Today’s Saturday special diverts from the red letters a bit to an exhortation from James. This word has had an impact on me this week, and I wanted to share it with you

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:13-18 (NASB)

My friend Larry pointed this verse (17 above) out to me yesterday at breakfast - well he mentioned it, and suggested that when we argue the scriptures with others to prove our points, this puts the wisdom we are arguing in question.

As I looked at this passage it convicted me regarding my use of scripture in the past. Many times I have begun from a place of pride suggesting that I have a greater knowledge of scripture than the person I am talking with, and so I must be right. I took an air of superiority and came into conversations with a distinct “you can’t tell me anything I don’t already know” attitude.

Honestly, I do have a pretty good grasp of the Bible, and some ability in navigating scripture, but as soon as I sprinkle in my arrogance and unteachable nature, I become indistinguishable from a Pharisee.

Look at this list of dos and don’ts from the above passage. [Side bar here, look how James teaches – he makes a sandwich of the truth. Some things to do – some really bad stuff to avoid – and the results of the good stuff if you will embrace it! Good method of correction.]

The GOOD:

  • Wisdom is DEMONSTRATED in our lives by good behavior! (Head knowledge – Who really cares what you know if it doesn’t translate to who you are? [Tweet This])
  • Wisdom is GENTLE. (I have been guilty of wielding what I thought was wisdom like a battle-axe.)

The BAD:

  • Bitter Jealousy
  • Selfish Ambition (Yep – for sure I have used my version of wisdom to make myself look good. Also note that he tags it with “in your heart” which tells me this is not just your demeanor, but the “why” underlying your approach to wisdom.)
  • Arrogant (This one hurts me deeply, as I ponder some conversations I have had in the past. The verse says that when we approach wisdom with arrogance, we lie against the truth.)

Bad Wisdom is:

  • Earthly
  • Demonic (Wow)

Bad Wisdom leads to:

  • Disorder
  • EVERY EVIL THING (that is pretty bad!)

The Character of the GOOD wisdom:

  • Pure
  • Peaceable
  • Gentle
  • Reasonable
  • Full of Mercy and Good Fruit (I like good fruit)
  • Unwavering
  • Without Hypocrisy
  • Sown in Peace by Peacemakers

So check out the character of good wisdom! James is not playing around here. This is quite a description. In order for God’s wisdom to be well represented we must strive to walk in this character. Pure heart, not looking to advance ourselves, but those we counsel, in a spirit of peace, not discord, gentle, not on the attack, reasonable, not driven by dogma, merciful and fruitful, not wishy-washy, no play acting, and pressing for peace.

Can you bring wisdom in this way?

Thanks for reading today.

Ben

We have been poking about the edges of 1 Corinthians 15, gleaning some wonderful gospel truth.

Today I want to do a quick rescan of the passage and notice the “proof” Paul offers for the gospel, and specifically for the resurrection, since that is where he is planning on spending the rest of what we call Chapter 15.

Proof #1 ~ The transformation in the lives of the Corinthian believers:

the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, ~ 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

We have looked in-depth at these effects of the gospel already, but they also act as proof, a validation of the veracity of the Word. The gospel was received, and now the Corinthian believers stand, they are saved, and they hold fast.

They have been transformed, and this is the first proof, the power to change man’s life. I am not the man I was, and by this I know that Jesus lives.

There is a schmultzy old hymn we used to sing when I was a kid called “He Lives.” Though I never much like the music, I love the words. Here is the chorus.

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and He talks with me
Along life's narrow way.
He lives, He live, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives:
He lives within my heart. ~ Alfred H. Ackley

I know Christ is alive because – well – He lives!

Proof #2 ~ Hundreds of fulfilled prophecies:

...according to the Scriptures ~ 1 Corinthians 15:3 & 4

We looked at a few yesterday, but I would refer you to a couple of my Christmas posts if you want to dig a little deeper.

My post “One more Christmas Gift” list more than 25 Old Testament prophecies that are fulfilled in the Life of Jesus.

My post “GF Handel’s Messiah – Lyrics” has the entire libretto for Handel’s “Messiah”  the text of which is 100% scriptures, and I have tagged it with references for easy access.

Proof #3 ~ Eye witnesses:

and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as it were to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:5-8

1)    Cephas (a.k.a. Peter) ~ I love that Peter is listed first. He says, "first Peter," and clearly this is talking about after Christ met Mary in the garden and went to the Father to present His blood, but the fact that Peter is touched, since Peter was left hurting after the last week’s events.

I suppose it may be that Paul was not counting women at all, since in courts of the day, women were likely not considered. (sad)

2)    The 12 ~ Well – I would assume the name “The 12” was more of a moniker than an actual count, since Peter we already know about, and Judas was dead.

3)    Greater than 500 at one time. Hard to deny this testimony. And Paul points out that many of these are still alive at the writing of this letter.

4)    James ~ This was referring to His half-brother, not the son of Zebedee. This James always interested me. We know that Jesus’ half brothers didn't follow Him during His ministry, but now, risen from the dead, these are guys who could not be moved. James and Jude were both New Testament contributors, and we learn in the book of  Acts that James became the main leader of the early Church.

5)    Apostles ~ It interests me that Paul gives us Apostles in addition to “the 12.” Pretty clearly (to me anyway) demonstrates that Apostleship was not dependent on being a disciple.

6)    Paul ~ Finally talks about His own meeting with Jesus. The story of His meeting on the road to Damascus is told and retold (3 times total) in the book of Acts, but I believe those 1,000 days in the wilderness of Arabia, Paul was receiving from the Lord the gospel that he never did stop preaching.

Proof #4 ~ The Graces or gifts given to Paul:

For I am the least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 1 Corinthians 15:9-10

In particular we see Paul’s transformation from Christian killer to in his own assessment (which was sponsored by the Holy Spirit) the hardest working apostle to walk the earth.

Pretty compelling proof! Any lawyer would love to defend a case like this.

Christians, I hope this stirs up your confidence. The gospel stands incontestable.

Do not fear

Go and preach it today.

Ben NelsonSee you again soon.

Ben

But the centurion said, "Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” ~ Matthew 8:8

Yesterday we jumped off this little diving board into a conversation about the power of words.

Today, I just want to point out some important precautions.

Words work both ways.

Words you have heard from heaven set heaven in motion. In the same manner words filled with death, set death in motion in your life.

When you express your “faith,” your expectation of failure and futility using your very powerful words, you set gears in motion that you don’t want turning.

I am not talking about some “power of positive thinking” here. I am saying that because words are so powerful we much treat them as we would a fire. That is the word picture James uses. Words are like fire.

 So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. Behold, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. James 3:5-6

Fire is a the most wonderful and horrible phenomenon. It can be a power for good and for evil.

So – Watch you mouth!

BenThanks for coming by.

See you again soon.

Ben

Today’s Saturday special diverts from the red letters a bit to an exhortation from James. This word has had an impact on me this week, and I wanted to share it with you

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:13-18 (NASB)

My friend Larry pointed this verse (17 above) out to me yesterday at breakfast - well he mentioned it, and suggested that when we argue the scriptures with others to prove our points, this puts the wisdom we are arguing in question.

As I looked at this passage it convicted me regarding my use of scripture in the past. Many times I have begun from a place of pride suggesting that I have a greater knowledge of scripture than the person I am talking with, and so I must be right. I took an air of superiority and came into conversations with a distinct “you can’t tell me anything I don’t already know” attitude.

Honestly, I do have a pretty good grasp of the Bible, and some ability in navigating scripture, but as soon as I sprinkle in my arrogance and unteachable nature, I become indistinguishable from a Pharisee.

Look at this list of dos and don’ts from the above passage. [Side bar here, look how James teaches – he makes a sandwich of the truth. Some things to do – some really bad stuff to avoid – and the results of the good stuff if you will embrace it! Good method of correction.]

The GOOD:

  • Wisdom is DEMONSTRATED in our lives by good behavior! (Head knowledge – Who really cares what you know if it doesn’t translate to who you are? [Tweet This])
  • Wisdom is GENTLE. (I have been guilty of wielding what I thought was wisdom like a battle-axe.)

The BAD:

  • Bitter Jealousy
  • Selfish Ambition (Yep – for sure I have used my version of wisdom to make myself look good. Also note that he tags it with “in your heart” which tells me this is not just your demeanor, but the “why” underlying your approach to wisdom.)
  • Arrogant (This one hurts me deeply, as I ponder some conversations I have had in the past. The verse says that when we approach wisdom with arrogance, we lie against the truth.)

Bad Wisdom is:

  • Earthly
  • Demonic (Wow)

Bad Wisdom leads to:

  • Disorder
  • EVERY EVIL THING (that is pretty bad!)

The Character of the GOOD wisdom:

  • Pure
  • Peaceable
  • Gentle
  • Reasonable
  • Full of Mercy and Good Fruit (I like good fruit)
  • Unwavering
  • Without Hypocrisy
  • Sown in Peace by Peacemakers

So check out the character of good wisdom! James is not playing around here. This is quite a description. In order for God’s wisdom to be well represented we must strive to walk in this character. Pure heart, not looking to advance ourselves, but those we counsel, in a spirit of peace, not discord, gentle, not on the attack, reasonable, not driven by dogma, merciful and fruitful, not wishy-washy, no play acting, and pressing for peace.

Can you bring wisdom in this way?

Thanks for reading today.

Ben