Friday, September 28, 2012

Standing in the Face of Temptation - James 1:12-18

Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.

James 1:12-18 starts off with a bang and offers great encouragement to us concerning temptation—if we let it. Remember, in verses 2-11, James is talking about trials and how we are to view them and turn them into triumphs. Here he tells us the person who perseveres when in trials is blessed and will receive the crown of life.

He also gives us a key that can help us in trials. That key? The reason to persevere... Love. Why love?
Because love is the spiritual motivation behind every imperative in this section. ...Where there is love, there is surrender and obedience. ~Warren Wiersbe

Unfortunately, we don't always remain under the pressure that will prove our character, and provide opportunities for spiritual growth and maturity. Those times when we don't endure and persevere, is when things turn into temptations for us. God sends trials to build us up but if we take an easy way out, if we take the bait Satan camouflages—that is the temptation.

What is the source of temptations?

Not God! He has nothing to do with temptation.
But the blame does not rest entirely on Satan either. So who does that leave? Ourselves. In verse 14 James says it so clearly—it's our own desires, more specifically, when we want to satisfy them in ways that are outside of God's will. That's when Satan steps in with a highly camouflaged temptation that attracts our attention while hiding the fact that yielding to it will bring sorrow and punishment. Just like a bear won't step on a trap, we won't (or usually don't) throw ourselves into a trap, so Satan disguises the temptation, making it look wonderful. This is why we need God's discernment.

The four stages of sin:


We can see these acted out very clearly in Genesis 3 where Satan goes to Eve and convinces her to eat the forbidden fruit.
Verse 14 contains two similar images, not a succession of action within one image. The first pictures the violent action of capture that follows setting a lure, and second the attractive bait that draws an unsuspecting victim. The extraordinary vividness of these images shows how dangerous James believes the evil impulse to be. Evil desire within us acts as both the attractive bait and as the lure. The evil desire is our own, and a bent to be attracted to it is equally our own responsibility. ~David P. Nystrom


James 1:12-18 from BibleGateway.com. Click to enlarge so it's readable. ;-)

When you are looking temptation in the face, get your eyes off the bait and look ahead to see the consequences of sin!

Some things to help us endure so we can grow and mature:

  • Giving in to temptation leads to death (verse 15).
  • Remember God's goodness! God gives only good gifts and the tense of that phrase is that it's a continual action. He is always giving us good things. The question is, do we accept them as good, even if they don't appear good at first in our limited human sight?
  • Remember that God does not change! So we shouldn't doubt His love nor His goodness. When we doubt God's goodness, we open ourselves to the attractive offers Satan puts in front of us.
  • Our second birth, salvation, helps us overcome temptation because we now have God's nature within us. He gave us life through the word of truth. Yielding to temptation brings failure but yielding to Christ leads to victory.

Keep in mind:

  • Temptations are opportunities to accomplish a good thing in a bad way, out of the will of God.
  • Persevere means to remain under the pressure that is sent to grow and mature us.
  • God is not to blame for our failure to stand firm in the test. He is the giver of every good gift. We are responsible for our own actions, for turning a test (trial) into a temptation.
  • Trials are something to be endured but temptations are something to be avoided.
  • “...in our arrogance and ignorance, we demand the right to define what 'good' is. God's definition is often different from ours. So we need wisdom and insight from Him in order to see difficulties for what they are.” (David P. Nystrom)
  • Success, by our definition, is not always the same as God's definition of it. We need His discernment so we are not attracted to that powerful lure of success that Satan puts in before us—some are called to be Jeremiahs rather than Elijahs.
  • If Satan can get us to spend all our time and energy doing good things, so that God's best things are left undone, he has won.

The Christian who loves God, and who knows that God loves him, will not fall apart when God permits trials to come. He is secure in God's love. ~Warren Wiersbe
Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.
Digging Deeper
  • Mull over this concept of first fruits: Exodus 23:19; Leviticus 23:10; I Corinthians 15:20, 23; 16:15; Proverbs 3:9
  • What does 1 Corinthians 9:24-24 tell us about the crown of life?
  • Check out what Proverbs 19:3 says about who's to blame when things "go wrong."
  • Read Genesis 22. What is this passage an example of?
  • Read Ecclesiastes 9:12, keeping James 1:12-18 in mind. How does it tie in?
Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.
Let's Chat
  • In your mind, what's the difference between trials and temptations?
  • Step back and look at your life right now. What are some good things you're doing that might actually be Satan's tactics to lure you away from God's will?
  • Be honest with yourself, is there something going on in your life that you are taking the easy way out of simply to get out of the pressure instead of letting it complete it's maturing job in you and for you?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hitting the Highway

a 2 z meme with Patty Wysong at Patterings.
Welcome to this week's a 2 z
and the letter H.
If you're joining in the meme, be sure to link up with us at the end of this post. Find more info about the a 2 z meme here.

 Yesterday was a long, loong, looong day. 15 hours from the time we left until we got home, and most of the time was spent on the highway.

My two girls were in an accident last week. They weren't hurt, but their car was. Sometimes God does things to get our attention and I think this might have been one of those things.

Through this whole mess, we've seen God's hand over and over again.
  • The girls were not hurt.
  • The car is repairable.
  • We're seeing that if they had hit any other way, the damage might have been too much to repair, and the girls could have been hurt.
  • We found and bought an inexpensive car to get them back on the road--we barely squeaked by with the cars we had, so this will come in handy later too, after repairs.
  • Today it's stormy in Illinois, yesterday when we picked up the car in Chicagoland, it was beautiful.
  • The accident on the interstate yesterday only had us parked and waiting for 20 minutes or so. When we passed the wreck, we recognized the vehicles as ones that had passed us just before stopping at a rest area.
God is SO good!!

So, yesterday we hit the highway...


 I love the old barns of Illinois. They have so much character!!



My youngest thought this was Bald Knob Cross. It's not, it's in Effingham (right?) and it makes me smile every time I see it.


After all, we are the land of Lincoln here in Illinois...


So, that's been my week.
What have you been doing?

Oh! And today I'm at the Internet Cafe Devotions posting about something I learned from smelly tuna cans and what they can do to my life. Hope you can join me there for a minute or two...


If you're joining us for the a2z meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter H, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Accountability - Forward, March!

Last week I was able to teach a lesson on Time Management at ACFW's stay-at-home conference, hosted by Karin Beery and Tiffany Coulter. I kept chuckling over the fact that I was teaching such a class because lately, I have had NO time. But life comes in seasons, and this season happens to have me on the road. A lot.


One of the points I made in the Time Management lesson is the importance of having an accountability group and the difference it's made in my life. Before becoming part of that small group, I often felt like I was climbing more solo than I actually was.  The accountability group provided not just accountability, but support, too.

I've often toyed with starting an accountability group open to others and finally did. It's called Forward, March! It's based on what we do in the very small group Joanne and I are part of, and I asked Joanne to join me to help get the group up and running.

Here's what we do in Forward, March!:

  • Every Friday evening a roll call is sent out and each member is to send in their goals for the upcoming week.
  • These are goals related to the business of writing... Word count, research, edits, platform building. Anything that relates to the overall big picture of the business of writing.
  • Each weekend, in the same email, the members report in, specifically, in detail, how they did on the goals they set for the week that just finished.
  • These are usually bullet point lists, making it easy to account for.
  • Brevity is encouraged. LoL, not that we always make this one. ;-)
In the years I've been part of this small group, I've accomplished much more than I  would have otherwise. Our goals lists and reports keep us self-motivated, and for those times when we need "encouragement" to get moving, someone is there with the fabled wet noodle. In fact, it came out this week, and a deadline was set. Joanne said (not to me this time! phew!) "I'll be emailing on Wednesday to see if you did this!" You can be assured, follow up will happen on Wednesday. LoL. Kind prodding does wonders!

The value of an accountability group is the multifaceted. 

  • There's support, friendship, and wet noodles to prod you onward. There's also a record for you to see, and thus evaluate, of your habits.  
  • It helps you spot the time sinks and how long you've been procrastinating on a certain thing.
  • As people in the group make forward progress...as YOU make forward progress, momentum is built, which will encourage you and others in the group. It's a synergistic effect.

YOU can be a part of this!  =)

If you would like to join a writer's accountability group, go to Forward, March! and request membership. Let me know where you heard about this group and what you write (just because I'm curious! *grin*).

We would love to have you join us!!


Friday, September 21, 2012

Turning Trials into Triumphs - James 1:2-11

Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.
If you know a verse in James off the top of your head, chances are that it's verse 2. Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials...

How often have we heard it or quoted it with closed eyes so others couldn't see the eye roll or the deep pain that went with it? Or, maybe we simply wanted to throw our hands up and say “How?! How can this be joy?” I've done both. Sometimes at the same time.

Thank goodness James tells us how we can turn our trials into triumphs!

Let's dig into some important words first...

Click to view larger. From BibleGateway.com
Consider is a financial term that means “to evaluate.” The phrases Chalk it up to... Mark it down as... fit well here. Think of our lives having two columns: Pros and Cons. When trials come, mark them down in the Pro column. Consider them a plus and not a negative.
When we face the trials of life, we must evaluate them in the light of what God is doing for us. ~Warren Wiersbe

All joy = utter joy. Complete, overflowing joy. Trials are to be occasions of overflowing joy.

Trials = peirasmos in Greek
“When God is the agent, peirasmos (trials) are for the purpose of proving someone, never for the purpose of causing him to fall. If it is the devil who tempts, then it is for the purpose of causing one to fall.” WordStudy Dictionary meaning of trials.

Just like extreme heat is used to refine gold and silver by putting them through the fire, we are refined by trials. Trials prove the quality or worth of someone or something through adversity.

When we find ourselves in trials, we are to respond not with anger or disappointment, but with utter joy.

Endurance is not a single act of fortitude, it's an active steadfastness. Staying power, constancy, and a determination under adversity. It's colored with the idea of hope, which animates and enriches the other qualities. We need to let constancy go to its fullest extent so we become mature and complete, lacking nothing.

Endurance is something that must be learned through experience. Just like you don't train for a marathon by reading or studying about it, you must go through difficulties, trust and obey God so that your endurance will grow.

Perfect is mature, complete, goal, or rightful purpose. This is a key term for James. It is the fully developed character of stable righteousness. When it's used of character, it implies that God is a part of whatever process is involved in the formation of character.


So how does all that help us turn trials into triumphs? 

James tells us.
Count.. Count it all joy
Outlook determines outcome, and attitude determines action. ~Warren Wiersbe
To turn trials into triumphs, the first thing to do is choose to see the trial through the lens of what God is doing for us through the trial. He's growing us and giving us an opportunity to learn and mature. Knowing that helps us accept things better, which affects our attitude, and our attitudes determine our actions.

Know... Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance
Testing works for us, not against us. Trials can produce patience, endurance and the ability to keep going when things are tough.

Let... Let endurance have its perfect result
If we do not let Him, God cannot build our character. We must surrender to Him so He can accomplish His work in us. If we don't surrender to Him, we become even more immature.

Ask... Ask of God who gives to all generously
When we're going through trials...troubles...the first thing we often ask for is an escape hatch. We want out of the fire. But that's not what James says to ask for. He says to ask for wisdom.

Wisdom? In a trial? In tough times?
You bet!
With God's wisdom we will be able to see more of His perspective of things, which will help us understand it, which will help us endure as we submit to His will (like a good bond-servant whose will is consumed in his master's will).
Why ask for wisdom instead of deliverance, grace or strength? Because we need wisdom so we won't waste the opportunities God is giving us to mature, and to help us understand how to use the circumstances for our good and God's glory.
Wisdom is not knowledge. Knowledge is information. Wisdom is knowing what to do with that information. Wisdom is the right use of knowledge.

James tells us that when we ask, we're to ask in faith, without doubting, and he compares the doubting believer to the waves—up one minute and down the next. What a graphic that is! A little tiny canoe on the huge ocean of life, bobbing up and down when we don't need to. Faith anchors us to The Rock—no more bobbing around.

A believer's circumstances aren't an indication of the depth of their spiritual walk. Regardless of who we are and our social or financial standing in life, trials can knock us down. Money and social standing don't get us through trials. It's our position in Christ and who He is that gets us through. Money can disappear in a flash but our spiritual riches cannot, nor can they wither or fade.
It's not your material resources that take you through the testing of life. It's your spiritual resources.


Our world seeks joy but doesn't allow us to find it. James says joy is in the presence of God and the will of God. We need to forget what the world tells us about joy and happiness and realize it is found in a sensitivity to and humility before God, and to service to others.

Trials force us to the place where we ask God for wisdom, and His wisdom allows us to endure the trial until we are complete.



Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.
Digging Deeper
  • Compare James 1:2 with Luke 10:30.
  • How does Psalm 66:10-12 fit with James 1:2-4?
  • 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 deals with wisdom. How does it tie in with James 1:5? Who ya gonna call?
  • What is the effect doubt has on faith? Matthew 14:22-33


Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.

Let's Chat

  •  What's the toughest thing for you--Counting it joy, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, letting endurance have its perfect result, or asking God for wisdom when in a trial?
  • Which is the easiest?
  • How does knowing this help?
  • What is one thing you can do this weekend that will help you when the next trial comes around?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Good Grief

a 2 z meme with Patty Wysong at Patterings.
Welcome to this week's a 2 z
and the letter G.
If you're joining in the meme, be sure to link up with us at the end of this post. Find more info about the a 2 z meme here.


Good grief. 
Time flies when you're monkeying around!

Since visiting my sister last weekend, this is what I've done...

Toby, my white faced capuchin monkey, dressed for work.

I've worked with Toby and also with two other monkeys at a fair--I was in training so I could come home and know better what to do with Toby.

For a solid week, I've been with monkeys.Toby and I will be spending many, many hours together in the upcoming weeks. It will be...interesting, among other things.

So tell me, what have you been doing? 
I've missed you guys!!

If you're joining us for the a2z meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter G, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here.


Friday, September 14, 2012

James Who? A Look at James 1:1

Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.

The book of James opens in typical fashion for the days of the early church—with a greeting. His is very succinct, giving only the most important information: His name, how he sees himself and his position, who the letter is to, and his greetings. But it leaves many of us wanting more info. Like...

James who?

That's just for starters.

Not only was James a popular name, it was a variation of the name Jacob. Remember the Old Testament Jacob? His name was changed to Israel and he was the father of 12 sons. The James most people accept as the human author of the book of James was the head of the first church in Jerusalem, and he was considered the church father.

There are several men names James mentioned in the New Testament but the most likely one to have written the book of James is the brother of Jesus. Technically, he's the half-brother of Jesus, yet nowhere in the book do we see James claim their brother connection. I don't know about you, but I claim my sisters, even when they've embarrassed me to no end. But not James, and not because Jesus was an embarrassment to him. Instead he calls himself a bond-servant of God—but not just God. He said he was a bond-servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Jewish people are monotheistic. They have one God and that is something that set them apart from all the other nations (and when it didn't, they went into captivity to relearn that lesson). So when James said he was a bond-servant of God AND the Lord Jesus Christ, he was saying right from the get-go that Jesus was God—something he had been reluctant to accept.

How did James get from being the brother who didn't believe Jesus (John 7:1-9) to the brother who was one of the three pillars of the early church (Acts 15)? After Jesus rose from the grave, He appeared to people—Peter, the disciples, 500 people, “then He appeared to James...” (1 Cor. 15:7) Jesus loved His brother and made it a point to speak with him. That must have been some conversation! James finally believed.

Can you imagine growing up as the younger brother of Jesus? Jesus—the perfect boy. The who really never did anything wrong. In a culture where keeping the Law was everything, it must have driven a wedge between Jesus and his younger brothers, especially James who was closest to Him in age. The brother you love yet hate at the same time. The brother you can never be as good as, the one whose shadow you are constantly in. No wonder James struggled with who Jesus was.

But Jesus made it a point to speak with him after His resurrection, and that visit made a difference. James rose in prominence in the church, not because he was a brother of Jesus (there were oat least three other brothers—Matthew 13:55-56) but we don't hear of them, other than they were in the Upper Room, too. James rose to his position because of his personal relationship with God and the Lord Jesus Christ, and it's then that we see that, although James did not believe Jesus was God before His crucifixion, he sure did listen to what Jesus taught!

So what was his relationship with God and the Lord Jesus Christ? 

He considered himself a bond-servant. That means obeying another, serving them, and having your will consumed in the will of another (God's). That's not playing the brother card!

So we see who James most likely was.

Who was he writing to? 

“The twelve tribes dispersed abroad.” Remember Israel's captivity? Remember how persecution arose in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1-4)? James wrote to Jews living outside of the land of Palestine—to Christian Jews—those still dispersed from captivity (Diaspora Jews, like Mordecai and Esther) and those who fled Jerusalem due to persecution.

Although it's not mentioned in the Bible, tradition tells us about James, including that he prayed so much, his knees were as hard as a camel's.

“Much is told about James in extrabiblical writings of the time. He was respected even among non-Christians, 'largely because of his ascetic way of life and his regular participation in the temple services of prayer where he interceded for the people and their city.' He was stoned to death in AD 62, and many of the people were gravely shocked at this. 'Some years later some ascribed the calamity which overtook the city and its inhabitants to the cessation of James' prayers on their behalf.' Bruce says that 'the church's readiness to recognize his leadership was due more to his personal character and record than to his blood relationship to the Lord.” His role in the council is evidence of this character.” ~Ajith Fernando in The NIV Application Commentary on Acts.

Paul went to the Gentiles. Peter went to the Jews. James stayed in Jerusalem and remained a law-abiding Jew to the end, but he did not push it on others and he preached salvation by grace alone.

His greetings: chairein.
In Greek this means joy to you!
Joy is our birthright in Christ. Obedience in our walk of faith brings us back to joy. It is our happy place. ~Beth Moore.

Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.

For more digging:

Matthew 13:55-56
Mark 3:31-35; 6:3
John 7:1-5
1 Corinthians 9:5; 15:1-7
Galatians 2:1-10
Acts 8; 15; 1:14; 12:17; 21:17-26

This week:

  • Mull over James' view of his position as a bond-servant of God. Take a serious look at your willingness to be a bond-servant, knowing that it includes letting your will be totally consumed by God's will.
  • Read through the whole book of James again. Really. The more you read through a passage you're studying, the more you see and the more will sink in.

I've been out of town and offline for over a week, but next week, for sure, I'll be tweeting tidbits about James. You can find me on Twitter at . I'd love for you to follow me or watch for the #fiaJames hashtag and join in the conversation.

Memory verse: James 1:3

Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.

Q4u:

  • What do you think it was like for James, growing up as the younger brother of Jesus?
  • What can we learn from James and how he viewed Jesus, even though he was His brother?
  • Remember, the disciples would have seen James' response and interaction with Jesus over their three years with Him. How do you think this affected James and his decision to believe?
  • What's your take on James' greeting of joy to you?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fun with F

a 2 z meme with Patty Wysong at Patterings.
Welcome to this week's a 2 z
and the letter F.
If you're joining in the meme, be sure to link up with us at the end of this post. Find more info about the a 2 z meme here.

Yes, I'm late posting. Here's why...


I was able to spend a long weekend with my sister in Puerto Rico.  We had soooooo much FUN.


We went to two beaches every day--beach combing, NOT tanning--and found lots of cool stuff.



The flowers in PR are gorgeous. I love the colors!!

Yesterday, after running through Old San Juan, I flew home and got in late, late last night...

If you're joining us for the a2z meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter F, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here.


Saturday, September 08, 2012

A Day Together



It's not every day I get to visit with my sister, Cheryl. In fact, our visits are too few and too far between. But that means when we get together we soak it in and savor it.

Right now we're in Puerto Rico, where she's been living for a year.

It's been such a good day I wanted to share it with you...

Waking up at my normal time meant getting to enjoy early morning on the coast. What a treat to fall asleep listening to the surf.






A room with a view AND a breeze.


The simplicity of this house is wonderful. It's on the cliff and open to the beauty of the sea.




After a leisurely morning, we took off for the beach...

Cheryl took me to Crash Boat Beach--such a cool name!! --where we swam and had lunch. It was the first time I've been swimming in the ocean for 25 years--I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed it.

After lunch we hit another beach to search for sea glass. I have to admit, if I had to choose between the two (and could only do one), I'd choose searching for sea glass. Such a fun treasure hunt!


Late afternoon found us relaxing in the hammock--talking and reading. It was my first time to be in a hammock. Pretty neat! It provided some laughs as we eased in and out, hoping we wouldn't flip.


Then I grabbed my camera and went exploring...down the stairs that scale the cliff and take you to the shore below the house. I only went part way. We might tackle the jungle at the end of the stairs another day.


Since I was only wearing flip flops, and because I'm such a chicken at heart, I went down very slowly. Farther down there were big, dead leaves covering the stairs, but here, here's what I spotted....


A tiny hermit crab! He wasn't even as big as my pinkie fingernail. So cute!! There was another one half his size, but the thing was fast and I couldn't catch his picture.


By the time I went back topside, the sun was setting fast. Since I love silhouttes, I had fun playing with the light and the palm trees and feet. Silly sister fun. The best kind!

Of course, there was more kicking back, talking, and playing on the computers too. A perfect day. Together.

Want to see me and my sister? Head over to SeaLevel320 where Cheryl has a fun collage posted of our day.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Faith in Action an Intro to James

Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.

Why study the book of James?

LoL, you mean other than the fact that it's in the Bible?

So often people say they believe something but their actions—their lives—don't support what they're saying. At times, their actions contradict what they say they believe.


“Television has created in our culture a low information - action ratio. People are accustomed to learning good ideas, but not acting on them.” -Neil Postman in Amusing Ourselves to Death.

Just look at Pinterest. How many of us have boards loaded with great knowledge and things that are good and even great? What percentage of those things have we used--really incorporated into our everyday lives?

The book of James call us to account. He shows us the Christian life is more than just intellectually assenting and accepting some beliefs.

James shows us the “pinch points” where our faith and our practice don't align
  • in times of persecution and trial
  • whenever we open our mouths (our tongues easily show any discrepancy there is between faith and practice!)
  • in all of our relationships
  • in the handling of money
“True wisdom comes only when our attitudes and practices match up with the content of what we say.” ~Terry C. Muck

About the book of James...

James was possibly written around AD 45-48, before the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15), making it one of the first New Testament books to be written. BUT the book of James was left out of some of the early versions and collections of sacred books. While the churches of Rofe and Carthage doubted the canonicity of James, it was used early on by the churches of Jerusalem, Alexandria and Asia Minor.

Key theme of James: Spiritual maturity
Key words: brethren, faith, perfect (perfected), sin, rich (riches), judge (judges, judged, judgment), law, say (says), works, tongue
Key verse: James 1:4
James 1:4 from BibleGateway.org Click image to see larger.

James wrote to a church, to Jewish Christians who were having some problems in their personal lives as well as within the fellowship of Believers.

What were their problems?

  • not living out what they said they believed.
  • The tongues of the Believers were causing some serious problem, even division within the church.
  • Worldliness.
  • Disobedience and Christians straying from the Lord and from the church.
Boy, does that sound familiar?! James could have written to us this morning and be just as relevant and just as on target now as he was then.

But all these problems (in the early church and in today's church) go back to a root cause: spiritual immaturity. James teaches us about maturity—about growing up.

Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.

So, where do we fit into this?

We need to stop and look at ourselves and our lives—our actions, not just our intentions!--and see where we are in our Christian walk. I don't mean just a quick glance, but a deep, thorough look. Take some time this weekend or this week, and ask God to show you where you are—then stick around and listen with ears, eyes and heart open to see what He has to say.


This week:

Read through James in one sitting. Slowly. It should take less than 30 minutes.
Go the extra mile and read it a second time, out loud this time and listen to what you're reading.

Faith in Action. A Bible study of the book of James with Patty Wysong at Patterings.

Let's chat...

  • What's the first verse that comes to mind when you think of the book of James?
  •  What's your favorite verse in James?

Thoughts through the week...

I'll be tweeting about James throughout the week and if you're on Twitter, I would dearly love for you to join me for it. You can find me on Twitter at @PattyWysong

James isn't interested in just adding more intellectual knowledge to us. He wants to see the evidence of what we believe.

Heavenly Father, as we get ready to study James, open our hearts and minds to the truth of where we are in our walk with you. Show us Your truth and help us be diligent to live and act accordingly. Give us the courage to make the changes You call us—changes that will help us grow up in You.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Faith in Action - A Study of James


This fall I'm digging into the book of James and you're invited along for the journey. Each Friday, starting tomorrow, I'll be posting and chatting about a small segment of James--small bites so we can mull over and savor this small but mighty book of the Bible.

Depending on the time you want to invest, each week there will be:
  • questions for discussion 
  • opportunities to dig deeper on your own
  • verses to memorize

Thoughts through the week...

I will also be tweeting about James throughout the week and if you're on Twitter, I would dearly love for you to join me for it. You can find me on Twitter at @PattyWysong.

The study books I'm using and will be quoting from sometimes...


Mercy Triumphs by Beth Moore

James, Jesus' own brother, started out as a skeptic. See how one glimpse of the resurrected Savior turned an unbeliever into a disciple with Beth Moore's study James: Mercy Triumphs. Once you get to know both the man and the Book of James, you'll never be the same again.

Bible scholars compare James to the prophet Amos. In other ways, James more closely resembles the Book of Proverbs than any New Testament book. James is a book with many topics -- social justice, joy, hardship, faith, reversal of fortunes for rich and poor, wisdom, gifts from above, single-mindedness, the dangers of the tongue, humility, and prayer -- all of which are covered in this study. 


The NIV Application Commentary by David P. Nystrom

 Straight to the point, practical, affirming, convicting---that's the book of James. In it, we see a picture of early Christians wrestling to apply the teachings of Jesus to their everyday lives. And we see a community plagued by divisiveness and hypocrisy, with an emphasis on wealth and status. James pulls no punches addressing these issues, calling for a faith that shows itself in moral actions: in speech, in interpersonal relationships, in economic and social justice. He also lays out a theology of the redemptive value of suffering. In our day when the behavior and attitudes of professed Christians are often not much different from the surrounding culture, in our society of great wealth, and in our culture that abhors suffering, the challenging message of James is greatly needed. Exploring the links between the Bible and our own times, David Nystrom shares perspectives on the book of James that reveal its enduring relevance for our twenty-first-century lives. 

This set of commentaries has quickly become my favorites. 
Here's why...
Most Bible commentaries take us on a one-way trip from our world to the world of the Bible. But they leave us there, assuming that we can somehow make the return journey on our own. They focus on the original meaning of the passage but don't discuss its contemporary application. The information they offer is valuable---but the job is only half done! The NIV Application Commentary Series helps bring both halves of the interpretive task together. This unique, award-winning series shows readers how to bring an ancient message into our postmodern context. It explains not only what the Bible meant but also how it speaks powerfully today.


The Wiersbe Bible Commentary (NT)

Whether you are a pastor, teacher, or layperson, now you can study the Bible in easy-to-read sections that emphasize personal application as well as biblical meaning. Developed from Dr. Wiersbe’s popular “Be” series of Bible study books, this commentary carefully unpacks all of the New Testament.
The Wiersbe Bible Commentary New Testament offers you:
  • Dr. Wiersbe’s trustworthy insights on the entire New Testaments
  • New Biblical images, maps, and charts
  • Introductions and outlines for each book of the Bible
  • Clear, readable text that’s free of academic jargon
Let one of the most beloved and respected Bible teachers of our time guide you verse-by-verse through the Scriptures. It’s the trusted reference you’ll love to read. 

This is another favorite resource of mine, one I pull out often, whether I'm teaching or pondering.


The Complete Word Study Dictionary (New Testament) by Spiros Zodhiates Th.D.

Every word in the Greek New Testament is explained in great detail, covering all context usages for these words. Numbered to Strong's numbering system, each word has a basic definition and further commentary is provided by Dr. Spiros Zodhiates, noted Greek scholar.



I'm really excited about this study and hope to see you along the journey. See you Friday for our first post!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Enough

a 2 z meme with Patty Wysong at Patterings.
Welcome to this week's a 2 z
and the letter E.
If you're joining in the meme, be sure to link up with us at the end of this post. Find more info about the a 2 z meme here.

Confession time...you did know a confession had to be coming soon, right? LoL.

Even though I've been mulling over E words all week, none of them grabbed me as THE one, but here's a sample of what's been swirling in my mind and heart...
  • Enough--as in God whispering to me, "Is it truly enough, Patty?"
  • Evermore--as in the worship song Evermore (I will love You).
  • Eager--I'm still counting the days, eager for time with my sister.
  • Ecuador--I was homesick this last week.
  • Even so come, Lord Jesus--what my second mom, an extremely influential lady in my life, used to say during earthquakes and other extreme moments.
Echoes of elephants.

...choosing to say and say again every time my thoughts and actions contradict my belief, "It is enough."
It
is
enough.

 ~*~*~*~
If you're joining us for the a2z meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter E, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here.


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