The Humble Path to Peace: Study Notes on James 4:13-17

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. James 4:13-17

The theme of humility runs all through the book of James. And here it is brought to a very practical level. We are reminded how fragile life is. The steam that rises from my cup of coffee is beautiful both in the way it swirls and because I love coffee, but it doesn’t last long. Same with this life. Our reliance on God should be evident and acted upon. Boasting never sounds good and turns people away. There is envy that rises from the pride that is displayed. Humility and confidence is what Jesus portrayed. Humility in submission and confident in who God is and how He provides.

Jesus was God walking on this earth. He above anyone could have displayed total pride and self-reliance. He made confident statements about who He was and why He was sent to earth. Taken out of context, this can be seen as boasting. But He relied on and submitted to His Father while living in human form. There was no question about His devotion to God. And there should be no question about mine. My words and actions hold the weight of perception. What do people see in me? Do my words and actions display arrogance and selfishness? I hope not. At the very least I am more aware. At most, and what I hope for, is that I give God His rightful first place in my life and He is glorified so others can see His love and care in me. The latter will prevent the exhaustion of striving and usher in the peace in relying on God, knowing He will provide.

Lord, Thank You for the dreams and desires You have given space in my heart for. Shed Your light on the path forward so I know I am headed in the right direction. Help me to notice the everyday goodness, take care of the little things, and serve others along the way. Reveal the motives in my desires and help me notice where selfishness and pride need to be checked and dealt with. Give me wisdom and the ability to lead and live with a servant’s heart. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Before reading James, I was guided to Psalm 46. A perfect companion in my heart, so I am sharing:

Psalm 46 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

God the Refuge of His People.

For the choir director. A Psalm of the sons of Korah, set to Alamoth. A Song.

46 God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in [c]trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered;
He raised His voice, the earth melted.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has wrought desolations in the earth.
He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.

Seen In Part

Love when it’s hard, love when it isn’t

Love past the pain when you heart isn’t in it

Take up your grace and follow in kind

Shine light into darkness keep victory in mind

Take off your shoes, touch earth with bare

Let holiness seep with the power that’s there

Suspended in heaven a blue earth that floats

Tethered and grounded with dust covered hope

Sorrow will drown if you give in to the pull

Loss and betrayal fills empty to full

Push past the temptation to let too much go

Strategic intention holds truth that you know

Arrive at each morning with fresh eyes of love

Waiting and knowing a branch comes with the dove

Genesis story reminds me of God’s hand

His strength that’s invisible will help me to stand

Rise and walk to the voice that is calling

Take the path forward when promise is stalling

Keep to the course that is clear in your heart

Fullness in future only now seen in part.

Believe

Twinkling lights of Christmas cheer 

Joyous tunes for all to hear

Brisker air is blowing through

Smiles are wrapped in all we do

As we rock around the tree

Remind us of the gift that’s free

A Father’s love with hands of grace

The manger holds a baby’s face

Born of Mary, God’s true Son

Promise foretold, the war is won

When Old St. Nick comes to town

Help me remember the bloody crown

Beauty from ashes, darkness to Light

Turns feeling forsaken to merry and bright

Denying our pain does not make it true

But the love of our Savior will strengthen you

The most perfect gift we could ever receive

Is already ours, in our hearts to believe. 

 

Twirl (Light)

I find myself smiling, watching a child

Airport delays ruffle feathers and minds

People and cases are rushing around

I desperately seek, but few smiles can be found

Pulled back to this girl, no more than age four

She’s laughing and trotting, to her life is more

More than the stressing and money to spend

She’d rather chase bubbles, gushing joy without end

To me this is heaven, to others a bore

Wondering why won’t the parents do more

To shut down this angelic innocent face

Would remove all the light she was giving this place

Heart strings are played when I find such a gift

In the currents of life that at times feel too swift

Perfect encouragement timing is true

When God knows my heart feels the blessings are few

On days when mass shootings are drowning the news

Chaos strikes quickly changing all that you knew

Thumbs tapping quickly with ranting and prayer

Media streaming with deafening snare

Back to the airport and the happiness girl

If only a moment I’ll just watch her twirl. 

Strong Roots

Grass under my feet and wind in my hair

Reminding me God, that Your love is there

You are my rock through the chaos on earth

And I know there’s a purpose and loving has worth

When fire and affliction burns hot on your heart

Meaningless madness will tear you apart

Take hold of the moment, stand strong and aware

That darkness will cower to God’s love affair

His power will crush the arrows that fly

The taunts of the enemy become known for their lies

The world spins unknowing the battles to fight

So I war on my knees to replace darkness with light

With each breath in my lungs I vow to live well

And let God use my life as His story to tell

Pages keep turning as days turn to years

I stop to reflect how He’s used all my tears

Seeds of grace and forgiveness flourish and grow

In each burning affliction I’m pushed closer to know

True joy and love when I dig deeper to find

Strong roots reach the Giver of your life and mine.

 

 

Healed Heart Gleams

Share to Strengthen

What stirs in heart at depths it seems

The whole of quiet, nature beams

Take a look and longer gaze

At what you pass in hurried days

Find the rest, your soul that thirsts

Remember love, remember firsts

Once wild desire, taken for granted

Trace back and see what seeds you planted

The tree that grows needs time to flare

Slow down, stop running, reaching for air

Hold to that which firmly rooted

Anchors soul, press play, now muted

Let beauty’s music guide your heart

Hope revealed, seen now in part

Gather treasures growing where

Your passion planted life once bare

Remember promise sown with vision

God graced you with a worthy mission

Humble down and let love rise

Cherish treasures, choices wise

Cease in searching empty dreams

Once cold and broken, healed heart gleams.

Words and Photo by Jennifer JLS

1/23/15

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Eden Remembered

  As I walked along the beach early one morning, a man stopped me and asked if I was looking for shells. I said no I wasn’t really looking… But he said he noticed me stop from a distance, pick something up, and now he had something he wanted to give me. He extended his hand… A delicate, white shell. He said “it’s an Angel Wing… rare to find one in tact, they get pretty beaten up as they wash on to shore. ” I graciously thanked him and gently cupped the shell in my hands. I walked away, thinking, thanking, shaking my head, knowing…. And sobbing. That’s it God. Thank you. We all start out as a perfect creation. (Eve). And we all get pretty banged up as we wash on to shore. From the deep we are formed and then we journey toward Home. Our hearts know this. And In God’s hands we are gently cupped, and kept, as His treasure. Eden remembered.

Victory in the Middle

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I am struck by the truth of how easily our strength fades in the middle. We all have those moments of clarity, inspired by God’s word, spoken deep within us, and we know what we are to do! We step out in faith, we begin the work of rebuilding, or loving in action, or we forgive what seems unforgiveable. And then the sun rises one morning, the once beautiful rays of light have been darkened by clouds. Thunder rolls in the distance and you wonder. Discouragement sets in, doubts fog up our minds. How easy it would be to just give up, give in, go out, and live like your neighbor who seems to be doing just fine. But, we are the women who know our God. We have studied and we have prayed. Our hearts have been guarded well, and so the attacks of our enemies, the Enemy, cannot breach our souls. God will fight for us. He who wants to destroy us cannot have a victory in us. It is time to get back to work. It is time to get back to Love. Take up the weapons, put on the full armor, and this time do not lay them down until the work is complete. Beginnings are full of fresh ambition, building seems worthy, but just as a lavish dinner with friends is wonderful, the time of enjoyment must turn to cleaning up. This is part of the process. Memories planted in our hearts are not erased by taking out the garbage. Part of the building includes removing the rubbish. Making room for the firm foundations to be set, an integral piece of the larger goal. Remember why you started. Remember your people, remember the love, and remember what Jesus did for you. For us. So much love through pain. The victory is not always found at the end, but right in the middle where you did not give up.

(We Are The Women)

Smack dab in the messy

We show our selves real

We take what we’re given

The cards in the deal

We are given one life

One great story line

That one is yours

And this one is mine

We are the women

Who live from the heart

Brave and courageous

For every new start

When life tosses toughness

We catch it with strength

Turn it and mold it

Stretch love with new length

I’m not saying easy

Not giving a shrug

Just one step, then two

With a God given hug

We treasure our friendships

Hold close to a few

Makes mornings more lovely

Like freshly formed dew

And so retreat daily

Into God’s loving hands

Fill empty places for

New mornings, new lands.

(Nehemiah 4:10-23)