Belief and Temptation

Rockhills is beginning a new sermon series (and Ten Minutes With God) series on the book of James.  Pastor Adam referred everyone to this site if you want a comprehensive Bible study on the entire book of James.  This includes a reading plan, a short daily devotion and a suggested prayer each day.  Ten Minutes With God will continue as usual, and will pull from the James study, and combine it with the teaching from each Sunday of the series.   

James was Jesus’ brother. Early in his life, actually did not believe Jesus was the Messiah.  It is easy to imagine how it would be hard to buy into your sibling saying he was the Messiah, when all you seemed to experience was brotherly annoyance during your growing up years!  However, an astonishing transformation took place in James’ life that moved him from not believing to the point where he would risk his life as The Church of Jesus Christ spread, to writing the book of James, and ultimately to being a martyr for his faith.  

Transformation can happen in your life as well. We often focus in a new year on diet and exercise and hope for shifts in habits and lifestyle.  What about your spiritual life? Do you consider that as you think about the kind of person you would like to be in five years?  Have you thought about changes you can make today, to become the type of Christ follower you hope for in the next year…..or five years?  

The primary principles in the book of James can be summarized in this way: 1) We all experience trials, suffering and difficult experiences; 2) We should seek progress, not perfection; 3) Riches and comforts will never satisfy your soul.  Pastor Adam pointed out that HOW YOU THINK about things ultimately matters more than how you feel about things. Feelings are important and valuable to pay attention to and listen to, but the book of James speaks to our mindset about life and what happens in our lives more than feelings.  What types of mindset changes might help you become the person you hope to be in five years?  

INVITATION:  Join this week as we learn a little about James and his background.   

MONDAY:  Matthew 13:53-58.  Jesus was from a small community. You can imagine there was talk and rumors about who he was supposed to be, who his father was, if he was the Messiah, etc. James probably grew up very much in Jesus’ shadow.  How could a simple carpenter be the Messiah? Isn’t he just one of us?  You may have heard:  “A prophet is without honor in his own hometown.” These verses are where that comes from and it has become something that is frequently quoted. Jesus was taken for granted because he was just “another person” within the community.  As you look at your life, habits and beliefs, are there ways you take Jesus and who He is for granted?  Many foreign missionaries are actually grateful they don’t live in the United States because Christianity and its freedoms are so taken for granted.  What about you?  

TUESDAY: John 7:1-6.  Pastor Adam suggested these verses being almost like a family intervention.  Jesus’ brothers suggest he “ought to leave” and go to another town. They suggest he reveal himself to the world. Notice Jesus’ reply. He doesn’t try to explain, rationalize, teach or convince. He doesn’t argue. He simply makes a statement.  He leaves the rest up to God. Are there people in your life you might be trying to control through convincing, teaching or in some other way? How might you leave them in the hands of God and simply pray for them?  Sometimes even when our intentions are good, our methods can be destructive in other people’s lives. Who do you need to “let go” of and give to God? 

WEDNESDAY:  I Cor. 15:1-11:  James went from not believing Jesus was the Messiah to Jesus appearing to James after the resurrection. Scripture specifically mentions him by name.  It seems very intentional and personal. Consider your journey of faith. Do you remember a time when you recognized Jesus Christ for who He is and as your Savior and your Lord? Do you recall a time when you decided that for the rest of your life you would “hold firmly to the word of God?”  How is that commitment going? Let these passages ignite your commitment – or recommitment – to a daily walk with Jesus and the Bible as your daily companion.  Ten Minutes with God and/or the James study mentioned above are good starting places.  The Word of God is called the “bread of life.” Similar to each nutrient that goes into our body when we eat, we don’t “feel” it or immediately see it affecting us.  In the same way, you may not “feel” or see God’s presence or power each and every day as you read Scripture. But trust God and trust the process. You are being obedient and God WILL honor that. God does not work on our hurried timetable.  

THURSDAY: James 1: 1-4:  (from the online study):  James, the half-brother of Jesus Christ, plunges right into his letter to the scattered and persecuted Jewish Christians of the early church. He gives a powerful exhortation to the followers of Jesus to consider the value of trials. When we accept and endure trials the proper way (with joy), we develop spiritual maturity  What does your response to trials reveal about your trust in God? Trials serve great purpose in a believer’s life. They help us to tap into God’s inexhaustible comfort, love, grace, and hope. They also help us to see where we are doing life without God. Where do you need God’s help to change your view of trials and suffering? 

FRIDAY:  James 1:5-8: (from the online study):  James reveals that God is the source of all true wisdom. His wisdom is not hidden from us. It is available readily and freely to all who desire it when asked and received in faith. God’s wisdom is found in His Word, the Bible. The Bible reveals who God is, God’s plan for redemption through Jesus, and how imperfect people can grow to live godly lives as they become more like Jesus. James warns that doubt leads to instability and indecision.

In what circumstance do you need God’s wisdom? A believer’s stability during uncertain times comes from unwavering trust and faith in God’s sovereignty, inherent goodness, and the perfect wisdom found in His Word. In what circumstance are you struggling to believe God’s goodness or trust His power and sovereignty?