Nov 6, 2014

Oh Brother.....

November Reading Plan: The book of James
November Memory VerseJames 3:10
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"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face many trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of faith produces perseverance." James 1:2-3


A little background on the book of James for you history nerds like myself:

Author: James, the brother of Jesus
Date written: AD 40-50
Fun Fact: Many believe it was the very first New Testament book to be written.

Can we just stop at the fact that Jesus' brother wrote this book? How unbelievably amazing is this.

James, the brother of Jesus, knew Jesus from day one. That's pretty cool.

Ponder with me for just a second that James knew Jesus intimately. James didn't just know Jesus as the "Son of God", James knew Jesus as his home-boy...his bro'. James and Jesus probably wrestled, played football in the front yard[or something along those lines], and shared many moments together growing up.

James knew Jesus just about as intimately as he possibly could, yet James called himself "a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ" in verse 1.

Jesus' own brother is calling himself a servant of his very own brother. [Did you catch that?] Whoa!

If this doesn't make you drop your jaw, nothing will!

Of all of the people on the planet, James could have easily denied the legitimacy of Christ. He certainly would have been the first one to stand up and say, "Whoa! Jesus is cool and all, but no way is He the Son of God. I mean, come on. He is just a normal guy like me."

However, what makes this book of the Bible so intriguing and awe-inspiring is that James saw first hand the legitimacy of Jesus. James saw with his very own eyes the sin-lessness of his brother, the miracles, the prophecies, and the resurrection of his brother, Jesus.

James was an eye witness if there ever was one! Who better than to teach us about the ways of Christ than the very brother of Jesus?

Let's keep this in mind when we are reading. Let's remember who is telling us this stuff as we soak in our daily reading. James, the brother of our Lord and Savior!

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face many trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of faith produces perseverance." James 1:2-3

And, boy, does James start off with a bang. If anyone knew first hand the hardships of trials, it would have been James. As Jesus' brother, I cannot imagine the persecution he faced. The comparisons. The ridicule. The scrutiny being the brother of Jesus Christ.

However, ironically, James tells us to "consider it pure joy" when faced with trials. Huh?

This almost sounds like an oxymoron.

But, it isn't.

James had lived long enough to see the joy from the trials. Not just his trials, but the trials of those around him. His grieving mother, Mary. The grieving disciples of Jesus. The uprising and uproar of the Jewish people.

James witnessed a whole heck of a lot.

James' faith was tested over and over again. Yet, he considered it pure joy.

He saw with his own brotherly eyes, what pure joy was.

Pure joy to James was perseverance and maturity in his faith. He desperately longed for wisdom and looked for it through the trials. He found wisdom through his perseverance and his faith.

"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...." James 1:6

Let's bring this down to real life.

Nobody on Earth wants to hear you tell them to consider it pure joy to be in their current trial. In fact, they may slap you upside the head!

But...

Isn't that what James is telling us?

Here's the thing....

James is telling us there is more to the story. Our human eyes cannot behold the workings of the Holy Spirit acting all around us. Our human eyes cannot see the picture unfolding in Heaven. We only see the hard. The heartache. The sickness. The death. The confusion. The loss. The grief.


"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

Read that scripture one more time.

James is telling us, "Oh, friends! Just you wait and see! This may feel like the hardest, cruelest, most painful thing on Earth...but I tell you, Heaven is producing a work that your eyes will one day get to behold!"

James can say this with full confidence, because he saw the end of His Brother's story. He was privy to seeing the "after" of a trial. Not just a trial, but a death.

Catch your breath and read what 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 assures us:

 "Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.
 O death, where is your victory?
 O death, where is your sting?”


Whatever trial you are facing today, rest assured that He is in it with you. Not only is He in it, He is doing something through it that you will one day see. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but one sweet day. 

"For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God." 2 Corinthians 1:20

"For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9



Can I get an amen,

jill