Putting It All Together

puzzle-pieces

James 1:2-4 (NASB) 

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

A few weeks ago I started a “New Tradition” at the house.  Now, it’s just getting started and I have not had much success with this new tradition but I am attempting to implement it anyway… I’ll keep on plugging away.

Here’s the idea; at our family dinner time (we typically eat together as a family at the dinner table 5-6 times a week) I want to start the dinner time with a 5 minute conversation based on a Bible verse from the Biblical book of Proverbs.  The first night I tried this, things went okay; however, we haven’t done it since (like I said, new tradition with a rocky start).  Soooo, here’s what I hope to accomplish with this Proverb sharing time… it’s will be a “hybrid” family devotional.  I want to take one verse from Proverbs and discuss how it applies to our life TODAY.  With the girls, the truths are very easy to grasp; but, with my son, he is not very focused or thrilled about talking spiritual truths at dinner (he’s three).  We will press on.

Here’s what I find interesting about this entire process.  I am striving to be the “spiritual leader” in the home by doing family devotions at the dinner table (a time of day when we all slow down and are together as a family).  However, just a few hours later I find myself yelling at the kids to get in bed, to be quiet, to go to sleep.  The kids see me getting very frustrated with them and even getting angry.  And this morning in my Bible study God got my attention about it.  Check this out:

This morning I spent about an hour studying James chapter 1 (what a great passage).  Anyway, the first thing that caught my attention was verses 2 & 3…

James 1:2-3 (NASB)
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

This is easy; I heard these verses so many times before.  And what’s more, these are great verses to underline, highlight, and post to facebook to appear like I’ve got this Christian life thing nailed.  I think to myself; “Cool thoughts God, …Testing of your faith produces endurance…”

Then I keep on reading and get to verses 5 & 6…

James 1:5-6 (NASB)
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith…

At these verses I underline “ask of God” and “ask in faith”.  I then draw an arrow between verse 6 (ask in faith) and verse 3 (testing of your faith).  Now I’m thinking a little more about the passage, “When I see that my faith is being tested, I need to ask God (in faith) for wisdom.”

Again, I really don’t think further than that.  Nice thoughts for the day, I’m getting my devotions done and feeling good about it.

Let’s continue…

James 1:19-20 (NASB)
But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

I am doing a study on friendships and this was one of the verses I quoted for it; so, I decided it should be underlined here as I do my Bible reading… Again, it’s a popular verse to underline but my thoughts really don’t move any deeper than that…

Finally, I get to the 2 X 4 board that God is going to use to get my attention…

James 1:26 (NASB)
If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.

What I really appreciate about reading the Bible slowly and thoughtfully is that I can really see that IT is God’s Word speaking to my heart.  This is what happened when I finally got to verse 26.

Here’s my thought process at this point…

I start by underlining the phrase “does not bridle his tonguethis man’s religion is worthless…” and then draw a line from verse 26 back to verse 20 (“for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God”).  And that’s when God starts to remind me about bringing all the pieces of my life into place.

You see, I can have a family devotional time at dinner where I tell the kids (from Proverbs) how they are to live their life.  Yet, just 2 hours later I cannot “bridle my tongue” as I put the kids to bed.  I get angry with the kids for behavior and then I realize that my anger does not achieve the “righteousness of God…”

My Personal Application:

So here’s my problem; I want to be a godly example to my kids but I now realize that my “religion” is worthless to them if I cannot stay in control of my anger or bridle my tongue.  In fact, the more I try to stay in control will only demonstrate how “out of control” my life really is.  Therefore, I need to go back to the principle in verses 2-3 & 5-6; to ask God for wisdom and to ask Him in Faith.  I need to bring it all together like a puzzle, I can teach the principles of God’s Word to my kids at the dinner table and then I need to ask God in faith for wisdom & patience when I am about to get angry at the kids.  What’s more, I usually get angry when things don’t go the way I think they should go… God is simply using these situations to grow my endurance.

James 1:4 (NASB)
And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

I hope today’s devotional encouraged you as much as it helped me.

Let me end with this quote about personal Bible study:

“I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God, and to meditation on it….What is the food of the inner man? Not prayer, but the Word of God; and…not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts.”

–George Müller