- About Us
Some of us may have been excluded for being Christians, whilst others may have experienced more intense suffering. James calls us to be patient, but he is not insensitive to suffering, nor is he telling us to be inactive. To cope with suffering, we need to learn how to lament. Our ultimate hope is the return of Jesus.
James is addressing people who may be experience many big changes in their lives and are not copying or responding well, so he points them to the wisdom of God - its source, which is Jesus who is the wisdom of God; its character; and its outcome. We can bless the world around us by making peace because we have listened to Jesus.
How do we respond to the trials of life? We are to respond with joy, not because the trials are enjoyable in themselves but because we recognise what God is doing through them. Let’s allow perseverance to finish its work.
We are reminded of the importance of being spiritually awake and alert. There has been a long wait for Jesus to return, and we need to be careful how we handle this wait - the reason for the delay is so that everybody can hear the gospel. We need to be prepared - we can’t rely on the spirituality or prayerfulness of others.
Perhaps we need a wake-up call. A church can fall asleep by lying down (assuming a low profile), getting comfy (living for pleasure), and staying still (not acting on what we hear). A church can make sure it’s woken up by standing up (making it clear we’re with Jesus), getting dressed (getting rid of sin) and having breakfast (being sustained by God’s Word, not our own will-power). It is worth waking up because we get the opportunity to walk with Jesus and will be honoured by Jesus before the Father.
We should consider supernatural generosity, and not believe the myths that having more money makes it easier to give, that I don’t have the gift of generosity, that giving should always be spontaneous and that we should give without expecting something in return.
Being a shepherd is not glamorous or prestigious, but it’s what God calls leaders to be. Jesus left his disciples an example, by washing their feet. We should submit to right authority - not unquestionable obedience to dictatorial decrees.
God’s grace is secure, but we need to make sure we respond well. We must make sure we’ve truly received his grace, that we practice it by living it out, and that we look forward and anticipate its harvest.
We can have confidence in approaching God because he is on the throne, because Christ has opened the way, and because knows what it is like to be human. We approach God by praying, whether we feel like it or not, focusing on him, remembering that he knows best, and not worrying about the length of our prayers.
We have been justified by faith. This is a done deal, and three facts follow from this: We have peace with God (not just a feeling, but reconciliation); we stand in grace (we are not just saved by grace but we live by grace); and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
Peter wants to remind us of our secure position in Christ, from which we need never fall so long as we continue to trust in him. He also urges us to grow in grace, which we can do by focusing on Jesus and fixing our thoughts on him, by making a list of everything he has done in our lives and thanking him for it, by seeing suffering and hardship as an opportunity to depend on God, and by talking to God about everything on good days and bad days.
The church is urged to have a unity that derives first of all from a right understanding of the cross. The cross shows us that Spiritual leadership doesn’t involve being at the top of a pyramid but at the bottom. Leaders are the servants of Christ, the stewards of the mysteries of God, the scum of the earth, and father-like.
There was a real and serious problem in the church where vulnerable people were going hungry. The leaders recognise the problem, but they also recognise their own limitations, so they delegate responsibly to others.
God’s power works through weakness - he work in weak people with a weak message preached by weak messengers. Hence we should boast in God, not in ourselves. We should think of our time of worship as a time of boasting in God.
Great darkness covered the land when Jesus was born. Herod was an example of this. The religious people, who knew the Bible, made no effort to search for the Messiah. We must not fix our eyes on the evil that surrounds us, but on Jesus.
Joseph was a righteous man. He knows what Leviticus and Deuteronomy say about adultery and divorce, but he decides not to humiliate Mary. He was not asking for God to speak to him in a dream, but God gives him a dream anyway.