Hey friend! Welcome to episode 8 of the Tending your Soul podcast. Let’s pause for these few moments in the garden and lean in and tether our soul to the heart of God through His Word using my TEND method.
As spring fades into summer in my area, I am feeling called to a slower rhythm of pondering and reflecting. Do you feel it too?
The tangled noise and responsibilities and even grief of the world is wearing my soul thin these days and like a garden in drought, I am yearning for refreshment. One place I know we can find life giving refreshment is in the book of James in the New Testament.
This relatively short letter was written by the half brother of Jesus to the 12 tribes of the Dispersion, the churches and believers scattered through out Asia Minor.
The letter is similar to Proverbs in tone and wisdom and will surely prove to be an anchor for us in this season.
The TEND method I use is based on the acronym TEND to remind me that God is tending my soul like a gardener tends a garden. So as we slip into the garden and let the gardener of our soul press the seed of the Word into us, let’s begin with the 1st letter in TEND, T which stands for Take time to pray.
Father, we thank you that you are enough for us in this space on this day. Thank you that you hear me, see me and even delight in me. Would you tend the truth of the Word into my soul now as I lean in and listen by your Spirit? Amen.
After I take time to pray, I move on to the E in TEND which stands for Examine the scripture. I usually write the verse or verses I am tending through in my journal. This helps me slow down and really pay attention to the tense of verbs, the pronouns, the subjects and what the text is saying.
Let’s examine James 1:1. The verse says:
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the 12 tribes in the dispersion: Greetings.
Seems to be a pretty straight forward opening to this letter by the pen of James, a man raised in the same home as our Lord Jesus. A man who once played with his older brother, Jesus, and likely helped along side their father in his trade and shared secrets and fought and did all the things brothers do. This man, now grown, having witnessed his brother’s execution on a criminal’s cross and now filled with the Holy Spirit of God proclaiming truth to the scattered churches. He opens this letter identifying himself and addressing his audience.
After we examine the verse, we can move to N which stands for notice the lessons. So first of all, what is this teaching about God?
The verse identifies God as a master, we can see this because James calls himself the servant of God. Also God is Lord, He is Jesus and He is the Christ. This is not his last name, but rather a title meaning Messiah, the sacrificial one who came from God to pay for sin.
Then we want to notice the spiritual lesson here. Is there a sin to confess, a promise to claim, an action to act on, a command to obey or an example to follow? These aren’t the only lessons possible but they are helpful questions to guide us towards the lesson here.
So we do see the example of James as he opens this letter identifying himself in a unique way. He identifies himself as a servant of God and he identifies Jesus as Lord. This is certainly an example for us to follow. We who belong to Jesus are called to be servants of God.
The Greek word James chooses to use here is doulos which is someone who WILLINGLY belongs to another person without any ownership rights of their own.
So not exactly a slave in that most of the time slaves are people taken captive against their own will. But this is a bondservant, someone who willingly submits themselves to a master and gives up their own rights for the sake of the master.
James identified himself as a bondservant of the Lord Jesus and willingly submitted his own rights, preferences, concerns, safety, comfort…for the sake of the One to whom he called master. Fully entrusted to Him.
As we consider this lesson, let’s turn it into a question that we can respond to. So if we are called to be bondservants of the Lord Jesus, then it begs the questions: How am I living as a bondservant? Better yet, do I identify myself in such a way as to be a bondservant of the Lord who, by example, sacrificed Himself for me?
Do I see myself as my own lord and master, being led by my own comforts and preferences, appetites and desires? Or am I surrendered to God’s lead as to what I watch, do, say, think on, eat, wear…?
The final letter in TEND is D for do what it says. So I answer the question with action. So if I’m considering how I can live surrendered to my Lord TODAY? I can consider how I speak to others, is it as one who is bondservant of God? What am I thinking on today? Is it the truth of God’s word or just whatever floats in and out of my mind?
For me, it often begins in my thoughts. So as I consider my own action today based on this verse, I will chose to write “you are a servant of God” in my journal and keep returning to it in my heart as I interact with others, prepare lunch, do chores and run errands.
The reminder of Colossians 3:17 comes to mind:
And whatever you do in word or deed do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God the Father through him.
What about you today, friend?
How do you identify yourself? You know that you are called to live as a willing bondservant of Jesus?
How does a bondservant look as you consider this? What characteristics does a willing bondservant have? How can you TODAY live from this posture out of an overflow of your time here in the garden with Jesus?
Let’s ask Him to fill us to overflow this grace to others today.
Lord, I offer myself afresh to you as your bondservant. Forgive me for times when I seek my own comfort and stand on my own rights. I surrender afresh to you and ask you to fill me with the refreshing grace of your spirit that I might live today as a living sacrifice and bond servant of Jesus in word and deed for my good and your glory. Amen.
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I invite you to get your free guide to cultivating intimacy with God, tools for Tend in your Soul, on my website marieldavenport.com
You can also get your own TEND journal to guide you as we walk through James, The guided journal is called “Tending through the Word” and it can be found on Amazon. I’ll include the link in the show notes for you.
Until next time, friend, keep tending your soul by the Word.