January 28, 2021

"Invaluable Opportunities" Abound - The Book of James Series

Welcome to our Book of James Series!


Hello there, friends!

Welcome to the second installment of our Study through the Book of James! If you missed our kick-off/introduction post a couple of weeks ago, you can read that by clicking HERE!

The plan is to post twice a month, and go through James' letter to the early church slowly, a few verses at a time, throughout this year! This book/letter is PACKED full of wisdom and challenges, so we're not going to rush our way through it or skim over the hard parts (as much as we may want to!)  

My hope for this series is that even more than with other posts, Y'all will interact in the comment section and share your own thoughts, insights, prayers, or questions! Let's dig into the Word together and help build each other up!

Today... we are simply going over James 1:1-4!

As I mentioned in the official kick-off Introduction, each post will include the text in one or more translations, as well as my thoughts on it and maybe a few deeper truths or meanings found there. Then, we'll close with a little prayer!


There are Oh So Many different versions (translations or paraphrases) of the Bible, but I will usually use a few to study deeper and then a few to read for a wider perspective.

I know many are tried and true King James readers... and as a new Christian many years ago, I first read the Word using either the New King James Version or the NIV.  I personally believe God speaks through all of them --but my preferred study translation is the New American Standard Bible and then --to no ones' surprise!-- I dig in with the Amplified, The Message, The Passion, and The Voice for a broader view. These are the translations you will find me quoting from most often, but I do venture out from there every once in a while!

Let's go!

JAMES 1:1-4:

We're gonna kick it off using The Passion Translation Bible:

"Greetings! My name is Jacob, and I’m a love-slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m writing to all the twelve tribes of Israel who have been sown as seeds among the nations.

My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things. And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking." (The Passion Translation)

You will find me using The Passion often in this series because --well, first off -it's just so romantic! But also because I have great respect for Brian Simmons and the study and work he put into this translation... he dug into the original language and root meanings and how the culture of the time would have interpreted the scripture. If you are already a fan, you know... but some of the best notes on Scripture can be found in the Footnotes of this Bible!! 

I love that at the very start, James (which is actually the Hebrew name for Jacob!) spells it out clear: He is sold out for Jesus!  He is all in and fully believes that Jesus is God, just as He said.  James is writing to the early church --to the Jews of the early church. If you can imagine, they had a hard go of it! The church was almost entirely made up of new converts. They experienced a great deal of pressure because of their decisions to follow Christ - Jews and Gentiles alike were not very open to the idea, but James encouraged the new believers to persevere during the difficult times. He longed to see them grow and become mature in their faith. Leave it to an apostle to encourage you and shift your thinking... instead of leaving it as 'difficulties' James goes on to call them an "Invaluable Opportunity". 

I remember when I started to follow suit recently... it seems we were facing one battle after another, and I reminded myself to not give them power by declaring them difficult, but instead I would (somewhat sarcastically, I admit!) call them Opportunities! We laughed a bit and shrugged it off, but honestly --sometimes the shift won't happen on the inside until we allow ourselves to see our struggle or situation from a different perspective and call it something else on the outside! Instead of focusing on all the trials, look for the good and the gold in the midst of them! (It seems Gratitude can have its' way with us in good times AND in difficu-- uh, invaluable opportunities alike!)

James continues by explaining why we can look at difficulties in such a light!


Next, let's look at the ever trusted NASB:

"James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings. 

Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (New American Standard Bible)

Really, James? 

ALL Joy?


It will do us well to remember here that Joy and Happiness are not the same things! Joy --at least it should be!-- is not subject to feelings or circumstances that change with the wind. Joy is something else.. something deeper... something lasting!

I read in a Commentary on Bible.com that "Happiness is a state of our emotions, while Joy is a state of our soul." 

The writer went on to say, "Happiness is based on our current situation, while joy is based on our future." While we may not be happy if or when we lose our job, or get sick, or experience loss or slander or hurts... even when going through hard times, we CAN still hold on to Joy, knowing that our God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

I suppose it can be said that Happiness is based on what we are experiencing, while Joy is based on what is set before us in the long run!


 "I, James, am a slave of God and the Master Jesus, writing to the twelve tribes scattered to Kingdom Come: Hello!

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way." (The Message)

For some reason, Sheer Gift reads better to me than All Joy! It's really the same thing, but -again... I love Eugene Petersons' poetic way of paraphrasing the Word. 

Let's just get real here for a moment! 

2020 was not cute.  I am sure that MANY of us found ourselves 'under pressure'... hopefully our faith-life was forced into the open and it showed its true colors to be hope and love and patience and grace! (Wait... what?  Well - at least SOME of the times it did, right?)  It goes on to admonish us to not try to get out of anything prematurely... Ouch!? I mean - I've been guilty of wanting a shortcut or three... but we know here that if we are willing to not skip ahead, God will do a work in us to help mature and develop us into more of who He actually fashioned and intended for us to be!


Next, let's look at the Amplified Bible for a little expanded view:

"James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered abroad [among the Gentiles in the dispersion]: Greetings (rejoice)!

Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.

Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.

But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing." (Amplified)

We all know to pay close attention to the "so that's" in the Word, right?  Why is it wise for us to not rush through something or try to get out of tough situations rather than walking through them? SO THAT we may be perfected and lacking nothing as we become more and more like Jesus!

I don't know about you, Sweet Reader... but I know for me, I want to cross the finish line mature, fully developed, and lacking nothing! I want to lean in and allow God to guide us through the hardships and battles this world will hurl at us and still hold on to Joy, knowing that we are following in the footsteps of Jesus Himself. 


Do you see how helpful it is to read through the verses in several different translations? It seems to open things up a bit and give you more to ponder over and pray into! 

The greeting James gives in verse one, no matter the translation, reveals his full surrender and submission to Jesus as Lord! He encountered the Resurrected Jesus and it changed everything!

And that, my friends, is how it's supposed to be!


Let's close in prayer:

  Father God, we thank You for the gift and the power of Your Word! We thank You for James and the words he poured out for the believers in the early church and how You use these words to speak to us today, in whatever city or church we live and gather in!

We are so grateful for James and his testimony of going from an unbeliever to becoming a 'love-slave' of God and Jesus.  Awaken our hearts, like You did in James, to burn for You. Stir us up to remember our first love and how we were sold out and fully surrendered!

Lord, you know all of the battles we are facing... You know, Holy Spirit, of all the "Invaluable Opportunities" that surround us! You know our flesh and our tendency to want shortcuts and smooth sailing!  We trust You, Father, that You will never leave us or forsake us, but instead, you stay close and walk us through... and help us to remember that Joy is always an option! 

Open our eyes to see all of these 'Opportunities' around us, and let us Speak Life, Be Love, and Shine On in the midst of pressure and conflict! Stir up in us the power to endure... and as we endure, strengthen us as we become more and more like You! Let us, like James, encounter our Resurrected King and let that make all the difference!

 In Jesus' Name! Amen!


We will be back in about two weeks to dig into the next few verses together!

Until then, let's remember to:

* = I was given this lovely book as a pre-release in exchange for my honest review.
The timing of it is not lost on me, as we are digging into James - the New Testament version of Proverbs!
My honest review is anything by Joyce Meyer is going to be powerful and full of the Word.
This was not what I expected - but so practical and helpful! Highly Recommend it!
I'm still reading it, but will write a Book Review post (and host a Giveaway!) soon!

Lastly, we will be linking each post in this series over on the Series Landing Page. This way if you are coming in late to the game, or simply missed a post for some reason, you can still play catch up by clicking HERE

You can also fill in the Subscribe Here bar at the top and you will be subscribed to a weekly email that will send each post to you there, as well as a monthly newsletter that comes out around the first of each month!

I'd love to hear what stood out to you in the verses today!  Chime in in the Comment Section below and share your thoughts, insights, or prayers!

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Thanks so much for stopping by! I always love to hear your thoughts! Remember to: Speak Life - Be Love - Shine On!

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