Saturday, September 12, 2020

9/13/2020 - Big Idea Pt.4


Big idea

2020 has been a year that many of us have endured with much hardship and loss. We are in the middle of a pandemic and an outcry for social justice and change. In the world today, anger surrounds us and at times life can feel overwhelming. With all that we are facing, sometimes it is easy to be offended, and at other times it can be difficult not to lash out at others. James understood the plight of the believer and the hardships that we would endure. In James 1:19, he encourages us not only to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but also to be slow to anger. James believes that speaking and anger are connected because listening is most difficult when we are angry. When triggered, anger is the primary reason we are slow to listen and quick to speak in more situations than not. James gives this warning because he recognizes that circumstances and trials introduce daily possibilities for conflicts.

Challenges make us slow to listen and quick to speak and more than likely, when we are swift to speak, we speak out of anger. Thoughtless words and hot-headed tempers can create a fire that will damage people, their relationships, ministries, and our witness when we are quick to argue our positions, views, opinions, and push our own agendas. Many Scriptures warn of the toxic words that can be venom from our lips when we react in frustration or anger. Relationships come with struggles, and disagreements can be opportunities for testing our faith (1 Pet. 1:7; Rom. 5:3-5), but the integrity of relationship that James is calling for is a discipline that will cause us to delay our anger and the need to defend our views and judge others, and instead, concentrate on listening. When we listen to each other, we create an armor against division.


Being slow to anger means that my primary goal is listening and fully hearing, not so I may respond, but so that I may seek to understand the other side of the conflict.

Personal reflection

Today when you pray, ask God to search your heart and pray Psalm 139:23-24.


Dear Lord, I know that at times I have been slow to listen and quick to speak, and because I was quick to speak, instead of showing compassion and listening, I have spoken out of anger. Forgive me for allowing my anger to override your Word. Help me discipline my words and concentrate on listening. In Jesus Name, I pray, amen!

Friday, September 11, 2020

9/12/2020 - Big Idea Pt. 3


Big idea 

In this verse, James says that Christians should be “quick to listen and slow to speak,” exposing the depravity of an unrestrained tongue. James’ answer to free expression is to silence it by listening first. “Listen” derives from the Greek word ακούω (pronounced a-kou-o)meaning to consider what has been said, to understand, and to learn. Following that is the phrase “slow to speak.” In this Scripture, James warns believers against self-deception, which is present in a conversation where we are unwilling to listen first so that we can hear, consider, understand, and learn. 

Although James’ words could have been meant for disputes with unbelieving persecutors, there are implications that his instructions were to warn against thoughtless behavior in relationships among fellow Christians (Jas. 4:1, 5:9). Therefore, James was encouraging Christians to be conscious of God’s Word (Rom. 10:17). It is not retreating from conflict described in this verse because James reveals God’s expectation for all who have been born again. It is that we actively make an effort to change habits and behaviors of speaking before listening. An attitude that promotes the righteous life that God desires is fostered when we listen by considering, understanding, and learning from each other. Careful listening serves and assists in administering God’s love for others that can heal, repair, build, and strengthen the community of believers. In doing so, this is the ministry that God desires for all believers to have toward each other.


Throughout life, many of us have experienced the consequences of opening our mouth and responding quickly to others’ words and actions. We must be willing to listen to what is said, hear what is spoken, guard our lips, and be cognizant of our reactions in all that we do.

Personal reflection 

Write down ways that you can become a better listener. 


Dear Lord, I must admit that sometimes I struggle with being quick to listen, and instead, I am quick to speak. God, I need you to help me to be quick to listen, slow to speak. This is not only with those I deem indispensable but also my brothers and sisters in Christ. Also, help me be quick to hear and slow to speak as relates to You and Your Word, In Jesus Name, I pray, amen!

Thursday, September 10, 2020

9/11/2020 - Big Idea Pt. 2


Big idea 

Proverbs 18:2 brings to light foolish behavior that is not accepted by God. Godly wisdom and the truth of God’s Word are not important to a fool; they are more interested in sharing their thoughts. When understanding and opinions clash, they will always follow their own heart by saying what they believe to be right. An opinion in of itself is not wrong. It is not that people cannot have opinions; it is that they do not want to understand all views on the matter. We value our words before considering God’s heart. We have bent, reconstructed, and reshaped the rationales for why our opinions are practical, judicious, right, and righteous. Our opinions emerge supreme before hearing from God or heeding Godly wisdom. 

However, as followers of Jesus, we do not have the luxury of formulating our own opinions; we have “denied ourselves” (Matt. 16:24), so even our opinions should be rooted in the Word of God. An opinion outside of what God has said is ungodly, and it is a form of self-satisfaction and self-promotion that is dangerous. In those moments, we deny Christ by making our thoughts supreme and, therefore, an idol. The Bible calls this foolishness, and over the last few months, many of us have been guilty of esteeming our opinions and ideas above the truth of God’s Word. So today, we are reminded to stop and ask God for wisdom before we give our opinions.


In this current climate, you may feel like you have to “air out your opinions,” but remember that at the heart of airing out opinions is a love of self and pride. Do not follow your heart (Jer. 17:9). Instead, before you respond, STOP, and seek to follow God’s heart and His Word. Remember that Godly wisdom helps us remember that if we love God and others, love does not demand to have its own way (1 Cor. 13:5). 

Personal reflection

In this current climate I have struggled with_____________________, and I have been guilty of ____________________.


Dear Lord, I confess there have been times when I have made my opinion an idol, and my actions have revealed that I have placed my opinions above others and even above Your Word. Forgive me for valuing my opinion over Godly wisdom and today, help me pursue peace for mutual upbuilding, by refusing to air all my opinions and becoming better at listening to my brothers and sisters in Christ. In Jesus Name, I pray, amen!

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

9/10/2020 - Big Idea


Big idea

Occasionally, our speech can be like salt. The right amount of salt can season a meal, but too much salt can ruin it all. For this reason, in Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he uses the metaphor of salt to illustrate how Christians should speak to each other. Salt, in Paul’s era, was valuable. It was so treasured that it could be used as currency or money. It was appreciated for its ability to preserve and flavor food. In that regard, Paul's metaphor reveals that a Christian's speech should be valuable, and "flavored" differently from a non-believer. However, Paul’s metaphor had more than one meaning because, in Paul’s time, salt also kept the meat from spoiling. 

To the world, the gospel that we all say we love will be spoiled if our words to one another are unsavory and unpleasant. Following the commands of Christianity, preaching, teaching, praying, and biblical knowledge will be meaningless if they prevent us from reaching as many people as possible because our words have not preserved the message of Christ. Paul was reminding us that what we say can destroy our witness. Your words should add value to the conversation, and benefit and esteem others (Eph. 4:29). Your words should indicate that you value God’s Word because Christ is communicated through a transformed Christian life and a positive presentation of the gospel. To answer the world as Christ would, you must present truth using God’s words and a God-like attitude. 


We should desire wisdom from the Scripture to be wise in our response to God’s voice and our response to others so that our words and actions are flavored with salt and honor God.

Personal reflection

This week consult God on all that you think, do, and say. For example, “God, is what I am about to say seasoned with salt?” “God is this what I should do, think, or believe?”


Dear Lord, show me how to desire your wisdom and voice so that nothing that comes out of my mouth will be unsavory and spoiled. Let grace correspond with my speech. May my words be seasoned with salt, pure and incorruptible.

Monday, August 17, 2020

8/18/2020 - A Love Story


I’ve noticed over the years that whenever I talk with people about pursuing God’s greater story for their lives, they want that story while at the same time not wanting to do what it will take to get it. They want to choose it, but they don’t want what comes with that choice.

And yet, as we’ve just discovered, that story doesn’t get told in or through our lives unless and until we choose it. It is a love story, written by God, and love is always a choice. But to choose God’s love is to forsake all other loves; in other words, sacrifice is required. Most people want nothing to do with sacrifice, with the choice to willingly lay down our lives. Even so, the greatest stories are told on the other side of sacrificial living, on the other side of selfless regard. 

Lecrae had to sacrifice familial love to embrace God’s greater story for his life. Billy Graham had to sacrifice personal safety to embrace God’s greater story in his life. Andy Stanley had to sacrifice relational harmony to embrace God’s greater story in his life. Martin Luther King Jr. was asked to make the ultimate sacrifice in giving up his very life for the cause, but just look at what God has done through that one man’s life. A greater story, indeed. 

Before the creation of the earth, God wrote a part for you to play in the story of redemption he’s telling day by day. The question that remains is, will you play the part that’s yours alone to play? After all, the greatest decision you could ever make in life is to become who you already are. 

What might you be asked to forsake for the purpose of playing the role God is asking you to play?

Sunday, August 16, 2020

8/17/2020 - I Call You My Friends


So much of life hinges on a single choice. And on the single choice after that. 

Are there people who choose a destination other than what God has predestined for them? Absolutely. Are there people in the grave with books they were supposed to write, people they were supposed to save, companies they were supposed to launch? Yes, yes, yes—without a shadow of a doubt. This is the power of choice. Now you may say, “How can a loving God let us choose less for ourselves?” And I would say, “How can he love you and not let you choose?” 

This is the problem with us playing God: We simply do not have what it takes. We contradict ourselves. We act selfishly. We say we want freedom and independence, even as we long to be somewhat controlled. “God, let me choose you!” we cry out to our Father. “Don’t make me go against my desires! I want to have sex because I feel like it. I want to do what makes me feel good!” 

Moments later, we cry out, “God, won’t you please keep me from harming myself? I can’t take this pain anymore!” 

May I state the obvious here? We simply can’t have it both ways. 

Before time began, God solved this dilemma by giving humankind free will. He wants to purify and redeem us, but he wants us to choose that noble course. I’ve heard it said that “Love is not love without choice. Once love is mandatory, it is no longer love. It is slavery, and God doesn’t want slaves.” 

What does God want, according to John 15:15? “I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” What God wants is friends

What this means for you and me both is this: The ball is always in our court. God gave us the power to give him the power over our lives. The choice is always ours. 

How do you respond to the idea that God wants you as a friend? What does this say about God’s character?

Saturday, August 15, 2020

8/16/2020 - Give, Give, Give


What I’ve noticed, time and again, is that the people who have committed themselves to letting God write their story, to pursuing God’s purpose for their lives, to modeling themselves after the great sacrifice that God prompted in his Son, are the same ones who are eager to sacrifice deeply.

It’s worth noting that the most successful people I know—and by the grace of God I’ve been able to sit with world leaders, key influencers, and billionaires along the way—all have the same thing to report. Without exception, what they tell me is this: “Sam, the fulfillment I’ve known from things I’ve acquired can’t begin to compete with the fulfillment I’ve found by helping someone else.” 

That sentiment sounds familiar, doesn’t it? In Acts 20:35, Luke quotes Jesus as saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” 

A statement from John comes to mind: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. . .” (See John 3:16.)

And another one, from Andy Stanley: “Don’t make the mistake of believing that every resource that comes to you is for your consumption, alone.”

Give! Give! Give! 

Keep in mind at all times that what God has entrusted to you might be for someone else. 

Trust God in this: Follow his Son’s example in laying everything on the line for him. You will be blessed when you give. You will glorify God when you give. You will save lives when you choose to give. Giving is always a part of letting God write your story.

What is hardest for you to give at this point in your life—time, money, energy? What is one way you could give that hard thing this week?