Monthly Archives: June 2013

James – What’s It Worth?

Peninsula Community Church

June 23, 2013

James – What’s It Worth?

James 5:1-6 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.

My first read of this passage this week was one that elicited a response of wanting to skip this passage, as I did not see the relevance and application to us as a church. But, upon a second and third read, however, I realized something very profound. While James was dealing with the rich, he in reality was dealing with heart issues that are present in each of us. These heart issues do not matter if we are rich or poor but our heart attitude toward what we possess. 

To begin with we must understand that being rich is a state of mind. Rich is all relevant. Being rich is not always based in what one possesses but one’s attitude toward what they possess. I cannot help but think that I am not rich by some people’s standard but I can tell you I am rich beyond measure in so many ways. I am the pastor of a wonderful church. I am awesome friends. I have the love of a beautiful wife who is beside in ministry and in life. I have two kids that love me. I have a Savior who loves me and has given Himself for my sins. I am truly blessed and I am rich beyond measure. 

When Michelle and I were first married we rented an apartment from a wonderful professional couple. They owned the home where we were living. They owned a summer house at Lake George in upstate New York. They owned two brand new BMW’s. They owned a 32 foot boat they kept at an exclusive yacht club. He was an investment broker and she was an executive buyer for JC Penny. In the early 80’s each of them were pulling in salaries of six figures. And yet they always complained about not having money and how they might have to sell their boat to make ends meet. They never seemed content in what they possessed as their possessions had consumed them rather than them being able to enjoy what they possessed. It was in that moment that I realized that wealth is relevant to the condition of one’s heart and the mindset that one has toward money. That is the message that James is communicating here. 

Money can be used as a means to advance the Kingdom or it can be used to control and destroy others. It is so very interesting to see what happens to a family whose parents die and leaves them some money. Too often the result is jealousy and fighting. I have know families that have been split apart because of a sense of favoritism and a sense of inequity of the division of money when in reality that was not the case. Money has a way of defiling the best of us if we do not have the right mindset and spiritual maturity toward money.

While we may impose these Scriptures deal with the heart of the rich we are all guilty of the same kinds of actions whether we are rich or poor. The issues James lays out here are the same issues that we all must deal with. 

To begin with we must ask ourselves, “Where is your treasure?” The Bible clearly defines this for us when Jesus states “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This treasure may or may not be money. However, the real issue is what do you focus on for what you focus on you will worship. And what you worship will control you. And the thing or things that control you will define who you are and how you live. When our focus is on money and the gaining of wealth at all cost we will worship money and money will begin to control us.

James in writing this passage is borrowing from the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:19-21. Jesus stated “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

James is alluding to the fact that those who profess to be rich are investing in the wrong place. Why do I say that? Notice what James says about their wealth. Their riches are being eaten and consumed by rot and have been eaten by the moths. Their gold and silver have been corroded. They are not investing in eternal things. They rob wages from those who have worked hard for them. They control others by their wealth.

To deal with these issues let’s look at several principles that will keep our perspective in focus.

We need to have an eternal perspective. I know talk a lot about but it is a truth that requires us to focus on Christ and put our value on to those things that will advance the kingdom of God and the work of God. When we have an eternal perspective about our finances we will honor God with our finances. We will treat those with whom we do business with respect and honor. While this passage deals with the rich I can say that those who lack the finances they need can learn from this passage as well. We can have a misguided focus. We can become jealous of those who have money. We can develop an “us and them” attitude. When we have an eternal perspective our attitude and check book will be aligned together.

When we have an eternal perspective we will own your money rather than our money owning us. When we own our money we will be good stewards of what God has given us. We will be wise in our expenditures and we will be wise in putting some away for a rainy day. When we own our money we recognize that the things we possess do not belong to us but they are on loan from God to be used to advance His kingdom and His purposes here on earth. 

The opposite is true as well. When we are owned by our money we will attempt to control others, we will misuse our money for evil gain and we will abuse others in the process. I knew of a business leader who was well known in the church community for how much he gave to ministries. When I spoke with several of his employees, the story was much different. He would force them to work excessive hours. He had not given them a raise in several years although his business profits were off the chart. He would lash out at them when they would discuss finances. In the end he lost a number of skilled employees as a result of his actions.

One the other hand there are a couple of pastors that I admire. I am impressed with their eternal perspective. Rick Warren has chosen to not take a salary from the church at Saddleback where he is the senior pastor. Because of the success of “Purpose Driven Life” and “Purpose Driven Church” he decided that his only source of income would be from the sell of his books. Additionally, he chose to repay the church for his entire salary received up to the point of his successful writing career. I read that he repaid over 18 years of salary. 

I also know that Jack Hayford, former pastor of Church on the Way in Van Nuys had the church set his salary at a very modest level of $60,000 where it has remained for a number of years. He felt that the income he makes from the sell of his books, media ministry and his speaking engagements are more than enough to cover his expenses. 

Why do they do this? It is because they recognize that it is their way of helping the church fulfill its destiny and to advance the kingdom of God. I could mentioned others as well who have taken such steps because of their success in other areas of ministry. These men made a decision that money will not own them and that they will be good stewards of what God has given them. Now I know what some of you are thinking. Why don’t I do that? Well, I am not a successful writer nor am I successful conference speaker.

When we have an eternal perspective we will invest in people and not use them for our benefit. When have an eternal perspective we will be about the business of blessing others. We do not use others. Look at what James says here. The rich he is referring to are misusing their employees by not paying them a fair wage and then the wages that are being promised are not being paid. They are defrauding those who are working for them. Let me say this as well, if you are a laborer for someone else. How do you treat your boss? Do you give them an honest day’s work for the pay you receive? Do you cut corners? Do you add extra hours that you did not work? Do you take items home that are not yours? 

If you are a Christian business man or you do work for anyone be honest and fair. I had a mechanic at one point that began to attend our church in New York. He continually asked me to come to his shop and have work done. I was so hesitant because I had been burned by mechanics who professed to be a Christian before. When I finally decided to stop by his shop I shared my anxiety with him. His reply was one I did not expect. He stated that he had anxiety as well because every Christian he had worked with always wanted him to do work for nothing and they often refused to pay him or they would write checks that would bounce and he would never get his money.  

I can remember a construction company on Long Island that had the cross and a Scripture emblazoned on their vans but everyone I spoke with said that they were a horrible company to deal with. They would start the job on time but would take forever to finish the job and after they did complete the job they could not get them back to deal with problems that existed. 

As we close the question we need to ask is, “Does your money own you or do you own your money?” Are you a good steward of what you have been given? How do you treat others who are wealthy? How do you treat others who lack the finances you might have? It’s your choice. It’s your decision.

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James – Life is a Vapor

Peninsula Community Church

June 16, 2013

James – Life is Vapor

James 4:13-17 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

Today is Father’s Day and we celebrate the role of the father. As with Mother’s Day, I searched my heart and prayed about where to go for this morning and I felt the Lord speak to my heart to stay right here in James. It is here that James speaks to the focus of our lives and our future. 

Probably most of you remember where you and what you were doing on September 11, 2001. It was a day that effected each of us in different ways. It was a beautiful sunshiny day in New York; there was hardly a cloud in the sky. I had made my usual stop at the 7-11 near our house on my way to the office. As I exited the building and I started my car, I began to hear the first news reports of a plane hitting the World Trade Center. I immediately returned home and our hearts sank as we sat at the TV to receive the latest updates. Since that day, I have struggled with the thought of how many on that September morning went about their day without regard to what was about to happen? What would they do differently if they know the events that were about to unfold?

There were many stories that came from this experience. One of those stories was of a husband and wife who had some marriage issues and on that particular day they were fighting about how he worked too much and was never home. The argument was getting a bit heated when their focus turned to the TV where early reports of the tragedy were coming in. Suddenly, they embraced and immediately asked for forgiveness as the plane had hit the floor where he would have been working that morning. The day changed them and was used to heal their marriage.

A second story that came from that day did not have the same ending. A wife saw the unfolding news on the TV and called her husband to ask him how he was making out. He said everything was great and that he was having coffee with his buddies at the office and they were about to go into a meeting. The truth of the matter was that he was in a hotel room with his another woman. How that day changed them.

The fact is we do not know what tomorrow may hold. We do not even know what the next moment will hold for us. The one promise we have is that while we do not know the future we do know who holds it for us. It is in this passage that James reminds us of the brevity of life. He reminds us that life is a vapor, that life is short and that life has unexpected turns and twists. 

The question for us is not how much time do we have but what do we do with the time we have. It should be noted at this stage that we are all given the same amount of time in a day, in a week, and in a year. We are all given 24 hours in a day, which means that we have 168 hours a week. That means that with eight hours of sleep we would still have a total of 112 hours. It is what we do in that time period that makes our lives a success or a failure. The unfortunate thing is that too many squander the hours they have been given by majoring in the minors and wasting time on things that have no eternal value.

As I was preparing, this I came across this story. Suppose for a moment you were like the man who wasn’t feeling too well and went to see his doctor for a physical checkup. Shortly thereafter, He went back to see him for the results. The doctor said he had “bad news and worse news…which did he want to hear first?” The man was a bit puzzled and said he’d rather hear the bad news first. The doctor said, “The bad news is that you only have twenty-four hours to live.”  At this the man jumped up, totally flabbergasted and distraught. He paced the doctor’s office and complained, “Twenty-four hours to live? I can’t believe it! How can I possibly get my affairs in order that quickly? I can’t believe this, it is incredible! What could be worse news than this?”  The doctor said, “The worse news is that I was supposed to tell you yesterday but I forgot.”

If you knew that you only had one hour, 24 hours, a week or a year to live, what would you do differently? What would matter most to you? 

Unfortunately we have a problem. Too often we fail to maximize our life and our walk with God and with our families. You see God is Sovereign but we can circumvent God’s plan by way of disobedience and sin. The problem is that in our carnal nature we can either obey God or we can ignore His will. The result of obedience is that we will find that we have an inner peace and a joy. This inner joy and peace is not based in our circumstances but in our relationship with Christ. On the other hand, we can also have a peace about our disobedience but it will lead to a lack of joy and a disruption in our lives. It will result in brokenness and devastation.

We cannot and must ignore God’s will and his purpose for us because life is a complexity of time and activities. We cannot ignore God’s will because life is uncertain and there is no guarantee of tomorrow. We cannot ignore God’s will as life is frail and fragile. It is like a vapor. 

God has created within us a tremendous ability to make decisions and make choices. The problem too often is that we are so bound by past failures and past hurts that we allow our past to determine our present circumstances. For others we become so consumed by the future that we cannot make effective decisions in the moment. When we excessively concentrate on either the past or the future we can end up missing out on what God is doing in the moment. We will be afraid of failure. We will be afraid of what may happen. In so doing, we will become bound by vision and hope quenching fear and anxiety.

Pride is the one great sin that plagues us all. We cannot rest in the security of our past successes or failures nor can with rest on what we think things should be in the future. Things change but pride keeps us from adapting to the changes of our life. Pride keeps us from adopting new principles of faith and a new understanding of God’s word for us. We refuse to see things from God’s perspective. We refuse to grow in an understanding of who God is and what His word commands us! Pride is a huge prevention to growing in Christ and becoming all that he desires or wants for us. We must deal with the pride of our heart. We must ask God to forgive us a heart that is free from pride.

We need to focus on God’s will, His plan and His purpose for our lives today. Why were we created? We were created to serve God and have a relationship with God. Too many times we are worried about being in God’s will but if we concentrate on God’s will today and obey God today we will in essence not have to worry about God’s will tomorrow or even next week. If we are in God’s will today, and we focus on God’s will for tomorrow tomorrow we will continue to be in God’s will all of the time. We need not worry about the big issues if we are taking care of the small steps of obedience and we are in His will each step of the way.

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James – Speaking Evil Against One Another

Peninsula Community Church

June 9, 2013

James – Speaking Evil Against One Another

James 4:11-12 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

As we look at this passage, we see that James deals with a serious issue in the church. As in the church today, James was dealing with the subject of speaking evil against one another. This is the one sin that does nor receive much attention in the church and yet it is so rampant. Let me begin by asking you a few questions. How has critical, accusing, hostile and defaming words effected you? What about when someone has used the truth but used it in such a way that defames or lessens the view of another? When this occurred what happened to your heart? What happened to the relationship? 

Slander is an issue that effects personal relationships and the unity of the church. The fact is critical judgement and slander brings division and broken fellowship. Slander and evil speaking results in division and broken fellowship in our lives and in the church. It has the unintended consequence of giving the enemy of our souls a doorway to bring division and destruction. This issue is a relational and it is an unity issue. 

Notice the words used here. James uses the words “one another,” “brothers,” and “neighbor.” Would you underline these words this morning? Notice that these are relational terms. The fact is when one speaks evil of another the impact is felt in the relationships we have.

James uses two words to define this issue. They are slander and speak against. To understand these terms let’s take a moment to define them. The term “slander” not only means to say something that is untrue but it also means to speak a truth in a way that belittles or puts another down. James notes here that it is not so much a fact of speaking as it is the fact of judging another’s motives. That s the real issue here.

Listen to what the Psalmist had to say about this matter. Psalm 50:19-21You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.

And then the writer of Proverbs says in Proverbs 11:12-13. Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent. Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.

The second term “speak against” is a compound word that means to speak of a person in a manner that the impression of the person is less than when you began to speak. The term means to accuse another. It is to speak with hostility. This can be subtle but its goal is to always position another lower than the one speaking. The idea of this term notes a lack of morality and of ethicalness in its usage. The idea is that while some things may be true it does not mean that there are to be discussed with anyone but the party who is in question. To do so is otherwise considered gossip. The fact is that sharing even the truth with another does not allow an opportunity for one to resolve the issues presented. 

James addresses the issue of slanderous speech. Slanderous speech is that speech which has an intent to hurt and harm others. It is a deliberate attempt to call attention to the fault of others while minimizing the virtues of others. One writer stated that slanderous speech is aimed at eroding the character of our brother or sister through thoughtless, careless, critical derogatory speech against another. 

Jesus was clear about the fact that by the judgement we give we will also be judged by that same judgement. The balancer of our lives is found in the promise that we will be judged by our actions and our lifestyle. Too often when we are critical and judgmental toward others God is placing his finger on the pulse of our hearts to let us know that we are wrong and have issues that need to be addressed. The Pharisees were know for their incessant appetite to judge others while hiding their own sin and shortcomings from the populace. 

There are three gates through which we ought to require an evil tale to pass before we pass it on. In the first place, Is it true? In the second place, Is it necessary? In the third place, Is it kind? There are few evil reports which can stand the test of those three gates: Is it true? Is it necessary that it be repeated? Is it kind? Christ says that in the day of judgment we shall all give an account of the words that we have spoken. How careful, then, we ought to be, and how we ought to take heed to our ways, that we sin not with our tongue. Who wants to know, in the day of judgment, that instead of helping another he hurt him and wounded him?

Chip Ingram says that he believes that there are three degrees of slanderous speech that take place: casual conversation, prayer request and counseling or information gathering. First degree slander is slander and judgement that takes place in causal conversation. It is often an unconscious act on our part. We do this without thinking. It happens something like this. Can you believe the outfit “Justine” had on last Sunday? I would not be caught dead in that outfit. Can you believe the tattoos on that young man? That looks hideous. Why does she have to sleep during the service?  That is so rude. If I were the teacher I would do things a lot different. If I were the boss I would not let that happen. All of these are in reality comments that serve to put others down while elevating ourselves. It is also the comments made without the insight to one’s motive. For example, perhaps the young woman who is sleeping in church just got off of the late shift and felt she wanted to be in service that Sunday rather than go home and sleep.

Ingram suggests that second degree slander comes in the form of prayer requests. We share a prayer request with someone but in the process we share much more information than we need to and then we add our personal commentary to the request. Sometimes these conversations begin with “I shouldn’t say anything but…” If you begin a conversation with that statement or have that thought in your mind, then you probably should not say anything at all. When we add commentary to a prayer request, we usually do not know the truth so what we add is based on surmising and false reasoning.

He suggests that third degree slander comes in the form of needing counsel or for the purpose of information gathering. In this state, we tend to frame the issues from our perspective. We use the opportunity to get ahead of the problem particularly if you know that you will be uncovered or you will not like the outcome of the results. This is a means to control. We begin by defining the problem and the person and often we do so in a way that we present ourselves as the victim and in the process we uncover the other person. 

In addition, we often slander others because we are not taking responsibility for our lives. This internal conversation may go something like this. If they were a better person then my life would be better. If the pastor, my spouse, my boss, my friends, my children and so on would do more for me then my life would be better and I would be in the place I need to be. It is a form of shifting blame away from our own shortcomings to point put the issues in others.

To slander, speak against or judge another we purport to know the motive, the heart and the reason behind what another might do. We are in essence presenting a case where we act as if we know more than we should or that is possible for us to know. I have know cases where people have judged others and when the truth was revealed they were embarrassed because they were speaking falsehoods and half truths. 

The problem with slander is that we build ourselves up and put another down. Let me say this. It may get someone angry with me. There are people who say I can’t talk to a particular person so I will talk with you because they will not listen or what other excuse may be given. The fact is that this action is contrary to scripture in that the bible says that if have a fault against someone we are to go to that person. It doesn’t say go to someone else if you think they will not listen or you do not want to hurt that person. You are surmising the outcome and in fact those things may be true but the Bible also provides a remedy for such action.

Matthew 18:15-20If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

As we close this let us remember that we need to guard our tongues and guard what we say because of the nature of slander to wound others, bring division and bring destruction.

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James – The Cure for Fighting and Arguing

Peninsula Community Church

June 2, 2013

Fighting and Arguments – The Cure!

James 4:4-7-10 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

In last week’s message we looked at the symptoms of fighting and arguing. Today, we will transition to understand the correct diagnosis and cure for these issues. To understand the cure we must make a proper diagnosis. Without a proper diagnosis we cannot prescribe a correct cure or treatment. 

The diagnosis is simple in many ways. The diagnosis is that we tend to fight with ourselves, with others and with God because of our misguided and broken hearts. It is for that reason when we boil it down we find that the biggest issue is our hearts. Now James does not state directly that the heart is the issue but it is implied by the terms he uses and it is confirmed throughout the New Testament. The heart is the seat of our passion. The heart is the reservoir of our emotion. The heart is the place where our desires flow from. It is for that reason that Jesus warns us about the power of the heart. Jesus says “‘It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth that defiles a person.’For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

In this passage before us today, James offers a solution to the problem of fighting and arguing. These are not hard solutions but they are none-the-less solutions to the problem of fighting and arguing. In the remaining verses we are even given steps to take to avoid conflicts that grow into wars. 

The first step to take is to select your friends wisely. We have heard it said that your friends will often determine your future. It is for this reason that James speaks to the issue of choosing our friends wisely. In particular he is addressing our friendship between God and the world or more correctly world views that are opposed to God’s view of life. The importance of the choice is clarified by the simplicity of the alternatives. Choose God or choose the alternative. The seriousness of this choice is seen in the directness of James stating that your denial of God and one’s unwillingness to follow after God is like committing adultery. In particular, James lets us know that friendship with the world is to be at enmity with God’s way and His commands. James is saying is that the mindset of the world opposes the mindset that God desires for us to have. We cannot live out of an earthly mindset and expect God to bless us. In so doing we cannot expect that there will not be unnecessary trials and troubles in our lives as a result. Let me illustrate this in this way. Have you ever tried to honestly deal with issues in another person’s life only to find that they lash out, become angry and fight against your counsel. The fact is they are trying to live with one foot in the world and one foot in God. It is for this reason that James uses the strong analogy of adultery to define this relationship. The word picture of the relationship of Christ to believers is that of a bride and bridegroom. Because of the magnitude of this choice, he gives us grace to live according to the ways God has intended. 

The second step outlined by James is to align ourselves in the proper order so we that know who your orders come from. He does this by stating that we should submit ourselves to God. The term here is a military term which means to get into the proper rank. It means to bring ones self under another. In this case James is saying that we should submit to God. We are to come under his will and his word. It also means to come into agreement with God’s will and purpose for our lives. We must hear, know and apply God’s word to our lives and to each situation that confronts us. When we submit to God it becomes harder to argue and fight. For example, we will submit our will in a way that seeks for peace and not division. We seek to trust one another rather than distrust others. We seek to see the best in others rather than always looking to find fault and wrong in another’s life. We seek to see others as God would see them. We seek to love others as God would love them. Too often if we are fighting and arguing it is because we have failed to submit to one of God’s commands. 

To do this will mean that we must resist the devil, and in so doing he will flee from you. While our own wills are at play we also recognize that we have an enemy that would desire nothing more than to position us to fight and argue. He will present well timed opportunities for us to have our feelings hurt and to be insulted. He will whisper lies to us. He will exploit opportunities that are innocent and make issues out of some things that were never intended to be issues. But, we must take every thought captive to honor God. Listen to 2 Corinthians 10:3 in this matter. For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

 When anger and frustration builds in your life don’t give into the temptation to strike back. Forgive as Jesus forgave you. Love your enemies and pray for them. If you resist, you can’t blame the devil. Our number one problem is ourselves.

The third step is to reposition your heart; and to draw near to God by cleansing your hands and purifying your hearts. As we have noted there are times when our hearts are out of position and need to be repositioned so that we are aligned with God’s word and with God’s will. We do this by drawing near to God. The story is told of a wife that was complaining that her husband never set next to her in the car. The husband chuckled for a moment and said “which of us moved as I have always been in the driver’s seat.” The reality is that it was the wife that had moved to the other side of the car. We treat God like that at times. We wonder where he is but he is present in every situation. He has not moved. He is still there.

Notice that this is an action that must be taken on our part. We are to draw near to God. James knowing our tendency to want details gives us two ways to make this happen. First, he notes that we are to cleanse our hands. This relates to the wrongful acts we have committed. When we commit sin we need to ask God to cleanse us. 

Second, he states that we are to purify our hearts. Notice that the issue here is double mindedness. This refers to the carnal nature which seeks to go after other gods and to follow other ways rather than those ways prescribed by scripture. When we are double minded about our life in Christ we are ripe for failure because we fail to take a stand and try to please everyone. 

Notice that David in Psalm 51 cried for God to cleanse his heart and restore a right spirit in him. He was living a duplicitous life. He wanted the ways of the world and had used ungodly means to achieve what he wanted by lying, murder and taking what did not belong to him. He recognized that the only way to be healed was through a healing of the heart.

The fourth step is to be sober about the condition of your life. This passage speaks of heartfelt repentance which is recognizing the sin in our lives for what it is and then repenting of it. Repentance is another military term which means to change course. When we repent we change the course of our life and we change our minds to set our minds on heavenly things. Rather than rejoice in our sin. Rather than revel in our mistakes we are to understand the seriousness of them and then walk in repentance. 

The fifth and final step is to walk in humility and you will be exalted. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. The Bible is filled with great paradoxes. Humble yourself and you will be lifted up is one of those great paradoxes. The world’s view is to promote one’s self. The world says to get a PR company to transform your image. I understand that the Health and Human Services Department has hired a PR firm to help the government sell the new Affordable Care Act. My question is if the act was so great why would we need to spend the multi millions set aside to promote the act. 

It is hard to fight and quarrel when we walk in humility. Instead of looking for a fight we will look for ways to bring peace. Instead of disunity we will seek for ways to bring healing and restoration. This calls for us to be humble rather than being prideful and rebellious. You are not God so stop pretending. Humbling yourself simply means you realize He is God and you are not.

As we close, obeying all these commands will not ever prevent all fighting and quarreling but it will certainly diminish the effect of fights and arguments. The resolve to bring healing will be paramount and God will allow us the privilege of winning souls and winning others to our way of thinking.

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