Welcome to the March Bible reading challenge week 3 summary! I pray that you are continuing to read along as we travel from Hebrews through I John. Beginning with last Friday’s reading, let’s take a look at the summaries for the week.
Such wisdom is contained in chapter 13 of this book; many of the verses remind me of the Twitter effect- short sentences packed with powerful meaning. New Testament passages that refer to Old Testament passages are always special. We can see an example of this in verse 6:” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6)
I find James to be the most interesting character. Without pulling any punches, he immediately digs in and says “Be happy in trials because this means you’re going to come out stronger on the other side.”
James speaks quite a bit to holding the tongue; don’t you find that intriguing since this particular James is thought to be the cousin of Jesus? Makes me wonder what kind of family these men had! The last verse of this chapter is a verse I’m very familiar with:
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.
Amen and amen. But wow, I had to step back a bit and process the verse before this one, because it is not often included with the last one.
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.
I can’t even unpack that in a summary, but it’s definite food for thought.
One more verse!
Did you have any thoughts about these two verses specifically?
James spends the majority of this chapter explaining that while faith is wonderful and good, if we do not act on our faith, it’s not worth anything. The last verse of this chapter sums it up well:
For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
James has been named “The Proverbs of the New Testament.” This chapter seems to be the foundation of that title as the power of the tongue and the topic of wisdom is explained throughout the chapter. The word pictures painted by the author create great visuals. As a girl who grew up in the hills, I chuckled a bit when good and bad are coming from the same mouth were compared to “Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.” Nope, doesn’t work.
How would you word this comparison in today’s lingo?
James certainly names sins throughout his short book of 5 chapters. In this chapter, he warns against quarreling, fighting, murder, and pride, to name a few. But I think the most convicting point from James, at least for me, is the last one in the chapter.
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
You may have heard the terms “sins of commission” – meaning those things we actually commit or do. And “sins of omission” meaning exactly what James names above.
Have you ever thought about sins of omission before?
From this chapter, I chose a favorite portion of a verse that I love to hold close to my heart:
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:8a
Chapter 5 is an admonition on prayer and I love that! James encourages persistence in praying and in this beautiful chapter full of teaching on prayer, we find a verse familiar to many of us:
As Max Lucado says:
“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the One who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.”
I Peter 1
Peter begins his letter much the same as James, speaking about trials and how their purpose is to bring glory to God. He strongly encourages the believers and his desire is for the readers to focus on Christ’s sacrifice for us, the purity of the believer as a result of Christ, and the love that should result in our lives.
What did you learn this week from the reading? I can’t wait to hear about it!