Saturday, August 30, 2014

James 1


Over the past few weeks, I have been continually coming back to the book of James when I spend my time reading the Bible. Its become so familiar to me, and I love the way it speaks to me. I have really been enjoying spending time unpacking this book. I stumbled across a verse on Pinterest that came from James and I was reading it from my Bible. I then decided to read the entire book because I was just amazed at what I was finding written there. Today I wanted to focus on my favorite chapter, James 1. Of course I am no expert of the Bible but I think this book is truly something wonderful and it teaches a great lesson.

I think what makes this chapter so relatable is the topic. James begins the writing by discussing trials that we face daily. In James 1:2-6 we find my personal favorite passage from this chapter, as well as an explanation for God's purpose in creating trials and temptations:

" (2) consider it pure joy, brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, (3) because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (4) Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete and not lacking anything. (5) 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. (6) 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."

Okay, so thats a big passage and a lot of text to take in. So what does it all mean?

To me, this is one of the most applicable passages I have read in quite awhile. To me, this just point blank screams, 'God has a plan'. Sometimes I think its easy for us as humans to get caught up in the daily tasks of life, and in doing so, we lose sight of God. Additionally, its human nature to focus on the negatives. Being 100% positive is practically impossible, and you're lying if you say you are positive all the time. But God is telling us that even though we face difficulties, we need to stay calm. Its like that saying, 'God won't bring you to something if He can't bring you through something'. I think that's exactly what verse 2 is explaining. God doesn't promise a perfect life for us, because we are humans and we simply are not perfect. Its as simple as that. However, He does promise that His plan is the one we want in the end. He uses rough times and temptations to build us to be better people. Who doesn't want to be a better version of their own self? James goes on to write that these "tests" in life God gives us will produce perseverance. I'm the kind of person who looks up words because I love knowing the full meaning and having it be exact. defines perseverance as "steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement." God uses these trials and temptations to test us, but ultimately bringing us through them. If we persistently pursue God, we can face anything. We will be complete.

The next point I want to make is probably one that crosses just about everyone's mind. I am sitting here thinking, wow. So if I just trust God, believe in His plan, and trust he will get me through rough times, everything will be a-okay. Except as humans, it can't be that simple for us. Everyday, we fail God. We mess up, distance ourselves from Him, and allow our own ideas and plans to govern our lives. But this isn't what God calls us to do. Verse 5 and 6 tell us that if we ask, God will provide according to what He has planned. I think its easy to view God as a genie in a bottle type of guy, saying when we ask God for something He gives it, no questions asked. Then we get angry when we don't get what we want. Its hard to trust God when things don't make sense to us, but again it all goes back to His plan and the bigger picture he has for us. For me, verse 6 is what really hit home. It tells us that when we ask God, we must not doubt. We must be firm in our faith and belief in God in order for us to be successful. One key moment in my life where I really put this verse to work was in making decisions about college and things pertaining to that next step in my life. I asked God to show me the right decision, because I was unsure. God showed me what He wanted. Although it was not the "easy" decision I had maybe planned for myself, I knew the "right" decision. At that point, I was faced with the choice to go with what would be easy for me, or what would be right for me in the bigger picture. I think we so easily pick the easy way, the way we plan for ourselves, and that is exactly what verse 6 teaches us not to do. Its kind of like those people in life who ask for your opinion or advice, you give it, and then they shoot down what you had to say. Why did they ask in the first place? Maybe God feels that way too. He has such a perfect plan already mapped out if we would just trust. We just need to stop turning away from Him.

Of course I could go on and on about what else this chapter teaches, but I'll finish with another passage from James 1:12:

"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, the person will receive the crown of life that The Lord has promise to those who love Him."

Being in a relationship with God is hard, but its wonderful. But I have learned that its a full surrender. You're either all in, or you're all out. Surrendering your trust fully is a huge milestone in your relationship with Him. You'll feel an instant peace, and I encourage anyone who feels lost or unsure to consider an unconditional trust and completely loving relationship with God. Of course you're never "in the clear" and God will surely give you trials, but when you trust He's got it all figured out for you, it makes uncertainty and difficult times that much easier. You can experience His love any time and at any stage in your relationship with Him, but the power and worth of His love magnifies when you trust fully because you understand the importance of His perfect plan. You just have to extend your trust and surrender your plan.

I hope you all have a wonderful day!

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