Wisdom for each day:
Monday: Do you know when not to quit?
I love the movie “unbroken” which retells the story of Louis Zamperini, the USA olympian who survived survived in a raft for 47 days after his bomber crash-landed in the ocean during World War 2 then was sent to a series of prisoner of war camps. In one incredible scene Zamperini is forced to hold up a giant plank of wood and will be shot if he puts it down. Zamperini somehow musters the strength keep the wood up until eventually he is allowed to place it down. He refuses to give up. Zamperini so values his life that he is determined to hold onto it. When James talks about perseverance, this is the kind of perseverance he is talking about. This kind of perseverance that keeps in our minds eye what we are enduring hardship for. The goal is to recieve the “crown of life.” The goal is to know Christ more…to love Christ more. James 1:12, I wonder how determined are you to hold onto Christ for life?
Tuesday: Is christian maturity what you are aiming for in life?
Whilest the world would say to us avoid trials and troubles as much as you can in life, James says quite the opposite. In fact he says for the christian, “bring on the trials!” Why? Because trials have a wonderful way of maturing us and shaping us spiritually. And for James, our flourishing and maturing as believers is the measure of a successful life. Of course we need to approach those trials as opportunities for growth rather than as obstacles that obstruct our happiness or else they will become cause for temptatioon rather than character forging moments.
“Our Father, when we long for life without trials and work, without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure. With stout hearts may we see in every calamity an opportunity and not give way to the pessimist that sees in every opportunity a calamity. Amen.”
Wednesday: How often do you think to ask?
James in the midst of his teaching on understanding trials and temptations encourages the reader to ask God for wisdom. Wisdom to know what is happening and wisdom to know how to respond. The wonderful promise is that the only wise God will give us wisdom without “finding fault” (NIV). This, is an amazing truth. God’s wisdom is poured out on us unconditionally when we genuinely ask for it. We so desperately need it. Are you in the habit of asking God for wisdom?
Thursday: what impact does money have on you?
More than any other teaching within the new testament is the teaching around money. And James picks up on the exalted circumstances of the poor verses the humiliating circumstances of the wealthy. What James recognizes is that money has the incredible danger of replacing God in our lives. Jesus once warned about serving money over God. The comfort that money affords can limit trials that we have to face. We can freely access healthcare, feed ourselves, clothe ourselves, enjoy life’s luxuries without even having to think about it nor pray about where it comes from. James word on wealth is a real word for us today – to constantly be assessing what impact money is having on me?
Friday: where am I susceptible to temptation?
1 John 2:16 describes three different area’s of tempation we might experience. The first is the “lust of the flesh” – our appetites + desires from within us that we think need to be fulfilled in order for us to be truly happy. Secondly he describes the “lust of the eyes” – when we look to something outside of us to bring us ultimate satisfaction. Finally he describes “the pride of life” – the need to be seen as successful, powerful and important in order to be satisfied. What all of these things have in common is the pride in thinking that we can truly bring ourselves wholeness and happiness. It is when we worship something other than God. All of us will struggle with temptation, but there is a wise way and an unwise to deal with it.
Saturday: we are the firstfuits of all creation.
In verse 18 James describes as a kind of firstfruits of all he created. This is an incredible thought. God is making new people first and a new heaven and a new earth last. This is the opposite way around to Genesis. God is getting us ready for the second creation. He is recreating us, preparing us, maturing us. Whatever God is doing in us now is in order to prepare us to be citizens ready to live in the new creation. This is a wonderful reminder that we are not to be content in this world – we are being prepared for a new one.