(From Sunday's sermons, if you trust my note-taking)
James 1:17-20 (NIV)
(This is "The Message" translation: "16-18So, my very dear friends, don't get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.
"19-21Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God's righteousness doesn't grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life." )
1. Be QUICK to listen
2. Be SLOW to speak
3. Be COOL --- slow to anger
a. neither slow simmering anger,
b. nor passionate anger
* Jesus seldom got mad, and when He did it was when religious people acted like idiots or when the church acted ungodly.
* He didn't get mad at the drunks and prostitutes; He didn't get mad when people did things to him. He got mad for appropriate and justifiable reasons, and he acted justly in his anger. But he didn't remain mad.
* Most anger comes when we don't get our way
* If we get angry often, we have too much anger. (Prov 29:11 -- A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.)
* Man's anger does not honor God; no one sees a Jesus believer angry and says, "Man, I want to be an angry person like that angry follower of Christ!
* Will Rogers said that when we fly into a rage, we always make a bad landing.
* Don't overcomplicate and overspiritualize things. Do these three things and every area of your life will improve. Keep your temper and tongue under control. Use your ears more. Concentrate on changing you.
James 4: 1-3 (NIV)
(From "The Message" translation: Get Serious 1-2 Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don't have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn't yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.
2-3 You wouldn't think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you'd be asking for what you have no right to. You're spoiled children, each wanting your own way. )
I. There is strife in a lot of places
* In geographical places but also in our hearts, in our churches, in our homes...
* This has been going on since Adam and Eve -- and it was going on in James' church in Jerusalem
II. WE are the problem
* Strife comes from the desires that battle within us/me.
A. The problem is within my heart: about control, power, prestige -- sinful fallen people acting in a sinful fallen way.
B. The problem is within groups of hearts, in a business or family or, what James is most likely talking about here, in churches.
III. Let's change us
When Jesus prayed for the church (in John), he prayed for UNITY, not great music or great preaching or even great mission work. How can we be salt and light to the world if we're vinegar in the church?
Again, this is uncomplicated and simple. Hard to do sometimes, but simple in concept and a simple teaching. The problem is always in the mirror. It is always ME who needs changing.
(From Dr. Chris Sunday morning and night.)
(Teddy note: Was reading Romans 14 and 15 Tuesday night and it's got good stuff on this very thing, church unity and accepting one another, majoring in the majors, etc. Romans 15: 5-7 seems like a timeless summary: "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.")