Tag Archives: Scripture Memory

Just James – Week 3

So here we are already three weeks into a new year and that means we are three weeks into our mission to memorize the book of James. (If you think it’s too late to join in with us, it’s not! You can be caught up within a week or two.) This week we will be memorizing James 1:6-8, but before I get to those verses I would like to do a brief overview of the verses we have learned so far.

One of my goals in doing this is to gain a better understanding of the book of James. This is not simply about rote memory so that I can pat myself on the back a year from now! It is about discovering more about how God reveals Himself to us in through the book of James. One of the ways I would like to make that a reality is to write a brief explanation of the verses that we are working on each week. I didn’t do that for the first two weeks so I would like to provide that overview of verses 1-5 now.

James; what do we know about the book, who was the author, when was it written, and to whom was it written? Well, the author seems fairly obvious since he identifies himself with the first word of the letter. But it’s not as simple as saying, “The author is James.” Why, because there were lots of guys named James in the Bible. However, it is widely believed with a fair amount of certainty the James who wrote the book of James is known as James the Just, the half-brother of Jesus Christ. He was a leader in the early church in Jerusalem. (Acts 15) We know that he was writing to the “twelve tribes in the Dispersion” which simply meant that his initial audience was to Jewish followers of Jesus Christ who — because of persecution due to their new found faith — had left their homes in Palestine and had scattered, or dispersed into Asia Minor and the various provinces of the Roman Empire. Most scholars believe that it was one of the very first New Testament books written with the date being set prior to AD 62. The reason they can be so certain about that date is because James was martyred for his faith in the year AD 62. He was condemned to death by stoning by the high priest of the Jews.

In the first few verses we get a glimpse of two of the key themes in the book of James. First, we see that God allows trials, tests, and suffering into the lives of those who follow Him (verses 2-4). Secondly, we see God as the gracious giver of all things. (i.e. wisdom in verse 5)

James certainly doesn’t waste any time in getting to the tough questions about life as he opens the second verse with “Count it all joy . . . when you meet trials . . .” Immediately we can see that James is presenting a new and radically different attitude for those who follow Christ. First, the certainty that we will face suffering in our lives. The Christian life does not come with an exemption status from suffering and trials. Next, that when we encounter suffering our response is to be one of genuine joy. Lastly, that the suffering we face is ordained by God. These are not easy things to wrap our minds around, but they are the truth of the Gospel. As we continue through James, I hope to continue to address these themes and specifically provide a better understanding of these verses and how they apply to our lives. Let me add this little disclaimer about the first few verses. Yes, God allows suffering into our lives. No, that does not make Him guilty of causing sin. God is holy, just, and good and to think that in any way sin comes from God is to impugn His holiness. The trials and temptations that Satan places into our lives are placed there with the sole purpose of having us fail. The trials and testings that God allows into our lives are put there for us to win through the grace of Jesus Christ.

This week we are memorizing verses 6-8. These verses refer back to the previous verses and further explain how we are to ask God for wisdom. We are to ask “in faith”. What kind of faith? A faith that is completely sure in the goodness of God. We are not to be “double-minded” which simply means that we are to have our faith solely place in God alone. We are not to have a faith that is dependent partially on God and partially dependent on our own strengths. That type of faith is “unstable”, “doubting”, and the result of that type of faith is that we will not receive anything from the Lord. Increase our faith Lord, that we may trust you truly.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
(James 1:6-8 ESV)

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Just James – Weeks 1 & 2

Last year my friend Liz did something truly incredible. She committed the entire book of Colossians to memory. Seriously. An entire book of the Bible that she was able to quote from memory. And not just learning a few verses, quoting them, and then forgetting them as she moved on to the next verses. No, she is able to say the whole book from beginning to end.

Upon her success I had two striking thoughts concerning her accomplishment. First, I was overjoyed that she was able to memorize it all. Overjoyed because I know what spiritual rewards will be harvested by her in her own life in the days and years to come because of this accomplishment. Secondly, I was brought face to face with the lack of commitment I have given to Scripture memory in my own spiritual life.  As a child and teenager I was often required to memorize lots of Scripture, but as an adult it has been many years since I have tackled Scripture memory. Fortunately, this is something that can be fixed simply by dedicating myself to it.

Now at this point some of you may be wondering why in the world you would agree to such a thing. Well, I could point out all of the reasons, but I’m a slow typist and others have stated the reasons better than I can. Desiring God has an excellent article on the importance of memorizing Scripture here. Ann Voskamp lists the benefits that she received through her memorization last year in this post.

So here we are. This post is the introduction to what I hope will be a weekly series for this year. Liz and I have decided to memorize the book of James together and we would welcome anyone else to join in with us. Liz put together a schedule for the year that has us learning two to three verses a week. If you would like to participate, simply leave a comment below that you’re on board and I can email you a copy of the schedule for the year. At the end of every chapter, we will have a week dedicated to review of that chapter. I plan to write a short post at the beginning of every week to outline the verses we are memorizing for the upcoming week and to write a little bit about what the verses mean.

Unfortunately, I’m about a week late with this post as we started memorizing James last week. However, you should be be able to catch up without any problems. Last week we memorized James 1:1-3 and this week we are adding verses 4 and 5. We are using the ESV version, but you may use whatever version you would prefer. I hope that others will join in with us as we commit to memorize the book of James together.

Here are the first five verses.

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:
Greetings.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

(James 1:1-5 ESV)

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Filed under God, James, Scripture Memory, Theology