Today we start a study on the Book of James. James was Jesus’ younger brother. Yes, Mary had other children. The proof is in the scriptures and I covered that in this article. James was also the leader of the church in Jerusalem (not Peter). He’s writing to the Jewish believers who have scattered all over because of the persecution of the church described in Acts. In fact, Paul was one of the persecutors, known as Saul at the time. So, James felt that he needed to write them to give them encouragement. Let’s dig in….
James Chapter 1
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.
Faith and Endurance
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.James 1:2-4 NLT
What? Wait! Where have we heard this before? In Romans 5! Paul writes…
3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.Romans 5:3-5 NLT
Even Jesus warned us…
33 “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”John 16:33 NTL
5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 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. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.James 5:5-8 NLT
Hold on! What was that in verse 6?
“Be sure that your faith is in God alone.”
And he explains…
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. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.James 1:6-8 NLT (bold emphasis mine)
If you’re praying to God for something and you’re not getting an answer or you can’t detect an answer, it may be because your loyalties are divided. Like are you also praying to Mary or any of the saints? Friends, that doesn’t work! Those are dead people! God is alive! Jesus is alive! and Jesus is the only Mediator! We pray to God in Jesus’ name! Don’t expect to have your prayers answered if you’re praying to dead people! Going on…
9 Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. 10 And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. 11 The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.James 1:9-11 NLT
What we see in this world is temporary! What is forever is Jesus!
12 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. 13 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. 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. [And confessing to a priest does nothing!]
16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. 18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.
Listening and Doing
19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. 21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.
22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 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.
26 If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. 27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.James 1:12-27 NLT
Yes, it is good to care for the less fortunate. However, we are saved by GRACE to do good works. We are NOT saved by any works whatsoever. We are saved by grace alone — free and undeserved.
Christ in YOU!
When you commit your life to Jesus as a born-again believer, you die to your old self — crucified with Christ — and Christ lives in you! When we face trials, God wants to bring out the best in us while Satan wants to bring out the worst in us.
(Related: How to Combat the Strategies of the devil)
What James is trying to tell us here is to be in the Word. Read the Bible daily! And just reading one passage — like the Verse of the Day. It’s not enough. Especially during a time of testing! When I was unemployed for 2 years, I memorized those verses in Romans 5 and I used to say, “Boy, when this trial is over, I’m going to have great character!” And look what God has me doing now! I’m helping to spread the Good News of His Salvation all over the world for His glory! I knew that with the support of my church family, and God’s Word, along with the Holy Spirit in my heart, would get me through in His Time! (That’s for another lesson.)
You must not just study scripture, but do what it says! That’s obedience to Christ. God doesn’t expect us to manage it all by ourselves. That why He gave us the BIBLE — Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth!
Do you have Christ in You?
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, which can happen at any moment, this is what you have to do…
Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.
- Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever and that He rose from the dead 3 days later.
- Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180 degree turn in your life and surrender your life to Him.
- Be Baptized by water baptism — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
- Receive the Holy Spirit in your heart.
Soli Deo Gloria — To God Alone Be the Glory!