I've been asking the Lord what book of the Bible to study and "walk through" with you and I couldn't get the book of James off my mind...so here goes! I hope you will follow along! Before we begin, James is a very small book in the New Testament. There are only 5 chapters. For some background and info on who James was click here. I've always known James to be the brother of Jesus, but the info I researched also said that James didn't come to faith until after the crucifixion of Christ. I found that to be very odd and in fact interesting. Wouldn't you think the people closest to Jesus would have KNOWN who He was and would have wanted to be transformed by Him? It just goes to show you that we all make our own choices in this life. We all have free will. And as I grow in Christ I really want to line up with God's will, and make wise choices. Especially since my choices and my life now affect my husband John, and my children Julia and Mark. (no pressure, right?)
Here is the text:
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:
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. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
This passage is so familiar to me because my third graders and I memorized the whole passage over a 4 week period. It was awesome to hear them a month later be able to recite the 8 verses. We would say our 3 pledges each morning and then stand to recite our verses. I really miss hearing their little voices speak out Scripture on a daily basis, what an encouragement.
James' words are also encouraging. James called himself a bond-servant of God. Basically, a slave of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. James is showing his utmost devotion to the Lord here. God is our master and we are eager to be His slaves (although that doesn't sound very flattering) because He is GOOD, He loves us, He has our best interest in mind, He sees the whole picture, He is just, He is our creator, and He knows what is best.
The next verses talk about counting it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. How can we be joyful when we fall into a trial? First of all this verse is promising us that there will be trials (yep, we know that to be true, right?) There will be times of difficulty, times of waiting, times of pain, BUT we as Christians are to count it all joy because we KNOW that God has a purpose and a plan for the trial, and the outcome is ALWAYS for our GOOD. And we know that when our faith is tested and we prove to be faithful to God during our trials, it will produce patience! God's goal is to mold us and make us into the absolute best. So we know that during our trials, or difficulties, when we stand firm on our faith, and trust the Lord, we can be sure our faith is growing and God is growing us into the mature Christian that He has in mind for us to bring glory to Himself.
If we lack wisdom, all we have to do is ASK! God will "gives to all liberally and without reproach", which means He has plenty of wisdom to share and is more than happy to dish it out. He just wants us to be willing to receive it and mature enough to ask for it. This reminds me to ask for God's help in ALL situations. For example, if Julia is having a rough time acclimating to her Sunday School class (which she has been lately) my job as her mom isn't to panic or get frustrated with her (both of which I did) but to in fact use this as an opportunity to teach her to pray when she is afraid, and to talk it out with her, and to remind me to pray and ask God for wisdom in this situation. I know He will give me good ideas and ways to handle this situation, and He is also faithful to put positive, godly people in my life to give me good advice.
The next verse says that when we do ask God for wisdom we are to ask "in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind." How many times do we pray for wisdom but then still take matters into our own hands because God wasn't "quick enough" or "loud enough" to give us the answer we wanted. See Suzette's post on Abram and Sarai. Abram and Sarai were promised a huge blessing of a great nation, and yet they did not have a child yet. It must've been hard for them to believe and trust God's promise to them as they got older and older and still had no children. Soon they take matters into their own hands, and try to hurry up God's promise. They didn't have faith. They doubted God. And it is so easy to point fingers and think...why couldn't they just be patient and wait for God to bless them...but think of how difficult that must've been.
The verses continue on to say that a man who doubts God let him not suppose that "he will receive anything from the Lord, he is double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." Our faith in God, our belief in the Lord shapes everything we say and do. I don't want to be double-minded or unstable. I want to be constantly trusting in my Rock, which is Christ the Lord.
"On Christ the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand!"
Have a Wonderful Wednesday!!!