Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires

From Open Up Your Heart by jeff Syverson

November 19

Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires 

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 125:1-5 | Ezekiel 39:1-40:27 | James 2:18-3:18 | Proverbs 28:2

Today’s Scripture Focus: James 2:18-3:18

“From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers these things ought not to be so” (James 3:10 ESV).

The tongue is a powerful force for evil or for good. James encourages us to be people who bless rather than curse with our tongues. He does so by illustrating the power of the tongue.

He describes the tongue like a small bit that can turn and guide a large horse. He says it is like the small rudder of a ship that can turn the whole ship and set its course. It is like a spark that sets a whole forest ablaze.

I think we all know the truth of those word pictures. Anyone who has been the victim of gossip knows how a story spreads and gets more outrageous as the process goes on. Truly, gossip is a sin with “forest-fire” like qualities. It gets out of control and creates great devastation.

He also describes the tongue as a poison. Many words hurt, some are deadly to the spirit of an individual. This is especially true of the curses we hold on to (words that have wounded us and we can’t seem to ever leave them behind–at least subconsciously). These have a long-lasting negative effect on our lives.

He points out the inconsistency of a Christian who blesses one moment and then curses the next. It’s like a fig tree bearing olives, or a grapevine producing figs, or a spring pouring out both fresh and salt water.

Yet for all the devastation the tongue can bring, the tongue can be a powerful force for good. Use your tongue to encourage, to bless, to pray, to witness and to praise. Allow your tongue to “put out fires” instead of igniting them.

Lord, I present the members of my body to you today, including my tongue, I dedicate them to your use. May my tongue bless, encourage, witness and praise—building up others rather than tearing them down. Enable me to guard my tongue. Let no careless word spark unintended wildfires. Amen.

About pastorjeffsneighborhood

Born and raised in Minnesota, I have served in churches in Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon and California. I am a graduate of Crown College (MN) and George Fox Evangelical Seminary (OR). I have also done additional graduate studies in New Testament Studies at the Center for Advanced Theological Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary (CA). I am also a graduate of the College of Prayer. Having served as the Academic Dean and Program Director at Horizon Institute of Los Angeles for several years, I have returned to the pastorate and serve as Pastor of Big Trees Community Bible Church in Arnold, CA.
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