Monthly Archives: April 2014

Perseverance and Wisdom ~ James 1:1-5

I remember when I purchased my MacBook Air that it came with a Quick Start Guide while offering the full user’s manual online. I purchased my Mac; I made that commitment. To learn the essentials I referred to the Quick Start Guide; but to master it I must read the user’s manual.

I have read James’ Epistle in its entirety several times. The Book of James is sort of like the Christian’s Quick Start Guide. You’ve come to faith in Christ and you want a quick, easy to understand overview of what your life in Christ should look like – read the Book of James. To work towards “mastering” the Christian life (“mastering” in quotes because we will not “master” the Christian life until we are reunited with Jesus in Heaven) we must study the entirety of His Word as He revealed it to us in The Holy Bible.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

From the moment we come to faith in Jesus, we Christians face a barrage of challenges. We often find ourselves in situations and discussions that pit our faith in Christ and our knowledge about God’s ways against worldly views that seek to usurp His sovereignty. Proponents of worldly values forcefully argue their position and challenge the faithful to overcome them. Persecution abounds and is quick to raise its head when we who are faithful share views grounded in Scripture that are against the grain of modern societal thought. The path of least resistance is to be quiet; to shrink back and let the prince of the power of the air (see Ephesians 2:2) have his way. Sadly, we even see this phenomenon in the church as some churches have adopted worldly views and watered down teachings so as to avoid offending the “seeker” that might wander inside on any given Sunday morning.

The world’s arguments can be persuasive. But they are not grounded in Truth.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5

Our only source of true wisdom is God Himself. We seek His wisdom through study of His Word and through prayer. Only when we seek God’s wisdom are we properly equipped to discern His Truth and stand firmly upon it. Only with God’s help are we equipped to witness to the truth in a world that is increasingly rejecting it. On our own, this is an insurmountable task. But by trusting God for wisdom, and armed with the true wisdom that comes only from Him, we can persevere.

Bounty in God’s Word

This year I’ve embarked on a plan to read the entire Bible over the course of the year. This morning I completed Deuteronomy, thus having read the five books of Moses in sequence for the first time in my life. In reading these first five books of the Bible, one truth continually rings loud and clear: We serve The Holy, Sovereign, Awesome, Almighty, All-Powerful, Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Omnipotent God of the Universe! He is not our “buddy; He is not the “man upstairs.” He is Almighty God!

It saddens me that many modern day Christians view the Old Testament as irrelevant for these modern times. I know that some churches rarely, if ever, preach and teach the Old Testament. I can understand that, in a way, because there are some difficult passages there. But not reading it and not studying it tends to, over time, cloud our understanding of who God is and what He’s all about. Satan is overjoyed when we whittle away at God’s Truth in this manner.

In the days of the early Christian church, the Old Testament was used in presenting the Gospel message. Consider this, one of my favorite accounts from the book of Acts:

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road–the desert road–that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.”The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. (Acts 32:26-38)

See? The Old Testament isn’t a collection of outdated and irrelevant writings. It is all about Jesus! All of it! The entirety of the Old Testament points straight to Him as God works out His plan of salvation for the world.

In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he writes, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). What Paul understood, and what he wanted those of us coming after him to understand, is that a whole and complete understanding of Scripture is essential to gaining a whole and complete understanding of God and His Good News of the Gospel. If we don’t study Jesus in the context of the Old Testament, our understanding of Him becomes skewed.

As we believers seek to build a life that faithfully serves the Living God, we must be in His Word – all of His Word – so that we stay grounded in the Truth. God’s Word is an incredible, beautiful gift to His children. Let’s unwrap it and enjoy the bounty therein.

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