I decided to share a few thoughts on the book of James. A few weeks ago I set out to do a study of James and from that I decided to look at some themes we can pull from James which may help us on our walk to the kingdom. We are all human, we all have our struggles and we need to remember that God is there for us and we can have salvation through Jesus His son.
Why the book of James? To me this book is an immensely practical one filled with exhortations on the way we should live our lives and one I gain great comfort in. James deals with every area of our Christian life: who we are, what we do, what we say, what we feel, and what we have. A faith-filled life requires us to address each of these areas, and James gives us needed advice to experience the fullness of an active Christian life.
The book of James holds our hand and walks us through the practice of living the Christian faith. This is a practical book exhorting us to maturity and holiness, and James takes the abstract concept of faith to make it concrete. And I have learned that when faith takes form in our lives through our actions, it turns into a belief that sustains us through trials. We have faith in day to day things in our lives….. we can have faith in God too.
Rejoice in Trials
James 1 Verse 2
Consider it joy to face trials of many kinds… it tests our faith and develops perseverance. We are to rejoice in our trials. rials serve God’s purpose in our lives by giving us an opportunity to turn what we believe into action. Faith comes alive when we exercise trust and joy in God’s presence in our lives. Rejoicing in your trials becomes easier when you can focus on the reason for your hope. It’s a hard concept to count it all joy when trials hit us. It’s then that we can dig deep into our reservoir of faith to get through. Trusting in God’s plans for the development of our spiritual maturity is one of my challenges. That’s when the joys kicks in – we have the faith!!! Lean on the Lord with all your might.
It’s all so very easy in our lives to take what we have for granted. Look at what’s happening in the world right now. We have been disrupted!! Everything is different and we can’t even see our families as we usually do. How easy it is that we take all our blessings in life for granted. God can turn our pain into purpose. And sometimes our deepest desperation can lead to a great revelation from the Lord. Stop and think about the blessings in your life…..there will be some!
James 1 vs 13-15
In the end God is only interested in what is in our hearts, not our bank balance or our social status, He is interested in what we are learning from Him and the example of Jesus and what we are putting into practice now. It’s so helpful to stop and read and take in God’s word each day to refresh and check where we are at.
God does know your heart and your intentions I believe. Use your conscience as a guide. Often I stop and ask the question…If Jesus were beside me right now what would I do? Or I ask myself what would Jesus do?? I find it a comfort to know that Jesus is beside us and He will carry us when we need Him to if we just ask Him and want Him there. Have faith!
Rest in God
Examine your life for areas where you know you may not be applying God’s principles for living right before Him, and as you make the changes to live righteously, your heart will know rest. Ask God to help you focus on learning about His compassionate nature and how to extend that compassion to others. Keep trusting Him in the midst of it all and know that these lessons you’re learning in your brokenness will help someone else feel less alone, less broken & less hopeless. Pray to God for help in applying these principles and listen to what He says.
James tells us that when we show favoritism, we’ve discriminated amongst ourselves and become judges with evil thoughts. Remember how God has accepted you, and then extend that acceptance to all. Mercy triumphs over judgement. You’ve received mercy, now extend it to others. Reach out in faith and love.
James features Abraham and Isaac as proof that faith and actions work together to make faith complete. It’s obedience that grows, strengthens, and enlivens our faith. It takes faith to step out into the unknown as an act of obedience. But our faith grows as God shows up in our obedience. Do you believe God enough to obey Him in faith? He will equip, provide, and come through for you. Serve others as an act of obedience to God, and then watch your faith be strengthened.
Control Your Tongue
Our words have the power to bring life or destruction. If, with your speech, you praise God and curse man, how can you truly say that your faith changes your life? Let God redeem your speech by thinking before you speak. Ecclesiastes 5 verses 2-3 says it all:
“Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth, therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes through much activity, and a fool’s voice is known by her many words.”
Pursue Godly Wisdom
A changed heart is a heart refined by God’s wisdom, which is what gives us the right words to say at the right time. But how do we know the difference between godly wisdom and worldly wisdom? James provides us with the criteria to decipher between the two. Choose God’s wisdom and let what resides in your heart be pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, mercy-full, good, impartial, and sincere.
As you pursue Godly wisdom, your heart changes. When afflictions and troubles come, we need to humble ourselves from our own pride and seek God’s help. But we need to go further and seek God’s wisdom. But further again, we must put the characteristics defined by wisdom into practie, so that we conduct ourselves properly, in a way pleasing to God, bearing our afflictions patiently, and even with joy. The theory of wisdom is just not enough!! God is our anchor to hold us fast so we won’t be tossed around and destroyed when the winds of life blow hard. Lean on the Lord!
Submit to God
Submission leads us into a deeper grace with God because it requires us to humble ourselves before him. God gives grace to the humble and opposes the proud. Rahab’s conduct proved her faith to be living, or having power. It showed that she believed fully with all her heart, and her belief far surpassed just her understanding alone. we are saved by God’s grace. No actions or works or anything we do can earn us a place in God’s kingdom. It is His gift…. His joy…. His love that saves us!
Exercise Patience in Suffering
Maturing in faith requires patience and perseverance when we suffer. But who wants to be patient in their suffering? We could learn much from Naomi. She owned her suffering, she entered into it, and didn’t try to numb it away. We call her blessed because she persevered, but she called herself blessed because God redeemed her suffering. Be patient in suffering. Persevere in trusting God. God is moving even when we can’t see Him.
Pray in Faith
James references Elijah, an ordinary man who God used to accomplish the extraordinary. In 1 Kings 17, Elijah prayed and God answered, stopping any rainfall for three years. You might be ordinary, but you serve an extraordinary God who longs to rise up within you to do extraordinary things through you. Our Christian faith is like that, too. We can read the Bible every day, but if we don’t put it into practice, our lives won’t change.
God is still working in us. God still has a plan for us. God is still molding and shaping you and me for a wonderful purpose—not just for you and me but to help others!
If you would like to learn more about our faith and how you too can serve an extraordinary God please reach out to us. We would love to hear from you- we are just like you. Ordinary people living in unprecedented times.