Sunday, June 17, 2012

James 1:12-17

Saint Augustine was one of the great fathers of the early church.  The story is told that soon after his conversion to Christ he was walking down a street in Milan, Italy, where he was at the time a student.  A prostitute saw him and called him by name.  “Augustine,” she said.  He paid no attention to her, though he heard her.  She called after him several times, but he did not respond and just kept on walking.  Finally she said, “Augustine, it is I.”  Without slowing down or even looking at her, he said, “Yes, but it is no longer I.”
Surely Augustine was enduring temptation at that time.  His reply to the prostitute, whom he no doubt knew, indicate his knowledge also of the true source of solicitation to evil and the way of victory as well.  Augustine’s reply, “It is no longer I,” expresses his realization that having become a believer, a Christian, he now had a new enablement to say no to sin and he availed himself of that power.  He was a changed man from the inside out. 
Our friend James, brother of Jesus, was used of God to give us information about how to have victory over both the trials and troubles of life and the temptations to sin.

-- Dr. Robert Lightner, pg 3, Solid Stepping Stones (used with permission) 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hating Israel

Many Evangelicals despise the Jewish people, or at least, give no thoughts to them as God's earthly people. But Psalm 129:5 says: “May all who hate Zion, be put to shame and turned backward.” Though not all covenant guys hate Israel, or ignore Israel, still many turn against the Jews and believe that the Lord is finished with Israel. However, God loves them and therefore we should as well (Rom. 9:28). “They are beloved to God.”

The Hebrew word for hate is “sa-nay” and can be translated “to be unable to put up with,” or “to slight.” Thus, “to disdain.”

Woe to those who turn their backs on Israel.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Message (James 1:2-4)

Conservative scholarship largely agrees with A.T. Robertson’s view of when the book of James was written:  “The Epistle of James was probably written shortly before the Jerusalem Conference, most probably just before, that is A.D. 48 or 49.”  The practical message of the book was most fitting for the times in which it was written, and it is equally so for our day.  Christians of all times need to know what God expects of them and how to walk with God in a world that is opposed to Him and His teaching.  There is always the constant need to translate heavenly truths into earthly shoe leather.  Children of God must continually be on their guard against becoming so heavenly minded that they are of little earthly good.
It was to “the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad” (1:1) that James wrote.  In other words, he wrote to Jews who had been taken captive and then scattered.  They had experienced captivity and scattering from Assyria, Babylon, and Rome.  Sometimes they would also migrate on their own to seek their fortunes.  However, wherever they went, they always retained their identity and were loyal to their ancient customs.  The Jewish historian Josephus said:  “There is no city, no tribe, whether Greek or Barbarian in which Jewish law and Jewish customs have not taken root.”
Apparently, James used the phrase “the twelve tribes” in a nontechnical or general way.  Before James wrote , the ten northern tribes had already disappeared from history.  The content of the book reveals that James had a particular group of scattered Jews in mind: those who had come to believe in Jesus as Israel’s Messiah.  Perhaps James saw and even conversed with some of these Jews as they came to Jerusalem to worship and sensed their need for practical admonition and guidance on their Christian journey.

-- Dr. Robert Lightner, pages 2,3, Solid Stepping Stones (used with permission)