Thursday, July 17, 2014

James challenge, part 5

I can hardly believe that we are almost finished with James. I am genuinely sad that this book is so short. Not that I don't love the whole Bible, but James is a book I really relate to and is probably the one that I use the most in my own personal growth.  So without further ado, James 5...

Verses 1-6:
It seems that James harshly speaks to rich people. I think we can safely assume that he isn't speaking to all rich people, but rather those who have taken pride in their riches. Like it says in verse 5, there are some that use their riches to indulge themselves and oppress others.  I think it is safe to say that James is rebuking those who live without care for others.  

Verses 7-12:
The believers were withstanding great persecutions at this time. As we know from reading the gospels, many believers also thought that the setup of the Kingdom was right around the corner. And it is... to God. To us mortals, though, it seems awfully long it coming.  James encourages the believers to stand firm.  Life was hard for them, and it might be for us too, but remember that the Lord is faithful.  

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years , and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish ,but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:8-9

It may be slow, but God has a purpose for that "slowness." He is doing it for the benefit of us! And when I think of all that others have had to suffer for their beliefs, I don't think we have it bad at all.  Sadly, this may have the opposite effect and allow us to become complacent instead of longing for our Lord Jesus to return. 

For those who were going through great persecutions, James reminds them of the prophets (such as Daniel and Jeremiah) who had suffered greatly before them. If they can endure, then so can we all. 

I always thought the part about not swearing by heaven or earth seemed randomly placed, but I think it is actually referring to this same idea of not being able to control when things happen. Therefore, we should take care because you never know when something will happen that is outside of your control. You don't want to be making promises that you are not going to be able to keep.

Verses 13-20
James reminds us of the importance of turning to God! In good times and bad. Sometimes, that's the last place we turn, and then only when we can't figure out things on our own.  But as we grow, we learn more and more to turn to God first in our joy AND in our sorrow.

There is also something to be said for confessing your faults to another person. It can be a humbling experience, but also renewing. I think when I share my failures with another, it helps me realize the gravity of my sin, and to pray for forgiveness. It also helps others to realize that we are all in the same boat, so to speak. Sometimes I feel like I am the worst sinner out there, but it is relieving to know that everyone messes up but that there is still forgiveness! Praise our loving Father!

These verses about Elijah are pretty amazing. I never really thought about the phrase "Elijah is a man just like us" until I heard some classes on Elijah. The speaker pointed out that it truly means Elijah was LIKE US. So often, I look at characters in the Bible and think they have some kind of superhuman faith. But they don't, and we can see that in Elijah. Elijah was a passionate man.  He got afraid. He got angry. He pouted. He ran from God. But in the end, he was faithful. God understood Elijah's weaknesses, and He was still with him. God understands ours too! 

Lastly, James points out the magnitude of saving someone spiritually. It's wonderful to save someone's life by preventing them from getting hit by a car or performing the Heimlich maneuver, but this life is only temporary. How much greater to save someone spiritually by giving them a hope for eternal life! Like the angels who rejoiced over the one found sheep, we should be seeking that ALL should come to a knowledge of our God.

I hope that you have enjoyed these devotions on James. If you missed one, here are links to each chapter. Have a joyful day!

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