Wonder with me - JAMES Chapter 1 (Trials and Temptation, Listening and Doing)

B A C K S T O R Y 

I actually started my bible devotional last October 18 - the day after my d-group leader had a one on one with me and taught me how to read the bible. It's also exactly 7 years since that miracle of Faith in 10.18.2013. SO MUCH SEVENS! Truly, it IS the number of completeness and perfection in the bible. And this is indeed the year where the seeds He planted in my heart 14 years ago, is finally ready to bloom and be harvested!!! Wait wait wait --- voyaging through seasons of wonder (my purpose as the wonderhuman) : S.O.W. == REAP. ahhhhhhhh so much revelations this year Lord :'((((((( 

It all makes perfect sense now - that the years I spent yearning to really love the Lord always had seasons of going astray, being too immersed in the world and being constantly beaten by emotions because it lacked the most important thing : KNOWING HIM THROUGH HIS WORD, meditating on it day and night, and making sure to act on it. 

And so, with the resounding prompts because of seeing so many verses written by James, I heeded that call to start my bible journey with JAMES. (wonderwithme series intro here ) 

Let's start? 

It's important to seek wisdom before reading the bible, to hear His word and not ours. 

Prayer for wisdom : Father of the Heavenly lights, our creator and promise-keeping God, we come to you today to ask for your wisdom as we start this journey of seeking you, knowing you, and loving you more. You are a generous giver Lord, and just as you have given us life - you have also given us Your Son, our Savior, author and perfecter of our faith. We pray your Holy Spirit takes over, gives us clarity of mind to understand your Word, and convicts us to obey the Truth, and make it a Way of Life. We ask all these in Jesus' mighty name, AMEN. 

Read the Scripture

No book hopping or skipping. Highlight the striking verses, you can even underline / encircle words that are meaningful to you! 

Let's write our observations 

Go ahead and write yours first before reading the next paragraph = ) The bible is so vast that no two guides are alike! But for this chapter, perhaps you could write down  : 

  • Your discoveries about God (His Names, His Character, His Ways) 
  • Blessings / Promises to note 
  • Warnings / Consequences 
  • Instructions / Commands given 
If you're done, you can take advantage of the printable / downloadable devo I created below. I made that with all my heart and I hope it adds a dose of wonder to your quiet time with the Lord =) 

Modern - Day Application  

Ah, where do I even begin? This chapter is sooo rich and affirms WHY I was prompted to start with James. Wonder with me further, yes? Yes :') 

The main reason why I'm committing to bible time is because it grants the deepest desire of my heart : to know His Purpose and Will for my life.  Seems selfish isn't it? But it's the most practical and real question all of us have, and we don't just ask this out of mere curiosity. We often find ourselves asking what our life's purposes is when we hit rock bottom or become a victim of life's disarray and disappointments. We ask that question when we need to make decisions, especially lifechanging ones, regarding our relationships, our education /  careers, our finances, everything! We even ask ourselves, "how do we know if this is what God wants? how do we hear His voice? how do we know it's from Him?" because there's that fear of making a mistake, there's that weight of worry and paralyzing anxiety even. 

How do we know then, the purpose of will of someone we don't know? James clearly shows us that our identity is found in Christ, and the only way to be reminded of this everyday is if we mediate on His Word - the perfect law that gives us freedom (looking through the mirror, see v 1:23 - 25). 

True enough, we easily forget who we are in Christ when problems get overwhelming, when we are consumed by a flood of emotions elicited by unfavorable circumstances. We forget who we are in Christ when pride and anger takes over, when resentment starts to take root, when fear stops us from taking risks or bold moves for growth, when worry and doubt steals our joy, when our triggers are getting the best of us. Every single day is a battle in this world! That's why we need to be reminded of WHO made us, and WHOSE we are. 

I was honestly dependent on motivational quotes in my early christian years, and I taught that reading random verses did the trick. It sustained by for a while, but just like the good old parable of the sower - thorns (of life) easily choked the Word out. I was still easily irritated and affected by things I couldn't control, my triggers really made me throw words like daggers, and when the worst of me comes out - it backfires that I blame myself for all the wrong things in this world! Awful, right? 

That's why I was harshly convicted by 1:19-20. As in, OUCH tagos hanggang buto. "Be quick to lsiten, slow to speak, slow to become angry. For a man's anger does not bring about the righteous life God desires.  I was pierced and burned to the highest degree because thought that his commandments are confined with the 10 (via Moses) and 2 (through Jesus). I thought that as long I wasn't committing really terrible sins, I was okay. BUT NO! See, His Word isn't motivational and sweet all the time! But because He loves us, He CORRECTS us. There's much much more about anger in Proverbs and in other books, but I'm sticking to this first as the tall order to change my habits, my defense mechanisms, and overall tone & choice of words when I'm emotionally compromised!  

quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry. 

Isn't it amazing that the instruction is clear as day? When we're quick to listen, we have time to understand where our loved ones are coming from. We can take time to process their statements, while being careful with what we say (slow to speak). And when we're careful with what we say, we aren't easily triggered / the intensity of anger is less than what it could have been if the machine-gun verbal exchange happened. This applies in almost everything! Especially at work! (HA-HA-HA-HA). That for another day! 

Ok I'm going overtime, but thank you sticking through the entire post! It's my first time to do this and while there's no perfect format out there, I just want this to flow as raw as possible. Some time in the future maybe, this could be a book! (hihihi) Back at it ------------ 

Chapter one showed me truths about the Lord I thought I knew but didn't! (see verses on knowing God). The most striking is how our God generously gives, without finding fault. :'(((( With all my failures, LOVE DOESN'T KEEP COUNT OF WRONGS. Surely you've seen this verse in the famous 1 Corinthians 13, but ahhhhh... First book, first chapter, affirms WHO LOVE IS. It's amazing :') That no matter how many times we've fallen and gone astray, there a God who does not keep count of wrongs yet generously gives..... and loves us. But it comes with a warning too (ouch nanaman Lord!) Verse 1:6-7 is clear as day too, tagos hanggang buto. And that's what we all don't want to become : a person full of doubt, who shouldn't think he/she'll receive anything from the Lord... (ouch). A person full of doubt, is a double-minded person, unstable in everything he/she does. (haymaker powerpunches right there!) See, no sugar coating. No downplaying of words. Only the TRUTH, the convicting and freeing truth. 

That's why it really does make sense to KEEP LOOKING AT THE MIRROR to KNOW WHO WE ARE. Our maker is our mirror, and we see Him through His Word, that's easily accessible any time any day! Jesus is the way, the truth, and life. Truly, we'll know the way if we know (and meditate) on the Truth found in His Word, and live it as a way of Life, until He comes again. :) 

C O N C L U S I O N 

The past two months strongly affirmed the answer to my question ---  To know His purpose and will for our lives, we must KNOW HIM. And to really really do so, it is instructed that we meditate on His Word. Knowing Him more, also means loving Him more and also allowing ourselves to be loved by Him in ways we've never imagined. It's that inexplicably beautiful exchange. I pray you get to experience this too, because His sweet, sweet love and peace is beyond compare. 

PS : 
I started oct 22 and finished the book by November. At that time I didn't know what to blog about because the love was just too overwhelming! And so, I kept reading... one chapter a day, all the way to Jude. It was yesterday that R actually asked me to send him something to print (he bought a new printer, and he wanted me to print the 1st page hehe) and me being me - I just made something out of powerpoint that he could hang / paste on his wall. Et voila, that's also the same style I used to create the printable note above! =) I told him that God certainly used him, through his gesture of love, for me to just do it. and so, I did!