Day 1: James 1:1-8

Here is our first passage.  You can use the SOAP method to carefully meditate on what God may be saying to you through it.  We’d love to hear your thoughts.  Just post them as a comment.  If your Home Church took time to work through this passage, we’d love to hear what came out of your discussion!  If you would like to download a copy of the whole Bible reading schedule you can find it on this post.

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:

Greetings.

Trials and Temptations

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. Those who doubt should not think they will receive anything from the Lord; they are double-minded and unstable in all they do. (TNIV)

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10 thoughts on “Day 1: James 1:1-8

  1. “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” If memory serves me correctly, this is kind of the summary statement of the entire book of James. It’s a challenging book, he doesn’t tiptoe around issues – he just wants to see God’s people mature. He says to consider it pure joy to face trials, believe and not doubt. BAM! Let’s get right to the point. (I don’t know about you, put pure JOY in trials? That’s tough.)

  2. The message says: don’t think that you can just keep all your options open..
    You need to trust God fully and therefore not be “double mined”
    (this is the first time ever bogging live from a small group meeting)

  3. What is perserverance? It is keeping going, not quitting. If you don’t perservere, you don’t become mature. So the the joy is to be in us out of consideration of what will come in the long run…maturity. But it’s really hard to have the long view when right smack in the middle of a troubling or sometimes harrowing situation. Maybe that’s why God had James write this. It’s too hard to see, on our own, through the foggy swirly mess. We need a reminder in His Word about the good that will come.

    Is it neccessary to perservere joyfully in order to mature, or can you still mature if you perservere, but without a joyful heart? What do others think?

    Why is maturity important? Why is it something we should be joyful about? It must be important to God. James says that we will be lacking in nothing when we are mature and complete. What does it mean to be “not lacking anything?” Does it simply mean we will not be lacking anything in our character, or is there a broader implication here? I’m not sure.

  4. What is pure joy? Is it the same kind of joy that Hebrews 12 says that Jesus had before him when he endured the cross and scorned it’s shame? If it is than that kind of joy is not a state of bliss in the midst of hardship. Just think about the kind of emotions Jesus expressed in the garden of Gethsemane or on the cross. Obviously James is not speaking of some Pollyanna kind of joy here. In the context what he seems to be speaking of is a kind of joy that transcends our pain and suffering. Like the joy that Jesus had when he endured the cross, it is a joy based on a future reality. It’s like the joy of an expectant mom. Even though she experiences discomfort during her pregnancy, and intense pain during labour, there is a joy of knowing that beyond the pain, there is life.

    So in this passage, then, James is reminding us not to get so caught up in the pain of the temporal that we forget the joy of future. He’s also telling us not to loose sight of Christ’s love because in the midst of trials, when Christ’s love is the power that shapes our character, then nothing this world throws at us will defeat us because nothing is more powerful than his love. So what James is saying then is this, “Even though things are tough and painful and difficult, consider it pure joy that God has given us power through the love of Christ. And because of that love, our victory, over every trial is guaranteed. And there’s an empty tomb to prove it.

  5. What power and wisdom are contained in God’s Word!

    Tonight we talked about how the bible is God-breathed and also discussed how tough times in our life make us stronger. We talked about how the tough times we have all faced have made us stronger in our faith and how we receive encouragement from God’s word because it confirms this. What a blessing it is for those who are facing tough times to know this and have this comfort.

    We discussed how some people say ‘How could God let . . . . happen?’. Well, we live in a broken world. God has taken those tough things that happen and uses them to make us stronger in our faith.

    The book of James was written shortly after the stoning of Stephen, so the early church was certainly facing tough, tough times.

    The amazing power of God’s word is shown because these words were such an encouragement to the church 2,000 years ago and are also such an encouragement to us today.

    All things work together for our salvation. Even when those things aren’t easy.

  6. Believe and not doubt? Very hard to do as fallen humans! Perseverance in the faith is a difficult task in our secular world today. We are blessed to have been saved by grace through faith, that with the help of the Holy Spirit, we may receive strength to persevere even in our falleness.

  7. For anyone wanting a bit of historical context to the book of James here is some background info taken from the Bible Gateway webisite.

    James’ audience would be primarily people of Jewish upbringing with a fairly recently acquired Christian faith who were experiencing a severe persecution at the hands of their erstwhile leaders in Judaism. They were mourning deeply because of the death of a loved and respected leader, Stephen (Acts 7). Almost all the Christians (except for the apostles such as James) had been driven from their homes in Jerusalem and scattered to other places. Almost all of them had likely lost homes or possessions or normal means of income; they had been separated from relatives and friends. There were abundant circumstances to cause them confusion, fear, loneliness, anger, sorrow, poverty, hardship–in fact, “trials of many kinds” as James acknowledges in 1:2. James’s probable purpose in this context is confirmed in the letter: to encourage suffering Christians in the face of hardship and to strengthen them for faithful Christian living.

    It would fit this historical setting that James would be writing primarily to poor Christians and that one of his goals would be to instruct and encourage them in the face of hardship at the hands of rich unbelievers. In speaking of “the rich,” James would likely have in mind the unbelievers who were using their wealth as power to oppress the very vulnerable Christians.

  8. We get stuck on the phrase “pure joy” and wonder how we can be joyful. The thought our group had was, how much richer is the joy and how much more meaningful are those special times when you have experienced the trials.
    Then vs 4 says “perseverance must finish it’s work” it’s a process, we aren’t going to get our answers tomorrow, some things we are called upon to pray about for years. We have a God who offers us hope, who gives generously to those who ask, but we are also cautioned to hold faith, don’t waver. The wisdom, the strength, the love, the grace and mercy, everything we need to mature as christians is there if we ask and hold faith.
    God will take us as we are, but He would much rather see us grow and mature in our faith.

  9. We have just come through a period where we followed what we truly believed God calling us to do, and then saw everything fall apart. It was really tough. And though know that God did some really amazing things and that there were purposes to all that happened, instead of coming out of this stronger in our faith, we feel like we’ve flat-lined – neither set back, but definitly not moving forward. There seems to be so much in the Christian world encouraging believes to be courageous, take chances for God, do this, do that all at an almost furious pace with never-ending energy, etc. Our experience has left us feeling that we need to be more reflective, less active, and allow God to work in the everyday, mundane situations we find ourselves in, to value and engage in the small situations and not just the mega ones. Does this show that our faith has weakened or is this just a stage and we are maturing?

  10. We too can relate to anonymous above, with a year of trials behind us, it has not been easy and yet, we did have many moments of feeling God’s incredible hand on us. We too are more reflective, so when we hear James teachings and read things like, “Consider it pure joy”, that is such a great reminder, we know that all of life’s happenings are completely in His hands. But as well we find ourselves to be more reflective, and are looking up to God to help us walk the talk of Jesus’ ways, so we too can share of the incredible love and care and how only with His hope, can you get through the tough stuff of life. By the way anonymous, you are DEFINATELY maturing, as asking the questions is way more brave than not, and He will answer in His time……

    Marg Heideman

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