Summary: We are to find joy and grow in faith in all situations. Perhaps when the trials end will be good enough.
At Christmas we sing songs like Joy to the world. We exchange gifts and decorate and most people find joy in the season. As Christians we connect all the celebration to the Birth of Jesus…..But the joy of the season often seems to fade very quickly.
There are other times in a year when we find joy in events and life situations. There are also special once in a lifetime events … lifetime things like Graduations and births that bring us special joy.
It seems to me that pretty much every day we have an endless opportunity for some kind of simple joy as we go through our days. Like some funny moment in your day or a special treat that you pickup. One that used to happen for me a log time ago was walk in through the door after work and hearing the kids shout “Daddy’s home and then come running for the door.”
I noticed that pretty much every joy in my life, an obvious exception being my marriage to Renee, seems to be relatively short lived.
So, I decided to make a list of the things that test my patience on a daily basis, that in some way steal my joy in my daily routine. I have not sorted my list in any level of priority.
1. Abrasive/bossy people -
2. Gas prices
3. Traffic lights around town
4. Slow traffic in general
5. Inconsiderate drivers
6. A slow checkout line at Wal-Mart
7. Slow service at a restaurant
8. Waiting in the emergency room
9. Car trouble
10. Worry over…work, family, bills, situations
Does anyone have another suggestion? ……
Looking over my list the word slow or waiting appears 4 times ….Humm
Today we are starting a study of the Book of James. This epistle…letter is considered a catholic epistle…..That means it is not addressed to a specific congregation. It is written to a wide audience, at least geographically.
It is grouped in the catholic or general description because it is named after the writer instead of a church.
The 5 chapters are only 108 verses total. The letter is full of “Do This” kinds of statements. It mentions faith 15 times, 14 of those in the first 2 chapters.
This book starts in the same format of the ancient letters that we have in scripture by telling us who the author is…. In this case we have the name James.
The writer claims no title or authority as part of the description, only servant hood to God and Jesus. He does not seem to need further introduction to his readers in order to give them a list of instructions and encouragement about their faith.
Most scholars make a case that this James is the half brother of Jesus, a son of Joseph and Mary and not the apostle James. And he is said to be the same James in the Book of Acts that is a leader in the Jerusalem Church.
He is writing to the Jewish believers that are spread out through the nations. Some had left Israel to escape persecution from the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem. You see they had this radical belief that this radical rabbi that had come to Jerusalem years ago was the promised messiah. How ridiculous and even blasphemous is that, a man killed on a cross like a common criminal.
They were outcast to the Jewish community and some would just assume that they were killed for this belief. Jewish believer faced the same kind of problems when they expressed their belief in Jesus in the synagogues all around the Roman world.
James is writing to people that live at odds with their faith community and the surrounding culture and wants to encourage the readers to lean on faith instead of personal and worldly judgment of situations.
-- I need encouragement in my faith from time to time. I believe that James offers us lessons on a faith that works.
James starts out telling his readers that they should “Consider it pure joy,” whenever they face trials of any kind…..
I need to point out the translation of a word. The KJV uses the word “temptations” instead of trials. Today temptations might lead us to think of something desirable that tempts us to do wrong. The word in the Greek text is said to be better translated as “testing” and comes from a context of the refiners’ fire of removing impurities.
Later in the letter James tells us that the trials and temptations don’t come from God. However, He is allowing for refinement and purification in the situations we face by circumstance or get ourselves into.
I have a bit of a problem; I don’t want to just assume that I am going to face temptations or trials in my life.