For about a month J and L Ministries has been teaching a series Living a Life that Shows the Compassion of Jesus. For those who have read these teachings, I hope that you have been blessed as much and learned as much as I did preparing them. There is a lot to read, but I believe you will find it very scriptural.
This morning we are going to continue our study from the book of James. We want to find out what little things impact you and me and how they can change our lives forever. Do the little things in your life impact the big things in your life? They absolutely do. But I want everyone to take a few minutes to think about this question and share your thoughts before we start on this study. Then see how you feel about this question after this study.
Little things have a tremendous impact on destinies. They have a tremendous impact on all the big things of our lives.
Please open your Bibles to James, chapter 3. I want everyone to listen carefully to these verses.
James 3:1-5 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. (2) For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. (3) Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. (4) Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. (5) Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
Okay, now the New King James.
Here is what the amplified says:
Not many of you should become teachers self constituted censors and reprovers of others, my brethren, for you know that we teachers will be judged by a higher standard and with greater severity than other people; thus we assume the greater accountability and the more condemnation. For we all often stumble and fall and defend in many things and if anyone does not offend in speech never says the wrong things he is a fully developed character and a perfect man able to control his body and to curb his entire nature. If we set bits in the horse’s mouths to make them obey us, we can turn their whole bodies about. Likewise look at the ships. Though they are so great and are driven by rough winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the impulse of the helmsmen determines. Even so, the tongue is a little member, and it can boast of great things. See how much wood or how great a forest a tiny spark can set blaze.
When you stop and think about these verses, it is very powerful. He uses a lot of metaphors showing us examples of how little things can make a big difference in big things.
I love horses and because I owned them when I was younger and learned how to break wild horses, I can relate to what James is saying here. Because of their size, let’s use the Clydesdale horses as an example. You know the kind of horses. The ones that pull the Budweiser wagon? They are huge. Here are horses of significant power and yet with the little bit in their mouth and over the course of teaching the Clydesdales, they can make them go right or left, stop, go forward and even backwards by these little tiny bits in that huge horse’s mouth.
Ashton, our grandson, used to get me to sit down and watch cartoons with him. I never liked cartoons, even as a young child. This is still not my favorite thing to do, yet it gives another example of how a little child can get a big grandpa to do this because of the influence he has on my life (a small mass influencing a larger mass).
A tiny little seedling can make a difference in how a tree grows. What James is telling us in this, the tongue is a very small member, but the tongue has significant impact over all your life. So if little things can influence great power, imagine what the tongue could do. The tongue can be used to put nations at war. Example, how Hitler did. Or the tongue can convince people to stop war as Churchill did.
Let’s take a moment to think of some of the quotes from presidents.
John Quincy Adams: All men profess honesty as long as they can. To believe all men honest would be folly. To believe none so is something worse.
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
Abraham Lincoln: A house divided against itself cannot stand.
Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?
Ulysses Grant: Hold fast to the Bible. To the influence of this Book we are indebted for all the progress made in true civilization and to this we must look as our guide in the future.
George Washington: If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.
Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions.
One little letter, whether you realize it or not, sent to a senator, representative, or congressman might change a vote. Your one little thank you note to a pastor could make the difference in his next sermon or bible study. Husbands, I hope I’m right here; our words can bring a smile that lasts all day on the face of our wife, children, or grandchildren.
Little things have great impact over big things. James wants us to understand what we say has a significant impact on how other people respond to what we say. There is more here he wants us to know. Little things influence great destinies as well as great power. Your destiny where things go in your life is changed by what you say.
James 3:3 talks about little things influencing great power. You put a tiny little bit in a great powerful horse’s mouth and you can make that horse do pretty much what you want it to do.
Verse 4: Look at the ships: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds they are guided by a small rudder.
So if verse 3 talks about little things influencing great power, verse 4 talks about influencing great destinies, that one little rudder can change the direction of a huge ship.
It can change whether you go to South America or North America. It can change whether you go to the west coast or the east coast. It can change whether you go to Asia as a person seeking a new route to India or end up in America.
Now I think that’s what James points that out in this verse. He is saying that little things like decisions in our lives can have a huge impact later on in our lives. But just think about the little tiny decisions. The decisions where we go to church, or where one might go to a college or university, decisions on who to marry or where to work. A huge one for Leanna and I was whether to grow J and L Ministries to where we would be holding services. It was a decision where we needed to trust in God, because I have not gone to school to do this and neither has my wife. I have to rely on God to give me what I teach you. I praise Him for this opportunity to be His mouthpiece.
As I’m writing this study, all the while I’m thinking of examples that might give you a greater understanding where I’m going with this. I like to paint pictures in people’s minds, so they can see what I want to say.
Before Leanna and I bought this house, we looked at a small restaurant. I had always liked to cook for the public, and from a friend who is gone now, I learned the restaurant business. I knew that there was money to be made. After we looked at it a couple times, I knew that it was the wrong decision, because I knew me, and I knew health issues that we both have, and that would not have been the right choice.
Another example – After asking my wife one morning, many years ago, after never talking about God together, if she would go to church with me the next Sunday and the words that she spoke, and the way she spoke those words was definitely a big decision with a huge impact. That yes answer may have been her final time to begin a relationship with Jesus.
Tiny decisions can affect significant changes in our lives. Now James is saying this: It’s necessary to balance things in our lives. You and I have a tongue that we can say good things with and we have a tongue that we can say bad things with. If we find ourselves wondering whether what we have to say is valuable or not, balance the effect of what we have to say.
If you can put a little bit in a horse’s mouth and control great power, if you can put a tiny rudder in the water and control great direction, great destinies, is it possible that you can control your tongue and control great power and control great destinies at the same time?
I have seen parents speak to their children with their tongue in such a way that they can change the destiny of that child. When they say to that child, “You’ll never amount to nothing…….. you’re not as good as your brother or sister is…….. you’re never going to be smart……. You’re ugly……. You’re an idiot……… You’re dumb” or worse. Those words can actually scar that child and change their whole direction of their lifetime. On the other hand, when parents talk to their children in a loving, nurturing way, that changes their direction too, plus it teaches the child to be a good example with his or her friends and their children when they grow up.
What James wants you and me to know today, is that we have to balance our words, because our words are very powerful. We need to balance our words because our words can change destinies in people. The whole point of these verses is you and I have to control our tongues, because if we don’t control our tongues, everything in our lives gets out of balance.
Let’s go to verse 5, where James talks about fires. I have been through some fires. The one that really triggers my mind, and I think sets an example of how James is describing this whole chapter was while I was working at a dairy farm. A grain truck was blowing grain into the grain bin way too fast and whether it was because of static electricity or the friction, no one will probably ever know, but it caused the grain bin to start burning, which then spread to the barn as we were milking, and then to the attached house where a 3 month old infant died. That one little spark destroyed a metal grain bin, it destroyed thousands of dollars of grain, some of the young calves didn’t survive being thrown out available doors or windows into sub-zero temperatures. The barn was so badly burned that it had to be rebuilt. Part of the house had to be rebuilt, and the whole inside was redone because of water and smoke damage. Plus, as I mentioned before, there was a baby that lost it’s life. Now we get into the power of the tongue in that whole situation. Through the building and rebuilding and getting through the insurance garbage, the husband and wife did not handle this situation as they should have. It was a horrific situation as one can only imagine. The wife wanted nothing to do with farming, the husband had done nothing but farming, I witnessed words thrown back and forth at each other on numerous times. Sadly they divorced and the husband, after the farm was up and running, couldn’t deal with the loss of his wife and loosing an infant child. He sold the farm, and that meant three employees also lost their jobs.
James 3:5 KJV Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
The point James has to make in this, it doesn’t take much of a spark to set an entire forest ablaze, like it doesn’t take much of your speech to set ablaze a whole family or to ruin a whole family. The great Chicago fire started with Mrs. O’Leary’s cow. It didn’t take much of a cow to burn down a great deal of Chicago. And what James is indicating here is, little things have great impact on big things.
We have to take care of little things before they are able to make big things out of little things. The tongue is a very small member. Look at the members of your body. Your hands and your feet are all bigger than your tongue. Though the tongue isn’t the smallest part of your body, it has great power, and compared to the damage that your tongue can do, or the good that your tongue can do, it is a very, very small member.
James wants us to understand that little things can influence great disasters. Marriages are often ended by the sharp words that can come from a person’s tongue; kingdoms sometimes go to war over statements made by a dictator or a leader who simply didn’t know how to control his tongue. Here is something that you may not have thought about, but churches have split right down the middle and destroyed, their testimony in the community is destroyed simply because of a wagging tongue. Someone who preferred to gossip rather than keep control of their tongue.
The tongue is there to encourage us, it’s there to lift up hope for the rejected, it’s there to comfort those who are sorrowing, it’s there to soothe those who are dying, but all too often we don’t balance our tongue with those things, we balance it on the opposite side by cutting words, by hateful words. We balance our tongues by saying things that later on we regret and everyone else regrets.
James wants you to know this: Faith without works is dead. But, if you take your faith and out of your faith you work the wrong thing, you kill your faith. So you have to learn to balance your faith and works, you have to learn to balance your words so that your words are not killing your faith. It’s one thing for me to tell you I believe God, I believe God is gracious, I believe God is good, I believe God is righteous, I believe God is always right. It’s one thing for me to tell you that, and then to speak in a way that shows God has no influence on my life at all. To speak in a way that I have no interest at all in serving a God who is righteous, who is good, God’s character is great.
Life is lived in a balance, and in order to have the kind of balance we need, because the tongue can be used both for good or bad, we need to make sure that we use our tongue to build people up, and not to tear them down. James says “A big forest fire is set on fire by the little spark of our tongue.” So be careful little tongue what you say.
I don’t want to let my words kill my faith, and we didn’t read these verses, and this is where I get the chance to say how important it is for each and every one of us to read God’s Word daily. It is where I can put emphasis on how important it is to be in prayer daily. This is where I urge everyone to pray for their families, friends, this country, the world and for those who don’t know Jesus.
This is where I urge everyone to listen to the Power of Blessing CD's when you get them and to also purchase the book that this CD series is from. I can send you the link if you would like, so that you can order it. When you look up the Greek and Hebrew word for bless, Oh my, it should and will change your life, when you start practicing blessing others, including ones you are not fond of. I would love to get into this more, but there is nowhere near enough time today.
James 3:6-9 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. (7) For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: (8) But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. (9) Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
Did everyone catch this end and see why the Bible and prayer are so important? Knowing that, it sounds like that’s something we should be turning our attention to daily. It says “No human being can entirely control the tongue”, so I have to recognize first of all that I’m not fully capable of making sure I only say the right things. I do however, know someone who is fully capable and that’s the person I need to go to every day, and that’s the Spirit of God. I need to pray to Him every morning “Lord, I’m going to say a lot of words today, and I’m gonna speak to a lot of people. May what I say and what I speak always please You.”
Now if I know what pleases God, I can say what pleases God and benefits others at the same time. That means that I have to have some mouthwash every morning, and my mouthwash is right here in the Bible. This mouthwash enables me to control the tongue and at the same time use the tongue to benefit other people. That’s a daily process just like brushing your teeth is a daily process……. Except for me. LOL
I have found sometimes, going to Legion meetings or like when I met with the couple living a life of adultery that I might have shared with you a few weeks ago, about saying this quick prayer: “Lord, let me be wise in what comes out of my mouth. Give me the words to help this person out. Help me with the words in this situation. Father, help me speak Your Words, and not those of my own, as You know the heart or hearts of those I will be seeing.” I have often said, “Lord, don’t let me make a fool of myself by what I say”. As human beings, our tongues can get us into trouble all the time.
I think often about what Joseph went through. Here he was 17 years old and went the extra mile as asked by his dad, to go where his brothers were. What happened? He was thrown in the pit, then sold as a slave.
I think there are times that God allows us to go through things to make us trust Him more. To toughen us up, if you will, so that when we go through trials, we are more prepared to overcome them. Joseph trusted God, and look how it prepared him and the Israelites at a later time. After the events I just mentioned, he was slandered by Potifer’s wife and thrown in a dungeon. Volunteered to explain a dream of a butler also in prison and was promised that he would be remembered, yet not for 2 years was he remembered. In a message I did on Joseph some time back, I mentioned that Joseph never complained, according to the Bible. It is as if the harder that Joseph tried to live a Godly life, the more trials came up.
Psalms 105:17-19 He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: (18) Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: (19) Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.
I want you to catch this. When you read from the Gill’s commentary on these verses, and I am only going to read a short part, I think it might teach us something about Joseph and maybe have a better understanding of this part of the message and what Joseph went through.
Whose feet they hurt with fetters,.... For it seems Joseph was not only cast into prison, upon the calumny of his mistress; but had fetters put upon him, and his feet were made fast with them; and these were so close and heavy, as to pinch and gall and hurt him; which, though not mentioned in his history, was undoubtedly true; see Gen_39:20.
He was laid in iron: or "the iron" (or, as the Targum, "the iron chain") "went into his Soul" His body; it ate into him, and gave him great pain: or rather, as it is in the king's Bible, "his soul went into the iron chain His body was enclosed in iron bands. In all this he was a type of Christ, whose soul was made exceeding sorrowful unto death: he was seized by the Jews, led bound to the high priest, fastened to the cursed tree, pierced with nails, and more so with the sins of his people he bore; and was laid in the prison of the grave; from whence and from judgment he was brought, Isa_53:8.
In writing this part of the message, I want to remind everyone about what scripture tells us when we go through trials.
Acts 16:23-36 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: (24) Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. (25) And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. (26) And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. (27) And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. (28) But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. (29) Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, (30) And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? (31) And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (32) And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. (33) And he took them the same hour of the night, and washedtheir stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. (34) And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. (35) And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go. (36) And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace.
Paul said in Philippians 4:11, "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."
I John 4: 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
Ps 50:15 "Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me
Friends, we must praise God in every situation. No matter how bad it looks or feels, praise is the answer. God always delivers. He always comes through. Maybe His timing isn’t ours but He always takes care of business. We need not worry.
Philippians 4:6 "Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
In closing, let me close with this scripture. If today you are going through something hard, just remember you must endure hardness as a good soldier and keep on going on.
2nd Timothy 2:3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
I know there was a lot to digest in this, but I pray it helped all of you and that you may be blessed by this message.