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Jim Class Day 17

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Scripture: James 2:8-11 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

Devotional:  In this passage, James is really teeing it up for those who tend toward rule following rather than Christ following.  One can feel quite good for keeping the royal law of loving your neighbor, but just as quickly get shot down for breaking another law, thus being guilty of breaking it all.  Doesn’t it just make you want to throw in the towel with all the law keeping?

If so, that’s the whole point. The law exists to point out that you are powerless to keep it.  You are a lawbreaker, unable to perfectly keep the law.  That’s why you need Jesus, 100% God, and 100% man, who sacrificed Himself to pay the penalty for your lawless ways.

In case you are tempted to totally disregard the law and keep on sinning, that’s not the point either.  The apostle Paul addresses this in his letter to the Romans: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” (Romans 6:1-2).   Ultimately, we are called to depend upon the Spirit of God to empower us to live as followers of Jesus Christ, seeking to love above all else, and to live according to His calling:  in holiness and righteousness.  Righteousness that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. 

Reflect:

  • How do you best deal with the tension of desiring to keep God’s law, knowing it is impossible for you to do so? 
  • How might this spur you on in trusting in Jesus as your righteousness?

 

Jim Class Day 16

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Scripture: James 2:5-7 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?

Devotional: It’s so easy to get into the mindset of people pleasing with those who are seemingly in a position to which we attain. To desire wealth and the “comfortable” life of the rich is the American dream, after all.  And the more our focus is on achieving and attaining wealth and status, the more we can get caught up in a jet setting lifestyle that cares very little for the poor among us.

James accurately points out the absurdity of this practice, noting that it is often the very ones who we hold in high esteem who are exploiting us.  You don’t have to look far to see many examples of folks who are conned by those skilled in preying upon greed and lust for power and prestige. 

But this kind of living is short sighted and not in line with the Kingdom life that Jesus proclaims, and that to which He calls His followers.  We are promised an inheritance that will not fade away. Jesus reminds us: 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. (Matthew 6:19-21)

Also, the apostle Paul exhorts in his letter to the Colossians: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”(Colossians 3:1-2)

No doubt when you heed these words of encouragement, you will find your life blessed.

Reflect:

  • What do you think it means to be poor in the eyes of the world, but rich in faith?  Are you willing to live your life in this way?
  • When you think about inheriting the Kingdom that God has promised to those who love them, what do you suppose that includes?
  • Often we think of the Kingdom of God as a Kingdom we only experience after we die.  But Jesus continually taught, as He walked upon the earth,  that the Kingdom of God is here or near.  How do you see the Kingdom of God as near in your life?

 

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