In living through a world pandemic we as Christians were called to deal with many different struggles and complications by our God. Not only have we been asked to work in different ways, shop in new ways, intact with each other in new ways but also worship in new ways. Many of us have wondered what is going on in our Father’s world. Many of us have lost loved ones to the virus and most of us have lost much of our sense of freedom through the long months of the pandemic. From online studies to working and meeting people via zoom or some other platform we have gone through complicated times. Some have sheltered themselves with great fear of the virus because of the news stories, others have been overwhelmed by so many conflicting news reports. We have been bombarded with both fear-mongering and conspiracy theories from many different circles.
This month we will go through the book of James who tells us to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds. As we deal with life in this broken world, in the wake of the pandemic, I pray that our study of James will help us to grow stronger in our faith as our faith is tested. May our study of James help us to have a faith that works in such a way that we more and more show our heavenly Father we love being His beloved children. May the study of James also help us to show the world around us that our faith is real, not only bringing comfort and hope to our lives but causing us to have a great care and love for our communities. May it cause us to grow in our calling to be salt and light in a world that is increasingly dysfunctional.
Living for God as His joyful servants
James, a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, – James 1:1a
Scripture reading: Mark 6:1-6
The writer of this book was a unique leader in the early Christian church. He was a long-time leader of the church in Jerusalem and was a half-brother of Jesus Christ. Yet he does not mention either of these things when he tells us who he is. Instead, he says he was a servant, really a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Calling himself a slave of God and Jesus Christ meant James saw himself as one who was purchased by the blood for Jesus Christ and so was to live for His Master’s desires and plans before all other concerns or desires.
James did not always believe and live in this reality. But the Holy Spirit so worked in his heart that he not only believed in Jesus Christ, but submitted himself to Him, as a slave to a master. This can only come about when you truly believe that God loves you and that God’s ways and desires are more important and better than your ways and desires.
If you know yourself as one who was purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ, do you also acknowledge this about your life, that you are not your own, but belong to Jesus in such a way that His desires and plans come before your plans and desires? Jesus says whoever comes after me must take up his/her cross and follow me; that is to die to self and to live for your master and Lord in the joy of salvation.
Suggestions for prayer
Pray that God would so work in our minds and hearts by His Word and Spirit that we would respond to His sacrificial love by dying to self and living for God and His kingdom.
Pastor Richard Bultje is a United Reformed missionary and pastor in the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.