“Heavenly Wisdom’s Peace”

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Subtitle: The transcendence of both Wisdom & Peace  in the Life of Jesus

Text: James 3:17-18 —  17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: This heavenly wisdom is so other worldly it is truly hard for us to get a handle on it.

My Thoughts on James 3:17-18: 

While the “wisdom from below” brings chaos and discord (accompanied by a lot of brash noise), the “wisdom from above” brings a pure, undefiled peace that yields righteousness. James tells us that  the “wisdom from below” yields strife and dissension—all that is contrary to peace (see James 3:13-16). But the heavenly wisdom that is described is first of all pure, having no ulterior motives fueled by selfish ambition and bitter envy. And then it is peace-loving. This is not peace at any cost, but a peace that is at the cost of the cross. It is this cost that makes this peace so other worldly. Can we really grasp this? I know I marvel at the profundity of this wisdom. I often wonder if I can even get a handle on it. Oh, I may taste it, even sip it, but do I fully appreciate this heavenly wisdom’s peace?

Lifestyle worshipers, you remember that our Lord Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives…” (John 14:27a). This is the peace He secured for us on the cross: A Peace with God (Romans 5:1-2). This is the Peace that Jesus breathed on His disciples, a peace offering forgiveness (John 20:21-23). This is the Peace that He Himself is (Eph. 2:14).

And this is the peace that surpasses all understand (Phil. 4:7). James sees the connection between Heavenly Wisdom and this transcendent peace. Would you agree that truly wise people are people who are truly at peace? And with this peace comes forgiveness and righteousness and mercy?

To me, the only way for me to even get a taste of this heavenly wisdom that is marked by peace is to continually yield to the Lord Jesus Christ’s Life in mine. And as I grow in His Life, I will grow in the wisdom that yields a peace that is truly other worldly.  Or do you think that the heavenly wisdom that brings this transcendent peace is too beyond us? How do you see appropriating the heavenly traits of this heavenly wisdom noted in James 3:17 above? Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.

— Proverbs 29:11 (NIV84)

But I tell you who hear Me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  

— Luke 6:27-28 (NIV84)

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.

— John 7:38 (NIV84)

An Empowering Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, as You become my heavenly Wisdom, transform my mind to mirror these heavenly traits and fill my soul with Your surpassing Peace. You are my Prince of Peace! Bless Your Holy Name. Amen.

“ Growing Up: Tested Through Relationships”

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Text: James 2:1-4  1 My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? [NIV84]

The Big Idea: The test lab of relationships reveals your heart’s prejudices.

My Thoughts on  James 2:1-4: 

Growing up is a process; at least for me it has been. And as I read the Book of James, I’m discovering at least two ‘test labs’ for growing up. The first test lab for growing up James presents is trials, those general challenges of life that are more than slivers. But he also presents a second test lab: Relationships. He brings up the subject in 1:9-11, and speaks about social status particularly between the rich and the poor. He desire is to see the “haves” and the “have not’s” loving each other in the Body of the Messiah. So in these verses he encourages believers in Messiah Jesus to be humble, holding loosely to worldly possessions because they soon “will fade away” (v. 11; see St. Paul’s comments in Romans 12:16).

But James hits it head on in 2:1-4: The test lab of relationships reveals your heart’s prejudices. …

Lifestyle worshipers, we know we should not favor the rich over the poor. And perhaps this is easy for some, but what I find more difficult: not favoring the ‘lovelies’ over the ‘unlovelies’. Now, my definition of these two words may be somewhat different from yours, but a shared aspect is going to be something like this: the ‘lovelies’ are those I am comfortable with and click with versus ‘unlovelies’ whom I find very, very difficult embarrassing, and draining to be around.

I know that this test lab has a lot more revealing to do in my life. How about in yours? Any thoughts….

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

— Matthew 9:12-13 (NIV84)

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

— Romans 12:16 (NIV84)

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

— Philippians 2:1-5 (NIV84)

A Simple Prayer

Heavenly Father, forgive me for favoring the ‘lovelies’ and ignoring the ‘unlovelies’. I know Your Son mostly hung around with the ‘unlovelies’ of society, and I want to be more like Him. Cleanse me from this unrighteousness so that I may reflect His Life in me more clearly to those You truly Love far more than I can in my own strength. In Your Jesus’ Name Amen.

“Trained By the Pain”

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Date: 9-14-14

(Below are some thoughts I had on James 1:12:  Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.  [NIV84])

One reason we can persevere under the trials (and these are more than slivers; they are crosses), is because of the Joy we have knowing there is a purpose in them. The purposes of a particular trial may have many facets, but one facet is becoming more like Jesus. Because of the Joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross and scorned its shame and is now seated at the right Hand of the Majesty on High. He is no longer wearing a crown of thorns, but He is now wearing the crown of the King of kings! And when we, too, are trained by the pain, we receive a crown, the crown of life.

Lifestyle worshipers, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23 NIV84).“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18 NASB 95). “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2 Cor. 4:8-10 NIV 84). “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18 NIV 84).

Be encouraged to be trained by the pain. Remember: “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” — Luke 6:40 (NIV84)

A Humble Prayer

Heavenly Father, as You teach me to see through the current trial, let the Joy of Your Spirit flood my soul. Guard my heart and my mind with the Peace that passes all understanding: The Lord Jesus Christ, my Prince of Peace. I bless You, in Your Son’s Name Amen.

A Walk with Jesus Starts Where We Are

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Many people who start their journey with Jesus do so with joy and excitement, but then the ‘hard’ starts. For some it is so hard (i.e., both life and His teaching) that they no longer walk with Him, (see John 6:66). Others begin to feel unworthy so they respond by trying to gut it out, resorting to legalism (i.e., doing the Christian life in their own strength, aka Behavioral Christianity), or fake it, resorting to the classic hypocrisy. (Their audience becomes the church; this is why there are a lot of ‘them’ there.)

But there is a third group. This third group knows they cannot gut it out, and they definitely will not fake it. I call these the danglers. They are caught between the “is” and the “ought”— suspended between the reality of what  “is” what  they “ought” to be.  They hang  suspended because they have a healthy and honest sense of their inability to live the Christian Life in their own strength, but haven’t, as yet, come to the Life Jesus offers. Though they still continue their walk with Jesus, they have a hidden hope that somehow, somewhere, and at sometime Truth will break through and they will truly live “the yoke is easy and burden is light” Life Jesus’ promised.

To me, at the first, the apostle Peter appears to be a dangler. He has an honest and healthy sense of who is, especially in light of his later hat trick of denials. This honest assessment is first observed at his first encountered with Jesus just after the “big catch”. In Luke 5:8, Simon keenly observes, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” But in His Grace, Jesus sees someone Simon has yet to see: “Peter, the rock”.  So Simon Peter begins his walk with Jesus.

Much later, after the resurrection, Peter takes yet another walk with Jesus, and again, we can sense the humility as Peter gets up from the fire and walks side by side with the Master along the beach. Here we come to a very familiar exchanged between Jesus and this Simon, now called Peter: “Do you Love Me?”

Much ado is made over the two different Greek words for love in this passage, and rightfully so. The first two Loves’ Jesus says are agapao, the high, sacrificial, selfless, other-serving Love. In response to these two questions of Jesus, Simon Peter uses phileo, the friendship, warm, loyal, deeply invested love. It is at this point many begin to take a rather sad view of phileo love. As C.S. Lewis notes in his book, The Four Loves, “… very few modern people think Friendship a love of comparable value or even a love at all…. To the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it.” Some have so discounted Peter’s phileo love comment to Jesus, it is as if they make Jesus say, “Peter, since you only phileo Me, you cannot service Me; Come back when you agapao Love Me, and I will then reconsider your loyal service.”

Aren’t you glad our Lord didn’t say this to Peter? Instead, Jesus says, (my paraphrase) “Good for you, Peter. You phileo Me. This is a good place to start your service. And until you grow to agapao me, feed my lambs and take care of my sheep” (cf. John 21:17).

But we know that Peter doesn’t quite see this (even as perhaps some of us do not). Because in the third exchange, Jesus does use the word, phileo, as if to say, “Do you even phileo Me, Peter?” Do you agree with me that our Good Shepherd wasn’t chastising Peter for a having a ‘small love,’ but rather was getting a baseline from which to measure Peter’s growth in Love? I think this because of the prophecy of Peter’s Life seems to indicate that one day Peter will agapao Jesus (see John 21:17-19).

Yes, in the beginning, we may “only” phileo the Lord. We have a strong loyalty and deep affection for Him. We yearn to be with Him, His People, and together we hear His voice and feast on His Words. Ah, but to lay down our Life for Him, well, maybe….

Yet, as with Peter, we will (and do) grow into that agapao Love, where one day we, too, may lay down our Life for the Good Shepherd. Did you notice? Growing in our Love on our walk with Jesus starts where we are. Jesus took a walk with Peter to confirm his  ‘baseline-love,’ and he wants to continue His walk with each of us and monitor our Love-growth, as well.