Making time for what matters. living the book of James: week 4

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We ended last week with James 2: 5-12 and are starting this week with James 2:14-26

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Grabbing a few moments of sweetness in His word this morning.

A few moments because it has already been a crazy day- and it’s only 7:30 in the morning.

Because my night job ran crazy long and seemed to fall apart at the seams; which put me home late this morning. Then, one of the seven children who live life fully within these walls- had an accident in their bed. Of course, this was the one who needed to be up and out the door the earliest. Then, of course, there is a pile of paperwork that needs looked at, a trip to the bank, breakfast to make- oh wait, lunch and dinner. But then again- I need to leave the house in 20 minutes with a car full of kiddos; equipped with their homeschool books for a morning of shopping for the café (you know- that place where we shack up with people?)

On top of it all: that enemy and his whispers… those evil whispers of, “You’re not good enough. You’re always… a failure, disorganized, good for nothing… you name it, he says it.”

So, THIS time in James? Let’s make time for it together and nurture our souls.

Because a million other people have a harder story than mine this Monday morning and.it’s.all.going.to.be.okay.

(Thanks to the sanitizing setting on the laundry machine- thank you, sweet Jesus)


just. breathe.

exhale.

Pssstttt, this is one of my very favorite parts of James.

Monday: read James 2:14-26

Tuesday: read James 2:14-26 AGAIN and then go back and read James 2:14- 15  (thru end of 15)

Question: Do we consider ourselves someone who has faith? The passage is not referring to a faith like,  “Oh yes I believe in Jesus.”  You see, I cannot just say, “Yes, I believe in Jesus, I have faith in him” and never do a good deed.  He is saying that a GENUINE Faith will produce good deeds because we cannot have a true faith without good deeds.

It is like this: If you are an apple tree, what kind of fruit are you going to produce? Apples! always! There will never be an orange on your tree. IF we are someone who is captured by faith in Christ as a savior than we will automatically be someone who produces good deeds. It is like the apple tree; it cannot help but produce Apples. Like a young tree, someone young in their faith will not produce as much as a mature tree, although they are producing. We cannot help but produce good deeds, it’s an overflow of the God story.

Are you saved by deeds? No, not by deeds alone. We are saved by grace and grace alone. Grace, my – oh – my that wonderful thing called grace.

What a great deed that was– the journey to the cross.

Tomorrow, let’s examine ourselves. Are we REALLY a person of faith? Let’s keep tabs on all of our good deeds and keep track of all our bad deeds. Which one wins out? How often do we think of others first? Friends, this is not a time for us to say, “Oh man, this is too hard; I can’t ever be good enough.” NO!

It’s not all about being good enough, it’s about being good–good to others.

All God asks of us is: try. And when we mess up or fail, just try again. Let’s try to be a person who thinks of others first. Trying to be a person who is more worried about other people than ourselves. It is something we can acquire, I promise! Galatians says that we will know a Christian by their fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.) If we are striving to live a life that Loves God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength our life will produce good deeds, which IS a true faith, the kind of faith that we are saved by.  Oh my goodness- doing things for others is sooo addicting! Trust me, it’s like a good time, Jesus drug. =)

Wednesday:  Read James 2: 15-17 (thru to the end of 17)

It seems like a lot of times we just see a ‘sad situation’ and walk away without doing something. We may even go home and say to our family… “I talked with this person l today that is having a real hard time, they just kept telling me about all this bad stuff that keeps happening to them.” and you continue by saying… “I felt so sorry for them.”

What if, instead of just making that the ‘story of our day’ we made it the story of their day. What if we made a change in that person’s life–all by a simple deed.

What if we went home, cleaned out our closet and took that person a lot of new clothes from our own closet? Groceries from our own pantry, A gift tucked away in a secret place for them to find, never telling them what you did?

Have you ever done something like that? Let’s take a second to write down what we think of this passage. Have we ever been in this situation? How does the passage challenge us?

Thursday: Read James 2:14-24

Notice that he asks in vs 14 ‘can such faith (a faith without good deeds) save you…’ What do you think?  vs 20 says You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Then he tells the story of Abraham who was willing to sacrifice his son because God had told him to. God sent a sacrifice and Abraham did not have to do that but because of his faithfulness to honor God, his faithfulness to love God more than he even loved his son, he was called God’s friend.  Then he continues by saying… you see? A person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

Thought for tomorrow: Does God call us his friend?

Friday: Read James 2: 20-26

vs 26 says As a body without the spirit is dead so faith without deeds is dead.

This weekend, let’s try to focus on being ALIVE in Christ! So excited about what he did for us, is doing for us we cannot help but make this life WONDERFUL by an overflowing of sharing love with others. Let’s have fun, laugh, focus on the blessings of beauty all around us. Let’s be thankful for friends to talk to, legs to walk on, clothes to wear, little cheeks to kiss, phones to talk to friends with… everything! When we learn to focus on the wonderful things it makes it a lot easier to love people through good deeds/actions/ words, etc.

It becomes our heartbeat.

Are you hurting right now? Hurting too much for this?  I pray someone is living this scripture with you, loving you along life’s hard roads– like that sweet Jesus type of love.

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Loves to you, friend.

Kati


Totally lost?
We started the book of James HERE.
Week two is HERE
Week three is HERE

A book I recommend on finding joy and living life fully? Oh yes. This. A Thousand Gifts: A dare to live fully right where you are.


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Care to hear a story of yet another homeless man? Living the book of James: week 3

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We ended last week with James 1:26-27 and are starting this week with James 2:1-12

Monday night: read James 2:1-12  (thru to the end of 12)

Tuesday night: read James 2:1-12 AGAIN and then go back and read James 2:1-4 (thru to the end of 4)

When I originally wrote this study, it was for Jr. Highers. This is a lot easier text to go through with a bunch of public school Jr. Highers- struggling to figure out who they are in the mist of several different social groups at school. It’s a little harder to address with adults.

Maybe it’s even a little more important?

Vs 3-4 says: If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet”, you have  discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts.

You see, we picture this scenario to go like this…

A nice looking, clean, “rich” person walks into a room and we offer him a chair. THEN a poor man walks into the room, he stinks and is not dressed well. Do we offer him a chair or just ignore him? Of course we offer him the same type of chair at the same table. We would never separate him from the others… that would hurt his feelings. I mean good grief most of us are not totally mean.

As an adult, I believe this scripture goes a little deeper within the heart here. I think it has several applications for different stages of life. For some, it is a matter of just not loving poor people outwardly. For others, it’s a heart issue. And me? I don’t have either one of them figured out. I simply know this. Jesus loves the poor. He loves them just as much as He loves you and I.

Yes, we know He loves the poor child in the other countries we support monthly, and He loves the hard working momma in Uganda, but listen when I tell you this: He loves the man sitting on the corner begging for change. Many of us would probably argue, “How do we even know if that person is poor; he may have a mansion just around the corner.” The beauty of that crazy God story? It doesn’t matter what we think he has, it matters what God says our love should do, love unconditionally.

Here are a few ways you can love poor/homeless people:

Stop and pray with them. This is one of my children’s favorite ones. Especially when a person is in an area that is applicable to stopping, such as a Wal-Mart parking lot. Stop, ask their name. Ask their story. Grab their dirty hand and pray with them. When you leave, don’t stop praying.

Take them home. Yes, I know it’s a scary step. And as much as I want to say, It will be OK, just put them up in your guest room. That is not safe. Let’s be honest, God calls us to love. There’s a smart way to do that. If you choose to take in a hurting stranger, especially one you have never met, I suggest having a garage, tent, or storage building you can give them. Let them earn your trust over time if they stay. Don’t give them your home, especially if you have young children.

Feel uncomfortable doing this? Why not take them to the local shelter for the night? They are equipped for this situation. You can read about one of our homeless friends, Mr Floyd, by clicking here.

Ask them. Ask them what their need is. One man we met, his sign said “Needing cash for gas to get home.” We took him to go get gas. Did he ask us for cash after filling his pump? Yup, he sure did. Did we give it to him? Nope. But we smiled real big and hugged him goodbye. I know he probably stopped and held the same sign for years, every time he needed gas. But it’s not about him, is it? Another man had just been released from jail and had a free rehabilitation place to stay across the country. He only had to get there. He needed a bus ticket. His letter, addressed to him in jail, was from the place he said, stating the things he told us. At that point, we only had one choice, help him.

Ask them to go eat with you. Several times, the sign will read “Hungry, need money for food.” Don’t want to just fork out money? Take them to lunch. We have offered this to several people, several. Only one has accepted; his name was Willy.

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 We met him on our vacation to San Antonio, TX a few years back. While walking the river walk, he asked us if we could spare a dollar. We invited him to dinner. He walked with us, several blocks to the hub of town telling us all about the city. As we passed other homeless people, he would call them by name, saying, “Hello, Roger…”. When we passed some of them homeless men, Willy would warn us to move over. “This guy is no good, you kids move away from him.” Our oldest daughter, Alli who was nine at the time,  was totally enamored by his ‘homeless man knowledge’ =) His shoes were too small, and he smelled real bad but he had a smile that was worth gold. There might not have been any teeth, but there was joy. =)

When we asked him what he wanted, he said, a hamburger. “Oh, I’d love me a good hamburger”, he said. Well, have you ever been to the river walk on a Friday night? Yes, it’s packed with people and apparently, they all love a good burger. After waiting several minutes at one restaurant, we decided to move over to another. A fancy Mexican restaurant, they had immediate seating and hamburgers.

The staff was very rude to us and the table next to us asked to be moved. But we laughed, worked with Willy on reading our names, and talked about life. Willy’s belly was full. And us? We.were.full.


Taking them to lunch too big of a step for you right now? I had a friend tell me once they buy up lots of gift cards and store them in their purse. When they see someone but don’t have time to stop, they give them a small gift card. Do the people sell that for drugs or beer? Possibly. But again,

It is not our job to determine how they use Grace, it’s our privilege to share it.

Wednesday:

Thursday: read James 2:5-12 (thru to the end of 12)

Question: what do you think about vs5?

Notice how he says “those who are poor in the eyes of the world

You see, we put a value on people based on what they look like or by what they own. If they don’t look a certain way, they are poor. If they don’t have a certain amount of money, they are poor.

God puts a value on people by where their faith lies. 

God says, you can have a great style, a nice house, tons of friends and money but if your faith does not dwell/reside in God, you are poor. And the people we think are poor, God considers rich.

Notice James says at the end of that verse … he promised those who love him. The poor person has to love God, obviously. BUT it is much easier for a poor person to have faith in God; not only because they don’t have money to depend on but also the little things like not typically having friends or family.  God is their source of strength in times of loneliness, heartache, and financial crisis. Again, if they love God.

Who or what do we truly depend on in times of loneliness or heartache? Our family? Our spouse? Our credit card? Our savings?

Oh friends, being alone. The desert. There is a relationship in those places we will never understand.

He says in vs 5 that He has chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and inherit the kingdom He has promised those who love him. But we say, well, I love God. Do we? We love God by loving people, not only believing in Him. We learned that a few weeks ago. We have to love all people. It is a hard thing to do, trust me, I know but God knows when we are trying. When we are trying that is being faithful to Him. It is when we just don’t even try that we are lying to ourselves in saying that we love God.

My friend Tony says it best,

Love is an action.

Friday read James 2:5-12

Yesterday we touched a little on ‘you love God by loving people’ check out vs 8. It says, if you keep the royal law (which is the law of love) found in scripture “love your neighbor as yourself”, you are doing right.  You see, friends. It all comes down to the same song, love others like you love yourself. This is everyone. Your parents, your friends, your boss, people who are real mean to you, people who are totally skanky. We are called to love them all. Sometimes we feel like it is our job to not love them or to be mean to them because they are always mean to us. Nope. Jesus says revenge is his. Our job is to love them and trust faithfully that the Lord is going to bring justice. And believe me; He does a much better job of it than we do!

We think that we have all these “rights” but think about this:

God is the shepherd of our lives. Think of a shepherd, what does he do? He takes care of his flock. The sheep have no rights; they cannot do anything for that shepherd or to that shepherd. But guess what! The shepherd is always faithful to care for the sheep’s needs. He protects them, feeds them, and dedicates his life to them FULLY.  If we are the sheep, what rights do we have, especially the right to determine who to love and not love. {my, oh, my I am right there with you!}

This weekend, let’s focus on not being the judge of people’s status. Let’s try our hardest to love everyone equal. Treat everyone with equal respect.  Remember, God does not judge us at all by what our money can buy or by how our clothes look. He judges our heart and our faithfulness. We cannot be a fair judge of those things, only He can because only He knows our hearts. Therefore, we have no business judging others. I cannot tell you how happy I am knowing that only God can judge my worth because I know that I will just never measure up to everyone’s standards!

vs 13.  … if you have been merciful.

 Mercy, Grace, and Peace to you!

Lovingly,
Kati


Many of you have been asking for updates on our new adventure! (click here for info)

Thank you for inquiring. God is doing wonderful, amazing, and CRAZY things every.single.day Feel free to stay up to date with all of the good news by clicking and subscribing here: Café of Life, Chelsea Facebook page. Our first, official day is Tomorrow, October 14th!!


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