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Posted By Nan

James is considered to have been the brother of Jesus. He was the leader of the Jerusalem council (see Acts 15). It is noted in 1 Corinthians 15:7 that he was one of the people Jesus chose to appear to after His resurrection. In Galatians 2:9 Paul calls James a “pillar of the church”. He was well known enough that Jude, who wrote the letter of the same name, is referred to as “the brother of James”. It is considered likely to be the oldest of the New Testament writings with the exception of Galatians. James writes his letter from a strongly Jewish position, although he gives great emphasis to a Christianity that is characterised by good deeds and a genuine faith that is accompanied by a lifestyle consistent with that faith.
This letter became caught up in the Reformation disputes when Luther dismissed it as unimportant because he felt it contradicted Paul’s word on justification and did not have salvation as its central doctrine. In the Roman Catholic doctrine it was valued because it was considered to give evidence of justification by works. Until Calvin, protestants rejected the letter for this reason. However Calvin considered the letter gave important instruction on numerous subjects which are important for Christian living. Some of these are patience, prayer to God, the importance of the truth of heaven, humility, performing service that is holy to God, being self-controlled in what we say, being peace-makers, and living moral lives that resist sexual perversions and lust. James is particularly concerned about the use of wealth by the disciples of Jesus.
James also writes about the nature of God. He considered God is unchangeable (1:17), the Creator (1:18), the Father (1:27, 3:9), the Sovereign (4:15), the Righteous One (1:20), to whom humanity must submit in humility (4:7,10), the Lawgiver, the Judge, the Saviour and Destroyer (4:11-12), who will brook no rivals (4:4-5), the Giver of wisdom (1:5) and grace (4:6), who promises a crown of life to those who stand the test of faith and love Him alone (1:12). Hardly justification by works!
I chose James to write about because I love his practical teaching about Jesus. I love his emphasis on the importance of Jesus in our lives and how we should seek Him above else. As John stated in John 3:30: “He must become greater; I must become less.” NIV. That is what reading James encourages us to do.

Posted By Nan

Recently I was praying about families in conflict. As I was praying, Genesis 12:1-3 came to mind and I realised that if Abram had put his family ahead of God then the blessing of all people offered in Genesis 12:1-3 would never have happened.
I have noticed, as I move through life, how much the Bible is used to justify unacceptable behaviour. People are told the Bible tells them they must do as their parents say (even when they are adults with their own spouse and children) and that wives must obey their husbands no matter how unreasonable they are. They are also told that they must put up with parents or spouses who abuse them. But this is not Biblical, it is just abuse and controlling behaviour.
This is not to say that Jesus did not honour families. One of the Ten Commandments states “Honour your mother and father” (Exodus 20:12). Yes we need to honour our parents but honouring does not mean being controlled by them or blindly obeying them. It definitely does not mean putting them ahead of Jesus.
As Genesis 2:22-24 states, God created man and woman to be together and He considers this the way we are meant to be. For this reason it was stated a man should leave his mother and father and be united to his wife. This instruction is paramount. A woman should not be subject to her husband’s parents and a man should not be subject to this wife’s parents. The couple are subject to each other. Also, Jesus states often in the Bible that He should come first in our lives ahead of all else, including family.
When the follower of Jesus asked to be allowed to “go bury my father” implying he wanted to obey his father and remain at home until his father was dead, Jesus response was “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Matthew 8:22
In Luke 9:59-62 another man wants to go back to say goodbye to his family. Jesus response was that no one who puts their hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of Heaven. This man wanted to check in with his family to get their approval. His choice to follow Jesus was conditional and it shouldn’t be.
Jesus did not tell people their families were not important and you will not find that anywhere in the Old or New Testaments. What you will see is God and then Jesus instructing people to do what they are asked and put God and Jesus first. In fact Jesus condemned those who used their giving to the temple as an excuse to not support their elderly parents.
In Ephesians 6:1-4 Fathers are instructed to act reasonably towards their children and in response the children will obey their parents. This is repeated in Colossians 3:20-21. So often this verse is misquoted with those who would corrupt the word of God mentioning only the instruction to the child to obey the parent and ignoring the flip side of that which is also required.
So important is the requirement to serve God first that in Matthew 10:35-37 Jesus stated He had come to “turn a man against his father and a daughter against her mother daughter in law against mother in law and a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me and anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me”. Jesus even applied this to his own family of origin. In Matthew 12:46-50 His mother and brothers came to speak to Him. When He was told His mother and brothers were outside, He declared that anyone who does the will of His Father in heaven is His brother and sister and mother.
So by all means, honour your parents but remember. Serve Jesus first and put Him ahead of everything else in your life. Remember that behaviour which is controlling or abusive is not acceptable and you should not tolerate it. In your walk with Jesus you may find yourself following a path your family do not agree with. If this path is the one Jesus has put you on, then pursue it.

Posted By Nan

Matthew 11:28-30
This is the last blog in my Sermon on the Mount series. For the next few blogs I will be looking a little at what the Bible says about families. To finish today I will talk about the last accent: The accent of compassion.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” The Message
What more can I say? The life of the Jew was one of heavy burdens imposed by the law. Before Jesus, those who wished to follow God found themselves having to carry these impossible burdens. But Jesus came to change that. He came to give people love, and a way of life that promoted living joyously in love, not staggering under an impossible burden. Yes we have our cross to carry, but it is light because it is the cross of love. Sadly, Christian doctrine has sometimes become one of legalism and heavy burdens. But this is not what following Jesus is about. If your Christian faith is wearing you down. If you feel burned out with trying to do all you have been told you must do as a Christian, then turn to Jesus. Your walk with Him is not about exhaustion and burning out on impossible burdens. It is about life, abundant life.
“I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)” John 10:10b Amplified.
I leave you to contemplate the words of The Message above and finish on a word by Joyce Meyer
“The broad path is heavily travelled, but if you choose the narrow path there may be times when you won’t see anyone but Jesus.” (Matt 7:13-14)
And that is a wonderful place to be.

Posted By Nan

Matthew 11:25-27
In these verses Jesus pauses to thank God for hiding the truth about Heaven from the wise and revealing it to the innocent and uneducated. Here he speaks with the accent of authority. He notes that the leaders, the Rabbis, Pharisees and Sadducees who claimed to have a direct line with God, rejected the messages from God. Instead the ordinary people accepted Him willingly. Jesus did not criticise education or intellectualism, rather he rejected the pride generated by a belief by some people that all knowledge rests in them and there is nothing anyone else can teach them. In order to allow God into our lives we must be humble, not proud and we must trust.
He ends this section with the claim that He alone can reveal God to us. If we have seen Jesus, then we have seen God. To know God, we must know Jesus, because He reveals God to us. We only need to be humble and trustful enough to receive from Jesus and we will know God.



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