James (Chapter 1)

As we delve in to the book of James, I get excited.  It may be a short book of the Bible {relatively speaking} but it is chock full of life application for the believer. 

{Then, my co-leader of an upcoming biblical community (you might call them small groups or cell groups) asked me what I thought of starting off with James?  I love it when God does stuff like that}

This week, we are supposed to share the things that stood out for us in the first chapter of James.  I could write three posts but to avoid boring my readers, I narrowed my comments down to 4 key verses that speak to my heart.

Verse 4: “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”. (NIV)

The Message says it like this: “So, don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.  Let it do its work, so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way”.

This verse made me think of parenting.  When our kid is in the temper tantrum phase {happens around 2ish and then again around 13ish, trust-me-on-this} we want to fast forward through it and get our sweet, complacent baby back. {or is that just me?}  But, if we don’t walk through this phase with them, not giving in to the tantrum and teaching them appropriate ways to deal with frustration, then we are not ever going to have a mature and well-developed adult child, right?

Or, you can think of it this way.  I often prayed, when first diagnosed with MS in 2008, for God to heal me.  Take this cup from me, remove the thorn from my side.  I wanted out of the trial.  A get-out-of-jail-free-card of sorts.

This is what the Matthew Henry Commentary says about verse 4: We should not pray so much for the removal of an affliction as for wisdom to make right use of it.

God cured me right quick of the desire for him to remove my illness from me.  I had a head on encounter with Him about it and have never looked at that trial in the same way sense.

On to verse 12: Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

So, is James saying that *gasp* the trial brings the eternal reward, not the favor of man or blessings on earth?  That the trials we face here are the path to the eternal blessing that awaits us in Heaven {that which we can’t even begin to comprehend?}

Okay, on to verse 22: Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.

This is one of those moments in Scripture where God is giving us clear instruction.  Where He is saying, Don’t just do this, do this too.  If we read the Bible and then do not apply what we learn to our lives, we are engaging in useless religion.  God does not want us to have only head knowledge…He wants His word to penetrate our heart and spur us into action.

and, lastly one of my favorite verses in the Bible:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultess is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  James 1:27

The word for widow in the Greek is “chero”, meaning bereft, robbed, having suffered loss, ALONE.  We are called to care for women who are alone, who have children and who have no one to care for them.  It doesn’t matter what happened to get them to that place.  Jesus sees their future and so should we.

And, please don’t skip over the second part of this verse, the AND.  We are to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world.  Does that mean Jesus wants us to avoid the world and the sinners that live in it?  Not at all or He wouldn’t have left us with the Great Commission. I do believe that we are to guard our hearts.  It is easier to succumb to darkness than shine light.  As Christians, we are responsible for being so close to Jesus that we can discern what is of Him and what is not.

Oh, friends, I can’t wait to dive into this book more with you over the next several weeks.  Treasure awaits us each time we open the Word of God and ask Him to speak to us!

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. My daughters tantrums started around 18 months and it is so easy to want to give in sometimes just to have some peace and quiet.  She used to hold her breath when she would have a tantrum and I was terrified that she would pass out.  But when she pulled this trick while my Mom was taking care of her, my Mom didn’t intervene and not only did my daughter not pass out, she stopped using that method of manipulation altogether.  I suppose I should keep that in mind the next time I want to throw the towel in when she’s having a fit.
    “We should not pray so much for the removal of an affliction as for wisdom to make right use of it.”
    I love this quote!I’m doing the read along, but am pretty sure I’ve been on your blog before, which I found from another blog (can’t remember which one now).  I’m glad to be hearing more from you.

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