This will be the final post for our James class. Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who participated in the class. I have definitely been both deeply challenged and encouraged through studying this book. God’s Word never ceases to amaze me and put me in a place of awe. Once you begin studying scripture you start seeing how rich and deep it is and always fresh (“living and active”).
In chapter 5:1-6, James talks about wealth in a pretty direct way. He talks about hoarding, becoming wealthy on the backs of the poor, and God’s future judgement when it comes to our relationship with wealth. Keep in mind that James isn’t condemning ‘having’ wealth, but rather how we use it and how we get it. Spend some time reading and praying through the following passages: Matthew 25:14-30, Luke 12:15-21, 1 Timothy 6:17-19, and Matthew 6:19-21. How is God speaking to you concerning what He has given to you? Let God (Holy Spirit & Scripture) be the loudest voice in your life when it comes to your finances (not authors, pastors, and radio personalities).
The issue of becoming wealthy or living luxuriously off the backs of the poor is a tragedy and crime that is still alive and well all over the world today (including America). I would strongly encourage you to become increasing more aware of modern day slavery as sadly sometimes we can participate in an evil system that exploits the poor without even being aware of it. Some great books to start with include: The Slave Next Door by Kevin Bales & Ron Soodalter, Disposable People by Kevin Bales, and A Crime So Monstrous by E. Benjamin Skinner.
Reread James 5:13-18 and think about the role of prayer and confession in your spiritual walk. James paints an incredible picture of what the Church could and should look like. Do we as a community of believers seek God in all circumstances (hard times, good times, illnesses)? What stops us from confessing our sins to one another? What would happen in our churches if we lived lives of confession? See 1 John 1:9.
As a final exercise of review now that we have read through the entire book, take some time to identify and map out common threads throughout James. For example: money, the poor, our words, prayer, faith & deeds, and the idea of being double-minded (two souled).
James is a tough book. His words aren’t sugar coated and they cut to the core. But don’t forget the heart behind the words. James was concerned about hearts and souls. He had his eyes on eternity. May we be people who live lives fully devoted to Jesus. Lives increasingly transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit. Lives fully present in God’s work now, and fully aware of eternity.
Thanks again for being a part of this class. Our next semester of classes will begin on Feb. 20, 2013. Here is a link to all five audio files from the class (James: Faith & Action).
* This blog will continue to be used for follow ups of sermons I preach at Crosswinds and my next upcoming class.