Tuesday, April 29, 2014

James: Week 1

As I mentioned in a post last week, I'm going to start talking about the book of James. I've started (and by start I mean just James so far) going through a book of the Bible intentionally. Intentionally meaning that I'm studying a few verses at a time. I'm not a master at this.. nor a theologian, but I'll offer what I have. And because this a new something, that most nearly means a new banner.  Masculine, huh?

This is the song stuck in my head right this very minute: "Because life is not the mountain tops.. It's the walking in between...". I think it only appropriate that a Ben Rector about the moments in between be in my head all the while I'm writing a post about faithful living.  See the connection? The walking in between is where our faith is developed, and our faith is lived out -moment by moment, living for Him.

James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 
knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be 
perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:1-4

Introduction. (v.1)
James makes himself known to be a bond-servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. I think it's in Leviticus, maybe, but every time I read about a bond-servant I think about the law or practice in the OT when a servant's time was up, they could be free. However if they chose to continue in service for their Lord voluntarily, then an awl was pierced through their ears to represent that. They gave up their freedom and rights for service to their master. How often (or do I even) consider myself to be a bond servant? I don't think we think of that often. Yet if we claim Jesus to be our Lord, then we are servants to Him. We have surrendered our rights and allowed Him to take control - primarily motivated out of thanksgiving for all He has done for us.  Rescued us. Redeemed us. Forgiven us. Called us His own. Put sin to death, and death to death. Given us life. Restored us.  -- "Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all."  This is what James is saying.

To whom it may concern: (v.1)
James is writing this letter to Christians scattered abroad.  In a difficult world then and most certainly now, James seeks to encourage the believer to stand firm in the faith and continue forward.

The Meat and Potatoes. (vs. 2-4)
I've always been a meat and potatoes kind of girl.
I can't say that I have the most positive attitude when it comes to a trial. In fact, I'm usually pretty ready for the trial to be over about 10 seconds after it starts. Know what I mean? Telling me to have joy in the midst of something like that is a tough pill to swallow, but it's in trials where our faith is strengthened. I've said it on here before but we can't expect our faith to grow in the midst of the calmest days. We have to go through events that require faith in the first place in order to strengthen us - just like a sailor doesn't become a master on a calm sea. I think it speaks volumes about a person and their faith when they go through a situation or trial and come out of the situation in noticeable fashion. Some might scoff at how quickly the person is pressing forward.  But that's it! They are pressing forward. It speaks volumes because it shows them moving forward, trusting the Sovereign God who is in control of all things. He knew the trial would happen. He knew the result. It wasn't apart from His plan.
This is exactly what James is talking about in these few verses. The trials should be our joy because we know that our trust in the Lord is going to increase. It is an opportunity for us to draw closer to Him - know more of Him - know more of His will and be obedient to that. Trusting that Him is found complete satisfaction and salvation.

The End. For now. Until next week.

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