Today’s Reading: James 1:1-8
Around the time of Paul’s first missionary journey, followers of Jesus began writing letters to the believers scattered across the region. James, the brother of John, wrote a short letter packed full of inspiration for us today. It is one of my favorite books of the Bible.
Last spring I had the privilege of studying this letter with my small group at church – just me and 10 of my favorite 9th and 10th graders! It was not my first time to study this letter to the church. Several years ago, I went through Beth Moore’s bible study “Mercy Triumphs”, which is a study of the book of James. I love Beth Moore! I love studying God’s word with her. You may find me referring to this study occasionally as we look at James’ letter to the early church.
This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to the “twelve tribes” – Jewish believers scattered abroad. Greetings! – James 1:1
James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is how James chooses to introduce himself. Have you ever had to introduce yourself or write your own bio? It is not easy to do. Out of all the different ways James could have described himself, he chose “slave”, or some translations use the word “servant”. Not brother, not blood relation, not childhood playmate – but servant.
My heart resonates with James’ description of himself. I desire to be completely sold-out to God – a servant willing to do whatever God asks of me, addressing Jesus as my Lord or my Master as well as my Christ, my Savior. I recognize that it is through his blood that I kneel before him forgiven and with a hope and peace that are precious gifts from God Himself.
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. – James 1:2
Wow! When trouble comes my way, consider it as an opportunity for great joy. When things are going wrong, when how and if problems will be resolved is questionable, I should consider it an “opportunity” and not a burden. I should look at the good that can come from it instead of dwelling on the trouble it is creating.
For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So LET IT GROW, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. – James 1:3-4
An opportunity…a chance…needing nothing. When it seems like all is going wrong and my faith is being tested, I can focus on the positive – that something good can come of this difficulty. I can see my circumstances as an opportunity to build endurance or perseverance. And when endurance is fully developed, when I am growing fully in Christ, I can rest in the knowledge that my life is perfect – all that God intended it to be. I can relax knowing that, if I have Jesus, I need nothing else.
But there is something I need. I need wisdom to handle the situations that come my way – the relationships, the decisions, the obstacles, the trials, the struggles… I am not equipped to handle everything that may come my way.
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. – James 1:5-8
Sometimes I lack wisdom. Sometimes the way I handle a situation causes me to regret my actions before the day is even over – sometimes before the words are even out of my mouth. Apologies are made and I seek God for forgiveness. My GENEROUS God hears my cry for wisdom and He answers it. He forgives me and is willing to turn around and give me wisdom, if only I will ask for it.
The problem is that my lack of wisdom yesterday can cause me to doubt today. Been there? I get discouraged that I have once again blown it. I begin to wonder if I will ever get it right. It is in those moments that I need to remember where my help comes from (Psalm 121:1-2).
“…we bring all that WE are to all that HE is and all that we NEED to all He can GIVE…” – Beth Moore [Mercy Triumphs, p.51]
I love that! When I am so sick of myself and so frustrated that I am not getting it right, again, I can take all that I am (as pitiful as it may be) to all that He is (holy, righteous and good). He can transform me into the person He needs me to be, giving me the wisdom I need to grow up fully in Him. I can ask my GENEROUS God for wisdom, in absolutely confidence that He will give it to me.
Here I am again, Lord, looking back at yesterday – discouraged that I am not as mature as I long to be. I am reminded by your brother, James, that you will give me what I need. Lord, I need wisdom. I ask you to empty me of all that is me, and fill me with all that is you. Generous God, please give me wisdom and continue to grow me fully in You – so that I can be ALL that You intend for me to be. Thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for continuing to work in me, building patient endurance each time my faith is tested. I choose to LET IT GROW. Amen.