Tuesday, May 22, 2007
James 2
(I won't always do this when I read. But right now writing out what God is revealing to me with each verse is what helps me get into the habit. I did this with the book of John last year and the book of John came alive to me in so many ways. And remember that this is what God is showing me in my own life. When you read this passage, you may get something totally different. I hope you do.)

1-4My dear friends, don't let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith. If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit, and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him, and you say to the man in the suit, "Sit here, sir; this is the best seat in the house!" and either ignore the street person or say, "Better sit here in the back row," haven't you segregated God's children and proved that you are judges who can't be trusted? (The Message)

Face it. We live in a world that concentrates a lot on physical appearance and possessions. From clothing to weight. From housing to cars. Our society really struggles to follow the rule, "Don't judge a book by it's cover", because we do. I do believe that there are times in life where image truly matters. No matter how hard we try, you just can't get away from it. I will say that image and how we dress definitely matters. But, this is something that our world AND our churches have taken to the extreme.

5-7Listen, dear friends. Isn't it clear by now that God operates quite differently? He chose the world's down-and-out as the kingdom's first citizens, with full rights and privileges. This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God. And here you are abusing these same citizens! Isn't it the high and mighty who exploit you, who use the courts to rob you blind? Aren't they the ones who scorn the new name—"Christian"—used in your baptisms? (The Message)

The revelation I get from these verses may be different for you, I am sure it is. But these verses spoke to me in regards to my past. For some crazy reason, there are Christians out there that truly believe that God cannot use them to do great things because of their past. I know it's been said of me. Some have thought that my childhood would always hinder me from being in a position of leadership. Yes, I got junk in the trunk but we all do. Don't we? So when I read this verse and see that God chose the world's down and out, that gives me hope and it shows me again how thankful I need to be from WHERE I came from. I am so thankful for a youth pastor that saw something and me and took time to show me that God created me for something much bigger than myself.

8-11You do well when you complete the Royal Rule of the Scriptures: "Love others as you love yourself." But if you play up to these so-called important people, you go against the Rule and stand convicted by it. You can't pick and choose in these things, specializing in keeping one or two things in God's law and ignoring others. The same God who said, "Don't commit adultery," also said, "Don't murder." If you don't commit adultery but go ahead and murder, do you think your non-adultery will cancel out your murder? No, you're a murderer, period. (The Message)

We are pros at picking and choosing our sin. I hear Christians say a lot, "Well, it's your own conviction but it may not be someone else." True. But, I think we walk this line dangerously. When we choose to follow Christ and we learn His ways, there are some non-negotiables. Murder, Adultery, lying, those are three things that can't be justified. There are many, many other things that do not belong in the life of a Christ follower. But, I believe this is where the Holy Spirit comes in and shows us what it is in our life that we need to say goodbye to. And this is where we need to keep our mouth shut and not cast judgment on others but allow God to have His way. We have enough sin in our own life, why go pointing it out in the lives of our friends and family?! Sin is sin and if we have a relationship with Christ, He will show us what doesn't belong in our lives. We may fight it and struggle to give it up, but deep down I think we know.

12 So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. 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. (New Living Translation)

Honestly, this is something I really struggle with. I have empathy but I struggle to have mercy. I am praying about this in my life right now. If others are going to show me mercy, I need to be able to do the same. Where would I be without the mercy of Christ?

14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. (NIV)

I remember being pregnant with Josiah and having a certain day where I did not feel him kick. I prayed and I truly felt like the Lord was saying, "Do not worry. There is strong life inside your womb." This day is one I will never forget because I had a lump in my throat all day long. I was only about 23 weeks along and now that I have had three, I know that it is totally normal for babies inside the womb to have days where they are not as active. On my drive home, I pushed on my tummy over and over again trying to get him to kick. When I got home, I called my Mom and she said this. "You know why you are so worked up? You know why you are so panicked? Because you are sinning! You have been sinning all day long by worrying. Nothing is wrong with that baby. He's fine!" We hung up the phone and I laid down on the bed to sleep until Jeremy got home from work. I remember I had Oprah on. Just as I was about to doze off, Josiah kicked and moved a lot. For some reason this sticks out to me as a time that my faith was without works. I knew deep down that the Lord had spoke to me and told me everything was fine. He gave me a gift that day by speaking to me and telling me not to worry. I had an opportunity to walk in faith and my deed would have been to put a smile on my face and not worry. I chose differently. My faith required action that day. Our faith always requires action. The Bible says so.

19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. 20You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,"and he was called God's friend. 24You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. (NIV)

I have not met very many people in my life that don't believe in God. Just about everyone believes in God. As to what that God looks like, I am not sure. I hear politicians, celebrities and many others say they believe in God. It's not enough to just believe. I believe a lot of things in my life but without action, my belief is pretty useless. Now I won't even begin to compare myself to Abraham. But our move to Austin was a moment in our lives where we had to take action. We knew that God had told us to come here so we had to make a choice right then and there to take action. Sometimes people make the mistake of sitting around waiting on something or someone to come along and change their lief or change their path. Faith requires us to get up, get moving and move in the direction God is calling us in. As soon as we felt the call to move, we started looking for a job for Jeremy. We came down here to visit so we could find a home. I truly feel with all of my heart that because we got active and stepped out in faith, God rewarded us and blessed us with a job, a home and a smooth transition. Sure, it's been hard but it really has been awesome too.

25In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (NIV)

God will always give us an opportunity to put our money where our mouth is.

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  posted at 12:06 PM

At 8:38 PM, Anonymous janna said...

thanks for your insights--just wanted to let you know i read with you. :)

At 5:22 AM, Blogger ruth said...

This is really great, I like how you divided the verses up and clarified how they relate to you personally.
It makes me think and see things differntly then maybe I would have before.
I think it's such a great idea getting all of your blog readers to join us in reading. That's so cool!
Love ya

At 10:46 AM, Blogger Christina said...

Thanks for sharing this on your blog. I'm enjoying reading through your thoughts on James.


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