Faithlife Sermons

Reflections from Wisdom

Notes
Transcript

This was a good year for our garden. It took a while to start ripping! but our squash really grew well. Our kale has provided us with many huge salads. And the tomatoes that I took out yesterday were all green but quite plentiful. And we had the surprise of returning ground cherry bushes that self seeded from last year.. Those ones are still giving.
All this was at our home garden because we had weed free straw bails to plant in. lots of chicken fertilizer. and plenty of water.
But my garden in the community garden hasn’t fared quite so well. I took over a small neglected plot that was left over.
the previous year the lambs quarters had over grown that spot. and I have been fighting them this whole season.
kale and beans grew poorly as a result. and so did the squash and lettuces.
In today’s text James, wants us to prepare our hearts for spiritual growth. As you would your garden for planting.
Preparing your heart for a gospel growth takes.
time in the word, time in the worship, time in relationship, time in service.
The formula for spiritual growth.
A plant in a green house has advantages, fewer weeds, more heat, more water. And produces more fruit.

19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

26 If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

As James addresses his listeners he called them to tend to the garden of their hearts and to prepare them for growth and for fruit.
How to read the word- Let it take root in your heart and change who you are.
The word is God’s description of who you are and what he is doing in you and through you.
The word is also Christ.
This isn’t about intellectual knowledge alone. but about living it out.
James calls us to weed out the patterns that cause us to fail to grow.. The first weed that he lists is quick speech and quick anger.. When we rush to speak and rush to rage. We are operating on autopilot and instinct and not by the spirit. The flesh speaks quickly but the word speaks gently. So we slow down and think, listen and learn to trust not our instinct but the words of our savior.
Personally I find this means saying hmm, now that I have thought about it I was wrong the first time. And being okay with saying that. Admitting we were wrong is something Christians should be especially good at. At least until we have learned to keep our mouths shut first till we have listened to God’s thoughts on the subject.
Clean out the other rubbish as well. the junk on TV the arguments and filth on the internet. and the relationships that pull us back into the grave.
The advantages of summer projects.
And as james says it isn’t just about listening to the word!
James 1:22–25 NIV84
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
The man in the mirror.
insane to forget what you look like.
but not so insane for the christian.
Christ is our new head.. His love has rescued us and remade us!
reflecting the new reality.
no longer dead in sin. we have been raised to life.
Declared righteous. Adopted into and new family.
And we take on the likeness and the work of the new family.
Romans 6:5–13 NIV84
If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.
It would be madness to return to the misery of life outside of our redemption. To forget who we are in Christ and to live as slaves to sin and death.
But instead James calls us to look in the mirror that is the Word. To see Jesus and to study his character, to study his words. To study his patience and his sacrifices and to live in imitation of him.
This is the perfect law that gives freedom. It is rooted in relationship. And guided by scripture .
it leads long to imitate our savior and teaches us how to find happiness.
Side point freedom in the law.
The law leads to freedom when we discover that it satisfies in a way that sin can not.
We were created to be righteous, and we were created to be in relationship with God.
This is a process. a series of trials that are turned into triumphs.
not immediate but growing in likeness as we do when your teenage child hands out with a crowd and gains their postures and expressions.
So what does the Woman or man in the mirror. look like?
Holier than thou??
More Educated than thou??
More Liberated than thou??
There are lots of LOOKS that Christians take on that are just that- looks.
But they are just outward behaviors till they are shaped by long process of listing to the voice of God. And they all need to be evaluated by the criteria James offers in the third portion of this text.
James 1:26–27 NIV84
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
What is Religion? Re Ligion- like in ligaments- to connect to bind together.
To rebind.. To reconnect to our maker. Our means of connecting.
So the question that James is answering here is the summation of everything he has been saying thus far.
And at the same time a reminder of the character of Christ.
Religiosity and a tongue The tongue is the gateway to the heart. -
Matthew 12:33–35 NIV84
“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.
Here James and Jesus invite us again to be listeners.. to our own words.
Do our words reflect the peace of God and the love of God.
Or do our words fall short.
Are our mouths full of Gossip?
Resentment and complaining?
vanity? We use our words to make ourselves look Good or sound good rather than Jesus.
in-consequence? Do we speak of matters that matter or do we speak just to hear ourselves talk?
Are our words angry- short tempered and demanding?
The tongue is a mirror into our soul and if we use it that way. We can grow in wisdom realizing what weeds we need to remove from our souls to create a better garden for our soul.
And
we can look to our actions as well.
They interestingly work in two ways.. they are the fruit of our faith.. a sign that we are growing more like Christ.
And they are also the fertilizer that speeds up the process of sanctification.
James specifically mentions - looking after orphans and widows.
And we have no shortage of single mothers and foster children in Miramichi so this one should have practical implications on how we live.
What God required:
Deuteronomy 14:29 ESV
And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.
How Israel Failed.
Isaiah 1:12–13 NIV
When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
Isaiah 1:17 NIV84
learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
God is calling his people not just to occasionally feed the poor but demand justice for them. To fight on their behalf and to take responcibility for their well being.
In fact this was God’s own character description
“a Father to the fatherless and defender of widows” (Ps. 68:5)
James is calling the us to walk as God walked not as the pharisees walked Small in love and great in in words. Rather to let our words be few and our love be great. and our lives be imitations of Christ’s.
And this means living in a way that is different than the world.. not speaking a different language be speaking with a different tone. Not Judging what is beautiful or worthy or worthwhile based on the measurements of the world but on the character of Christ.
In the next line James gives us a great example of that that means when warns us against discrimination based on wealth. At that time the whole point of wealth was to be treated with a special honor. But James makes it very clear that the church is the one place where the very poor and the very wealthy and everyone in between is treated with equal honor!
This is the kind of purity that James is talking about here. the subtle ways that worldly culture can drift into our culture and appear to be be right as rain. To deal with this means that we need to keep going back to that mirror a looking again and again at the image of Christ.. to compare his values to ours. His words to ours. and his life to ours.
This is not a once a week thing or a once a day thing this is a cycle of life that promotes growth.
Clearing the soil and listening instead of speaking.
Looking at the word of the Lord and delighting in the face of our savior.
And practicing what we see. day by day triumph by triumph learning to walk as Christ walked and live as he lives.
Listening to our tongues and acting out the gospel in our words and actions. So that the soil of our hearts is ready for growth as we return again to the word and the worthiness of Christ.
Our lives won’t always be greenhouses for gospel growth. Someday’s weeks and months can overwhelming and we end up putting the gospel on the back burner. but that doesn’t mean it should stay there.
This pattern of growing in grace, is designed to carry us through trials and into triumphs to strengthen us at our weakest and teach us patience when we are in distress.
And I want to encourage you today and tomorrow to take stock of your character and your journey in faith thus far. Are you growing and learning. Is your heart changing, are your words changing. Do you look more like Christ than you did last year, or 5 years ago?
And if you don’t like the answer then start with preparing your soil, then move your mirror and get to know the face of Jesus a little bit better each day. And in time we will see more of him in you!
Finally focus on your own garden. God is doing a different work in your life than someone else’s.
Tedi’s garden in Las Cruses.. versus mine.
Learn from their success’ and failures, and rest in the grace of god’s love for you today.
prayer
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