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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Life Lessons from James

We have come to the end of the James Bible Study and I wanted to share what a wonderful and enlightening experience this has been for me.

My favourite verse in James is James 1:12 "Blessed is anyone who perseveres when trials come. Such a person is of proven worth and will win the prize of life, the crown that the Lord has promised to those who love him."

This verse is very close to my heart. I hold on to this word with both hands because it encourages me to persevere. We all have trials.. some are lengthy with no seeming relief in sight, some are short-term. Some seem to drain every ounce of  strength we have. Some seem to test our weaknesses. Whatever they are, we become weary of them. We become tempted to despair at times.

  We search vainly for human solutions when, perhaps, we are meant to wait upon the Lord.

James 1:12 reminds me that to persevere in time of trial has its own reward. I can definitely stand here and proclaim the truth of that! Throughout all my trials, God has given me the strength to persevere and he has rewarded my faith and perseverance. It may not be in my timing, but in His..

and God's timing is perfect.

Is this easy to do? Uh-uh! I have found though, that when I turn to Him in my weakness I find strength, when I don't... I slip and fall. He, that loving Shepherd, extends His Hand and lifts me out of my misery and brings me back into His Grace where I am strengthened to persevere.

 Perseverance doesn't mean we don't fall.. it means we get up again and keep trying.. by the Grace of  a loving God!

You know when you come to a  point in your faith where you believe that you are so deep into God that you know him? How foolish a thought! Can anyone truly know God? When I saw the question from Angela "What is one thing you learned about God in the Book of James?" it struck me that I DID learn new things about God. We learn new things all the time. We will never truly know Him, perhaps even when we step into Heaven we will not know Him.

What did I learn about God? Several things... the one that was impressed upon my heart the most though was that my faith alone is not sufficient in the eyes of God. (James 2:14-26). My faith has taken me through many things, though it isn't perfect, I never thought it was insufficient!  It was truly eye-opening to read this passage and realise that my faith alone, no matter how great it is, must be backed up by acts of faith. Through his act of faith,  Abraham was named 'friend of God'... what an amazing title!

 I learned that my faith is not what justifies me,  but my deeds and actions in faith!

This was brought home to me in a larger-than-life way recently. I have mentioned before about having made a last-minute decision to not send our youngest daughter to the same school the other three attended. While waiting on word from the new school, we still held on to the spot at the other. There was a great deal of uncertainty in our future and we had problems discerning God's will in the situation. Having spent a lot of time praying about this, finally I felt the Lord say that we had to let go of the safety net of the place in the other school....  a tremendous act of faith!  There was absolutely no guarantee we would get into the other school.

In faith and obedience, we gave up the spot... God rewarded that faith and I'm happy to say that our daughter has received a place in the school.

Another area in which I received much needed instruction was in the guarding of my tongue. The printout for this week had the question "What are some things you need to repent of in your life?" I have to say learning about the power of the tongue and how James likened it to a small flame that can burn down a forest really hit home.

This is my area of weakness. James 1:26 tells me that I cannot be holy if I cannot keep a tight rein on my tongue. I fall so far short of God's glory with this simple, little tongue of mine. Here in the Caribbean we have many sayings for what the mouth can do. You can read some here 

I recognise that this is the area I need to work on the most., the area that I have the most regrets for. Daily, I ask the Lord to put a guard on my mouth and let it only speak words for His Glory. Sadly, I admit to being VERY WEAK... I need to think before I speak... hold my breath, count to ten...or a hundred if necessary.

Once the word is spoken it can never be retracted. 

I will continue to work on this and continue to pray for strength in my weakness. The Book of James has so many snippets of wisdom and studying it has been truly rewarding.

It is like a synopsis of all that we really need to know.. all that Jesus came to teach us. It touches on faith, the Word and the practice of them, wisdom, patience and perseverance,tolerance and judging others, humility and pride.

We may have come to the end of the study but I truly believe that the life lessons learnt will remain a part of me.

I want to thank Courtney and Angela for a very rewarding bible study experience. I look forward to what lies on the horizon with the GMG.

I pray that each of you will be blessed in abundance by our great God and may you shine brightly for Jesus!



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