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Focal Passage- James 5:1-6

James 5:2-3 “Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten.  Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire.”

James is going to spend the next few verses giving us four areas to evaluate in terms of managing and focusing on our wealth.  In verses 2 and 3 he is dealing with hoarding our things.  We never feel like we have enough.  There is always something bigger and better that we think we need.  James is pointing to having too many clothes so that they rot or too many things so that they are corroded.  If your closet is jammed tight or you don’t have enough room in your home to hold your things, is it possible that your heart is divided?  Often we must take inventory of how much we own and be sure that we haven’t bought into the world’s view that more is better.  What is the “more” in your life?  We have to learn to enjoy God’s blessings in our lives without giving those blessings our hearts.

Study/Meditation:  Jesus told the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:13-21.  How does He warn us of exactly the same thing that James is in verses 2-3?

*Father, forgive me for placing things above You and the advancement of Your Kingdom.  Help me enjoy Your blessings while not placing them above You.  Amen.

Focal Passage- James 5:1-6

James 5:1 “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you.”

Remember that there were no chapter and verse distinctions in James original letter, so this thought is actually a continuation of the previous ones on presumption in our plans.  James is saying that those with money, whether a lot or a little, need to realize that Jesus is going to return.  This is a call to consider the final judgment to come; our use of wealth may reveal the presence of worldliness in our hearts.  If we are misusing our wealth, or not using our wealth, James is calling us to mourn.  God will call us into account for our actions regarding these monetary blessings.  How will our actions in terms of our money and things hold up under God’s scrutiny on that great and glorious day of His return?  It will indeed be miserable for those who do not gather with God as their focus.

Study/Meditation:  Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:10 that the “love of money” is the root of all evil.  How do Paul’s words and James’ words really say the same thing?  How can you improve in this area?

*Father, forgive me for putting things and money above Your works and Your glory.  Help me to see every opportunity You give me to use these things for You.  Amen.

Focal Passage- James 4:13-17

James 4:16 “As it is, you boast in your arrogance.  All such boasting is evil.”

James is still talking about planning in this verse, but he is not saying that there is anything wrong with it.  As stated earlier, the Bible very clearly mandates that we should plan for both our families and our futures.  There is also nothing wrong with saying things like “I’m going to do this” or “I plan on doing that.”  It is not a sin to be driven or purposeful in one’s life.  However, the heart will betray if those things become sin when we examine our motivations for them.  I must ask myself if my plans have a foundation that is God-centered or am I making them as if I were in charge.  I am utterly dependent on God.  To plan and prepare as if I’m not is arrogant, boastful, and therefore sinful.  James’ warning must keep us mindful of where our hearts lie as we make plans for this lifetime.

Study/Meditation:  Timothy wrote in his first letter that the person who does not plan for his family is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)  How must you reconcile this teaching with James’ in his letter?

*Father, thank You for creating me the way that You did.  Help me to see the difference between God-honoring plans and those that are me-centered.  Forgive me when I stray to the second.  Amen.

Focal Passage- James 4:13-17

James 4:14b-15 “What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”

George Bernard Shaw observed, “The statistics on death are quite impressive.  One out of one people die.”  Life on this earth is temporary, and we aren’t promised even the next breath of air.  An attitude that does not acquiesce to God’s complete sovereignty over all things, including our breathing, is one born of ignorance and pride.  It’s important that we keep in mind in all that we do that it is God who orchestrates and allows it.  It is He who is in charge, not us, and we demonstrate our knowledge of this fact in our hearts and in our attitudes about yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  Keeping our minds set on “if the Lord wills” is displaying an attitude that submits to His authority over all things in our lives.

Study/Meditation:  How are you comforted by these verses in James’ letter?  How might you better display this submissive attitude to God?

*Father, I acknowledge Your sovereignty and authority over my life and over all things.  Forgive me when I attempt to go about my life as if this wasn’t true and help me to keep it ever-present in my heart.  Amen.

Focal Passage- James 4:13-17

James 4:13-14a “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such and town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.”

Humility is still in question in this section, and James is most definitely addressing believers here.  He wouldn’t expect an unbeliever to put God in the center of everything, but he does remind us that we should, and we should most especially do so as we plan for our futures.  God’s Word is very clear that we should be responsible with our time and finances; we should provide for our families and make provisions for the time to come. (Proverbs 6:6-8; Luke 14:28-32; Romans 15:20-28)   However, the Bible also says, “Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the Lord’s will prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21)  The problem comes when we ask God to bless the plans we make instead of asking that He guide us in making our plans.  Humility, a most honored quality in our Father’s eyes, manifests itself in many ways, including our attitudes about tomorrow.

Study/Meditation:  What is the proper attitude concerning planning for your future?  How does this attitude sometimes go awry?

*Father, guide me as I plan for this life, knowing that only those things that bring glory to You will endure.  Thank You for the blessings only You can give.  Amen.

Focal Passage- James 4:1-12

James 4:11c-12 “But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.  There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy.  But who are you to judge your neighbor?”

These are often misunderstood and misused verses.  James is certainly not saying that we aren’t to judge between right and wrong behavior or even to hold one another accountable to that behavior.  The Bible is very clear that we are to do that. (Romans 16:17-18; Galatians 2:11-14, 6:1; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13)  However, we take our seat in the one that only our Lord should occupy when our motivations for judgment are wrong.  When we judge others based on anger or jealousy or pride or bitterness, we have done so in sin.  It is then that we try to be both the lawgiver and the judge.  Once again we are pointed back to the sin of self-centered, self-focused worldly behavior, when the behavior that must drive the humble believer is love.  If our motivations are anything other than God-driven , God-centered, and love-born, we’re throwing stones while living in very fragile glass houses.

Study/Meditation:  A good example of Jesus’ views on wrongful judgment is found in John 8:2-11 with the woman caught in the sin of adultery.  If the Pharisees were simply following the Law as given to Moses, why did Jesus stop them from stoning this woman?

*Father, forgive me for judging others incorrectly.  Help me to look to my own heart first and make it completely about You before I try to help someone else with theirs.  Amen.