How was your Tuesday? Was it good? I hope that it was! Ready to think about some things? I hope so! I started James 1 last night and I must say that at a chapter a day by the end of this month well have gone straight through to 3rd John. Lets cross our fingers. Anyways James chapter one was a great chapter to start on and it has a lot to teach us even though it is the beginning of the book. If you do not have a bible take a second to click this link and read James 1 so you will know what we are talking about. Just so you know I will be going through a chapter a day so if you want to read along with me that is how I am doing it. 🙂 Lets get down to business!
I found a lot of things to talk about in this short chapter so I hope you are ready! Something that many Christians long for and strive for is to have strong faith, to be a mature Christian, and to walk close with God. Many times people are left wondering how they accomplish this and become like their mentors. James 1: 2-18 gives us the answer to that question. “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials.” A lot of people when they think about Christianity think that by converting they have escaped all earthly pains and trials but that is wrong and denied multiple times in the scriptures and many of the early church leaders speak about enduring trials for they bring maturity. Here in James it says to consider it joy. I stumbled upon two really good quotes that talk about the relationship between trials and strong faith or maturity: “The only way to learn strong faith is to endure great trials.” -George Muller and “Pain is often the pathway to maturity. Unfortunately we want the product without the process.” -Rick Warren
It is a strange thing to me to consider suffering a joy but then it is strange to me to see that suffering is the pathway to maturity but if you have ever heard the phrase “put the kettle to the heat” this testing of your faith like any other trial or testing will make you stronger in faith and action. James talks about suffering and trials for half of the chapter and there is a great deal of things to be learned from those verses but I would like to move on to the topic today “How to spend your time” however before I do I want to make sure that I don’t glide over one section of the scripture which I think is very important to understand.
“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. But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.”
I think that it is extremely important to know that God does not tempt you. Temptation is a result of your own evil desires and it is your desires that lead to death. That is why the miracle of Jesus rising from the grave is so grandiose For if God had caused our own sin then his sacrifice of his son would be somewhat warranted by his part in causing us to sin however God has no part of our sin and still gave his son to save us from our own undoing. What a great God! Where is there temptation in your life? To me knowing that it is my own evil desires and not from another makes me feel that I can overcome and turn it over to Christ all the easier allowing him to take me in and help me to grow in Him. That is all that I wanted to say on that now on to our topic for today!
How You Should Spend Your Time:
James 1:19-27 gives us just the right clues on how we ought to spend our time here on earth:  being careful about the words we use,  caring for the unloved and undervalued (a constant theme of Scripture), and  keeping our hearts pure and holy, “unstained by the world”. We should “be wise about what is good, yet innocent about what is evil” [Rm 16:19] Lets look at each of these in more depth
- being careful about the words we use: “if anyone things he is religious, without controlling his tongue but deceiving his heart, his religion is useless.” This hits me hard- what about you? How many times have cursed but said that it was okay? Used the lord’s name in vain but told yourself you didn’t mean it “that way”. How many times have you told a friend all about that girl and her scandalous weekend behavior? Its okay to say because you are “concerned” about her right? James warns us not to deceive our hearts by justifying our words. Just earlier in this chapter he says we must be “slow to speak” how many times would we be stopped in our tracks from cursing, gossiping, and more if we took a few extra seconds to think about what we were about to say and whether or not it showed love? I know that I struggle with this. Even I sometimes say something and then instantly regret it. I want to challenge you to take a day and make it a rule that you will not talk unless you think about what you are going to say for at least 5 seconds before. It will change a lot. Why do you think James tells us to be “slow to speak”?
- caring for the unloved and the undervalued: I am not Catholic but regardless of what you think about the Pope I have to say I really like him. Not because he is the head of the Catholic church but because of his example of how he treats the poor and suffering. But what else did we expect from Pope “Francis”?? The verse says “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress” As Christians we are called to love and take care of those who are less fortunate than us and to help the poor in their distress. What is interesting about this is that it says that this is “pure and undefiled religion” not works for God, not giving the most to your church, not telling the most people about Christ is pure religion but instead taking care of the poor is.
- keeping our hearts pure and holy: A very famous verse states that we are not of this world. I know that you have seen this verse before. Well James is reaffirming this and stating that we should not let this world stain us. I sort of touched on this in yesterdays devotional. How do we keep ourselves unstained of this world? By turning from any and everything that distracts us from Jesus and God’s glory, anything that hinders us in our bible study, inour prayer, in our worship. These things ought to be removed from our lives for every good thing in this world turns our gaze back to God while every bad thing turns us aside and out of the way.
What are some things in your life that are distracting you? What hinders you from your bible study, prayer, or worship time? Is it your phone? Is it Facebook? Is it your job? harder yet is it your friends? Are you being called to turn away from these things and to guide your attention back to Christ? Take a minute to think about what is distracting in your life.
The last thing that I want to talk about today is the middle section of this verse in which James tells us to not just be hearers of the word but to be do-ers of the word.
“but be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 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; for he looks at himself, goes away, and right away forgets what kind of man he was. But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who acts – this person will be blessed in what he does.”
Don’t be just a hearer today. Read James 1 for yourself! Are you being called to change some things in your life? Do it! The scripture says that those who do will be blessed in what he does. If you have any prayer requests please send them my way.
May God bless you this week.