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Category Archives: James

James 1:5-8

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

Dear God, this feels like me: asking you for wisdom and yet still keeping part of my faith in the world. Logic. Reason. Justice. My rights. I put stock in all of these.

Father, I’m really feeling it today. You’re all I have and I really need your wisdom. Speak to me. Raise up voices I can hear. Reveal your perception of my life and the events surrounding it to me. Whatever the outcomes, my they ultimately be for your glory.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2022 in James

 

James 1:22-25

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
James 1:22-25

Dear God, this last phrase could easily be taken out of context: “then God will bless you for doing it.” Other translations say something like, “They will be blessed in what they do.” (NIV) Either way, this could be interpreted as doing this for selfish reasons. As of to say, if I do what you say then it will improve my situation. But that’s not what James is saying because the people he’s talking to are living under persecution for their faith and he doesn’t expect that to get better. no, I think the blessed to which he’s referring here isn’t as much of the #blessed philosophy as it is being filled with the fruits of the Spirit.

The more I know you. The more I walk away from temptation and towards your presence the more my life will reflect you and the more your fruit will grow in and out of me. I’ve talked about the fruit of the Spirit many times with you before, but I do it because I think it’s the key. That’s the blessing you have for me. You want to give me love like you have. You want to give me a deep joy in all circumstances. You want to give me a peace that passes all understanding. Patience. Goodness. Faithfulness. Kindness. Self control. These are the blessings you have for me. They are what will see me through regardless the path you need for me to walk to accomplish your will.

Father, give me ears to listen to your word and the different ways you speak to me, and give me the courage and impetus to actually follow your words—whether it’s the things you want my heart to know and change, or the actions you need me to take. More than anything, I want the peace that comes from knowing I’ve given you all of me. I’ve given my utmost for your highest.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2021 in James

 

James 1:19-20

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.
James 1:19-20

Dear God, yes, quick to listen. I’m such a lousy listener. My wife is much, much better at it than I am. And some of my biggest mistakes have come from getting angry fast and communicating it. I can be a mess.

There is an issue at hand right now that is testing how much I believe this passage, and my willingness to learn from it. What are you doing in the lives of everyone involved? Where are they coming from? I have my assumptions, but I’ll bet I would be surprised to see the world from their perspective. I think I know their perspectives, but I really don’t.

Father, I submit to you. I submit to this passage and James’s wisdom from 2,000 years ago. Thank you for teaching me. Thank you for loving and guiding me. Thank you for using me however you will in this world as your ambassador.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2021 in James

 

James 4:1-12

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?
James 4:1-12

Dear God, what would James have to say to today’s church? He was pretty upset in this passage. He emphatically called them adulterers. He told them they were living as a friend of the world. He told them they were fighting out of jealousy. He told them a lot of things.

For us, my judgment is that he would tell today’s church that it has lost its first love. The church today seems to put more faith in the power of political advantage than relying on you. I do it too. I want the strongest economy, the strongest military, etc. I am pro-life, so I want the government to take away abortion. I want all kinds of stuff, but I’d rather lean on the political power I can see and influence instead of leaning on you, who is beyond my influence.

Maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s about what we can influence vs. what we cannot influence. We cannot influence you. We can only worship you and listen for your call. We can only wait on your timing instead of forcing our own. Maybe that’s why I’m so bad at worshipping you. Maybe that’s why I create my idols—because my idols are an extension of my own ability to control an outcome. You, on the other hand, insist that I trust you and let go of my control, my life, and my agenda.

Father, I like to think I am apart from the overall “church.” Their sins are not my sins. I want to believe I am right and they are wrong. But the log in my eye is too huge for me to see the speck in the church’s eye. I am sorry. Help me to worship you well and listen for your call. Do it all for your glory’s sake, and not mine.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2021 in James

 

James 3:13-18

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.
James 3:13-18

Dear God, this is a great passage, and the whole thing is worth digging into, but I want to pause on a phrase towards the beginning: “the humility that comes from wisdom.” Wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age. I’ve seen very foolish older people. it doesn’t necessarily come from experience. No, I think there are two other ingredients that are part of the recipe: suffering through trials and responding to the suffering by truly submitting to you.

There’s a reason that 12-step programs include submitting to a higher power. It goes back to the stages of faith I read about in the Communicators Commentary on Job. I don’t have in front of me the author of these six levels of faith, but here they are:

1. Intuitive – projective faith: is associated with the child’s faith, based upon fantasy and imagination

2. Mythical-literal faith: is the family faith of the early school years, which is sustained by moral rules and either/or thinking

3. Synthetic – conventional faith: as an adolescent phase that conforms to the tradition of the community and creates the “kind” of person of faith it models or rejects

4. Individuative – reflective faith: is the faith of the young adult who is capable of critical thinking, independent reflection, and dialectical reasoning

5. Conjunctive faith: is a mid-life and old-age faith that integrates self-identity with a comprehensive world of you to see the order, coherence, and meaning of life in order to serve and be served

6. Universalizing faith: is the rare faith of the world citizen who incarnates a transcendent vision into a disciplined, active, and self-giving life. –Page 21

The wisest people I know reach the phase that Job eventually reached and the apostle Paul reached pretty quickly. The last phase when they submit their will to the idea that life is not about them. Freedom and peace are found in our decision to fully embrace your path for our lives regardless of what it means for our level of comfort. The widow who gave her to coins in front of Jesus likely lived an entire life of poverty, and you used her to teach us for thousands of years. John the Baptist lost his head, but you have used him. Jesus went through torture and lost his life for us. Paul went through prison and death, but he considered his life worth nothing to him. And James speaks of it here.

Father, these are easy words to say and difficult words to live. Help my life to be more of a reflection of these words, not for my sake but for your glory.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2021 in James

 

James 5:13-18

Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.
James 5:13-18

Dear God, I’m assuming this was the verse of the day for Bible Gateway because it is the National Day of Prayer. I confess to you right now that I’m kind of numb to this being a thing. I don’t really believe it. I don’t really believe that our nation cares about praying. I don’t really think I am joining all of these other people for this special day. But I’m a fool. I’m a fool.

You are doing great things through your people. No, as a country we are failing you in innumerable ways. As a church, as your church, we are failing you in innumerable ways. But there are individuals out there. There is a remnant. There are those who are faithful to you. There are those who repent of their sin and seek your healing. There are those who love you with all of their heart and strength and love their neighbors as themselves. There are those who are more loyal to you than to political or religious dogma. There are those who are willing to die to themselves, take up your cross and follow you—not just believe in you.

Father, help me to be one of those people. As I start this day, I repent. I repent for my selfishness, my self-pity, my arrogance… There is so much for which I repent. I’ve been convicted over the last 18 hours or so that I’ve started to believe some of my own press and I am greater than I am. I am sorry. I repent. I need you. I need you for everything. I need you to help me be my wife’s husband. I need you to help me parent my adult children. I need you to help me lead at work. I need you to love through me—especially when I don’t want to. I need you to inspire and move me. I need you to provide everything. Use me however you will, but do it for your glory. Not for my glory, but your glory, oh Lord!

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2021 in James

 

James 1:12-15

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

James 1:12-15

Dear God, what does it look like to patiently endure testing and temptation? In think, in this context, James isn’t talking about gluttony, lust, drunkenness, etc. I think the context here is extreme religious persecution. Being patient as people who persecute me test my faith. Being strong as they tempt me to reject you. So it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Settle in. Be patient.

Then, verse 15 brings a whole different bit of insight: “And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.” Sin being allowed to grow is an incredibly insidious thing. It can ultimately destroy me and those I love. My life is a garden that must be constantly tended and weeded. It is spring time right now. The grass is coming out, but so are the weeds. I I allow them to grow unfettered, they will completely mess up the landscaping we are trying to cultivate.

I was thinking on the way home about the balance of worship/meditation/studying/contemplation. A life full of just one or two of any of these things will not be full. If I study about you, but never worship you, will I really know the God I’m studying. If I worship, but never study, will I know the God I’m worshiping? There is a balance that involves my heart, mind, body and soul. All four must touch you if I’m going to have a shot at knowing you.

Father, this has been a little disjointed, but I want you to know I love you, I’m grateful for you, and I want to know you more. Please guide me on this path, and please heal the wounds on my heart so that I can let go of my self-pity and completely worship you without getting my own selfishness and insecurity in the way.

In Jesus’s name pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2021 in James

 

James 1:1-4

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! Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 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 1:1-4

Dear God, it’s interesting that James geared the messages of this letter specifically to Jewish people who were now believers in Jesus. Was there something specifically about the Jewish faith that discounted the need for works? Anyway, I never noticed this before.

What would a modern prophet speaking on your behalf have to say to the American church (Catholic, mainline, or evangelical)? Lately, the feeling I’ve been getting is that our sin is grasping for political and cultural power. There was simply never a time when Jesus seemed to care about who the government or political leaders were. In fact, the only people who ever seemed to earn his ire were religious leaders and those who were hypocritical in their judgment of others. Yes, I’m convinced you would have a lot to say to American Christians of all stripes right now. We have sinned. I have sinned.

One of my sins is really paying as much attention as I do to politics and not thinking more about the immediate needs around me. Really, is there anything going on in the political leadership of our nation or state that warrants more than 5 minutes of my time a week?

Father, help me to focus on the right things. Help me to focus more on my sphere of influence than I focus on things that are outside of my control but easily distract me. In fact, this puts a new spin on the serenity prayer. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (politics) the courage to change the things I can (my sphere of influence) and the wisdom to know the difference.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2021 in James

 

Voting by Platform vs Character — James 3:13-16

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

James 3:13-16

Dear God, I wonder if we don’t make a mistake in our politics by affiliating candidates with parties and platforms over character. If I were to put that sentence on Facebook right now everyone would jump on it as a statement on the presidential race between President Trump and former Vice President Biden. But I’m talking about a more macro level than that. What if every voting decision I made was governed first by my perception of the candidates’ character, and I used their platform as the tie breaker?

My gut instinct is to say that I could end up voting for people who would do things in government that I don’t want to see done. From taxes, to foreign policy, to abortion, their collective decision making might really bother me.

However, the more I think about it the more I think that people who represent what James is describing here will be humble. They won’t be jealous and have fits of rage. They won’t have to be right all of the time. They will have the ability to get outside of their own head and open to having their mind changed. They would work together with others and compromise. What if I made those the most important qualities I looked for in a candidate?

Father, I heard someone say a few weeks ago, you don’t get more good people in politics by electing bad people. That’s pretty simple. Sure, people will lie about their character, or they might become corrupted once they get there, but wouldn’t I rather start with a candidate who was elected based on character instead of one who was elected regardless of it? Please give me and all of us wisdom as we prepare to vote in November. Give us wisdom as we engage with our friends over these issues. Make us one as you, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one. Protect our election from foreign influences. And do with our country whatever you need to do for your will and purposes.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2020 in James

 

James 3:13-18

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.
James 3:13-18

Dear God, I’ve never thought of this passage in this way before, but this is another way of looking at the fruits of the Spirit in myself or someone else.

  • Honorable living
  • Good works
  • Humility
  • Peace loving
  • Gentle
  • Willing to yield
  • Mercy
  • Good deeds
  • No favoritism
  • Sincere
  • Peacemaking
  • Righteous

The opposite of God’s wisdom:

  • Bitter jealousy
  • Selfish ambition
  • Boasting
  • Lying
  • Selfishness
  • Disorder
  • Evil works

So I guess my question is, what do I do with the second type of person? How do I respond to them in my family, in my community, in my work, and even as my political/governmental leader?

Ironically, I think it goes back to the first list James gave me. If I’m in you and I’m doing those things then my life will influence the sphere you want me to influence. I will carry you into my world and be your ambassador. But if I try to manufacture those actions myself without relationship with you then I will find that second list creeping into and through my life.

Father, I’m sorry for any times yesterday I exhibited bitterness, jealousy, pride, lying, ambition, disorder, or evil in any way. I’m sure I touched on all of them in one way or another. Live through me so that my life will be whole and you can then use me however you will.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2019 in James