O God, for the glory of Christ amidst urgent spiritual and physical
need in the world, we submit our minds, our hearts, our voices, and our lives to you. In this message on James 3:13–4:12, David Platt shows us two pictures of wisdom –worldly wisdom and godly wisdom – and two pictures of friendship – friendship with the world and with God.
- Worldly speech discourages one another and dishonors God.
- Godly speech encourages one another and exalts God.
So, James 3, if you have a Bible, and I hope you do. I am so thankful to be your pastor, and I don’t know how to say this without sounding overly dramatic, but you amaze me. Last week, last Sunday, I had the opportunity to spend time with your children, our children, and the brothers and sisters in this faith family who serve tirelessly and selflessly with them week after week after week after week, amazing brothers and sisters and amazing children. Like, they are quoting Scripture left and right. They’re memorizing Psalm 119 in the children’s ministry, Psalm 119. It’s long, over two years, and they’re memorizing, and it’s not just the older children. And many of the Route 66, children who know all 66 books of the Bible, if you’re a child in here and you’re in Route 66, let me invite you to stand where you are. Let’s give the Lord a hand for these guys.
I remember sitting next to a guy in seminary who didn’t know all the books of the Bible, and these 6-year-olds know all the books of the Bible, but it’s not just the older kids, too. You know what the lesson for the preschoolers was last week, the Bible lesson? It was on Sodom and Gomorrah and the judgment of God, that’s what they were studying. Like, they were drawing pictures of a city up in flames. And I was just looking at the picture, and one of the teachers asked a 4-year-old, “Why is the city up in flames?” And the 4-year-old responded, “Because the way of the wicked will perish.” That’s awesome.
And not just their love for the Word, but to hear them pray and to hear them sing, children leading other children in worship, and to hear them talk about making disciples of all nations at 4 and 5 and 6 and 7, it’s an incredible picture.
And then you, do you realize that tonight, this week begins four classes. They are all full, there’s no room left, four classes of individuals and families, they’re beginning a 10-week training process for foster care and adoption. And then there’s other classes that we’ve had to open up in January that are already filling up, two or three of those, people are going to go through that training to care for kids.
And then last week, to see you – and I know, we’ve already celebrated this, Chris shared, but to see this faith family stand overwhelmingly and say, “We want to sacrifice. We don’t know what this means, but we want to sacrifice for the sake of urgent spiritual and physical need around the world. And we want to start by giving now.” The problem is I’m your pastor, that’s the problem here, because I do not know what I’m doing. I wish I could say to you, “Okay, now the next year holds this and this and this,” but I don’t have any clue what the next year holds. I wish I could say to you, “At my last church, when we did this, this is what happened.” But unfortunately, like, you guys are it, which means apparently we are not dependent on this one leader or this group of leaders, but we are dependent on the leader of the church, Christ, who is the head, and we need Him.
And this text is so perfect for that because the text we’re going to look at today actually addresses conflict in the community of faith, divisions in the community of faith. And as I was studying this text this week, I was just filled with joy because the things that we’re going to see in this text are not prevalent in this body, and I’m so thankful. At the same time, this text drove me to my knees because the reality is, as we move forward in the days ahead and particularly this next year and what God is leading us toward, I know the adversary will not sit silently by. The adversary would like nothing more than to deter, to detract, to discourage, to divide God’s people.
Brothers and sisters, we are in a battle, a battle to care for kids that are being neglected in this world, a battle to feed those who have nothing in this world, a battle to take the gospel to people who have not heard it before. And I’m convinced the adversary would like nothing more than to engage us in other battles within ourselves that would detract us from the real battle that is to be fought. Isn’t this the story of churches across our landscape? Battles over what color the carpet should be, or what kind of music we should sing—whatever it is in different context the adversary uses to keep our eyes and our hearts and our energy off of the real battle that is there. And so what I want to do in this text this morning is to encourage us as a faith family, as we enter into battle together, to keep our guards up, to keep our guards up against the kind of things that are addressed in this text.
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
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. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law,
you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor? (Jas. 3:13–4:12).
Father, we pray that you would guard us, you would guard us against anything the adversary would bring our way to distract us from that which most glorifies you. We pray that you would guard our lives, that you would guard our marriages, you would guard our families, you would guard this faith family, God, that you’d keep us from friendship with the world and draw us into deeper and deeper and deeper intimacy with you. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
Okay, two pictures of wisdom, two pictures of friendship, and two pictures of speech, all leading us to pray.
Two Pictures of Wisdom in James 3:13–4:12
Two pictures of wisdom: number one, worldly wisdom. Verses 14, 15, and 16: “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.” Did you catch that? There is a wisdom that comes from hell. There is a wisdom that is common in this world and comes straight from the devil. And the danger is, don’t miss this, the danger is we can think that we are wise and the world can tell us that we are wise, when the reality is, the way we are thinking and our wisdom is from the pits of hell.
Wisdom in the world comes from hell, it is motivated by self-centered ambition, “If you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition” (Jas. 3:14). The wisdom of the world measures everything by how it affects you, “What is best for me?” “How can I best advance myself, promote myself, exalt myself?” Isn’t this the core of conflict in relationships? In marriage, thinking, “What is best for me?” In relationships with friends and family, “What is best for me?” And the context of the church, “What is best for me?” Self-centered ambition. Isn’t this the core of the American dream? Promote yourself, advance yourself, put yourself forward, and the gospel says, “Deny yourself.”
Envy: constantly looking how you compare to others around you. What C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity talked about is linked with pride, competition, always thinking, “Am I better or less than the guy next to me?” motivated by self-centered ambition. This was the whole thing that James has been talking about. When he talked about favoritism in the church and ignoring the poor, it was self-centered ambition, it was thinking, “The poor, what do they have to offer me?” Sit at my feet. The rich, okay, they can be to my advantage, sit at the table.”
Worldly wisdom, thinking like that, from hell, motivated by self-centered ambition and results in disorder and evil. Self-centered ambition results in homes and marriages that are marked by disorder and evil. Self-centered ambition results in churches that are marked by disorder and evil. This kind of wisdom produces anger, bitterness, resentment, strife, divorce, conflict, comes from a worldly wisdom. And James says there’s another way.
And the other way is godly wisdom that comes from heaven, the wisdom that comes from heaven.
This takes us back to James 1, where he said, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should,” do what? “Ask God” (Jas. 1:5). There is… There is a wisdom that cannot be found in intellectual knowledge and practical experience. There is a wisdom that can only be found from being on your face before God, calling out to Him for wisdom. It’s a totally different way to think, and it cannot be manufactured by man.
Proverbs mentions wisdom literally 100 times. Listen to the very beginning of Proverbs, “My son,” this is Proverbs 2:1:
My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones (Prov. 2:1–8).
Cry aloud to God for wisdom, call out for insight, look for it like silver or gold, and He will give it. It comes from His mouth to you. This is why I want to emphasize that I don’t know what I’m doing, and I know that’s not, like, at the top of leadership principles. Like, “When you lead people make sure they know you’re clueless.” I know that’s not on the best selling CEO books today. But I really do feel like Solomon in 1 Kings 3, “I’m only a child,” he said, “and I do not know how to carry out my duties, and so I ask you for a discerning heart to know what is right and wrong, what is good.”
And this is the picture when a husband and a wife, when friends, when a church, when we come before God, and we say, “We need what only you can give.” Not motivated by self centered ambition anymore, now motivated by God-centered humility, the deeds done and the humility that comes from wisdom. Don’t miss this. Wisdom from God produces humility in man; wisdom from the world produces pride in man. So, humble yourselves before God, husbands, wives, moms, dads, singles, students all across this room, admit to God, confess to God that you cannot do this, whatever it is in your life, on your own, you need what only He can give; this is God-centered humility.
This kind of wisdom that’s described here, if we had more time, we would go back and forth right now between here, and Matthew 5:3–12, the Beatitudes.
“Wisdom…from heaven is first of all pure” (Jas. 3:17), beatitude: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matt. 5:8). “Then peace-loving” (Jas. 3:17), “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9). “Considerate,” gentle (Jas. 3:17), “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). The “submissive”
(Jas. 3:17), “Blessed are the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). “Full of mercy” (Jas. 3:17), “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matt. 5:7). “Good fruit, impartial, sincere” (Jas. 3:17), “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, they will be filled” (Matt. 5:6).
The picture here is wisdom that comes from the blessing of God, and it doesn’t result in disorder and evil. If you’re around people like that, who have that kind of wisdom, the result is peace and righteousness. And this is what God desires for our relationship with Him and our relationship with others, peace and righteousness. Not peace at the expense of truth, it’s first of all pure, it’s true. Not peace at the expense of conviction, “Oh, we’ll just all get along and throw our truth aside.” No, it’s pure, but then the purity of God, the wisdom of God, produces peace in that which is right and good among His people. Only God can give that when a people together are confessing humbly their need for wisdom that only comes from heaven.
And so I urge you this morning, in your life, to ask God to deliver you from the wisdom of this world, the subtly demonic wisdom of this world. And ask God, husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, men, women, students, kids, all across this room, ask God for the wisdom that can only come from Him. Two pictures of wisdom, that effect the way we live.
Two Pictures of Friendship in James 3:13–4:12
There’s a break, obviously, between Chapter 3 and 4 here, but it wasn’t in the original letter. And I think what James begins to talk about, he says, “fights and quarrels among” the people of God (Jas. 4:1), is an illustration of what happens when we live according to the wisdom of the world. This is the disorder and strife and evil, this is the outgrowth of that summarized in verse 4 when James says, “Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” The picture here is friendship, intimacy. And there is a friendship with the world, an intimacy with the world, and an intimacy with God. And James says, “You must be intimate, one or the other, be friends with one or the other, you cannot ride the fence on this one.”
Friendship with the World…
“Friendship of the world,” what does that mean? Well, it comes from the sinful desires of the flesh. “Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (Jas. 4:1). We want… Every one of us in this room in our flesh, we want selfish gain, we desire earthly pleasure. And the problem is, when you put people who desire selfish gain and earthly pleasure together, there’s problems that result: “fights and quarrels, envy, you kill and covet” (Jas. 4:1–2). Now, obviously, it’s a hyperbole here, they’re not murdering each other, but it even takes us back to the Sermon on the Mount. That anger, unholy anger between brothers is the same as murder. This is serious stuff. That when the battle that’s going on within us comes out in our relationship with others… Isn’t this the picture of marriage? You put two selfish sinners together for life, the result is not 100% peace and harmony every moment of every day. It may be for somebody in here, I don’t know.
But I remember when Heather and I were living in New Orleans, and there was a preacher who would come to preach at the seminary, and I had been asked to take him and his wife out to eat. And so Heather and I took them out to eat, had a great evening. This is a guy who pastored for many, many years, an older couple, just sweet as they can be. We were driving back to the seminary to drop them off where they were staying. And the guy is sitting next to me in the front of the car, and wives are in the back seat, and he says to me, “David, have you ever seen Heather in a bad mood?” That’s kind of a weird question, and so I just kind of started laughing. I was like, “Maybe once or twice,” you know, just kind of trying to make light of the question. And there was no laughing going on in the car, though, just some really awkward silence. And then he said, his name was Charles, he said to his wife, Edna Sue, he said, “Edna Sue, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in a bad mood.” And Edna Sue said, “Well, thank you, Charles.” Total silence in the car. So, we dropped them off, and Heather climbs back into the car. And not so much silence anymore, it was more like, “Don’t you ever say that I’ve had a bad mood before.” And I’m like, “Does that include, like, this moment, like…”
I mean, come on, my wife is the sweetest person I know in the world, but, we all have flesh inside of us, don’t we? And we war within us, and it affects our marriages, and it affects our relationships. It affects our relationships with each other in the community of faith and ultimately affects our relationship with God.
Friendship of the world comes from the sinful desires of the flesh, motivated by a longing for earthly pleasure. James says you’re not going to God. “You do not have, because you do not ask God” (Jas. 4:2), or if you go to God, you’re asking for more stuff in this world. Blistering indictment of health and wealth kind of teaching. He says, “We go to God to get stuff and pleasure in this world, no.” Now, this is not godly wisdom, this is worldly wisdom that goes after earthly pleasure and friendship with the world and intimacy with the world.
And the stinging indictment comes in verse 4. Every time he’s addressed the readers in this letter, he said, “Brothers, my dear brothers,” brothers, brothers, brothers. Verse 4, “You adulterous people,” and he brings in the stinging imagery from the Old Testament, that when we pursue our pleasure in the stuff of this world and more things and better, bigger houses and cars and clothes, and in sexual immorality or impurity or whatever it may be, we are running around on the God of the universe, cheating on Him… The emotions that would be associated with adultery and marriage. We are adulterous people against God
when we forsake Him for the pleasures of this world.
I don’t want to cheat on God even more than I would not ever want to cheat marriage. Like, this is the picture: we are a bride and we belong to a husband. And we have intimacy with Him, we don’t need the world and the stuff the world gives. God, help us to see with these kinds of eyes.
That’s what I love about verse 5. James says… And this verse, just to give you a heads up, really has baffled scholars. There’s three different ways this verse could be translated—the wording here. One is the way it’s written here in the NIV, “Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?” (Jas. 4:5). You might have a little note in your Bible, like mine does, that takes you to the bottom, and says, “Here’s a couple of alternates, we just don’t know.” Or, “that God jealously longs for the spirit that he made to live in us,” or, “that the Spirit he caused to live in us longs jealously.” And without going into all the nuances of how the language is, this or that, as I’m studying this week in the context here, my conclusion would fall more in line with the New American Standard and the English Standard Version instead of what NIV has here. The picture of… It’s the second one. It’s the first in the footnote at the bottom of the NIV, that “God jealously longs for the spirit he made to live in us.”
Think about the context here, adulterous people who are running around with the world, seeking pleasure there. And James said, “Don’t you know that God jealously longs for the spirit that’s in you?” It’s the picture that He has used in His affection for His people all throughout the Old Testament, Exodus 34:14, “God is a jealous God.” What does that mean?
It means that, as a husband, I am jealous for the affections of my wife. I’m jealous for her love. And anyone or anything that attempts to steal her love and affection from me will be met with the greatest of opposition, is that clear?
In the same way, in a much greater way, the God of the universe is so jealous for, desiring of, your affection and love, that anything which threatens to steal that love or affection from your life in this world will be met with divine force.
And don’t miss this, this is not some insecure jealousy that’s afraid we’re going to find something better in this world. This is an infinitely good jealousy because God knows that everything that is in Him is more satisfying than everything in the world put together. And He so desires your good, people of God. He so desires your satisfaction, the He will call you, even give you tough commands to abandon possessions and things and pursuits in this world because He knows, and He wants you to know that there is infinite pleasure to be found in Him. Forsake friendship with the world.
Friendship with God…
Pursue friendship with God. It does not come from the sinful desires of the flesh, it comes from the gracious desire of God.
Verse 6, “He gives us more grace,” I love that phrase. As if the grace He has given is not already enough, He gives us more. And you wake up tomorrow, you know what He’s going to do? He’s going to give you more. All week, every moment of this week, He’s going to give you more. And next week, more; next month, more; and more and more and more. He doesn’t stop, He gives more grace. He gives grace to the humble.
Oh, help us to see this. The God of the universe who calls the stars by name, to whom mountains bow down and oceans obey, that God is jealous for your affections. Not the person beside you, in front of you, behind you, think about it, your affections right were you’re sitting, He is jealous for your affections, and He is committed to pouring out His grace on you as you humble yourself before Him. Why, why would we not want to embrace intimacy with Him?
Oh, people of God, look higher than this world. There is a higher plane to live on, another way to live, and it’s not for earth pleasure, it’s motivated by longing for eternal satisfaction, eternal satisfaction, the kind of satisfaction only God can give. And it results in submission to the authority of God, submission to the authority of God.
I know, as we walk through tough text as a faith family, text that challenge us, the way we live and the way we think and the way we spend, I know there is a temptation to walk out of the room on a Sunday and just be almost discouraged, “I don’t even know what to do. I don’t even know where to begin, there’s so much.” And I want to encourage you, whenever you begin to feel that, whenever you hear a command from God at all, start with submission, submission to His authority and say, “Okay, I trust you. And I need your grace that you promised to give to make this a reality in me.” And what Augustine said is true, “What God demands, God gives.” What a great truth. So, submit to Him.
How do you submit to Him? You want to grow in intimacy with God, there’s nine commands He gives following that. Do you want grow in intimacy with God, brother or sister, this morning? Do you want to grow in intimacy with God? Do this, number one, resist the devil forcefully. Stop resisting God and start resisting the devil. You realize how we switch that? Especially when we hear tough commands and commands that go against the grain of our lives and our culture, we resist God on those and we embrace the devil. Don’t do it! When
we are tempted to go to the site on the internet, we resist God and we embrace the devil. Don’t do it! Resist the devil, he will flee. When you are tempted to look, when you are tempted to speak, when you are tempted to act, to spend, to whatever it is, tempted to anger, to worry, whatever it is in your life, resist the devil, and child of God, he will flee from you. He will flee from you.
Resist the devil forcefully and then seek God passionately. Oh, God, help us to feel the wonder of James 4:8, “Come near to God and he will come near to you,” intimacy with God. As you resist the devil and you seek God, draw you near to Him.
Pursue purity holistically, “Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (Jas. 4:8). This is external and internal, wash your hands, your lives, and wash your hearts, your thoughts, your mind, your desires, your motives. Inside out, be pure. Pursue purity holistically, be clean.
Then treat sin seriously. James 4:9, “Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.” Is that depressing or what? We have totally lost sight of the holy art of grieving over sin and mourning and wailing over sin, to be so overwhelmed by how we have indulged ourselves in the things of this world and run around in spiritual adultery on our God. When was the last time, brother or sister, when was the last time you grieved over sin, you mourned, wailed over? And your life is not submissive to God. Friendship of the world, we think it’s no big deal. James says it’s a huge deal; treat sin seriously.
Now, some would say, “You live like that? What a depressing way to live. How is that good for yourself to be weeping and mourning and wailing? Where’s self-esteem in that?” And here’s the beauty of what James is saying here, the beauty is James 4:10, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” When you humble yourselves before God, grieving and weeping and mourning and wailing over sin, then you do not have to lift yourself up, God Himself will do it for you. God will lift you up. God will make you who you were created to be. You don’t have to assert yourself. Humble yourself, He will lift you up. Resist the devil forcefully, seek God passionately, pursue purity holistically, treat sin seriously, and trust God completely. He will give you grace, and He will raise you up.
Two Pictures of Speech in James 3:13–4:12
Now, that picture leads, finally, to two pictures of speech, really offer a bookend on what started back in James 3:1–12 that Deric took us through last week, so we won’t spend a lot of time here. Two pictures of speech: worldly speech that discourages one another. To slander is to speak against brother, about a brother to someone else, sister, in a way that does not build them up, in a way that is critical towards them. James says here, “Slandering one another kills community.” Slander kills marriages. Slander kills families. Slander kills the church. This is the word that he uses, it’s “hatred,” you kill and you covet—don’t speak like that.
Proverbs 6, there are 6 things the Lord hates, 7 that are detestable to Him: 1) haughty eyes; 2) a lying tongue; 3) hands that shed innocent blood; 4) heart that devises wicked schemes; 5) feet that are quick to rush into evil; 6) false witness, who pours out lies; and 7) that which the Lord hates that are detestable to Him, a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. God hates it.
Don’t stir up dissension with your brother or sister, with your wife or child. Now, this is not, obviously there is a place that Scripture talks about having tough conversations and discipline. In love, though, not out of selfish ambition or evil but in a God-centered humility that longs for the good of your brother or sister. There is a place for that, that which builds your brother or sister up, but anything otherwise, flee, resist the devil; it discourages one another and it dishonors God. You not only offend the law, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” but you offend the giver of the law, the lawgiver. Slander hurts your brother and dishonors God.
So, give yourself to godly speech that encourages one another and exalts God.
So, we step back, and here’s the picture… This struck me this last week in this text. We, as a faith family, have quite a challenge before us because the Bible is calling us to forsake the world in order to love the world. Does that sound weird to you? There’s a thinking that is prevalent in our day that says the best way to love the world and to meet needs in the world is to become like the world. And James is saying the exact opposite. Live, brothers and sisters, think differently. Have different desires and affections. Live differently. It is clear, your friendship is not with this world. You have some other friendship, and it is with God, that it might be said of us, oh God, that it might be said of us in this community of faith, what is said of the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, “they were aliens and strangers in this world.”
I pray that what is said of this community of faith, this church, those people don’t belong here. They are out of place. It’s like they’re living for somewhere else. You go overseas, go to an Asian country – if I go into an Asian country, it’s clear I’m out of place. I’m talking differently, I look differently, I’m thinking differently, I’m not liking the food, and you can tell—stranger, alien.
God raised up a church in a 280 culture that is thinking and living and working and spending and sacrificing so differently that the world might say, “They don’t belong here.” But in the same breath, they would realize that they are seeing life and true satisfaction. And then in the process of forsaking the world, they are actually loving us and showing us that there’s another way, there’s another way. And so that brings us to pray.
One Prayer in Faith in James 3:13–4:12
Oh, God, for the glory of Christ, amidst urgent spiritual and physical need in the world, we submit our minds to you. Help us to think differently. We submit our hearts to you. Give us different desires, heavenly desires. We submit our voices to you. In the days to come, help us to speak at all times and in all ways in ways that bring honor to you. And we submit our lives to you. We want intimacy with you, friendship with you, wisdom from you, and speech that exalts you.
And here’s what I want us to do, I want us to submit ourselves to God in response to this Word in the context of praying and singing as a community of faith. I want us to start by fixing our minds and our hearts all across this room on the glory and the greatness of God.
If we’re going to see the world rightly, we must first see God rightly, to see things from His grand, glorious perspective. And so in light of speech that exalts God, I want to invite you to exalt God with your voices.
I want to invite you as a community of faith today to stand and declare the greatness of your God, to call out to Him, “God, you are God! We praise you for you are God! We thank you for you are God,” and let’s exalt Him. I want to invite you to stand with me now, all across this room, aloud, one at a time, one by one, all at a time, to cry out in prayer as a community of faith, “God, you are God, we exalt you for you are God, we praise you, we thank you for you are God!” And let’s exalt Him with our speech and fix our minds and our hearts on a God-centered way of living. I invite you now, begin exalting Him all across this room.
Observation (What does the passage say?)
- What type of writing is this text?
(Law? Poetry or Wisdom? History? A letter? Narrative? Gospels? Apocalyptic?)
- Are there any clues about the circumstances under which this text was originally written?
- Are there any major sub-sections or breaks in the text that might help the reader understand the focus of the passage?
- Who is involved in the passage and what do you notice about the specific participants?
- What actions and events are taking place? What words or themes stand out to you and why?
- Was there anything about the passage/message that didn’t make sense to you?
Interpretation (What does the passage mean?)
- How does this text relate to other parts of the Scriptures
(e.g., the surrounding chapters, book, Testament, or Bible)?
- What does this passage teach us about God? About Jesus?
- How does this passage relate to the gospel?
- How can we sum up the main truth of this passage in our own words?
- How did this truth impact the hearers in their day?
Application (How can I apply this to passage to my life?)
- What challenged you the most from this week’s passage? What encouraged you the most?
- Head: How does this passage change my understanding of the Lord? (How does this impact what I think?)
- Heart: How does this passage correct my understanding of who I am to the Lord? (How should this impact my affections and what I feel?)
- Hands: How should this change the way I view and relate to others and the world? (How does this impact what I should do?)
- What is one action I can take this week to respond in surrender and obedience to the Lord?
[Note: some questions have been adapted from One to One Bible Reading by David Helm]
Two Pictures of Wisdom…
- Worldly wisdom…
- Comes from hell.
- Motivated by self-centered ambition.
- Results in disorder and evil.
- Godly wisdom…
- Comes from heaven.
- Motivated by God-centered humility.
- Results in peace and righteousness.
Two Pictures of Friendship…
- Friendship with the world…
- Comes from the sinful desires of the flesh.
- Motivated by a longing for earthly pleasure.
- Results in spiritual adultery against God.
- Friendship with God…
- Comes from the gracious desire of God.
- Motivated by a longing for eternal satisfaction.
- Results in submission to the authority of God.
- Resist the devil forcefully.
- Seek God passionately.
- Pursue purity holistically.
- Treat sin seriously.
- Trust God completely.
Two Pictures of Speech…
- Worldly speech…
- Discourages one another.
- Dishonors God.
- Godly speech…
- Encourages one another.
- Exalts God.
One Prayer in Faith…
O God, for the glory of Christ amidst urgent spiritual and physical
need in the world, we submit our minds, our hearts, our voices, and our lives to You.