James 1 – Testing Your Faith and Following the Word

Welcome back! Sorry it’s been so long in between posts, but life gets crazy and unfortunately this can take a back burner. The first chapter of James really digs in to some great truths, and if you haven’t read James Chapter 1 in a while I’d recommend you go through it before you finish this post. You can click here https://www.youversion.com/bible/59/jas.1.esv to read James 1 online in ESV, although you can change the translation on the page if you want, or just open up your nearest Bible!

James 1:2 – “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”  — This verse is especially powerful for me, as I’m sure it is for many, in that when you’re going through something tough in your life, you don’t view it as a lesson to make you stronger, but rather an inconvenience. The Lord says He won’t tempt you beyond what you can handle. 1 Cor 10:13 – “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Thank God He is with us even during our trials. Maybe this will help us to view trials as a sanctification tool rather than a bother!  James 1:12 – “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.” 

James 1:19-20 – “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” — Probably one of the hardest verses in the whole Bible for us to follow. If we all followed this verse every day of our lives it would cut out 90% of all arguments. Everything is moving along at rapid pace in today’s world and if something mildly annoys us we’re quick to voice our opinion on it. Here are a few verses that speak to that.

Proverbs 15:1 – “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Proverbs 29:11 – “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”

Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

These are just a few of many verses concerning our speech, but it shows just how important this aspect of our everyday lives really is! I know for myself this is probably the hardest thing for me to remember on a daily basis. I’ve been trying for the past few weeks to not speak negatively about people and things that annoy me, but I find there are still times the thoughts creep up without even realizing it and I speak hurtful words. This shows more of my heart than anything else, and luckily it usually pushes me closer to God’s Word where I’m filling my heart and mind up with words of grace and love.

James 1:22 – “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” A great reminder that we need to not only be reading, memorizing, and studying the Bible daily, but applying it to our lives as we learn and as the Spirit teaches.

James 1:5

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James – An Overview

I’m going to be going over the book of James, chapter by chapter over the next few weeks. It’s one of my favorite books and it holds a lot of relevant wisdom for us today.

The book of James was written by the half-brother of Jesus. James didn’t accept Jesus as Messiah until after He appeared to James after following his resurrection. Almost immediately James got involved in leadership in the local church and started teaching with Peter and Paul. They went against popular teaching and said that it didn’t matter where you were born, what your skin color was, or how rich or how poor you were. There was only one way to be saved, through Christ alone. (Acts 15:11)

James definitely had the heart of a pastor, as he reached out to people of any background, whether Jew or Gentile. His writings are thought to have been written around 44 A.D. which would make it one of the earliest, if not the earliest New Testament book. He was known as ‘James the Just’ because of the way he lived his life, and he eventually was put to death for his beliefs in 62 A.D,  according to the historian Josephus.

Who was James?

There are four men referenced in the New Testament as James. There was James, the father of Judas Iscariot, and James, one of the twelve disciples. James, son of Zebedee, brother of John, and also one of Jesus’s favorite disciples, and finally James, the half-brother of Jesus.

I’ve read through this book many times and I would encourage you to do the same. Every time I read it, I’m convicted or encouraged by something in it’s pages. It’s relatively short, but it packs in so much Truth for our lives today! I pray you will be encouraged by this, and also if you have any additional comments or requests, please feel free to e-mail me or post in the comments!

I’ve also included a song at the bottom of the page that has really been encouraging me the past few weeks, and I pray that it speaks to you as well!

James..

Guard your ears

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! (Galatians 1:6-9)

But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.(2 Corinthians 11:3-4)

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)

I wanted to start off with some verses because I believe they convey the message I want to get across better than I ever could. Being a Christian in today’s world is a tough task, not only because of the criticism we receive from the world, but because we need to make sure we’re staying true to the Word and it’s Truths that God has given us! There are so many ways to hear Gods Word or what is being called God’s Word in this modern age, radio, tv, podcasts, live sermons, books, and numerous other ways. That is a blessing as well as a curse. For every person preaching the truth, it seems two more pop up preaching something a little different. I’m not going to specifically name any one one person, but I want to give you a list of things being taught that are absolutely not biblical! I would be happy to send you texts from scripture backing it up as well and I would recommend you also test it yourself.

1. God promises if we give to Him financially, He will return it back to us two-fold, three-fold, etc.
2. God promises that this life will be easy and you’ll always have good health and everyday will be like a weekend!
3. There is only one God, and no matter what religion we all worship the same one!
4. The trinity is false, there is one God being with three manifestations, He was Father first, then became Christ, and after he ascended became the Holy Spirit.
5. Belief in Jesus Christ’s death, resurrection, and forgiveness of sins isn’t the only way to get to Heaven!

These are just a few examples of incorrect teachings being taught today, and if any sounded familiar, I would encourage you to check the source and go to the Bible to make sure what they’re preaching is Truth. There are new teachings popping up daily that might on the surface seem harmless, but are very anti-biblical. We are responsible for what we listen to and fill our minds with, and we need to be sure we’re not blindly accepting what’s being taught because it sounds nice or it fits what we’d like to believe.

Ultimately all humans are fallible and will make mistakes, that’s why if you’re listening to your favorite mega-church pastor/televangelist/self-help book more than you’re in the Word, you might want to start checking your sources to make sure they’re preaching the Truth’s that God has given us in His Scriptures! We as believers need to be praying daily for wisdom and discernment so we don’t fall into the trap of falling away from the true gospel God has given us!

There are still a lot of solid, Bible preaching pastors and teachers out there and for those who are misled and preaching the incorrect gospel, we need to be praying for them that their eyes would be opened. I’m guilty of writing someone off because of false doctrine and incorrect teachings, but just ignoring them instead of praying for them!
God will be the judge on our final day, not our favorite pastor or teacher and we need to make sure we’re getting our truths from the correct source. So I would encourage you to get in your Bible next time you hear something that doesn’t sound quite right or even if it does make sure it’s biblical!

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Thankfulness

Thankfulness is something that is sorely lacking in our culture and often times in our spiritual life as well. You can’t go one day without hearing from someone about the next big thing they want or someone talking about how hard times are. How often do we hear people thanking God for breathe, life, salvation? To be honest, I’m as guilty of this as anyone else. Most days all I can see are the things I don’t have instead of all I do. God has blessed me with a steady job, warm house, good health, a gorgeous wife, amazing family, and about a million other things! But in my thoughts and spare time I’m not thanking God for all He’s already done, I’m wishing I had a newer car, or bigger house, or hot tub, or whatever the tv/magazines/world is telling me I need. Thanking God is mentioned very often in our Bibles, but for me it’s something that is easy to leave out of my daily conversation with God. Here are just a small sample of thanks being mentioned in the Bible.

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; (Ephesians 5:20)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (Romans 1:21)

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:17)

These verses don’t just recommend giving thanks, it’s a command! I would recommend checking out the scriptures in your Bibles as well and maybe even memorizing a few of them to keep that praise near to your hearts. I would also encourage you to spend some extra time in prayer today just thanking God for all the blessings in your life, and incorporate it into your prayers everyday! God not only asks for our praise, He deserves it a million times over! He’s given us salvation and an eternity with Him that will be far more amazing than we could possibly imagine! That alone should have us thanking and praising Him constantly!

Here is a song that really speaks to living this praise out!
Casting Crowns – Life of Praise

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Faith Alone?

In today’s society, it seems to be the popular thing to say that you’re a christian, yet live a lifestyle totally averse to what the Bible teaches. I’m guilty of this myself, telling others I’m saved by Gods grace and how much I love Him, yet if I was unable to speak, most of the time you couldn’t tell that from my actions. One of my favorite books of the Bible is James, most for the practical knowledge he gives, but also some clarification on whether works, faith, or both get us into Heaven! Some of the more poignant verses from James refer to this dilemma head on.

What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. (James 2:14-17)

This is a simple example of his point, but it can apply to today just as easily. How often do we pass by the homeless, or not hold the door open for those behind us, or spend time with the widows and the orphans as we’re commanded? I know I’m guilty of all those things at times, and it’s easy to fall back on our faith covers all attitude. We weren’t put on this earth to live in solitude and read our bibles and keep it to ourselves! There are times for that and by itself it isn’t a bad thing at all, it’s a necessary foundation for any growing believer. Christ called us to preach the gospel to all the nations, whether that means you being called to another city, country, or right next door, and sometimes even in your own household! We all need encouragement, we all sin and fall short, but when we are focused on Christ, we see outside of our own shallow lives and see that there is so much pain and hurting in those around us, sometimes all they need is a smile or a kind word. Here is the rest of the passage in James.

But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (James 2:18-26)

I would encourage you to check out the rest of James, it’s a few short chapters, will only take up 20-30 minutes of your time, but it has amazing amounts of wise words which apply to our lives today! The important thing to remember is that you still need faith first, and then through your works and the way you live others will see your faith is alive! I’d challenge you to think today of someone in your life whom you may not put much thought into, but might be struggling through a rough patch in their life or is lonely, and pray for them or maybe even give them a call or visit! But watch out you’re not doing these acts for vain reasons, the Lord has warned against that in Matthew.

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-4)

As always, I’d encourage you to read your Bible daily, and spend time with your creator in prayer and worship!

I have been encouraged and challenged by this song lately, and I just want to share it with you. It’s catered more towards fathers and husbands so I apologize if you don’t fall into that category, but it’s still worth listening to and maybe the Lord will use it to speak to you.

Casting Crowns – Courageous

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Why Pray?

The Bible talks clearly about prayer and how it is so important to a believers walk with God. It is something that is so amazing and simple, yet most of us (myself included) forget how powerful and effective it can be! (James 5:16b) Not only is prayer a direct link between ourselves and an All-mighty God who made us and everything around us, it’s a necessary staple for a healthy Christian life. Prayer is so often used as a crutch for when we’re in a bind financially, physically, emotionally or any other tough situation we might find ourselves in. Instead, it should be like a continual phone call over bluetooth and we have God on the line all day! Prayer is not an outlet for us to use God as a genie or Santa Claus either though. He cares for us and hurts when we hurt, but He deserves so much more than to hear our struggles and the vain things we think we need! He knows them already, He just wants us to praise Him in all situations, and trust that He knows what’s best for us, even when we don’t think He hears us at all! My early prayer life pretty much consisted of me asking God for more money, or a nicer car, or for the perfect woman to come into my life (which came true). I read a book called Crazy Love by Francis Chan, which I would recommend to anyone looking for a good book over this holiday season. He talks about how we should be humble and honored to come before the throne of the Almighty, instead of just sending a quick text message to Him. I would challenge you to think, ‘If God is really who He claims to be, and I believe that He is my Savior, shouldn’t I spend more time in praise/communication with Him?’ There are lots of examples of how prayer affected people and nations in huge ways! We need to be praying more as a church and as the body of Christ for change not only in our lives, but in the lives of those around us. It’s easy to pray for yourself and just spend time on that, but as well as praying for your family and friends, we need to be praying even harder for those who’ve hurt us, or have different lifestyles or political views than us. Christ called for us to love our neighbor as ourself, that doesn’t just mean our Christian neighbors or our literal neighbors, but those He’s placed in our lives and even those whom we may not know (presidents, world leaders, etc) That is the second greatest thing He told us to do, next to loving the Lord our God with all our hearts, soul, and mind! Of course there are many other ways to love your neighbor than through prayer, but remember, it’s a powerful and effective tool. Plus the Holy Spirit is capable of accomplishing a lot more than we are! I’m putting the link to a song by Casting Crowns at the bottom called, ‘What if His people prayed.’ I’d recommend listening to it if you have the time. Here are a few verses on prayer that I thought gave a small glimpse of it mentioned in the Bible. I’d encourage you to read the verses and maybe spend some time in prayer!

Matthew 6:10

Luke 5:16

Luke 6:12

Colossians 4:2

Matthew 6:6

Mark 1:35

Luke 18:1

Luke 11:1

Ephesians 6:18

1 Thessalonians 5:17

Casting Crowns – What if His people prayed

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Love is not a fight

Here are the lyrics to a song that’s really been speaking to me lately. They not only remind me of my love for my wife, but for the love God has for each and everyone of us. For the longest time I knew I was saved, but I just rested in that and lived how I wanted to. I slowly began to realize how much I ignored God daily, but called Him up when I was in trouble. I can’t imagine how He felt all those days I had ‘better’ things to do than worship Him, but it’s abundantly clear once you’re in a relationship of any kind, if the other person ignores you even for one day, think how you’d feel. I never realized that’s exactly what I was doing to the One who sent His Son to this earth to die for my sins. In this world where the word love is thrown about so easily, I challenge you to show those around you what true, selfless love is everyday, the way Christ showed us by sacrificing Himself. I put a verse at the bottom I’m sure most of you are familiar with, but it still gives tangible ways to show love in any setting or era.

Warren Barfield – Love is not a fight (YouTube)

Warren Barfield
Love Is Not A Fight

“Love is not a place
To come and go as we please
It’s a house we enter in
Then commit to never leave

So lock the door behind you
Throw away the key
We’ll work it out together
Let it bring us to our knees

Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it’s something worth fighting for

To some, love is a word
That they can fall into
But when they’re falling out
Keeping that word is hard to do

Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it’s something worth fighting for

Love will come to save us
If we’ll only call
He will ask nothing from us
But demand we give our all

Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it’s something worth fighting for

I will fight for you
Would you fight for me?
It’s worth fighting for”

(1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NASB)

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails”.

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Crazy Love for an amazing God

Just thought I’d get a first post out, not sure how long it’ll be to the next, but I just wanted to get something written down finally! I’m by no means an expert on the Bible or any Biblical topic, and I know I have a ton to learn, but I thought this site would be a good accountability partner for my Bible studies and I’d like to share what I learn with you. God is amazing in so many ways and it’s written so clearly on most pages in the Bible, but it’s so easy to let our Bibles gather dust instead of learning about what’s truly important in this life! I hope you learn something from this site and I would urge you to get into your Bible more and put down those pointless magazines, fictional books, and quit watching those mindless tv shows! I pray God opens your eyes to the wonders of His Word and reveals things to you from pages you’ve probably read plenty of times before.

“Lord, I pray that you would open our eyes and our ears to hear your Word, and know that is is good! Please give us a desire to learn more about you daily and to seek your face as we struggle through this sin-filled world. Thank you for your grace and your mercies which are new to us everyday! We love you Lord, in Your Holy Name,

Amen”