Many don’t actually read the letter that James wrote. They may hear things he wrote or piecemeal passages they want to use for a moment. But do they actually read his whole letter?
We should, you know? He was often known and “James the Just,” certainly because of his character and honorable faith. But also because he was the brother to Jesus! He grew up with Him; they may have shared a room and maybe even a toothbrush. We aren’t told, but he knew Jesus about as good as anyone else did (except his mom, of course).
The letter is addressed to those we refer to as “Messianic Jews.” Although, as most of you know, the Church originally began with Jews, eventually, the Gentiles (especially, Constantine) took over the governorship of “The Church.”
James wrote the letter to encourage believers to consistently live with what they had learned in Christ. And his encouragement was sound and, in many regards, quite profound! He wanted each of them to mature in their faith in Christ by, as you would expect, living by what they say they believed! In other words, we shouldn’t be hypocrites! James was condemning various sins, such as pride, hypocrisy, favoritism, and slander. He encouraged the believers to live humbly, rather than clinging to the wisdom they picked up from the world and to pray in every situation they faced!
Brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.
That is rather counterintuitive, don’t you think? Aren’t we always told that we are to “overcome” every negative situation? To stand “against” those attacks? To remain positive, never give up and to never surrender! Ooh, kinda like Commander Peter Quincy Taggart, the commander of the NSEA Protector. in Galaxy Quest!
“Whoa wait! Aren’t we supposed to “resist the devil“?
Yep. Absolutely. James addresses this later in the letter! (James 4:7, to be exact). But just know that “To resist,” means “To withstand,” “Strive against,” or “Oppose” in some way. Now, it can either be a defensive move (you know, like resisting the temptation to sin). Or, it can be offensive (such as using the only offensive weapon we have available: the Sword of the Spirit (which is, of course, the Word of God)! When we use Scriptures to expose our enemies’ lies and temptations, we are making use of the mightiest tool we have and when you use the Word of God, that dog will whimper away!
But, THE most important thing we need to read in that verse, is where James writes: “Place yourselves under God’s authority!” “Submit yourself!” (James 4:7). If you are going to “resist the devil,” you must be submitted to our Father! A believer who is disobedient or unsubmissive, will not see victory!
Along that line, James writes:
If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him, and he will certainly tell you! He is always prepared to give a ‘truckload’ full of wisdom to anyone who asks him; he will never resent it or withhold it from you.
However, [and here is the caveat] when you ask him, be sure you truly expect Him to tell you, because a mind that is full of doubt will be as unsettled, in the same way a wave of the sea will toss around a ship! Every decision you make will be uncertain, as you turn first this way and then that. If you don’t ask with faith, don’t expect the Lord to give you any solid answer (James 1:6-8)
Which should remind you what another author wrote:
We can come confidently, boldly, without any fear or reservation as we draw near to the very throne of God! When you go, stay there to receive His mercy and to find Grace [or His Ability] to help in your times of need (Hebrews 4:16)
Oh man, the moment you enter that prayer closet (wherever it is: your basement, garage, car as you drive into work), arrive filled with faith and armed with courage! Be bold and confident.
I can’t think of anywhere else that courage means so much as during our times of prayer! So many of us approach our Father’s Throne cringing and timid. Like the Cowardly Lion tip-toed as he approached the Wizard of Oz!
What makes a King out of a slave? Courage.
What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage.
What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist or the dusky dusk?
What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage.
What makes the Sphinx the 7th Wonder? Courage.
What makes the dawn come up like THUNDER?! Courage.
What makes the Hottentot so hot?
What puts the “ape” in ape-ricot?
Whatta they got that I ain’t got?
Dorothy & Friends: Courage!
Cowardly Lion: You can say that again.
If you truly want to have a successful prayer time, don’t begin with any conditions. “Well, I’ll pray, but you have to . . .” Oh, friend, you need to believe that our Father is love -personified! And, the fact that He is love, He isn’t going to knock you in your head; beat you up; put you “under-His-thumb.” Nope, just throw yourself before Him and pray with boldness for whatever it is you need. Don’t worry about the cost or the “impossibility” of your request. You don’t need to know how He will resolve it. I can simply assure you that it will be legal! lol
Yes, in His in His love and wisdom, He finds a problem in our lives, just be open and vulnerable; accept His correction with delight. THIS is what excites Him! I assure you that any prayer offered like that will never go unanswered. In fact, His character and reputation guarantee this.
As Tozer wrote, “We should always keep in mind the infinite loving-kindness of God. No one need fear to put his life in His hands.”