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Building a Christ-honoring Life (A Study in James)

The book of James is a well-crafted, inspired blueprint, designed to help us build lives that will truly honor Christ!  It is a remarkably practical resource meant to help us to grow up in our faith!  As James writes:  4 ….that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1:4b

Sometimes Believers can get stymied in their faith, lacking growth and maturity.  James must have recognized that happening in the early church, which is why he was inspired to pen this very practical resource.  In it, we’re offered a blueprint for navigating life’s trials, battling temptation, wrangling our sometimes saucy mouths, offering mercy, learning patience, gaining wisdom, praying effectively and so much more!  James’ letter challenges and equips us right where we live.  

James introduces himself in the opening verse of his book as “a servant of God and of Jesus Christ.”  If you’re a Believer, you too are called to serve the Lord!  James’ entire letter teaches us what it means to serve Christ by putting our faith to work, walking the talk, and producing good fruit.  

As we launched this series, we answered four important questions:  Who was James?  Who did he become?  Why did he write this book?  What changed Him?  Spoiler alert: James wasn’t always a follower of Jesus, but he would become a pillar in the New Testament church!    

Who was James?  James, the most likely author of this letter, is the brother of Jesus.

You may not have realized that Jesus had a brother, but according to Matthew 13:55, he had at least four, including James.  Can you imagine being the brother of Jesus?  We can’t!  There is no context for that; who knows what that must have been like for James and his siblings, and the Bible doesn’t offer us much about their early life together, but we are given some insight about their relationship during Jesus’ public ministry.  

James was not a follower of Jesus during His ministry.  The Bible makes it clear that Jesus’ family, including James, struggled to understand Jesus’ behavior early in His public ministry.  James, and others in Jesus’ family, thought Jesus was “out of His mind.”  (Mark 3:21)   During Jesus’ earthly ministry, James did not yet believe… 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.  John 7:5

James was a skeptic during Jesus’ ministry, but he was paying very close attention to what Jesus was saying and teaching. Maybe you’re a skeptic or you know someone who is.  You will appreciate James’ faith journey, what happens in his life.  God can turn a skeptic into a sold out, fully devoted follower of Jesus!   I’ve witnessed it again and again in my life.  While James was not yet a Believer, something would change him.

Who did James become?

James became a pillar of the New Testament Church.   James moved from head shaker during Jesus’ ministry to head honcho in the New Testament Church!   James played a primary role in establishing and supporting the launch of the New Testament Church and spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles.  (Galatians 2:9)

James became a catalyst for the spread of the Gospel globally.   Some in the early church wanted Christianity to be open only to those who were Jewish and followed Jewish rituals and traditions.  James, alongside other apostles, took the lead in the early church to make sure that the Gospel was open to all, not just Jews, but to Gentiles too.  (Acts 15:19)

James became devoted to prayer.   James was said to be so committed to prayer that he had the “knees of a camel” from being on them so much in prayer.  He understood the purpose and power of prayer.  13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray…. 16 The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.  James 5:13a-16b

What if we were as devoted to prayer as James was?  What if we had that level of commitment to worshipping God, seeking His will, longing for His leadership, confessing our sins?  Imagine what God could do in our lives, what we could be in our church, in our families, and among those in our influence, if we prayed that diligently, faithfully, and passionately?  

Why did James write this book? 

James wrote his epistle to give Believers a blueprint for life and maturity as Christ-followers!  As you read James, it is evident that the Believers in the early Christian church struggled in areas of their faith journey that we can relate to. They were battling cultural pressures, being “tested” in their faith, and facing temptations to sin. Sound familiar?  We endure the same challenges daily.

To be clear, these Believers’ problems were less about the external pressures they were facing and more about their immaturity in dealing with them.  They needed to grow up!  They needed discipleship!  They needed a blueprint for living for Christ in a culture that would challenge that.  And we do too!

James uses the word “perfect” several times.  It’s a word that does not mean “sinless” but rather “mature,” “complete.”   We all stumble in many ways.  Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.  James 3:2

With this word “perfect,” James means mature, balanced, grown up!  This is where James is taking us in this book.  If you’ll commit to walking through this series, you’re going to really mature as a Christ follower!  

What changed James?  

What caused James to move from a pessimist to a pillar, from a head-shaker to a head-honcho in the New Testament Church, from a skeptic to a sold out Christ Follower?

James changed when he witnessed the resurrection of Jesus.  The Apostle Paul proclaimed:  3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,  1 Corinthians 15:3-4.  Just a few verses later, Paul writes:  Then he appeared to James,  1 Corinthians 15:7

James changed so quickly that he, and his brothers, were actually present with the disciples in the upper room days after Jesus’ resurrection, as we see in Acts 1:14. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.  Acts 1:14

The resurrection of Jesus changed James.  No doubt, James believed Jesus was exactly Who He claimed to be… the Messiah, the Savior of the World!  James would ultimately give his life for Christ’s sake when he was martyred in 62 AD by Herod. 

Jesus’ resurrection changed James and it can change you! 

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  John 11:25-26

James believed.  Do you?  Are you ready to mature in your faith?  Join us for our deep dive into the book of James!  For much more, click here to listen to the message: Blueprints - A Study of James - Part 1: Introducing James


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