Thursday, September 7, 2017

James 1:1-4, 12-18: Count It All Joy + September 2, 2017

Book cover for Luke Timothy Johnson's Brother of Jesus, Friend of God

Bible Passages | James 1:1-412-18

Old Testament Reading: Psalm 23

The author of this letter in the New Testament was most likely James who was the half brother of Jesus (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; Galatians 1:19). Acts 15 and 21 both indicate that James was the leader of the church in Jerusalem and James writes this letter predominantly to Jewish followers of Jesus the Messiah who were once associated with James' church in Jerusalem. According to Acts 8, these Christians had been scattered due to persecution after Stephen was martyred. This is why James opens the book, "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ," and then immediately begins to address their trials and suffering as migrants and refugees dispersed throughout the region.

James refers to faith 14 different times in his letter; and out of 108 verses, James has 59 different commands. Why? Genuine faith in Jesus acts. Genuine faith in Jesus works. And genuine faith not only acts and works, but James also teaches us that such faith in Jesus is effective. 

James helps us explore the impact of our faith on life in our city and in our world. He addresses many practical issues: trials, poverty, riches, materialism, favoritism, social justice, the tongue, worldliness, boasting, making plans, praying, and what to do when we're sick, among other things. He returns repeatedly to how faith impacts not only the details of our lives but also the lives of people around us, both locally and globally. 

With James' words in mind, faith in Jesus empowers us to tell His story in the Bible in workplaces and neighborhoods, help those suffering from addiction in rehabilitation centers, serve food in homeless shelters, teach youth in learning centers, care for widows in retirement homes, provide hospice care for the elderly, train men and women in job skills, rock sick babies in hospitals, help patients in AIDS clinics, teach English to immigrants and refugees, and the list goes on. Faith in Jesus moves us to take steps of wise and mature obedience in becoming more like Him as we make His Good News known all around the world in our words and actions. + David Platt, Exalting Jesus in James

The life that believes and follows Jesus is the lifelong practice of attending to the details of congruence (harmony) between ends and means, congruence between what we do and the way we do it, congruence between what is written in Scripture and our living out what is written, the congruence of the Word made flesh in Jesus with what is lived in our flesh. + Eugene Peterson, As Kingfishers Catch Fire

You won’t be tested unless you’re doing something serious. Mechanics don’t test scrap metal; they test cars that are going to face tough conditions. We who follow Jesus as the King of the universe are not simply supposed to survive. We are included in God’s plan to restore the world. He will transform us to make a difference, whether through the quiet daily witness of a faithful and gentle life and to speak and act in a way which reveals the Good News to others. For this, we need to become strong for the challenge. + N.T. Wright, James for Everyone

So many people are kept back from spiritual growth, and from tackling their faults in earnest by one single fault – running away from difficulties; we don’t like a tussle. The devil does not sleep, nor is the flesh yet dead; therefore, you must never cease your preparation for battle. O Lord! Make that possible to me by grace, which I find impossible by nature. + Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

Eucharist | Thanking God for Communion with Christ and His Church

Prayer of Confession and Assurance

Leader: Jesus calls His Church to follow Him, standing by those who suffer and are in need, so that justice may roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Let us confess the ways in which we do not follow God’s call.

One: You support the downtrodden and give to and protect the stranger.
All: Forgive us when we do not follow You.
One: You block evildoers and help orphans and widows.
All: Forgive us when we do not follow You.
One: You condemn those who seek their own interests, controlling and harming others.
All: Forgive us when we do not follow you.
One: You bring about justice and true peace among people.
All: God, forgive us when we do not follow You.
All: Grant us Your grace. Embolden us that, as Your people, we may stand where You stand.

Silent Personal Reflection and Confession

Leader: God’s life-giving Word and Spirit enable us to live in a new obedience, opening new possibilities of life for society and the world. Thanks be to God for the Good News:
All: In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven!

By Thomas Ken
1674 A.D.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Come People of the Risen King
By Stuart Townend
2007 A.D.

Come people of the Risen King,
Who delight to bring Him praise.
Come all and tune your hearts to sing
To the Morning Star of grace.
From the shifting shadows of the earth
We will lift our eyes to Him,
Where steady arms of mercy reach
To gather children in.

Rejoice! Rejoice! 
Let every tongue rejoice!
One heart, one voice,
O Church of Christ, rejoice!

Come those whose joy is morning sun
And those weeping through the night.
Come those who tell of battles won,
And those struggling in the fight.
For His perfect love will never change,
And His mercies never cease,
But follow us through all our days
With the certain hope of peace.

Come young and old from every land,
Men and women of the faith.
Come those with full or empty hands,
Find the riches of His grace.
Over all the world, His people sing,
Shore to shore we hear them call
The Truth that cries through every age;
"Our God is all in all!"

Heal Us 
By William Cowper
1779 A.D.

Heal us, Emmanuel, here we are.
We long to feel Thy touch.
Deep wounded souls to Thee we fly.
O Savior hear our cry!

Our faith is feeble, we confess.
We faintly trust Thy word.
But will You pity us the less?
Be that far from You, LORD!

Remember him who once applied
With trembling for relief.
“Lord, I believe,” with tears he cried
“O help my unbelief!" 

She, too, who touched You in the press
And healing virtue stole
Was answered, “Daughter, go in peace
Thy faith has made thee whole.”

Like her, with hopes and fears we come
To touch You if we may.
O send us not despairing home,
Send none unhealed away.

In My Place
By Village Church
2011 A.D.

In my place,
He stood condemned.
He who knew no sin
Became sin for us
That we might become
His righteousness.
Bearing all my sin and shame,
The punishment and blame,
He conquered the grave
That we might become
The heirs of grace.

In my place, Jesus died,
The spotless Lamb
Laid down His life.
The wrath of God was satisfied.
In my place, Jesus died.

Nail pierced hands, bleeding side,
His body bruised, my God crucified.
A crown of thorns, dying cries,
His flesh was torn, my God crucified.

Hallelujah, what a Savior!
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

House of God Forever
By Jon Foreman
2008 A.D.

God is my shepherd,
I won't be wanting,
I won't be wanting.
He makes me rest
In fields of green
With quiet streams.

Even though I walk
Through the valley
Of death and dying.
I will not fear,
‘Cause You are with me.
You are with me.

Your shepherd's staff

Comforts me.
You are my feast
In the presence of enemies.
Surely goodness will follow me,
Follow me
In the house of God forever.   

No Longer Slaves
By Bethel Music
2015 A.D.

You unravel me with a melody,
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance from my enemies
'Til all my fears are gone.

I'm no longer a slave to fear.
I am a child of God.
No, I'm no longer a slave to fear.
I am a child of God.

From my mothers womb,
You have chosen me.
Love has called my name.
I've been born again into Your family,
Your blood flows through my veins.


Woah, Woah ...

You split the sea
So I could walk right through it!
My fears were drowned 
In perfect love!
You rescued me
so I can stand and sing
"I am a child of God!"

By Matt Redman
2012 A.D.

Bless the Lord, oh my soul,
Oh my soul,
Worship His holy name!
Sing like never before,
Oh my soul,
I'll worship Your holy name.

The sun comes up,
It's a new day dawning.
It's time to sing Your song again.
Whatever may pass,
And whatever lies before me,
Let me be singing
When the evening comes!

You're rich in love
And You're slow to anger.
Your name is great
And Your heart is kind.
For all Your goodness
I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons
For my heart to find!

And on that day
When my strength is failing,
The end draws near
And my time has come,
Still my soul will
Sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years
And then forevermore!

New City Catechism Q & A 1

Q. What is our only hope in life and in death?
A. That we are not our own,but belong, body and soul, both in life and deathto God and to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ.3


May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. + 2 Corinthians 13:14

Next post: James 1:5-8; 3:13-18: Ask for Jesus' Wisdom

+ Sully

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