Devotional: Life and Death in the Mouth

Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can never hurt me.
What a lie.
I think the original intent of that statement was to try to get kids to not let teasing affect them. The truth is though that words hurt.

The more difficult truth is that my words have hurt others.

But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

The picture of the tongue that comes to mind is like a poisonous snake. It can inject poison and death where there is life. Have you ever seen words bring death?

Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

Here’s what is even worse- our words can, and sometimes do bring life. The same tongue that brings so much death can bring life too. How in the world do we keep from bringing death and make sure that our words only bring life?

Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. (James 3:8–14)

The way to deal with the tongue is to deal with the heart. God has to change our hearts to change our words. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Are your words bringing death? Ask God to change your heart!

James- Day 60

Friday, November 18, 2011

Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20

I think this is an incredibly interesting way to conclude this incredible book of the Bible.  This verse is specifically referring to the believer’s relationship with other believers.  The idea of “convert” here is not referring to converting from non-Christian to a Christian.  Rather, these verses are talking about helping a believer that has gotten into sin to get back to a right relationship with God.  How does this happen?

1.  Confrontation–  Sometimes we are called to confront others.  This is never fun, but we must hold each other accountable.  See Matthew 18.

2.  Counsel– Sometimes people will come to us to figure out what they need to do, or what they need to change.  Often this happens when people are in crisis.  They’ve gotten to the point in their lives where they are “feeling the heat”.  We’ve got to point them to the Bible and help them to see their situation from God’s perspective.

3.  Care– Both confrontation and counsel must be done with a care for the person involved.  Our motivation should be to love God and love them.  In so doing we could “save a soul from death, and …hide a multitude of sins.”

Application:  Today you and I are in one of two groups or possibly in both.  We are either in need of confrontation, counsel and care, or we ought to be confronting, counseling and caring.  Often times both are true.  Which one are you today?

We’re done with James…kind of.
And that concludes the book of James!  I’m so proud of all of you, especially those who finished the book with us.  I think it is so cool!  How does it feel to have finished this incredible book.

Of course, we’ve finished walking through the book, but we’re not finished trying to do what God taught us.  What was the most important thing you learned in the last 60 days of James?

James- Day 59

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. James 5:17-18

 James gives the example of Elijah in today’s verse. Remember that he is making the argument for the person who is sick to pray and to be prayed for by Godly people.  He points out some very key things about Elijah.  First, that Elija “was a man subject to like passions as we are.”  What does this mean?   Elijah was a prophet who ministered in Israel.  You can read about this account in 1 Kings 17 and 18.  Elijah wasn’t some superhuman person who could control the weather by his own will.  He was a normal person, who, like us, is subject to the same temptations and desires that we face.  God controlled the weather, not Elijah.  Yet, at the same time when Elijah asked God, God granted His requests.

Prayer is powerful enough to stop and bring rain, and prayer is powerful enough to turn a heart back to God.

Application:  Prayer is so powerful.  You and I have the opportunity to communicate with the God of the Universe.  Make sure to take time to talk to God throughout the day today.