’s help.  Ultimately, we can (again with God’s help) come to the point of loving or enemies, and blessing those who persecute us.

Jesus closes this section talking about the wise builder (who built on a rock) and the foolish builder (who built on sand).  The wise man was likened to someone who listened to Jesus’ teaching, and put it into practice – building his life on the rock.  The foolish man was likened to someone who listened to Jesus’ teaching, and didn’t put it into practice – building his life without a foundation.  In both instances, storms come.  But only the house built on the rock survived.  By analogy, only the life founded on Jesus’ teachings will not be destroyed.

So again, we find that today’s reading has implications for us today, and for eternity.  And just knowing these truths isn’t enough, we must put them into practice.  Please join me in taking this seriously.  Apply this to your life.  Ask God’s help living up to these requirements that are impossible to accomplish on our own.  Become an imitator of God.  The reward is eternal.

–Steve Mattison

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Matthew 5-7.

Tomorrow’s reading will be Matthew 8:1-13 and Luke 7 as we continue on our Bible reading plan. SeekGrowLove.

Don’t Be a Hater

Proverbs 10-12

Proverbs 10 12 NIV sgl

I have a lot of thoughts and emotions swirling in my head after the death of George Floyd and all the events surrounding it afterward.  There is a lot to dig into and talk about, but I am going to keep this devotion simple by sharing some very pertinent verses from our reading in Proverbs today.

Proverbs 10:12 starts out by saying that hatred stirs up conflict.  Well, that has certainly been proven true.  If you want to dig to the core of this whole problem, racism, you will find hatred there.  People have chosen to hate someone based on the color of their skin.  Some of this hate is intense, and unfortunately leads to death at times, but there are also many people that carry with them a milder form of hate that still makes the problem worse even though it may not be so blatant.

So how should we combat hatred?  The second part of verse 12 says that love covers over all wrongs.  Love is what is needed to make this situation better.  Considering everything that has happened, you might not be feeling that right now.  There is a lot of anger out there, and it is ok to get angry sometimes.  Some things are worth getting angry over. However, that anger can’t last.  It will ruin you and those around you if you hold on to anger for too long.  There have been many wrongs through the years that can’t be undone, but love can cover those wrongs, and forgiveness needs to be part of that love.  The wrongs can be forgotten with forgiveness and love.

You have a choice to make.  Are you going to be part of the problem or part of the solution?  Proverbs 12:18 states, “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”  You can speak harshly and blame people for their wrongdoings.  You might even be accurate about what you are saying, but if your tone is cruel and insensitive, it is like piercing them with a sword.  A wise person’s words are softer, gentler, loving, and empathetic, which brings healing.

I think it is safe to say that most people have been feeling anxiety over what has been happening.  The first part of Proverbs 12:25 says that anxiety weighs down the heart.  I’m sure many of you have experienced that during these trying times lately.  The good news is that there is a cure for your heart.  The second part of verse 25 says a kind word cheers it up.  Again, you can choose to speak harshly to others about what they have done wrong and make the wounds worse, or you can say something kind to help make their heart glad.

Proverbs 12:20 goes one step further by saying those who promote peace have joy.  Peace feels so good and it is what most of us strive for.  If you can promote peace, even in very small ways, it will bring joy to your heart.  The only thing that will completely end racism is the return of Jesus, but that doesn’t mean we should just give up until then.  I encourage you to make this world a better place one person at a time.  You can’t solve this whole problem by yourself, but you can make it better by being a light to the individuals you come into contact with in your daily life.

I am not saying we all need to pretend nothing happened and try to live happily ever after.  There are many conversations that need to take place and changes need to occur.  I am saying that we need to embrace the wise words from scripture and go into those conversations with love, not with hate boiling on the inside.  You also need to search your own heart to see if there is any hatred there, no matter how strong or mild it may be, and rid your heart of that hatred.  Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers all wrongs.

Rick McClain

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+10-12&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Proverbs 13-15 as we find more of God’s wisdom on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Sucked into Sin

Proverbs 29

Proverbs 29 16 NIV

This chapter of proverbs continues the thoughts from the previous one – speaking on the contrasts from the wicked and the righteous. Proverbs 28 and 29 give us wonderful examples, not only of recognizing sinful ways but, of the habits that could sneak into our own lives. Many a good man and woman have been corrupted in time by the allure of sin. Additionally, it is noted in this proverb that those who we surround ourselves with can lead us into sin. We must choose carefully who we associate with and be wary that they do not drag us into sin and away from God.

In my youth I hung out with people that did a lot of things that I knew were not good. Drugs, alcohol, and other activities were happening all around me. I hung out with them because I liked being around them but I never let myself fall into their ways. I always thought that made me okay but all it would have taken is one encounter with law enforcement and I would have been found just as guilty as the rest. Wow! That hit me like a ton of bricks when I first realized that. God was watching out for me but I was really pushing the boundaries of His grace and I realize that now. In that I am reminded that we are not to put our God to the test. Yet that is exactly what I was doing for years. He truly is merciful and gracious!

One last thought from this passage that actually ties back to what I wrote about for Proverbs 27 concerning anger, check it out if you missed it. Giving full vent to our anger as this proverb points out is bad. Yet I said before that it is good. No, not is good, but may be good and can help. Verse 11 says that a wise man keeps himself under control. Anger released rationally, controlled, is what I spoke of the previous day. This is talking about rage. Rage is uncontrolled, irrational, and violent. There can be no compassion or concern in rage but you can have both while angry. Understanding this is important for our relationships. That is why we have the saying, “Count to ten before speaking.”

In closing, I urge you to be aware of the various ways in which we can get sucked into sin. Be careful to not place yourself into a situation where you become guilty by association. And remember that we were created for relationships. They are vitally important to our God and to our daily existence. Treat them with the care that they deserve.

To be continued…

Jeff Ransom

In This Moment – Our Relationships

Proverbs 27

Proverbs 27 1 NIV

How often do you think about tomorrow? What is it that you think of? Are you hoping for certain things to happen, praying for a specific outcome? Are you dreaming of what might be?

The implication from James 3:13-14 and 4:13-15 as well as Matthew 6:34 is that tomorrow is promised to no one. Ecclesiastes 9:11 tells us that time and chance happen to everyone. With billions of people each doing their own thing for their own reasons it is easy to see how true that last statement is. So we truly cannot boast about tomorrow for we do not even know if it will come to us and if it does, what it will bring.

We are to prepare for tomorrow, but not presume it. When we dream of tomorrow we may find ourselves imagining our own plans being better than God’s. Additionally, thinking to the future is more often than not the primary source of our anxieties. So again I say, prepare for tomorrow but always trust in our incredible God’s will. If He has called you to Him it is to succeed in His will, not to fail in it.

Of the 27 verses of the 27th Proverb, 16 deal directly with relationships (2-6, 9-11, 13-18, 21-22). It is telling of the importance of relationships to our amazing God. He places the greatest emphasis on our relationship with Him and one another all through the Scriptures.

The three points on relationships that this chapter of proverbs focuses on is a humble heart, the sting of honesty, and the destructiveness of things left hidden.

If there is something that you are really good at you are probably accustomed to receiving praise for it. While there is nothing inherently wrong with that we need to remember not to let it go to our head. If you let it, it can inflate our ego. A brilliant writer receives critical acclaim but it is likely that their talent was developed and nurtured by their parents, numerous teachers, and peers. The passion to do what they do is fueled by hundreds of authors that have come before them. Likewise a superstar athlete has family, teachers, coaches, trainers, teammates and even their competition to thank for honing their abilities. As you can see there is nothing that we do that we could honestly boast about. Everything we do and are capable of comes from others guiding us and believing in us. Ultimately this is all traced back to our LORD and Creator. In His image we are strong and creative. We are intelligent and powerful because of Him.

The second point made in this proverb deals with the pain of honesty and how good it can be for us. It can hurt when someone tells you, “You sing horribly!” Well, not so much for me because I already know that. But you get the picture. When someone tells you in such a point blank manner or preferably in a more caring way a truth that you need to hear that is for your benefit. Sometimes it is an honest remark about something we said or how we acted that we know was not right. We need to be called out from time to time over our words and actions. This is what the Bible calls a rebuke, a correction of what we do and say.

One of the honest expressions this passage speaks of is anger. Anger can be cruel, to the one who is angry as well as the one at which the anger is directed. But a sudden outburst of anger may allow us to clear the air. It can move us into a place of reconciliation and forgiveness so that healing can begin. The point is that open and honest communication is not always nice and polite. Sometimes it is not possible to be honest in a demure, quiet way. There are times when honesty hurts. Actually, most of the time honesty hurts. But can we truly grow and mature if everyone around us is sugar-coating and shielding us from the reality of a situation?

The third and final point I took from this proverb goes hand-in-hand with honest communication, burying things away. I mentioned the point of anger and the author continues by asking the rhetorical question, “Who can stand before jealousy?” Jealousy, envy, and the like are like smoldering embers. The heat is held inside, never dying down and ready in an instant to ignite at the first opportunity. They are not easily vented or burned out. While anger may subside soon after being released, jealousy and envy grow stronger the longer they are held. They feed off of our relationships, slowly burning them away to nothing. Be careful of what you hold inside for this is the very reason we have the expression, burning bridges.

There is so much more within this wonderful passage that we could have covered. The significance of being in this moment and trusting God for what may come as well as the importance of relationships is what really stuck out to me. So remember, not only do we owe God but many others for all that we are capable of. Honesty hurts but, when coupled with compassion, is helpful. And finally, be careful what you hold hidden inside for it can destroy your relationships and do great harm to you as well. We were created to be in relationship with God. Our Savior, Jesus, spoke of how vital our relationships are. He simplified the incredibly convoluted system of 613 laws that man had in place to two – love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. The heart of these is relationships. Never forget that.

To be continued…

Jeff Ransom

Birds of a Feather Will Flock Together

Proverbs 22

Proverbs 22 24 25

My parents often reminded me while growing up that I needed to choose my friends wisely. They were not shy about sharing with me when they did not care for a particular friend or friend group.  This often would cause strife between us because I thought I was strong enough to be the “influencer” in my relationships. Unfortunately, I found out the hard way that it was easy to fall. A friendship principle of the old west says, “Those we hang with may be the reason we are being hanged” or simply put in today’s terms, we learn behaviors of our friends. For better or worse, our friends greatly influence our decisions and choices.

 

Today’s wisdom is gleaned from Proverbs 22:24-25, it says “do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself.” This is specifically speaking about an angry person but I think that it can be used in general terms, “birds of a feather will flock together.” Simply put, birds congregate with birds of their own species. So, if you surround yourself with friends that are not making the best choices, then you can ultimately find yourself in a similar situation. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be misled: bad company corrupts good character.”

 

I liked this illustration of the strength of influence. Take the biggest person in a room and you have them stand on a chair while a smaller person stands next to them. It will be easier for the smaller person to pull the big person down off of the chair than it will be for the big person to lift the small person up on the chair. It just shows that it doesn’t take much to bring you down, even if you think you have strong faith. Proverbs 13:20 says “He that walk with the wise shall be wise; but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”

 

Hang out with a brawler, you may get a black eye. Hang out with a drunkard, you may find yourself drinking too much. Befriend a thief and you may find yourself in trouble with the law. But, befriend a wise person and you become wise. Your company determines your character. Show me your friends and I will show you your future.

 

Erin Bormes

 

 

 

 

You Do You! or ?

Proverbs 14

Proverbs 14 12 NIV.png

“You do you!” This phrase is ubiquitous… I’ve seen it on social media, heard it on commercials,  and tween shows my daughter enjoys watching. I’ve even heard actual people say it directly to actual people. 🙂

On the face of it, it’s a pretty positive and encouraging phrase.  Don’t let others define you. Do what you enjoy. Do what makes you happy! And that’s all great and wonderful…to a point. That point is the Holy Bible. You can totally do You if the You that you do is aligned with God’s word. The problem comes when your You goes with whatever you FEEL is right, rather than what you KNOW is scriptural.

Here in Proverbs 14 (especially in verse 12) we are reminded that so many of the things, thoughts, and actions we think are right, actually lead to destruction.

Proverbs 14:1 really hit me hard in this area. Unlike the wise woman building her house, I was letting my struggle with anger threaten mine. For a season, my anger was quick, hot, and in my mind, justified. I was right to be angry. I was being taken for granted, no one understood what I was going through, why was everything up to me???  I often felt the anger from my stomach up to my jaw.  Proverbs 14 repeatedly warns of the folly of anger (16, 17, 29) but I was choosing to follow my feelings over wisdom.

I thought I was right…but only because of the grace of God and a forgiving family, my “rightness” did not lead to destruction.

Everyone should evaluate their You. If doing You involves sin (Galatians 5:19-21), you must let that go. Christ goes even further to say that if we are to be his disciples, we must DENY ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow him (Matthew 16:24).

When looking to Godly wisdom, such as found in Proverbs 14, You will start to look less like you and more like Christ. That is true wisdom.

So this song came out when I was 14 (1986). Having it tucked in my head has often helped me make choices to please God.

 

God Pleaser by Petra

So many voices telling me which way to go

So many choices come from those who think they know

There’s a way that seems right to a man

But it only brings him death

I want to go the way that leads to life

Till I draw my dying breath

Don’t want to be a man pleaser – I want to be a God pleaser

I just want to have the wisdom to discern the two apart

Don’t want to be a man pleaser – I want to be a God pleaser

I just want to do the things that please the Father’s heart

Some make a sacrifice and never let it show

Some make a point of letting everybody know

Some will live their lives as unto men

And they have their reward

I just want to do everything I do

With all my heart unto the Lord

I just want my life to glorify His Son

To make my Father proud that I’m His child before I’m done

No need to pat me on the back or stop to shake my hand

I just want to hear my Father say “Well done, well done”

I just want to hear my Father say “Well done”

 

devotion by Maria Knowlton

Consistently Strong

James 3

James 3 5 NIV

Have you ever heard young boys arguing? It may begin as an argument about which is faster but many times it will end up with the two boys shouting something to the effect of, “My dad is stronger than your dad!” Often times we see our fathers as a symbol of strength, but what does strength look like? Is it a bodybuilder with bulging muscles? Is it a sprinter with unbelievable speed? These can be measures of physical strength but the strength that we are called to display is more than just strength of body.

The world tells us that a strong person should “get mad and fight like a man” God tells us through James to control our speech and even to control our anger. In chapter one he said, “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to become angry”. James 1:26 tells us “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless” In Chapter 3 he says that anyone who does not stumble in what he says is a perfect man, I can tell you I am far from perfect. He goes on to explain how such a small part of our bodies can control and lead so much of our life. When I take a flight I often sit near the wing and will watch the flaps as the pilot makes adjustments to control the aircraft. It always amazes me to see that such a small change, in a relatively small piece of the plane, can determine the altitude of such a massive machine as it carries me through the air at hundreds of miles per hour. James 3:5-8 says

5 So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. 7 For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. 8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.

Although the tongue is such a small part of our body it is what we use to express our thoughts and emotions to those around us. Jesus even said that our words are the overflow of our heart. Does that mean when we are sarcastic and disrespectful to those around us that is what is truly in our heart? That can be a disturbing thought sometimes. Perhaps we should use our words to view the contents of our heart.

When I lived in the South I would hear someone say something inappropriate and another person would ask, (insert your best southern accent) “You kiss yo momma with that mouth?” James says something similar but with even more force. He says, “With it we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, … these things ought not to be this way.” We should seek to honor both God and people with our words.

We should be consistent with our thoughts and actions.

We should be consistent in the strength of self-control.

It takes true strength to control your tongue.

Show strength that builds up, not tears down!

-Bill Dunn

Mercy & Grace – OR – a Cosmic Butt-Kicking

FREE THEME WEEK – Psalms!

Psalm 69 24

This week we are looking at seven different types of psalms.  So far we’ve seen wisdom, royal and lament.  Today we are looking at, perhaps, the most difficult of all, imprecatory.  Imprecatory means, quite simply, to call down a curse upon another.

Now, this is kind of tricky for Christians.  After all, Jesus taught us that we are supposed to forgive as we want to be forgiven.  We are supposed to love our enemies, right?  So how exactly can we justify praying imprecatory psalms as Christians?

Let’s look at an example of an imprecatory Psalm 69.

Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in the miry depths,
where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
the floods engulf me.
I am worn out calling for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
looking for my God.
Those who hate me without reason
outnumber the hairs of my head;
many are my enemies without cause,
those who seek to destroy me.
I am forced to restore
what I did not steal.

 

It starts out quite similar to a psalm of lament, as we discussed on Tuesday.  “Help God! Things are going badly.  I’m sinking.  Everyone is out to get me!  I’m all alone!”

He goes on to appeal to God for help.

19 You know how I am scorned, disgraced and shamed;
all my enemies are before you.
20 Scorn has broken my heart
and has left me helpless;
I looked for sympathy, but there was none,
for comforters, but I found none.
21 They put gall in my food
and gave me vinegar for my thirst.

Again, this has a familiar ring to it.  The gospel writers used this scripture to point to Jesus on the cross- remember when he said he was thirsty and they gave him vinegar to drink?

So far, we are still lamenting.  It’s dark, but it’s about to turn darker:

22 May the table set before them become a snare;
may it become retribution and a trap.
23 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,
and their backs be bent forever.
24 Pour out your wrath on them;
let your fierce anger overtake them.
25 May their place be deserted;
let there be no one to dwell in their tents.
26 For they persecute those you wound
and talk about the pain of those you hurt.
27 Charge them with crime upon crime;
do not let them share in your salvation.
28 May they be blotted out of the book of life
and not be listed with the righteous.

 

Yikes! It just got real!  The person doesn’t just want God to save him, he wants God to crush his enemies.

“Pour out your wrath on them!”  “May they be blotted out of the book of life.”  Wow!  That’s pretty intense.

“May their place be deserted.”  Luke quoted that verse in the book of Acts when he talked about the need to replace Judas as one of the 12 Apostles.

How does this kind of call for God to damn your enemies fit within the overall message of the gospel of Jesus’ love and forgiveness?

Time and space doesn’t permit the kind of deep digging we might need to do to really get this, but I’ll take a stab at it.  When people hurt us, I mean really hurt us, our normal reaction is to want to hurt them back.  The desire to get revenge and retaliate when wronged is pretty normal, if we’re being honest.  So what do we do with that hurt, that anger, that pain?

Well, we know that some people take a gun and go shoot people at school or at work.  Some people take to social media and try to destroy another person’s life and reputation.  If you’re Carrie Underwood: “I dug my key into the side
Of his pretty little low Mercedes Benz
Carved my name into his leather seat
I took a Louisville slugger to both head lights
Slashed a hole in all 4 tires
And maybe next time he’ll think before he cheats.”

Sure, who among us hasn’t wanted to do that, and worse?

But as Christians we’re supposed to love our enemies.

Paul says in Romans 12

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Yes, there’s a lot in there about how we are supposed to not pay people back, we’re supposed to love.  Sandwiched in the middle of it all is “leave room for God’s wrath.”  Yes, God is a God of tremendous love, grace, mercy and forgiveness and he offers even the worst of sinners the chance for mercy and forgiveness- but he also knows how to do wrath.  He knows how to punish the unrepentant- and the Bible makes it clear that he will do so.

I don’t know who deserves mercy and grace and who deserves a cosmic butt-kicking, and neither did the Apostle Paul, and neither do you.  So we leave it to God.  Imprecatory prayers are simply ways that we say to God,  “I’m hurting and I want to hurt back, but I’m not going to.  I’m going to trust you to deal with this person the way you choose. (but here’s my pain and rage-fueled suggestion for how I’d like you to do it)”

-Jeff Fletcher

 

Three Deep Breaths

PROVERBS 29

Proverbs 29-11

When reading Proverbs 29, I caught onto a theme of how to handle anger and frustration.  Verse 8 says that the wise turn away anger.  Verse 11 reads that the wise bring calm whereas the fool vents his rage.  Verse 20 instructs us not to speak in haste, verse 22 tells us that angry and hot-tempered people stir up conflict and commit many sins, and verse 23 warns against pride, which is often a precursor to anger and argument.

We all encounter trying situations.  We all have tense moments in which we want to scream into a pillow or go for a run or do whatever helps us to cool off.  Proverbs 29 instructs us to keep a cool head and turn away from anger.  I remember a scene from a movie or television show (although for the life of me, I can’t remember the source) in which a character is stressing out.  Another character instructs her to take 3 deep breaths, saying that in the time it takes to complete those 3 breaths, she will stop herself from doing or saying anything she may later regret.

At some point or another, we all get angry.  In these times, it is important to know how God instructs us to handle ourselves.  I had a classmate in college who would pray for the class before every exam.  She always ended her prayers by asking the Lord to keep us calm, cool, and collected during the stress of the exam.  Three deep breaths.  Calm, cool, and collected.  When on the verge of having an outburst, remember to be the wise man and bring calm.  Be wise and turn away anger.  Don’t speak in haste.  Lean on the Lord and His teachings, even in tense moments.  Three deep breaths allows for enough time to reflect back on these verses.

-Megan Bryant

Praying Hard

James 1-5

James_1-6

Wednesday, July 12

I have seen several ruined relationships within families, friendships, and significant others due to not taming the tongue. Most of these situations would probably have been avoided if everyone were “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19 NIV). It is frowned upon to show favoritism to one person over another because it shows discrimination; instead we should be loving our neighbors as ourselves by showing them mercy and compassion.

Within the community that I live in, there has been a lot of (verbal) fighting via complaining, judgment, swearing, and insults. According to James 3:9-10: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” The community dynamic would undoubtedly be a lot better to live in, despite having completely different personalities and interests, if the people involved thought before they spoke avoiding hurt feelings and strained relationships.

As Christians, our faith will be tested numerously throughout our lifetimes. This testing produces endurance and develops perseverance. Through the testing of our faith, it is imperative to follow what God’s word says while facing several trials. To live wisely, we need to show our faith to God and Jesus through our actions because “…faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17 NIV). We also need to submit ourselves to God and never have doubts when asking for His provision. If we have the right intentions in asking, God will provide. It is important to humble ourselves before the Lord and stop boasting about the future. As a planner—I love making lists, looking at events to attend, and making plans with friends. However, I have no idea if I will even be here tomorrow. James 4:15 says that we should say “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that,” instead of making plans that might not even happen.

Prayer is significant and powerful in every life situation. I know quite a few people who have given up on hope and stopped being patient in waiting for God. As Christians, it is our job to help those who have wandered away from the truth. James 5:20 states that “… whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” So please pray for everyone you know that may need God and Jesus back into their life.

 

Dear Heavenly Father,

I pray that whoever reads this will ask you for help in whatever situation that they may be facing. I pray that people will stop fighting and instead listen to each other with better understanding. I hope that people turn from their wicked ways and “confess their sins and pray for each other so that they may be healed” (James 5:16). Please help me find a way to aid my friends back to you so that they may be saved. Thank you for sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins. I love you, Lord, and cannot wait for your return.

In Jesus’s Glorious Name, I pray, Amen.

-Cynthia Fyfe

(Photo Credit: https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/James-1-6_Inspirational_Image/)