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James – Wednedsday, March 4

October 22, 2018 10 comments

trial-faithJAMES 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Notice the word consider in this passage. It’s a word that means to count or esteem something; to suppose something. In our trials, we’re to consider, count, esteem, or suppose them to be pure joy.

The key to doing this is to know something. In our trials, we need to know (and remember) that these tests are accomplishing something in us. Because of our trials, we’re growing in patience (endurance, constancy, steadfastness). We become stable, dependable people who are not likely to change or waiver because of difficulty. It is much like tempered steel—the only way steel becomes hardened or flexible to that degree is to subject it to extreme heat and pounding.

The same is true of our lives of faith. This is what brings us joy … knowing this truth. Our trials are making us stronger.

There is a danger to this process, however. It’s possible to short-circuit the effect of our trials. We must let them run their due course, and remain under the fire as long as the Lord deems it necessary. We gain wisdom in these things by asking Him (see James 1:5)!

Daily Devotional Book • James Application Questions

1. Someone once said that the Christian is either in a trial, coming out of a trial, or heading into a trial. To the degree that statement is true, where are you in that statement?

2. Do you believe in this process of God? Do you trust Him that He knows what He is doing in your life? Are you confident in His infinite wisdom and unending love, and that He is 100% motivated to produce His best in us? If not, tell Him right now. And ask Him to strengthen your faith and commitment to His ways.

3. How have you short-circuited a time of trial in your life? If you’re going through trials right now, make sure to let the Lord finish His lesson. Make this a matter of prayer as well. Assignment: tell a close and trusted friend about your current trial, and ask him/her to pray for you (men with men and women to women).

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Introduction to the Epistle of James

October 19, 2018 Leave a comment

gldi-james-coverHow to use this Devotional

Welcome to this devotional on the book of James! This guided study will help you to know the contents, structure, and themes that are part of this important New Testament letter. It is a significant letter due to the fact that it describes faith that works. Whereas Paul the apostle’s emphasis was often upon the grace that saves through faith, James emphasizes what faith actually looks like in the lives of those who have truly believed.

James has been called “Practical James,” because this epistle is so practical in nature. As such, it is the book of Proverbs in the New Testament. James draws heavily upon the ethic taught by the Lord Jesus—making the teachings of Christ plain and down to earth, right where we live.

The translation that is used for the text is taken from the New International Version (NIV). But it is also possible to use other translations like the New American Standard and the New King James Version.

This devotional is intended to give you a complete tour of the book within a 40-day framework, one devotional per day. At the end of every five days, you’ll find summary pages. Use these pages to reflect upon the week. Here are the steps on how to proceed with this study.

Be sure to look at the big picture of James before you get into the specific passages.
Take a moment and actually read through all five chapters in one sitting. This is how the letter was meant to be read! This will help you to frame the book and see the “forest” before you start examining the “trees.”

Take some time to look over the background of James, the arguments, the topics, and the outline of the book. This will help you become familiar with the basic shape of this great
epistle.

As you approach each lesson, begin by reading the portion of the passage that is listed above. Think about the passage and pay attention to some of the key ideas that are mentioned. Look for action verbs and notice repetition, contrasts, and comparisons. Read it again out loud to help you understand the passage. Then take some time to look at the interpretation notes which should aid you in understanding the passage.

Take time to go over the reflection questions and apply them to your own life. Please do this thoughtfully and carefully. Use the text as a mirror to your own heart as you think about the principles first and then how your life should reflect those principles.

Finally, pray over and meditate on the truth, and ask God to help you make it true in your own life. This will be crucial in order for you to internalize the devotional fully for that day!

Is Jesus Coming … Soon?

December 26, 2011 7 comments

When I began seriously walking with the Lord in 1973, there was much talk about Jesus coming back. Hal Lindsey’s The Late, Great Planet Earth had been out for a few years by that time, and had created quite a stir among many Bible believing Christians. The signs seemed to be everywhere. Matthew 24 prophecies (generalized signs) were being fulfilled. Israel was back in the land (miraculously) and was an independent state. The nations of Ezekiel 38 and 39 were being identified as current countries with a common agenda: wipe out Israel. At Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, Pastor Chuck Smith would sometimes bring newspaper clippings into the pulpit as a commentary on the prophetic passage that we were studying that day. On the back wall of the Calvary Chapel bookstore was the statement, Jesus Is Coming … Soon!

I remember clearly the Yom Kippur war (October, 1973). Egypt and Syria opened a coordinated surprise attack against Israel on Israel’s holiest day of the year. On the Golan Heights, approximately 180 Israeli tanks faced an onslaught of 1,400 Syrian tanks. Along the Suez Canal, 436 Israeli defenders were attacked by 80,000 Egyptians. At least nine Arab states were involved in the attack in one form or another. Somehow, in spite of direct assistance from the Soviet Union, Israel fought back and survived the onslaught, but not without major losses (www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/73_War.html). So much was happening on a global scale that confirmed the prophetic word (Daniel 12:4, 6-10). But obviously it wasn’t God’s time for the rapture and the eventual tribulation period to begin.

Every day I lifted my eyes and looked up (Luke 21:28)—certain that I and millions of others would be snatched up into the clouds to meet the Lord Jesus in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18). In my mind, the Lord’s coming was imminent. There was no way that I would live to be as old as I am now. Jesus was coming back—soon and very soon we were going to see the King. Yet here it is … almost 40 years later … and we’re still here.

Has my belief in the 2nd coming of Christ left me? Not a chance. Have I altered my eschatology to adjust for the delay? No way. I’m as convinced as ever. Jesus is coming … soon!

What I have learned over the years is that I/we must be patient, and wait for the Lord’s perfect timing. This is not only true of the 2nd coming, but also of all of life. Patience is a requisite virtue. “Wait” is an important command. Difficult to obey, but vital to observe. God possesses unsurpassed wisdom. He knows what He is doing. Always.

The N.T. book of James speaks directly to this issue of the 2nd coming and our need to wait. (I love this passage.)

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. {8} You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” (James 5:7-8, NKJV)

The following is taken from my devotional on the book of James. I hope its application will be a blessing to you today.

With the anticipation of God’s righteous judgment (James 5:1-6), there is also the hope of Jesus’ return. We want the Lord to set the record straight and end all the pain and oppression of man, but we also know, as Bob Dylan once sang, that “He’ll replace wrong with right when He returns.” We view the Second Coming as our blessed hope (Titus 2:13John 14:1-3). All will be well when King Jesus shows up!

But we must be patient. Jesus will come in the exact proper time.

How do we prepare for the return of Christ? We watch, we pray, we stay busy with His work, we abide in Him, and we also wait patiently. It’s not always easy to do this, as we so deeply long to see our Savior’s face (Psalm 17:15; 1 John 3:1-3).

The farmer is a perfect example for this. He waits patiently and is entirely dependent upon the seed, the land, and water from heaven. He doesn’t waiver in his hope that a rich crop will result. So we are to consider the farmer as we learn to wait for our Lord!

James Application Questions

1. How would you describe the intensity of your hope in Christ’s Second Coming? Rate it on a scale of 1 to 10. If it’s a low number, why is that so in your life?

2. In what ways will waiting patiently for the Lord’s return help us in relating to people, especially difficult people? Perhaps John 3:16-18Matthew 7:1-2, and 1 Corinthians 4:5 will help you with your response.

3. Find, discover the meaning of, and pray the last prayer of the Bible to conclude today’s devotional.

James – Weekend Review (April 11-12)

weekly-reviews

For the Week of April 6-10

1. List at least three valuable insights and timeless truths you’ve gained this week.

2. List commitments and adjustments you are making as you are convicted by the Word of God.

3. Write out your prayer of adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication.

Daily Devotional Book • James Application Questions

James – Friday, April 10

April 9, 2009 1 comment

distorted_truth_addJAMES 5:19-20

My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

It’s important to be perfectly clear about this point: it’s possible for a true believer to wander from the truth (cf. Matthew 24:4, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Corinthians 15:33, Galatians 6:7, Colossians 2:8).

The Greek word for “wander” is planao, which also means to be deceived, seduced, or to go astray. When a believer wanders from the truth, it’s vital to bring him back. When he’s brought back, he’s brought back to the truth! Therefore, one’s relationship to the truth is the issue. This implies that there is such a thing as objective, verifiable truth.

The opposite of truth is lies. Living according to lies produces death (spiritual, emotional, and perhaps even physical). Living according to truth produces life. Many sins are avoided when one errant believer comes back to his senses and resumes believing and living the truth that is in Christ.

Daily Devotional Book • James Application Questions

1. Who do you know right now that is in danger of wandering from the truth? Jot down their name(s) as the Lord brings them to your mind.

2. Take the time right now to pray the Lord’s prayer. Focus particularly on “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Pray for the kingdom of God to come to those you’ve listed in question #1. Thank God for hearing your prayer.

3. As you pray for them begin asking the Lord what He would have you do to help bring him/her back.

James – Thursday, April 9

placardJAMES 5:16-18

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

We have heard it said, confession is good for the soul. Here is the Biblical basis for that statement.

“Confession” simply means to acknowledge or admit something.

“Sins” refer to our slip-ups, our errors, our falls, our faults, our trespasses, our offenses. Therefore, we should find other believers (those who are safe and can be trusted) to whom we should admit our failings, and vice-versa. As we pray for each other in these areas, remarkable things take place. We are made whole.

Confession of sin to God provides forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9); confession of sin to other believers provides healing and wholeness.

Concerning the power of believing prayer, it doesn’t take a super-saint to get results. Ordinary people can be mighty in prayer; just as someone like Elijah, who had feet of clay like the rest of us (cf. 1 Kings 19). Just as it’s not the size of the dog in the fight that matters, but the amount of fight in the dog; so it’s not the size of the prayer to God that matters, but the amazing ability and graciousness of the God who hears it.

Daily Devotional Book • James Application Questions

1. When was the last time you confessed a sin to another believer? What was the sin you confessed? When you confessed it, was there anything you held back?

2. List the safe and trusted people that God has brought into your life. Do you have a “confession” kind of relationship with them? If not, why not begin?

3. How does today’s passage encourage you to have confidence in prayer? For additional encouragement, read Hebrews 4:14-16 and Hebrews 10:19-22.

James – Wednesday, April 8

258890271_5b5b39475bJAMES 5:13-15

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.

Different life circumstances require different spiritual responses. To be “in trouble” means to suffer hardship, affliction, or difficulty. That person should pray. Trusting prayer will give him the wisdom and strength he needs to grow from and out of his troubles.

The happy (cheerful) person should sing songs of praise. This will be a witness to others of the goodness of God, who made him cheerful, and will prolong his cheerfulness (Proverbs 15:13).

The sick (the feeble, weakened, or diseased) person should call upon the elders of the church to pray over him with the anointing of oil. While the anointing of oil was common medicinal practice in the first century, it was also symbolic of the ministry of the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:1-6). This is an act of faith all by itself, moving the person away from self-dependence toward God-dependence. If the believer also has spiritual sickness (i.e. sin) then that sin will be forgiven at the same time.

Daily Devotional Book • James Application Questions

1. How often do you assess what condition you are in? What condition are you in right now? Are you in trouble? Happy? Sick?

2. Right now, apply the instruction that corresponds to your present state. Do it by faith, and in obedience to God’s word.

3. Remember the last time you were sick. Did you call for the elders of your church? Why or why not? (If that is not the practice of your church, perhaps you can lovingly and respectfully suggest that your church begin making this prayer available for the people.)