James 4:1-10 – Enemies of God

Read James 4:1-10

We need God. It’s plain and simple, lest we fall into the traps set in this world and become enemies of God. Only God can transform us from the thrill seeking, self-serving, humans we are by nature into humble servants dedicated to pleasing God.

James’ counsel here is a bit over the top when he talks about our envious desires leading us to killing someone. It appears his audience needs the “wow factor” to get their attention. I can just hear someone saying, “God doesn’t listen because he didn’t give me what I wanted.” That’s a great example of having the wrong motives. God knows our heart. He knows why we ask for what we do. Is what we’re asking for merely for our own pleasure?

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James 1:1-8 – Trials of Life

Read James 1:1-8

As I read from James, I can’t help but try to picture what it was like to be Jesus’ earthly brother. (This book is believed to be written by Jesus’ half-brother, not James the apostle.) What would the sibling rivalry have looked like? We don’t know much about Jesus as a child, teenager, or young man. As Jesus’ brother, James would have an interesting perspective to be sure. Yet curiously, James identifies himself in the opening as “a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” James has taken his own place in helping others navigate their lives as followers of Christ.

In this letter from James, we’ll see how he tries to set things straight in terms of living a Christian life. It’s so much more than just saying you’re a Christian. The truths you’ll uncover could be summed up as a “how-to” for Christian living. Even though James wasn’t one of the chosen twelve, he was a leader in the early church having stayed in Jerusalem to begin his ministry there to Jewish Christians. His target audience for this letter are the persecuted Christians in hostile surroundings, much like we experience in our own trials of faith.

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Joel 3:13-21 – Our Refuge

Read Joel 3:13-21

God is our refuge. Joel doesn’t use a lot of metaphors to describe God. We’ve have seen him portrayed as the leader of an army, a judge, and a roaring lion! But my favorite of all is found in verse 16, “But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a strong fortress for the people of Israel.”

Martin Luther’s hymn, “A Mighty Fortress” has some fitting words for the idea of God as our refuge and strong fortress. Growing up Lutheran, this is a song I sang over and over but am only now seeing the exquisite beauty in these words.

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Micah 2:6-11 – Are You Feeling Comforted?

Read Micah 2:6-11

group hug

Micah doesn’t just proclaim God’s words as a monologue, but he engages with the people. I don’t know about you, but I often picture our Biblical prophets walking through the streets or standing on rooftops calling out God’s proclamations.

The people are clearly in denial. They can’t imagine that what Micah is talking about involves them. It’s ludicrous! There must be some mistake. Do these people even know God? If they did, wouldn’t their faith tradition cause them to act differently?

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