Friday, January 28, 2011

James 1:1-18

I have been studying the book of James for the last two weeks, using the SOAP method. The SOAP method is where you...
S-write down the scripture, which has been 1-3 verses each day...
O- write down any observations from the scripture...
A-write down any applications for my life from the scripture...
P-pray over what I am learning.

I have to admit that at first, I wasn't too sure about doing this. I am kind of a Bible study junkie. I love going through Bible studies written by authors like Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Kay Arthur, etc. I told Gene I just didn't feel like I was doing a "real" study because I didn't have much of a guide. I know...I probably shouldn't have admitted that!

I have been pleasantly surprised at how much I am learning and how God has opened my eyes because I am spending time focusing on one or two verses per day. I am not really reading someone else's interpretation of the Bible, as I normally do in a study, even though I do have a commentary I am using. The one verse just rolls around in my head throughout the day, and I have already been able to encourage a few people with the particular verse that I studied that morning. It is neat when that happens!

I have studied James 1:1-18 over the last two weeks, and my eyes and my heart have been opened to the purpose of trials.

James 1:2-8
"Consider it all joy, my brethen, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect work, so that you may be perfect and complete. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."

Consider it all joy....yeah, right! Clearly we are not going to consider it joy and jump up and down with excitement when a trial hits your life. But, you can absolutely trust that God is good and that every single thing has a purpose and has been filtered by His Hand. If I yield myself to His purposes, the end result will be good, and that can bring me a sense of joy while I am on the journey. When I get to the end of my life and meet Jesus...after facing many trials and enduring them with God...then I will be perfect and complete.

Problems are necessary. Problems strengthen our character. Too often we become frantic to cut short the trial without consulting the Lord about His purpose for it. And then it is possible that we just might have to undergo an even longer trial in the future before His particular purpose is realized in us. No problem is too great for God, but some problems might not be removed. We must learn to accept them and to prove that His grace is sufficient. Others are removed when we have learned our lessons from them. Most of us (myself included) lack wisdom to view the pressures of life from God's standpoint. We adopt a short-range view, occupying ourselves with the immediate discomfort. We forget that God unhurried purpose is to enlarge us through pressure. (That came from one of my commentaries, but I don't remember which one.)

Verses 5-6 talk about asking God for wisdom and then not doubting. If you look at these verses in context, they are referring to praying to God for His wisdom IN the trial. We need to constantly ask God to see things from His perspective....and not our own. We must trust that He is good and nothing is impossible for Him. If we doubt His goodness and His power, we will have no stability in times of trouble. One minute we will be resting calmly (in the trial) and the next I will feel like God has forgotten the waves of the sea...back and forth my emotions will go.

Oh, there is so much more....but Reagan is begging me to read to her and this post is getting long.

I encourage every person to find a method of Bible study that works for you. The Word is life changing and worth every effort you put into studying it!

It's not too late to join Dana Roten and myself as we walk through the book of James and email each other every day with what we learned. Let me know if you are interested and I will get you started!

Until next time...

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