Book Of James

I know a lot of people who are looking for wisdom, direction, peace, and a word from God about their life right now. I wish I had answers but I do not. What I do have is an idea. I am going to read the book of James every day for the next seven days. I challenge you to join me. You can read it from your Bible or read it here it makes no difference. The important thing is that you read it every day at least once a day. More important than just reading it I highly recommend you pray before you read it, while you read it, and after you read it. Press into God during this time and see what happens.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James+1&version=HCSB

James 1:1-27 (HCSB)
1 James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ: To the 12 tribes in the Dispersion. Greetings. 2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials,
3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. 5 Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways. 9 The brother of humble circumstances should boast in his exaltation, 10 but the one who is rich ⌊should boast⌋ in his humiliation because he will pass away like a flower of the field. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and dries up the grass; its flower falls off, and its beautiful appearance is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will wither away while pursuing his activities. 12 A man who endures trials is blessed, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. 13 No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone. 14 But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. 15 Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death. 16 Don’t be deceived, my dearly loved brothers. 17 Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning. 18 By His own choice, He gave us a new birth by the message of truth so that we would be the firstfruits of His creatures. 19 My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, 20 for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. 21 Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you. 22 But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does ⌊good⌋ works—this person will be blessed in what he does. 26 If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, then his religion is useless and he deceives himself. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

James 2:1-26 (HCSB)
1 My brothers, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. 2 For example, a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and a poor man dressed in dirty clothes also comes in. 3 If you look with favor on the man wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here in a good place,” and yet you say to the poor man, “Stand over there,” or, “Sit here on the floor by my footstool,” 4 haven’t you discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my dear brothers: Didn’t God choose the poor in this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that He has promised to those who love Him? 6 Yet you dishonored that poor man. Don’t the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? 7 Don’t they blaspheme the noble name that was pronounced over you ⌊at your baptism⌋? 8 Indeed, if you keep the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well. 9 But if you show favoritism, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the entire law, yet fails in one point, is guilty of ⌊breaking it⌋ all. 11 For He who said, Do not commit adultery, also said, Do not murder. So if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you are a lawbreaker. 12 Speak and act as those who will be judged by the law of freedom. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who hasn’t shown mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. 14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can his faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe—and they shudder.
20 Foolish man! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless? 21 Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was perfected. 23 So the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness, and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
25 And in the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by a different route? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

James 3:1-18 (HCSB)
1 Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment, 2 for we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who is also able to control his whole body. 3 Now when we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide the whole animal. 4 And consider ships: Though very large and driven by fierce winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So too, though the tongue is a small part ⌊of the body⌋, it boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites. 6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among the parts of our ⌊bodies⌋. It pollutes the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is set on fire by hell. 7 Every sea creature, reptile, bird, or animal is tamed and has been tamed by man, 8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 We praise our Lord and Father with it, and we curse men who are made in God’s likeness with it. 10 Praising and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers, these things should not be this way. 11 Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers, or a grapevine ⌊produce⌋ figs? Neither can a saltwater spring yield fresh water. 13 Who is wise and has understanding among you? He should show his works by good conduct with wisdom’s gentleness. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t brag and deny the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where envy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every kind of evil. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.

James 4:1-17 (HCSB)
1 What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires. 4 Adulteresses! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy. 5 Or do you think it’s without reason the Scripture says that the Spirit who lives in us yearns jealously? 6 But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. 7 Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people! 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep. Your laughter must change to mourning and your joy to sorrow. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you. 11 Don’t criticize one another, brothers. He who criticizes a brother or judges his brother criticizes the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? 13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” 14 You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are ⌊like⌋ smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes. 15 Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So it is a sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn’t do it.

James 5:1-20 (HCSB)
1 Come now, you rich people! Weep and wail over the miseries that are coming on you.
2 Your wealth is ruined and your clothes are moth-eaten. 3 Your silver and gold are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You stored up treasure in the last days! 4 Look! The pay that you withheld from the workers who reaped your fields cries out, and the outcry of the harvesters has reached the ears of the Lord of Hosts.
5 You have lived luxuriously on the land and have indulged yourselves. You have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned—you have murdered—the righteous man; he does not resist you. 7 Therefore, brothers, be patient until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and is patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Brothers, do not complain about one another, so that you will not be judged. Look, the judge stands at the door! 10 Brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord’s name as an example of suffering and patience. 11 See, we count as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job’s endurance and have seen the outcome from the Lord. The Lord is very compassionate and merciful. 12 Now above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. Your “yes” must be “yes,” and your “no” must be “no,” so that you won’t fall under judgment. 13 Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they should pray over him after anointing him with olive oil in the name of the Lord. 15 The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will restore him to health; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours; yet he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its fruit. 19 My brothers, if any among you strays from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his life from death and cover a multitude of sins.

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Ravens, Doves, and Godly Counsel

In Genesis, we read that after the rain stopped and the flood waters receded Noah let out a raven and then a dove to see if the ground was dry. If you read carefully you notice that the raven takes off and just flies back and forth while the dove when released flies out and then returns.

This might not seem like much but if you think about this it makes sense. A raven will eat just about anything and it can fly longer than a dove. A raven is not a delicate bird and according to Leviticus 15, it is considered unclean. The dove, on the other hand, is used for sacrifice in burnt offerings. It has a better purpose to it so it needs to be treated with more care.

There are times when we need wisdom from God and God expects us to seek Him for wisdom (James 1:5). In those times, it is easy to just go around asking everyone for their opinion and thought but the Bible commands us to be wise and discerning. We should ask not only God for wisdom but also seek counsel from wise people because it leads to blessing (Prov 1:5; 11:14, etc.) but we must be wise in who we seek counsel from and how we go about it. It is not enough to just walk up to someone on the street and ask their advice, instead, we need to wise like Noah and weigh our options.

Sometimes when I am trying to work through a problem I talk about to a friend. Someone who has no stake in the game. I can test out my idea and see if it makes sense. Then depending on how I feel after that conversation I can take it to the next level and talk to someone who is better versed in the thing I am working through. I do this because I have flushed out my initial thoughts and reformed my ideas. I have thought them through and got the raven parts out of the way. I am better equipped to have a more detailed discussion and get to wise counsel. It is not that my friend cannot give wise counsel. On the contrary, they helped me flush it out. This is one of the reasons the Bible says to seek multiple counselors. If I went straight to the top then I would be presenting ravens and not doves.

The whole point is this; be wise in your thinking and how you go about seeking help. Seek God for wisdom but also seek wise godly counsel.

Just a thought,

Mike

Overdone

There are a lot of things that could be discussed in Ephesians chapter 1 but I want to focus on right now is found in verses 7 and 8 and verse 19. Now ideally, you do not want to just pull verses out willy nilly but these, sort of capture the essence of what is being discussed in chapter 1.

First in regards to verses 7 and 8 we can read and see that not only does God give us grace but he lavishes it upon us as the HCSB says. The word in the Greek is perisseuō and it means to exceed a fixed number of measure, to be left over and above a certain number or measure or to make to abound. I want to take just a minute on that.

Not only does God give us grace but it gives it to us in excess, He literally over does it. God’s love is so great and so big that His grace towards us is overboard. If you have ever fallen in love with someone then you can probably relate to that idea. You not only show love but you show it in abundance. You go out of your way to show that love you feel and have no problem with it. That is God’s grace towards us it is over and above. 1 John says that God is love which means He does not do love, He does not show love, but instead He is love. He is love, He is holy, and His love is a holy love. He has desires and plans but that all come from a place of Him being.

The second thing is that everything God does towards, for, and through us is done by His vast strength. God is so good and so gracious towards us that He knows that He cannot only give us His grace but He needs to also hold us up, give us wisdom, and show us His ways by His own power. Paul goes on to say that this power is the power that raised the Messiah from the grave. What Paul is getting at is that if God can raise Christ from the grave then surely, He can keep you and give you wisdom. If we think of it in terms of difficulty (not that anything is hard for God) which is harder; to know something or raise the dead?

The point is this; God gives you a crazy amount of grace, literally more than you will ever need and then says I will keep you and give you my strength so you just rely on me. He has covered all the bases and all we must do is let Him do His work. Now the catch is that this a partnership. God will give you the wisdom, God will give you grace, God will give you the strength, but you still need to do what He says. It will not always be easy Jesus promised that but He said we will not be alone. We still need to go where He says to go, say what He says to say, and do what He says to do but we don’t do it alone or by our own strength. Once we get that it gets a whole lot better.

Just a thought,

Mike