Category Archives: james

A Synopsis of James

We have just completed a 45 day study in the book of James.  I don’t know about you, but I learned many very valuable lessons from these studies, so I thought I’d take one post to tell you what I learned.  Maybe you can take a minute to comment how this study has affected you!

James 1:2-5 tells us that we should joy when facing temptation.  Then he takes the next 3 verses to tell us why.  When I look at these verse and apply it the way James has written it, I plainly see the trials I went through were there to try my faith so that patience would be produced.  Patience in both cases brought me through as I waited upon God. And that patience is there to perfect me, to help me become mature in Christ, so that I can fulfill the call He has put on my life.  That was a real revelation to me.

Verse 6 tells us that if we ask for wisdom, we will receive it.  Verse 7 tells us that we must not waver in our faith.  Put these 2 verses together and tie them to vs 2-5 and we find the truth behind these verses.  The wisdom we ask for is to know why we are going through the trials, when they will end, and what we will learn from them.  But our faith must not waver in asking, we must have patience.  The kind of patience called for in the previous verses.

We now skip ahead to James 2.  Te beginning of this chapter tells us we should not be partial toward people, citing treating rich people better then poor as an example (vs 1-7). He says the reason we should not do this is because we will be judged by the perfect law of liberty (vs 8-12).  The perfect law is the Ten Commandments and we will be judged by that law.  Jesus said He fulfilled the law, but He did not make the law easier – He made it harder.  This is a great introduction to James’s study on the relationship between faith and works, found in verses 13-26.  In this we talked about the fact that faith through grace brings us the initial salvation from sin through Christ (Eph 2:8-9), but we still  must work our our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12).  Both are necessary for our growth in Christ.  Too many stop at the faith part thinking they have accomplished all they need to.  There is so much more for us!

James 3 is a wonderful discussion of the dangers of our tongue.  Some of the worst evils come from our mouths, and they an hurt someone far more than anything else e can do to them.  We all know people who were put down as children and the repercussions that affected their lives for decades to come.  The tongue is powerful – all of creation came forth as the Word.  The first admonition, in verse 1, cautions us about too many teachers – oh how applicable this is today.  Verses 2-12 then help us to understand how important it is to watch our tongue.  We are like ships or horses who need our tongues guided by something outside of ourselves. In verses 13-16 James says if we have wisdom, we will speak out of meekness, not it the wisdom of this world.  in conclusion, verse 17-8 tells us to use godly wisdom in our communication with others because it is gentle and brings peace.

In Chapter 4, James turns his attention to humility.  He starts out by telling us that fighting and wars between us come from our own lusts (v 1-2).  He goes on to say that we are asking God for the wrong things because ll we want to do is have things for ourselves, not for Godly purposes (v 3-5).  Verses 6 & 7  are two of the more well known verses in James, and tell us to be humble and submit to God.  He then tells us we should not speak evil of anyone, not be judgmental, and not plan on tomorrow being there.  All of these things are God’s domain (V 8-16).  Verse 17 brings us back to our works but telling us that if we know to do something good, and don’t do it, it becomes sin to us.  Powerful!

Chapter 5 comes against those who take advantage of of others, especially people they are in charge of like workers under a boss (v 1-7).    In verses 9 he calls on us to be patient and not old grudges.  Verses 9-10 patience is the goal, pointing us to the example of the prophets.  The conclusion of the book is a study in effective prayer and the value of accountability.

This study has been one I will not forget and will go back to often.  I had several people tell me when we started this study that James is their favorite book of the bible, and I can see why.  James covers a lot of very important topics that we need to observe every day.  I plan to com back to this book more often in the future.  Thanks for coming along on the journey!


Convert Those Who Err

James 5:19-20 KJV

19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;

20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

In conclusion of his letter, James gives us a challege that we all are called to filfull – the preaching of the gospel with emphasis on converting the fallen Christian, not the unbeliever!

This is a challenge we face more often than we like.  We see people fall into sin and wander away from God way too often. At least I know I do and it’s awful hard to decide exactly what to do in these situations. If we use the wrong words we can be accused of being judgemental and our words will not be listened to.  If we ignore them we could be placing them in danger of hell and we certainly don’t want to do that. Most often we just remain neutral and don’t do anything.

The word “err” here is also translated wander in other places, and we have looked at this word before.  It means to wander off the path.  Remember that Jesus said the path to heaven is straight and narrow and we need to stay on that path.

I have wondered off the path in my walk with Christ. I was so thankful for a pastor who would set my feet back on the path even if it took a hard word of Truth. I even had one pastor who kicked me out of his church and said I could never come back unless I went to Pure Life Ministries. If not for him I would never have gone there and I probably would never have overcome my pride problem. This problem led to so many sins in my life it was incredible. The truth of this passage of scripture is evident in what happened because of the words of that Pastor.

This pastor converted me from a life of full of hidden sin that was covered up by Pride. And because of that conversion God forgave me of a multitude of sins and set my feet back on the right path. And he showed me how my wife as my helpmate could assist me in overcoming that Pride. I will never be able to repay that Pastor. We have now settled in a different search but he is always on the top of my prayer list and we are friends even today.

But it does not need to be a pastor who does these things. We are called as Christians to help others when they are challenged in their life by shin. It is something we need to seriously pray about and ask God to help us with the gift of discernment when something is going on in someone’s life that is drawing them away from Christ. There are certain signs we can look for in a person to know how they are doing.

If they are missing church and used to be regular then something is probably going on. If they used to be ardent In worship and now they are half-hearted something has happened in their heart. If they come into the church and just sit in their seat when they used to circulate then there’s something behind the scenes that has cooled at zeal. I think these three things are the initial signs that someone is wandering off the path. The discernment of the Holy Spirit can help us see these things. We need to pray that the holy spirit will give us the right words when we are going to approach them. And then pray and we will not sound judgemental but loving in the words that we share with them.

To be honest I have not stepped out with this kind of faith in the past. It is a call on my life to do that and I need to step up. Not for my own sake but for the sake of those who are falling away. I must not let them go too far off the path towards Christ, but gently lead them back to the straight and narrow way. They will benefit greatly and I’ll be blessed in knowing a soul has been saved.

Our study in James is now complete, but I will do one more post to recap the highlights  we will then embark on a stidy in prayer that I first did in 1990 and was hoping to put into a book. I ran acrpsz2all the notes recently and this blog will form the basis for the book.  I ask for your honest assesment and comments throughout this study.

Be blessed 

A Walk of Faith

James 5:17-18
James now gives us an example of the type of righteous person and effective prayer we should mimic in our lives. He uses Elijah of all the people in the Bible he could have used. I pondered why he would have used Elijah and so I went through and reread the story of Elijah in 1st Kings chapter 17 through 19. There’s some very interesting things that we can take from this story.

From all that we read in the Bible Elijah was not very well known before he came into the king’s court in 1st Kings chapter 17. This is the first mention we have of him in the Bible. So we don’t know if he was a well-known prophet or if this announcement before the King was at the beginning of his prophetic Ministry. In either case the appearance before the King was very bold.

What would you say to God if he told you to go before the president of the United States and tell him that it would not rain until you said so? You’ll notice in 1st Kings 17 1 that a time frame is not given. Sometimes I wonder if Elijah even knew how long the rain would be stopped. If it was me I think I would argue with God for a little while and everytime God would say back to me tht he wiuld take care if thhe details I should just give the message.  There are many timmes God asks us to give someone a word of encouragemet or rebuke.  If you are a preacher or teacher hopefuly you allow God to dircet your words. In any if these cases, it is imperative we say what God wants us to say and then leave the rest to him.   His word will not return void! (Isaiah 55:11).

It would have been a scary thing try to get before the president and it was just as difficult to get in front of a king. It was worrisomoe because Ahab was not following God ly counsell at the tiime. But somehow Elijah was able to get there and pronounce this word of judgement for all the kingdom. One of the boldest acts in the whole Bible by a prophet. It ranks right up there with Moses going to pharaoh and Nathan going to David. Elijah was bold and we need to be bold as well.  We should never shy away from giving a word when God asks us to, no matter how difficut that word is.

Right after Elijah gives this word God tells him to go hide by the brook Kidron and the Ravens will bring food to him. Once again Elijah has to trust God completely because as you know ravens typically are birds that eat any food they come across. They are not gatherers. But God can direct anything in our lives and Elijah trusted God. Notice that Elijah does not pray that God will provide for him. God tells him that he would provide. We worry so much about our provision and God is always there ready to provide for us.

We are not told how long he is there by the river but without any rain the brook evenntually dries up. God directs Elijah to go to a widow of all people and she would provide for him. What would you think if God told you to go to someone who had no provider.  Widows were typically alone and rarely were taken care of.  Think of the poorest people you come across.  If God told you to go to them for provision, would you trust Him to foolow through, or would you have a tendancy to seek out other means? This sounds like a crazy thing for God to say but we know he’s always doing with his best.

1st Kings 17 9 through 24 tell the story of Elijah with the widow, which I’m sure many of you are familiar with. The widow only has enough for one cake to be baked and then they will starve. Elijah does what we might see as a very selfish statement – He tells her that if she will give him the cake first she will be blessed. The faith if the widow is tried and she follows the prophet’s words and her provision never fails her. Somehow the flour and the water lasts and lasts and lasts, even though it look like only one cake would be left. Through a simple act of faith the widow is rewarded immensely.  I have to ask myself If I would have given someone the last morsel of food I have.  Quitae an act of faith oo th2e widow’s part.

After a while the widow’s son dies and Elijah brings him back to life by the power of God. So Elijah did not go to the Widow to be provided for. He went to the widow so she would be provided for but God had a bigger plan.  Not only did the widow get the provision she needed, but her son lived and he would become her provider.  fFrom death to life – that is God’s way!

We never know what God will do if we are just obedient. God can do anything through our obedience. It may look like a simple thing that we are doing and sometimes it may look like a selfish thing that we are doing but God will provide. I’m sure Elijah, because he did have similar passions as we do, was very questioning on going to the widow.  I amm also sure he gave praise to God once this was done.

1st Kings chapter 18 we see God tell Elijah to go and face Ahab. At the tiime Ahab is out for his blood because Ahap thiinks Elijah is the one who is troubling Israel.  He doesn’t realize that he is the one causing he trouble. Ahab wants to get Elijah to pray the rain will start again. Jezebel had ordered the destruction of all of the prophets of God, but Obadiah the prophet stays faithful to God. He brought Elijah to the king and Elijah told the king it was he is the real trouble.  Another very bold satement!  Elijah challenges  the prophets of Baal to prove that God was the one true God

This is a wonderful story and I’m not going to recount the whole thing to you.  In 1st Kings 18:21-40 we read of the challenge and the fact that the prophets of Baal, 400 in number, could not call fire down on the altar as much as they tried. But Elijah, with one simple prayer, brought fire down that lapped up even the rocks and the water that Elijah drenched altar with. Then Elijah killed all 400 of the prophets of Baal and told Ahab it would now rain. Three years had passed annd it was time.   We read the account in versus 45 to 49 of the rain coming and Elijah on foot going faster than  Ahab in his chariot.

We have the right to challenge those who are of a different faith. Our God is able to do things that other gods cannot do and we should do whatever we can to show them how powerful our God is. There is nothing that compares to him and he can still do these things today if we have the faith that Elijah had. Remember he was a man of like passions and he was passionate about his God.

But then in chapter 19 we see another way that Elijah is similar to us. He was challenged by Jezebel, who said that she would destroy him, and Elijah just went into hiding and wished he was dead. Depression set in even after this great victory and Elijah became afraid and worried. Isn’t it funny how after a great victory we can fall into a place where we wonder if God will provide. We see this over and over again in the Bible. And it’s true in our lives as well. We must guard against the ups and downs of our Christian walk and do everything we can to keep it on a steady level.   The only way to do that is to keep our eyes on him and our ears open. 

God then directs Elijah to go to the mountain. Eijah goes too themountainn and hides inn a cleft in the rocks. This is one of my favorite portions of scripture. First God asks Elijah “What are you doing here?”  I believe the emphasis is on the word here.  Why is he hiding in this place? What is he doing for God just being there? Eijah complains that he is the only one left who is faithful to God. And then he sends a storm and a fire an earthquake. Elijah look for God in each one of these things but could not find him. Don’t we seem to look for God in the middle of troubling events in our lives? We pray when we have troubles going on? We listen for his voice to tell us what to do when we are in difficult circumstances? Then when all of this is done there’s a still small voice. 

That is usually how God will speak to us. And so often the world around us drowns out that still small voice and we do not hear what God has to say to us. The earthquakes and the storms and the fire of life is to overwhelming and we concentrate on them instead of listening for God. And wth that still small voice God ask Elijah  once again  “What are you doing here?”. I believe the emphasis this time is on the word doing. The question centers on the fact that Elijah was afraid and had run away from his duties.When the storms of life come, do we takke them as an opportunity to minster to others through our testimony, or wo we wallow and stew about our difficulties?   Elijah once again complains he’s the only one left but God says there is 7000 more that are faithful and he’s not alone in seeking out the Lord.

Always realize that you are never alone. There are people out there who will support you and help you if you just call for help. Know that there are others who will support you and take care of you through their prayers in the quest to the Lord. He loves you and will never abandon you.

When you are having difficult times James says we must remember these types of people in our lives. I pray that the example of Elijah will be one that will bless you day after day they as go to prayer for those around you. Pray with effectiveness and stay righteous before God. If this happens your prayers will avail much, just like Elijah’s did!

Effective Prayer

James 5:16b KJV

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

This is probably one of the most well known verses from the book of James.  We will look to this verse to verify that God hears and answers our prayers.  After all, it tells us that our prayers do hard work and will deliver good results, right?  Isn’t that what it says?  I am going to break this verse way down and see what Jams is telling me to make sure I understand it completely.

Effectual fervent prayer – these words paint a dynamic picture of prayer.  This is not a passive prayer.  It’s not a sweet little prayer that we remember at the last minute.  It’s not a prayer that we just say in passing, or that we say when we are taking prayer requests at church.

No this is a prayer of action.  A prayer that comes from deep within our hearts and souls and expects a return.  It’s a prayer that runs through us like electricity runs through a wire.  It brings change the moment it is spoken.  It produces faith in the hearer.  It proceeds out of our mouth expecting to make a change wherever it is directed.  This prayer is  prayer that comes from a working faith, because it is a prayer that works.

This actually brings us full circle in this book.  Remember back at James 1:3, he writes that the “trying of our faith works patience”.  Faith working in us is the idea here as well.  Faith that can move mountains.  Faith that can calm the sea.  Faith that can raise the dead or open blinded eyes.  Faith that produces patience!

Why would we need patience if we have this kind of faith?  Isn’t this miracle producing faith?  Won’t my prayers be answered immediately if I have this kind of faith?  That is never up to us, my friends.  The word avail means these are powerful prayers that produce extraordinary deeds.  They are prayers that produce results.  But the timing of those results is up to God, not us.  An instant miracle always seems like the best answer to our prayers, but we do not always know what God is in store for us if we go trough the trial.

How many of you can say that you have grown in your faith by this blog?  How many would say the poetry on my other blog has lifted your spirits?  Have you been blessed by the words here, or maybe by a comment I made on your blog?   I don’t ask these questions to get a pat on the back or anything.  I ask them to make a point.

If the prayers prayed for me at the beginning of this cancer had come to pass at that time, and a miracle took the cancer completely out of my body before any treatment started, I would have been thrilled!   Believe me, there were plenty of prayers to that affect.  It was our prayer as well!  I loved my work and my health and did not want anything to come and interfere with that.

If those prayers had been answered, this blog would most likely never have materialized.  The growth I have experienced in my faith would probably not have happened.  I am sure my poetry would have continued, but perhaps I would never have started my WordPress page for poetry and just stuck with my Facebook page.  The people close to me would be rejoicing, but then they would not see how God would  bring me trough a trial like this  A miraculous healing before this began would be forgotten, or thought of as a missed diagnosis.

Now people can see my progress, my healing, week after week, and their faith is growing as a result.  They can hear my voice get stronger as I lead worship.  They can sense the deeper passion I have for the Lord in my words and my songs.  Much of this would not be so if I had received instant healing.  And I most likely would not have met you!

Even though I did not receive that miracle, the prayers for me were still prayers of action and power.  They did work, and continue to work to bring complete healing to my body.  I rejoice daily as I feel better and better, and I grow stronger and stronger.  Effectual, fervent prayer that avails much.

The last piece of the puzzle to this effective prayer is the righteous man (or woman).  If we expect our prayers to be effective, we must do our best to fulfill this part of the verse.  The word righteous means holy, without fault, conformed to God’s law, full of integrity –  pretty much what we expect it to mean.  If we fulfill that part, then we can use this verse to encourage ourselves in prayer.  If we do not,  we should not expect an answer to our prayers.  It’s that simple.

When this study in James finises up in a day or two, I am going to spend some time blogging through an in-depth study I did almost 30 years ago on prayer.  I found my notes a few weeks ago, and have wanted to redo this study because I loved it so much.  I hope you enjoy it as well.  It will be entitled simply A.S.K.

Are You Accountable?

James 5:16a KJV

16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. 

I am so glad James brings this up in his letter because it’s an area where many of us fall short, I believe.  Personal accountability is sorely lacking in our churches, and especially among church leaders.  Why do we see so many Christian leaders fall into sin?  Why are there so many divorces in the church?  Why are our churches slowly getting smaller and less effective in ministry?  I think it is because of a lack of accountability, especially in men of the church.

I am guilty of not being as accountable to someone else as I should be, and I know many of my friends are in the same boat.  It’s easy to have those light conversations about sports, the weather and politics.  I could do that all day.  Then I have a few people who I can talk to about God, the word, and the things I am learning in Christ from day to day.  But to talk about areas where I struggle, where I can “confess my faults” to another man, or group of men, is difficult.  I do share things with my wife when I struggle, but I truly need an accountability partner to come alongside for help and for prayer.  That is when the healing begins.

I have just completed a chapter in a book entitled “Man in the Mirror” on accountability (God’s timing is always perfect).  This chapter discusses how to get started and what to watch for as you develop an accountability relationship with another person.  I found it very helpful, and I suggest if anyone wants to get this started for themselves that you get this book.  It is readily available on Amazon.  Some of the thoughts I am going to express come from this book.

The reason most men shy away from accountability is that we want to make it on our own, solve our own problems and be self-made men.  The problem with this is that it doesn’t work!   We men are usually proud and stubborn, and will not take the deep look at ourselves needed to correct our faults.  Nor will we truly allow God to search us and listen while He tells us the wicked ways that are in us (Psalm 139:23-24).  We will stay on the surface in all our relationships as much as possible, including our marriages.  As long as we do this pride will always be an issue.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned in recent years is that my wife is the best accountability partner I can have.  For years, she had told me I was full of pride, while I thought I was humble.  I took a big fall, as the bible promised I would, because of my pride (Prov 16:18).  I went to a place called Pure Life Ministries, and there God revealed my pride to me as only He can.  When I returned home 8 months later, I told my wife I was sorry and asked her forgiveness.  I then gave her permission to tell me anytime she saw my pride rising up again.  Believe me when I tell you that she does this faithfully and I am so glad!  If you are married, listen to your wife – she knows you better than anyone except God.  And God will use her to teach you His ways.  If you are not married I pray you will find a person that will hold you accountable on a regular basis.

What type of relationship should this be?  Completely honest and open.  The book has a card in it with questions that can be asked as you go through your accountability session.  It is imperative you have a regular schedule of meetings, not just hit and miss.  You must be ready to ask and answer these questions of each other to truly get deep into an accountable relationship.  You can see what this card looks like and the questions he suggests HERE

When we are accountable, our prayers for one another are much more powerful.  There is a bond formed between us that God is pleased with, and He sees we truly mean business.  James says that when we confess our faults to one other and then pray for one another, we will be healed.  He is not talking about just physical healing from sickness, but healing from anything that stands in our way of serving God fully.  Isn’t this what we all want?

I pray each one reading this post will seek out an accountability relationship if you don’t already have one.  Then get to know each other well enough to go deep.  Meet on a scheduled basis, weekly if possible.  This takes time and is risky, but it is worth the effort.  You will grow so much in Christ if you can make this work.

The second half of verse 16 will be discussed tomorrow.

Be blessed!