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Read James 1 (NASB, ESV, MSG)

OK…so sue me!!! So, I like the little wave machines. You know the ones that I’m talking about. The little rectangular glass enclosures with the blue fluid on the bottom and the clear fluid on top that do nothing other than slowly tilt from side to side allowing the heavier blue fluid to flow from low end to low end. When I go into the stores in the mall or the shopping centers that sell them I can stand there mesmerized, watching the simulated waves sloshing back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth…so you get the idea. It helps with my ADHD on steroids after I’ve had two or three mocha cafe’ latte’s from Starbucks and I’m shaking like a Chihuahua on crack.

So, by now you’re probably wondering what this is about when it comes to James chapter 1. One too many latte’s. I like the little wave simulators because they make for a wonderful metaphor of the way some people live their lives. When one circumstance tilts someone’s world, they slosh to one side. When another circumstance tilts them again, they slosh the other way. They never seem to have stability, no center, no focus always jumping from one thing to another. James actually mentions this phenomenon in chapter one, verse six where he says:

… the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. (James 1:6)

Prior to that God, through James, has reminded us that we will have trials, temptations, hardships, difficulties, disillusionments and a whole host of other negative experiences in this life due to its sinfulness, hate of God, and rejection of Jesus. He then follows this disclosure up with reminding us that anytime we don’t know quite how to respond to a situation, circumstance, person, etc, we have God’s counsel through the intercessory work of Christ (Heb 7:22-25), patient wisdom of the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:7), and the counsel of Scripture (2 Tim 3:16), as well as the counsel of other believers to guide us through this life and what it has to offer. But not only has our Heavenly Father provided these things, He does so generously, without demeaning us or belittling us. He does so with the singular purpose of bringing about His best in our lives.

The problem comes in when we seek out His counsel in the above ways and then simply walk away from it like we never even heard of the Bible, the Holy Spirit, another believer, or even Christ and keep on making the same bonehead plays in life that we always have. James reminds us that when we seek out the face of God and forget what it looks like when we’ve seen it, we remain directionless and we might as well be living life according to a compass with no needle; just wandering around, following the prevailing winds. We see a lot of this in the political correctness movement today in government, education, family, and even the church. When a principle becomes unpopular this week, but popular the next and then unpopular the week after that, we simply keep shifting our worldview accordingly; even when that worldview contradicts what we know to be God’s Truth for life, the universe and everything.

When we live life in this way, the Bible tells us that we receive nothing from God (v. 7). We most want to feel loved, safe and secure, significant in life and when we wander from one direction to the next…we can’t receive the very things that God has promised to give us. Jesus said: “those who love me will follow my commands” (even when it isn’t convenient, feeds ego, and doesn’t win us popularity contests) with the result being (in His words): “My yoke is easy, I have come to give abundant life, I am the source of peace without understanding, and the source of all joy.” (Matt 11:30; John 10:10; 14:27; 15:11). What follows is the assurance that when we persevere in what God teaches us, we become blessed. The word ‘blessed’ in the Greek speaks of the personal fullness that comes to a person when they have the palpable presence of God in their lives. When we learn from Christ, we grow in Christ and we have His grace upon us…not just His unmerited favor, but His ability to work in us and through us as we follow His leadings.

It is during these times of trust that we become gripped by His greatness, in the midst of our smallness……

[epistle of james] chapter 1

by Bryant Neal time to read: 4 min
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