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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How Long Must I Call for Help?

Habakkuk 1:2 “How long O Lord must I call for help but you do not listen?”

I was feeling just like Habakkuk a few days ago. I thought those very words- “How long, Lord?” It was that very morning I opened my Bible to Habakkuk. Now, honestly, I haven’t opened my Bible to Habakkuk often, but God knew I needed my answer that day. So my Bible opened to Habakkuk chapter 1. Verse 2 was my hearts cry, “How long, O Lord, must I call for help but you do not listen?” God answers in verse 5: “Look at the nations and watch- and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”
The comfort that God is working even when we don’t see Him was such a great reminder to me.
In Chapter 2:1 Habakkuk says “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me” Habakkuk reminded me to watch expectantly and listen for my God to answer.
Habakkuk 2:3 “Write down the revelation and make it plan on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. THOUGH IT LINGER, WAIT, FOR IT; it will certainly come and will not delay.”

The good news is as you call out for help to the Lord and feel He is not listening, keep watch. He is doing great things, things you wouldn’t believe and even if it is lingering- wait for it. It will come. It will not delay.
What a great Word from our God!

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Beth Moore’s James study- week 4

“Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgement”
James 3:1

Day 3 in our Bible study homework was especially interesting to me. I am a teacher. I have taught high schoolers for 12 years now, and believe me- I don’t take the task lightly! I fully realize the power I have to harm or uplift. There have been many days where I have sought forgiveness for something I had said or done- forgiveness from God and from my students! It is an awesome responsibility. James’ words are very real to me.
Those of us who are teachers, I pray we do realize our role. I know that I haven’t always realized the gravity of my role, but God has grown me and has shown me what a responsibility we have as teachers. Especially through teachings like today’s.
Beth writes about some “land mines” that go with teaching (pg. 110-112).
1) The Capacity to mislead. This is where I pray- Lord, give me wisdom!
2) The temptations to use the platform for personal agendas or opinions. “My teaching isn’t mine but from the One who sent me. The one who speaks for himself seeks his own glory. But He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him” (John 7:16,18)
3) The demand for self- discipline. “A good teacher has to study. Hard.”
4)The pride and humiliation. “When words are many, sins is not absent” (Proverbs 19:10)
5) God likes to teach the bigger lessons to the teacher.”I will teach you what to say” (Ex. 4:12)
6) The human judgement. “If you can get people please you cannot keep them pleased. Bind your wrist to the One who isn’t fickle.”- Beth (pg. 112)
7) Stricter divine judgement. To much is given- much is required. (Luke 12:48b)
8) Others stumble with us. Beth says, “We all stumble in many ways, when a teacher stumbles, she is apt to be charged a group rate.” (pg. 112)

For those of us who teach, let me encourage you. You have a great responsibility. Please teach! And teach well. God deserves our best. But let us teach with humility- and on our face every day asking for His divine wisdom each morning, and thanking Him for His divine grace each night.

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Beth Moore’s James Study- Week 3

Week 3 in this study is probably the one that has just hit me with so much truth! To be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; don’t show favoritism, love your neighbor as yourself, and of course- be doers of the Word, not just hearers. Slow down James! I can only work on so much! I love what Beth says about writing a new Bible study- “You have a heads -up to straighten up before conviction hits like a sledgehammer.” (pg. 71) Oh- wow! Lot’s of work to do! But I am thankful to James. Sometimes I need a direct hit from a sledgehammer. Don’t you?
One thing (of many!) I gleaned from this week was being DOERS of the Word, not just hearers. James1:22-25 “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself goes away and immediately gorgets what he looks like. But the man who loks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues to do this not forgetting what he has heart, cut doing it-he will be blessed in what he does.”
I like Beth’s commentary who explains it this way, “a person who examines intently his very on face in the mirror, but within seconds he cannot even pick himself out of a police line up” Imagine that!
The Word of God is not just a book of good stories and lessons to think about. They are meant to be implemented into our very lives. TO DO IT!! No matter how hard it may seem. If we DO it, we are blessed. So why don’t we?
It reminds me of Christ’s words that said, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24)
Lord, help me to be wise, and to be a doer of Your Word not just a hearer, no matter how hard it is. Remind me daily and in every situation, this life is not my own- it is yours. “I have been crucified with Christ. I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20)
Looking forward to week 4!

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Beth Moore’s James study- week 2

Oh such wisdom from our big brother James! I love how Beth explained James to us this week as our “big brother” who is “Going to tell us what we need to hear and, if we’re smart, we’ll listen.” (pg.57)
If you are like me, you are amazed as you are reading the book of James at how much wisdom is packed in each verse! Taking this book verse by verse has been so enlightening! These are deep waters!
Beth’s Day 4, week 2 in the homework really stuck out to me. It is over James 1:13 “No one undergoing a trial should say, ‘I am being tempted by God’ For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone.”
I, of course, agree with this, but Beth digs a little deeper. Who would think God tempts? We all know He is holy and righteous, but have we ever had the temptation to blame God for our temptations? Have you ever asked, “Why did God make me this way?” Proverbs 19:3 says “People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.”
How many times do we blame God for our own mess ups? Have you ever made a choice and were mad at God for not stopping you? For not stopping a disaster? Or making you the way you are? Our hearts desires can be for good or evil. In our lives we need to realize that we mess up our lives because we have a sinful heart, but the good news is, that it is Jesus alone who can fix and purify our messed up hearts. Giving Him every part of it to cleanse instead of holding onto bitterness and blame, is our answer. “Jesus alone can change us from the core.” That is good news!

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Beth Moore’s James study- week 1

James, half brother of Jesus, skeptic, and non-believer turned to be one of Jesus’ greatest advocates and leaders of the early church. Talk about a turn around! Maybe that is why I am loving this study so much. I can relate. When you come in contact with the Savior of your soul- you are never the same, forever changed. I was once a skeptic too. But now I am a believer after coming in contact with my personal Savior! Oh- He makes all the difference!
What I loved learning this week was just that- I learned so much! Beth lays a foundation of James in the encounter in Mark 3:31-35 “Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him and they told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you’ ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ he asked. ‘Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my bother and sister and mother.” Beth writes: “Picture yourself as a sibling in a similar situation. You’re trying to get your brother but a crowd stands between you. You play the family card but the door turns to concrete. Please don’t miss the part when the crowd tells Jesus His family is outside looking for him.” (pg. 20- workbook)
James could easily be hurt by this rejection, not to mention Mary having to referee between brothers, but I love the other scripture Beth points out. 1 Corinthians 15:4-7:
“He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and . . .he appeared to Peter, and then to the twelve. After that he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time. . . .Then he appeared to James.”
I get goose bumps over this! “He appeared to James” Just Jesus and James. We don’t know what He said to James, but obviously it changed James- from skeptic to believer. And we get to study the impact over the next eight weeks. That is the power of our resurrected Savior!
Beth writes:”The power of the resurrection trumps the power of the past if we are willing to let it.” Amen, sister! Amen!

2 Corinthians 5:7 “If any man is in Christ he is a new creation, the old is gone! The new is here!”

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