Read James 1-4
Here’s your Christian attitude for trials of all kinds: God is with me in this. My part is to be faithful to him. He will bring me to grow in his grace.
Because of this Christian maturity that is in store for me, I will be joyful. I will be joyful even in my trials.
Ask God. Don’t doubt. Don’t be like a wave tossed about the sea.
Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Human anger doe not improve our discipleship.
Don’t play favorites. God’s love is for all. The judgment seat is taken.
The only person honored and revered in our worship service is God.
Live by the Royal Law, the law of love, the law rooted in loving God and loving one another. It’s not I’m not very good at obeying the commandments, so I think I will dabble in the law of love. Be governed by this law. Be passionate about living in response to God’s grace by living a life governed by love.
There will be evidence of our faith.
Faith without works is dead. Good works—deeds which God planned before you were born—are the evidence of our faith.
Faith and works work together.
The tongue can be the spark that starts a forest fire or the rudder that turns the ship off course.
A salt spring doesn’t produce fresh water. A grapevine doesn’t produce figs. The words of the believer do not blaspheme God and praise him at the same time. If there is any doubt, it should be only the latter. Our voices were designed to praise God.
Biter envy and selfish ambition are indicators that we are living by the wisdom of the world instead of the wisdom of God.
The wisdom of God is pure, peace loving considerate, submissive, full of mercy, producing good fruit, impartial and sincere.
Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
It’s less about the devil made me do it and more about wrestling with our own sinful nature.
You can’t be a friend of the world and a friend of God at the same time. Christ died for us while we were his enemies. Let’s stick with being a friend of God.
Don’t expect God to grant your petitions if they are from the wrong motive.
God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.
Submit yourselves to God, resist the devil and he will flee.
Humble yourself before God and be ferocious before your enemies.
Stop being double-minded. When you sin, you need to check that it’s no problem because grace will abound even more attitude, and put on the sackcloth and ashes mindset until you have confessed.
Remember that repentance is a complete turnaround. We leave behind the old mind, the old ways, the old life and completely exchange it for the new. In this case, we are to live as Christ’s disciple.
When we judge one another, we are putting ourselves in the Seat of Moses and desiring to make the law conform to us. We are taking on a role reserved for Christ. We are not focusing on our discipleship.
When we condemn our neighbor, we are trying to put Jesus out of a job as the only one who can rightfully judge our sins. Remember the first part of the Great Commission: All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Jesus didn’t opt for early retirement. There is no job opening.
Planning is good. It is very educational and good in the practice of stewardship. Just don’t get married to your plan. God tells us that he has good plans for us.
Do the best you can as you plan what you will—your plans will be more and more pleasing to God the closer that you draw to him. But take the best plan that you have and put it at the feet of Jesus. Put it at the feet of Jesus.
Thy will be done!
Plan away but know that the Lord directs our steps. We know it’s the Lord’s will for us to love him and love each other. We don’t have to ask the Lord if that is his will. He already told us that it was.
We should include in our plans in our daily dialogue with the Almighty, asking if our plan is in step with and pleasing to the Lord.
If you must boast, boast in the Lord not in your plan.
We are on this earth for such a short time. We are but a mist. Consider the psalmist’s counsel to learn to number our days.
Let’s talk sin. If you know what to do and don’t do it, that’s your sin.
So, here’s a nugget to put in your plans. Do the good that God planned for us before we were born. The Royal Law—the law not only of love but freedom—liberates us to live as God designed us to live.
Bubble buster: You are rich. Get over it. It’s for real. You who are listening today, you are rich. Go take the interrogative series I put together for the first part of this chapter.
You are rich!
But does our wealth get in our way and is it used against others? Do we leverage blessings to help others or to manipulate them?
That’s our flyover of James at 30,000 feet. I hope that your personal study and your classes got down to tree top level. Perhaps you found a landing zone and got down in the weeds for some of this.
Do you see how some frame James as the Proverbs of the New Testament?
Now, let’s finish the chapter and the book.
Read James 5
We have been told that we are only on this earth for a short time. We are but a mist, but sometimes it feels like a long time. We do not yet fully understand the eternal perspective. So, what do we do?
Be patient. Take note of the farmer who does not plant on Monday and harvest on Friday. The farmer knows patience.
If you go a few pages past the end of James, Peter gives us these words:
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
James says, his is coming is near. We don’t know the day or the hour but it’s the next big thing on God’s cosmic calendar.
That’s cool. We don’t know when but we should be ready now. Anything else?
Stand firm in your faith and quit grumbling and picking at each other. That’s not what you want to be doing when the Lord comes again, and he is coming again.
Consider the prophets. Consider how Job persevered in the face of suffering. He did not lose his faith and you know what the Lord brought about for him.
The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. Keeping the faith is worth it.!
We need to talk about swearing. I’m not talking profanity, but the kind that says, “I’ll swear on a stack of Bibles.” Does the number of Bibles in the stack increase the veracity of you statement? Must all Bibles of the same translation or does some variety help?
“I swear on my grandmother’s grave.” For the person with a Christian grandmother, that might seem like a powerful statement, except she’s not there. You are swearing on a chunk of ground with a headstone. OBTW—what do people say if their grandmother was cremated her ashes scattered?
Well, how do I get my point across that what I am saying is the truth?
Always speak the truth. Answer yes when you should answer yes. Say no when you should say no. Watch out for caveats and exceptions. Think before you speak.
Sometimes that is difficult. Here’s some counsel.
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.
Let people know what you say is trustworthy because that’s the way that you live. This whole faith being manifested in our deeds rings true with our speech.
Let your yes be yes and your no be no. Don’t try this in geometry where sometimes the answer is y=mx+b.
Now we come to confession and prayer. Which brings us to prayer in school. So long as there is testing in school, there is prayer in school. Perhaps there is more prayer in the homeschooling approach these days.
OK, that one is not from James, but if are in need, in trouble, or just struggling, then pray. We are doing our best to consider all of our trials with joy, but we are not called to do it alone. Pray.
If things are great, sing to your Father in heaven thanksgiving and praise.
If you are sick and need more than your own prayers, get put on the prayer list, or better yet, call for the elders of the church to pray for you.
Prayer is the vehicle to healing and forgiveness. Pray all the time. Keep the conversation going. Listen more than you speak. Believe in the power of prayer.
Great! I have to be righteous for my prayer to count. Great. I’ll never get there. Hey, I’m not Elijah.
That’s true if you think you can get there on your own. Even David when he sinned with Bathsheba, knew that if endless bulls and goats were sacrificed, it would not make him right with God.
We are still called to live up to the standing that God gave us, but you have standing to come before the Throne of Grace with confidence and ask God for what you need.
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Believe it or not, no just believe it, that’s you!
Pray! Pray for others. Ask others to pray for you. Prayers are powerful and effective. For the one made right in the blood of Jesus, our prayers are powerful and effective.
God is all knowing. He knows what comes next and he also wants to walk with us in prayer as we live moment-to-moment in faith. Pray!
Faith without works is dead, but understand our prayers are evidence of our faith. Hopefully they are not the only evidence, but our prayers are convincing evidence of our faith.
Here’s something that we don’t do much of these days: Confess our sins to one another. We need accountability partners. We need a real friend that can speak the truth in love to us and us to them. We need to be that kind of friend to a few others.
Let’s consider the coupling here:
Therefore, 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.
And now we come to the end of the chapter and the book and James tells us to Connect the disconnected.
OK, he didn’t use those words but if there are those who are not drawing closer to God and enjoying God grow closer to them, then go bring them home. Home does not have to be inside the church building. The first century church spent a lot of time in gathering in homes of believers.
Connect the disconnected is still possible in this age of social distancing.
If there are those running away from God, bring them home. There are blessings in connecting the disconnected.
March is the month of the Bible. Our classes and sermons have come to an end, but March has two more days. If this journey through James was more than the flavor of the month to you, then meditate upon the words you read, the words you heard proclaimed, and the discussion that ensued for these past weeks.
Dedicate the last two days of March. Make comments, add more questions, put your evaluation on the Book of James Facebook page.
I pray that this month was pleasing to God and produced good fruit for you. If you think that something like this bears repeating, talk to one or more of your elders currently serving on the session.