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Posts Tagged ‘reliability of God’

I am one of the writers for the Daily Bible Study series published by the United Methodist Publishing House.  Once the studies are published they are copyrighted by UMPH. However… until they are published, aren’t they still mine? I mean, the final edit might be different, mightn’t it? 😉

Anyway, the series I’m working on brought me to James 1:12-18 today, and it is so personal, that I wanted to share it.

In writing the daily lesson, I am given the text and the title. Then I supply a question for the reader and close with a personal prayer. I hope you are touched as much by this lesson as I was writing it.

(Oh – by the way – I am required to use the Common English Bible translation)

Freedom From Temptation

James 1:12-18

How can you embrace God’s word to free you from temptation?

I sat looking at my computer screen for a long time this morning as I began this lesson. This day had begun with a temptation to give in to a “pity party”. I didn’t feel well and every little thing seemed to go wrong. But then when I sat down and read today’s scripture – God spoke to my heart.

James’ letter was written to Jewish Christians scattered outside the land of Israel (verse 1). Historically, the letter seems to fit between Acts 8 and 13, as the church began to face persecution. The very first words out of James’ mouth after the greeting tells us to “think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy” (verse 2).

I certainly was not thinking of “an occasion for joy” this morning as I faced this particular test! But as I read our text I was encouraged. I noticed that James didn’t say that those who stand firm would have the test removed; rather, as he pointed out they will be blessed (verse 12a).

The Greek word for blessed is makarios, It’s the same word used in the beatitudes and means “possessing the favor of God”. James reassured the persecuted Christians (and me) that the result of God’s favor would be the [eternal] life he had promised as a reward (verse 12b).

It is fascinating that the words “test” and “tempt” are translated from the same Greek word. However, we can only determine its meaning by its outcome. Will the situation produce endurance (verse 3) or sin (verse 15)? Every difficult situation, every “various test” (verse 2) we encounter can either strengthen us so that God can use us further, or it can cause us to sin.

But God isn’t the one who tempts us to do evil (verse 13). We are tempted when we are enticed by our own cravings (verse 14). The word “cravings” is often rendered “lust” in other translations. We tend to think of “lust” only in sexual connotations; however the word simply means “selfish desire” regardless of what that desire involves. The “desire”, though, is not sinful until it becomes an action; until it conceives and gives birth to sin (verse 15).

James warned Christians (of every generation) not to be misled (verse 16). Yes, man has a responsibility, but God, who is not tempted (verse 13b), is reliable. Every good (and perfect) gift comes from the Father in whom there is no change at all (verse 17). He will see us through. He will provide the strength to free us from temptation.

James said, “He chose to give us birth by his true word” (verse 18a italics added). This “word” is the Logos; the “first fruit” (1 Corinthians 15:20). As a result James’ readers “are like the first crop from the harvest of everything he created.” And so, thankfully, are we.

 

Prayer: Free me from temptation, O Lord that the test may only serve to strengthen me in service. Amen

 

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