God and X are both masters. James considers himself a servant. (1)
Tests help us become mature. (4)
God is ready, able, and eager to help (5)
You need to really depend on God in order to get his help. Don't keep your options open. (8)
Don't count on prosperity (see also sermon on the mount). What should I do with it? (11)
Act on what you hear! (23)
Pursue God in a disciplined, energetic way, not a passive, distracted way. (25)
Two things of true religion:
- reach out to homeless and loveless
- Guard yourselves a/t corruption of the world
James is teaching. He expects to be listened to. He is writing to scattered xians. First century AD. He was alive when Jesus was alive. He knew Jesus.
Probably the people reading the letter were being persecuted. Some were young in the faith. Both rich and poor. People who were being tempted by evil. People who are in and around the church.
James wants them to listen and do what he says.
- Trust God through trouble. Stay in it. Seek God in it. Don't try to escape or mitigate. Let it do its purpose.
- Understand and believe that God is so good and he wants to help. Ask for help. Depend on his help. Don't keep other options open.
- Don't rely on $ for security. Truly believe it is temporary.
- Understand the evil is within us and also from Satan and the world, but never God. God is good and able to help.
- Listen first. Listen more than you talk.
- Invest time and energy in reading the Bible, trusting God to use it to change you for the better.
- Examine you own heart closely! Do you apply what you learn? If not, do it! Be a person of action, putting into practice every day what God is teaching you. Don't wait.
- Don't just talk about religious things. That is worthless. Do these two things: 1) Reach out to homeless and loveless, 2) Guard a/t corruption from the godless world.
- Don't try to avoid trouble. Focus on trusting God through everything, good and bad.
- How can I train my heart to believe that God is good and eager to help? Spiritual disciplines
- Trust God more fully. Close other options.
- Train my heart to believe that $ is temporary. Enthrall my heart and mind with the beauty of X and his kingdom. Invest my wealth there.
- Ask God for help more. Involve him more in my every day life. Realize there is evil within me and all around me and I need help.
- Ask questions to disciples and mentors and listen.
- Invest more time in the word and in prayer. No excuses. Just do it.
- Spend some time in solitude examining my heart. Do I apply what I learn? Am I even learning anything? Ask God to show me what have I not applied? What lesson do you want me to learn more fully?
- Practice intense discipline in order to form habits of being able to apply what I learn. Practice the process of learning something and immediately doing it. Get good at that. Don't stop after learning.
- Reach out to the homeless and the loveless.
- Guard a/t the corruption of the world. How? Come up with a plan.