James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus…  James 1:1

I began memorizing the book of James in 1973.

Trying to redeem the time, whenever I was listening to a boring sermon, I opened my Bible and started memorizing James. During that period of my life, I had Sunday School, Sunday morning service, Sunday evening, Wednesday evening, and three chapels a week at the Bible college I was attending.

I had lots of opportunity to memorize James.

I became fascinated with James when I learned that he was the Lord’s brother and introduced himself in this book as a “bond-servant of Jesus,” not “the brother of Jesus.”

James has a humility that I want in my ministry. Nothing is about me – it is all about Jesus. I am the bondservant of Jesus.

Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials…  James 1:2

Stop. Go over this several times before you continue reading.

I’ve quoted this passage thousands of times – more than any other verse – in the past 47 years. The possibility, that during trials, we can experience joy, is a foundational principle of the Christian faith.

I have decades of personal testimony that joy allows trials to create a depth of fulfillment not found through anything else.

But if any of you lacks wisdom… ask… but ask in faith without doubting…  James 1:5-6

I consider wisdom my principle spiritual gift. I began asking God to give me insight into how spirituality works – practical principles – as soon as I memorized this verse.

God has answered this prayer for wisdom for me more than any other prayer-type. I believe Interruptions is a life conclusion to this decades’ old prayer request.

Each one is tempted when he is carried away by his own lust, then when lust is conceived it gives birth to sin; and sin accomplished brings death.  James 1:14-15

Temptation is a battle in the mind. Very soon after I memorized this verse, I read a quote from Martin Luther, “You can’t stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep it from building a nest in your hair.”

Fight temptation with a renewed mind. If sin moves from mind to action it causes death – of marriage, of peace, and even of life.

Now everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.  James 1:19

Having memorized this verse in 1973, I pretty much ignored it until this year. Those who know me will testify that I’m a “slow to hear and quick to speak” person.

This year, with justice issues apparent in our culture, I’ve had conversations. I’m still listening, as I want to hear the pain of others. I do not want to have a quick decision or a dismissive reaction.

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress.  James 1:27

I’m proud of one thing about the church where I serve: the sisters and brothers get this – that “pure and undefiled” religion isn’t a great building, amazing worship, or a fantastic preacher (hmmmhhh).

Following Jesus is about ministry to orphans, widows, and others in distress.

Our food pantry provides up to 10,000 pounds of food every two weeks, and Naomi’s Heart mission has hundreds of students in school and gives out thousands of meals each week in the Philippines.

This is pure and undefiled religion.

Questions from James 1 for you:

  • Do you have joy in the midst of trials?
  • In what decision do you need joy?
  • Are you listening in conflicts?
  • Are you battling temptation?
  • What pure and undefiled religion are you practicing?

My prayer for you:

Receive the word of God implanted which is able to save your soul.  James 1:21