Faith vs. Works: Reasoning Through the Age-Old Debate

Reasoning Through the Age-Old Debate of Faith vs. Works

I wonder if James could have had any inkling of the debates that would rise through the ages over this last section of chapter two. Even Martin Luther, the father of the Reformation, at one time took issue with James’ discussion of faith and works.

The challenge for me when studying this part of God’s Word is to do what Janet encourages us in the GodChats lessons: remove all presuppositions I have. I need to zero in on the Word, let God’s Word teach me about His Word, not what man says about these words.

Let’s dive in to the text!

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Making Sense of the Law of Liberty

Making Sense of the Law of Liberty

Does the phrase “Law of Liberty” seem like an oxymoron to you? Much like the terms: “Genuine Imitation,” or “Jumbo Shrimp?”

In James’ last example of the sin of showing partiality and favoritism, he stated that conviction comes by the law. In this next section, he further explains this “law of liberty” and how we are judged by it.

Correct understanding of the law will help me correctly live out my faith. 

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How We Look at the Outside, and Those On the Outside, Looking In

How We Look at the Outside and Those on the Outside, Looking In

Reading James chapter two reminds me of a couple different scenarios in my life:

That time I first walked into a country club and felt so out of place, as if my clothes weren’t stylish enough, or I knew I didn’t fit in because I didn’t have enough money to be a member. The other is driving down a city street full of homeless people huddled near their pile of belongings and feeling somehow ashamed of all the excess that I have.

In both situations, I was looking at the external, and feeling like an outsider, looking in.

James begins chapter two by reminding us that Jesus’ Church is never to be a place where people feel like outsiders.

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How Forgetful We Are!

How Forgetful We Are!

Have you ever gotten ready to leave the house in the morning, walked away from the mirror, and can’t remember if you put your mascara on?

Or how many of us drive away from our home and can’t remember if we closed the garage door?

This may be more true of me because I’m over 50! But James points out in chapter one that we are indeed forgetful people, especially when it comes to God’s Word.

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3-Stepping Our Way to Implanting God's Word

3-Stepping Our Way to Implanting God’s Word

Have you ever tried to learn a dance move with three steps? Like the Waltz or Texas 3-step?

Basically, these dances follow a pattern of “Quick – Quick – Slow.” Two Quicks, One Slow.

James 1:19 shows us another kind of 3-Step: Only ONE Quick and TWO Slows:

  1. Be Quick to Hear
  2. Be Slow to Speak
  3. Be Slow to Anger

My husband is a pastor and often recites this verse during wedding ceremonies to remind couples that we often get these three commands backwards when we communicate with one another.

Without thinking, we can be quick to speak, or quick to anger, but slow to hear.

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Who Dangles the Bait of Temptation?

Who Dangles the Bait of Temptation?

Early followers of Christ were persecuted for their faith. They may have faced verbal and physical harassment, but most certainly experienced financial hardship from loss of business due to their faith.

So James is encouraging and exhorting them in their trials. Here, he goes on to teach them what can happen when they go through a trial: a bait dangles in front of them called temptation.

Were these early Christians tempted to steal when funds ran low and provision seemed impossible?

Or worse yet, were they tempted to give up on their faith when faced with persecution?

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Blessed By Hanging In There

Blessed By Hanging In There!

Staying the course. It’s a phrase we all must live by to keep us from wandering from our faith, our spouse, or even from our job, when we face trouble, testing, or boredom.

Perhaps I contradict myself by saying that I intended to “stay the course” in my study of James, chapter 1 – to continue at verse 12 and dig in to an entire paragraph.

But verse 12 stopped me in my tracks: “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.”

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How the Humility of Trials Can Lift Us Up

So far, reading and studying along in the first chapter of James has been pretty cut and dry. I am following the thought process of James and then, I hit verses James 1:9-11.

Wait, what?! I’m stumped by what seems like a slight diversion.

Does this happen to you too?

Before learning to study with the app, I might have just kept on reading, missing the discovery God wanted to show me in these three verses. Instead, I slow down, even stop and take a more in-depth look at these verses IN CONTEXT.

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Wisdom - A Promise With a Condition

Wisdom: A Promise With a Condition

Christians know that God’s love for us is unconditional. However, many of His promises in Scripture are not. Some promises come with a condition. One of those is found in James, chapter one.

The brother of Jesus explains how endurance through trials will bring forth a perfect result – that being we lack nothing.

Then in verse five, James adds a contrast: “But, if any of you lacks …”

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Endurance Through the Trial

Endurance Through the Trial

There is not a one of us exempt from trials. Everyone in the world lives through trials. They have come, and they will continue to come, in many various forms, large and small. It could be as simple as losing your keys to the loss of a loved one, a fatal disease, an accident, surgery, employment, a financial crisis, difficult relationships with family and friends, persecution, and the list goes on. All of these things touch us in some way or another, and if they haven’t, they will. And when trials come, do you wonder why? Do you become overwhelmed? Do you tend to give Satan the credit thinking it is an attack from the enemy? Or blame others? Well, let’s see what God has to say about trials. (from Godchats)

As I engage with God in the book of James, verses two through four leap off the page in a new way.

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Brother and Bond-Servant

Brother and Bond-Servant

Have you ever planned a vacation, going over books and maps to get ready for your trip? And then once there, you were able to enjoy your journey because you knew what to look for and how to find it? Well let’s do that today, so you will understand why you would want to join us on this journey of Discovery in theBook of James. (from Godchats)

I dove into the book of James today, but got no further than the first verse!

Jam-packed with information, I didn’t want to miss anything, so I stopped to tap on a couple of words. In just the simple, short greeting of a letter, I discovered a whole world of meaningful insights.

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