James 1:16 “Wanderer from God”

Wanderer from God

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. – James 1:16 (ESV)

This short verse is a transitional verse, however, there is much to be learned from it. “Deceived” in Greek expression means to go astray or wander. Deceived in our present day language seems to have less impactful weight than it did in James’ time. They may have thought of Isaiah 53:6 (ESV) “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned-every one-to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
A sheep wandering off for me today has less weight than a shepherd of James’ time because I don’t fully get the scary thought of that. I suppose I need to consider what they considered and fully understood: if I wandered off I would get slaughtered by a fox. It was my choice to wander. Lesson to be learned: Be careful not to blame God for my sin.

Maranatha! (Come, Lord Jesus!)

Study through the Book of James with HolyJustLove.com!
James 1:2-3
James 1:4
James 1:5
James 1:6
James 1:7-8
James 1:9-11
James 1:12
James 1:13
James 1:14
James 1:15
James 1:16

James 1:15 “From Desire to Death”

From Desire to Death

Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. – James 1:15 (ESV)

Desire is used in the feminine way here based on the Greek word and therefor closely relates it to that of a mother. In Proverbs the loose woman who lures her prey into the depths of shoal is set in contrast to the wisdom also depicted as a woman. See Proverbs 8:32-35 This goes to James writing style to relate back to verse 5 which helps tie it all together. He leans heavily on his readers intense Jewish knowledge of the Old Testament to catch his every meaning. This allows him brevity. To put it simply, desire itself is not a thing to fear, however protecting yourself from conception is key.

And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD, – Proverbs 8:32-35 (ESV)

As James relates this female analogy, I cannot help but expand on it. Conception only happens when we get in bed have sexual intercourse. That is the most intimate form of communication known to humans. Outside of marriage it is a sin, so looking at it from that perspective how do we “protect” and “shield” ourselves from sin? Looking back on verse 14, I know to understand myself first and what makes me want something or causes me to react. When I know my triggers, I can stave them off more readily. This means staying out of certain circles of friends, not going to certain events, reaching out to different people, and constantly asking myself to be quiet and humble.

Maranatha! (Come, Lord Jesus!)

Study through the Book of James with HolyJustLove.com!
James 1:2-3
James 1:4
James 1:5
James 1:6
James 1:7-8
James 1:9-11
James 1:12
James 1:13
James 1:14
James 1:15

James 1:14 “Lured into a Trap”

Lured into a Trap

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. – James 1:14 (ESV)

We find in verse 14 that again James uses common language that relates to people’s every day lives with fishing terms and hunting terms. It is sort of like our thousands of baseball analogies. This adds to his personable nature and ability to relate to his reader. The word “lured” was a word at that time meant to describe the idea of an animal being lured into a trap. The word “enticed” was a fishing term which meant to catch with bait. To put this verse in different words, everyone has their own personal struggles and desires. We need to be aware of our triggers and not fall into the ideas and thoughts and things that look too good to be true.

So, that leaves me to answer a very important question. What do I struggle with? What am I easily lured and enticed with? For me it’s the need to be right. The desire to “know better” than everyone else. The desire to be perfect. God has been at work chipping away at these things in my life. What are your struggles? How do your stay true to who you are and more importantly to God in the eyes of the world? How do you keep your credibility with people and also show them God through you? How do we stay salty to those around us. Salt when it looses is saltiness is useless, but also consider that salt when it is too salty is detestable.

Maranatha! (Come, Lord Jesus!)

Study through the Book of James with HolyJustLove.com!
James 1:2-3
James 1:4
James 1:5
James 1:6
James 1:7-8
James 1:9-11
James 1:12
James 1:13
James 1:14

James 1:13 “God Tempts No One”

God Tempts No One

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. – James 1:13 (ESV)

The words for inner temptation and outer trial are similar: (Peira-). Readers of the time needed to be reminded that they are different and while God often tested with certain trials to strengthen our faith, he never temps us to lose our faith. The verse also talks about one of God’s characters and attributes as being Holy. He is set apart. Be careful not to blame God for your own sin and temptations. His desire is to test you and make you stronger, not break you.

I appreciate testing to strengthen my faith in God. My humanity often gets in the way and I struggle with why God would allow such testing right up to the breaking point at times. I know he wants me to succeed and perhaps he knows or rather I know he knows my limits. I feel sometimes I get confused between testing and proving my faith and consequences for my sins. If I’m honest I know I get angry at God sometimes for allowing Satan to play games with me but perhaps my limited perspective in blaming God when all along I cannot see from his angle and something entirely different is happening. So, I must leave it in God’s hands as mine are so feeble.

Maranatha! (Come, Lord Jesus!)

Study through the Book of James with HolyJustLove.com!
James 1:2-3
James 1:4
James 1:5
James 1:6
James 1:7-8
James 1:9-11
James 1:12
James 1:13

James 1:12 “Consider Your Reward”

Consider Your Reward

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. – James 1:12 (ESV)

James is bringing back the topic of trials, testing, and endurance which encompasses the idea of steadfastness.
The word “crown” (stephanos) refers to a laurel wreath that is given to a winning athlete. The word “life” is referring to eternal life as our reward.

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. – Revelation 2:10, ESV

We are not to think our salvation is dependent on being victorious over our trials however we should use the thought in anticipation of our inheritance and reward to keep us going. Celebration and rewards after hard work is great motivation. Because of this, God asks us many times in the New Testament to look to our reward when we think about the trials we face. We must practice steadfastness if we want to receive and achieve a settled character.

I teach my students that in life we must reward ourselves for a job well done. Too often we glaze over accomplishments and brood over our failures. The more we are able to recognize and celebrate even our mini accomplishments over sin and trials the stronger we will become. It is like exercising a muscle: use it or lose it. Understanding there is an eternal, glorious, joy-filled eternal life is the ultimate reward and I intend to make up for any lost time by focusing daily on God’s Word and His will

Maranatha! (Come, Lord Jesus!)

Study through the Book of James with HolyJustLove.com!
James 1:2-3
James 1:4
James 1:5
James 1:6
James 1:7-8
James 1:9-11
James 1:12

James 1:9-11 “Both Rich & Poor”

Both Rich & Poor

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits. – James 1:9-11 (ESV)

The readers James is writing to have been displaced from their homes as they have been scattered. The word lowly refers to their financial state. He was talking about those who were poor financially. Also during this time around 60-70 AD there was great famine so most of his readers were not just poor but extremely poor, hungry, and facing great difficulty just to stay alive. He is encouraging them to know that they DO have something to boast about. They are exalted or lifted up because of Jesus. The word exalted means the heavenly realm where Jesus ascended. See Philippians chapter 3.

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. – Philippians 3:20-21 (ESV)

He is telling them not to worry about the rich because riches pass away. The rich, if they are right with God will boast in their humiliation.  He is not saying that the rich will be judged BECAUSE of their riches. He is not writing from an ironic perspective that they had it good here on earth therefor they will have it hard in the afterlife. No. He is talking to believers both poor and rich. James is giving a warning to the rich and a reminder to not put their faith in their riches because they are not stable like God’s word. They must be constantly on guard and are often humbled by this trial. Wealthy Christians are to constantly remind themselves that while in men’s eyes they are high, they are not high in comparison to God. This becomes a struggle and so to boast in their humility before God may be what James is getting at. Both poor and rich must look at their lives from a godly and heavenly perspective and not a worldly one.

Our perspective needs to be God centered and not world centered. Regardless of if we are rich or poor we all must come back to our true center which can only be found in the heart of Jesus himself. The only true position in which we can boast.

I struggle with these types of verses and looking further into it I now feel more understanding. My wealth or my poverty is there to guide me to my true center: the heart and will of God. Being wealthy has its struggles and difficulties just as being poor does. With constant monitoring of who I am and what my purpose is within God’s will can guide me to true wealth in Christ and my salvation. Money is here on earth as a great trial. I will continue to strive to grow and invest in the LORD’s Wisdom.

Maranatha! (Come, Lord Jesus!)

Study through the Book of James with HolyJustLove.com!
James 1:2-3
James 1:4
James 1:5
James 1:6
James 1:7-8
James 1:9-11

James 1:7-8 “Double Souled”

Double-Souled

For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. – James 1:7-8

The word double-minded (dipsychos) means double souled which James may very well have coined. James is calling for single mindedness and views the double minded man is an unbeliever. Unbelievers will receive nothing from the LORD. I must put my love hope and faith always in God. When I ask anything I must trust in him and hope in his will. Thank you, God that you are daily making me more and more settled and stable in my understanding, hope and acceptance of your will. I desire to always trust in you. Hope in you. Love in you. Have faith in your will. Your perspective is not my perspective. Thank you for taking that huge burden from me.

Maranatha! (Come, Lord Jesus!)

Study through the Book of James with HolyJustLove.com!
James 1:2-3
James 1:4
James 1:5
James 1:6

James 1:6 “Faith in God’s Will”

Faith in God’s Will

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. – James 1:6

James often used examples in nature because his audience could relate well. They traveled by foot, lived in mostly open air environments, and worked mainly as fishermen, farmers, and shepherds. They could identify closely with what it meant to be driven and tossed by the wind as a wave is. Waves tossed by the wind are uncontrollable at times and often nothing can be done but hold on tight and ride it out. If they doubt, they understood that there would be grave repercussions. This is a serious concept to them and they would not have taken it lightly. We must understand that asking in faith requires both a head knowledge and a heart knowledge. It requires a steadfast understanding and acceptance of God’s will. I pray every day for that kind of steadfast understanding and acceptance of God’s will in my own life. Asking God for anything in faith without doubting is one of the hardest human things to accomplish. Only through the strength of Christ is it possible.

Maranatha! (Come, Lord Jesus!)

Study through the Book of James with us!
James 1:2-3 Commentary
James 1:4 Commentary
James 1:5 Commentary

James 1:5 “The Power to Do God’s Will” by Jen O’Sullivan

The Power to Do God’s Will
by Jen O’Sullivan

James 1:5 (ESV)
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

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In other words, we need to ask God every day for wisdom to do his will. Ask KNOWING he will give it to you without judgement.

The word “Wisdom” or the Greek word “sophia” is a word that describes direction. Jews of that time understood it fully because before Christ they had to ask God for wisdom on a daily basis. Wisdom is the practical application of God’s will. It is NOT a deeper understanding of a deeper meaning as we think of the word to mean today. He also plays on the reader’s understanding of wisdom which also means to make one perfect and complete which was a phrase he used in the previous verse as well as its ability to enable us to endure testing.

“And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:4 (ESV)

Wisdom is not deeper revealed truths. It is what I need on a daily basis to become “perfect and complete”. Wisdom is the power to do  God’s will and not my own. Wisdom gives me the desire to do what’s right not for my own victory but to be obedient to God; to please him. (See A.W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God).

I ask for wisdom today to show humility… to learn humility… humility with everyone I encounter. I ask for wisdom for grace and mercy to those I judge so quickly and so harshly. Teach me how to slide judging others off my back quickly and effortlessly until it sweeps past me without even a thought. I ask for wisdom to know a deeper patience those I love and an even deeper one for those I don’t. Give me wisdom to sow seeds of hope that I might know and fully enjoy optimism. I want to sow seeds of goodness!

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” – Galatians 6:7-10 (ESV)

Maranatha! (Come, Lord Jesus!)

~ Jen O’Sullivan
www.HolyJustLove.com