WEDNESDAY EVENING ONLINE | 01.27.21
Learning facilitated by: Aaron Kunce & Brian Newman. Hosted by: Connie Milchling
PASSAGE – James 4:11-17 (NIV)
11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 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? 13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
a. James is speaking to brothers & sisters in Christ.
b. Slander is speaking ill of one another.
Key question: How much slander goes on in the world today? (And slanders of each other — brothers & sisters of Christ.)
c. The law was meant to give boundaries to life. We cannot play God. James is saying never break the royal law of love (devotional Day 7 – James 2:8-13)
a. Submit to God (Looking back to James 4:7)
b. We need to be continually aware of our finiteness/dependence on God.
c. Daily taking our will and bringing it under God’s will
d. The practice of day-crafting* (see steps below)
Verse 17 – if we know what to do and do not do it – it is sin.
a. Love one another.
b. Live out Godly wisdom.
Pastor Aaron’s Practice of Day-Crafting
When I meditate on James 4:13-16, I think of my daily practice of what I call “Day Craft”. It’s a little exercise of remembering that I do first thing in the morning before anything else, before I make a new “to do list”, and even before I pray. Or perhaps I should say it’s the way I begin my prayers. I’m so forgetful, I easily forget God in my plans. I’m prone to forget what he has done and is doing in my life. So, this is way of framing my day at the start, that helps me to be just a little bit more wise.
First, I remember the last thing I praised God for and I praise him again. Then I recall the last thing I prayed the day before and I echo it back to God. Then I think of those closest to me… I recall their faces and our last conversations. I recall details of the last thing I read the day before. Next, I tell God one or two of my hopes and desires for the day and then I relinquish those hopes and desires to him. I submit my life to God. I want to “craft” my day with God factored into my awareness and plans from the very beginning because: What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:14b-16)
The prayer in Pastor Aaron’s wallet:
Thomas Merton (1915-1968) – an American Trappist monk, writer, theologian, mystic, poet, social
activist, and scholar of comparative religion – from Thoughts in Solitude
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
The lyrics of the old song (and even older poem) Be Thou My Vision
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
Be all else but naught to me, save that thou art;
Thou my best thought in the day and the night,
Both waking and sleeping, thy presence my light.
Be thou my wisdom, be thou my true word,
Be thou ever with me, and I with thee Lord;
Be thou my great Father, and I thy true son;
Be thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.
Be thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight;
Be thou my whole armour, be thou my true might;
Be thou my soul’s shelter, be thou my strong tower:
O raise thou me heavenward, great Power of my power.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise:
Be thou mine inheritance now and always;
Be thou and thou only the first in my heart;
O Sovereign of Heaven, my treasure thou art.
High King of Heaven, thou Heaven’s bright sun,
O grant me its joys after victory is won!;
Great heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be thou my vision, O Ruler of all.
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