Words of Faith 3-27-2020
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2020
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Today we will begin a walk through one of my all-time favorite books of the Bible, the Letter of James. James is often framed as a debate between faith and works, but I believe that within this short and powerful letter to all Christians we discover a definition of faith that works. The wisdom and clear practicality of James spoke to believers in the first century and continue to lift us even in the twenty-first century. Here you will find practical, real life faith in action without the clichés or easy answers that often come up empty.
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James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ...
I will never forget the first youth group that I served as a student many years ago. My future wife and I met with the seven youth who came that first night. We went around the room to introduce ourselves. One precious little eighth-grader shared only her first name. I didn't think much of it until later when we asked what her last name was. She shared a bit sheepishly that she did not know.
This teen went on to explain that because of a complicated divorce and custody situation in her family, the matter of her name had not been resolved. She was called one name at school and another at home. So, she was not sure who she was at church.
The truth is that many arrive with the same sort of question. We come wondering who we are. We are in search of identity. We ask: Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? What am I called in this place? Our confusion may not be as literally profound as the young lady in the youth group. Still, every one of us begins our journey of faith with this sort of self-discovery. We search to discover that we are created by God. We need His grace. In Him, we are made righteous, and in Him we find peace.
James is helpful in this search. For James, identity was no mystery. James began his letter to Christians of every generation with these simple words of identity: "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ..." These words could sound pretty religious, except when we consider they were written by the brother of Jesus!
Can you imagine what it was like to grow up as the brother of Jesus? Actually, growing up with the Word made flesh? And you think you had a “perfect sibling” to compete with? While we might imagine that it was difficult growing up with a "perfect older brother,” we can also be sure that Jesus lived His message at home. God gives us a wonderful gift through this brother of our Lord. James gives us a unique perspective on Jesus.
But James, the brother of Jesus, came to faith after a healthy dose of skepticism. He was very likely among the family members who initially felt that Jesus had lost His mind. But now, he affirmed that Jesus is Lord. That is surrender.
James later carried the church as a leader through some of the most difficult of times. James had to deal with some of the harsh realities that came with persecution, poverty, jealousy, and church strife. He wrote some of the most influential and practical words we find in the New Testament, as well as some of the oldest recorded. James encouraged a broad audience of Christian believers scattered across the world as they face difficult times and issues.
The truth is that the Christian identity begins at a point of surrender like James experienced. Perhaps we can remember a time when we thought that following Jesus was "crazy" or fanatical or worse. But at some point, we surrender to that which seems crazy. "Love so amazing... so divine... demands my life, my soul, my all..."
Surrender may be one of the most important words in our Christian language, but without it, we cannot even begin. Are you surrendered? Are you a "servant of God"? For James, that meant being available no matter what.
Lord, make me a servant. I surrender to Your will and Your way in my life. Have thine own way, Lord. Have thine own way. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, and our website, and our church app, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.
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