Wednesday, November 21, 2012

November 21, 2012 … “Walking the Walk” of the Christian

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 326

Blogger's Note:   I apologize for the length of this journal entry; but being assigned all 5 Chapters of the Book of James, given the importance of James' writings, becomes very difficult to shorten or abbreviate significantly.   Hence my blogging this day is a bit wordy.  But I hope you'll be willing to go through what God gave me today.  Because this book is a real mirror of Christian truth for all who call themselves "Christian."

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: James, Chapters 1-5 To study these chapters, go to this link -

Highlight Passages: James 1: 1-4; 22-25 : [NLT] … {James, the pragmatic brother of Jesus, who became the leader of the new and growing Christian “church” in Jerusalem after Pentecost, wrote this letter just about the time Paul was returning from his first missionary journey, directed to Jewish Christians (but to all Christians ultimately) to give Christians a “walk-the-walk” exhortation of truth. And the Epistle from James becomes a “how to live” manual for Christians, exposing, like a mirror of truth, those who might “talk-the-talk” but are not being willing to “walk-the-walk.”}  
1 This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is written to Jewish Christians scattered among the nations. Greetings! 2 Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. 3For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything. …  
{If one is looking for a them passage in this Book where James lays out the reason why he’s writing this to the Twelve Tribes of Israel, this is the passage in James 1: 22-25.}
 22 And remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to. If you don’t obey, you are only fooling yourself. 23 For if you just listen and don’t obey, it is like looking at your face in a mirror but doing nothing to improve your appearance. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you keep looking steadily into God’s perfect law — the law that sets you free — and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. 
Highlight Passages: James 2: 17-20 : [NLT] … {I’ll bet you’ve heard someone say, as a Christian, “Faith without works is dead!” Well, this is the chapter and passage from James from which tht truth is directed to Christians about their Christian living.} 17 So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith at all — it is dead and useless. 18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” I say, “I can’t see your faith if you don’t have good deeds, but I will show you my faith through my good deeds.” 19 Do you still think it’s enough just to believe that there is one God? Well, even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror! 20 Fool! When will you ever learn that faith that does not result in good deeds is useless? 
Highlight Passages: James 3: 1; 7-10; 13-14 : [NLT] … {Verse 1 of Chapter 3 always scares me a bit because I’m a teacher and my Spirit-given gift is teaching. But James’ exhortation with regard to Christian speech (i.e., sharing with “the tongue” or in these days “the keyboard”) should be a bit scary for all Christians, especially the way we use social/digital media these days. And then James tells us the essence of seeking true, Godly wisdom as a Christian, which, most certainly should be the goal of ever believer in Christ. It’s a lot of good “walk-the-walk” direction from a genuine Christian leader and pragmatist.} 1 Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged by God with greater strictness. …
  {And we’re exhorted to be careful in our use of speech or media.} 
7 People can tame all kinds of animals and birds and reptiles and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is an uncontrollable evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it breaks out into curses against those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 
{And finally, in this chapter, James helps us to recognize what the pursuit of true, God-led and God-provided, wisdom looks like.}
 13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, live a life of steady goodness so that only good deeds will pour forth. And if you don’t brag about the good you do, then you will be truly wise! 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your hearts, don’t brag about being wise. That is the worst kind of lie. 
Highlight Passages: James 4: 1-3: 15-17: [NLT] … {Feelings are so fickle and so often misdirect us to pursue selfish, feeling-driven pursuits, rather than other-directed, Godly, goals. James exposes this very human default, giving his readers a picture of the dangers of responding to feelings rather than truth.}  
1 What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Isn’t it the whole army of evil desires at war within you? 2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous for what others have, and you can’t possess it, so you fight and quarrel to take it away from them. And yet the reason you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it. 3 And even when you do ask, you don’t get it because your whole motive is wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.  
{ And we so often do things on our own and if we “succeed,” we get over confident in self and tend toward self-reliance rather than Spirit-led Savior-reliance. Again, James wanted Christians to get their wisdom and direction from God’s Spirit, rather than self-directed feelings, … which will always lead man down the path of self destruction, committing the sins of omission as well as sins of commission.}  
15 What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” 16 Otherwise you will be boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil. … 17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. 
Highlight Passages: James 5: 1-4 : [NLT] … {And James saw, in his time, how Christians were misusing the providence God had bestowed on some so generously; and Jesus’ brother wanted them to realize their selfishness and the blessings from God they would miss in heaven from their hoarding and misuse of God-provided resources.}  
1 Look here, you rich people, weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. 2 Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. 3 Your gold and silver have become worthless. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh in hell. This treasure you have accumulated will stand as evidence against you on the day of judgment. 4 For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The wages you held back cry out against you. The cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.

Reference Passage: Matthew 5: 16 : [NKJV] … {Shining Christ’s light by the way we live our lives. } …  Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. 

My Journal for Today: Another “big-gulp” chronological reading assignment this morning, … the entire Book (or letter) from James, the Brother of Jesus, who was not an Apostle but became the pragmatic leader of the first church in Jerusalem in the first century after the resurrection. Though James was raised in the same home with Jesus, whom he must’ve viewed as his prodigy sibling, he was probably somewhat jealous of all the attention and greatness other saw in his half-brother. And many scholars speculate that James really didn’t want to follow His brother at all until after the resurrection, when, as he writes in his own words, he became a “slave” to Jesus, his LORD, and THE CHRIST [See James’ greeting in James 1: 1].

And this book, authored by James, because of its emphasis on the “doing” part of Christianity became a bit difficult for some later Christian apologists, like Martin Luther, to stomach, because it seemed to point to works as the signature of salvation rather than the emphasis on saving grace as was written by Paul in a passage like Ephesians 2: 8-9. But we must remember in that latter passage, the reality of Ephesians 2: 10, which actually fits right in with what James was writing in his letter to the Jewish Christians of his day. Both Paul and James were saying, as written in the Ephesians 2: 8-10 passage that Christians are saved BY faith THRU grace UNTO good works. And though Paul seemed to emphasize that Christians were saved BY faith THRU grace, James posited that one could only know that a Christian was saved if the transformation of God’s saving grace from the faith of the believer could be seen in the good works produced by that process of salvation. And James wrote about what those good works look like.

I really like the summary chart for the Book of James provided by my the Parsons Commentary I use so often in my devotional studies. So, let me give it to any reading with me today …

Chapter Summary of the Book of James 
Chapter 1 … Confident Stand … What a Christian has 
Chapter 2 … Compassionate Service … What a Christian does 
Chapter 3 … Careful Speech … What a Christian says 
Chapter 4 … Contrite Submission … What a Christian feels 
Chapter 5 … Concerned Sharing … What a Christian gives 

In other words, James was putting forth an argument that unless we see the Christian ”walking-the-walk” of their faith, how can we know that they are truly saved by God’s grace by such “christians” just “talking-the-talk” of their faith? And I’ll leave it to you to read through this book of pragmatic faith written by one who grew up with Jesus and became the first real leader of the faith in the first church in Jerusalem.

And as you read and digest what I’ve written this morning in my devotional entry, we are challenged by James to ask ourselves, as I’m asking myself today, “Am I really walking-the-walk of my faith by pursuing the mind of Christ and living a Christ-like life, shining God’s light of truth by what others see me in my life?” … AND … “Am I living up to the challenge of Jesus to shine His light by my Christ-like living?” (i.e., see my reference to Matthew 5: 16 above)

My Prayer Today: … Lord, I pray that I’m shining Your light by the choice I make and the way I live my life. Amen

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