Friday, July 25, 2014


For the week beginning Sunday July 27, 2014

(Our words should honor GOD and others)
(James 3)

When JESUS becomes the LORD of our hearts, HE also automatically becomes the LORD of our thoughts, and our tongues. Not many people should become teachers in the Christian Church, because those who teach will be judged by GOD with greater strictness (James 3:1).
After explaining the Christian characteristics of “patience” in chapter 1, and of “truth”, in chapter 2, James, the brother of JESUS, now moves on to the subject of “Christian maturity” here in chapter 3. Here he endeavors to explain the all-important characteristic of a Christian being able to “control his or her thoughts and tongues”.
Here James begins by discouraging the efforts, or ideas of too many people seeking to be teachers in the Church. He reminds us that teachers are evaluated by GOD in a much stricter manner than everyone else. To teach GOD’s Word is the most serious of undertakings, and must by no means be taken lightly. And while it is a great privilege to teach, such a calling comes with an even greater responsibility and dedication. And perhaps the greatest responsibility of all is controlling the tongue with which we teach. In fact, James says that, if we are successful in doing so, we should also be able to control ourselves in every other area of our lives (v.2).
The mature Christian must “be patient in troubled times”, “practice the truth”, and, “exercise power over his or her own tongue” constantly. Our words must always reflect GOD’s wisdom, and not, the wisdom of the world. Thereby, James is saying that, “controlled talk”, and “cultivated thought” are both necessary at all times.
As Christians, we must not be prone to gossip, sarcasm, or trying to hurt or destroy one another with the words that we speak. The tongue is a small, but powerful instrument, and with it, we have the power to direct (Vs.1-4), destroy (Vs.5-8), or delight one another (Vs.9-12). We can use the tongue, to both, praise GOD, and, to curse, or cuss those who are made in the image of GOD.
In verses 3-5a, James uses the examples of “a horses bit”, which is used to control the horse’s direction, and “a rudder”, which is used to pilot, or steer a ship in any direction, even in a storm. As small as these two items are, they are very effective in controlling the powerful horse, and the massive ship in the storm. The human tongue can be likened to those in its size-to-power ratio. It can be a great director of GOD’s wisdom as it is taught to others, or, it can be a great destroyer, and do tremendous damage to mankind if its teachings are false.
In verses 5b-6, James likens the tongue to a tiny spark that can set off a great forest fire. He tells us that the tongue can be a flaming fire full of wickedness that can ruin your whole life. It can turn the course of a person’s life into a blazing flame of destruction that seems to have been set by hell itself.
Even those people, who possess a faith that produces many works, will still have to meet many challenges along their Christian walk, and among the first of those challenges is to learn to deal with the very tongue that has always been with them. The tongue can be uncontrollable, and it exerts a tremendous amount of influence into the lives of all people.
The term “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is a statement that is a classic example of worldly wisdom, and is in fact, a lie. Words can sometimes cut to the bone, even more deeply than sticks and stones, and can indeed, be very painful, and can hurt for a lifetime.
The words of our tongue changes only when our thought process changes. As Christians our thought process must be more reflective of GOD, and more fixed on the will of GOD, and thereby, our goal is to be able to share the mind of CHRIST. Until our hearts, or, thought processes change, we won’t ever be able to tame our tongues, or replace worldly wisdom with the wisdom and knowledge of GOD.
Another problem that we as humans face in life, rather Christian or non-Christian, is that of our own “sin nature”, which causes us to harbor bitterness and ambition in our hearts. As a result of that, we become moved by a world wisdom that aids us in achieving worldly selfish ends that leave others in ruin in our wake. Wisdom from GOD, on the other hand, directs us into a pure, peace-loving, and submissive way of life under GOD, that, we will not, and cannot, find through our dealings in world wisdom.
We need to become accustomed to living by the GODly wisdom that will ultimately bring us a harvest of righteousness through CHRIST JESUS. We must learn to speak with thoughtful speech, and always let our words reflect the wisdom that comes from GOD HIMSELF. However, this does not mean that we won’t ever offend others while we are defending the Word of GOD (the Gospel), with our speech, in the world. And hopefully, we ourselves, as Christians won’t be offended when we are rebuked for going against the Word of the GOD we say we serve and represent, in this world.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander 

Friday, July 4, 2014


For the week beginning Sunday July 6, 2014

(GOD leads us to act on faith)
(James 2:14-26)

Faith that doesn’t manifest itself through good deeds is equivalent to “no faith at all”, and indeed, is dead and worthless in the eyes of GOD (James 2:17). GOD gauges our faith directly by our actions, and what we say means very little to GOD. Man continues to prove, over time, that he seldom does what he says he will do. On the contrary, man always, 100% of the time, does that which is in his heart. And so “man’s heart” remains the barometer by which GOD gauges the faith of HIS greatest creation, for HE seldom takes into account what a man might say.
It is the duty of the Christian to build his or her foundation on the Most High Faith. We have the charge from CHRIST to demonstrate our love by readily and willingly accepting others, and, by our volition to serve and aid our fellowman whenever, and wherever, the need exists. True faith always manifests itself through good deeds, and serves as evidence of who we really are on the inside.
This section of James’ letter to the Jewish Christians begins with two probing questions;

·         What’s the use of saying you have faith, if you don’t prove it by your actions? (v.14)
·         What good does it do to believe that there is only one GOD, if you don’t act accordingly, by obeying only HIS commandment to show love to one another, through our acts of good deeds towards one another? (Vs.19-20)

Both of these questions help us to focus squarely on the relationship between “Faith and Works”. In his first question James asks, “What good is it?”, or “Of what advantage can it be if our faith in GOD doesn’t manifest itself in our good deeds? Here James wants us to envision a man who says he is a Christian simply because he thinks he has faith. However, this same man hasn’t exhibited any good, or GODly works as a result of that said faith. The man, for instance, hasn’t endured any trials or temptations, doesn’t have the right attitude towards wealth, doesn’t eagerly receive GOD’s Word into his heart, and doesn’t care for orphans or widows. He often shows favoritism toward certain people, and exhibits all of the “bad fruit” that James had previously mentioned in this letter.
Intellectual acceptance of GOD is not, in itself, a “Saving Faith”, because, even demons know that GOD exists (v.19). A “Saving Faith” will always have a discernible positive impact on a person’s attitude and behavior. Faith that does not produce “good fruit” in our life, and, in the lives of others, is NOT a Saving Faith, and cannot save anyone from the penalty that GOD imposes on our sin.
In verses 20-26, James uses the examples of Abraham (Genesis 22:16-18) and Rahab (Joshua 2:1-7) to help us distinguish between “Professed Faith” and “Saving Faith”. In Genesis 22, Abraham, who was declared “righteous” by GOD, had to show his faith through his actions by offering up his own son as a living sacrifice to GOD, simply because GOD asked him to, and without understanding why.
In Joshua 2, Rahab, a Gentile woman, acted on her faith in GOD by risking her life, and the lives of her family to protect the men of GOD who had come to spy out her homeland. And so here, it becomes increasingly clear that, we are made right with GOD by our righteous deeds, and not just, by faith alone (James 2:21-25). And just as the body is dead without a spirit, so also, faith is dead without good deeds (v.26).
“Saving Faith” is a faith that is manifested through good works before and under GOD, even while under pressure and duress from our emotions. Any so-called faith that is not accompanied by good works is not a faith that can save a person from eternal damnation. People like Abraham and Rahab show a dynamic obedience to GOD under pressure and duress that can only be considered as “Saving Faith”.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander    

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website