Right Criteria

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

“My brothers and sisters, do not show prejudice if you possess faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.” James 2.1

Looks could be deceiving! When this letter was written by James, it was believed that God blessed those who were good with wealth. Apparently, there were those who showed preference for people arriving for the assembly who were dressed in fine clothes, as opposed to people dressed in ragged clothing. Woe to you if you showed up dressed in rags. You could sit on the floor or stand to the side. However, if you showed up in fine clothes, you were given attention and proper seats.

James wrote that this attitude caused one to judge a person based on the wrong criteria. Christians are to treat all people equally! One does not have the ability to know the motive or heart of another person. Just as important, we are to teach everyone that is willing to listen and not prejudge a person’s response based upon appearance. The proper criteria to use is God’s word.

#risingjoy #James #devotional

Twisting plain language to support a warped doctrine

Warped doctrines are built upon the foundations of the twisted plainly written scriptures. For example, today I heard a radio host call a brother of Jesus, “James, the ‘supposed’ brother of the Lord.”

“Supposed?,” I thought to myself. Then I answered myself, “You might hear James called “supposed” on the radio but you won’t hear it in the scriptures.”

Continue reading

#catholicism, #james, #jesus

Transforming Prejudice

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

My brothers and sisters, do not show prejudice if you possess faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if someone comes into your assembly wearing a gold ring and fine clothing, and a poor person enters in filthy clothes, do you pay attention to the one who is finely dressed and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and to the poor person, “You stand over there,” or “Sit on the floor”? If so, have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil motives? James 2.1-4

The difference that Jesus makes in your life can be seen in how you treat other people. God is not a respecter of people. Everyone is on the same level for him. Since all men have sinned, Romans 3.23, we are all guilty.

When someone becomes a follower of Jesus, he learns that he must put away his old way of life. He must make a change in his actions and attitudes. How can someone do this? We all know how hard change can be. Yet, Paul wrote in Ephesians 4.23 that one must renew his way of thinking. This renewing of your mind has a transforming effect bringing about the desired change, Romans 12.2.

This transformation does not give in to fear, 2 Timothy 1.7. It acts out of a spirit of power, love, and self-control. Our love for others must reach out to everyone defying what the world would determine as who is worthy and who is not. Christians must not show prejudice to others, no matter their social or racial status.

At times, we give in to prejudice because of our own fears and insecurities. Or we want to impress someone to gain their favor so they will like us. In the end, it is not important whom one impresses or fails to impress here in this life. God is the one who matters. How do I appear before him?

#risingjoy #James #prejudice

Nothing new

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a violator of the law. Speak and act as those who will be judged by a law that gives freedom. For judgment is merciless for the one who has shown no mercy. But mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2.11-13

The sin of prejudice is nothing new. Perhaps the basis of it changes, but the end result is sin, James 2.9. God does not show favoritism. He welcomes all who will respect and obey him, Acts 10.34-35.

Jesus taught about our attitudes in the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7. He taught that both adultery and murder are sins that we are not to commit. If we commit one, but not the other, we are still guilty of breaking the law.

In comparison to the law of Moses, the law of Christ gives freedom and sets us free from the rituals that were a part of the Mosaical law. We have one sacrifice which is Christ Jesus. We have one observance that was given by Christ to be done in his memory, the Lord’s Supper. In Christ, we are all the same and we are all one. We are priests and a holy nation, 1 Peter 2.9, independent of race or economic status.

God showed his mercy to us by sending Jesus to die in our place, something that we did not deserve. Instead of judging others we need to show mercy.

#risingjoy #James #mercy

What gets your attention?

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out – he will be blessed in what he does. James 1.25

What gets your attention? What do you focus on? We all have things that we consider important, things that we want to focus on in our lives. However, so often, that is not where we spend most of our time. We let the urgent things take over for they are the things screaming in our ear for attention. They may not be important at all, but the fact that they will not be silenced bumps them to the front of the line.

James wrote a very practical letter. He was writing to Jewish Christians who were living outside of Israel. He told them what they needed to do to be blessed in their actions.

James told his readers where to put their attention. First, one must peer into the perfect law of liberty. It is more than glancing at it. Time needs to be spent learning it. It is perfect in that it is complete and it will set us free from the urgent things and help us to value what is important. To fix your attention is not glancing at it occasionally, but to spend time reading and studying what is inside.

Secondly, listening is not enough. You need to practice what you have learned, live it out. Just as with other things, spiritual muscles need to be exercised. If you listen and then do nothing, it is of no benefit to you. Even worse many times you forget what you have learned. Practice is necessary!

Where is your attention focused? How well do you listen?

#risingjoy #James #attention

Consider it all joy

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James 1.2-3

Most people do not like to go through difficult times. We would all like to see life be a bed of roses that feels soft and smells sweet. However, life is not like that for most of us, at least not all of the time.

We should be glad. James wrote to consider it joy when we face a trial or hardship. Not that most of us would pray for difficult times so that we have a chance to grow, but that needs to be our attitude when the hard times come. Lord, help me to see what I need to learn from this situation.

Many times we bring the trials on ourselves when we fall into temptation, not because of someone else’s desires, but our own. James wrote to be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger, 1.19. So often we act the exact opposite and much damage can be done.

James wrote that the man who endures testing is happy. For when he has passed the test, he will receive the reward that God has promised to those who persevere, 1.12.

What is your attitude during difficult times? Do you blame every one but yourself for anything wrong that you have done? Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see a genuine person who is trying to have the right attitudes and actions in their lives? May we consider it all joy!

#risingjoy #James #attitude

One of the first signs of problem

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, he should know that the one who turns a sinner back from his wandering path will save that person’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. James 5.19-20

We are not islands in the midst of a sea of people. When Christ established the church, he designed it to be a body of people, 1 Corinthians 12.12. Just as a body has many members, the church has many members. Each member has their own function in the body with some being more visible than others. Yet, each is important to the proper functioning of the body.

Many times one of the first signs that there is a problem with someone is the absence from the assembly whether it be on Sunday or a study during the week. Perhaps the person was discouraged and did not want to make the effort to attend. Or, at times the shame of a hidden sin becomes too much to bear in the presence of other Christians. And so, the distancing begins. Wandering from the truth begins to have an impact in that person’s life.

Do you notice when someone is not present from the assembly of the saints? If you are part of a large congregation, you might have two assemblies. This makes keeping up with who is present more of a challenge. But, if you are part of a small congregation, do you notice? Do you make an effort to contact that person during the week to see if they are needing something? Do you pray for that person and encourage them?

James writes that we should be concerned with those who wander from the truth. Paul writes in Galatians 6.1 that we should restore a person who is discovered in some sin with gentleness. If the person continues down the wandering path, he is headed for spiritual death. Let us be those who search for the one that has wandered from the truth and work to bring them back.

#risingjoy #James #concern

Not often practiced

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness. James 5.16

Confession of sins is not practiced often where we live though I am not exactly sure why that is so. Perhaps it is seen as a negative thing, showing weakness. Yet James seems to indicate that it should be an ongoing activity. Perhaps we do not provide an appropriate time where it can be done in love and not in judgment.

What are the advantages of confessing your sins? It opens others’ eyes to the sins with which you are struggling. If people are aware of my struggles, they are better equipped to pray for me and encourage me. Instead of continuing to fight the battle alone, the prayers of others can help me heal. It can also serve as an encouragement to the one who is fighting that same battle and thought that they were alone in their struggle.

James 3.2 says that we all stumble in many ways. He is speaking to teachers, but the principle would apply to all. When you think about it, we should all be teaching on some level. So often our tongue is where we stumble! We say things we should not say. Or we do not say things that we should say! Isn’t it a comfort to know that the prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness? Another translation of the verse is that the fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful. May we learn to take advantage of the prayers of others that brings healing.

#risingjoy #James #confession

Stick to what is true

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

since he is a double-minded individual, unstable in all his ways. James 1.8

Our theme this month has been a new creation. This verse at first seemed to be out of place to me. The context is prayer, specifically prayer for wisdom. We all need wisdom. James tells us that God gives wisdom generously to those who ask for it. Many people who are new Christians struggle with the changes that need to be made in their lives. If we are honest, it is not only the new Christian. Many of us who are older in the faith can sometimes struggle with the very basic things in our walk. Perhaps that is because when we get away from the basics it is very easy to walk down the wrong path. James tells us that when we ask for wisdom it must be accompanied by faith in the one who makes the request. If not, we have the above situation. A double-minded individual. Sometimes following. Sometimes trekking down the wrong path. Changes. They have to be made. We have to stop believing in everything that comes along and stick to what is true. We have to practice wisdom. Wisdom comes by asking God and then seeking it. Where do I seek wisdom? I have to seek wisdom by listening to the one who is the source of wisdom. I have to listen to God, not in some mysterious way, but by reading his word as if it were as important to me as my daily food. That will produce a faith that is steadfast and true!

#risingjoy #James #wisdom

Faith is dead: James 2.17

“So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself.”

James 2.17

James is the book of action. He stresses how important it is to live out one’s faith, but always in the shadow of God’s help and guidance. Faith that does nothing is dead.

Teaching is not done as an intellectual exercise or to satisfy curiosity, but to direct Christians in God-approved works. From beginning to end, approved faith must engage in approved actions.

#votd #James #faith

Humble yourselves: James 4.10

“Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.”

James 4.10

Humility before the Lord is a demonstration of fearing God. It is that attitude befitting of man’s position as creature before the Creator and, hence, enjoined upon us in every age.

Do I trust God to exalt me at the right season? Am I aware of God’s glory and position as Creator and Lord? Is my opinion of myself one that permits humility?

#votd #James #humility

Study guides to the book of James

David Lemmons has made available extensive Bible study guides in PDF format for the book of James. Get them here for individual chapters or in a single PDF to bind them all.

In an age when people profess one thing and practice another, the study of the book of James is direly needed.

#Bible #James #Bible-school

Perfect individual: James 3.2

“For we all stumble in many ways. If someone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect individual, able to control the entire body as well.”

James 3.2

In his practical letter, James urges his Jewish readers to integrity of faith and works, especially in impartial treatment of others. The big challenge is to bridle the tongue. It is powerful far beyond its size.

Some time-management people say start with the big challenges. Others counsel taking the small tasks first. In faith, at least, we know which one is the biggie.

#votd #speech #James

Wisdom from above: James 3.17 VOTD

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical.”

James 3.17

Following his emphasis on action, James describes wisdom by what it does, as he defines his terms.

Why is heavenly wisdom first pure? How is it accommodating?

#wisdom #James #VOTD

When one comes back to the truth, this happens …

Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him backlet him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20 NKJV)

What results from one returning to the truth out of error? No less than four things (according to the above verses); plus one I can’t keep from including:

  • a personal blessing
  • a reversal (a personal and honest acknowledgement) that leads to freedom from the trap of the particular error
  • salvation (deliverance) from the cost of the error (spiritual death)
  • the hiding (a veiling, or doing away with the knowledge) of a multitude of sins
  • a reason for the angels of Heaven to rejoice!

Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”” (Luke 15:10 NKJV)

#conversion, #james, #repentance