Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tips to Understanding the Epistle of James

James is a book filled with practical advice for life's many situations - it's a kind of manuel on how to live with one foot in heaven and one on earth. The issue he deals with in our passage for study concerns surviving in testing times. James gives us 5 pieces of advice the last parts of which we get in the reading today:

1st: When bad things happen James encourages us to remember that testing times promote endurance, they promote maturity, they strengthen us to meet the next hurdle.
2nd: In the face of life's difficulties James suggests that we ask for divine wisdom, that we ask for the mind of Christ. God has promised to equip us with such knowledge so it is only a matter of asking in faith, believing that God will do what he has promised.
3rd: We may think that prosperity is the key to a trouble-free life, but it's good to remember that wealth itself is illusionary. Let both rich and poor boast in their Christian standing James says for the key to standing firm in the face of trouble is to stand firm in Christ.
4th: Difficult times seem to provide an opportunity for temptation to sin, but a "God made me do it" excuse doesn't wash because God is not into tempting anyone. We serve the Father of Lights, not a God of Shadows and Darkness.
5th: When life is dark we can do no better than to remember the wonder of all that God has done for us, in particular, the gift of new life and light in Christ, the word that has been implanted into our hearts to shine a light into our darkness, not to make our life darker than before.

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