Faith Has A Job To Do

FAITH HAS A JOB TO DO – SPINNING GOLD FROM STRAW – SERMON RESOURCES
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ENGAGING THE PRACTICAL TIP

This past Sunday, Pastor Donnell continued our excursion through the letter of James. This week, part of Pastor Donnell’s focus was on our need for wisdom.  In particular, Pastor Donnell described that this wisdom from above enables us to live lives of integrity, lives of peace and compassion towards others, and awareness of God’s acceptance of us to the point where we do not need to be defensive in our posture towards others.  James tells us that we need this wisdom from above (God) and that God will give it to us if we but ask him for it.
In our mediation this week, we will attempt t open up our hearts to the Holy Spirit, being honest about the degree to which we are women and men of peace and compassion towards others, asking his pardon for the ways in which we fall short and asking for more wisdom and desire to live more peacefully and compassionately in the future.
Our text for this meditation will be James 3:13-18:
13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. ( James 3:13-18)
When you have 10-15 minutes to pray, we suggest beginning by quieting your mind and heart as a way to dedicate this time to God in a particular way.  Sit (or kneel or stand) quietly, letting whatever thoughts and feelings come to mind that occur.  One by one, in the presence of God, give each thought or feeling over to God for this time of prayer.  Try to trust that He can take care of the problem or concern for this short time.  If you cannot do this, it might be better to stop your time of prayer and do whatever you need to do with respect to the issue that won’t go away.  Then return to prayer when you have done what you can about it.  Again, go through the thoughts and feelings one by one until you have placed them all in God’s hands.  
Inviting the Holy Spirit to join with you, you might now move to consider what it takes to live peacefully with others. Think of a relationship which is currently not very peaceful.  (Or, if you don’t have one to consider, think of one which was not peaceful in the past.) Think for a minute what about the relationship tends to cause the discord: differences in opinion, desires for different outcomes, different goals, etc. Then consider the degree that you desire a peaceful relationship. What would it take on your part to improve the relationship?
Next consider compassion. Again, in the presence of God, think of a relationship where you felt you were not as compassionate as you might have been. It might be the same relationship which lacked peace or a different one. Again, what might you have done to feel and/or act more compassionate?
Now read James 3:13-18 slowly, applying what James says to the relationships that you brought to mind. Try to be open to any insight that the Holy Spirit might be giving you about your side of the relationship. How might you be more a person of peace? How might you be more compassionate? How might you have shown more consideration to what the other person(s) was experiencing and feeling?  Be open to noticing any resistance you might have?  Do you sense feelings of frustration, resentment, unfairness, fear? If so, simply share these with Jesus. Talk to him about where they might be coming from. Do you want to feel this way, feel that you have no choice, have no power to feel and act differently?  Again, talk with Jesus about this. We encourage you to trust in his love and acceptance of you, his desire to help and that the Holy Spirit stands ready to help.
When it seems right, read the passage from James again slowly. Be open to different words or phrases striking you as relevant this second time. Also be open to a deeper look at the relationships where peace and compassion are issues.  What are God’s hopes for these relationships? Are there ways that you might partner with God in his purposes for these small, but important parts of his creation?  What are your hopes for these relationships? Are they the same as God’s?  Are there ways of thinking or acting that God seems to be inviting you to give up or take on?   
When it seems like this prayer exercise is done, jot down anything of significance from it on a notepad or device and thank God for this opportunity and privilege of communicating with him and sharing in his plans for creation.
Feel free to share your experience with others who have also tried this prayer exercise by commenting below or emailing: spiritual.practices@annarborvineyard.org.

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