a 2 z meme with Patty Wysong at Patterings.
Welcome to this week's a 2 z
and the letter

If you're joining in the meme, be sure to link up with us at the end of this post. Find more info about the a 2 z meme here.

I cannot believe it's Tuesday and I don't have a post! I was working on my manuscript and missed Monday because I missed Sunday due to this cold I have.

I'll be back with a post after awhile...Mom duty calls and we are running in to get my younger daughter her license...

If you're joining us for the a2z meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter M, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here.

A Worthwhile Exchange

Today is supposed to be a post on James 3:1-12 but it's not happening and I'm okay with that. See, I made an exchange...

For my parent's 35th wedding anniversary, my sister made an awesome album chronicling their lives and we had letters from their close friends over the years, with their pictures. Very special letters from special friends. The albums have been missing for several years. They weren't at my parent's house in Arizona, they weren't at either of my sisters' homes and we couldn't find them here either.

These albums are very special to Mom and Dad and it's been bothering them that they couldn't be found. Really bothering them. So when Mom asked if I would check my shed, inside their dresser drawers, I went as soon as I could find enough time to take on the shed.

Today. (meaning Thursday)

The albums weren't in the drawers but I didn't stop there. I searched through everything they still have in the shed and finally found them.

In the last chest.
At the bottom of the stack.

I was looking for one white album but found three. None of them white, LoL, but very much the album(s) we've searched for many, many times, in three states.

God is so good.

Dad's battle against the bone cancer is...well, it's not pretty. It's so hard. As I write this, he's in ICU with a new filter in his abdomen to catch the blood clots in his lungs. They weren't able to get all of the clot in his leg.

I don't know what's around this corner, but I do know the ending: Dad wins. He gets to go to Heaven. He'll be running and leaping and praising God.

So, I made an exchange today--the anniversary albums for a James post.

It was the right decision.

A Year for Learning

a 2 z meme with Patty Wysong at Patterings.
Welcome to this week's a 2 z
and the letter L.
If you're joining in the meme, be sure to link up with us at the end of this post. Find more info about the a 2 z meme here.

This has been a year full of learning for me. Learning from some very unexpected places...

Our garden. I was out-voted 6 to 1 and we had a large garden that did well, despite the drought. I learned many lessons from this garden I didn't want.

One was how much I had forgotten about canning. LoL.

Canning was another lesson all its own... one that's not done yet.

Then I was able to visit my sister in Puerto Rico... Wonderful discoveries turned into lessons--object lessons, the kind I remember longer. Sea glassing was one. Blue glass has always been my favorite and each little piece I was able to find and hold onto is special.

And shell hunting was another learning time for me. What a treasure to find the beach loaded with Sea Urchins.  These things have long fascinated me, and to find them, whole, on the beach amazed me. What amazed me even more was how they came to be on the beach, and then their wholeness, in spite of it all, amazed me even more. Yes, what I learned is a post all its own...

And this fella has taught me many things. I'm constantly learning him.

After 30+ years of wearing glasses, I went a week without them (hence no glasses in the pic above) because a wave taught me yet another lesson when it crept up on me and stole my glasses. Really made me feel silly because I KNOW how waves are prone to do that, even when you're only in up to your calves. It was another lesson I learned while sea glassing.

So tell me, what are some things that you've learned from this year?

If you're joining us for the a2z meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter L, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here.

Real Faith...In Action - James 2:14-26

Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.

Faith and works go together like brownies and ice cream, but is one any good without the other? James launches us into this passage with two important questions:

  • What use is it if someone says he has faith but has no works?
  • Can that faith save him?

Paul clearly says in Ephesians 2:8-9 that it's by grace we're saved, through faith, not works—so where and how does all this fit together?

Real faith is more than accepting head knowledge and spouting words.

James is about to show us the difference between real faith and false faith, and what he says fits together beautifully with Paul's teaching on faith and works, contrary to what Martin Luther thought. Luther took exception to the book of James being canonized (included in the Bible) because he could not see how James' view of works fit with being saved by grace alone. Thankfully, as we dig in, we see that both men, Paul and James, mean the same thing even though they use different terms to explain things.

The first example James gives us is building on what he just spoke about at the beginning of the chapter—how the poor are treated. A person with false faith will offer nice sounding words when authentic action is needed. The Message version of this passage put it so well... “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?

James tells us right out that faith without works is dead faith (vs 18). Real faith will step forward and do more than offer flimsy words. Their faith will show up as good works, works that flow out of their faith and love for God. It's the deeds that show the difference between dead faith and real faith. Just like a body can be dead or alive and still be called a body, so faith can be dead or alive and still be called faith.

Real faith is more than just submitting to God's power.

Even the demons have faith in God! They acknowledge His deity and the Sonship of Jesus. They know He is real and they even obey Him, but they are not saved! They refused to submit their wills and live for Christ.

The man with dead faith was touched only in his intellect, but the demons are touched also in their emotions. They believe and tremble. … A person can be enlightened in his mind and even stirred in his heart and be lost forever. True saving faith involves something more, something that can be seen and recognized: a changed life. ~Warren Wiersbe

James uses a play on words to make his point memorable...
Faith without works doesn't work.

Real faith results in a changed life.

James gives us examples from two very different people: Abraham and Rahab. Two more different people couldn't have been picked. Abraham was the father of the the nation of Israel, a righteous man, and known as the friend of God. Rahab was a gentile woman living in Jericho. A prostitute and far from righteous, an enemy of God.

Since true saving faith leads to action, let's take a look at the action that James points out...
Abraham was justified before God by faith, and by works he was justified before men and his righteousness was demonstrated. His faith was demonstrated in his everyday life.

Rahab heard, accepted, believed and she did something about it. Rahab surrendered herself to God. The result of that surrender is seen in what she did for the spies and the whole nation of Israel. The truth changed her life and her changed life translated into salvation for her family as they saw and also believed. Her action flowed out of her authentic faith.

That's what James is talking about. Action—works and deeds—will flow naturally out of a life changed by faith in the One true God. that does not impel the believer to good deeds is no living faith at all. ...when our hearts are changed, so then are our desires and actions. ~David P. Nystrom

Real faith involves a changed life which is something that can be easily spotted.

That leads us to some hard questions about our own faith.
  • Is my faith saving faith?
  • Has my faith changed my life?
  • Would my faith fall into the dead faith category or is it like the faith of the demons—acknowledging and submitting to God's deity but not surrendered to God?
  • Or, is my life bearing the genuine fruit of authentic faith? Faith that is active.

Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.
Digging Deeper
  • Fit Galatians 6:10 and Matthew 25:40 into faith and works.
  • Study Luke 3:7-14 and Matthew 7:15-23. What do these passages have to say about works and faith?
  • For Abraham's story, read Genesis 15 and 22. Rahab's story is found in Joshua 2 and 6 and Hebrews 11:31.

Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.
Let's Chat...
  • What does Paul say about this deal between faith and works in Ephesians 2:8-10 and how does it fit?
  • How do James 2:19 and Deuteronomy 6:4 tie together?
  •  What do Abraham and Rahab have in common?

For next week:
Read James 3:1-12 several times.

Knickknack or Ebenezer?

a 2 z meme with Patty Wysong at Patterings.
Welcome to this week's a 2 z
and the letter K.
If you're joining in the meme, be sure to link up with us at the end of this post. Find more info about the a 2 z meme here.

On one of my parent's bi-annual treks to visit us, they commented on the rocks I have scattered around the inside my house. It's a family thing that I came by through my dad's mother, whose window sills were full of interesting rocks, and it's something I share with at least one of my sisters. I don't know if my grandmother had stories to go with her rocks, but I do.

There's more to the knickknacks in my house than just being cute little things to collect dust, or even just interesting rocks.They're Ebenezers.
Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” ~1 Samuel 7:12 NAS

My window sill and desk shelf hold a strange variety of things, and most of them have special significance to me. They remind me of things in my life that I want, and need, to remember. Special things God has done for me. Not only do I need the physical reminder, but they're object lessons for my family.
Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, “What do these stones mean to you?” then you shall say to them, “Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord...” So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever. (Joshua 4:6-7, NAS)

Every now and then one of the kids will ask about a knickknack I have and it's a perfect opportunity for me to tell them about what it reminds me of. They hear the story of what God has done in my life, and that makes it more than a cute moose sitting on my shelf.

When my parents sold their home 10 years ago, my older sister and I were envious of our younger sister who brought home a silly little frog that sat on our mom's shelf for years. It surprised Mom that we all loved that frog, but it was such a good lesson for me, one I remember every time I go to my younger sister's home and see the frog on her kitchen window sill. It's something we can capitalize on as mothers.

Do you have a shadow box or shelf? How about just a window sill you can use? Turn it into a special Ebenezer shelf and work together, as a family, to fill it with physical reminders of what God has done for you. Not only will the children love it, but it's something they'll remember long after they've grown and left the house. Even if they don't carry the knick-knack with them to their own homes, they will carry the story with them.

Don't collect just knickknacks, collect Ebenezers.

If you're joining us for the a2z meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter K, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here.

How to Avoid Showing Favoritism - James 2:1-13

Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.

Before we jump into this passage, let's check out how James starts it because it's just too cool to pass by without really looking at.
My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ...

James is reminding us that Jesus is the Shekinah of God—the manifestation or revelation of God. Jesus is God's glory. This is who our faith rests in—Jesus, THE glory of God.

Keeping that in mind, let's pick up the threads from last week. James said that we need to be in the world without being polluted or stained by it, and that we are to enter the surrounding culture but remain free from the evil to be found there. From there he dives right into an example that's as relevant today as it was centuries ago to the people he wrote to. He says the favoritism the world practices has no place in the body of Christ.

James 2:1-13 from Click to see larger so you can read.

There was no middle class in those days, and no social climbing. You either had money and status or you didn't. So the wealthy people sponsored many things for the poor—roads, public baths, temples, and even the city taxes. Why would they do that? For the glory and honor they received for it. When they passed people on the streets, they would be treated special and flattered by them. Plaques would be hung in prominent places and seen for years after, naming them as the generous benefactor of whatever it was. They considered displaying their wealth almost as important as having it.

Sound familiar? But I think we've taken it a step or two further. Displaying wealth, social status, power, style, beauty, talent, or intelligence—whether we genuinely have it or not, is important in our society. More than that, people are treated according to the impression they give. If they appear to have something we value, we treat them differently.

Favoritism in the world isn't pretty.

Favoritism among Christians is a pollution from the world that James says we are to stay far away from. We are to be Christ-like and Jesus, THE glory of God, the One who had every right to, did not show partiality. Not only that, but Romans 2:11 says there is NO partiality with God.

Faith and favoritism do not mix.

So how do we avoid favoritism?

By looking at people through the eyes of Christ—eyes of love.
“In Jesus's birth and life, He broke down the walls between rich and poor, young and old, educated and uneducated. It is wrong for us to build those walls again; we cannot rebuild them if we believe in the grace of God.” ~Warren Wiersbe

By obeying the royal law.
“Love your neighbor as yourself” is considered the royal law and Jesus speaks about it in Matthew 22:34-40. Loving others as we love ourselves not only cures favoritism, but it also cures the selfishness that propels favoritism.

If we show favoritism, we are law breakers and James doesn't mince words here. In verse 10 he says, “whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” Ouch. Guilty of all? Yes. All.

The things James mentions all have something in common: the honor we treat others with. So, if we rationalize and think, “Playing favorites isn't as bad as bad as adultery or murder” we are wrong! Sin is sin. Knowing this, it should have a great impact on how we live—as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.
“The beauty of this law is that it takes seriously both law and mercy, both sin and grace. God does not excuse us from our sin, but He does forgive (Romans 1:20; 2:1). To excuse is to claim that the offending party is not in fact guilty of the offense or to deny the seriousness of the offense. To forgive grants full weight both to guilt and to its seriousness, but it nullifies the guilt.” ~David P. Nystrom

The law of liberty is not a license to do whatever we want. There is no freedom in that, only bondage. Liberty is the freedom to be all that we can be in Christ. It is the inner discipline to do the right things, not because we have to, but because we love God. If we only obey because we have to, then we are not really growing and maturing.

Obedience out of love and because we know it's right are signs of growing up. Our beliefs should control our behavior. A merciful attitude is an evidence of a person's faith.
“Christian love means treating others the way God has treated me. It is an act of the will, not an emotion that I try to manufacture. The motive is to glorify God. The means is the power of the Spirit within.” ~Warren Wiersbe

James is not saying that we can earn mercy. We can't. It's impossible for us to earn mercy. But our hearts—our attitudes determine how we are treated. If we are rebellious and refuse to repent, then God administers justice rather than mercy. Repentance leads to forgiveness and mercy...

and mercy exults victoriously over judgment.

Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.
Digging Deeper:
  • What does Exodus 40:34-35 say about the Shekinah of God?
  • What do Leviticus 19:15, Deuteronomy 10:17, and Romans 2:11tell us about God?
  • Psalm 119:45 and Matthew 18:21-35 talk about the law of liberty and about forgiveness between fellow Christians. What does it say?
  • How does Matthew 25:31-40 fit with James 2:1-13?

Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.
Let's Chat...
  • How does thinking about Jesus as the glory of God change how we think of His mercy?
  • What are some of the different ways favoritism is shown—in the world and in the church?
  • What are some practical ways we can stop the favoritism that goes on?
  • How do our attitudes and actions determine the mercy we receive?
For next week:
Read through James 2:14-26 several times.

Just Because

a 2 z meme with Patty Wysong at Patterings.
Welcome to this week's a 2 z
and the letter J.
If you're joining in the meme, be sure to link up with us at the end of this post. Find more info about the a 2 z meme here.

Sometimes it's nice to post things
Just Because.
This is one of those times...

Just where I want to be...

My happy place...

I love the beach--but not to lay out and sunbathe. *shiver* Forget that. I love just sitting and watching and listening to the walk the beach... sheer bliss.

Palm trees happen to be my favorite trees, but they just don't grow in Illinois. Usually. LoL. I do have a pair of little ones in my house, imported from Arizona.

Palm favorites.
These colors and textures drew me in. Natural fibers, hand dyed. Just beautiful. I've wanted to post this picture for almost a year but never had reason I decided to, just because.

I love these colors...
So tell me, what's something you want to do, just because?

If you're joining us for the a2z meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter J, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here.

The Dangers of Self-Deception - James 1:19-27

Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.

We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.
How often have we heard that in our lives? But how hard is it to put into practice? Super hard! And that's putting it mildly sometimes. But James doesn't stop there, he has to go and add that we are to be slow to anger too. That means that sometimes keeping our mouths shut isn't quite enough—especially if you're like me and emotions are often raging behind sealed lips. If we think that just because it isn't spoken we're safe, then we're deluding ourselves.

Thankfully, James gave us a reason to put the brakes on our mouths and our anger—because it doesn't accomplish the righteousness of God. In his commentary on James, David P. Nystrom said...
  • Anger—the result of our reluctance to listen—is at odds with God's righteousness.
  • Outbursts of anger do not produce the kind of righteous behavior God desires.
  • Righteous action doesn't come from anger.
  • Claiming “righteous indignation” is about like claiming to speak for God—something we need to think and pray about long and hard before doing!
  • Venting is not righteous indignation.
  • “The righteous anger of the prophets was directed at injustices that others were experiencing, not an injustice that they personally experienced.”
  • Anger, even if left unspoken, influences our thoughts, what we do say, and our actions.
James 1:19-27.  Click so you can read it.

Anytime we see the word therefore in the Bible, we can stop and think “What's that there for?” We need to look at what the writer was just talking about so we're ready for how he's going to build on it.

How to prepare ourselves for God's word.

Put aside means to get rid of, the idea of total conversion, a complete change of life pattern.

What are we to get rid of? All filthiness and all that remains of wickedness. Every little speck of wickedness and filth in our lives.

Humility is meekness.
Meekness is not weakness. Meekness is a condition of the mind and heart which demonstrates gentleness, not in weakness, but in power. It is a balance born in strength of character. (The Word Study Dictionary)

Think of a stallion—strength under control and submitted to its master's will. (LoL, Patty's paraphrase.)

We are to receive the word implanted in us with humility. We aren't to argue with it, nor try to twist it to say what we want, but we are to simply accept it. Humility allows the word of God to flourish within us, producing fruit.

How to avoid delusion.

In today's information age we know a lot. But does knowing change our lives?
It is not the hearing but the doing that brings the blessing. Too many Christians mark their Bibles, but their Bibles never mark them! If you think you are spiritual because you hear the Word, then you are only kidding yourself. ~Warren W. Wiersbe

James 1:22-24 in The Message
Look in the mirror. They tell us things about ourselves. As Christians, God's Word is our mirror. A quick glance and it seems everything is all right. But when we stop and really look, we see that there are flaws—plenty of them. So then we have a choice. If we walk away, shrugging our shoulders and forgetting about it, we have deluded ourselves.

The only one we're kidding is ourselves. We certainly aren't fooling God!

But there's good news. If we stop and really look at God's Word, at “the perfect law of liberty,” and obey it—do what it says—God sets us free.
Like Jesus, James does not have in mind a new law, but rather the fuller expression or more perfect distillation of the Jewish law. For the Christian this law is still the will of God, but a more refined apprehension of that will. This is a law for which a purer cannot be imagined. The perfect law, the word implanted and allowed to take root, is, then the very teaching of Jesus. ~David P. Nystrom

Knowing is not the same as doing!
Blessing does not come from simply looking at the perfect law of liberty, nor from knowing it.
Blessing comes 
in the doing of it. 
Obedience leads to blessing.

Bridle your tongue. There are times when we just need to rein in our tongue. Thinking we do, when we don't is self-deception because the mouth shows what's in the heart. (Matthew 12:34-35)

So you think you're religious?

James ends this chapter by telling us what pure religion is: Seeing others and their needs. He reminds us to care for the orphans and widows—people who are often at the edge of society.

But he doesn't stop there. James reminds us that we need to be in the world without being polluted or stained by it. We are to live and work with those around us with intelligence and great thought so that we can keep our lives, our reputations, and our faith pure. Yes, we are to enter the surrounding culture but remains free from the evil to be found there.

Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.
Digging Deeper:
  • Amos 4:1-3; What was Amos angry about?
  • Keeping in mind how Jesus was treated by men, what was He mad about? John 2:13-17; Matthew 21:12-13.
  • More for the trash can: Ephesians 4:25; 1 Peter 2:1
  • How did these men respond when they looked in the mirror of God's Word? Job 42:6; Isaiah 6:5; Luke 5:8. How does my response compare to theirs?
  • Read Psalm 19:7, 119:45 and John 8:31-32. How do they mesh with James 1:25?

Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.
Let's Chat:
  • Stop and think about anger. Do you vent or stuff? What effect does stuffing have and does it make it okay since it's not verbalized?
  • How does spending time in the Bible help us see ourselves?
  • What happens when we continue to delude ourselves?
  • How is it that the blessing is in the doing, not just the hearing?

For next week:

Read through James 2:1-13 several times.

My Annual 40 Days

This is my fourth year to "celebrate" the 40 days before my birthday. To be honest, I almost didn't even try this year, but when talking with my sister, we talked about 40 days--the fun of celebrating for that long, the benefits, and many different things. After talking with her, I just couldn't miss this.

If you've spent any time with me here at Patterings, you've heard this before, but I need this reminder...

When we see 40 days in the Bible, it is a time when God made major changes and transformations. It's a journey that leads to growth and change. Preparation.

Think about the changes God made in these times...

PhotobucketNoah—40 days and 40 nights of rain.

PhotobucketMoses—his whole life went by 40 year increments--starting with being 40 when he fled from Pharaoh and started a new life, 40 years on the backside of the desert, and 40 years leading Israel, then also 40 days on Mount Sinai.

PhotobucketIsrael—ate manna for 40 years while wandering in the desert.

PhotobucketSpies that Moses sent out—in Canaan for 40 days.

PhotobucketElijah—in the wilderness for 40 days.

PhotobucketJonah—warned Nineveh they had 40 days to repent.

I want changes in my life.
I want to be susceptible to God.
I want to catch His drift for my life.

So these next 40 days will be a time of seeking God. I wish I could withdraw from life for this time, but I can't. In fact, it could be busier than usual, which means I'll have to be intentional in this...which just might be the key to all this. =)

So tell me, have you done 40 days for something or is there something you might consider a special 40 day period for?

Investing in the Important

a 2 z meme with Patty Wysong at Patterings.
Welcome to this week's a 2 z
and the letter I.
If you're joining in the meme, be sure to link up with us at the end of this post. Find more info about the a 2 z meme here.

Sometimes I just need a reminder of what's truly important in my life--a clarification of things I need to invest in. For me that's what today is all about...a reminder to
invest in the important.

These colorful peppers came from this summer's garden and remind me of all I learned this summer and my home. Investing in my home, and all those in it is extremely important. Without them life would be colorless.

Although this picture is only from around Mother's Day of this year, it's already out of date. My son on the far left is now taller than my two girls (much to their disgust) and my youngest is also considerably taller too. Lots of growing this last summer. My children are a huge investment. One I treasure.

LoL, and where would I be without my wonderful hubs?Our marriage has already had a great return on investment. It's another very important factor in my life.

Not only am I investing in those things...those lives, but this fall I'm investing a boat-load of time and energy in Toby, my "baby." It's been an interesting experience, and it will continue to be!! He's an investment for the future.

Tomorrow starts a special time of year for me, and I'll tell you about it tomorrow, but investing in a couple of my favorite things is on the docket. Things like taking my camera out more. When I have a camera in hand I tend to slow down and notice things and savor them instead of whizzing by and missing everything. I'm finding that intentionally slowing down is important.

There's something about palm trees and silhouettes that call me to my Bible and to introspection-- both of which are on the list for the upcoming days. Investing in spiritual growth has been on my mind a lot recently.

So tell me, what are some important things you invest in?

If you're joining us for the a2z meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter I, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by 2009. Design expanded and personalized by 2011.

Back to TOP