March 11, 2021

Experience the Untold Blessings of God... The Book of James Bible Series


Hello, Sweet Readers!

Today we continue on with our Study through the Book of James! If you'd like to read our earlier posts, you can catch up by reading them HERE! (--scroll through to the bottom of that post to find the List of Linked Posts in this Series!)

I realize this is slow going! We are simply taking a verse or two at a time, and reading it in several translations, and asking God to highlight something to each of us through the reading of this Living Word! Trust me... there are some very intense verses ahead of us --so we will be thankful to only be tackling a few lines at a time!  Today - we dig into James 1:12-15!

Maybe let's say a quick prayer on our own and ask the Father to open our eyes and our hearts and our understanding so that we can not just gain knowledge or wisdom or insight --but SO THAT we can live our faith out loud!

Let's go!

Our verses today are JAMES 1:12-15! Let's read together!

Let's dig in first, reading these verses in The Passion Translation Bible:

"If your faith remains strong, even while surrounded by life’s difficulties, you will continue to experience the untold blessings of God! True happiness comes as you pass the test with faith, and receive the victorious crown of life promised to every lover of God! When you are tempted don’t ever say, “God is tempting me,” for God is incapable of being tempted by evil and he is never the source of temptation. Instead it is each person’s own desires and thoughts that drag them into evil and lure them away into darkness. Evil desires give birth to evil actions. And when sin is fully mature it can murder you!" (The Passion Translation)

IF... IF...

"IF your faith remains strong..."

Y'all... we all want to experience the untold blessings of God! We do... and we can!  However, what that means is --our faith must remain strong even if/even when life comes at us hard and heavy, weighing us down and whisper-shouting lies that feel like truth! We must hold the line and stand our ground and we must persevere --and then, --then!-- we get to experience the untold blessings of God!

Listen --we all would like an easy life! I mean -right? If we are being honest... we'd all prefer a life of blessings without trials or temptations. We all want comfort and peace --but only one of those is promised!  Aren't you so thankful that Jesus was not about Sugar coating anything? He didn't tell us life would be easy.  In fact, at one point in my walk with Him, He confronted my longing for comfort by asking me, "Who TOLD YOU that you could have a Comfort Zone?"
(Rats! & Ouch!) 

No - instead, He is upfront and honest and He tells us we WILL face trouble in this world...but - Good News! He has overcome the world! This means - on our own...persevering may not be possible --but with God... well, --you know! ("For with God, nothing will be impossible! " Luke 1:37)

"True happiness comes as you pass the test with faith..."

Isn't that something we are all looking for? True Happiness? I wrote in our March Newsletter about a YouVersion story I read recently that talked about Happiness and the Beatitudes and how the author of that piece said that Happiness is a result. They said, "You have to sow your way to happiness."

So good, right?  To get the Victor's Crown, we have to become victorious! Victorious over the trials and temptations that test our faith and stir up questions and doubts. What happens when we entertain those questions, and doubts, and give in to those temptations? Well... listen, friends... we've all done it! We tend to blame God... or the devil... or our parents or friends or --anyone but ourselves! Any. One. other than us!


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

"Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. No one is to say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it has run its course, brings forth death." (New American Standard Bible)

I've got Good News! Our God - He has never -no, not once!- used evil temptations to get His way or prove a point! (That's not Him!) His ear is not drawn to evil and his heart is never pulled in that direction. He will not use evil to teach you a lesson... He just won't! We have a Good, Good Father and He is never not good! It's not in Him.  Will He use the bad or hard things... will He use/redeem our poor choices and consequences for good? Oh yes - 100% He will. But He does not send them or cause them!

James goes on to say - -that's on us, friends!  We know, of course, that the enemy is real and he is good at his job but even with that truth --it's on us! 


Next, let's look at The Voice:

"Happy is the person who can hold up under the trials of life. At the right time, he’ll know God’s sweet approval and will be crowned with life. As God has promised, the crown awaits all who love Him. No one who is tempted should ever be confused and say that God is testing him. The One who created us is free from evil and can’t be tempted, so He doesn’t tempt anyone. When a person is carried away with desire, lured by lust, and when desire becomes the focus and takes control, it gives birth to sin. When sin becomes fully grown, it produces death." (The Voice)

Oh, friends!  Here is a Spoiler Alert: James is bold and unafraid... undaunted... unwavering.  We are headed to some deep Truths and hard verses that are not so much popular in our current culture.  James is not afraid to call sin, sin! 

He says it plainly here today... "When a person is carried away with desire, lured by lust, and when desire becomes the focus and takes control, it gives birth to sin. When sin becomes fully grown, it produces death." 

Desire... in and of itself, is not bad! In fact, it can be good. But once it is lured by lust, it gets tainted and misdirected. And then when it is off course and takes control, it births sin... which grows often undetected and produces death.

How do we 'fix' this... or prevent it from even happening in the first place?  

Well... we purpose to align our desires to match His! 

And how do we do this? We go back to the beginning of our portion of Scripture today... "If you remain strong in your faith..."  First --we have to become strong in our faith! 

We must know Jesus... not just know of Him.  

We must do more than just skim His Word or rush through our reading, we must Love the Word --but also this: We must LIVE it out loud, too!  

We must make time and room for Him in our every day... to pray and converse with Him as if He is actually in the room (or car or on our walk, etc.!) --because, here's the deal: He IS! 

And please don't read those things and count yourself out!  Please don't see a list of things you have to do that is heavy and burdensome... It's just that this is how we sow our way to happiness and it's how we sow our way to a strong faith --one that withstands the winds and the rains!

Many in the Body have fallen asleep and they (read: we!) are unaware... but there is coming another Great Awakening and Y'all:  We must prepare ahead of time!  Trials and temptations will come... we are promised that.  How we get through them victorious is determined by how we live our lives beforehand! We must decide who and what we believe first... and know it down deep in our bones... so that when those hard times come at us... our foundation is solid and our roots secure -anchored to the One who won us and paid our ransom!  He came to live and die and rise again SO THAT we could too!


Lastly, as has become our habit, let's read Eugene Petersons' take in The Message Bible:

"Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life. Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer." (The Message)

Can we just take a moment and soak in this: "For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life!" Are you loyally in love with God?  Would those around you agree with that statement? Co-workers, spouses, children, neighbors, strangers... would they also say you are loyally in love with God? I'm not talking on a bad day -or even a great day --but on an average normal middle of the week kind of day? Are we living out loud and Speaking Life and Being Love in a way that Shines a Light on how enamored we are with our God? 

I know... I know... that can feel judgy and harsh... it can feel condemning. But what it really is, if we are willing to be honest, is convicting!  Like I said, James pulls no punches.  He wasn't really concerned with playing nice... no -he was passionate about their living out their faith. Remember - this is the early church.  This letter was written to new believers who were being persecuted for their faith. The temptation to back off or quiet down or blend in to play it safe must have been strong! James' goal was to remind them that their faith needed to be stronger! --That there was a great reward --a Victor's crown and an Abundant Life-- available to them if they persevered! 

This stirs up the image of an Olympian. In the earliest times, the winner would be crowned with a wreath in celebration of their victory. I'm a huge fan of watching the Olympics. I love the story behind the athletes and the endurance and the level of discipline and drive to overcome and improve... 

Listen - I like to watch them... but I don't want to participate in them! 

However, we are not called to be spectators in the Kingdom of God! There are no sidelines in this game! We are ALL called and equipped! We are ALL invited on the field and to the Table! 

So - we must train! 

We must develop and strengthen our faith so that when the trials come... when hard times or testing heads our way, we will not be swayed!  One of the best ways to do this is to not give room for compromise or sin. 

I know... I do, you guys! We don't love this conversation. Oh - we like it fine if we are talking about your sin or 'their' sin... but not so much if we're focused on our own sin! 

But Eugene Peterson digs into James' words and paints us a very vivid picture: Sin doesn't stay small... it doesn't stay little or harmless or infantile... it grows up into adulthood and eventually - it becomes a real killer!  Eventually - it represents the enemy and it comes to kill, steal, and destroy!  Sin - even if/when it starts small and in secret --it will not stay that way! 

He puts before us Life and Death... Blessing and Cursing
    Something about, "Therefore, Choose Life...
           that both you and your seed may live!" (Deut30:19)


Let's close in prayer:

Father God, 

e are so thankful for You! We're so grateful for Your Word and how You don't leave us in the dark... Lord, we ask that You strengthen our Faith --that You will awaken us and enable us to do the work with You, with the Holy Spirit, to strengthen our faith SO THAT when life comes at us, we will remain strong! Lord, we are not after rewards for rewards' sake... we don't want a crown for bragging rights or to feel better than others... we are after the life and joy that You offer us - both here and now, and in the age to come! We want the Life You paid for... the Life You desire for us to live!

We thank You, Father God - that You are not a man that You should lie and You do not tempt us with evil! Thank You, Lord, that You are 
never the source of temptation. You will use ALL things, but You do not cause all things!

Jesus, we ask you to redeem our desires to line up with what pleases You!  We want what You want.  Help us to remember that and to know what that is! Awaken a desire for Your Word and Your Presence!  Reveal the areas in our own lives that are falling short... that are pulling us away or lulling us to sleep... help us to recognize our own flesh and the taunting and tempting of the enemy and wake us up to make better choices and practice better habits!  The Kingdom of God is Righteousness, Peace, and Joy... we want --no, we need!-- all three of those things!  We do not want to be lured away but instead, we want to be Light that chases darkness away! We want Life... not Death! We want to be the Beloved and the Bride, not the Burdened and the Bound! Remind us that we have been Set Free and we are well equipped to overcome!  Help us, Holy Spirit, to press on... to fight the good fight of faith and to experience the untold blessings of God!

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:

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!

Again, I'd love to know what you think about this series so far! What stands out to you? What is your favorite part or your favorite Translation? What are your thoughts on the verses we covered today? 

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