Are you ready for a study of James!  Probably not!  But lets jump in with both feet!

What are we jumping into?  Hopefully a life pleasing to Jesus! Hopefull something that will turn us into doers of the Word!

James will keep us on our toes by stepping on them!  Ouch, it is going to hurt!  Be ready!  But guess what!  It brings joy!  It brings peace!  It will make you into a better witness, a better friend to the saints, and it will make your sanctifcation process grow by leaps and bounds!  Well, it will if you let it!  I hope you do!

JAMES

Chapter 1

There are 3 possible writers of James.  James, the brother of John, brothers of thunder, James the less (Mark:40) or James the Brother of Jesus.  J Vernon McGee believes it is the brother of Jesus.

vs. 1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.  

◦     Servant of God and The Lord Jesus Christ.   I find it interesting that he did not just say one. Paul said , servant of Christ. But James says servant of both.  Others in the Bible say servant of God.  But here it shows, you can be a servant to both.  Because they are One.

▪     When you pray, do you pray to God or Christ?

▪     I believe you can pray to either as long as you fully realize that Christ is God.

◦     So James is writing to all the believers in Israel. To the Christian Jews of the day. In the early church… (many believe this was the first book written after Christ’ death, 45-40 a.d.)…most of the Christians were Jews at this time.  So I consider this writing to all Christians.

◦     Greetings…. the literal translation of this Greek word means rejoice… James starts off with rejoicing.  That is surprising to some people who see James as the firmest most stern Christian.  Anyway, he starts off with rejoicing and trying to get others to rejoice.  I understand this completely!  One of my goals in life is to help people receive the joy that is out their for them!

vs. 2-3  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,  whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

◦     Again, James is talking joy first.  As we travel through the book of James, we might have to remind ourselves that James was joyful!  He gets pretty stern in his writings, but I believe he was not the mean, yelling and stern preacher I always use to imagine he was!

◦     So, the first thing I see in this verse is, we will face trials. And not just a trial, or a trial or two, but many trials of different kinds.  (This shows something about me I guess, I jump at the fact that I will face problems before any other part of this verse. We are only human, and we are ultimately selfish and self-centered. So things that are going to effect us are supremely important, at least at first.  Hopefully, we will listen to the Holy Spirit and change our focus to other things, like joy, love, patience….)

▪     So what is James saying?  Rejoice in the trial? I don’t know about you, but without some praying, help from God, and listening to the Holy Spirit I am not going to rejoice in a trial.  I am probably going to cry, moan and groan!

▪     Is James saying I have to be happy about trials?  In truth seldom am I happy during a trial.

Let’s talk about happiness verses joy.  Long ago, I would have argued this point. Happiness is a human emotion and joy is from God.  I truly believed it!  But then one day I decided to find a verse to prove joy is from God.  Here are some examples of what I found that proved I was wrong!

◦     Proverbs 27:9
Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.

◦     Proverbs 15:21
Folly brings joy to one who has no sense, but whoever has understanding keeps a straight course.

◦     Now there are more, but I believe this shows what I am trying to say.

◦     What is the lesson learned here?

▪     I can be wrong!  You can be wrong. We can be wrong in our beliefs but we can make them sound good!

▪     Never assume, test all of your beliefs by the Word of God.

So back to James saying rejoice in trials!  Whew, you say!  God is expecting a lot, you say?  Well, He does really.  We have to figure out how to get to where he tells us to be.  So how can we rejoice in trials?

◦     1. As Joyce Meyer would say, “Change your stinking thinking!”

▪     remind yourself of the glory that is coming

▪     remind yourself you are loved my Almighty God

▪     remind yourself this is but a moment compared to your eternal life

▪     remind yourself that Christ suffered, and He was perfect, you are not!

◦     Be realistic:

▪     You will not feel good during a trial, but you can hang on to your joy!

▪     You could moan and groan, and that would feel good in a way, but it would not be the best thing to do.

What is the best thing to do during a trial?

◦     Endure it with joy.

◦     Act better than you want to about it!  (A friend of mine and I say, “Fake it til you make it!”.  Say the good things, skip the bad things, and you will feel better in the end. You will at least feel better you did not make someone’s day miserable!

◦     Pray for help to endure with a good attitude!

◦     Remember that God sees the big picture and we see our little world!

In verse three, we are told that trials are not just to punish us, but to make us better!

◦     Romans 8:28……know it?  It should be one you memorize!  It is a blessing to be able to recall it!….And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

◦     God has plans.  We won’t always understand them, but we need to stand on faith in His word.  He said, if you love Him, all things will work to for your good.

▪     Sometimes if we look back on our lives we can see that things work to the good now, but at the time there was no way it looked like it was good.

▪     As a child and a young adult, I endured and did several things that did not look like at the time that any form of good was to come out of it.

But now, I can use my past to help others.

I can use my past to remind me that “This to shall pass”.

I can use my past to accept others without judging.

◦     I have heard it said that God test our faith to prove it is real.

▪     I thought about that.  To prove to whom it is real?  God?  I think not.  He already knows.  I believe it is to prove to us that our faith is real and that it can stand the test!  Then, the next time a trial comes, we have more faith because God proved to us before He would get us through the fire!

▪     So then I think, well, just don’t bring anymore trials, I’ve got it, no need for more testing!  But what would happen if we only faced one trial, got through it, by faith and stopped there?

In this verse it says we will gain perseverance, or patience. I know from my past experiences, that I do not just get patience and keep it for a life time from one incident.  I am like that dumb sheep who keeps wondering off and falls in a ditch.  The Shepard pulls me out, cleans me up, and I am so thankful! For a while. Then what happens?  I wonder off again. And again. I need reminders to be patient.  I wish I did not, but I do!

Also, if my life was free of stress, problems to solve, sadness and such, how arrogant I would become! I am sure I would be much more judgmental and aloof!  Snobbish even!

I have learned, rather I like it or not, that some of my trials are for the benefit of others. How?

◦     1. I can then relate to others who are going through something similar.

◦     2. If I did not go through some trials, the people who helped me out would not have had an opportunity to serve.  Think about this.  We are to love each other and be a servant. How could we serve if everybody was problem free?  Sometimes you serve, sometimes you are served.

◦     If my life was problem free, I would most likely not feel the need to help others.  I could not empathize, or sympathize.

◦     So in the end we have more patience. That is good for us and good for others. Also, it is a fruit of the Spirit and shows our Christian maturity. I believe God is getting us ready for heaven. We won’t be where we need to be ever. He will have to change us, but it does produce a view for us now that gives us the slightest glimpse of heaven.  Full of patience!

Join us next week.  It gets better and better!