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James 1

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 27

SCRIPTURE: JAMES 1

Today we are going to start our journey through the Book of James.  Though there were several important men named James in the New Testament, most scholars believe this James was a half brother to Jesus.  Jesus and James would have had the same mom but different dads. 

Another interesting thing about this book is it very well may have been the first book written in what has become the New Testament.  If that is true, and I believe it is, this letter would have predated every other book written in the New Testament including Mark which was undoubtedly the first Gospel written.

Because James was the first book written that means his audience would have been almost entirely Christians who had been raised as Jews and would still have been very Jewish and would have had a very Jewish view of how to live the Christian life.  Those early Christians really struggled with how they should live in grace.

That may be one of the reasons James is so very blunt in this letter.  Part of the bluntness comes from writing in short, pithy statements not unlike the Book of Proverbs.  Part of the bluntness comes from just being very forthright about how they were to live as Christ followers.

At the end of verse 1, you will find that James was writing to believers in the Dispersion or Diaspora.  Primarily these would have been Jewish people who were living in Jerusalem when they were saved.  Many of those first believers were forced to leave Jerusalem when the first wave of persecution swept through. (Acts 8)

The word dispersion or Diaspora carries the idea of scattering seed.  In other words, although it was persecution that caused them to leave Jerusalem, the good thing is those early believers sowed seeds of the Gospel in the places they moved to.  In fact, this dispersion actually helped them fulfill Jesus’ command in Acts 1:8 to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the outermost parts of the earth.  If it were not for the persecution, those early believers would not have been so prone to move away and take the Gospel with them.

In this first chapter, James deals with three main themes: trials, temptations, and truth.  Because Satan opposes us and the world is against us, trials are a very real part of the Christian life.  (1 Peter 4:12)  Indeed the more we strive to live the Christian life, the greater the trials will be.  But as verses 3-4 teach, there are really good things that come out of what trials create in the lives of Christ followers.

The second theme, temptation, begins in verse 13.  James makes two incredibly important points.  One, God cannot be tempted to do evil.  Two, God tempts no one to do evil.  The source of temptation is actually our own desire (v. 14).  It is important to remember here that temptation is not sin.  It is not a sin to be tempted.  Jesus was tempted yet He was without sin.  It is when we continue to consider the temptation that we prone to act on the temptation.  It is that acting on temptation that is sin.

Finally, beginning with verse 22 we encounter the section on truth.  The truth is we must not just be hearers of the Word but doers also.  If we hear and don’t do, we have deceived ourselves. If we hear and do, we are acting on truth.  And it is that truth that brings glory to God.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Jude

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 22

SCRIPTURE: JUDE

As this short letter opens, we find that the author is a man named Jude.  He identifies himself as a servant of Jesus Christ and the brother of James.  Since he was the brother of James, he would also have been half-brother of Jesus. 

If you look back at the Gospel record, you will find where Jesus’ half-brothers did not believe He was the Messiah before the crucifixion.  But something happened after that crucifixion that caused not only James but also Jude to believe.  Acts 1:14 tells us that Jesus’ “brethren” were praying in the upper room as the disciples awaited the arrival of the Holy Spirit.  And 1 Corinthians 9:5 mentions that the “brethren of the Lord” were known in the early church.

Jude’s epistle is one of what we call the general epistles.  That means it was not written to a specific church but to Christ followers who were scattered abroad.  He writes to those who are “called” and “kept” for Jesus.  When we answer the call for salvation, we are forever kept for Jesus.  We are forever saved. 

As Jude gets into the body of his letter, we discover that when he started to write he had a different motive, even a different subject, than what he ended up writing about.  He wanted to write about our common salvation.  That doesn’t mean that salvation is common as in without value or importance.  Salvation is most uncommon.  His desire to write about our common salvation refers to a salvation that we share.  In other words, we are all saved in the same manner or we are not saved. We are all kept after our salvation in the same manner or none of us are kept. 

But instead of writing about that, Jude is appealing or exhorting his readers to contend or fight for the faith.  His concern was about false teachers that had crept into the early church.  Their heresy was so gross that it even perverted the grace of God which is absolutely necessary for salvation.

From there Jude issues a pretty dire warning.  He talks about how the Hebrews in Egypt, the angels in heaven, and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah all of which at one point lived in the grace and blessing of God.  But because of their disobedience, because of their turning against God, because of their gross sin, they all faced incredible punishment.  The point has to be that God will absolutely punish those who oppose His holy righteousness.

Next, Jude goes all the way back to the early chapters of Genesis to tell us about Enoch.  You may remember that Enoch walked with God and was taken physically to heaven.  Jude tells us that Enoch was also a prophet.  And part of Enoch’s prophecy was about the second coming of Jesus.  Part of what will happen at Jesus’ Second Coming will be the execution of justice on all the ungodly for all of their ungodly ways and deeds.

Jude ends his letter by encouraging Christ followers to be strong, to pray often, and to stay close to God.  He also encourages us to have mercy on unbelievers so that we might be instrumental in their salvation and protection from hell. 

Jude closes his letter with a great doxology of the incredible character of God.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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