james read-along: week 1

Welcome, Fellow Readers-Along! Week One is here already! I don’t have the time or space to unpack each verse of Chapter 1 (I wish I did!), so I’m going to focus on a handful that stand out to me, and hopefully, the rest of you will hit what I miss.

Just so you know, I’ll be using the ESV (with other versions sprinkled in). Not because I think it’s the best, but because I have a pocket-sized ESV Bible, and it’s the easiest thing to take with me as I work to memorize the whole stinking entire book of James (!!!). I started today, and I’m already struggling to get past the bits and pieces of NIV lingo lodged in my brain from years past.

For a quick read of James 1 in any version, click here. And for details on the read-along, click here. Shall we dive right in the deep end?

Verse 2–Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds. (consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds–NIV off the top of my head–see??)

I hadn’t planned on “borrowing” thoughts from David Platt’s sermons, but goodness, he’s got some gems in there (listen here), and I can’t help myself. Platt says (and I heartily agree) that this verse denounces the whole health-and-wealth gospel. Notice that James says “count it all joy WHEN you face trials,” not “increase your faith because trials must mean you’re not believing/naming-and-claiming hard enough.”

Trials do not equal insufficient/weak faith. Trials are part of God’s plan to reveal himself to us and to help us grow more like him.

So often we want to just “fix” our trial (or other people’s trials) as quickly as possible, and get back to normal, to comfortable. But if we view our trials as a catalyst to knowing God more truly and deeply, we can really, honestly find joy even while we’re walking through them.

“Trials are joy when God is our goal.” (DP) And by joy, I mean a deep-down confidence that God is in control, knows what he’s doing, loves me intensely, and wants what’s very best for me. Joy isn’t wishy-washy, happy feelings (although happiness can absolutely be a part of it). And joy doesn’t mean absence of pain. They can go hand-in-hand.

Verse 5–If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. This verse fills me with more comfort than I can say.

The God who knows everything–and has never, ever, ever made a wrong move ever–is offering to give me his wisdom. I just read in 1 Kings today how God told Solomon to ask him for anything and he asked for wisdom to rule God’s people. God went giddy over his request. It’s very, very cool with God for us to ask him for his wisdom, rather than try to wing things on our own.

And really, why would we try to do that?? Why, knowing what I know about God, would I ever try to figure something out by myself when he’s there ready and willing with all the wisdom in the universe? Yet I do it over and over. Sigh.

Verse 19b-20–let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires.

I’m just going to flat-out admit right now that I struggle big-time with this. Just today, I got frustrated with my little home-schooler, and I lashed out with some really, really unkind (and loud) words. It says in Matthew that from the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. And my heart was exposed today as being black and ugly.

Whenever I’m tempted to think that I’ve pretty much got it all together and I’m pretty righteous and everything, it only takes one quick outburst of anger at one of my kids (or husband) to remind me that I’m no better than child abusers, brothel owners, people who treat others like they’re less than human. If I can spew hateful words just because someone pushes my buttons, then what does that say about my heart?

It’s filthy, and I desperately need God to create in me a clean one (Psalm 51). James 1:26 speaks to this as well. If I can’t bridle my tongue, my faith is worthless. Sobering, sobering words.

Verse 27–Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

As someone who’s in love with some very precious orphans, I love this verse. But as David Platt warns us, there are two parts to it–public/practical compassion and personal purity–and we each have a tendency to jump on one of these and ignore the other. The whole liberal left/right-wingers dichotomy thing.

But it’s a BOTH/AND statement, not EITHER/OR.

I need to care deeply about the poor while keeping myself pure in heart and my blasted tongue bridled. Tall order, huh? Good thing Christ gives me strength outside of myself.

Your turn, friend. Feel free to answer any/all of the questions below either in the comments or in your own post. And be sure to link to your post if you wrote one. I’m itching to hear what God said to you in this action-packed first chapter.

Discussion Questions:

1. If you could remove one verse from James 1 and never have to deal with it again, which one would it be, and why?

2. What one verse would you like (or feel compelled) to focus on/live out in the coming weeks, and how do you envision it playing out in your life?

3. If you could ask James for clarification on one verse/topic, what would you ask him and why?

86 thoughts on “james read-along: week 1

  1. Pingback: James Stream of Conscience Prayer - Picture Your Life

  2. Pingback: James Stream of Conscience Prayer :: Picture Your Life by Mercer Unlimited, Inc.

  3. Pingback: The DO-ing part: phase 1 « Pray, then learn

  4. jessica Stafford

    Ok its late im running on kid induced no sleep but i commited to myself to do this so sorry if i make no sence thoughts are hard to put together. Verse that stans out to me is 19 but i think the “quick to hear gets me more. Dontget me wrong i loose it with my son and husband and say meanthings at timesbut i struggle more withbeing quick to hear esp.if idont like the way some one says something. I also get so busy i forget to be quick to hear Gods voice.
    I think also i can easily forget to be joyful in suffering and can easily have a woe is me attitude then when things get better thank God but i also need to thank Him in the hard stuff because thats what has strenghthen my faith the most.
    I think about this a lot now that i have kids. I hate for them to go through the hard things i went through as a kid/teen/young adult but i have the ability for great love and empathy and the ability to trust God or at least know to call on Him in my most hurting moments. I still dont want to see them go through hard things and i would rather not either but i want to know Jesus in a very real way and I want them to also.
    I also want to along with that be able to reconize the perfect gifts talked about in verse 17 and be as vocal about them as i am my trials.
    oh and lastly every time i read this i remember that i still need to work on the whole bridled tongue thing…. Sorry just random thoughts and not answers to the questions

    1. Marla Taviano

      Random thoughts are perfectly acceptable and absolutely welcome! Thanks so much, Jessica! GREAT point about the challenge of really listening, especially when we know we’re not going to like what we hear!!

  5. Melanie

    I can’t remember by password for my own blog. That’s terrible. Anyway, I’m leaving my post in the comments section until I get the password situation figured out.

    I love the book of James because it is real Christianity. I may not like every aspect or it may shine light into an area that I don’t want to change but that’s what I need.

    v.27-“…keep oneself polluted by the world.” is what I am going to comment on today. All summer long my family lives in a bubble. We spend time with just each other and outside intrusion is much smaller than during the school year. I can listen to Christian Radio all day. I feel like a better mom. But now school has begun and there is a whole lot of pollutin’ going on. My reaction is to want to hunker down. I want to quit my job as a teacher, keep my kids home, and live my life in this bubble. But I remember that God called me to be salt and light. So I balance my desired to remain pure from the world and the need for me to “be Christ” out there. Does anyone else feel like they want to run from it all? Is this really a solution for non-pollution? Christ spent his time with some yucky people. Am I really a better mom when I try to shelter my kids? Does the devil want me to separate myself? Hmmm…

  6. Cheryl

    I am loving James! Thank you Marla for leading this discussion.
    We will have troubles but we must use our troubles to grow closer to God because God wants us to ask him for His wisdom during these tough times.
    One important question I need to answer in my daily walk is, how can I focus less on earthly possessions and more on people to be like Christ?
    I love vs 18: “his prized possession” How often we do me feel like God’s prized possession-he loves us that much!
    From David Platt: We are responsible in our temptations-Ouch!!!!
    So much more to process! I look forward to reading everyones post. Blessings.

  7. Scott Moses

    Does anyone have a story of when they faced a trial and had joy through all of it? I’d love to hear how God produced joy in you in the face of adversity.

  8. Pingback: Marla Taviano » hear + do (james 1 in action)

  9. Pingback: ALL joy, ALL the time « Pray, then learn

  10. Amanda

    I am loving the motivation to read James!! James 1:2 really jumped off the page at me (“Consider it PURE JOY, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,”) I am so, so blessed and yet selfishly find it easy to get down when silly things don’t go according to MY plan.
    This is definitely one that I will be committing to memory!!

  11. Mindy z

    Focus: it is hard to choose one. I so much want to be more swift to hear and slow to speak and consider it joy when i am facing trials but my choice is based on what hit me in this chunk of scripture that I never recall standing out to me before. vs. 6-7 In reading these verses I recalled hearing vs. 6 before, where it relates a doubter to a wave being tossed by the wind, but when i got to vs. 7 I took a sucker punch to the stomach. Paraphrasing vs 7 here, doubters should’t think they will receive anything from the Lord. I realize I treat faith too much like an emotion or allow my emotions to affect my faith when I shouldnt.

    Clarification: I would love to have James clarify vs. 17. In this verse I lack knowledge on the phrases father of lights and shadow of turning. Anyone have any help for me on that?

  12. Gabe Taviano

    A rich man fades away in his pursuits…..compared to beauty perishing (v11). Sounds to me like James wasn’t a big prosperity gospel guy, and somehow verses like that just get ignored. After reading the chapter I’m reminded to focus on rewards that are eternal (v12) – definitely not an easy thing to do. This often double-minded man (v8) needs to return to this chapter in the morning…..yikes.

  13. Lorena

    1. If I could get rid of any verse it would be v.26. I was reminded last night by my husband as we were having a discussion about something that even in talking things over with him I need to be careful about the tone and words that I use when talking about others. He is my spouse and I feel there is more freedom to discuss problems with others with him, but I need to do it with kind, gracious words. Then to sit down today and read this chapter….ugh.

    2. V. 5-8. So many times I ask God for wisdom in situations and then turn around and try to find a solution for it myself. I think my love of control and dislike of the unknown wins out a lot more than it should. I pray that in the upcoming weeks and months that I will be able to better give control to God and truly wait for tHe wisdom that He so freely and willingly wants to give me.

    3. I would love to know the plan how verse 27 will specifically be lived out in my life. (Here again the dislike of the unknown rears it’s ugly head.) I know there are things to be done and I am praying that God would show us what He wants for us to do. I am eager to see what it is and how it is going to take place.

    1. Marla Taviano

      I’ve been struggling with the unknown just today, friend. I want to know what the future holds for our kiddos and schooling. Is Ava going back to school next year? Are the other 2 coming home? Are they each heading down different paths for the next 10 years (that makes me sad)? God keeps reminding me to trust. His plan is better, higher, perfect.

      1. Sharon W

        Marla, earlier today I felt prompted to pray about your homeschooling Ava this year and also about what would be happening with each kiddo next year. I got your back :)

  14. Sharon W

    Marla, this is the first read-along I’ve done, and I am LOVING it! The Bible study times my church offer just do not work for me now that I have a toddler. But being able to read everyone’s post when it is convenient for me is great. Thanks so much for organizing this!

    1. Marla Taviano

      You are so, so welcome, Sharon. I know this can’t replace face-to-face fellowship with other believers, but I still think God can use it in a really powerful way. So glad it’s blessing you today!

  15. Candice

    It’s been so inspiring to read from everyone’s thoughts and see such pure motives :)

    1. I would get rid of v. 26… but… as in v. 15-17, I would deceive myself. It’s a perfect gift from God that he warns us and protects us from our tongues getting us into sin. I’m thankful that His commands lead us to freedom, and He doesn’t just tell us to do things for no reason.

    2. I really want to live out verse 22-25 more and more. I read recently about how much more we grow when we get out and do stuff with other believers because we rarely can remember Sunday’s sermon past lunch, but we remember the experiences. I agree although I still think a lot of bits and pieces of Sunday sermons have established my core beliefs. This is when extroverted, energized husbands come in handy!

    3. Practical, how-to steps please 😉

  16. Tonia

    I want to respond before I get caught up in reading all of the others and change what my heart pours out. Ugh….I’m balling. I don’t know about anyone else, I love having a long weekend with my family, but by the end I’m ready to kill everyone because the place is a disaster and we’re so off routine and everyone is complaining and grouchy from lack of sleep. That said, v.19-21 hit me like a ton of bricks. So answering #2 first, I need to work on being slow to speak and slow to get angry. How? Got me. All I know is that this is so much of who I am, so it’s going to take some real habit changing.

    3. I get why we’re supposed to care for orphans and widows, but my question is why are these two singled out? AND how exactly am I supposed to do this?

    I really can’t think of any verses that I’d leave out and be okay with, it really all speaks such truth to me. Now I’m going to read others’ comments and I’m sure I’ll form a new opinion about it.

    1. Sharon W

      Tonia, Your post made me laugh. I purposely waited to read others posts until I had written mine so that I didn’t go off on a tangent on an issue that someone else’s post brought up for me. And, I always look forward to my husband having extra time off from work, but once it actually happens, I’m the same as you. Desperate to get back on the routine that my daughter and I thrive on.

    2. Marla Taviano

      I’ve got some nasty habit-changing to do too, friend. Praying for you!!

      And I’m not positive, but I think maybe he addresses orphans and widows, because they don’t have family to take care of them. In Bible times, extended families lived together, held each other up, supported each other in times of need. Orphans and widows would be less likely to have that kind of family support.

      HOW to do this? I’m going to talk about it some tomorrow for starters. :)

  17. Lindsey Simon

    Hey Marla, this is a great idea. I love James and have studied it before. You have inspired me to write about it a little.
    Here’s my latest post:
    “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” -James 1:2-8 NKJV

    Yes, we will face many trials. It is a fact and we cant get around it. But if you will notice the trails that James talks about here are tests of faith. Not tests of health or finances or any kind of physical test. James says they are tests of faith. And yes, God does test our faith. Most of us have probably experience asking God for an increase in our love for people or patience for people and God brings along ways for us to grow in these areas (often more than we really thought we wanted).
    But here is what I know:
    “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”-James 1:17
    “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” -John 10:10
    Good is from God and Bad is from Satan.

    Now, is where I usually get the question of, “Who are you to decide what is good and what it bad for you?” Good question! The answer is, I didn’t. Joshua 1:7-8; John 15:8; James 1:25; Philippians 4:19; Matthew 6:25; James 5:14-16 (and many more) God always desired good and abundance for His people.

    Now, is where I usually get the question of, “What about all the starving and dying people around the world?” Good question! I have seen the starving and dying around the world and it is awful and sad and certainly not Gods best! There are Christians in these places, such as the underground churches in China or the movement happening in Mozambique, Africa that are experiencing God in tangible ways. Things like healing of the deaf and blind and the raising of the dead are daily happenings for the people there. This is because they are truly falling in love with God and believing in the power of the Spirit. The thing we have to understand is, God is not moved by our need, He is moved by our faith. And when you truly know the Father, you understand what belongs to you because of His love for you, you will experience His blessing and abundance in your life, no matter if you live in Columbus, Ohio or Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. The love of the Father is astounding and surpasses all of our understanding!

    Also, we see in verse 4, we will be made perfect, complete and not lacking anything. And in verse 6-8, we see that a person asking with doubt should not expect to receive anything from God. Everything is tied into belief and trust in God, and belief and trust is always tied into loving God! Another thing that we need to know is that, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” -Romans 8:28 So even though God works through the bad, it never comes from Him.

    The truth is, we could unpack this for days, and we should! But only with the power of the Spirit can truth be revealed. 1 Corinthians 2:9-11

    p.s. if you want to see what God is doing through, and for, His people around the world…download this film, Finger of God

    1. Marla Taviano

      Thanks for sharing, Lindsey. I guess I’d have to study the Greek more to know for sure, but I don’t see how “testing your faith” can exclude physical/financial trials. Jesus’ disciples and the apostles (and Jesus himself) suffered trial after trial of that nature. In fact, every last one of them pretty much died a horrific death. I don’t think you can limit the trials God uses to things like needing more patience for a difficult person. Am I missing something?

      1. Lindsey Simon

        All of the “trials and testing” that happened to the disciples and Jesus was persecution. This, we are promised will happen to us when we get sold out for God. However, none of this came from God. In fact, it all came from the people who hated God or didn’t understand who He is. However, there is no example of Jesus suffering physically until the end of His life (the persecution part).

        A good example of when the disciples were put to the test is when Jesus walks on water. Peter, at first full of faith and very eager gets out of the boat and puts all his faith in Jesus. As he begins to take his eyes off Jesus and look around him at the waves he begins to sink. Peter, realizing he needs Jesus again, says, “Lord, save me!” Jesus then stretches out His hand and pulls Peter up. He then says, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Jesus didn’t make Peter sink, Peters doubt did.
        Only when we take our eyes off Jesus do we begin to sink!

  18. Laura

    James does not mess around. This book makes me really uncomfortable, in all the right ways.

    Two things stuck out to me in this reading of Chapter One. First, that God knows what we truly need. I’ve heard the “every good and perfect gift” verse used many times to thank God for material things, which often hasn’t quite sat right with me. In this chapter, though, what God offers us as believers are things like wisdom (v. 5), the crown of life as we persevere through trials (v. 12), new birth through the gospel (v. 18), his word planted in us, which can save us (v. 21) and brings freedom (v. 25). Does he bless us with other stuff? Sure. But we often lose sight of what we really need. At least I do.

    Also, this chapter is just such a huge call to me to live by the Spirit. The fruits of the Spirit – love (v. 27), joy (v. 2), peace (v. 6), patience (v. 12,) kindness (v. 19), goodness (v. 22), faithfulness (v. 25), gentleness (v. 19), self-control (26) – are just all over this instruction of how we are to live. Sometimes it seems like such an impossible task, given my enormous failures in these areas. But it’s a comfort to know that God’s good and perfect gift of the Holy Spirit in me is able to continually work on these things in my life if I open myself up to him.

    1. Marla Taviano

      James don’t! James don’t! James don’t mess around! Hey!

      We should have a James Read-Along Cheer Contest. Or not. :)

      Oh, wow, Laura. I looooooove how you picked all the fruit of the Spirit in those verses. I’m going to go look/match it all up right now. Sweet!!

      So glad you’ve joined us!

  19. Mary

    I guess when we sign up to be a Christian, we get more than Heaven. I had no idea when I accepted the Lord He would offer so much. His wisdom. That blows me away. I am reminded of the scripture, “To whom much is given much is required”. That is where I believe James can really be “fleshed” out. We are given so much more than just heaven. God gives us our biggest gifts through our hardes trials. Only He can do that. I almost missed my biggest blessing when I was focused on my trial and not on how to glorigy God in it. “Count it all joy when your world starts crashin, pick up the beat and dont stop dancin. I love that.” My biggest battle is extending myself to others. I am too busy, Ya right Mary. Too self focused is the battle. This week I would like to focus on James 1:27..

    1. Marla Taviano

      Oooooh, I am soooo guilty of playing the Busy Card. And you’re right–it’s less about busyness, more about being self-focused. Let’s work on that together, shall we? Thanks for joining us, Mary!

    2. Rachelle

      WOW! This gave me chills, Mary! If we are willing he will pour out blessings that we never ever imagined, through our trials, hurts and struggles we give God ALL the glory.
      Truly, to God be the glory.

  20. Sharon Meekins

    Dearest Marla,

    I LOVE the book of James! ~ All convicting and encouraging words! :-) The verse I’m clinging to right now and want to focus on/live out is James 1:2-4. I want to be mature and complete in the Lord, not lacking anything. The joy of the Lord is my strength! Thank you so much for offering this read-a-long! Praying continued favor and blessings over you and your family.

    You are loved,

  21. Tonia

    Just want to chime in and say I’m loving all the comments and blogs. Haven’t gotten through all the blogs yet but I will. Love the book of James. So many things have stood out to me. I know the verses. Read them so many times before but totally blown away by the fact that God wants me to ask Him for wisdom. I do but I don’t. Does that make sense? Anyway going to check out the rest of the blogs!! Thanks for doing this, Marla!

  22. alittlebitograce

    I think I could write a post for just about every paragraph in the first chapter!

    Over the last few years, I’ve really been convicted about my theology. God’s goal is that I will grow spiritually, becoming more like Him. And although I agree with it, I somehow began to believe that He wanted to give me physical wealth, happiness, etc too. When my life fell apart as a direct consequence to obeying God, it rocked my theology. Slowly, I’m sifting through my faith, picking out the pieces that are from my culture and keeping the parts that are in line with the Word. It’s a long slow process.

    Today’s post comes out of my long journey. Thank you so much for doing this, Marla. I am encouraged and convicted more than I have space(or time) to write.

    1. Marla Taviano

      Thank YOU, friend. I loved the honesty of your post, and I love the picture of sifting through my faith and throwing out what doesn’t line up with God’s Word. A messy business, eh?

    2. Rachelle

      Gonna hop over and read your blog post. There is something about falling flat on your faith that makes you (me) question all your beliefs but God is faithful and he always lights our path. The process is long but oh so worth every question and struggle.

  23. Rachelle

    1. I am all over the book of James, I love this stuff. I wouldn’t take out one word.

    2. God put the book of James, among other things, on my husband’s and my hearts last year. Not saying we’ve arrived AT ALL. But we felt compelled to really put our trust in Christ and let him guide our lives. We felt led to attend foster/adoption training in our state. Which led to us deciding to adopt through foster care. We applied for a child. Through a series of only God orchestrated events we are in the process of adopting a sibling set of 3(9 months after beginning traning). Added to our 4 bio children! Was this OUR plan? No. I even first called it “impossible”. Is it easy? 7 children, some from hard places, you decide. Did God call us to this humanly “impossible” task? I am absolutely sure. And the overflow of blessing is amazing. First we had to let go of OUR plans, hopes and fears. I feel so priviledged to parent all of these children, it is undeserved grace.

    I think a statement from a book I am reading, Twenty Things” really sums up the prosperity/health/wealth debate: “We can’t take others where we haven’t first been ourselves; their pain will frighten us away”.

    The reason there is suffering/pain is so that we will have the gifts of compassion, mercy, patience and grace, etc. It is only then that we have the ability to meet the needs of the orphan and widow. This is the way in which the Gospel is furthered. Through relationship.

    1. Marla Taviano

      Oh, Rachelle. I don’t have the words to tell you how inspiring your life story is to me. May I please use you as a shining example in tomorrow’s blog post? (I know you’re not perfect, but goodness, your obedience!) Praying, praying, praying for the 9 of you!!

      And I’ll have to look into that book–sounds so good.

      Hugs to you, friend! Keep up the amazing work!

      1. Rachelle

        You can use this crazy life story of mine any time, Marla. God obviously loves to use the ones that are broken down, used up and at the end of themselves, not that it was a far trip!

    2. Danielle

      Rachelle, you are my hero! Someday I pray that God will grow me up enough to love unabashedly like your family does. And I love that you and I live in the same state and you are caring for the little ones within the immediate vicinity of your home. Way to go sister!

      1. Rachelle

        Hi Danielle, you’re from NM? Wow, I love to find people from “home”. I am going to hop over to your blog and read your post. From a quick glimpse it appears that you have a heart for adoption! Even better!

        1. Danielle

          JJ and I live in ABQ, and go to Desert Springs Church. We’re just at the beginning of what feels like a lifetime of adoption, hoping to go through CYFD to foster/adopt once we get our first child home.

          1. Rachelle

            I live about 3 hours from you. We were just in ABQ this past weekend. Took our new kiddos to their first ever trip to the (any)zoo! We have had a wonderful experience with all the CYFD staff. They are providing amazing support to our family as we transition. I encourage you to continue this pursuit.

        2. Marla Taviano

          Copying the comment I left for Danielle, but changing the name:

          Hopefully you and Danielle have already connected on her blog. I don’t know how close you two are to each other, but I should’ve connected you weeks ago!! I pray for you both often!!

      2. Marla Taviano

        Hopefully you and Rachelle have already connected on your blog. I don’t know how close you two are to each other, but I should’ve connected you weeks ago!! I pray for you both often!!

  24. Liz Puffer

    James gets me every time. I have been memorizing it (or trying to) for a few weeks. This has been really good for me to go over and over it. I have only memorized up to verse 13. I enjoyed David Platt’s message. I think what stood out to me most is when he said, “ Trials are Joy when God is our Goal”. That is pretty clear. I cannot say I look forward to trials or that I am joyful in them, I can say I am better than I used to be but I have a long way to go. The good part is to know God will not waste these trails or hurts in my life and that He will use them for good. I want God to be my goal in all I do. I am so grateful that these trials are “Father Filtered” and that He allowed them in my life, not created them in my life (I usually do that). God is using this short life here on earth (although it does not seem short) to prepare me for eternity with Him and one way He does that is trials. I love that there will be NO trials when we get to heaven with Him, what a perfect day that will be.

    1. Marla Taviano

      Amen, Liz! Prayed for you just now that God will give you the discipline and strength to stick with the memorization. It’s tough, isn’t it? But seems to get easier the more I do it. That’s all God!

  25. Lori

    Wow! My cup runneth over this morning with all these great thoughts. If it was facebook, I’d be “super liking” all over these replies. And it’s only 9 am :)

  26. ali

    I’m trying to unpack James 1:22-25 . . . trying not to complicate what the Word says with everything I’ve learned through my comfy-cozy Western so-called-Christian culture. Because everything I’ve learned through experience and culture I learned from man. Why do I continue to take my lessons from this world when The Word is breath and life and Jesus? Why do I keep falling back into my disobedient ways when I’m commanded to obey all of Scripture? Not because doing is salvation. No! But because the Word evokes action (DP). If my heart truly believes it, then I better be doing it, right? And as if it isn’t enough that my Sovereign Lord has given me His perfect Word for me to obey, He promises to bless my obedience – it’s a promise (v.25). I don’t deserve His blessings, but what love I experience knowing that He blesses me anyway.

    1. Marla Taviano

      I feel like I’ve spent sooooo many years drinking in God’s word and then letting it just evaporate. I’ve “obeyed” all the “don’t do this and don’t do that” and glossed over the “DO this and this and this.”

      Love you, girl, and miss you much. Playdate soon?

      1. Holly B.

        Yes please! Eating issues with Anna, and I have tendinitis in my wrist. Also, my emotional state is pretty fragile right now. To be honest, I’m still getting the hang of the mommy thing, and it’s been intense…

        Thanks friend!

  27. Samantha

    Wow! I have just read this, and the three blog posts that are listed so far. It is SUCH an encouragement to see how God uses his word to speak into the lives of people in such different situations. I think I need to go stew on James 1 for another few days/weeks/years! Well, not too long, we’ve got to go on to James 2 :) Thanks Marla!

    1. Rachelle

      I agree there is so much in this first chapter I think we could study on it for a long time and still not grasp it fully!

  28. Pingback: James Stream of Conscience Prayer :: how we can GIVE it all

  29. ellen

    that hole tongue thing is a battle for sure — cause it’s pride and I for one struggle with that one most of the time :)
    wow– pretty sure James is not calling us to live beaten down, inpoverised etc to be blessed. Yes we have trials and if you have met some one who said you have trial because you don’t have enough faith I’m sorry but don’t lumb all of us who believe God is a good God who blesses His children, doesn’t want them sick, broke and happy because they are — we are to life – ON Earth as it is in Heaven — no one broke or sick up there – can’t really cover this issue here but my God is a good God and blesses His kids – brings life and life abundant – Pretty sure if your kids come in with a broken arm you wouldn’t say well great – that will teach you perserverence — just sayin

    love vs 27 — because that is the gosepel — love others as Jesus first loved us — that’s it and the rest is pretty much usless —

    lookin forward to the rest of this study

    1. Marla Taviano

      Thanks for sticking around when our views on prosperity are so different, friend. I appreciate the variety of perspectives that keeps me examining what I believe.

      Here’s the thing. I just can’t believe in a gospel that isn’t true for persecuted believers in China/the Middle East and impoverished believers in Cambodia/Africa (etc, etc).

      If God truly wants all of his children to be pain-free and have a wealth of material blessings, then we have a lot of explaining to do to millions and millions of suffering (but often so joyful) believers around the globe.

      I think all of us are guilty of reading the Bible through our American eyeglasses. (Kelly’s incredible post–#1 on the Linky List–speaks to this.)

      Does God love us and want to bless us immeasurably? Absolutely. But some of his greatest blessings come through great trials. And many of those blessings have nothing to do with health or wealth.

      I’m not saying we shouldn’t place our faith in a healing God. He can and does heal and provide in miraculous ways today (I’ve seen it!). But he also uses things like broken arms and cancer to draw us to himself and bring him glory.

      That’s all for now. :)

      1. ellen

        another thought — the US was founded on Godly priniciples – Haiti was dedicated to Satan in the 60’s I believe — that could mean something – Living in a 3rd world country doesn’t mean you can’t be prosperous in that country – There are people in those countries who have found the Lord and love the Lord and they are infact blessed abundantly – abundance means living in all of the promises of God (Jehovah Rophe and Jehova Jireh and Jehova shalom <peace and wholeness. )- all of the time – that doesn't mean comfortable – it means blessed Check out http://www.Irismin.org
        ps love you too friend

    2. Rachelle

      ouch. I hope the rest of the scriptures in James 1 aren’t really useless. How terrible for those faithful believers who suffer injustice, which would then all be for nothing.

      I think we are better eqipped to love others well when we have been there.

      This sure is good stuff!

    3. Marla

      My son actually did break his arm not very long ago, doing something he’d been told not to do. I held him and cried with him, and my heart just ached for his pain, but yes, actually, I did say something along the lines of “well, I guess that might help you remember not to do that again, huh?” Because the truth is, as much as I love him and want the best for him, I can totally see that the best isn’t always pain free. MORE than I want him to be happy, I want him to be responsible/mature/honest…and if that has to be learned through some painful lessons, then I want those lessons to come. (And then I hope and pray that he learns those lessons through relatively minor consequences, as opposed to major ones later on in life.)

      In short – I want very much for my kids to be happy, but I also want them to mature, and that means they won’t always be “happy.” At least not from their point of view. And if I have that view for my kids, how much greater is God’s view of our lives? The illness/tragedy/suffering can be – if we allow it – used to develop our maturity, both emotionally and spiritually. And as much as I’d love to live a pain free life, I’d rather end my life “mature and complete,” as James puts it.

      The broken arm? Healed. Lesson learned? That one, at least, but I can already see some other painful lessons headed his way. Sigh. :)

      1. ellen

        we all had painful lessons – can remember some of my own all too well– because I didn’t listen to my parents – painful lessons come when we don’t obey – praise God He can fix those mistakes far better than we can

        1. Marla Taviano

          I’m sorry, Ellen, but I have too many dear, Christ-following, faith-filled friends who have suffered the loss of babies (and older children) and lost loved ones (and themselves) to cancer, etc. to say that physical pain and death is a result of their “mistakes.”

        2. Marla

          I agree, but I’ll also say that painful lessons come when we haven’t done any disobeying. Well, let me rephrase: painful times come regardless of our obedience…our response to them is what can turn it into a learning, growing, maturing experience. Pain isn’t a sign that we’re out of step with God…

          1. Marla

            Either that, or they’ll have to think that you’re posting “anonymously,” just so you can say twice as much?!? :-)

            I started to sign it “Marla-not-Taviano,” but that just sounded dorky. I so rarely have this problem! (The same name part, not the dorky part. THAT part happens all the time!)

          2. Marla Taviano

            That is a GREAT idea (posting anonymously to get more words in)! And I get you! I never have that problem either (the Marla one, that is–I’m a huge dork.)

            I like you. :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *