Archive for April, 2012

James Bible Study- week 6

“Therefore confess your sins to each and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

James is right-Prayer works! I know that it is prayer that has been the most effective tool in my personal life and my family’s. I have seen God change me and my circumstances, that once looked impossible, through prayer. Another thing that has power is: the power to be prayed for. I don’t know if you are like me, but sometimes I am hesitant to share prayer requests. I feel like such a burden, I don’t want to bother, but God is showing me that:

1) There is GREATER power when others pray for you. In fact, recently, I was praying over something and just couldn’t get peace. As soon as I asked two of my closest friends to pray for me, I felt the peace that very day! There is great power in being prayed for!

2) It is selfish not to share. God is showing me that when I don’t share my prayer requests I am withholding the potential blessing for the person praying for me. I asked myself recently, “Don’t I love praying for others and MY faith is built when I see them answered?” Why don’t we want to share then? Also, we can fall into pride thinking, “We can do it ourselves.” This can be dangerous.

3) It gives God the glory. By allowing others in our prayer lives to witness our miracles, breakthroughs, and answered prayers, God is getting more glory! Let’s not rob Him of that.

Now I know there are some things that are personal, and we shouldn’t share everything with just anyone- please don’t misunderstand. BUT maybe you haven’t seen your breakthrough because you don’t have people praying for you.

James has been challenging, I know. I understand, sister! But we have to be willing to address our fears in order to grow. Satan wants to isolate each of us so we stay powerless. Bringing it to light takes the power from the darkness. Having people pray for us brings greater power! We would be wise to listen to James in this: “Therefore confess your sins to each and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

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Beth Moore’s James study- week 5

We took a little break for spring break but we are back into the swing of things! Week 5 was no disappointment. James for me can be hard to swallow. He doesn’t sugar coat anything! I can so see how he and Paul might not have gotten along. I tend to side with Paul- he is my favorite apostle and he did write over 2/3 of the New Testament so I am more accustomed to his writing. James only has one little book- but it is in there and it is for good reason. God put it there.
Paul’s message is we are saved by grace. If you don’t know that- you need to reread his many letters to the churches. He was passionate about that truth! James’ message is grace, yes, but if you’ve been saved by grace, then you better show it or you may as well not have it at all. Please don’t confuse James as saying his “faith without works is dead” (2:26) as we are saved by works. We are not! “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves- it is the gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:7-9) And that message is supported through so many of the books of the Bible. To take James’ one verse out of context would be wrong. We are saved by faith- so let’s show it!

During week 5, I enjoyed day four in our workbook. It was over the verse, “There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” James 4:12
Let’s be clear- we are not God. But don’t we sometimes judge like we are? The moment we feel we are God or even close to being God we are, as Beth writes, “jumping off a cliff”. She says that if we don’t recognize and remedy it for ourselves quickly then the only “remedy is hitting the ground so hard that we break into pieces then the real God gets to show up and put us back together. And for the sake of those in our sphere, the shorter the period between playing God and breaking into pieces, the better.” (pg. 144) Oh, so true.
Slander, grumbling, criticizing, judging others all, as James says, is sin. And if you thought James was tough on that- go ahead and read James 4:9-10.”Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” Then go watch session six of Beth Moore’s. Sounds scary, but really one of the best ones yet!
I’ll end on a note that I love from Beth. Ok- it is in the beginning of week six’s homework, but I think it will help take a look at the ugly side of us.
“Even when we are not as glad about what God says, as long as He’s talking and empowers us to hear, our relationship with Him teem with spirit and life.” (pg. 163)
So true ☺

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The Relics of James’ bones? You are a Living Relics

“The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself … and this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”

Dr. Tomlin, professor of Church history at Liberty University wrote the following:

“Early examinations of the ossuary reputed to have once contained the mortal remains of James, half-brother to Jesus and leader of the Jerusalem church, sent ripples of excitement and expectation across the archaeological community in 2002. Could the box, dated to A.D. 63, actually have belonged to the biblical James?

By all indications the ossuary itself was authentic and a valuable find for scholars. It was cut from the limestone around Jerusalem, carved in typical Herodian fashion, and showed no sign of tampering by modern implements, according to a handful scholars. It bore the Aramaic inscription, “Ya’akov bar Yosef akhui di Yeshua,” which renowned paleographer Andre Lemaire confirmed was written in the first century.

The bone box belonged, as the inscription indicates, to a James, a son of Joseph and a brother to Jesus. What will forever remain unknown, regardless of the conclusions of scientists and theologians, is whether the James, Joseph and Jesus mentioned are our Lord’s earthly “father,” brother and our Lord himself. Although such a connection may be probable, we need not know for certain.

Paige Patterson, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, told Time magazine that while the discovery of the bone box, housed for years in the apartment of its owner, was “fascinating” and may be a useful evangelistic tool, Christians should avoid “building faith on archaeological discovery.”

Why? Because “faith” then becomes faith in an object, and true faith, by its very nature, doesn’t require evidence or proof.

The veneration of relics is a practice nearly as old as the church itself, but began in earnest after Bishop Ambrose of Milan displayed the relics of two martyrs in his church between A.D. 385-388. Veneration of the relics was thought then to aid in worship.

But by the Middle Ages, countless articles were visited upon the masses of Europe in ceremonial procession because the Roman Catholic Church believed that “holy relics” held miraculous power and could increase the faith of the flock. Hoards of peasants thronged to see splinters from the true cross of Christ and fragments from the table where Jesus presided over the Last Supper.

Others longed to see thorns from the Savior’s crown and even the head of John the Baptist. Wherever the relics went, miracles followed, or so the church claimed. Christian historians refer to the belief that such objects — or body parts — held magical power as “fetishism.”

Such belief is amusing considering that as many as five heads of John the Baptist floated around Europe. Fourteen churches claimed to possess the foreskin of the baby Jesus, and Martin Luther, who sparked the Protestant Reformation because of his belief that the “just shall live by faith,” lampooned the church when he wrote that enough splinters of the cross existed in Europe to build a mighty ship.

In the “Schmalkald Articles,” Luther wrote that relics were tomfoolery and that “even the devil has laughed at such rascalities.” The veneration of relics, he said, ought to be condemned because such practices were not contained within Scripture. They were “an entirely unnecessary and useless thing.” Luther wrote in his “Large Catechism” that relics were “lifeless, dead things that can make no man holy.”

But the Church of Rome continued to teach that beholding the relics conveyed salvific benefits. Lutheran historian Bernhard Lohse wrote that in 1517 even Luther’s protector, Frederick the Elector, displayed relics, claiming that those who viewed all of them would escape the suffering of purgatory 127,800 years early.

I do not believe that Baptists, nor any Protestants for that matter, are in danger of becoming entangled in such beliefs.

What I find intriguing, however, is the enthusiasm of archaeologists and the public for the notion that this relic or that relic might be a link to Christ, as if they would believe should the ossuary or some other item be authenticated. Some scientists have even suggested extracting DNA from the bone fragments in that old ossuary in order to learn about the mother of James — Mary, also the mother of Jesus.

I am reminded of the words of Margaret Deanesly, who wrote in her book on medieval church history of Christians building churches over the graves of apostles. “The dust of the apostle who had seen with his own eyes and touched with his hands the very body of the Savior was itself a link with Christ, inexpressibly precious.”

Ironically, in 2002, the owner of the bone box reportedly claimed that he withheld his name from public media because he feared his home would become a church where those seeking a tangible connection to Christ would venerate the ossuary.

Those who are looking for a link to Christ need not hope to build their faith by caressing a stone box or laying eyes on a bone fragment. They need to look no further than to the Christian. A relic, while it is a link to the past, is a memorial or testimony to the power of the individual to whom it belonged or belongs. That is precisely what Christians are — living relics.

John wrote in his first epistle that “the one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself … and this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”

I wonder sometimes if the church forgets how simple that is. We are his workmanship, saved by grace, and we preach the written word and live the testimony of the living word. We live by grace, we love, we share, we build, we pray for peace and if need be we die for others. If the world doesn’t find Christ in us, it surely will not find him because his name is etched into a 2,000-year-old piece of limestone that may or may not have belonged to his relative. It would not find him in the Shroud of Turin.

No, you are a living relic. It is my prayer this week, as you read about how the church assembled the sacred Scriptures, about those who contended for the faith, and those who died for it, that you will take comfort in this notion. And remember that your job is to make more relics just like you.

By the way, the Israeli Antiquities Authority continues to raise serious questions about the authenticity of the ossuary, saying it is mostly likely a forgery, despite the fact that the alleged forger was recently acquitted. Thankfully, Jesus only makes “authentic copies.”

Dr. Tomlin

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