Transforming The Tongue

To transform your tongue – transform your heart.

First, if your mouth is just the same as it was before you became a Christian – then I’m sorry but you didn’t become a Christian.

Salvation has to change your mouth. Your language, your sarcasm, your biting tone, your put downs – they have to have changed.

If they haven’t – repent and get saved.

Second, call on the power of God and the resources of the people of God.

Use the power and resources of God to transform your heart.

James says of tongue sins – these things ought not be so. This infers there is a power to deal with them.

By the power of God – you can tame your tongue.

Pray and ask God to set a guard over your mouth – to transform your tongue.

Develop the spiritual disciplines. The godlier you become – the godlier your tongue becomes.

Fill your heart with godly truths so that is what will come out. Philippians 4:8:

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Put these in your heart.

Memorise Scripture. Meditate on Scripture.

Fill your heart with these things – so that is what comes out of your mouth.

Faith, Salvation and Works

A casual reading of James 2 seems to indicate James is at odds with Paul.

I want to argue as forcefully as I can that both James and Paul – have exactly the same understanding of this relationship:

Works prove our salvation – they don’t provide our salvation.

It is our faith that is the ground of our salvation – it is faith that leads to salvation.

And then true salvation always produces works – spiritual fruit.

Works are the fruit of our salvation – not the root of our salvation.

Works are a necessary evidence and a natural outflow of a living faith.

You change any of these relationships and you change the gospel.

Perhaps I can illustrate these relationships this way.

You are at the beach and you see two young children swept out to sea. You ignore the danger – jump in, swim out and just barely manage to drag them to shore – saving their lives.

Prime Minister Turnbull thinks this is wonderful and invites you to Parliament House where he awards you a whopping great Medal of Valour.

The medal did not save those children – you did.

But the medal is tangible evidence to the world that you saved those children.

In the same way – the world looks at Christians – they can’t see our faith – what they can see is what true faith produces – works.

Works do not save us – but they are proof of our salvation.

The danger of partiality

Mercy triumphs over judgment.

This statement in James 2:13 is crucial.

The true value of a Christian is that mercy has triumphed over judgment and now Christ lives in them.

But here is the point James is making. He has just told us to be a doer of the word. He is about to tell us – faith without works is dead.

Here he says – if on the final day you want God’s mercy to triumph over God’s judgment.

Then in this life – you need to show you are His by allowing your mercy to triumph over your judgment.

Judgmentalism comes easily and naturally. But it comes with evil motives.

Mercy comes with a great cost – in fact it only comes when Christ is in us.

But if Christ is in us – then we will ensure our mercy triumphs over our judgment.

James says – our speech and our actions – the way we treat others has to line up with mercy not judgment – or we don’t understand the gospel.

In Luke 6:36–38, Jesus said exactly the same thing:

Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. … For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

If you judge by externals rather than mercy – that is how God will treat you.

For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.

Here is the point. If you judge others by externals – if you judge with evil motives – I accept this one because he is good…

The Seed Won’t Grow In Sin

James is very clear in James 1:21 that you will not welcome the word if your life is filled with filthiness.

Imagine that your doorbell rings – you open the door – it is Elder Kyosti come for a visit.

But your mind immediately realises – Oh no – if I invite him in – he will see my Game of Thrones videos on the TV, my men’s magazines on the table, my Lotto tickets on the bench, and the holes I punched in the wall.

Oh man Kyosti – I’m really sorry – would love to invite you in but I was just leaving.

It is like that with the word.

If you love your sin, your filthiness your rampant wickedness – you are not going to invite in the word of God because you know it will convict you and demand you deal with this.

The words James uses here – filthiness and rampant wickedness – these are not words for minor sins – these are significant sins – the ones that even your sinful heart can’t convince you are OK to tolerate.

James knows that as tragic as it is – Christians sin – they even commit vile sins.

But he also knows that if you refuse to deal with them – reading the word, hearing the word – it is water off a duck’s back. Nothing gets in.

If you are consumed with hate or greed or lust or envy – you can sit through a hundred sermons – you can read the whole New…

Why The Tree?

Who puts a tree that leads to death in the middle of the Garden and says – don’t eat from it?

Why put that tree in the garden if they can’t eat from it?

Take your five year old to a buffet – then tell them – you can eat anything you want – anything – including every desert – except one. No peanut butter-chocolate cake.

I trust you. Daddy is just going to talk with Mummy now – enjoy.

What is the first thing that kid is going to do?

He is going to turn around – Dad’s not watching – cake time.

Many picture the fall like this.

God specifically tempting them – beyond what they can endure.

To them God is at fault.

As well, they want to know – how could a loving Father put a temptation that leads to death before His children?

Surely if your kid is allergic to peanuts you take the cake away or you at least stand guard.

At the very least why didn’t a loving God put an electric fence, a moat and a guard dragon around that tree?

I mean where was the Cherubim with the flaming sword before the fall?

Why?

Here is my imperfect understanding.

If there was no tree – no way to disobey God – then there is no real way to choose to obey God.

And if there is no way to choose to obey God – then there is no way to grow and become what God created us to be.

Every trial, every temptation is an opportunity – either…

Life Is A Vapour

How short is this life?

James 1 uses the illustration of the wild flowers of the middle east that often spring up – but if a Sirocco – a scorching wind comes – they fade and die that very day.

These flowers live their whole life in under a day.

In terms of eternity that is us.

Life is a vapour – a mist – breath. It is fleeting – here today and then gone.

Personally, I cannot believe how fast this life goes.

Just this I ran into someone that I hadn’t seen for a while.

I asked her what she had been up to for the last year? She looked at me and said – Craig, you know I have been away for over four years?

Really!

Since I last saw you – I married, had a child and now we are ready for another child.

I am sure she is right – but I would have said – one year max. Time is a vapour.

James does not say this to depress us but to encourage us.

To live is Christ, to die is gain.

Ask my family – I am just as guilty as anyone about moaning about getting old. My back hurts. My shoulder hurts. My body is failing. Woe is me.

James says – wrong way to view it. Rejoice! Age is merely a sign that the day of trials will end. The day of Christ is near.

You are poor for a time – you are exalted in Christ for all eternity.

You are rich for a time –…

Wisdom From Above

Christians throw the term ‘wisdom’ around a lot.

It is a very common thing for Christians to pray and ask God for ‘wisdom’ when faced with the decisions of life.

I have listened to many prayers over the past few weeks – and I can tell you in many prayers I heard a plea for wisdom.

There are a few phrases Christians use a lot in prayers.

Father-God …

If it be Your will …

We ask for your wisdom …

And if there is a decision to be made – a plea for God’s wisdom is almost universal.

You are trying to decide if you should marry Fred, you’ve been offered a job in New Guinea and don’t know if you should take it, you are trying to decide if now is the right time to have a child – and so Christians very commonly pray for God to give them ‘wisdom’ in their decision making.

I suspect there would be few if any Christians here who have not prayed for wisdom in the big and small choices of life.

But, if that is you – then I want to ask you – when you prayed – and said God please give me wisdom – what did you actually mean by that? – what did you want from God?

Recently, after some people had prayed and asked God for wisdom – I asked – what did you mean when you asked God for wisdom?

Most looked at me as if to say – I don’t know – I just want wisdom.

Not…

God’s Good Purpose In Trials

Charles Spurgeon summed all how we should view trials. He said:

So far as personal sorrows are concerned, it would be a very sharp and trying experience to me to think that I have an affliction which God never sent me, that the bitter cup was never filled by His hand, that my trials were never measured out by Him, nor sent to me by His arrangement of their weight and quantity.

… May we see that our heavenly Father fills the cup with loving tenderness, and holds it out, and says, ‘Drink, my child; bitter as it is, it is a love-potion which is meant to do thee permanent good.’

What a great description of trials – they are a love-potion which is meant to do you permanent good.

It is this attitude that allows us to count trials as joy.

This is not the joy that comes from feelings – this the perfect contented joy that comes from knowing God is at work to make us mature, complete and lacking in nothing.

Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him. He didn’t feel joy from the lashes, the crown of thorns, the nails, the cross – He endured them for the joy that would come from persevering to the end.

Trials become a joy when the goal of Christlike maturity is before us.

We know this – but it doesn’t make applying it any easier.

We are put together in such a way that it is a fight to consider trials a joy.

It is…

A Precious Possession

In Titus 2:14 Paul writes that Jesus gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession.

The word means a treasured possession – a precious possession.

This is as personal as it gets.

Every one of us has some treasured possession. A family heirloom – a painting – something.

But I think we see it most clearly in our kids.

Every one of my kids had something that was a treasured possession. A stuffed animal or a blanket. Blankie, dolly, monkey, kitty cat.

They loved them till they literally fell apart – but even then they were precious.

Years back we had a garage sale. My wife pulled out all of our old toys and games – ones that had sat at the back of the cupboard for years.

Some were to be sold – some thrown out.

But we nearly made a fatal mistake – blankie was momentarily put in the throw out bin. That would have been a disaster.

Fortunately, the error was picked up in time.

You have to realise that blankie is not much to look at. He has been patched many times, he looks about to disintegrate – but even today he is still very loved.

Blankie, dolly, monkey, kitty cat – would fetch nothing at a garage sale – but they are precious possessions – they are loved by the Lloyds.

It is that kind of love – God lavished on us.

You might think you are a catch – you are not.

We aren’t much to…

A Fitting Ending

Throughout the book of Job – we read about the pain of life in this fallen world.

Death, illness, broken marriages, broken friendships, disabled children, hunger, natural disasters, pain.

This is the legacy of sin in our world and in our lives.

At times it seems hopeless.

At times it seems this is the final word.

But here is the great truth – suffering does not have the final word.

Jesus has the final word.

The end of Job points to Jesus who will destroy sin and suffering forever.

Job never received a direct answer to why he suffered. As far as we know Job never even found out the conversation between God and Satan.

But he didn’t need to.

Job finally learned the point.

The great question is not why am I suffering but who can end the suffering?

Jesus is the One – the only One who can end the suffering. And He already has won the victory and the day of the end of sin and suffering is certain.

Many don’t like the end of Job.

But rightly understood, it is a picture perfect ending. A picture of the complete and final victory of Jesus over sin and suffering.

What is the point of the end of Job? 1 Corinthians 15:54–58 says it so well:

When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin,…