Monday, January 25, James 1:1-18
James is among the earliest of the New Testament writings; many attribute it to James, Jesus’ half brother. His letter is a “how-to manual” for the Christian life. His writing shows us how to follow Jesus day by day. Many of us have the desire, but simply don’t know where to begin. Verses 1-18 tell us that James is addressing Jewish believers scattered among the nations, instructing them to pray for wisdom, and teaching them about godly lives in the midst of trials and temptation. What do these instructions say to you today? Verses 16-18 tell us to guard against being deceived (Genesis 3:13 and 1 Peter 5:8). How do we do this? What is our hope, according to verse 18?
Tuesday, January 26, James 1:19-27
So often we are quick to speak, and slow to listen, in our conversations with others and in our prayer relationship with the Lord. Read Psalm 46:10a, John 10:27 and James 1:19-27. Pray that God will give you insight as you read. What is the connection between holding God’s word in our hearts and living in relationships with others? When we listen with both our ears and our hearts opened, how do we respond? Read verses 22-27 once again and pray about what they are saying to you about your life.
Wednesday, January 27, James 2
Does your life reflect the Lord, or is there a disconnect between what you profess and the life you live? James 2 challenges us to look closely at our lives and be serious about letting the light of Jesus shine brightly in a dark world (Matthew 5:16). In James 2, as in Romans 3:23, we are reminded of our need for a Savior, and that we are all unworthy. What is the difference between intellectual knowledge of the reality of God and a true relationship with the Lord? James declares that true faith bears fruit for God’s glory. Have you known this to be true? Why or why not? This is a good time to talk to the Lord about your faith journey.
Thursday, January 28, James 3
Have you often wished you could eat your words? (Ephesians 4:15.) Paul tells us to speak the truth in love. James reminds us that it is easy to speak unwisely. In James 3:1-6, what picture does James use to convince us that we can do much damage with an untamed tongue? Now read Proverbs 15:1-4; 18:4; and James 3:7-12. Pause and ask the Lord to speak to you about your tongue. Next, in verses 13-18, James reminds us that our thoughts and attitudes are reflected in our words and lives. Pray Psalm 19:14 daily until it becomes the cry of your heart, your heart’s desire.
Friday, January 29, James 4
Our earthly lives are fleeting (Psalm 39:4-5). We can live them with ourselves on the throne, or we can live them in ways that are pleasing to God and bring him the glory (Isaiah 26:8, 43:7). In the Lord’s Prayer we pray, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” and yet we daily seek our own will and not the Lord’s. James 4 reminds us of these truths and challenges us to run, not after the things of this world, but into God’s presence, submitting ourselves to God. Read James 4 several times, praying that you will hear God’s cry for you today.
Saturday, January 30, James 5
Yesterday we considered the difference between living for self and living to please the Lord. Next, James admonishes the self-indulgent rich (5:1-6). In Timothy 6:17-19, we learn how the rich should live. Then James reminds us (5:7-12) that the Lord will return, and exhorts us to live with patient perseverance as we await his coming. In the final verses of James (5:13-20), we read about the importance of gratitude and praise in times of blessing, and of the need for fervent prayer in times of sickness and need. Notice the connection between repentance, forgiveness and healing. Have you ever considered that the greatest healing of all is the forgiveness of sin? (See Matthew 9:1-8, 12-13.) Spend some time in prayer.
Sunday, January 31, Psalm 9
James speaks of true religion (1:26-27) and of faith that is lived out in our actions. He reminds us of the fleeting nature of our earthly lives, and tells us to persevere as we live with the sure knowledge that Jesus will return. In fact, James says, “the Judge is standing at the doors” (5:9). As you and I await the return of Jesus, we are to live lives of justice, love, and compassion, seeking to please not ourselves, but the Lord. Read Psalm 9, written by David, and look for similar themes. Use Psalm 9:1-2 to guide your prayers today.