May 16 – What Does the Bible Say About Our Words?

Read Colossians 3:8, Ephesians 4:29 and James 3:1-12

Tugging on the reins as hard as six-year old muscles could, I was no match for our new horse, Ginger. Moments before, I couldn’t wait to be lifted onto the back of this mahogany, black mane and tailed, beauty. I was in awe. Now, as we rocketed through the pasture, back to the barn, I hated her. I thought I was going to die. She was in control and I had none.

Our tongues tend to run away with us, don’t they? Words can come out of our mouths that surprise us. Words come out that hurt, yet we say them anyway. We put people in their places. We make sure everyone knows we’re upset and offended. We ‘toot our own horns.’ We ‘set the record straight.’ We withhold words when we should speak and we mow people down with them when we’d all be better off if we’d keep our mouths shut.

God has a lot to say about our words…

“The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”(Luke 6:45)

“The tongue has the power of life and death.”(Proverbs 18:21)

“Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.”(James 3:10)

We’re a mess, aren’t we?

We’re not going to get this perfectly.

And we can do better.

I love how The Message interprets James 1:19, telling us to lead with our ears. It pairs well with our verse from Ephesians…” [speak] only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

We’d do well to take a deep breath before speaking. If we would listen, better yet, love people enough to hear them out…If we would pause to pray before we open our mouths, we might just get this better.

Jesus left us with His Spirit to guide us into all truth. We have the power of God to overcome the power of our tongues. We have His guidance to steer us to better words. We have His Spirit to convict us when we’ve barreled ahead without Him.

Have your words been serving your needs or the needs of others?

Do you need to check in on a relationship and make sure all is well between you? Have you mowed someone down? Used some pretty filthy language that sounds more like the world than a follower of Jesus? Are you building people up or tearing them down?

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”(Ps. 19:14)

This beautiful confession from David’s lips reminds us of a God who is passionate about the way we communicate with Him and each other. He has been so generous with us to give us His words. Let’s make every effort to honor Him with ours and let’s not expect the world to apply the same standard to theirs.

Shelly Eberly

February 23 – Meet the Team – Shelly Eberly

Read Psalm 19:7-11, Hebrews 4:12 and James 1:22-25

I’ve been hungry for words all of my life. Longing for affirmation to know that I was appreciated, I would cling to words that convinced me someone was paying attention to me. I would drown in piles of painful words and float on words of kindness. I was unstable.

I’ve always been drawn to God’s word. Certain verses would hit me hard or soft, depending on the day. But I didn’t have a huge desire or discipline to read it.

I would feel guilt for that. I would make promises and plans and fail. I would soak up teaching from others. But I wasn’t too great at feeding myself.

I began reading the Bible for hours when I became a new mama. Unsure if the words were even sinking in, I kept reading. I remember being ‘lit on fire’ by the enthusiasm of Beth Moore through a few of her studies. I soaked up Christian radio while I cleaned the house and changed diapers. I began to develop a taste for these words David describes as sweeter than honey.

The more I read, the more I couldn’t put this massive book down. The more pages I consumed, the less intimidated I was by the amount of them, and the more captivated I became by the intimacy and love I discovered on each one. The more I listened to God’s voice, the more reliant on Him I became.

I went from a guilty yeah-I-probably-should-read-my-Bible type of gal to an I-can’t-wait-to-see what-He-has-to-say-today kind of follower. I was no longer lit on fire only by the insight of others, I was on fire.

And still am.

“There’s nothing like the written word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another – showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 MSG

God’s words have called me into true, abundant life. They’ve stabilized my identity, broadened my understanding, and anchored my hope. They’ve invoked honesty from my soul about my selfish nature and invited me to deeper faith and surrender. They have provided answers to my questions and given me peace when there isn’t any. By God’s grace and through the power of His Spirit, His words compel my feet to move in faith, one baby step at a time.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.”

John 10:27

Reading Every Day with God means you are also taking steps to listen to His voice. Keep reading and putting His truth into practice. Jesus is so worthy of your love and devotion!

You’re doing great!

Shelly Eberly

December 9 – The Beatitudes – “Blessed are the merciful…”

Read James 2:13 and Luke 6:36

“Mercy me. Get a real job.”

These were the words of the grandma of Bart Mallard before he wrote the amazing song, “I Can Only Imagine.” He sings now in one of my favorite musical groups – Mercy Me. Was his grandma showing mercy or simply paraphrasing “Get your act together!”?

I don’t know but I like the song.

Mercy is another name for compassion or lenient treatment. Do you have a merciful attitude?

Jesus said to be merciful in Luke 6:36.

Another one of my favorite bands is Elevation Worship. I recently heard these lyrics:

“You take what the enemy meant for evil

and you turn it for good.”

It is from the song, SEE THE VICTORY.

Here is an example in the words of Nicky Gumbel, a Christian minister:

“Earl had far too much money. He did not need to work. He took all kinds of drugs, including heroin. At the age of thirty, he ended up in a hospital. Someone came to visit him in the hospital and gave him a New Testament. He was thrilled. The paper was very thin and was ideal for rolling joints. He rolled his way through Matthew, Mark and Luke. When he came to John’s Gospel, he started reading. As a result of reading the words of John’s Gospel, he encountered Jesus. He was filled with joy. The psychologist in charge of his case was a very beautiful young woman, who had been a model. One day she said to Earl, ‘Look, I have it all – success, beauty and endless qualifications – yet I am not fulfilled. Your life is a mess, yet you seem to have something – a PEACE and a JOY. What is it?’ Then he led her to FAITH in Jesus Christ. They fell in LOVE. Later they were married. Earl and his wife were great friends of ours at theological college in Oxford. His life had been radically changed by the words of God in the Bible.”

Mercy me, that is life change!

“Which do you prefer? Should I come with a rod to punish you, or should I come with love and a gentle spirit?”  (1 Cor 4:21 NLT)

I think it is uncommon to show mercy to others. But it is something that a Christian should strive for. (James 2:13). Tony Dungy wrote a book about it.

You can purchase a blue wristband that says DARE TO BE UNCOMMON from the Christian ministry of Tony Dungy. In his book THE UNCOMMON LIFE, Tony Dungy talks about mercy. The wristband is a personal reminder to be merciful.

Do you need a reminder?

Tom Weckesser

September 28 – Attributes of God – Wisdom

Read James 3:17 and Proverbs 19:20

Who is your hero?

Outside of the obvious Christian answer of “Jesus”, who would you say is the person you look up to and idolize the most? Parent? Spouse? Friend? Sibling?

To me, the answer is easy…

Dad.

To many, he is “Pastor Dave”. Many choose to see him as a serious and professional perfectionist while, when he calls me, “Dad” comes across the screen of my phone along with a picture of him photobombing a family photo.

Best. Photo. Ever.

I can confidently say that I would not be the man I am today without my dad. Not even close. His patience and guidance, along with the work of Christ, helped form me into the man I am today (I am by no means a finished product). There were definitely some high and lows, but Dad’s consistency and wisdom guided me through.

When I signed up for the devo about wisdom, my mind immediately shifted to Dad. I read our scripture today about how James describes wisdom that comes from Heaven and all of those words describes the wisdom of Dad that I have grown accustomed to. As long as I can remember, he has always been the source of wisdom for our family.

I remember his gentle guidance to me when Kelly and I had a pregnancy scare when Mattie was only a few months old…we were so not ready for another child! I remember his counsel when I was contemplating huge changes in my life in high school. When I was immature, angry and overly emotional, he would calmly guide me back to Christ. Before marrying Kelly, Dad was always my first call when I didn’t know what to do. He’s now my second : )

However, there is truth that Dad’s wisdom pales in comparison to that of God. When you read James 3:17, I love how he says that wisdom that comes from Heaven is “first of all pure”. This means that it is 100% authentic, natural…perfect. When you think of your own wisdom, would you say that James 3:17 describes it?

Proverbs 19:20 describes how we can grow in our wisdom…listen to wise people. So much of my life was spent thinking that I knew everything I needed to know and I didn’t need to listen to wise and godly counsel in my life. Looking back, I see all of the value in their words and the difficulties I brought upon myself by not listening.

Do you listen to people when they talk to you? Do you let certain people into your circle? Or are you so prideful to think that you don’t need the advice of other people. Proverbs tells us that, if we listen to advice and accept discipline, we will be counted among the wise.

Will you humble yourself enough to admit that other people can speak into your life and bring a positive change? Who do you need to listen to that you’ve been ignoring?

Jake Lawson

August 23 – Tips for Everyday Life – Prayer Matters

Read James 5:13-20

“Please, please pray.”

Those were the three unexpected words from my son that came across my phone’s screen. Desperation and trust mixed together like oil and water. For the next two hours of silence, as we waited for the birth announcement of our first grandchild, we stormed the gates of heaven. Two hours became thirty days as our grandson fought for his life in the NICU. Prayer was our hope.

Prayer was his lifeline.

Prayer is one of the most mysterious of all the spiritual disciplines. How can something so simple as conversation become so difficult to understand? It definitely matters to God as prayer, or a derivative of the word, is used 375 times in the Bible. We are told to pray without ceasing and pray on all occasions. We even see the importance of prayer in the life of Jesus as he arose early in the morning to pray. (Mark 1:35)  In the hours before his crucifixion, what do we find Jesus doing?

Praying.

Most of us, if we are honest, are quick to throw up a prayer when faced with a desperate situation. We are quick to say, “I’ll pray for you” to bring encouragement and comfort to others. Is that what prayer is?  A quick fix, a life line, a word of comfort?

Our passage in James today points us to another aspect of prayer that we can’t overlook. Faith. It’s an interwoven theme throughout the book of James, especially as he recalls the Old Testament story of Elijah. Read the account in 1 Kings 18:36-46.  The heavens had been shut so that it had not rained for 3 1/2 years in order to show the wicked Israel king, King Ahab, that God should be followed and worshiped, not Baal.

Following the miracle of God pouring down fire to consume the sacrifice and all the water in the surrounding trench, Elijah told King Ahab there was a “sound of the roar of a heavy shower.” (verse 41) What did Elijah do next? He put his face between his knees and prayed. Seven times he sent his servant to look for a cloud toward the sea. Without questioning, the servant obeyed, but returned with the same answer, “There is nothing.” Then at the seventh time, the servant saw a tiny cloud. If I was Elijah, I would have been very anxious at this point. A tiny cloud does not bring the roar of a heavy shower. But Elijah was a man of unwavering faith and perseverance. As Priscilla Shirer says:

“Even a little cloud of hope, when God’s Word is behind it, points toward a downpour of promise, potential, and possibility. Even His silence and seeming slowness are only the quiet buildup to a thunderous revelation of His glory.”

Wouldn’t we all love to have a prayer life like Elijah’s? Be encouraged, you can. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours. (James 5:17) The key to his prayer life was faith. We see this stressed at the beginning and end of James’ book, like bookends. “But let him ask in faith, without any doubting.” (James 1:6) “The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.” (James 5:16 MSG) Living right with God is living by faith. Hebrews tells us, without faith, it is impossible to please Him. Faith is trust and confidence that God is able and that God’s ways are higher than ours.

The faith of prayer warriors all over the world was ignited by my son’s plea. Each day of our precious grandson’s life, our barely visible cloud grew. Our faith grew too and God poured down showers of blessing and healing. “Please, please pray.” Three simple words that can change the forecast of our lives because prayer matters.

Charline Engle

 

August 22 – Tips for Everyday Life – Stand Firm

Read James 5:7-12

Have you ever heard the saying,

“Your opinion is important, but it’s not important that everyone knows it”?

I’ve thought about that a lot lately as we continue to navigate through these unprecedented times.

Just one click to open a social media app and the world’s opinions are at your fingertips.   How important are these opinions to the way you live your life?  Do you think it’s possible to spend time each day scrolling through worldly opinions without them effecting your life?  Your speech?  Your relationships?  Your posts?

I recently noticed that I was spending more time on social media than I was in God’s Word. It definitely had an effect on my life and my relationships. I was even tempted to open an app before opening my Bible in the morning. That’s when the Holy Spirit gently lead me to realize I needed a change.

James chapter 5, beginning in verse 7, is an excellent reminder that the Lord is coming soon. We know this to be truth. What is it that I want Jesus to find me standing on when He returns?  The messiness of people’s opinions that lead me away from His truth? Or do I want Him to find me standing firm on the solid rock of His truth and sharing it with others?

Please take a moment to read through James 5:7-12 and allow God’s loving truth to saturate your heart and be evident on your lips…in your speech…in your relationships…and in your posts.

Rayonna Miller

August 21 – Tips for Everyday Life – Be Fair

Read James 5:1-6

As I read through James 5:1 – 6, I’m reminded of the Dickens story A Christmas Carol. We have an old video tape of a movie version entitled Scrooge, starring Alistair Sim as Scrooge. This is the best one I’ve seen.

You know the story, Scrooge is completely self-absorbed and his whole life is about his money and wanting to get more. It doesn’t matter to him that he takes advantage of people like Bob Cratchit. He’s not concerned about being fair but only gaining more wealth.

Then he’s visited by the ghost of Jacob Marley and the three spirits. In the version we have, he clearly repents, turns to Christ and is saved. We see a complete transformation where he now takes great joy in giving raises and gifts. With the change that has occurred within him, he’s in a position to start repairing relationships and humbly asks for forgiveness.

He has been freed from the chains holding him down and is absolutely full of joy.

I love seeing positive life change!

Back to James, I’m convinced the wealthy people he’s addressing are not followers of Jesus and he doesn’t seem to have any hope for them. They’re not guilty because they are wealthy, they are guilty because of what they do or don’t do with their wealth.

Their crimes are:

  1. That they have hoarded wealth and not put it to work for the benefit of others
  2. They have acquired wealth by cheating others
  3. They are living in luxury and self-indulgence with no regard for others
  4. They have even murdered innocent (righteous) men. Think Jesus, Stephen and ultimately even James the author.

As followers of Jesus Christ we have been given much, especially in this country. It’s OK to enjoy what God has given us but we also need to put it to work to help others. I’m thinking of material things but also, and perhaps more importantly, spiritual things.

We’ve been given the cure for eternal death!

Will we just keep it to ourselves or will we share it with others who haven’t yet come to know Jesus Christ?

Just like Scrooge, we can experience great joy when we put others first and share with them the blessings we have received, while treating them as we want to be treated.

It’s an incredible testimony to a lost and dying world!

Mike Molter

 

August 20 – Tips for Everyday Life – His Will, Not Ours

Read James 4:13-17

Like many of you, I tried to plan my life. I had a five-year plan and all the next steps thought out.

I think I started planning my life in 8th grade when I was knee deep into my journey in musical theater. It was all I wanted in life. It was shortly after my 8th grade year began that I would tell my mother my plans to move to New York City and pursue theater. And there I was, graduated from high school, moved to NYC and spending a summer semester in the school of my dreams and succeeding, only to find out that financially my scholarship wouldn’t allow me to attend a conservatory. Like many of you have learned over and over in your life, God had a different plan. Yet He has used that situation and part of my story to teach me and grow my relationship with Him.

I wanted my name in lights, He wanted my attention. I wanted applause, He wanted to be my stability. I wanted to be the star, He wanted my heart.

When looking at what James is writing in chapter 4, I can’t help but think about the fact that I still struggle with this. I still try to plan my life out. I still try to be in control and every day, at least once, I fail at surrendering my will for His.

Take a look at Jesus in the garden. He goes before the Lord. I can see Him now, on His knees before the Father, and weeping at the thought of the pain and heartache to come and yet, at the end of this raw emotional moment with the Father, Jesus says the most primitive 5 words…

“Not my will but Yours”.

Is this easy? No. Is this something we will constantly fail at? Yes. Is this something we have the power to do?

Absolutely.

There is power in the name of Jesus. He lives within us and it’s by that very power that we are able to go back to the throne room on our knees and surrender to the Lord. To be raw and real and tell Him exactly where we are with our circumstance but walk away knowing that He has our best in mind.

A very wise woman once told me, “Not every decision has to be super spiritual. Not every decision has to be prayed about for months and years at a time, begging for the Lord to show His will. Sometimes, when you are walking hand in hand with Jesus, sometimes He just wants you to make a decision…He will let you know His will.”

That was some of the best advise I have ever received because I was tormented by the thought of not doing God’s will with any decision, because of my past of wanting to live for myself and for life to be about me. I learned to accept the grace and freedom in my relationship with Jesus, knowing He would always show me His best. I just need to surrender constantly.

Not my will, but His. May He be honored in everything we say and do.

Kelly Lawson

August 19 – Tips for Everyday Life – Humble Yourself

Read James 4:4-12

Have you tasted “humble pie” lately?  This is usually a pie no one likes to eat!

In recent days, I have been reminded of how easy my confidence in life has been humbled. I find myself entering an aisle at the store to grab an item and realize I am going the wrong way as the arrows on the floor tell me to turn around.  I have been known to walk backwards to get that one item.

At times like that, we may define humility as “An embarrassing event that causes us to feel badly and want to hide.”

How does this definition compare to our Scripture today? James asks a few tough questions that are important for us to answer. Do I have a heart of adultery? Am I a friend of this world or a friend of God? Do I judge or speak against a brother or sister? If I am offended at these questions, I may not see that this attitude can keep me from a healthy heart of humility.

Scripture is so clear that, when our hearts are yielding and choosing our way over God’s, that it is adultery. When I choose a worldly mindset that is ME focused, that is friendship with the world. As I form judgments and criticisms against others, I am slandering and making myself the Judge! Selfish pride has taken root. What can transform my heart? Humility!

James 4:10 is the key. As I humble myself before the Lord, I recognize my need for Him and His GRACE. I can’t be good enough or give enough to earn His favor. He deserves first place in our lives and hearts. The kind of grace here is transforming.  As we draw near to God, we are cleansed and purified. The lament and mourning over our poor choices and prideful hearts is replaced with His joy as we humble ourselves before Him. .

Pursuing healthy humility is difficult. It is not a goal we typically talk about. In Philippians 2, we are told to put on the same mindset as Jesus who humbled himself to live on this earth and die a cruel death so that GRACE could be extended to you, to me. I can be humble but only because of His power working in me.

How can we honor our Heavenly Father in humility today? Worship Him! Serve with His Grace to those around you! Do whatever He is asking you to do! He will draw near to us!

Celeste Kern

August 18 – Tips for Everyday Life – Your Heart

Read James 4:1-3

Everyone loves a bargain! In our town a few years ago, we had what was called Dollar Days! Dollar Days was similar to the modern Black Fridays.

There really were some great bargains and being a young mom of two kids with a limited budget, I really loved going there and getting their school clothes.

Early in the morning I would go down to wait in front of the store for a couple of hours until they opened. I wasn’t the only one there as some came in pairs and would plan their attack for the full 2 hours. It was like listening to generals planning the invasion on D Day! Once the doors opened, mayhem broke loose. People were running here and there. They would randomly grab stacks of items off of the shelves and out of each other’s arms.

Since then my daughter and I have made it a sport to go Black Friday shopping, not so much for the bargains but just for something to do together. We are always amazed at some of the people’s behavior. People push, shove, grab items that they really aren’t even sure they want, but will buy simply  because it is on sale. People who are usually considered normal, calm, polite individuals turn into these crazed beings over sheets, pillows and coffee pots. Many of their purchases will wind up in a few months on garage sale tables, sometimes even with the tags still on them. Why?

People want what they don’t have. Advertisers make millions on that fact. Although Dollar Days and Black Fridays are modern events, this behavior had been around for thousands of years! The first sin was Eve taking what the serpent had talked her into wanting even though she did not need it since she could have anything else in the garden.

Jail cells are full of people who see something they want and, instead of saving money to buy it, they steal it. Wars have been fought over dictators claiming to own what truly belongs to another country.

But doesn’t God want his children to be happy?  I think I might be really happy in a beautiful home with a fancy red convertible!  But would I REALLY?

Motives for wanting something might not be obviously known to man but they are to God.  God’s will for your life is that you will be with him in Heaven.  He is never going to go against His own will for you by giving you something that will not help you reach that goal.

You want something that you THINK will be good for you?   Try this test. Have you earned it?  Does it belong to someone else? Will you having it bring you or someone else closer to God?

If your answer is no, you don’t need it!  For where your treasure is, so is your heart!

Pat Arnold