At the beginning of September, we started our sermon series in James and have asked our church family to consider reading through it one time each month, for three months.
Our hope is to hear from other voices and share some honest reactions of what others are learning or hearing from God as we read His Word.
These people are reading right alongside you…
The Trujillo Family (Mike, Brittany, Mikey, Madelyn & Matthew): James 1:1-27
“We really enjoy reading James together as a family. We feel it has so much ‘meat,’ and speaks to our hearts. We have spent the week breaking down each verse and really dissecting and discussing it.
‘Count it all joy my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.’ We really feel God speaking to us in this passage. We are met with trials and testing of our faith everyday, but to choose to be joyous and give thanksgiving in those times is not a natural response, but rather a supernatural one.
There is a lot going on around us, especially now. Our family has been reminded that no matter what goes on in this world, we are too look to our heavenly father for guidance. We know that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness, and we will count it all joy!“
Michael & Pam Contreras: James 2:1-26
“As we read James 2, we continue to see the focus on faith. Because these were new believers born through faith, having learned a new life in faith.
It is critical to understand how faith is shown through your actions and not a method to gain eternal life.”
Brittany Meloni: James 3:1-18
“I looked up this week at the smoggy skies wondering all that had been lost due to the fires along the west coast. I highly doubt that the person who was planning a fun gender reveal party knew that this decision would do damage that would span states.
James 3 uses the metaphor of the tongue being like a small fire that sets a great forest ablaze (verse 5). When I reflect on the moments that I speak quickly and off the cuff, I realize that I’m typically missing the forest for the trees. I see the one problem or the one person that needs to hear whatever thing it is I think is right. I don’t ask the Spirit. I don’t discern what is best for this person. I set one tiny little fire of criticism, discouragement, or unsolicited opinion ablaze and turn around and walk away never knowing the damage done.
I don’t believe we should watch ourselves so intensely where we become anxious and mull over our words but I do think an untamed tongue is fruit of something below the surface. It could be insecurity, bitterness, but usually in my case it’s hurt trying to make its way out.
Instead of acknowledging that, a lot of times we (I) spit this fire on others unaware of the needs, hurts, or wounds this person is dealing with. And this is when great damage can happen.
There are lots of reasons we justify criticism, discouragement, and even lies that are usually due to our own pain or insecurity but James reminds us that these harmful words can and will burn down any living thing around us. In verse 18, though, James gives us a vision of a different kind of forest. It’s a forest (harvest) of righteousness that’s sown through peace by people of peace.
I think this is a picture of the Kingdom of God and I think James is calling us to be those people of peace. He’s showing us all through chapter 3 how our words are part of destroying or creating that Kingdom here on earth. So as I reflect on the whole of chapter 3, I pray verse 17 over Pulpit Rock Church. I pray that our words to others and ourselves would be ‘first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.’
Because in God’s Kingdom skies aren’t smoggy. Forests don’t burn down. Forests flourish, grow, and are places of peace.”
Nate Huntley: James 4:1-17
“As recipients of the Holy Spirit, God desires for us to remain loving toward one another – right or wrong is not ours to determine. We are called to humble every part of ourselves and be unified in the Spirit.”
John & Natalie McLaughlin: James 4:1-17
“As John and I read through this passage of Scripture and chatted about what God had impressed upon our hearts, John was drawn specifically to James 4:6-10:
‘In James chapter 4 and throughout the letter, the Lord led me to focus on humility. Personally, I see humility as one of James’s most significant elements for his audience to take away. In a posture and attitude of humility, we can submit to God and resist the devil. We can come near to God as He will come near to us.
It will impact my heart demeanor towards others, and even impact how I speak to and about others. Humility really brings about the right heart attitude that God desires, enabling me to live in the manner He desires for me to live. I am praying for humility. I know, be careful what you pray for, especially a prayer like this one that seems bold and even scary. Yet I am trusting God as I ask Him, being confident he will answer me.’
For me, I viewed this passage in the context of individuals going through the trials James addressed in the first chapter.
I think about the times and seasons when I’ve been going through a difficult situation, and in those moments, I often feel as if I allow myself a pass to be frustrated, mean, or short with people, particularly my family, because, well, life is hard at the moment. But James has been walking us through God’s expectations for us even in hard times.
He says in 4:1-3 that these individuals are fighting because they want something; they are jealous. And even when they ask God for what they want, it’s because they desire ‘pleasure’ (verse 3) and not the suffering of the trial. Their motives are all wrong!
But in verse 5, James reflects back on what Scripture says: ‘God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him.’ If I understand James correctly, he is encouraging us to focus not on God giving us pleasure, giving us what we want, or even removing the trial, but rather we should focus on praying that God would help us be faithful to Him in our circumstances whatever they may be.”
Tommy & Sherry Thompson: James 5:1-20
“Some of our observations as we read through James chapter 5…
Don’t depend on your riches; depend on God.
Don’t oppress others to enrich yourself (similar to 2:8).
Don’t be inpatient.
Don’t judge others, that’s God’s job.
Don’t try to barter with God using false oaths to escape suffering.
Don’t assume prayer will physically heal you; raising up may mean spiritual healing.
Don’t assume your prayers, however righteous, are always God’s will.“
We’ve loved reading alongside you and hearing what you’ve learned from James so far.
Our hope is that you will read along with us again through the month of October! You can find the James Reading Plan here.