Welcome to this day-by-day study of the book of James! As we walk through this book of the Bible over the next four weeks, let’s prepare ourselves for a bumpy ride! James is a blunt, no-nonsense writer who blasts dusty, ethereal religion without hesitation. Ignoring subtlety, he insists that we live out our faith, and turn our backs on fluffy, inconsequential belief. James is the enemy of easy, comfortable Christianity – in fact, by the time he gets done with us, we realize that complacent, indifferent faith is no faith at all.

We’ll read through the whole book in a few days first: let’s treat this letter as it was intended, as a letter, before zooming in to look at it in a little more detail.

And know this: if we travel together carefully and prayerfully, with open hearts, we will definitely emerge from this book changed. This is dynamite. Let’s allow James to attach a detonator to complacency!

God bless you,

Pastor Jeff

Saturday, May 26: Patience in Suffering

Readings: James 5:7-12, 1 Peter 1:3-12

Focus: As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered (James 5:11).

Okay, I confess, I’ve done it again. Last night I spent about twenty minutes watching one of those health and wealth preachers on the television. The chap in question was blessed with a smile that could melt an iceberg, knew how to manipulate scripture to back up his ideas and insisted that I could get out of poverty, disease, depression and indeed a host of other maladies if I would just send him $200. God had told him, he said, that three thousand people were going to respond to his message last night. It was all rather like the day of Pentecost and Peter’s sermon, except that those who responded to Peter weren’t required to dent their credit cards.

As James helps the church to navigate its way through poverty and oppression, notice what he doesn’t say. He doesn’t tell them that they are in trouble because they don’t have enough faith, or because they are slackers when it comes to prayer. He doesn’t lash them with a message that their sin is the root of their suffering (which, by the way, is the Hindu message of Karma and one clearly refuted by Jesus in John 9:1-3). He doesn’t suggest that God is the author of their suffering; he is not the architect of pain but the Redeemer of it. And he doesn’t invite them to ‘plant a seed offering’ of $200, which is just as well, because they were very strapped for cash. Suffering is tough enough. Quack remedies make it worse.

Prayer: Strengthen me, that I may endure; enlighten me, that I might understand; sustain me in true hope. Amen.

To download full bible notes click here.