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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Don't get mad...get quiet?

James 1:19-20

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

The context for this passage is the topic of trials.  Pretty safe to say, then, that it applies to each of us every day....we're either in the midst of a trial, just coming out of a trial, or headed into one soon!  So, it's pertinent.

What counsel does Brother James have for us?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Don't judge a gift by its package

James 1:16-18
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.[a] 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures

  The preceding verses in this chapter address the fact that the Enemy of our souls presents temptations in the midst of our trials.  He sends the temptation in an attempt to thwart God's purpose in the trial.  God's purpose is to make us perfect....Satan's is to make us fall.

The root of most every temptation can be found in these verses...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The devil made me do it

A group of us gals are spending our Wednesday evenings digging into the book of James.  I am notoriously slow about getting through verses - took us two weeks to get ourselves out of verse 1!  But the time has been sweet.  And rich.  I love these folks.  And we are loving the treasures we're uncovering in His Word.

Here's a couple of jewels from recent weeks....

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

"Money is the best deoderant"....Elizabeth Taylor

"Money is the best deodorant" says Elizabeth Taylor.  It makes even the bad smell good!!!

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away.  For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
James 1:9-11

At first glance, it seems a bit odd that James inserts this comment about the rich man and the poor man right after he implores us to ask God for wisdom when we are handling trials.  He's told us that our thoughts ("consider") towards trials are to be those of joy...because we can trust that God is doing a great work to develop endurance in us and that endurance will make us whole, lacking nothing.  Indeed, that is reason for joy.  Even in the midst of trials.

And we don't default to that position naturally - we need God's wisdom for that.  We have to ask Him for that perspective, for that ability to see trials like He sees them, for the grace to trust His purpose.

Got it.
But why then the comment extolling the poor man and pretty much feeling sorry for the rich man?  In this context?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Joy in trials? Really?

Count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds,  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
James 1:2-8

It's no secret to any of us that this life is full of trials.  Seems like we're either in one, coming out of one, or about to head into one.  "Of various kinds" - all sorts of things that cause pain, angst, grief.  Trials.  I don't like them and you probably don't either.  I'd rather have comfort and ease and pleasure, thank you just the same.

Interesting that James tells us that our perspective on these trials should instead be....JOY.  Joy.  Joy?

And,  how?

First, the why.  That's found in the second phrase - because the testing of our faith produces steadfastness and the full effect of steadfastness at work brings about a life lacking in nothing. Lacking in nothing?  WOW!  Read that again - lacking in nothing. Sign me up!

Oh, wait.  The path to that life is the road marked "trials". 
And James says our countenance on that path should be "joy" - the word "chara" literally means little lambs jumping and skipping without a care in the world. 
Gulp.  In the midst of trials.  Trials bring suffering and pain and discomfort.  But James says our attitude them should be joy.
Because of what they can bring about in our lives.

Well, James tells us to "count it" - another translation says "consider it".  There's the key.  "Consider".  Choose the thoughts. Think carefully about, especially in order to make a decision. Contemplate.
Deliberate, intentional thoughts.

Thoughts that require divine intervention because they are not our natural default.  That's why James exhorts us to ask God for wisdom. 
Wisdom that enables us to trust that whatever God has allowed into our lives is there so He can prove our faith to be genuine, so that He can let steadfastness operate in us....and result in lives that lack nothing.  Wisdom that clings to the character of God - always faithful, always loving, always good - and trusts that His purpose for us is good.

"Doubting" isn't emotional wavering.  The Greek word used here is "judging...coming to a wrong conclusion about".  James is encouraging us here to cling to the truth about God.  In the midst of a trial, it's easy to instead believe that God's not always good.  That He doesn't love us.  That He should've done some things differently.

Wisdom - "Sophia" - is the ability to see life from God's perspective and to trust Who He is.  Always good.  Always at work on our behalf.  Always loving.  Towards those who follow Him.

Trials.   Testing.  Like gold going through a fire to "proof" it.  And once it comes out, it is more priceless than before.

That's the reason for our joy.
Genuine faith more precious than gold.