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1 Look here, you rich people: Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. 2 Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. 3 Your gold and silver have become worthless. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This treasure you have accumulated will stand as evidence against you on the day of judgment. 4 For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The wages you held back cry out against you. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
5 You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and killed innocent people, who do not resist you.
I have to say, the first part of this section sounds like it’s making fun of people! I think we all have days like that, where we feel like we need to feel good all the time, and we need certain material things to do that. We worry constantly about money, what we look like and what we wear. As if that’s not bad enough, it talks about how when we indulge in this kind of attitude, we are ignoring, condemning, and even killing innocent people. In eternity, will it matter what we had on earth? No. What will matter is what we did with the time and money we were given. If we use it wisely, God promises that we will be rewarded.
7 Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. 8 You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.
Patience is so hard sometimes. I know for me, it can seem like the drama and struggles will never end. There is always something bothering me. As much as we say we trust God and will wait on him, do we really believe it? I need to ask God to help me grow more patient and trusting.
9 Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look—the Judge is standing at the door!
Sometimes it seems so normal to just complain- about the weather, about food, about people. Is that fair? As much as we can think that it’s so normal and everyone does it, God sees that. He’s right there, he sees, he judges. Thank God he forgives, too.
10 For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy. 12 But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned.
Again, James gives us examples of people in the Bible who lived according to God’s commands. If you haven’t heard the story of Job, go read it. He endured so much suffering, and with patience. Verse 11 says that we give great honor to people like him. Even now, people look up to him as a man who had nothing and still endured and praised the Lord. In the end, he was rewarded by God, who is always merciful.
13 Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.
16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. 17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! 18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.
This might be my very favorite passage in the Bible about the power of prayer. It’s so simple. We need God in all situations. We have the privilege of coming to him in any situation- when we’re in trouble, when we are happy, when someone is sick. Verse 14 is amazing to me. I’ve seen people be healed by prayer before, but this is such a promise, “Such a prayer offered in faith WILL heal the sick”.
We are called to be honest, earnest, and righteous in in prayer. If we do so, there will be results!
19 My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, 20 you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.
I’ve watched plenty of people wander away from God. I like the way this is worded. Someone who has wandered from the truth is still our brother or sister in Christ. We can encourage them and be a part in their coming back to God. The Holy Spirit will work in their heart, but through prayer, talking with them, and letting them know that you care about them, maybe they will come back and be forgiven.
Verses to Remember
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I am not doing so well in the daily devotion area… but I plan to actually follow through my plan to start each day off with my God time. I know he can help me do it.
1 What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? 2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. 3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.
There are evil desires at war within my heart. I need help to make sure they don’t win, because we all know that things are better when the good guy wins. These evil desires are selfish and jealous, and cause us to do anything to get what we want.
We don’t have certain things because we don’t ask for them! There are some things I need to be asking for every day. I want to ask for the Holy Spirit’s direction in my daily life, and to put me in situations where I can grow more like Christ and serve him wholeheartedly. I want to ask for more conversation between me and God. I want to ask for spiritual gifts and gifts of the father. As crazy as it sounds, I want to ask for the things I wouldn’t ever think to ask for, but God knows I need in my life.
However, there are certain things that we ask for that come from wrong motives- those, we don’t get.
4 You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. 5 What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy? 6 But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say,
“God opposes the proud
but favors the humble.”
Adulterers. Wow. If we are a friend of the world, we are an enemy of God. How can we do that? We live in the world. We have worldly friends who aren’t following God. Verse 6 says that we are given grace enough to resist the evil desires we talked about each other. We can’t just go with the flow and do what everyone else is doing. We need to obey God. When we obey God, our way of life is going to be a different way of life than the world. When we live differently, we are setting example for nonbelievers, so they can see the amazing things God is doing in us (Matthew 5:16).
7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. 9 Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
My study Bible made this part of the passage into 5 points. I will do the same:
1) Humble yourself
2) Resist the devil
3) Wash your hands and purify your heart
4) Grieve and feel sorrow for your sins
5) Humble yourself
I think this is something we have to do often, some steps we have to take to make sure we don’t become a friend of the world and not God.
11 Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. 12 God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?
Just obey. Don’t judge- that’s God’s job.
13 Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” 14 How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. 15 What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” 16 Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil.
That is something I tend to do often. I have my plan, and I know how I think things should go, but I don’t talk to God about it. I don’t think it’s wrong to think about what might happen or make plans, as long as we give our plans to God and say it knowing that it will only happen if God wants it to happen. He’s the boss. So next time I make a plan, I’ll make sure I say, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that” and not think too much about my plans.
17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.
What do I know I need to do? Have I done it? If not… that is a sin. Woah.
that is a pretty big challenge… I’m pretty thankful for forgiveness…
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Personal Story Time: I sing in the youth worship band at my church (well, one of my two churches). Last night, at the Jr. High youth group, our youth pastor used a verse from James in his sermon. He told the kids that if they wanted to start reading their Bible more, James was a great place to start. Of course, I was all, “Yeah I know I totally started there!”, but I must admit that I started in James just because I heard one verse I liked and went for it. Anyways, I am really enjoying studying this book, it has so many good and useful instructions in it, and it’s very clearly written and easy to understand. If any of you out there are not sure where to start, but know you want to study the Bible, I give James my official recommendation!
1 Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.
3 We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. 4 And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. 5 In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.
But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6 And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.
We may not think about the things we say, but our tongues can say a lot. I can think of times where I said one tiny thing without thinking, and just like these verses say, it started a fire. I think in some ways, this can be a really great thing! What if we said one small thing that became so powerful, it influenced our friends or made someones day?
I think we have more influence than we sometimes realize. We affect other people in one way or another. Whether you’re the goody-two-shoes, the one Christian in your group of friends, or even the bad influence, you influence people. I think these verses challenge us to watch what we say, to make sure it is encouraging and pleasing to God.
7 People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.
We cannot take this challenge on alone. Nobody can tame the tongue. We need to ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in this area. Only then can we truly tame our tongue.
9 Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.
This challenges me to ask, “How have I been using my speech lately? Have I been praising God, or cursing those made in his image? Woah. I have to admit, the answer is both. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. I need to fix this.
13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.
A question that comes to my mind a lot is this: what does a godly life look like? What does it look like to live completely unselfishly? This verse says that 1) we should be wise and understand God’s ways. I think that to do this, we need the Holy Spirit to show us the truth. 2) PROVE IT! Live an honorable life. Think about the things you do everyday, the activities you’re involved in, and how you spend your time- does it honor God? 3) do good works with humility that comes from wisdom. Do good works, but only because you want to honor God, not because you want to feel good or have other people see how kind you are. “The humility that comes from wisdom”- I like this part of the verse quite a bit. If we are wise enough, we should be humble.
14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.
Don’t even get me started on how people in today’s culture live. I will say this- we should not live like them. We should live according to God’s laws and standards. We are called to give up jealousy and selfish ambition, because these things only bring us earthly things, disorder, and every kind of evil. Where in my life is there jealousy and selfish ambition, and how can I get rid of it?
17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.
Ask yourself these questions:
Am I pure?
Am I peace loving?
Am I always gentle?
Am I willing to yield to others?
Am I full of mercy and good deeds?
Do I show favoritism?
Am I always sincere?
Am I a peacemaker?
God, help me to take a look at how I live my life. Show me what needs to change. Holy Spirit, help me control my tongue. Lord, forgive me for all the times I haven’t controlled my tongue and people were hurt. Please help my words to be encouraging and uplifting to others. Help me to live an honorable life and get rid of all jealousy and selfish ambition. Help me to follow all of the instructions in verses 17-18. My greatest desire is to live more like you everyday, Jesus. I can’t do any of this without you. Please help. Amen.
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All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
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Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
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1 My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?
2 For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. 3 If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, 4 doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?
5 Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? 6 But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? 7 Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear?
8 Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 9 But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.
Treat everyone equally. If you treat people better because you like them more, it is actually a sin! God has chosen the poor to inherit the Kingdom of God. Now, I don’t think this means we can’t have best friends, even Jesus had best friends! I do think this means that we should treat everyone- friends, acquaintances, strangers, enemies- with an equal amount of love and respect.
10 For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. 11 For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law.
All sins are equal in God’s eyes. Even if you break one law, you are as guilty as someone who broke them all. When you gossip about someone behind their back, you are as guilty and deserving of punishment as a serial killer. Just think about that for a moment. I think this verse should significantly change how we treat other people. When you look at someone you know is sinning, do you instantly put yourself above them? I know I do sometimes. What if, instead of doing that, we thought of ourselves as being just as guilty? It’s a really hard thing to do, but that’s how God sees us. All equally sinful.
12 So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free.
We will be judged for everything we do. Everything.
13 There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.
If we show mercy, God will show us mercy. If we don’t show mercy, God won’t show us mercy.
14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
Faith is shown by action. What good is it to tell a hungry person, “God bless you!” and then leave them? No good at all. Show your faith and give them food to eat. What do your actions show about you and your faith?
17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. 20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
Faith and good deeds are both great, but they go together! God desires for us to have both to truly be his disciples. Even demons believe in God, you need to take it further than just believing! How can you step out further and further in faith? Good deeds are a good place to start.
21 Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. 23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. 24 So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.
25 Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. 26 Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.
Look at the examples of Abraham and Rahab (if you don’t know these stories already, check out Genesis 22:1-18 and Joshua 2). They are good people for us to look up to. Not only did they believe in God, but there were willing to risk a lot to put their faith in action. They had faith and good deeds, just as James 2 instructs us to do.
Ultimately, I think this Chapter is very challenging. First of all, it challenges me to take a look at how I live my life. How I treat others, how I look at others, how I live, how I show mercy, how my faith is shown through my actions, and what good I am doing are all things I need to be thinking about daily. I can be improving in these areas more and more, with God’s help.
Verses to Remember (there are a lot this Chapter, I apologize!)
10: For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.
13: There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.
15-16: Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
22: You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete.
26: Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.
God, please help me to see the areas in my life that need improvement. Help me to treat everyone equally, as you call us to do. It is your job to judge, not mine. Help me to show mercy, just as you show mercy. Holy Spirit, Put me in situations where I can put my faith into action. Show me how I can step out further and further in faith. Help me to live like Abraham and Rahab, willing to risk anything to obey you and build the Kingdom of God. Amen.
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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.
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles 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.
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.
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.
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.
16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Whatever is good and perfect comes 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.
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.
I’m still deciding how I’m going to do this for each passage, but this is what I wrote in my journal today, basically a commentary of what this passage is saying, then some questions:
1. James calls himself a servant of both God and Jesus, his own brother. He recognizes Jesus’ place in our lives, even though they grew up together.
2-4. Trouble will come, you will be tested, your endurance will increase, and if it continues to increase, you will be perfect. Can any of us reach a point of absolute perfection? Nope, but we can try.
5-8. Don’t have a divided loyalty, that can’t possibly work! You’d be “as unsettled as a wave of the sea is blown and tossed by the wind.”
9-11. Being poor is a blessing and honor from God. In reality, rich people have it much harder than poor people.
12. Hey, remember that endurance we talked about? God promises to bless those who endure. Those who lovehim will receive a crown of life.
13-15. Temptation isn’t from God, so don’t go blaming him for it! Temptation is our own fault, our own desires “entice us and drag us away”, causing sinful actions, and ultimately leading to death.
16-18. Everything good comes from the Lord.
19-21. How a Christian should act, rather than giving in to temptation.
22-25. Don’t just listen to His commands, follow them!
26-27. Genuine religion is this. God wants his children to do this.
Question: What sticks out in this passage?
Answer: The fact that salvation isn’t enough.. To have genuine religion and genuine faith, there are certain things we must do (19-21). We are called to a higher standard than the rest of the world- are we going to obey, or just live like we want to? There is a reward for following God. A big one.
Question: How does this apply to me?
Answer: I need to remember that I’m called to a higher standard. Temptation will come and there will be choices to make, but we are told clearly how to live, so we should do it. I need to keep this in mind daily and make sure my life pleases God. In the end, I will be rewarded.
“To expose hypocritical practices and to teach right Christian behavior”