Posts from the ‘James’ Category

James 5

James 5

Warning to Rich Oppressors

1 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. 2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.[a] 6You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.

Patience in Suffering

7 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

12 Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.

The Prayer of Faith

13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James%205&version=NIV

…v1-6… I feel like these verses aren’t just talking about money. They mention much deeper issues–selfishness and self-indulgence–that don’t have to be associated with money but rather can be related to just about anything. We can be selfish with our love, affections, wealth, friendship, wisdom, time, energy, chores, even our bodies (for those of us who are married), and many more things.  God notices, and He cares how we treat those around us.

…v7-12… I like this phrase “You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have see what the Lord finally brought about.” No matter what we’re going through… it would be hard to find someone who suffered more than he did. All his family died–except his wife who didn’t seem like a very good person to have around anyway, he lost all his fame and fortune, he was sick and hurting, he lost all his servants (except like 2-3?), and all his friends thought he was a bad person and judged  him and blamed him for his misfortune (can you imagine all your friends thinking it was your fault your kids died?)…and yet, after going through all that agony, Job ended up with everything restored to him, his friends were chastised by God, he was given wealth again, and more children were born to him, and most of all, he knew God much better. BUT, all of that came about again because Job persevered ad clung to what he believed about God. When we are struggling, with jobs, marriages, friendships, money issues, health, people dying–do we hold on to what we believe about God? Do we remember that God restored Job? Do we remember that God is loving and sovereign over the situation?

…v13-20… There are 2 things in these verses that mean a lot to me:
(1)–“confess your sins to each other and pray for each other that you may be healed.” Did you notice it doesn’t say to confess your sins to God? It says to confess your sins to each other…. ouch. Telling God my sins isn’t all that hard. He knows what I did wrong and He’s sure to forgive me. No big deal, right? I mean, it’s not like God thinks I’m a perfect person or anything anyway… But, my friends? the people I go to church with? some adult I respect? Telling them that I messed up and how or why… what will they think of me afterwards? and when they see me again, they might remember and ask me if it’s happened again, or they might just never forget that I did that… It’s a LOT harder and a LOT more humbling to confess our sins to our brothers and sisters in Christ. But, I can say that it is a lot easier for me personally to find healing and help if I confess my issues to a friend and ask them to pray with and for me… Accountability and vulnerability in friendship are beautiful things.

(2) “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” I just like this verse because it reminds me that God does listen and answer prayers, and that prayer is very very powerful…and that we are righteous through Jesus’ blood and our relationship with God.

 

 

James 4

James 4

Submit Yourselves to God

1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

4 You adulterous people,[a] don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us[b]? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”[c]

7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister[d] or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

Boasting About Tomorrow

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=james%204&version=NIV

… I think the main point of this chapter is James encouraging us to focus on God and what He wants. The more we focus on Him and spend time with Him the more we will want what He wants, the more we will care about eternal things and not just the temporary.

James begins by pointing out that when we are struggling over something it is often because our desires are not God’s desires–and we’re focused too much on ourselves. And if we are focusing on ourselves and what the world wants and values, that means we are not focusing on God–which means we become God’s enemy.

James encourages us to submit to God. Submit our will, our hearts, our desires, our friendship with the culture of the world and the longing to be a part of it. We need to surrender those things to God and resist temptation. Instead we need to draw nearer to God–spend time with Him, with His people, doing things He wants, focusing on God and the things He focuses on–and as we draw nearer to God, He will draw nearer to us.

James also mentions at the end that our life is just a mist…and I think he wanted to remind us that this world and everything about it that is so attractive is just temporary and meaningless. Everything in this world is going to vanish into nothingness, all our plans, our hard-earned money, our dream jobs, everything we tried to do in order to impress people and fit in… it’s nothing. But, God’s will, His eternal plan–those things are going to last forever and we need to focus on Him.

James 3

James 3

Taming the Tongue

1 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Two Kinds of Wisdom

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James%203%20&version=NIV

… James stresses in this chapter how important our words and being careful with them is. James pushes here for us to use much greater self control over our words particularly in how we talk to and about others. He says that praising God and cursing those made in God’s image should not be done with the same tongue.

If we were to think over simply the things we said yesterday–what would we find?  How about over just this last week? Did we say anything specifically to hurt someone? or maybe obscure some truth we didn’t want coming out? Did we say anything not-so-nice about someone else? Did we say any good or encouraging things? Did we make someone laugh over something wholesome and enjoyable?

James continues to speak abouta good life. He defines good life as filled with deeds done in humility. I find this interesting. Humility is, I guess, kind of the hands of love in my mind. Love puts others before us, but others see that love when we demonstrate our humility–putting others before ourselves, not being selfish or envious or deceitful. So, in a sense, James is saying that if we put others before ourselves in our words (the whole tongue thing) and in our actions (with humility) we will live a good life–honoring and pleasing to God. 🙂 He goes into a little more detail about what all this wisdom and humility involves, “…is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

First of all pure…that’s where I’ll start. Why pure? If we have pure motives and mind and heart we will be focused solely on what God wants and how He wants us to love and honor and speak to and act towards those around us.  And that is what I want to focus on…

James 2

James 2

Favoritism Forbidden

1 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?

8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,”[b] also said, “You shall not murder.”[c] If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Faith and Deeds

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[e] and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=james%202&version=NIV

… In this chapter James tells us that faith without deeds is dead. If we believe in God–our lives must show it through what we do.

Earlier in the chapter, James mentions a couple ways our deeds will show our faith. One is through not showing favoritism. God wants ALL people to love Him, whether they are rich or poor, man or woman, healthy or sick, colored or white, nice or mean, cool or strange, fat or skinny, mentally challenged or brilliant, physically handicapped or world-class athlete, popular or hermit, old or young, funny or boring, employers or employees, bums or businessmen, etc. We as His people cannot choose to help one group and not another. There are some people I have a hard time liking, a hard time relating to, maybe even a hard time looking at–but that doesn’t mean God cannot give me love for them as well. I believe it is natural for everyone to have preferences, and an easier time relating to certain people groups, and I believe that is fine, even in God’s eyes. However, when God places someone in our lives we don’t like or have a hard time relating to, we CANNOT ignore them or push them aside–we MUST show them the same love and care and importance that God has placed on us.  Why?–because we must not show favoritism. There is no favoritism with God and we are to be like Him. And because our faith must have deeds both for God to see, and for the rest of the world.

I think sometimes God puts us in those awkward places where we have to deal with people or things we are highly uncomfortable with and not used to in order to push us to grow more.

Another example  is mentioned a little later on–giving to those in need. Sometimes the needs are obvious: food, clothes, shelter, etc. And sometimes we don’t have much ourselves. Even when we don’t have an abundance, there is always something to share, and God will honor our sacrifices and continue to provide for us.  But there are other needs that are much less obvious and just as important–if not even more so: love, emotional support, encouragement, respect, someone who will listen, and the like. And those needs we must be willing to meet as well.

Are you showing favoritism? Are there needs around you that aren’t being met? Have you prayed for opportunities to grow and demonstrate your faith through your actions?

James 1

James 1

1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:

Greetings.

Trials and Temptations

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

12 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.

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Listening and Doing

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=jam%201&version=NIV

…There is one main thing that spoke to me from this chapter. Tests.

James tells us that trials test our faith and produce perseverance–and perseverance matures and completes us. Also, God will reward us for making it through the test. I guess this means a lot to me right now because there are a lot of things that I feel are testing and trying me and those around me right now. Those things can be as small as being tired and not wanting to do the dishes, or as big as being cheated on and left by a husband and now being a single mother of two… Whether big or small God has a purpose for these–He wants to strengthen our faith, strengthen our trust in Him as Provider and Protector, and the all-knowing Loving God that He is; strengthen our love for Him and so much more.

I suppose it is because of this testing that James encourages us to ask God for wisdom and to not doubt. With the testing that God sends us, it’s easy to struggle with decisions and He wants us to come to Him. Do we take a job offer? Do I confront the issue or forgive and let go or both? Do we move? Do I stay in this situation and try to forgive and move on or do I let them go? Do I homeschool or send to a Christian school? and so on. God dearly loves it when we talk to Him and bring our needs and concerns to Him. Sometimes the wisdom He gives is readily apparent and we praise Him because of that. Sometimes He has already given us wisdom and He nudges us inwardly to remember how He has led us in the past. Tests are not called such because they are easy, and they are not given to simply make us look good. Tests/trials are designed specifically TO be hard and difficult in order to force us to grow and mature and to sanctify us; like gold being purified by fire.

James reminds us that God is good and gives us only good things (even tests are good!) and He does not change. In the midst of testing–particularly when we get hurt by something someone was allowed to do to us, the loss of a loved one, or loss of a job–sometimes it becomes very easy to think that God is angry with us, or that He has abandoned us, or that maybe He doesn’t care or doesn’t know or something like that. But James reminds us that God does not change: He is good, He is loving, He knows exactly what is happening and He is completely in control–no matter how dark and horrible things feel–and He does not change, even though our circumstances do.

I know there are other important things in this chapter as all… however I feel this is important enough to focus on for now. Look at your own life right now–what are you struggling with? What life changes/tests/circumstances have grown you? how?  How have you matured? How did God bring you through? How are you stronger now? Have you prayed and asked God for wisdom on how to pass your current test?

remember… this is an open-Book test–and you are allowed to ask your Teacher for help. 🙂