The infamous Bible post has finally arrived! Today I'm going to post about James Chapter One. It seems the fam has moved on already to Chapter Two and I'm left behind. No matter! I'll move along at my own pace and let all of my loyal subjects (because I know there are plenty of you) discuss amongst themselves - and ask questions! Okay, I get it! I'm no biblical scholar by any means whatsoever but a little discussion never hurt anyone and questions certainly can only further knowlege.
Perseverance: steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., esp. in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. (dictionary.com)
The Bible I have is a student bible, so it cross references some things and asks questions about other things. It's my favorite version of the Bible that I've read in all my 18 years. So to start off, lets look at Chapter One of James. Verse 2 is really where the information starts to flow, so that's where I'll go.
James 1:2-5 - "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, (3) because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (4) Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (5) If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."
This passage sticks out to me for many reasons. Trials does not equal joy in normal thinking, but here we are told that we should rejoice in the trials we experience. Trials aren't joyful, in my opinion, but when they are over you definitely have something to reflect back on and grow from. Right now for me, this trial I'm going through with Belle - it's something to consider pure joy. My move out of the dorm room has caused some other problems that I didn't account for and Belle and I are still trying to move forward from this. I don't know how long it will take, but it's a source of growth for both of us in a time where things are a little hard.
Another reason this passage sticks out to me so much is for my lovly Aunt. I don't feel as though I'm at liberty to say much about the situation considering really the only reason I'm a part of it is because I'm her sister's daughter. This time in my Aunt and Uncle's life is a hard one for them. There has been an almost move, a daughter who isn't quite old enough to understand everything, a horrid economy, and the strain of a long distance relationship to boot. But God has a plan, he always has a plan and for this, maybe the move wasn't suppose to happen. We thought it was a blessing at first, one of the best things to happen, but now this happens, and maybe God just has something exponentially better for them. *fingers crossed*
Consider this passage from Romans Chapter 5, verses 1 through 5:
"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (2) through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. (3) Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; (4) perseverance, character; and character hope. (5) And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whome he has given us."
This relates directly to James because it also states that in our trials we should take joy. It's a hard concept to grasp, but it's important to see that it will help us carry on. Suffereing doesn't have to ruin your life, it's doesn't have to take away from your relationships, it doesn't have hurt. It does hurt, it causes ache, but we have to learn that from that hurt and ache and pain comes hope and joy and character.
Also we should look at a passage from 1 Peter, chapter 1:3-9:
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (4) and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you, (5) who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (6) In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. (7) These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (8) Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, (9) for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
This passage is a long one! Whew! But it says some great things - like our faith is worth more than gold. This relates to the fact that gold has to go through a refining fire, but when it's been processed it's beautiful and true. Much like us - we are not perfect and need God to chip away all the things that do not please him so that the truth can be exposed. This comes in the form of trials sometimes, and we have to be prepared for that. We should be joyous when we are faced with a tough time because at the end of it, we come closer to God and closer to the truth because God = Truth.
Now, back to James. :-)
James 1:12 - "Blessed is the man who persevers under trial, because when he has stodd the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."
It's very important that in spite of all the bad, we push forward. "It's all okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end." - unknown. Isn't there an addage (addage? is that how you spell it? I don't know, just go with it...) that says, "it's going to get worse before it gets better"? Things may suck now and we might just feel like giving up, but God will give you the strength to move forward and in return for moving on, there are great rewards to be reaped. God will never give you something too big to deal with. We as people can't do much for ourselves in respect to everything. It's all God-given. And you might not be able to handle it by yourself, but God can do EVERYTHING and all we have to do is trust in Him and lean on Him because you can not screw up what God has put in motion. You can only hinder it by heading to your selfish nature, which I admit I am guilty of more often than not. It's surrendering fully to God that we have trouble with (it goes back to pride, really) and when we finally learn to just let God have it all, that's when we really feel at peace with whatever happens. When you try to deal with everything on your own - well now, that's when things really go south.
James 1:15 - "Then, after desire has concieved, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."
I still have trouble wrapping my brain around this verse. Desire --> Sin --> Death. Uh oh. Good thing Jesus died for us on the cross, because there is no way I'd be okay otherwise. I mean, I don't think all desire is bad. The verses before this one say that it is 'evil desire.' I'm thinking this is something like money or sex or something of that catagory. Something that you don't need, but only want for selfish reasons. The treasures of this world hold nothing for God's children, and it's when we feel that we need these worldly possessions more than we need God that we get in trouble. But it is never God that is tempting you with something on Earth because He only wants the best for you. It is our flesh and the society we live in - the devil - that tempts and beckons us away from the correct path.
Okay, so we've covered a lot so far. I feel like I'm overwhelming you with information and thoughts. There are a few verses left in James, and I'm thinking it might be better to post them tomorrow because this post is long enough as is. Actually, I think I will do that. This post is long, I know! Congratulations for making it all the way through (hopefully) unscathed. I'll post tomorrow with the end of Chapter One and on Thursday hopefully I'll get Chapter 2 up and going.
Leave thought provoking comments! Or, just comments. I'm good with that too. Let me know if there is some scripture that you think relates, or thoughts that I didn't cover. I don't know everything and I don't try to know everything, but I'm always game for learning more about God and going through the book of James is always a good idea. I didn't realize how much I was missing my Bible fix until I opened it up and drank in the words. Anyhoodle, drop a line with a thought, with a prayer, with an idea.