Thursday, February 24, 2011

James is a beautifully frustrating book.

James is one of my absolute favorite books in the bible. (It's okay to have favorites... right???) It's one that I've read so many times, but no matter how many times I read it, it's brand new. It's a very short book, but it's so full.

If you crack it open and begin reading, in just the first chapter you'll read verses like these:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father or lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.

Be doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit the orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. 

I mean, is anyone else here blown away? That's all in the FIRST chapter. And it's a very short chapter! Those are nine very solid verses that could be nine sermons in themselves. Nine huge life lessons in themselves. It's almost too much to take in in just one chapter.

That's why it's frustrating to me. I begin to read it, but I can't even get past the second verse without having to stop and let it soak in, pray over it, and figure out its appropriate place in my own life. Every verse is convicting. And every verse is an individual revival in my heart. And every single verse I just want to cling to.

I assigned James 1 as our reading for the college-aged bible study I lead on Thursdays. I don't use any kind of book or video or other resources for our bible study. Just straight bible. We read a particular verse, passage, chapter, etc. and discuss it. I provide the basic facilitating of the discussion, but for the most part, it's just one big conversation. It's amazing to do that. The Word just straight-up comes alive to us as every girl shares what she gets out of it, what God has taught her through it, what her life has experienced in reference to it. It's so stinkin cool.

And now to think we're about to dive into this book with that same momentum... I just can't even begin to fathom it. It's going to be good stuff! And knowing us, we won't get past the first paragraph tonight. And there will be huge smiles. Some tears. Lots of praises. That's what happens when you come together and study His Word. It's powerful, y'all!

If you've never read it, I challenge you to go read it right now. It's super short. Won't take more than 10 minutes. In fact, if you don't feel like getting up, just click here.

Good stuff, right??


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