(Quotations indicate text used from The Passion Translation Hebrews & James – Translator’s Introduction to James)

The book of James is a powerful book of God’s wisdom and truth that gives us insight to deep wells of life.  “It is believed by most scholars that James is the step-brother of our Lord Jesus and that he did not become a believer until after Jesus died and rose again.  This is amazing to think that the actual step-brother of our Lord and Savior gives us truth to live by.”

Another amazing part of the book of James is that it is considered, along with the book of Galatians, to be the first letters penned by the apostles.  “So when we read James we are reading the earliest insights of the first generation of followers of Jesus.”

To help us get an even bigger understanding of the book of James we can “view it as the New Testament version of Proverbs, for much of his writings speak of God’s heavenly wisdom that can transform us.”  As you read the following scriptures and devotion take your time and let the Holy Spirit speak directly to your heart the word you are needing.  This devotional can be used all week or at one sitting.  Whatever amount of time you have let each word wash over you and gently turn your gaze face to face with the Father of Lights.

(Verses 1-4)

Greetings!  My name is James, and I’m a love-slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ…

My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience all the joy that you can!  For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things.  And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.

(Pause in the Spirit)

Take a moment to think about the difficulties that 2014 brought your way.  There may have been loss, heartbreak, struggle, frustration, battles and the list goes on.  Now lift up every negative effect those difficulties brought and declare with your heart, mind, and voice that God’s Word is more powerful than any difficulty that comes.  If this scripture is true, and I believe that it is, then God has been working behind the scene to stir up joy, power and growth in your life so that in your relationship with Him there is nothing missing or lacking.  Even the struggles in your life can’t escape God’s grace and love.

(Verse 5)

And if anyone longs to be wise, ask God for wisdom and he will give it!  He won’t see your lack of wisdom as an opportunity to scold you over your failures but he will overwhelm your failures with his generous grace.  Just make sure you ask empowered by confident faith without doubting that you will receive.

(Pause in the Spirit)

This may be a little harder than the last reflection but lets take just a quick moment to recall our failures in 2014.  I know this sounds cruel to ask yet it will reveal God’s heart if we step into it.  As the disappointment and pain begins to set in, and as you begin to think about the things you wish you could have done differently, let God overwhelm your failures with his generous grace.  Right now God covers every failure.  Waves of his grace are crashing over them to wash you clean to start again.  Give yourself permission to let go of your failures and to receive the endless grace of God.

(Verse 12)

If your faith remains strong, even while surrounded by life’s difficulties, you will continue to experience the untold blessings of God!  True happiness comes as you pass the test with faith, and receive the victorious crown of life promised to every lover of God!

(Pause in the Spirit)

Now grab yourself a pen and paper to right with.  If your heart could share the deep lessons you learned through difficulty and failure in 2014, what would it say?  With that question in mind write down instructions for enduring in faith through the struggles that may come in 2015.  Encourage yourself to fight through, remind yourself of the fruit that comes from enduring in difficulty, and challenge yourself to stay the course.

(Verses 17 &18)

Every gift God freely gives us is good and perfect, streaming down from the Father of Lights, shining from the heavens with no hidden shadow of darkness and is never subject to change.  God was delighted to give us birth by the truth of his infallible Word so that we would fulfill his chosen destiny for us and become the favorite ones out of all his creation!

(Pause in the Spirit)

Did you ever think why God is called the Father of Lights?  This name comes from God’s heavenly perspective.  He considers us his heavenly lights and He is our heavenly Father.  We have become His Lights because He was delighted to give- give us life, grace, love, truth, hope, purpose and most importantly His Son.  Right now let it sink in that you are part of God’s favorite ones out of all his creation.  YOU ARE HIS FAVORITE!  You got this standing in God because it is Jesus’ standing in God.  What He deserved was put on you and what you deserved was put on Him.

This is why James can encourage us in verse 9…”The believer who is poor still has reasons to boast, for he has been placed on high.

(Prayer)

Thank you Father of Lights that you love us in all things.  No matter difficulties or failures your love wins all the time.  Today let me walk in the truth of who you are and who you have made me to be.  I bless you Father will thankfulness and praise through faith in Jesus Christ.  Amen.