Wednesday, May 30, 2012

James: Mercy Triumphs – Week Five – Drawing Near

Chairein! (Ky Rain)

Homework: Brokenness is a beautiful thing. And I had a major breakthrough as a result of my homework this week! On day one, Beth conducted a nine-question interview based on James 4:1-3 that really got to me. Honest answers forced me to confront and connect issues in my belief system and that confrontation blessed my socks off! I am a better woman for having answered those questions with thoughtfulness and expectation. I even wrote down the questions in my prayer journal so I can use them again when I feel spiritually clogged. Thank you, Beth!

After day three, James 4:7 continues to be one of my favorite verses of Scripture and has planted itself a bit more deeply in my heart.

Melissa’s Articles: I never considered what Bible verses make me truly uncomfortable. In Melissa’s article “Perfection, Part One”, she shares an encounter with a friend who cited his least favorite verse: Matthew 5:48, which, we come to find out, has a link to James 1:4! The perfection Melissa’s friend felt pressured by in Matthew translates as “completion” in James. I absolutely love God’s Word! Then, Melissa delves into the differences in thought processes of the Jews and the Greeks. Fascinating… And the symbolism – OY! I look forward to many more lessons from Melissa!

“Perfection, Part Two” – when we understand the Biblical view of perfection, the term seems less extreme. “Integrity” seems much easier to swallow…and achieve.
Melissa’s favorite word to describe James’ understanding of perfection is “wholeness”, believing it best captures James’ motivation to persevere: perfection, completion, lacking nothing. We’re not talking about attaining moral perfection, but rather living holy lives before God. How can we achieve that? Faith…perfected by works. Faith alone is not enough. Even demons believe. Ouch! Our actions are how we follow through when we exercise our faith. To me, that completely describes integrity.

Writing James: This week, we wrote James 3:19-4:17.

Memorizing James: This week, I videotaped myself reciting chapter one of James. I am so excited to have reached this milestone. But it makes the memorization process simpler and more complex at the same time. It’s simpler because I can work on memorizing chapter two and have fewer verses to recite so I can go through it several times during my trips to and from work in the car. It’s more complex because I don’t want to forget chapter one, so I need to recite it every so often.

Another challenge in this area is actually finding a solid thirty-minute time frame where I can work on nothing but memorization. But I believe this is key to becoming a woman who commits the Word to memory. I’ve been reciting on my way to work in the car and on my way home from work in the car and again on the way to Bible study in the car. The thing is…the car used to be where I prayed. God and I have had a couple of conversations where I’ve expressed my opinion that I would rather have His words on my lips than my own. And I still take time to pray at other times. Besides, I am still spending time with Him as I memorize.

As of the class meeting for week five of study, I have memorized James 1:1-2:13.
Class Project: Our evening began with our facilitator handing out crayons to everyone. Then she gave out sheets of paper with a circle and a key/legend printed on it. We were to take the crayons and create a pie chart depicting the time we spend each week on our pursuits: God, Family, Friends, Work, Entertainment, etc. This was really eye-opening for me. I didn’t think I gave as much to my family as I do. That was a pleasant surprise.

Video Segment: WOW! This week’s video lesson punched me! I’m not sure if it was in the face or the gut, but I am thrilled and freed. Isn’t it amazing how the conviction of the Holy Spirit smells so much like freedom that, even though you may flinch for a moment to know that you’ve done wrong, you absolutely WANT TO OBEDIENTLY REPENT? That is the wonderful, topsy-turvy nature of the God we serve. A gentle smackdown puts us in our place, and that is precisely where we want to be. Hallelujah!

The lecture was broken into two parts as we studied three verses (James 4:9-11). Part one asked and answered the question “When is it appropriate to turn our joy to gloom?” Part two identified the top five reasons not to be cynical. Somewhere in between, Beth talked about a conversation with her daughter, Melissa told her mother that she would not believe the free-for-all that is going on in cyberspace! Brothers and sisters in Christ beating each other without mercy is a daily occurrence. Beth cited Matthew 18:15-17 as the source of how believers should handle conflict: go straight to the brother you conflict with, first. If he doesn’t listen to you, take a couple of spiritual brothers with you and talk to him, again. If he still doesn’t respond, involve the church body.

Apparently, people aren’t trying to make things right with each other, they are just trying to make themselves heard. The tears were almost instantaneous. I was reminded of an instance almost three years ago where I blasted a couple of people in a public forum, and I knew immediately that I had to apologize. I prayed all the way home, asking Jesus for the words to bring healing, managed to sleep, and wrote my apology letter and emailed it first thing this morning when I got to a computer.

I am free! And I didn’t even realize I was captive. Now I am praying that the recipients of my email will be merciful and accept my apology. I am at the point of memorization where James says anyone who hasn’t been merciful will receive judgment without mercy, and I don’t want that for my sisters. I actually care about their hearts. I can’t believe the change that a moment can bring. Praise Jesus!

What’s coming next in my memorization that I’m about to live out?

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