“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”  (James 1:19-20, NIV)

There is not a more succinct statement of what the disciple of Jesus should aspire than what we read in today’s scripture.

Whomever first uttered the bromide: “The reason God gave us two ears and one mouth is that we should listen twice as much as we talk,” was on to something.  We all should major in listening and minor in speaking!

When you “listen” with every sense the Lord has given you, you will see what others do not see; you will hear what others cannot hear; and when you are compelled to speak, your sentences will convey the wisdom of God.  – Luther

REMINDER: Daily Encouragement will be on Sunday break tomorrow; returning on Monday (Lord willing).  Have a great day in worship!

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“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”  (James 1:12, NIV)

The disciple of Jesus receives a test as a good thing.

Although times of examination are seldom pleasant, the outcome of testing reveals the nature of the stuff we’re made.  Only the person who has persevered under trial knows — really knows — the stuff of which he or she is made.  Without testing, we’re just guessing.

To “pass” a test of our spiritual selves requires only perseverance.  We need not persevere perfectly, but we do need to persevere faithfully.

The strength to persevere comes when we keep ours eyes fixed on Christ under even the most difficult of circumstances.  Doing so assures capital “L” Life for us.  We apprehend it in no other way.  – Luther

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 “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”  (Hebrews 13:16, NIV)

Of course, it is a sacrifice to do the right thing, because doing so means forsaking the privileges and benefits to which we feel entitled.

Of course, it is a sacrifice to share.  It means making do with less of something we, deep-down, want more of; or we think of some others as less worthy of our time, talent, and treasure.

Nevertheless, we are reminded that to pursue goodness, mercy, kindness, and love in all of our relationships; and to prefer sharing all that we have with others to withholding the same from them pleases God.

So, go ahead: Do the things that make our heavenly Father smile.  There is no shame in goodness; and it is through giving that we receive.  – Luther

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