James daily devotional thought -  written by Trevor Williams

James 1

Do not merely listen to the word v 22

We are instructed that faith comes by hearing the message, through the word of Christ; Romans 10:17. But sometimes we listen more intently than others; do we merely listen? There are times when the preacher, the teacher or the teller of the story of Jesus can almost show us into the doors of Heaven and our souls are moved to conviction, but we need to listen.

The Apostle John loved to tell that the Word lived among the people John 1:14.  What a thrill it must have been for these fortunate people who saw the Living Word and heard his voice and the knowledge within it.  Those who saw and heard were blessed indeed.

Yet our passage in James speaks of merely listening.  The merely listening is of course no listening at all.  It is the reaction of one person being too engrossed in something else to bother to actually open ears, heart and mind to what is being said.  How much distress has this caused in the marriage relationship when one side ‘merely listens’?  How many children have been disciplined because they are not aware of what their parents’ are talking about?  How many problems in industry have happened because people have not listened to what is going on?

James develops his theme to demonstrate that a man who looks into a mirror and forgets his own face is a man who has looked and seen nothing of importance.  As the people of God we must make time to look into the mirror to see what God’s servant looks like, then we need to listen to God’s word and see what God is saying to us today.  There was a message for last year and even yesterday but if there is nothing for us to hear today we are missing something.  Is God shouting at us today to be a faithful husband or wife?  Today are we faithful in business and in church life?  Perhaps we might even need a spiritual cotton bud to clean out the wax in our ears.  Today let us get rid of merely hearing and say with Samuel of old; ’speak Lord for your servant hears.’


James 2

Our glorious Lord. V1

When Jesus walked this earth we see him almost as a nobody.  There was no beauty in him that we would want to be like him.  He had no mansion to show his wealth.  He taught in only a small country and had no world-wide following.  He seems a friend only to the poor, the sick and the lonely.

That is why we claim him as ‘ours’, here is the ownership; He is ours because he gave himself to us, to me for who I am and what I am.  We are his by divine birth through his blood and righteousness.  We belong to each other, not on the basis of works or merit but rather on acceptance.  Jesus knows who and what we are, in contrast we accept who he is and though we do not understand his greatness, acknowledge that he is ours.

But our relationship is based on glory for we have a glorious Lord.  Not liked by everyone nor even wanted by those He would want.  Glorious Jesus was in Heaven from where he came to seek and save that which was lost.  He was glorious in good deeds on earth when he touched the broken hearted and cared for the disgusting of society.  Now our Jesus is glorious in salvation living with and in those who make him their own.  Sufficient glory is available through Jesus that he radiates that glory to all his followers making them all like himself.

This glorious person that we are a part of is also Lord.  By divine right he is our King, leader, teacher and guide.  In him is no weakness of personality.  He has no need to be voted upon or raised to a position.  He always has been Lord and always will be ruler of nations.  Our glorious Lord is able to cast down and raise up.  Before Him the most secret places of our hearts are an open door.  We make him our glorious Lord and he makes us, even with our failings, his glorious people, because he cares.

As an add on reading go to John 17:22-26


James 3

Presume to be teachers v1

So many people want to trip the Christian up and do so by making a mockery from the Bible.  In Matthew 28:20 Jesus clearly wants his followers to be teachers of the good news in which the believer may be saved.  This is the duty and privilege of all who have fallen in love with Jesus.

Now we come to James 3:1 when it seems that the Christian should hold back from teaching.  This is not a case of sharing the gospel but being a teacher within the fellowship of believers.  The first thing to note is that people should not presume to be a teacher.  All too often someone is allowed to preach or lead a Bible Study and the result has been disastrous because it is not their gift.  One step worse than this is the person who presumes that they have the gift of teaching and feels that they are in some way superior to others.  Here is a real disaster and should be nipped in the bud.

Teachers of God’s word must be diligent in their studies and have a natural ability to communicate.  Their way of life and conversation should be encouraged and then led into a suitable ministry.  Why?  Because the teacher will be judged more strictly, not   necessarily by God but very much by those who listen.  If the teacher is unprepared or unable to share there is no reason for the church member to listen to them.  Bad teachers destroy faith, weaken the spirit and undermine the church.  Very often the church membership would vote out the poor teacher if they have the chance.

For those who are teachers of the word let me encourage you to be excited to communicate your lesson.  For those who are hearers, pray for your teacher and help him along.  Each of us is called to teach the gospel.  May we all do it well because Jesus is alive in us and would want to be alive in others.


James 4

The spirit in us envies intensely v5

Many years ago I was taught in Sunday school to sing about the fact that envy, jealousy, malice and pride should never be in our hearts.  How often have we seen jealousy cause problems among children, but such a failing is not only present among the young.  All sections of society are caught up in jealousy.  But what does the Bible say?

The Ten Commandments tell us that our God is a jealous God Exodus 20:5.  He hates to be aligned with idolatry or in any way be associated with religious practice that does not regard him as totally unique.

Now we find that the spirit which God put in our heart envies intensely.  Why does this happen we ask ourselves?  The scripture answers the question.  If the Christian has chosen to be a friend of the world God is displaced, takes second place, is pushed out of the number one position.  Such a thing cannot be.  The envious spirit of God can only work and be effective when he can stretch out his arms enfolding us in divine compassion and love but when he is displaced he becomes ineffective, stifled, killed off.

We would like our lives to be balanced, a little of God and a little of self.  A foot in the church and a foot in the world; it won’t work this way.  We think we can balance the spiritual bookkeeping but God will have nothing to do with it.  All or nothing at all says God.  Take all of me or leave me alone He cries.  This is no marriage of convenience, it is radical religion.  Our God says we can have all of Him, he gives us every spiritual blessing.  He writes our names in Heavenly books and engraves us on the palm of his hand.  He reduces himself to nothing in order to make something of each of his followers  Now because he has done everything he can for his creation he stands secure in his jealousy, a jealousy which is holy and pure.  Only the best is good enough for God and he has made us his best people.


James 5

He prayed earnestly v 17

Elijah is held as an example of what can happen when the faithful servant of God starts to pray.  First of all he prays for drought and then for rain.  How often did he pray that the weather should be affected this way, were his prayers long and pleading?  Was the prayer said on his knees or standing or looking into Heaven?  How did he pray so that it should be recorded as earnestly.  What is strange is that when we read 1 Kings 17-18 there is no record of Elijah praying at all.  There is a declaration of drought in 17:1 and God speaks to Elijah about rain coming in 18:1 which happens in 18:45.  What did James know that we do not?

But what of our prayers?  Are they long or short? Often or rare, simple or poetic, said early in the morning or later at night.  Perhaps you have no regular prayer pattern but knock on Heavens door as and when needed.  We are encouraged to pray continually in  I Thessalonians 5:17 and perhaps this is the best kind of prayer.  All day every day, when by ourselves or with a group. God does not want shopping list prayers commanding the Almighty to do this and that but would have us in constant conversation.

Every hymn of praise is a prayer, when we read the sacred scriptures we are praying., When we encourage each other it is a prayer to God to guide, strengthen , bless and renew.  Our minds must be bathed in prayer and in continual conversation with the Father who cares so much.  We have no right to expect our prayers to be answered because of our merit, but often our prayers are not answered because we have not made them.  There is more said about prayer that actually doing it.

May our prayers be offered earnestly so that God may speak through us to lead others to himself.  Let it be less of self and more of God.  So now may our prayers be a joy to us and to the one who is gracious enough to hear.

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