A Time of Reflection
As you know, we were on vacation last week and were able to visit our family, friends, and our church back in Oregon. And even though we were nearly 2000 miles away, the love that I have for each person here that kept my thoughts and prayers here. For the first time in quite a while, I was given time to reflect on the many things that goes on from day to day. It also provided a time for a reflection of the direction that the Lord is leading His church. We will face good times and times of trial. As a believer, we will also face a time where we question if we are truly following the path that God has chosen for us. As you may know, my step mom is facing some very difficult times right now, to the point that her doctor told her that the path she is on right now in chemo is killing her. I was able to spend a few uninterrupted hours with her, and she is opening up to the truth of God’s Word for the first time. She doesn’t blame Him for her cancer, but rather acknowledges that He may be trying to get her or someone around her attention.
You see, if we silence our minds and the business that surrounds each day, we can listen to the will of God and see what path He has chosen for us to follow. In an instant though, He may change that path and we need to make sure that we are listening to Him when He makes the shift. It is interesting how God works these things out if we are truly listening to Him. As I was reflecting on these different things over the past two weeks, I was led to the book of James, and so, our passage this morning comes from the first chapter of James. [READ JAMES 1:2-27]
In this passage, James speaks of
1. Trials and Temptations
5. True religion
As we spend time in reflection, James’ words will ring ever so true if we spend the time to listen.
1. James Speaks of Trials and Temptations (1:2–4, 12–16): Here he pictures these experiences in a twofold light.
A. Positive (1:2–4, 12): As seen from God’s perspective.
i. The purpose (1:2–3): To purify and strengthen us.
ii. The products (1:4)
1. Perseverance (1:4a)
2. Maturity (1:4b)
iii. The promise (1:12): God will someday give the crown of life to those who successfully endure.
B. Negative (1:13–16): As seen from Satan’s perspective.
i. The purpose (1:13–14): To pervert and weaken us.
ii. The products (1:15–16)
1. Evil actions (1:15a)
2. Possible death (1:15b–16)
2. James Speaks of Trusting (1:5–8)
A. When to trust God (1:5): When we need wisdom.
B. How to trust God (1:6b–8)
i. Positive (1:6a): We need only to ask him in faith.
ii. Negative (1:6b–8): Wisdom will not be given to a faithless person.
3. James Speaks of Transition (1:9–11): James touches on the shortness of life.
A. The example (1:9a, 10a, 11): Human glory is like a beautiful flower that blossoms and soon fades away.
B. The exhortation (1:9b, 10b): Only God’s glory is eternal.
4. James Speaks of Treasure (1:17–25): The treasure here is the Bible itself.
A. The source of this treasure (1:17): It came as a perfect gift from the unchanging God, who “created all heaven’s lights.”
B. The salvation in this treasure (1:18): We have become his children through this priceless gift.
C. The symbol for this treasure (1:19–25): James compares the Bible to a mirror.
5. James Speaks of True Religion (1:26–27)
A. The fiction (1:26): Some believe they can claim the name of Christ and continue to slander other Christians.
B. The facts (1:27): James lists two (of many) signs indicating true religion.
i. Having compassion upon orphans and widows (1:27a)
ii. Keeping from the pollution of the world (1:27b)
As we work through each of these different points that James puts in front of us, it should cause us to take pause; to look at our Christian walk and see if we are really being doers of the Word. Are we hearers only? Or do we take the tough and sometimes painful strides that God may require of us? Do we hear His Word, but stop just short of acting on it? These are questions that each one of us needs to reflect on. Are you facing a trial right now that may cause you to dig deep in your faith for answers? James tells us that these trials that make us cling to God and search through His Word are not something that we should dread or fear, but rather something that we should embrace. When was the last time that you put your full problems in God’s hands and leaned fully on Him?
Willmington, H. L.: The Outline Bible. Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House Publishers, 1999, S. Jas 1:27