13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 15Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 18And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for* those who make peace.
4Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? 2You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet* something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.
7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
I had an encounter with the devil this week, don’t be worried. He was crouched at the feet of a bishop in a stain glass window at St Andrews church in West Stafford, Dorset. I think it was the first time I’ve actually seen the devil depicted in a stained glass window.It was most opportune as the epistle this morning talks about the devil.
James warns us of the power of the devil this morning, how the devil sneaks in in a quiet way. James suggest in v 14-16
“But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth.
Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish.
For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind.
And in the gospel this morning we hear of to disciples arguing with one another as to who was the greatest. Not really an attribute that Jesus would expect to hear from one of his disciples. Would James consider they were thinking in earthly terms and not in heavenly terms, I think so So does the devil exist., is the devil trying to come between us and our faith.
C.S Lewis wrote about the Devil in his humorous fiction ‘The Screwtape Letters’.These letters consist of imaginary letters from a senior devil to a junior devil, instructing him how to tempt a young man away from Christianity. Eventually they fail, and are consumed with wrath as their intended victim passes triumphantly into heaven.
But in the course of the book we learn about what we’re up against if we wish to remain strong in our face and resist the call of atheism.
It is a hilariously funny book yet; like all best humour it makes a serious point. Many of its readers have laughed at the jokes but have they ever ask themselves whether they believe that the devil exists or not.
Some Christians will dismiss the question as decided already. Jesus believed in devils they answer, so we have no right to do disagree with him. They point to passages in Matthews Gospel, where Jesus meets to men that are possessed by demons and begins the task of casting them out. The Bible tells us that Jesus spoke to the Demons, even if it was only one word GO !!
This proves some say that devils are real.
But others will reply there is no scientific proof that Demons exist.
Whereas it has been shown over and over again and when identical symptoms to those of the so-called demoniacs are treated as a physical physiological illness they can be killed.
If Jesus had said, you are suffering from a psychosomatic illness nobody would have understood. Whereas if he used the language and terminology which the patient knew it will be effective in ridding him of his belief that he was incurable and allow the idea that God loved him to have its therapeutic effect.
In the forward of ‘The Screwtape letters’ Lewis said that if asked whether he believed in the devil, with a capital D, he would reply No if you meant a, power opposite and equal to God existing in its own right from eternity. ‘God has no opposites’ he wrote. But he did believe that some angels had rejected God, and become his enemies.
It is quite proper to call these fallen Angels Devils with a smaller D. But Satan their leader is the opposite of the Archangel Michael, not of God.This belief is not essential to his faith, wrote CS Lewis, but he will hold to it until someone can prove it to be untrue – and it is much harder to prove that anything does not exist than to prove it does.
The 19th century French poet Charles Baudelaire was saying the same thing when he wrote
‘ My dear brothers, never forget when you hear people praise the progress of the Enlightenment, that the devil’s best trick it Is to persuade you that he doesn’t exist’
James remind us in v17-18 that the wisdom we need comes from above.
‘But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.’
And in v7 he tells how we should do it
‘Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded’.
We need to be on our guard for the devil slips in so quietly and we allow it by thinking of earthly matters and no heavenly matters.
I have loved Paul’s letter to the Ephesians over the past few weeks.
This letter although written for new Christians converts in Ephesus, is so relevant for us today. The reading today talks of using our time wisely, not wasting it. It advises that we make sure we are spending it doing a God would have us do.
So busyness for busyness sake is out.
We mustn’t feel that we HAVE to be doing all the time, because in always DOING ,how are we to discern how God have us spend our time.
In church this morning we sand “Be still for the presence of the Lord”. The Lord wishes us to allow ourselves to be still, to rest in his presence, to hear him, be at one with him.
He gives us permission to” NOT BE BUSY” but WE have to give ourselves that permission.
Ephesians 5,15-20 (Message Bible)
Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.
Wake up from your sleep,
Climb out of your coffins;
Christ will show you the light!
So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants.
Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.
Where am I?
Sat on the beach
What can I see?
a vast expanse of sea that is Lyme Bay
a beach called Chesil stretches out before me.
a sun shimmering golden road cuts a swathe across the sea.
waves rise and then fall before breaking up on the shore
wispy clouds decorate the sky
a golden orb is a jewel of gold
What can I hear?
waves breaking upon the shore,
the sound of shingle under foot,
the cry of seagulls.
What can I feel?
the gentle warmth of the late evening sunshine upon my face.
How do I feel?
I sit in awe and wonderment at the magnificence I see before me,
the light grows dim,
the golden road loses its shimmer and is gone
the sun disappears over the horizon,
the day is over and the night begins.
Hallelujah! You who serve God, praise God!
Just to speak his name is praise!
Just to remember God is a blessing— now and tomorrow and always.
From east to west, from dawn to dusk, keep lifting all your praises to God!
Ps 113;3 MSG
This photo shows a beautiful golden summer sunset shining on the Chesil beach, which forms part of the Unesco World Heritage Coast.
I particularly like the way the sun flare accentuates the silhouette of the fisherman and catches the crest of the breaking waves.
This photo represents to me the quintessential english countryside.
The rolling hills, the differing shapes and colours of the fields.
The natural stone walling.
The ancient St.Catherines Chapel nestles amongst the hill.
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic Mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.
William Blake (1757 – 1827)
The dorset countryside
It sits betwixt and between
shingle shore and yonder green bank
haunt of smugglers in times past
home of fishermen,
a place of peace,
a place of tranquility,
a place to reflect,
home to the swan,
majestic and white,
as it glides across the fleet,
with head held high.
a place of peace.
a place of tranquility,
a place to reflect.
that is the Fleet.
the boats traverse the fleet,
through strength of men,
that they may catch fish
In order to feed the soul.
a place of peace,
a place of tranquilty,
a place to reflect
on Gods created world,
that is the Fleet.