Thirst for the Gospel

I felt that this went well this morning and even though not everything went the way we might have planned this morning, I know the Holy Spirit was with us this morning. Praise God. Scripture is James 3:1-12. 

There was a couple who went to celebrate their honeymoon. The wedding was perfect. Their friends were wonderful, the families all got along together well during the crazy hectic-ness that is weddings, and even most amazing, the trip to their getaway spot was completely smooth.

The couple celebrated that they were beginning a new chapter in their lives, and that they had experienced such a wonderful day.

Their first dinner at the hotel they were staying at, they asked that the chef make them the best meal that was in his repertoire.

Tongue.

And it was sent out with an explanation. The tongue, you see, can hold promise, and peace, and loving words, and grace for many.

The couple thought it was a little odd… but, you can always try something once, and so enjoyed themselves. Besides, nothing would ruin their trip.

Famous last words…

A few days later, nothing seemed to go right. the weather turned stormy, and tempers ran high, and words were blurted in haste and anger.

When the couple got to dinner that night, they asked if this time, they could have the worst thing on the menu. It felt that it would be appropriate for the wretched day that they had been having.

And so guess what comes out to their table.

Tongue.

This time, another explanation. The tongue is also a weapon. It is used to cut down and maim and belittle.

Hear what James has to say about it: James 3:1-12.

The tongue, and respectively, speech that comes from our mouths, can be one of the worst, most destructive force that we experience.

Sticks and Stones may break the bones, but words cut to the core and wound deep into the soul.

James says that the tongue is so very small, and yet so very powerful.

I don’t know if any of you have spent much time on the water or not, but as I grew up, I was in a boat a fair amount.

My parents learned how to sail, and luckily, one of our church members down on the coast owned a 30ft sailboat.

We got to take it out in the open water, and raise the sails. See, sailboat sails are generally twice as tall as the boat is long. And the wind fills the sails and pulls the boat across the water.

However, while sails are being raised, and especially while we want to go forward in the water, it is essential to stand at the rudder, to take the helm, and keep a hand to guide the boat steady as she goes.

So the sailboat sails are generally so tall they would reach past our ceiling. And the boat is big enough to reach across our sanctuary.

But the rudder, the rudder is tiny. Its about this tall. Raise hand to hip level.

As in the to these words from the song: “Play Crack the Sky” by Brand New from their album, Deja Entendu.
Your tongue is a rudder.
It steers the whole ship.
Sends your words past your lips
or keeps them safe behind your teeth.
But the wrong words will strand you.
Come off course while you sleep.
Sweep your boat out to sea
or dashed to bits on the reef.

The rudder is such a small part of the boat as a whole, but if the rudder wasn’t; there, then the boat would just twirl around in circles, or just get pushed wherever the wind wants it to go.

Our tongues are the same way.

Our words are the same way.

What we say matters.

What comes our of our mouths matters.

And believe me, in preparing for this sermon, I take James’ warning to teachers to heart. What a great challenge, since I know that I am NOT perfect, and yet here I am, talking about speech.

And yet I have been trusted to speak to you, as an instrument for God to use, or lay aside.

As Christians, we are all warned about out words. Our words have the ability to burn a hole through those who we are called to love, but our words also have the ability to warm a heart that has been close to destruction.

Unfortunately, we don’t often think of the power that our words can carry.
During Election season it becomes especially clear to me just how ugly our culture’s words can get.

Our airwaves are filled with hate and anger and blame and the filthy stench of vitriol.

It doesn’t matter what side you listen to, or what side you are on, everyone is just as equally to blame.

In my reading of news stories, and listening to the news on the airwaves, I am appalled in the way that people feel they can cut others down because they stand in a different position.

It is especially obvious on FaceBook. People go and comment on a post, and soon it is nothing but name-calling and pointless bickering.

We end up sounding like a den of coyotes or jackals.

We have been given a wonderful gift, of language, of communication, and we have thrown it in the mud like trash.

James goes to far as to say that our tongues are full of deadly poison.

We saw this in the domino effect of a Muslim bashing YouTube video serving as the catalyst for the events with the American Embassy in Libya, which ended with four Americans being killed.
Now, I don’t know everything about this situation. I don’t know how news got out about an obscure video on the internet, and I don’t know how an American Embassy got breached. But I do know that there were Libyans, both Christian and Muslim, who were standing against the attacks.

Our words can be one of the worst, most destructive force that we experience.

Words, like it or not, hold great power, and those who wield them have a great responsibility to use them well.

We use our words to both soothe and burn.
To bless and curse.
To build up and to tear down.

Sticks and Stones may break the bones, but words cut to the core and wound deep into the soul.

But in spite of all the ways that our words can cut and hurt and curse, we are also called to turn away from that speech.

The brackish, sandy, salty, muddy words that we speak do nothing to quench the thirst that we have for eternal life.

Too often, we are content to filter the mud out of the water, so that we can try to continue.
However, what we should do is seek out a clear, clean spring.

We are called to find the fountain of clear water, a spring that refreshes and brings rest.

I hear tell of a spring not far from here, where folks got their water, some of them still do.

My family went to go visit my aunt and uncle in California, and we drank the river water there.
Up on Mt. Shasta, I drank out of the headwaters of the spring that eventually becomes the Sacramento river.

While we were there, a man came up filling his jugs of water for his wife, who doesn’t drink water from anywhere else.

She only wanted water from the source.

And this water, clear, fresh, cool, quick running, perfect for a break on a hot day, was good water.

We are supposed to be the same kind of source for others.

Instead of a brackish message of condemnation or dismissal for others, we are to follow the leadership of our Savior Jesus Christ, and bring the refreshing message of the blessing of the gospel.
We cannot curse, or dismiss, or bully, or hate those around us, and then immediately turn around and have a genuine blessing for God.

The two do not flow together.

Your words flow out of the Grace that has been extended to you.

We are called to Open ourselves to be fountains of blessing to others.

As you go out this week, remember that your words matter. Remember that the Tongue is the most dangerous, and powerful and wonderful tool that you have use with others.

Let your lives be consecrated to the use of God’s word.
If you allow her,
the Holy Spirit will speak through you.

Jesus brought the gospel so that it would be shared with the whole world, not kept contained for a select few.

Jesus is the Word of God, As the Gospel of John says, in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Jesus is the Word of God incarnate, and this is the Gospel that we are to bring to the world with our mouths.

So let your lives, and your words, flow out of the blessing that is opening to you each day.

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