I really love the book of James. The writer does not mess around with trying to be politically correct or worry about offending anyone. He just says it as it is. Recently I did a women’s Bible Study on this book so when I went through the chapters over the last few days, it refreshed my memory on the power words spoken in these five short chapters. James starts off his book by clearly defining who he is. He is a slave of God. Imagine being a slave of God. When I think of a slave it does not paint a nice picture. But imagine doing exactly what your master tells you. Doing exactly what God tells you to do when he tells you to do it. Just think of the headaches and frustrations that you would not have to go through. This is a nice thought, but personally speaking I know I would not be able to do it. Mainly due to stubbornness, independence….and the list could go on!! James tells us first off that we need to have joy during the hardships. In those difficult, challenging times we need to have joy. Seriously? But God expects us to have a joyful heart at all times. This is so difficult when things aren’t going my way to express a joyful spirit. Yes, I realized that I said ‘my way’, instead of God’s way. I like how the writer tells us that we have not gotten what we want because we have not asked if it (v.5). We still may not get it, but we need to ask God for it with the full believe and confidence that he is going to answer. How many times have I asked for something thinking that the answer will be no? I know that God will not give me what I want, but only what I need in accordance to his plan for me. However, James clearly tells us to ask him with the expectation that he will answer. This chapter finishes with clear instructions about listening and doing. We are to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry. How difficult is this? It is so easy to get upset or angry at someone or something and start verbally expressing our anger, frustration or hurts. But it is clear. We need to slow down in our expression of words and anger. It would be so much easier if there was a delay on our mouths after our ears hear something! Don’t play favourites! Don’t judge by appearance! This is the opening advice in chapter two. How easy it is to judge someone by how they look or just a situation by what we think we see? James is very clear in this chapter that we are to love our neighbours …. no matter who they are. He also points out that it does not matter is we break one of God’s laws or several, once you break one, you have broken them all and will be judged by God according to your actions. This chapter also includes the well-known verse about faith without deeds is dead. (v.14). We can claim to have strong faith, but if it is in played out in our actions and deeds, then it is not faith. Our faith is truly spoken on how we interact with others, in the things that we do, in our conversations. Knowing about faith is not the same has having faith. To have faith is to show it. I pray that my faith is clearly shown in all that I do. I am working on not being negative, but this is difficult. I am aware of this and actively trying to work on it. Oh, the powerful little tongue! Chapter three is all about the power of the tongue. For such a small thing, it packs a powerful punch. James tells us that teachers will be judged with greater strictness by God. To be a teacher of the Bible carries a responsibility and God will judge us stricter. This really puts into perspective the importance for me, and all who are called to teach to be right with God and constantly in his Word. Otherwise we may lead people the wrong way. My life has to reflect this. This really hit me as I read through this chapter. It is sometimes overwhelming the responsibility that is placed on teachers (pastors, preachers, etc). The tongue is referred to as an ‘uncontrollable evil’. I think that perfectly describes it! The tongue can praise God at one moment and then curse someone in the next. It is very important to learn to control one’s tongue. This really drives home the message to think twice before one speaks! The lessons in the first few chapters tell of the expectations that God has of us, but chapter four tells us how we are to do them. We need to be close to God at all times. This chapter starts out by telling us that we should not fight or quarrel with others or want what others have. We have what we have because that is what we have asked for (or not asked for). We need to look at our motive. What is my motive for wanting what my neighbour has? Lately the topic of Salvation Army officers becoming too materialistic has come up in several conversation. And it is a problem as I see it. There are ones that want better homes, more pay, less work…and the list goes on. This chapter has really brought home the importance of checking ones motives before asking for something. Why do we need more? Is it to keep up with those around us so that we can have all the latest gadgets? This is definitely a bigger issue than these few lines are giving it. While I can’t change others, I can always look to my motives prior to asking for something more. I am very thankful for all that God provides daily to me. I need to be focused on God’s plan and what he wants. Not on the worldly expectations of what it means to be successful. This flows right into Chapter 5 where James warns the rich that their earthly riches mean nothing and will not buy their way into heaven. We need not to grumble when others have more. If our goal is to get into heaven then we need to concentrate on God and his plans. Continue to have patience and move forward with much prayer at all times. James tells us to not grumble about what we are going through, but to look to the prophets for examples of suffering and patience. Keep praying! The book of James is filled with many lessons, instructions and warnings that need to be learned and followed. It is a book that does not always get very much attention, but it should. If you have not read this book, I would strongly suggest that you do. I am looking forward to looking into this book again in the fall with another group of ladies for Bible Study. May God bless you today and may you choose to follow him!