Reading with the Pastor
James 1 and Psalm 52-53
Most scholars think that the letter of James and the letter to the Galatians are among the earliest letters of the New Testament. My vote is for James. Either way, when we read these 5 short chapters we are looking at the early church in its infancy. When I read the book of James I am reminded of so many conversations over the years where the practical wisdom of James has been so helpful in directing people to better patterns of thinking and behavior.
How many times has James 1:2 helped me to endure a trial with grace because I was reminded through it and the next two verses that God was going to use this or that trial to carve me into the shape of Jesus?
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, . . .
How many times have I counseled others (and myself) when they needed wisdom, to seek it from God and His word and to know, really know, that God would answer?
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
How many dozens of times (100’s of times) have I reminded my soul to be thankful for the great gifts of life, the gospel, family and the thousands upon thousands of gifts that I know come to me through the mercy and grace of God?
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
How many times during the last election cycle as I listened to angry voters on the right and the left, in the media, on facebook, and in the twitter-verse, did I wish that people would heed the wisdom of James 1:19-20? Too many times to count.
19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
How many times have I been saved from deceiving myself by remembering James 1:22 and goading my heart to do what was right even when I didn’t want to?
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
How many times has the words of James 1:27 challenged me to put shoe leather on my exhortations to others so that I too would be doing the word in the world for the glory of the Father? Again, too many times to count.
27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
That’s what the word of God does. It is a two-edged sword. It cuts us deep like a scalpel so that God, by His Spirit can wound us and by that wounding, heal us. Keep reading my friends. And get your children reading the Bible early and often.
God is doing a silent work in your heart the beauty of which will be revealed when you most need it.
Read Psalm 52-53