Category Archives: James

Don’t take matters into your own hands

James 1:4

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. NIV

This is that last reminder in this passage of James that I began looking at several days ago.  The Message translates this verse, “So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.  Let it do its work so that you become mature and well developed, not deficient in any way.” MSG

When you’re in the midst of a stressful situation, sometimes, you just want it to end.  Being bound by time, and unable to see the future, I find that I often cannot see any way out of the stress of the moment.  But, God can.

This verse is saying, “Don’t take matters into your own hands.”  Instead, walk through the trial with grace and trust and perseverance and earnestly look for what you can learn in it.  The only lesson may be that the trial comes to an end, but, what a relief that is!  And, what a blessing to be able to later tell a brother or sister, “This will come to an end.  I know.  I’ve walked where you’re walking.”

One of my favorite movies is Sleepless in Seattle.  Tom Hanks has suffered the devastating loss of his wife.  At one point, he says something like, “I’m going to remember to get up in the morning, and I’m going to breathe in and out every day.”  Good advice for one going through a trial … I’d add, “and I’m going to trust God, who knit me together in my mother’s womb, who has numbered every hair on my head and who has counted every hour of my life … He’s in charge.”

That’s what I’ll think about today.

Leave a comment

Filed under James, New Testament, Trust, Worry

What color is your faith?

James 1:2-3

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  NIV

Consider it joy when you face trials.  This is counter-intuitive.

Before I began this project, I really couldn’t see the wisdom of these verses, which, in my experience, are quoted pretty often.

Prior to spending time looking at what the Bible says about worry, my response to verse 2 was always, “James must have been out of his mind.”  As I saw it, trials were a source of nothing but worry.  Worry is far, far, far from joy.

But, the trials of the last couple of years, combined with the daily hunt for wisdom on the subject of worry in God’s word, have shown me that James wasn’t crazy … he was a mature Christian.

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.” MSG

I’ve been there … when tests and challenges come at me from all sides, I have not felt gifted.  It has typically made me want to crawl into a hole … to burrow down and find someplace that is beneath the fray.

“You know that under pressure, your faith life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.” MSG

As I look at this, I would say that prior to the last couple of years, the true color of my faith was likely a pretty pale color.

A few years ago, we had our house repainted.  We had a really hard time choosing a color.  The house was white when we bought it, and I personally struggled to see it being any color other than white.  We tried multiple different colors by painting them in swatches and then standing back to observe the effect.  At one point, we thought we had settled on a color, I can’t remember what it was called, but it was a very, very light grey … my next door neighbor said it best … “Don’t paint the house white,” she said.  I remember thinking, “But, it’s not white … it’s grey.”  Really, the only person who could see the difference was me.  My husband said that he could see a difference, but, it is likely that he was just being supportive.

That was my faith before … the color was visible only to me.

“Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

Henry Blackaby says, “Anytime God leads you to do something that has God-sized dimensions, you will face a crisis of belief.  At that point what you do next reveals what you believe about God.”

What you do next reveals everything about your faith … under pressure, your faith shows its true colors.

I want my faith to show through in bright, brilliant colors … regardless of my circumstances.  Like the gorgeous shade of red that I ultimately chose for our front door, or the warm orange that my sister and I picked for our foyer … those are the colors that I want my faith to be.  Warm and welcoming and embracing of the world around me and all the people in it.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

Leave a comment

Filed under James, New Testament, Worry

Don’t second-guess yourself

James 1:5-8

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts i like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. NIV

Ask God for wisdom …

Solomon did this, and God was faithful.

Here, it is promised that wisdom will be given to all who ask … it will be given generously and without finding fault.

My NIV Concordance reminds me that this word for wisdom, “sophia,” is the same that is used in I Corinthians 1:24 & 30, where Christ is called, “the wisdom of God.”

Dictionary.com defines wisdom, “the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.”

The trick is to avoid doubting … avoid doubting in the request; avoid doubting the fulfillment of the request; and avoid doubting the actions you take as a result of the wisdom you receive.  The Message makes this very clear, “If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who ‘worry their prayers’ are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.” MSG

Wind-whipped waves … adrift at sea.  I don’t like either of those images.  The first connotes power that is unused and frustrated by its surroundings … the second, abandonment.

So, ask believing.  Step forward in confidence.  Take a stand.  Pray for wisdom.  Then, do what’s right, and don’t second-guess yourself.  Action must be taken … you can’t keep all of your options open … you can’t worry about trying to please everyone or you’ll end up adrift at sea, (likely with a drowned donkey).

That’s a lot to think about today!

Leave a comment

Filed under James, New Testament, Worry

James 1:22-25

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does.  NIV

Wow.

This is pretty powerful advice.

I don’t want to be one who merely listens.  I don’t want to find all of these verses about worry and then still be bound by it!

This verse is right … there is freedom in God’s perfect law, His word.

Today, I will focus on not worrying, moment-by-moment; on trusting God and on following His word.

Leave a comment

Filed under James, New Testament, Worry