Friday, October 7, 2016

James 1 - Instructions for believers

Let's take a look at the Book of James. Its in the New Testament, just after the book of Hebrews.

[Jas 1:1 NKJV] James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.

Count it joy

[Jas 1:2 NKJV] My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
[Jas 1:3 NKJV] knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
[Jas 1:4 NKJV] But let patience have [its] perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

It would be pretty rare to be excited about going through trials, but James tells us to count our trials as joy. The testing of your faith produces patience. If you have patience, you are on your way to being perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Now does that mean, when you die and stand before Jesus, or does it mean while you walk this earth? I don't know, I guess you'll need patience to find out!

Need wisdom? Ask!

[Jas 1:5 NKJV] If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
[Jas 1:6 NKJV] But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
[Jas 1:7 NKJV] For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
[Jas 1:8 NKJV] [he is] a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Are you lacking wisdom? Ask God for more! I like that; you know what, if you are wise enough to ask God, you're on your way already. Psalm 14:1 tell us it is the fool who says in his heart "...there is no God." Don't be the fool, ask God for wisdom. But ask like you mean it.

We are all going to die some day

[Jas 1:9 NKJV] Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation,
[Jas 1:10 NKJV] but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away.
[Jas 1:11 NKJV] For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.

Rich or poor, we all get a tiny slice of time down here, and we then shall stand before God.

Enduring temptation

[Jas 1:12 NKJV] Blessed [is] the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
[Jas 1:13 NKJV] Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.
[Jas 1:14 NKJV] But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.
[Jas 1:15 NKJV] Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

Each person has their own temptation trigger. I get drawn to something evil, and give in, and suffer the consequences. A mouse smells a wiff of peanut butter coming from the loaded mousetrap. The end result? Death.

Good Good Father

[Jas 1:16 NKJV] Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
[Jas 1:17 NKJV] Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
[Jas 1:18 NKJV] Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
[Jas 1:19 NKJV] So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;
[Jas 1:20 NKJV] for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
[Jas 1:21 NKJV] Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

This bit does make me think of the song "Good Good Father". Ever good and perfect gift comes form above. I think it might be fair to say that therefore, every bad gift does not come from above. Why are we here on Earth? Because He willed it to be so. He willed you and I to be the best of his creatures. "Creature" sounds like a strange word, but it also means the object made by its creator. Literally, "something created". And here we are, created beings.

So, being literally a "made man", we owe our loyalty to our Creator, and our gratitude. We should be swift to hear, and slow to speak, and slow to wrath. Leave the wrath to God.

Receive the implanted word. What implanted word, you say?

[Rom 2:15 NKJV] who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves [their] thoughts accusing or else excusing [them])

You know when you're doing something wrong. That sort of knowledge is built-in.

Be a doer, not just a reader

[Jas 1:22 NKJV] But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
[Jas 1:23 NKJV] For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;
[Jas 1:24 NKJV] for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
[Jas 1:25 NKJV] But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues [in it], and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

Look into the perfect law of liberty. Those two things seem like opposites. Law. Liberty. So what sort of law is this? Well, it's like this:

[1Jo 1:9 NKJV] If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We have freedom in Jesus, in that we just have to ask. So, be doing what is in the Bible and not just reading it. And when you mess up, confess your sin and move on.

Control what you say and what you do

[Jas 1:26 NKJV] If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion [is] useless.
[Jas 1:27 NKJV] Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, [and] to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Oh yeah, I get caught up on this all the time. Just being honest. Never give up, though. Never give up! Jesus, help me to say the things that please You, and do the things that please You.

That last verse is another example of the Bible showing that Jesus is God. "...before God and the Father...".