Salvation is not the end of your connection to God; it is the beginning of your called life. God has a purpose for your life. So many of us lead saved lives but not called lives. The question is not whether or not you have a purpose; it’s whether or not you will say yes to it.
“I Pray” is our faith declaration this week. Sometimes the simplest instruction is the highest level of difficulty. No one would tell you not to pray when facing hardships or sickness, but oftentimes prayer is the last place we go when life gets difficult. James wanted the church to know that no matter what season of life they were in--whether mourning in loss or rejoicing in blessing, the answer is to pray.
Our faith declaration today is that I will seek humility. James takes on the cause of conflict in all of our lives: pride. Conflict is a part of life. We are going to face conflict. We can’t run or hide from it, but we can determine how we face it. How you face conflict as a Christian is significant.
The average human being spends about one-fifth of their lives talking. Within a year, men speak about 20,000 to 25,000 words per day. Women speak about 35,000 to 50,000. Our words are powerful. The tongue, a muscle, enables us to chew, swallow, and speak and indicates our physical health. Our tongues also reveal the state of our spiritual health.
In James 1:22-25, James expresses how important identity is. James was a half-brother of Jesus and was not counted as one of the disciples of Jesus. Although he was a late believer, he went all in when he decided to put his faith in Jesus. He pastored the first church in Jerusalem and was martyred for the gospel.
James is saying that we consider it pure joy when we face these trials. Joy is the expression of patience. How do you know if you are accessing the joy God has given to you? The answer is found in how patient you are. We can be joyful in our patience when we know that what we are going through is not forever.
What does it mean to be included in the family of God? Does anyone know what it’s like to be an outsider? Tamar was an outsider. In Genesis 38, we learn about Tamar’s story.
Proverbs says that our thoughts have the power to define who we become. For this reason, our enemy, the devil, uses fear tactics against us that are planted below the surface in our minds.
God made humanity to know no shame. The devil’s goal is to get you to feel so bad that you want to hide from the presence of God--because in the presence of God, chains break.
When Jesus told the thief next to him on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise,” we often miss the point of his statement. We focus too much on the “paradise” part, and we miss the “with me” part.