This post has been a long time coming. Six weeks ago I, along with several other women, started Beth Moore's study through the book of James. I have learned so much and been extremely convicted and challenged through this study.
While it is hard to pinpoint one thing that has stood out in each chapter, I am going to attempt it. In chapter 1 James talks some about having joy in our trials. Joy is my birthright! No one can take it from me! I really started thinking about how I react during the hardest times. People watch how we respond in good times and bad. I was so convicted that I, so often, do not consider my trials to be joyful. I don't want to persevere. I want to feel sorry for myself, not take them to the Lord, complain, etc. Hello? As a Christian, trials are promised! It is not supposed to be easy! Looking back, the Lord has taught me so much during the good but even more during the bad!
In chapter 2 we hear about faith and deeds. I can say that I believe in God all day long but if my actions do not reflect that then it doesn't even matter. Beth says, "faith is meant to do some good" and "faith shows works" No, I cannot earn my way to heaven by doing good things but I "was created in Christ Jesus to do the works that He has prepared for me." (Eph. 2:10) I pray that I am not just a person who "claims" to believe in Christ but truly walks that walk. I want to serve and be used for His glory.
In chapter 3 we hear about taming the tongue. Gracious, if ever there was a tongue that needed to be tamed, it is mine. With my tongue I do praise my Father but with that same tongue I am sarcastic, rude, and do not always glorify the Lord. If He has control of my tongue, He is going to have control of the other areas in my life as well. It is a sign of spiritual maturity when we can control our tongue. Verse 11 says, "Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?" Goodness, I truly need to pray that God would continue to make me more like Him and that my tongue would encourage, help, comfort, and show love towards others.
In chapter 4 there were two verses that Beth Moore specifically talked about. Verses 9 and 10 say, "Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." Verse nine is certainly not too encouraging. She gave us example of when we should turn our laughter into mourning. First, "when we've traded the joys of the Lord for the highs of this world." Ouch. How often do I cling to the things that bring temporary fulfillment instead of going to my heavenly Father who knows exactly what I need! Second, "when we don't take God seriously." Third, "when we're arrogant in or about our sin" and fourth, "when ridiculing sincere believers is our idea of hilarious." All of these hit me hard. But, when I realize that I am guilty of some of these things I know I need to run towards Christ and beg for forgiveness! I need to change my "laughter into mourning" and my "joy to gloom."
While it has been so tough to study and read and listen to Beth Moore talk each week, I always have left encouraged. The main thing I am aware of is my GREAT need of a Savior and His unfailing love and amazing grace. He is sovereign over everything! He knows me and knows what I struggle with and knows what I need. I am so thankful! I pray that I can run to Him and not to the things of this world which are going to burn one day. I am thankful for all that I am learning and what I am being convicted of.
We are in the middle of chapter 5 right now so I'll have to do an update after we finish in the next couple of weeks! That was a bit of a ramble but I have learned so much and honestly, as much as I enjoy blogging about my family, vacations, photography, etc., my relationship with the Lord should be a huge part of this blog because it should always be the center of every part of my life!