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Abraham believed God, not just as a cold hard fact but in a personal relational sense. Like Abraham, we can trust God when we can’t see the way out of our situation and are tempted to try to find our own way out. We are considered righteous by God’s grace through faith, not through our works or our efforts.
Abraham and Sarah saw famine and there were hard decisions to be made, but they also saw the grace and sovereignty of God. Living in God’s promises doesn’t make us immune to hardship, and the grace and sovereignty of God doesn’t mean we are free from sin and bad choices. God’s grace can come through very strange means - it sees the vulnerable and covers over all sins.
James encourages us to pray. He tells us to pray for ourselves and for one another, and the sick are to call for the elders to pray for them. We are to come to God in faith, in repentance, in honesty and in humility.
God is in control, and Jesus relied totally on God. James isn’t telling us not to plan ahead, but warning us against the arrogance of thinking we are lord of our own lives. If we don’t know God then we can know him today. If we do know God then we can trust him today.
James gives us an encouragement - to love our neighbours whether they’re similar to us or not; a challenge - not to show favouritism, which can be a lot more subtle than in the example James gives; and an assurance - mercy triumphs over judgment, so we no longer have to strive to be accepted.
What do we rejoice in? Jesus talks about the deceitfulness of wealth. We shouldn’t rejoice in our wealth or our lack of it, but in Christ and our position in him. Our hope is in Jesus, and we are living for him not for better jobs or better houses.
Perhaps we are meant to be experiencing the things we are experiencing. We might ask of this is the right time, but Joseph was faithful in the here and now - as a slave, as a prisoner and as a leader in Egypt. God is with us in all our circumstances.
Jesus doesn’t ensure that bad things don’t happen but that they don’t separate us from the love of God. God’s plan for us is not that we don’t face danger but that we depend on his grace.
There are some things we have to wait for, but there are other we don’t have to wait for. We can celebrate what God has already done. We already have total forgiveness, ongoing transformation and a new identity and relationship with God.
We are called to love one another, by which everyone will know we are Jesus’ disciples. God has given gifts to each one of us, and we should use these gifts to serve one another, to the glory of God.
The problem is that we are not basically good people who sometimes do wrong things but that we are utterly rebellious against God and deserve to die. The price paid was Jesus, who took upon himself all our sin and died on the cross. Our response is to praise God.
Paul desired to see the church holy and united, but there was a problem of division in the church at Corinth. Paul’s response is to appeal to them in the name of Christ, to encourage them to fix their eyes on Jesus, and to draw their attention to the Cross and to the one who died for us.