Our pastor started to preach from James just as I finished going through Deuteronomy. I thought it would be a nice short book of the bible to go through before starting another book. It also would be great to learn from James alongside my pastor. 🙂 James is a practical guide to living through crisis and walking in faith.
One of the things that surprised me was how much I enjoyed listening to different pastors preach on the same verses. The overlap was so interesting as each pastor would emphasize different parts of the text, or sometimes have different interpretations.
I also discovered a new pastor that I enjoyed listening too. David Guzik often pulled up quotes from people of faith that spoke adroitly to the text at hand. Good quotes that often made me think.
Most of the time I do my devotional time while walking on the treadmill. I have my youtube playlist and just work my way through it. As I listen along I read along on my phone, I use the ESV bible app. Then I copy and paste passages to facebook. I don’t listen well unless I can take notes to help me remember so I share those thoughts or questions to facebook as well. Then I can go back over the course of the day as I ponder what I learned.
I normally open up my overall study time with a video that gives an overview of the book I am studying, and then more specific videos by chapter or verse groupings.
Some of what I learned
So have you considered what it means to have joy in trials? How does one DO that? After all, trials tend not to be fun events. Through James, I learned that the joy in trials comes from knowing the result of going through trials. The result of going through trials, particularly if you do so with a God-focus, is that you grow in wisdom and the ability to remain steadfast in the face of difficulty.
Being tempted is not sin. Sin is when we act upon our temptation or linger on it. For instance… I was at the grocery store once and had forgotten that I plunked an onion in my pocket as I was swiftly walking through the store picking up whatever. Got to the car and it’s like OH>> there’s an onion here I didn’t pay for. I briefly considered just going home, but then returned to the store and apologized for walking out with it and then paid for it. It wasn’t sinning to walk out with it, or to briefly think about going home. It WOULD HAVE been sinful to go home with it. This doesn’t mean I can’t regret or repent of the sinful desire to skip out with it once I remembered.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22 We need to have our lives impacted by the word of God. Listening to what God has to say and then living it out. If all we do is listen by don’t act, we are just fooling ourselves. God’s word needs to matter. God’s word, as it tells us in James, helps us living through crisis.
Does keeping yourself from being polluted by the word mean you need to remove yourself from it, much like the Hutterites, Mennonites and Amish do? Or does it mean something else? I’m tending to think it’s a bit of both.
For instance, going to see a show that glories in death, or a singer who promotes sexual immorality is not something we should be doing. But refusing to visit a neighbour just because he’s not a believer, or turning my back on a wayward family member, how does that draw them to the Lord? One of the pastors I listened to mentioned that it’s what our focus in on. Is it on God, or is it on what’s around us? Is our focus God-centric or people-centric (often self-centric)? If we focus on God, the pollution of the world will be much less able to influence us.
James, a practical guide
Can you see how, if you take the lessons from James to heart, that you will have a practical guide to living through crisis?
Trials put us in a place where we need to ask God for wisdom. This draws us deeper into his word. As we do so we learn to put his word into action. All of this deepens our faith.
This makes trials a matter of joy.
Just because, trials are a matter of joy, doesn’t mean I still LIKE trials. If I change my perspective on them from the now to the later, it helps in the immediacy of whatever situation I am in.
Don’t you also find this to be true?