Monday, September 3, 2007

Good Gifts, Listening, and Anger (James 1:16-20)

These notes are from Pastor Tony's Sunday night message August 26th at Fountain of Grace.

James 1:16-20
16 Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. 17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. 19My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

Note that every good and every mature or perfect gift comes only from heaven above (where Jesus is from). The earth rotates and the shadows have constant variation, but there are no variations in God's character. Everything has come from above and is good.

God set our value, not by our works, but through his Son by giving us the righteousness of Christ. Just like Christ's character, our value in his sight will never change. We're part of God's plan. We're actually his first fruits and part of God's harvest and in that we're something that glorifies Christ.

Only good comes from God. The same is not true of us. We need to ask God to give us the same kind of consistency. We won't totally reach it until eternity, but we are to strive to be like Christ. Verse 19-20 speak of anger. If anger is a person's response to you when you share a difficult truth with them, it's less likely that you will want to confront or correct them. We need to be quick to hear God's word, be quick to listen and slow to wrath.

Measure your temper by how you are with your family, not by how you are with strangers or people in the Church. Constancy is a fruit that should be in us (as it is in God). It can also be described as self control. When people know that you're consistent, more people will come to you for you to minister to them. A person's spouse is more likely to approach the other to correct and encourage if their spouse is constant in temper.

Be swift to hear. We should not listen to figure out how to respond, or listen to pick out words to attack and defend against. We shouldn't just listen to what is being said, but should have ears to hear what's really going on (the deeper issues). The most difficult thing to do is to really communicate. It's hard to really hear what people are saying. Realize that we do chose our responses. We often turn to wrath before we even really hear what's being said. Wrath doesn't produce God's righteousness in us. You will never regret being a peace maker, humbling yourself or really listening. If you don't understand what the other person is saying, sometimes it's best to discontinue the conversation for a time in order to separate and pray. Don't let the sun go down on your wrath, it gives place to the devil. Listen to others!

Loving others is impossible without God, but he has given us himself so Christ in us can handle very situation.

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