Friday, January 24, 2014

James. .Week 3. .Discussion

Not sure about anyone else. .
but I am READY for the weekend!!
 I’m going to guess that none of you had any problems noting what type of people God wants us to become??
But. .if you were like me, you may have had trouble deciding which one stood out the most!! 
There is just soooooo much!!
Patiently endure. .
slow to speak and get angry. .
control my tongue lest I render my religion useless. .
Humble myself. .
don’t criticize or judge. .
show mercy. .
But. .based on the season I am in my life right now. .
my favorite verse of the year. .
and the one you are most likely tired of hearing me mention. .
is STILL the one that just gets right at my heart each time I read it!!

I spent quite a little time, going through my list. .
trying to decide what to address. .
and I just decided to do a little online study regarding my favorite verse. .
James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. .
This verse penned by James. .
is a direct reflection from Jesus from both the gospel of Luke and Matthew. .
in a story that we are all familiar with (Including me, though I had NEVER caught the correlation before this study). .
The story about the wise man and the foolish man. .
The wise man was the one who HEARD the WORD and DID it (building his house on the ROCK). .
and the foolish man was the one who HEARD the WORD and did NOT do it (building his house on the SAND). .
and when the wind and rain fell. .He (or his house) fell. .
I know. .you are dying to read that yourself. .
check Matthew 7:24-27 and Luke 6:46-49. .
My favorite one is actually Luke. .because verse 46 says. .
Why do you call me Lord, Lord and NOT DO WHAT I TELL YOU?
     As I googled James 1:22. .
my eye was caught by a feed that said "images for James 1:22". .
Really?? I thought. .Holy cow!!
 I’m not the only one that loves the verse, apparently. .
So I’m sharing my favorite image!! I love the Nike logo out of lightening!!
In my searching. .
I did come across a really good commentary on bible gateway about James 1:22. .
it was long. .so I included the parts that really spoke to me. .
if you want the full article. .the link is included.

Do What the Word Says

It would be natural for James, as a Jew, to refer to the Old Testament Scriptures as "the word," since this is a designation found within the Old Testament itself. We also find him using some distinct phrases (royal law and the perfect law that gives freedom) to express a new meaning which the word of God has assumed for him as a Christian. Add to this the fact that we find his letter permeated with references to the teachings of Jesus, and it becomes likely that when James refers to God's word he has in mind not only the Old Testament but also (in fact, especially) the teachings of Jesus which form the heart of the New Testament. It is appropriate, then, for us as Christians to take this as teaching about the proper use of Scripture, both Old and New Testaments.

For some people, reading the Bible is an unpleasant chore because their perception of the Bible's message is "Do this; do that; do this other. And do more of this and more of that and more of the other." The effect is only a building of stress and guilt. On the other hand, some people find Scripture to be indeed the perfect law that gives freedom. I recall a young man who was, by God's grace, taking some very large steps to walk more thoroughly according to Scripture. His humble acceptance of God's word was admirable to me; his resulting spiritual growth was exhilarating to him. One day in my office he said in amazement, "I am internalizing God's word so much more now; it makes me wonder how I could have called myself a Christian before. It's like it was all just head knowledge before."
It is that "internalizing" of Scripture that James describes now. As before, his style is to present two complementary images: do not be only hearers of the word; instead be doers of the word. To guide our inquiry here, we can ask three parallel questions of each image.
1. What is the pattern of the deception/blessedness?
2. What then is the nature of the word?
3. How would one be a hearer/doer of the word today?Hearers of the Word: Deceived (1:22-24)
Superstitious. In 1 Samuel it is recorded that the Israelites were defeated by the Philistines. The elders of Israel conferred and decided to bring the ark of the Lord's covenant from Shiloh "so that it may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies" (1 Sam 4:3). When they next went into battle, this time with the ark of the Lord present, Israel was again defeated, and the ark was captured.
What went wrong with their plan? They treated the ark of the covenant as if it were magical, as if it could save them. Instead, they should have sought the Lord. Doing so, they would have realized that they could not expect salvation from a holy God while persisting in wickedness. They would have to do what James says to do: act on God's word.

This is not far off from the way some people treat Scripture still. The Bible is revered as an object, as if it would bring blessing on one's life. The Bible may be read often; prayers may be said frequently; church services may be attended; yet there may still be a self-satisfied overlooking of gossip or lies or irresponsibility or emotional abuse of one's spouse. This amounts to a superstitious use of Scripture.
James is insisting that the words of Scripture are of no value unless put into practice. If you study the word of God and begin to see a picture of true justice or genuine love or real holiness, then start practicing what you are discovering. This is the passion on James's heart.
Emotional. The word of God is certainly intended to affect our emotions. Jesus himself told his disciples that he spoke his words to them so that they might not fear but instead have joy (Jn 14:1-2; 15:11). The misuse of this is the employment of the word of God only for emotional comfort while avoiding obedience. By James's instruction, one should not be satisfied with a superficial devotional reading merely for emotional satisfaction. He demands a reading of the word with the goal of doing the will of God found there.
Theoretical. James's instruction also repudiates the merely theoretical use of the word of God, in which a person may study the word in exhaustive detail but then use the word only as material for philosophical or theological debate. The result is an abundance of doctrinal correctness but a scarcity of biblical godliness. The ones who are "hearers only" after this pattern tend to build a reputation for holding proper theology while leaving behind a trail of divisiveness and damaged relationships. Doers of the Word: Blessed (1:22, 25)
How would one be a doer of the word today? What we believe about the nature of Scripture affects how we use Scripture. Some people, believing Scripture to be a list of performance demands, use it to see how to perform more and more instead of looking into Scripture for truly biblical standards of how God wants us to live. Others, with a more relativistic belief, use Scripture selectively; they accept what they feel comfortable doing while simply ignoring the more difficult steps of faith commanded in the Bible. Often this selective approach comes from fear of the demands of Christ's lordship; we simply do not fully believe that his word is the perfect law that gives freedom.
To find the freedom promised here, one would have to take the four stages in the pattern of blessedness and put them into practice. These are not to be four more steps added onto other humanly devised performance standards. Rather, these are the steps to take first with Scripture, so that Scripture can then reorder the rest of one's life.
Looks intently. We will search the Scriptures. We can go beyond a superficial devotional reading. We will bother to learn sound principles of inductive study so that we can dig deeply into the word and feed ourselves from Scripture.
Continues. We will stay in Scripture. We can learn to be regular and habitual, rather than occasional, in our Bible study.
Not forgetting. We will learn Scripture. We can study it so as to know its content and to remember it in our daily lives. Memorizing Scripture passages is an excellent discipline for the practice of this third step.

But doing. We will apply Scripture. We can afford to leave our mirrors behind because our reflections are useless. But Scripture is another matter. We need it in our daily lives. We will take Scripture into our thinking, submit our minds to it and formulate our beliefs by what it says. We will make decisions by Scripture--about how we will respond to trials, what goals we will pursue, how we will spend time and money, how we will use our tongues. We will dare to live by the word of God.
The church is much weakened today by the defective approaches to Scripture that I have mentioned. In one verse James has spread out the blueprint for how Christians can equip themselves with the word of God for freedom and blessing.
So. .
Looking forward to hearing which Scriptures stood out to you as well this week!!  
Hard to believe there is only one week of study left. .
After a 2 month break from intense study, I will be starting the book of Ephesians and going through another 3 month course, much like this has gone. If you are interested in joining me through an email version of this study, let me know and I will get the details to you.
Enjoy your day!

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