Note: Scripture quotes are from the KJV or the NIV.
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July 9/11 James 5:19-20
My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
These verses are not talking about a person losing their salvation and getting saved again. All sin causes death - separation. Salvation is not simply about going to heaven. It is about loving Jesus and building the Kingdom of God on earth. It is easy to get distracted from our objective. It is easy to fall back into the way of sin and self-gratification. We need the encouragement of each other. We need to watch each other's backs. If we see a brother beginning to slip we need to strengthen and uplift him. We all sin, need to repent, gain forgiveness, grace and mercy from God and man. Love seeks the way of restoration, not the way of condemnation.
July 7/11 James 5:18
Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
Elijah, an "ordinary" believer, prayed in the will of God and no rain fell for 3 years. He prayed again and it rained. God is in control. He works through His willing and listening people to bring both judgment and blessing. We like to think about the blessing part, but those in rebellion to God - including those who think they are Christians - will face judgment. We have to be open to God's will and God's timing.
July 5/11 James 5:17
Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.
We honour great men and women of God, but we always remember that they are human. They have fears, failures and areas of sin that they struggle with. James reminds us that one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament was human. God never made a race of super-humans to use. No, if God can use Elijah, He can use us. Faith, obedience and the will of God for each life make the difference. We can do anything God asks us to do if we will react with faith and obedience.
July 2/11 James 5:15
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
We all need someone[s] we can trust and be totally open with. None of us are an island. The person[s] we confess our sins and shortcomings to doesn't have to be a pastor or priest, but it must be someone sharing our Christian faith…someone that we can trust to keep confidences. As we confess our sins and weakness we can ask for prayer and get encouragement and strength to overcome them. The point is not to wallow in the past, but to reach victory in the future. As we do so we can be healed of sin and disease.
It is easy to underestimate prayer because we don't understand it. Yet every successful Christian has learned to spend time in prayer. It is powerful and effective. It can change the world. It is directly connecting to the God Who controls the universe.
July 1/11 James 5:14
And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.
God looks for faith. The prayer of faith can accomplish many things including bringing healing to the sick. Sickness is an attack of Satan, but like everything Satan does in our lives, God can turn it around for good. We need to be very careful when dealing with someone who has asked for healing but has not yet received it. We can jump to condemning conclusions - "You don't have enough faith." That is like the socialist habit of blaming the victim for the crime. They may be full of faith, we are not to be judgmental.
Here James says that some [but not all] sickness is caused by sin. We need to look at a the root of the problem. IF sin was the cause, it can be forgiven, but it must also be abandoned unless something worse happens.
June 30/11 James 5:14
Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.
Sometimes we like to be "brave" and face our troubles alone. While we should not bother people with our whining and complaining, God did put us in a body so that we could bear one another's burdens. There is strength in unity. Sometimes we only share with close friends or those in spiritual authority, but we do share. United prayer is powerful.
Oil was a picture of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Anointing with oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit coming upon a person or intervening in a situation.
June 29/11 James 5:13
Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.
As Christians we experience all the ups and downs, all the emotions of human life. Yet God is always there with us and in our responses to our situations and feelings we can grow closer to God.
While prayer should be a habit, often we get more serious about prayer when we are in trouble. It is then we are faced with the stark reality that we are not in control, that we need help. Our pride is crushed and we seek what we need.
In our happiness we should not forget God. We should sing and praise Him, letting Him know how thankful we are for all that He is and has done.
June 27/11 James 5:12
Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.
James is talking about swearing or oaths in the sense of promising that our word is good [i.e. "I swear on my mother's grave, that...]. The reason such swearing is necessary is because our word is no good. We are loose and cheap with our words so that no one can depend on what we say unless we "swear." James says, "No." Our words all the time are to be straightforward and honest. When we speak people should know that they can depend upon our word alone. No other "props" needed. That means we have to be careful what we say because we must keep our word even if it later turns out to be for our disadvantage. We don't look for loopholes to try and get out of our verbal commitments. [Divorce would be very rare if people kept their word!] We say what we mean and mean what we say. You can judge the level of a society by the number of legal contracts needed to try and get people to keep their word.
This is not saying that taking an oath in a court of law is sinful. There are some cases where it is required, although, in an honest society it would be unnecessary.
June 25/11 James 5:11
As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
God does not promise to deliver us from problems and trying circumstances. He does not promise an easy road. One look at the heroes of the Bible and Christians heroes down through the ages until now, tells us that. They were men and women who fought the good fight of faith. Job especially stands out because the veil is drawn back and we are allowed to see the reality behind his trials...and ours. Plus, if Job was the first Biblical book written as seems likely, then he didn't have a written inspired record to draw encouragement and instruction from. He was the trailblazer. We also know that God does not allow any pain that is not necessary for a greater good. And, of course, we , through Job, see the end. No matter what we have to go through on earth, the reward later will far outweigh it.
June 24/11 James 5:10
Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
The stories of men and women of God give us encouragement and instruction to face difficult things in life. Those who spoke up for God were often persecuted, many times by the religious community. It takes courage to follow God...to really follow God. The world, including the majority of the "Christian" world, does not want to hear the truth. They want to follow their own ways. We declare the Truth of God's Word and patiently face whatever consequences it may bring. We do not use violence and force, but love and persuasion. Words will conquer guns in the long run.
June 23/11 James 5:9
Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
If you have any knowledge of the children of Israel's wanderings in the desert, you will know that God hates complaining! He has done so much for us and has placed us in His family. To grumble and create division is a sign of unthankfulness. It is to accuse God of being unfair or uncaring. This is not only in complaining against God directly, but also, as James tells us, in complaining about our brothers and sisters in Christ. God has accepted us in our imperfections, we should accept and love others in theirs.
June 22/11 James 5:8
You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
We can afford to be patient. We can wait for God. Unlike the "rushed" people of the world, we can walk through life. Yes, there will be things that are hard and unfair, but we can commit them into the hands of our loving Lord. He will take care of everything in His time.
Those of you who have taken the Book Of Revelation course know that there are several different types of the Coming of the Lord. Obviously, the Second Physical Coming was not near to the people to whom James addressed his letter. But that did not mean the Lord would not come to them and work on their behalf in time and eternity. Jesus comes to us many times and in many ways. Let us walk with open hearts and minds.
June 20/11 James 5:7
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.
Everything has its season. The farmer plants his crop and for a long while it looks like nothing is happening, then the corp begins to grow. Likewise when injustice happens to us, we do not have to get upset. We can seek what justice we can through legal means, but not out of revenge. We can trust it into the hands of God. When Jesus comes all will be put right. We can afford to be patient because we know we win in the end. The Just Judge will deliver the final verdict and all will be right again.
June 18/11 James 5:1-6
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.
It is not wealth or being rich that James is condemning, it is those who have abused others in order to become rich. They cheated their workers. They condemned or murdered those who stood in their way. Wealth must be gotten in the right way. The greed of men has caused the murder of millions. The communist regime of Russia would have collapsed soon after it took power if not for the support of the wealthy in the West. Individuals and corporations manipulate the law [or support unjust laws] to destroy their competition and gain wealth. All involved in such a process are guilty whether they personally profited by it or not. The cry for government control is often not a cry for the protection of the citizen but a cry for the elimination of competition. God will bring those who do such things to justice.
June 16/11 James 4:17
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
This is a powerful verse. It is not only doing wrong things which is sin, but also failing to do the good that know we should do. Sometimes, as Christians, we like to excuse ourselves by saying we are not doing anything wrong. That's only step one! Are we doing the good we know we should be doing? Are we helping hurting people? Are we standing against the evil of our times? It is not only what we don't do, but also what we do do! And when we take action we need to understand what God's way is. For example, some Christians support minimum wage laws or other socialistic ways of helping the poor which are actually unBiblical and hurt the poor! When we fight for right, we have to make sure we are right and not just creating a bigger problem! God don't look so much at our motivation [we can want to help but actually hurt] as He does our faithful obedience to His Word.
June 14/11 James 4:16
As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.
When we are the center, we are in trouble. We tend to think life is about us. We want to be in control. The fact is we are not in control. Being "the captain of our fate" is a fragile illusion. We must bow our knees before Jesus Christ and realize that He is in control.
June 13/11 James 4:15
Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
Life is learning to work together with God. It is a partnership in a sense. Working together with someone is a good way to get to know them. As we work with God, we learn to know Him and His ways better. Yes, we make our plans, but they are always submitted to His Plan. And we know unless God is in our plans ultimately they are pointless. We need to work at developing a "God-conscienceness" in all we say and do.
June 10/11 James 4:14
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
On the timeline of history, our life is so short it hardly makes a blip. It is good to keep that in mind when we are tempted to consider ourselves so important. What we do in life does matter, for history - past and future - is a collection of "blips" that make up the great story God is telling. But let us keep things in perspective. We need to consider our ways and our life. Are we making the most of our short time? Are we following the will of God, or our own will?
June 9/11 James 4:13
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”
It is good to set goals and have plans. If you don't know where you are going, how will you know when you get there? The problem is the arrogant assumption that we can, of our own power carry them out. Life is fragile. It can change in a moment. All our goals and plans can be dashed in instant. As we plan, we need to humbly acknowledge our need of and dependence on God for all things.
June 7/11 James 4:12
There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
God is the One in control. He lifts up and He puts down. He is the One Who rewards and the One Who punishes. We have to resist the temptation to be as God. We tend to judge others according to our own standards and our incomplete knowledge. God is the only standard. There is a time judge but first we start with our own lives. If we ever approach a situation with a superior attitude, we are wrong from the very beginning and we are only reaping judgment for ourselves.
June 6/11 James 4:11
Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.
As Christians we are in a blood covenant with each other through Jesus Christ. As part of the family of God we are to be supporting and building each other up. That doesn't mean there will never be disagreements, but that we handle differences in a mature, loving way. To attack one another is a violation of the law. We must stand in unity. It is Satan's trick to get us fighting each other instead of him.
In order to judge something or someone we must be superior to them. If we are judging the law [which a lot of Christians do by dismissing it] we are, in fact, saying we are above God's law. Only the Lawgiver can be superior to the law.
June 4/11 James 4:10
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
People who strive for power will find themselves fighting against God. Some fight, scratch, backbite and betray in order to gain position and then come into the house of God to "worship." They may even be fighting for church position. Such worship is in essence blasphemy. We come and lay our lives before God. He is well able to place us where He wants...and if He places us there we cannot be removed unless He allows it. No more worrying, fighting, stressing and sinning in order to keep a position we carved out for ourselves in the blood of others. No, we can rest and relax in God. That doesn't mean the going is easy, but there is a confidence that God is in charge.
June 3/11 James 4:9
Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.
Repentance is not something we like to talk about. We might scare people out of our seeker-friendly churches! Yet, we have offended the Holy and Righteous Almighty God. We need to repent of our ways, we need to sorrow over our sins, we need to fall on our faces and seek God's forgiveness. We need to break pride in our lives.
June 2/11 James 4:8
Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
As we draw near to God, He comes near to us. How do we draw near to God? Of course, to begin with we must have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Beyond that, we draw near to God by honouring Him, honouring His people and leaders, reading, studying and meditating on the Word of God, prayer, and ordering our lives according God's standards. We have to be single-minded in following God. We have to put the world behind us and reach forward to what God has for us.
May 31/11 James 4:7
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
The devil is likely the second most powerful being in the universe. He hates God and all His creation. He loves to destroy human lives. However, Christians - when they are in right relationship with Jesus Christ - have nothing to fear from the devil. He is powerless to harm them. He will come to test and tempt, but when we resist in the Name of Jesus he runs away. His darkness cannot endure the blazing light of Jesus Christ.
May 21/11 James 4:6
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
Pride is the root sin. It has many heads, many ways it reveals itself. It can always be identified because it always places someone or something higher than God. It reveals an unhealthy independence and self-confidence. At its very core is the desire to be god. It wants to make its own rules and its own reality. When we give into pride we become trapped in a fantasy world. Pride can be very subtle but it always whispers doubt about God or rebellion to Him. Naturally pride brings the opposition of God.
If we want to know God's blessing we need to humbly come before Him acknowledging that He is Lord, His ways are right [even if we don't understand them] and He is in control. We need to learn our place in His plan, not try to make Him fit in our plan.
May 20/11 James 4:5
Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?
Many times we don't take God seriously. We think of Him as all love and grace [and we define those words the way WE want to define them], a permissive Father Who will let His children get away with anything without consequence. Anyone who has this image of God has, in fact, created a false god. They are worshiping a god of their own making rather than the God of Scripture.
God lives in us. That means everywhere we go, He goes. Everything we see, He see through us. Are we walking in a way that pleases God, or are we grieving the Holy Spirit.
May 19/11 James 4:4
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
James is blunt. There is no fence-sitting in the Kingdom of God. You are either in or out...no maybes...no games. "Greasy" Grace is just as much a demonic error as legalism. If we are going to play with the world, we become an enemy of God. We cannot have one foot in the devil's camp and one foot in God's camp. Total commitment is what is required. Jesus did not go halfway to the cross, and He does not accept halfway followers.
May 18/11 James 4:3
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
God is God. He will not allow Himself to be manipulated by our selfish desires. He will not be used as a giant Santa Claus or good luck charm. He is God and He has an eternal plan. It is up to us to learn God's plan and flow with it instead of expecting God to flow with our plans...no matter how good they may seem from our perspective.
May 17/11 James 4:2
You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.
The desire itself may be be wrong, but how we go about trying to satisfy it may be. We like to be independent. We like to look after ourselves. To some degree independence from other people is good, but we should never seek independence from God. Our problem is that we want all our desires met NOW. We don't want to have to plan, save, and wait. The result is we trample on others and often end up with high debt. We need to learn to come to God with our desires and wait for His timing. Those who must have everything now will always end up being the servants of those who plan for the future and wait.
May 16/11 James 4:1
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
How often do we stop to think about why we fight and argue? We fight for ourselves because we are not single-minded. Part of us wants to follow God, another part wants our selfish desires satisfied. We are at war within ourselves so it is not surprising when that war spills over into how we react with others.
May 14/11 James 3:18
Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
We tend to think of peacemakers as those who never fight, who are always able to negotiate settlements that satisfy all parties. While being able to sooth and smooth out tension in a friendly way is the goal of peacemakers, it is not always possible...and there are some fundamental issues in life which are non-negotiable. There are times when peacemakers must fight against evil to protect the innocent. Like the soldiers of WWII, they stand in the gap to stop the advance of evil.
There is no peace possible between God and satan. True peacemakers bring the peace of God to people. They offer people the opportunity to switch sides from being at peace with satan and at war with God to being at peace with God and at war with satan.
May 12/11 James 3:17
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
God's wisdom flowing through our lives has good consequences. Our lives really become worthy-while as we serve God. God's wisdom builds people, families, and societies. When we reject God's wisdom we commit suicide. Notice that all the things listed are other-focused. They all affect how we relate to others. If we are struggling with our relationships, we need to take a hard look as to whether we are using God's wisdom or not.
May 11/11 James 3:16
For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
We can easily confuse the fruits with the roots. In other words, we try to fight the consequences instead of attacking the causes. It is like a doctor treating the symptoms instead of looking for the illness. This applies in every area of life whether we are looking at social issues, church problems. business challenges, family difficulties or personal troubles. What is the root? We will never come up with permanent solutions until we fix the root cause. If all we do is fix a symptom it will pop up again later...or a worse one will. [This is why every time the government tries to solve a problem with its anti-Biblical, socialistic agenda, it only creates a worse problem. They fail to identify and deal with the real causes.]
May 10/11 James 3:15
Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.
As human beings we like to think we are independent. That was the sin of Adam and Eve. They thought they could independently evaluate God's Word and reach an unbiased decision. Anytime we question God's wisdom we are doing the same thing. It is prideful arrogance to think we can independently judge the Word of God. It is the claim to be separate and superior to God. In fact, whether we recognize it or not, there are only two ultimate sources of everything we are, do, or even think - God or Satan. There is no dependence for the human race. We will rely on one or the other as our source. So what are we going to do: accept the Word of God or the word of Satan?
May 9/11 James 3:14
But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.
Most of the sicknesses we have are caused because we do not deal with sin in our lives. We try to deny it and hide it instead of confessing it and forsaking it. It often then breaks out in our natural bodies. We all have sin we have to deal with. We all have pride issues. We all need the Holy Spirit to cleanse our hearts daily. Let us learn to humbly come to God and not to harbor sin in our lives.
May 7/11 James 3:13
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
James is back to his theme of faith and works go together. We do not show our wisdom and understanding of God by strutting about and spouting off reams of words. Our wisdom is shown by how we apply the Word of God to our own lives. It is shown by our daily activities and the things we support or oppose. Deeds have to be done out of wisdom. Many Christians support causes, projects, or laws that are actually anti-Christian simply because they lack understanding and wisdom. For example, many support minimum wage laws because they think they help the poor. In fact, minimum wage laws are unBiblical and hurt the poor most of all! In addition, many support laws related to Climate Change which, again, actually hurt the poor and oppressed.
May 6/11 James 3:9-12
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
Too often we do not pause to think. We just carry on with our whirlwind lives never even noticing the inconsistencies between what we say and how we act. I heard a story of a Southern lady before the American Civil War who used to cruelly punish her household slaves when they upset her in the same room she would later use for prayer and praise meetings with her friends. She saw no contradiction. We can shake our heads, but how often do we do the same type of things. We can go to church, sing, praise and give a good Christian impression and then go home and rip our family apart, take extra time on coffee breaks at work, be underhanded in business dealings, be indifferent to abortion and injustice...and see no contradiction. James tells us plainly that our lives should be consistent. If we love God, that is a 24/7/365 activity. Inconsistencies reveal where our heart is not fully following the Lord. Instead of ignoring them - or being ignorant of them - we should be working on eliminating them by the power of the Holy Spirit.
May 5/11 James 3:7-8
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
We all say things we don't mean. Our mouth goes into operation before our mind is engaged. We don't realize what we've said until it is too late. Like Peter, we may bitterly regret what we have said, but it is too late. It is what we say in our unguarded or impulsive moments that give a glimpse to what is really in our heart. No person can truly tame their tongue because no one can change their own heart.
May 4/11 James 3:6
The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
Our tongue directs our life. We often focus on other things, but James tells us if our speaking is right, the rest will follow. Or to put it the other way, if we fail to control our tongue we are destroying our life [and quite possibly injuring the lives of others]. This is not deceptive words where we are trying to trick others or ourselves as to who we really are. The tongue is a world of revelation, especially in our unguarded moments. The evilness of our heart comes pouring out our mouths.
May 3/11 James 3:3-5
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.
Our eyes are often on the big things, but often the big things are controlled by something little and perhaps even unseen. Many times we do not consider our tongue to be important. We may control it when we are in public, but with our family we may allow it to become unleashed. How many homes and marriages are destroyed because of an unkept tongue? A few words can destroy a career, a relationship, an opportunity. One careless word can undo years of hard work. We need to be careful with our words.
Apr. 30/11 James 3:2
We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
The great apostle James did not consider himself above the rest of the believers. He knew that he stumbled at some things just as the rest of us do. We all have weaknesses. We have areas of our lives that are not in line with the Lordship of Jesus Christ and so they trip us up. James gives us a way to do a self-checkup. What are our words like? The mouth speaks from the abundance of the heart. Sometimes we should really listen to what we say! We might discover more than we want to.
Apr. 26/11 James 3:1
Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
To whom more is given, more is required. Teachers are responsible to know the Word of God and to honestly share it to the best of their abilities. This is a position that is set into the Body of Christ by Jesus Himself for the building up of His Bride. Such responsibilities should not be taken lightly. Many Bible teachers today are self-appointed and share only what the majority wants to hear and earns them money [this is seen clearly with many "end times teachers" or those promoting the false religion of Judaism in the Church]. Some are honest but deceived, others are deliberately deceptive. God knows those who are His and He will bring judgment in due time.
Apr. 25/11 James 2:26
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
The body is great. It is how we perceive the world around us. It is the home in which we live. It is how we do things in this world. It is also how people get to know us. However, it is not necessary for life. The spirit - the real us - which lives within the body continues to live without the body. The body cannot live without the spirit, though.
In a similar way, our faith activates our works. Our works is what people see. It is what effects the world around us. It is how we show who we really are. The works does not produce the faith any more than the body makes the spirit. However, faith must express itself. If it does not produce works, then it is dead - only a fantasy in someone's mind.
Apr. 23/11 James 2:25
Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
All the Canaanites believed in the power of Israel's God. They had heard of what had happened in Egypt. Rahab did not just "believe" she had faith. She switched allegiances from demon gods to the true God. Her faith led her to risk her life on behalf of her new God. It was her actions that proved her faith. Without action she would have been no different from the other Canaanites.
Apr. 20/11 James 2:21-24
Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God’s friend. You see that people are justified by what they do and not by faith alone.
Because Abraham had faith, he acted as he did. Without faith his actions would have been vastly different. The action is what seals the faith in our hearts. Everything we say we believe must be tested before it becomes real to us. When the test comes, how we react reveals what is truly in our hearts. That is why Jesus gave the illustration of four different kinds of seeds. Many looked good, but when the test came only one kind of seed flourished. In the Pastor's Conference CD series by Dennis Peacocke, available for borrowing at Caleb's Choice DVD Club, we learn God's methods for revealing for what is really in the heart of people.
Interesting, Abraham is the only person called the Friend of God in Scripture.
Apr. 18/11 James 2:19
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
Believing in God is not enough. Even believing all the right doctrines is not enough. The devil and his demons know God exists...and they know the truth better than we do. Since they are not redeemable, this is a source of terror for them. Our knowledge of God must be more than intellectual. We must be in a relationship with God by His grace through faith in the blood of Jesus Christ. Anything less is self-deception - whether we have good works or not.
Apr. 14/11 James 2:18
But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.
We like to disconnect our Christianity from our actions. We want the comfort of knowing we are going to Heaven while still living life our own way. We are great at avoiding responsibility and seeking pleasure. Such a Christianity is an illusion and self-deception. Our actions show what we really believe.
Apr. 14/11 James 2:15-17
Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
James uses an illustration that is easy to understand. Seeing a need and then being theoretical about it is pointless. Real needs require real help. Faith that says it believes in God, but does not act for God is fake. We will always act on what we really believe. If we truly have faith in God, that faith is going to govern our actions. It is not that we work to earn faith or God's favor. That is looking at the situation in reverse. Because we already have faith, we work.
Apr. 13/11 James 2:14
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?
Many Christians today would simply answer "yes" to the second question. That is because we often disconnect our "faith" from our actions. Christianity then becomes a compartment within our lives. That is religion, not Christianity. Christianity is a total life with Jesus Christ as the center.
Apr. 12/11 James 2:13
because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
As the Just Judge, God tends to treat us the way we treat others. If we are harsh and unforgiving, if we demand the maximum penalty for the smallest offenses, if we show no thought for those who oppose us, then we will meet a God Who treats us the same way. No matter how much someone has hurt us, we have hurt God more. No matter how much we deserve maximum restitution from others, God deserves it even more from us. If we want God to be merciful and forgiving toward us we have to demonstrate that attitude to others.
Apr. 11/11 James 2:12
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom,
We will be judged by the Law of God. People who have a view of the Law perverted by sin think this is a bad thing. They fail to see that the Law of God brings true freedom. The Law is not intended to be a restraint mainly. It is to show how to get the most and best out of life. For example, if a parent gives their child a rule [law] not to play in the middle of a busy street the intent is not to restrict the child's pleasure and freedom but to protect the child so that they can have a long, healthy and free life. In the same way, we may not always understand why God has certain laws, but we know they are there for our protection and greater freedom. To ignore them or rebel against them is a self-destructive act whether we realize it or not.
Apr. 9/11 James 2:10-11
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery," also said, “You shall not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
A person who goes into a grocery store and gives their child a candy without paying for it is just as much a thief as a bank robber. It is the act of taking something that doesn't belong to you that defines a thief. The same is true in the broader sense of law breaking, as James points out. A person who breaks one of God laws - any one - is a law breaker. He has moved from the side of the law keepers to the side of the law breakers even through his offense may seem small. Since we are all guilty of multiple acts of law breaking, we all stand condemned by the law. It is this fact that should point us to our need for a Saviour. We all stand in desperate need of forgiveness and pardon.
Apr. 7/11 James 2:9
But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.
Favouritism is sin. When we try to manipulate others for our advantage - or what we think is an advantage to the Kingdom of God - we show a lack of trust in God. We don't really think God will provide what we think we need so we try to "suck up" to others to get them to provide it. This does not mean we are to be obnoxious to people either. It means we should have no hidden agendas. We love people and treat them with respect whether they are rich or poor, whether they could help us or not. In our sinful nature we all like to maneuver people to our advantage. This is sin.
Apr. 6/11 James 2:8
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.
The Royal Law and the second greatest Commandment are the same. Christianity is not lawless. The law is actually God's definition on how to love. If we want to truly love our neighbour as ourself, we have to learn how to love God's way. It is a growing experience. We learn and practice the ways of love as we know the Word of God. But knowledge is not enough, we have to choose to act on that knowledge. We may know that we should love our neighbour, but we must choose to go out and love him. James focuses on the fact faith and works go together. We like to live in the realm of theory...but is doesn't mean anything until we put it into practice.
Apr. 4/11 James 2:5-7
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?
While it isn't always the case, many times the rich increase their wealth through oppression. Not only that, but also in many cases, even when wealth is gotten totally honestly, the rich donate to organizations which are anti-family and anti-Christian. They often use their wealth to cut away at the foundations of society. Some may do this ignorantly. They think they are helping, but in fact they are agents of destruction. Yet many Christians look up to them, admire them, and attempt to imitate them. There is nothing wrong with learning sound business principles but they must be checked to see if they are in agreement with the Word of God - the real Word of God, not a twisted one.
Apr. 2/11 James 2:3
If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
All people are equally valuable before God. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all. If we show favoritism we are saying we value some people more than others. It is easy to give special consideration to people because they are rich, good-looking, or popular. We want to win their favor because of what we hope they will do for us or what we can gain from being associated with them. When that happens we are saying that we don't really trust God as our Provider. We want to look to man for help.
James uses the illustration of favoring the rich over the poor to illustrate his point. Of course, sometimes we favor the poor over the rich as if being rich was sinful in itself. The point is we are to show respect and honour to all regardless of our personal preferences.
Apr. 1/11 James 2:2
Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in.
Jesus like to use parables. Here James sets up a hypothetical situation to illustrate his point. Stories and illustrations help us to understand basic principles. That is why God, in the Old Testament, used case law. Case law is just practical illustrations of legal principles. Once the principle is understood through the example, then it can be applied in a variety of situations. Case law is how God could give all the laws needed to govern humanity from creation to the return of Christ in 66 relatively small books. The humanist's law systems require rooms full of books just to govern one nation for a small period of time!
Mar. 31/11 James 2:1
My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.
James, a great man even in his own day, was not afraid to be identified with the average Christians. He sincerely considered them as brothers and sisters. He had a position of authority and responsibility that they did not have, but he knew they were equally valuable in the eyes of God. Truly great men and women do not set themselves apart from others. They join them.
Jesus is full of glory. He has redeemed us to Himself. He has done and is doing mighty acts. And He is Lord. Jesus is not simply the Saviour. Because He is the Saviour, He is the Lord. An acknowledgment of His Lordship is automatically an acknowledgment that He is Saviour. On the other hand, those who think they can have the Saviour without having the Lord are sadly mistaken.
Mar. 30/11 James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
My pastor has a saying, "If its not practical, its not spiritual." That is very true. No one is more spiritual than God - Who is Spirit - yet He became a man and ministered to us in very practical ways. If our spirituality has no practical applications, if we remain unconcerned about the pain of others, if we indulge in a sinful lifestyle while maintain a religious appearance, we are self-deceived. Our Christianity is worthless according the James. It is not that we do "great" things necessarily, but that we are spreading the love of Christ and expanding the Kingdom of God in our realm of influence.
Mar. 28/11 James 1:26
Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.
It is easy to deceive ourselves. We can think that because we go to church, read the Bible, pray, etc. we are spiritual and growing spiritually. The Holy Spirit, through James, lets us know that real spiritually is practical. If we are truly in relationship with Jesus it will impact our lives. One of the best ways to see this is in how we talk. This includes things everything from sarcasm to rude joking to being hurtful to talking with thinking to profanity. Speaking of profanity: it is amazing how many Christians use the word "God" in an improper context or the common "potty" words without a thought that they are devaluing the gift of language among other things.
Mar. 26/11 James 1:25
But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
So we come to the Word of God, not just for information, to be changed by it. We gaze intently. We mediate. We study. [This is why we wrote Feed Youself - so people could understand how to study the Bible for themselves.] And we apply. Knowledge with application is useless, but application with knowledge is impossible. We must have both. We must persist in it, not give up when the going gets tough.
Notice that God's law is perfect. Many Christians today misunderstand the position of God's Law in our world today. [This is why we wrote Life Line.] The devil has convinced many Christians, as well as non-Christians, that the law of God brings bondage. It is a lie. The law of God brings freedom, true freedom, and blessing. Any other way to blessing is short-term and will cause damage in the long-term.
Mar. 25/11 James 1:23-24
Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
Listening to the Word is an important step, but by itself it does not make a change. The Bible speaks of mediating - which is continually thinking about something. The Word must become a part of who we are. The evidence of this is when our actions are changed to conform to the Word. And then it must be tested. Anything less is just a whim or self-deception. We must be serious about the Word and applying it in our lives.
Mar. 24/11 James 1:22
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
Hearing words is not the same as listening. We hear a lot of words every day and they go pass through our minds without a thought. Listening is not the same as believing what you hear. We can listen and understand something intellectually, and even think that it is true, without really believing it. We will act on what we really believe. Actions are the evidence that we have listened with a believing and teachable heart. Christianity is not about acquiring information. Christianity is about relationship and that involves obedience to the Word of God.
Mar. 23/11 James 1:21
Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
The world wants to drag us down. It often has a willing accomplice in our old habits and thought patterns. Our natural tendency is down into moral filth and evil. Repentance means a change of direction. Instead of following our emotions and desires we have to turn to face God. We have to humble ourselves before Him and choose His ways over our ways. We have to accept the Word that the Holy Spirit has placed within us. These are choices that we have to make. Following God takes deliberate, daily choices.
Mar. 22/11 James 1:20
because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
Human anger is usually self-centered. Someone has hurt me, someone has inconvenienced me, someone has violated my rights. We get angry. It is self focused. God wants us to be Jesus focused. God is our owner. The only rights we have are the ones He gives us. We need to be more concerned when the rights of King Jesus are violated than when our own "rights" are violated. That is not to say that what happens to us is unimportant or that we deserve to be mistreated. How we react is the important thing. Sometimes God will use those injustices to work the character of Christ into our lives.
Mar. 21/11 James 1:19
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
Listening is a rare art. It is amazing with the advance of communication - cell phones, facebook, texting, etc. - how few people really want to listen. Everyone wants to talk and/or share gossip, but it is often self-centered. We want to feel important or good about ourselves even if it means putting others down. Can we just sit and really listen without becoming bored? And, of course, we all want to share our opinion or our gossip. We get this verse mixed up. We are slow to listen and quick to speak! True Christianity is often the reverse of the way we are used to doing things.
Mar. 19/11 James 1:18
He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
God chose us. Salvation is entirely a work of God. God chooses who He will save according to the good pleasure of His will. It is truly amazing grace. It is as God enlightens to His Truth that we are able to respond to his grace. We will then lead the way for all of creation. One day the scars of sin will be erased from the universe and all will be as it was intended to be.
Mar. 18/11 James 1:17
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Our Father gives us every good thing. In common grace, God's gifts are also showered on the entire human race. Anything that is good in anyone - including in their personality and character - is a gift from God. We fail to realize just how dependent on God we really are. Even the ability to feel pleasure and satisfaction is a gift. Without God we have nothing and are totally corrupt in sin with no likable or redeemable qualities.
Thank God, He does not change. We can anchor our life in Him. We can depend on Him. We know His character will not change. We know He will do what He said He will do.
Mar. 17/11 James 1:16
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.
Even as Christians it is easy to be deceived. We have been used to looking at the world through sin-polluted eyes. We all have areas of deception. It is only as we study the Word of God in context that we can begin to see the world as it really is. We have to carefully examine presuppositions and preconceived ideas to see if they really do line up with the Word of God. This is one reason why the trend of modern Christians to reject the serious study of theology as "boring" is so dangerous.
Mar. 16/11 James 1:15
Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
It is our own desires which tempt us. Temptation is not sin. Everyone battles temptation. Sin comes in when we begin to meditate on an evil desire which then leads to acting on it. The end result of sin - any sin - is death [http://www.free-bible-study-lessons.com/death-104.html]. Death basically means separation. It separates us from God, often from each other, and leads to eternal separation in the lake of fire. We need to learn to stop wrong desires in the temptation stage before sin is born.
Mar. 15/11 James 1:14
but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.
If we are not blaming God for our troubles and temptations, we are usually blaming the devil. There used to be a popular saying, "The devil made me do it." James tells us that our main problem is ourselves! It is our own wrong or selfish desires that bring temptation. We are our own worst enemy. Let's take responsibility for our actions and not blame shift or look for excuses. This is the first step to maturity and victory.
Mar. 14/11 James 1:13
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;
One reason God cannot be tempted is that He has perfect knowledge. Sin cannot deceive Him. He knows the beginning from the end. He knows the true character of sin. He sees its destruction of human lives and creation. Like a cancer, sin infects and eats everything it comes into contact with. If we could see sin as God sees it, we would not be tempted either. Until that time comes, we have to trust that God knows best.
Not only can God not be tempted, but also He does not tempt others. God is there to empower us to overcome temptation. No one has to fall, but we all do at some point[s] because our trust in God has not yet been made perfect.
We have to be careful not to blame God when things go wrong or we come under pressure. Our first response is often to avoid responsibility. We look around for someone else to blame. Often we look at God. We need to learn to take responsibility for our own actions.
Mar. 12/11 James 1:12
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
Sometimes I think the Christian life is not so much about victory [as we view victory] as it is about just holding on. Trials and temptations can be strong. Persecution can attack our faith. Evil can seem to surround us. We feel like "striking our colours" and running up the white flag. Those who give up quickly sink beneath the waves. They may have gained earthly peace, but the price is eternity. Do not give up. The hand of Jesus will always appear before you sink if you stay the course. The reward in the end is worth every price that is paid now.
That is not to say we may not lose battles along the way. We will. The question is will we lose the war for our soul? Those who keep coming back even after they have been knocked down, those who repent and continue on after losing a battle, those who hold on to Jesus when Jesus seems to have let them go...those are the ones who will receive the crown of life. From an earthly view Job in the ashes and Jesus on the cross were losers, but they persevered and became winners. You will too...as long as you don't give up.
Mar. 10/11 James 1:11
For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.
One of the things that God gives to all people equally is time. We all have 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. The poor do not get less and the rich cannot buy more. Not only that, but also God has marked out the lifespan of each person. Each one of us, regardless of our wealth or lack thereof, needs to use the time we have been given wisely. The poor are often forced to spend more time securing the necessities of life, while the rich are tempted to squander time on self-satisfying pursuits. The rich should consider well how they spend their time. Is it on things which will last for eternity?
Mar. 9/11 James 1:10
But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower.
While the poor rejoice in being children of the King, the rich can rejoice that they serve a God so much more powerful and wealthy than they are. They can then resist the temptation to think more highly of themselves because no matter how "high" we are on a human level we are nothing compared with God.
Mar. 8/11 James 1:9
Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position.
No Christian has to be embarrassed about their life situation. Each Christian is an equally-valued child of the King. When we look around us and we seem to be poor and needy or we see others with more than we have we do not do not have to feel put down. Although some Christians do, no Christian has to try and complete with or impress others. We can be content. We can rest in our position in Christ. There is none higher.
Mar. 7/11 James 1:8
Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
Life is a unity. Being unstable in one area, especially in our walk with God, will cause us to be unstable in every area. Sometimes we fall to appreciate just how interconnected life is. We can see this even in the physical realm as non-material things like worry and bitterness can result physical illnesses. In fact, most sicknesses have their roots in mental or spiritual issues. We can never forget that what we do or allow in one area of life may affect another seemingly unconnected area. We are a whole.
Mar. 4/11 James 1:7
That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
If we are sitting on the fence we cannot expect anything from God. We are involved in a eternal life - eternal death struggle. We cannot afford to be half-hearted. We must be committed totally to the "war effort." The spiritual war which rages across the planet is more violent and destructive than any physical war. We need to be just as dedicated as the brave men and women in the military are. If we will totally commit ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ, we have all the resources of heaven at our disposal. If not, we are walking blindfolded through a mine field. It is only a matter of time...
Mar. 3/11 James 1:6
But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
When we ask God for wisdom, we must ask with faith and confidence. Our focus is on God. When we doubt we are really wondering if God will keep His word. The bottom line is that we have not decided who is more trustworthy God, speaking through His Word, or Satan, who may be manipulating our emotions. We must walk with faith in God. He alone is trustworthy. Our eyes can be deceived, that is why our eyes must be focused on God. We want our life built on the Rock, not on the shifting sands.
Mar. 2/11 James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
Wisdom is the ability to apply knowledge. In order for God to give us wisdom, we have to acquire knowledge by studying the Word of God. When we have the Word of God in us, the Holy Spirit can quicken us on how to apply it in any given situation. Some Christians cripple their ability to get wisdom by rejecting the Law of God. The Law of God is basically just practical knowledge on how life works.
When we need wisdom God doesn't fault us. He doesn't mock us or laugh at us as sometimes happens when we ask for wisdom from human sources. No, He is delighted to help us and give us what we need. He wants us to succeed in every area of life.
Mar. 1/11 James 1:4
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Perseverance is so important in the Christian life. The enemy will attack. Times of discouragement and disillusionment will come. We will wonder if it is worth the price we have to pay. In dark days, it will feel like God Himself has abandoned us. Without perseverance, we give up and drop out. With perseverance we keep going. We hold on to God even when our world is being shaken to the core. In the end, we will win the crown of life...if we don't quit.
Feb. 28/11 James 1:3
because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
It is not the trials themselves that are joyful, we do not enjoy pain! But, in faith, we look beyond the trial to see the eternal benefit that God is working into our lives through the trial. One of the greatest things that trials will produce, if handled correctly, is perseverance. Too many people begin the Christian life and then give up. For many reasons, they are knocked out of the race. Trials work in us the ability to keep going when everyone else is falling out. Some days we only take one step, other days we are at a standstill, but we never give up. Everyone who perseveres is going to be a winner!
Feb. 26/11 James 1:2
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
I am afraid I have not matured enough to view trials the same way James does. James is not alone, though. All the apostles seemed to feel the same way. As we draw closer to Jesus we gain a new perspective on all things. Our eyes become focused on eternal things and the trials of this world are seen as preparing us for a greater "forever."
Feb. 25/11 James 1:1
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.
James acknowledges that he is a servant of God. This would be a blow to the pride of many western people. We like to think of ourselves as free and independent. That is not the way of Christianity. True Christianity is servanthood and submission both to God and to one another.
Notice also that James specifically mentions the Lord Jesus Christ. This is not to try and separate Him from "God" since Jesus is God. Instead, this is to emphasize the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We like to emphasize Jesus is Saviour and forget to mention that He is Lord. This is one reason why we end up with so many uncommitted people in church buildings. We must present Jesus as Lord or else we misrepresent the Gospel.
The letter is addressed specifically to the Jewish Christians outside the land of Israel, although it will apply to everyone.