Sunday, September 30, 2012


For my personal Bible study this summer I focused on the book of James. I had high hopes to memorize the book (which I did not!) but spent some very concentrated time learning about the man who was James, the influence he had on the church, and the inspired words he wrote in the book named after him. I have always liked the book of James for his practical advice. For a book with only 5 chapters it is FULL of some wisdom for this girl who has a hard time taming her tongue. I could read chapter 3 everyday of my life due to my unfiltered tongue! For several months before a huge trail in my life God always had some of wisdom of James playing in my head. For some reason something in James came up every Sunday with the group of high school girls I was leading. I thought it was just because we were in a room full of girls and everyone knows us girls can always use some good reminding about the tongue. However, even though that is true….God had me there for a very specific purpose to help me not only survive a difficult season but hopefully survive it with grace.

During that season, the Holy Spirit reminded me of some wisdom in James almost daily. The first reminder came in the form of James 1:22. As I was struggling with how I should respond I felt like I could hear God saying “Do you want to be just a hearer of my Word or a doer of my Word? You talk about being a doer but do you REALLY want to do?” The Holy Spirit constantly had to remind me of James 3:9-12. My mouth desperately wanted to speak ill of someone that was involved in my situation. In fact, everyone around me was speaking ill of them. I never ran across anyone that said “you need to show them love.” However, anytime I wanted my tongue to lash out even though what I would have said would have been truth about the person I would remember James 3:9-12 and feel like the Spirit was saying “Is whatever you are about to say worth loosing the opportunity to praise my name since praising and cursing can not come out of the same mouth. They are made in my likeness. Would you like to make that comment about me? What is more important to you right now?”

All that to say I was very excited when one of my all time favorite teachers (Beth Moore) came out with a study based in James. I am way outside the original difficult season and me and my tongue have come a LONG way but we still have miles to walk together! I really enjoyed this study because I did not know a lot about James other then he was the half brother of Jesus. I had missed a lot the book has to offer because I was not reading it through the Jewish lenses of the author. It is a 7 week study that I picked up off and on all summer. Here are some nuggets that I picked up along the way.

Week 1:

This week we talked a lot about who James was. We also learned about his dealing with Paul and the struggles he had to overcome with the Jewish/Gentile debate that raged during that time. I know that I cannot fully appreciate it or even begin to understand what meant for them to allow Gentiles into the fold.

Week 2:

This week focused on James 1:1-18. We started out focusing on learning to count it “pure joy when you face troubles of many kinds. Because we know that the testing of our faith produces perseverance. Perseverance must finish it’s work so you can be mature and complete not lacking anything.” We move to v.5 and learn if we lack wisdom we should just ask for it. In v. 9-11 we see God’s heart for the poor. Verse 12 brings us back to perseverance and verses 13-15 touches on the progression of sin. And to wrap up the week we focused on v.16-18 and reflected on the good gifts God had given us.

Week 3:

This week we focused on James 1:19-2:12. Can I just tell you James 1:19 kicks my butt every time I read it. I do not want to be quick to listen and slow to speak! It goes way against my natural personality  I have already mentioned my journey with James 1:22. Here are a few things Beth said that really stood out to me.

“The self-deception slithers in when we mistake appreciation for application or being touched with being changed.”

“The Word of God, however, is meant to do more than penetrate. It’s meant to activate.”

I love the reminder we find in v. 25 “But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues to do this not forgetting what he has heard but doing it- he will be blessed in all he does.” I know that at times I feel like the Word of God is a yoke and not something that sets me free. The joy of experiencing the freedom that comes in Christ cannot be explained. It does not make sense. However, I am so glad that I have experienced and continue to experience the freedom that can only be found in Him even while saying “no” to some of the standards/attitudes the world tells me I need to have.

We are then taken to a very real reminder of what religion looks like that our Father accepts in v. 26-27. I was reminded that you do not live the kind of life that that it says “God our Father accepts as pure and faultless” on accident. This walk is only done ON PURPOSE. I love how Beth put it “You accept that far easier ways to live exist but you were born for nothing less. And when we sniff ourselves and smell the world, we run to the One who can wash us.”

Week 4

Week 4 was focused on James 2:14-James 3:17. Most of this week you grapple with how faith and works go hand in hand. You look at how faith without works is dead and review some examples (Abraham and Rahab) how faith and action work together. Chapter 3 opens with a word to teachers. I loved this quote from Beth because I know in different seasons of my teaching time I have struggled with this. “God will never call you to sacrifice your intimacy with Him on the altar of your ministry.” We end the week with another look at the tongue and how dangerous it can be if not used and sanctified by God. It is in these verses 3-12 that we find out our tongue is set on fire by hell itself and can corrupt the whole person and praising and cursing cannot come out of the same mouth…salt water and fresh water cannot flow from the same spring! I love the connection we have here with Matt. 12:34 “The mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.” My prayer for me is that my heart will be so full of Christ that out of the overflow will come only those things that edify the body. I have A LOT of work to do here. I am so thankful for the evidence of growth that I have seen in my life so far with this issue and pray every day that God continues to prune me here. I love the wisdom section of this chapter. Something that was really cool was Jeff and I were just talking the night before I read this about the right way to speak truth/wisdom in someone’s life. God really slowed me down and had me focus on 3:13-18. A great test for me now is to stop and think if my “wisdom” is really the wisdom of Christ or the wisdom of the world is for me to compare it to v. 17-18. “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits without favoritism and hypocrisy. I know that I have been guilty of imparting “wisdom” that had none of the above qualities. Forgive me Lord for the many times that I have spoken in Your name and my heart/attitude looked nothing like you. Teach me your wisdom Lord and in the moments I am tempted to use my own- SHUT MY MOUTH!

Week 5

This week we covered all of chapter 4. I have a lot of this week underlined in my book so I am just going to share some of my favorite things!

“Let’s have the guts to ask Him what’s in our hearts and , when he reveals it, die to the self-gratification and live for the greater glory. That’s when the attic door to the throne room of God will fall open and answered prayer will tumble out like boxed up treasures.” (pg. 133)

“He gives greater grace…” James 4:6

“He is enough. Let me say that again: He is enough. When you need more, you will have more. When your woes are great, his grace is greater. When our sins are vast, His mercy is deep. We cannot exceed Him. We cannot outrun Him. “(pg. 140)

“Nothing muffles conviction as effectively as entitlement.” (pg. 144)

“People who walk in the Spirit judge ‘things’ not people. “ ( pg. 147)

“Anyone then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” James 4:17

Week 6

James chapter 5 is another great reminder that wealth or lack thereof…..does not belong to us. Any wealth I have belongs to God and I am called to be a steward of it. Giving is so much easier to do when you get to a place that you feel like the money you have does not belong to you anyway! James brings up the idea of perseverance again in 5:11. The idea of not giving up just because your prayers were not answered on your time table in the way you wanted. To sit and wait is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do but the reward was fellowship that I had never experienced before at the feet of Jesus.

“Fellowshipping with Christ in our suffering guards it from purposelessness.” (pg. 178)

“When we cry out, our God hears whether or not He heals. Something greater must be at stake. Something we may not know till we see Him.” (pg. 180

“If I am going to err, let me err on the side of faith.” (pg. 180)

“Sometimes beloved it takes more faith to feel forgiven then it does to feel healed.” (pg. 181)

Week 7

The last week was spent telling the about the end of James life and where the church went next. Around AD 62 James was taken into custody and put to death. “With James went the Jewish Christianity of the early days in Jerusalem. The loss of James radically transformed early Christianity. We have a Jewish Messiah, and his earthly heritage is our spiritual birthright.” (pg. 197)

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