Challenge: James 1

Gwen Smith Blog, Christian Living, Prayer, Scripture, Worship 66 Comments

James Challenge

Hey friends,

I thought it would be fun to read the book of JAMES together this week. (James is found in the New Testament portion of the Bible). We can discuss the verses that move us most and the lessons that God is challenging us with in His Word in the comments section below. I’m so excited! I can’t wait to hear and experience how the LORD moves our hearts!

Let’s get started…

CHAPTER ONE

READ: Read James 1

REFLECT: Pause to consider how this passage should affect the way you believe and behave. Pray. Journal. Worship.

RESPOND by leaving a comment below. Say, “I’m in for the challenge!” Then, feel free to post your favorite verse or share how today’s reading spoke to your heart and spurred you on toward Christ. (I love, love, love to hear from you guys!)

MY THOUGHTS on JAMES ONE:

Good gracious, I just love this book! I don’t know about you, but I underlined half of the first chapter. Clearly the author of this book (James – the brother of Jesus) wants us to embrace all that life throws at us and put some walk on our talk. Such a street-level challenge.

Verse 2 sure isn’t warm and cuddly. It rubs raw… “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…” (James 1:2) SILVER LINING: The tension of our trials give way to the release of  rewards. Surely there is something to be said for gaining perseverance and maturity. We might struggle to see the blessings of our hard times, but the Lord calls us to trust Him and assures us that blessings await the one who perseveres (v12), “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

Questions: What trial in your life is the LORD longing to use for good? Are you willing to release your disappointment, frustration and/or anger to HIM so that you can experience HIS strength in your struggle?

His WORD is His promise. Trust Him. Enough said.

White Paint - Baby Blue Background. Painting
OTHER CHAPTER ONE TAKEAWAYS:

  • God gives us wisdom when we ask. (V5) So grateful for this!!
  • We must believe and not doubt in order to receive from God. (V6) Faith is not always my natural response. I must choose to believe and trust God.
  • Those with little should be glad that riches mean nothing to God. Those with much should also be glad because money/stuff/influence/status can so easily come and go – and God is God either way. (V9-11) In times of little and in times of strain, we are often more in tune with our need for God. And living in awareness of our need for Him and in dependence of His intervention, provision, and strength brings blessings beyond earthly comforts.  
  • God never tempts us. (V13) He allows us to endure temptation, but is never the source!
  • Every good and perfect gift is from God. (V17) My days should be filled with gratitude.
  • Our faith should match our actions. (V19-27) Live His love.

James 1.19 quick to listen

PRAYER OF RESPONSE: Lord, Thank You for the truth of Your Word. Help me to connect my living – my actions and my reactions – to Your ways. Please rescue me in the times that I allow trials to defeat me! This chapter reminds me that your plan is to bring gain from my pain, so I thank you for the tough things I am going through today. Button my lips, Lord, when I don’t need to speak or don’t have a kind word to say. Help me to listen more and talk less so that Your love can be seen and heard more in my life. When I’m tempted, please help me to resist. Finally, Lord, empower me through your Holy Spirit to live in a way that is beyond stale religion – in a way that is beyond me, myself and I – in a way that looks for and cares for the needs of others in Your grace and for Your glory. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

WORSHIP RESPONSE:

Thanks for doing life with me! Can’t wait to hear how the LORD moves in you through this challenge.

Warmly in Christ,

Gwen

PS: If you enjoyed this challenge, let’s keep in touch! Subscribe to my newsletter. Big Bonus: when you subscribe to the newsletter, you will receive a free song download of a my song Quiet Me ! How fun is that?

PSS: The graphics in each challenge post are PINNABLE! Share the challenge on your Pinterest Board simply by hovering over one of the graphics and clicking PIN IT. Easy peasy! 🙂

PSSS: Got TWITTER? Tweet out what moves you during the challenge and use the hashtag #jameschallenge (I tweet at @GwenSmithMusic)

Comments 66

  1. I have joined the challenge. I read through once and am now reading and studying it. The verses that stand out for me in chapter 1 are verses 6-8 which speaks about being double minded. It has made me examine myself and realize that I struggle with this. I am praying that God will help me to trust him completely and know that He is who he says he is and does what he says he will do.

  2. Two verses caught my attention…the first: 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. This is a great mystery that God has planned that we will be like Jesus becoming brothers and sisters at His soon future return. This is going to be exciting and I wait with much anticipation!
    The second verse: 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. This “looking after orphans and widows” is what the Lord has laid on my heart and soul, I don’t know how my Lord is going to use me yet but I continue to trust.
    “…to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” This is a daily and second by second challenge especially at work but I listen to edifying podcasts all day long (12 hour work days usually) and I know this helps. I need to get caught up on my podcasts because I want more time listening to the audio bible at work!
    God bless everyone…

  3. I want to be challenged so I’m starting this reading of James and look forward to studying with you all!!!

  4. I am late starting this challenge as I just started yesterday and have encouraged others to join me.
    I have always tried to face trials and difficulties with strength – not my own, but His, knowing that this testing produces perseverance and helps develop a maturity of our faith (V2-4). It is so comforting to know that we can always go before the throne and seek God’s wisdom when we are lacking wisdom (V5). I find that wisdom is something that I pray for regularly, especially in the raising of my children but also in making life decisions as I want to follow His will for my life. This isn’t always as easy as it sounds as sometimes we have a plan and want to take our own course in life. Verses 9-11 are a good reminder that riches and position don’t mean much in God’s eyes and that God is God no matter what – He doesn’t change even though our situation may change. My biggest takeaway from James 1 was the promise found in verse 12, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” ~James 1:12
    Thanks for encouraging us to read James with you, Gwen!

  5. im in for the challenge, even though i am a little late- but God spoke to me greatly in james 1. than you gwen for your challenges, in your challenges it helping me grow closer to our amazing loving and all powerful Lord. =]

  6. Verse 6 reminds me that i must have a strong faith, be firm in believing that God hears and answers to my cry. He can lead me if I believe that He will give me His wisdom! Halleluja!

  7. I am a bit late in joining this study of James. But better late than never! It has come as a timely reminder to not let the struggles of my life over shadow the richness of the Lord’s blessings. I cannot change some circumstances but I do have a choice as to my attitude and the words I speak to others. I pray that they will be words of faith, perseverance, kindness and ‘pure joy’. The joy that only He can bring. Thankyou Gwen for your faithfulness in encouraging others.

  8. The book of James is one of the books in the bible, I see it as instructive and corrective in line with 2 Tim 3:16; we must be slow to speak, always listen and fight the spirit of anger that works wrath in our heart against one another. Secondly, temptations are not from God; they are traps set like spider web for everyone. But, we can by His grace not become the creators of our own temptation by being drawn through lust. In times when I have had to pray for wisdom and direction, even in writing my Masters thesis. I prayed to God for wisdom on what to write and how to go about it, and He answered me and gave me extra ordinary wisdom and i got distinction. Even in family relationships, we need wisdom. The fist chapter of James is too loaded!

  9. I am in!

    I have been wanting to do a Bible study for quite some time now but the ones my church does are so in depth (not a bad thing, of course) that between both jobs and full time school, I find myself really struggling to get the readings and homework done. I came across your FB page a few days ago because I have been trying to “like” as many Christian based pages as possible so the my news feed is nothing but positive and encouraging words. When I saw the post about your week in the book of James, I thought, “Why not?”. I want to get back to reading my bible more regularly and not be one of those people who speak it but don’t live it.

    There are two things that really stood out to me in this chapter. The first being walking the walk and not just talking about it – Something I think most
    of us struggle with on a regular basis because we do let society get in
    the way.

    When I was a teenager, I always felt full of the Holy Spirit. As an adult, I kind of shoved my faith into the back of my mind and though I knew what I was supposed to do, I obviously was not living it and ignored the guilt that came along with not living it. 12 years later, I am still struggling to have that feeling back. I know He has never left me and I know I have let Him and myself down but I know He loves me no matter what and I can always return to Him. It was not until December 2012 that I really started trying to focus on His word again. I was still letting life and societal standards get in my way but thanks to a Muslim friend who was trying to convert me, I turned back to my bible. I learned a lot from him and it’s the one time that I think God would be proud of my stubbornness because I “fought” back with him and tried to teach him what I knew rather than succumbing to what he knew, which I wholeheartedly believed to be the wrong path. Even though I don’t always feel it, I knew God was working in me…he brought that friend into my life for a reason; to not only help me get back on track, but to bring his lost child to know Him as well. God used my stubbornness to witness to my friend and at least to plant that seed of doubt in his mind. I don’t know if he will ever come to know the Lord like I have in my life but I also know that my work with him is done for now and it is now up to him to continue finding the right path. He is not currently in my life because I felt he was dragging me down the wrong road and after praying about it, I cut him out of my life; though, I still pray for him often.

    The second thing that stood out was about standing your trials – I have been facing one HUGE trial my entire life. Mostly because of some emotional baggage and not knowing how to deal with it as a child, I became a food addict. Instead of turning to God, I turned to junk food and as a result, I am now morbidly obese…Praise be to God that I do not currently have all of the side effects of bad health that come along with it. Part of my bad eating had to do with my parents not knowing what healthy eating truly was, but I don’t blame them…they did the best they knew how…I am the one who let things go too far. I have since dealt with the emotional baggage and am now fighting the addiction itself. After years of yo-yo dieting and failing, I was ready to just give up completely and continue to live the rest of my life in a body that was not meant for me. Then my uncle went and had weight loss surgery done and since then, he has been a true inspiration to me. He has worked SO hard over the past 2 years with the help of his faith and this tool provided to him by way of surgery, and it has certainly paid off! He is healthier and looks better than he has since he was in high school. I am now in the process of going through it myself. I don’t have insurance to cover the cost but thanks to my support system, I don’t have much to come out of pocket to have it done. I know that if it is God’s will, I will have my surgery date and be on my way to a healthier life.

    We face trials all the time and often times, we fail. But we have to remember not to lose hope or faith. Yes, we are being tested and yes, with HIM and the people He brings into our lives we can get through it! We just have to open our eyes and see it for ourselves and trust and have faith that He is working in us always.

    1. Jenna, your comments touched my heart and I’m so proud of you so hang in there and don’t give up! It’s great your back on the narrow path!!! God bless…

  10. I am in!

    I have been wanting to do a Bible study for quite some time now but the ones my church does are so in depth (not a bad thing, of course) that between both jobs and full time school, I find myself really struggling. I came across your FB page a few days ago and have been trying to “like” as many Christian based pages as possible so the my news feed is nothing but positive and encouraging words. When I saw the post about your week in the book of James, I thought, “Why not?”. I want to get back to reading my bible more regularly and not be one of those people who speak it but don’t live it. When I was a teenager, I always felt full of the Holy Spirit. As an adult, I kind of shoved my faith into the back of my mind and though I knew what I was supposed to do, I obviously was not living it. 12 years later, I am still struggling to have that feeling back. I know He has never left me and I know I have let him and myself down. It was not until December 2012 that I really started trying to focus on His word again….then I let life and societal standards get to me again.

  11. Ok, I’m in. Just read chapter1. I was lovingly convicted through out.I’ve been a Christian for 30 years and still struggle with patience, doubt and my tongue. I’m so glad He loves me!

  12. I am really enjoying reading James with you! I started a few days ago after reading my daily GiG devotion and excepted the challenge than. I always thought of myself as a Christian however after reading James I see where I have not acted like one in many cases. I grew up Lutheran going to church every Sunday and attending the school associated with the church. I have gone through a teen pregnancy and than marriage divorce and such. Than God brought me my now husband this past July. My husband has a profound love for God and had this brought me closer to him and I consider myself a born again Christian and learning to walk in the ways of The Lord. James 1:3-4 fits so perfect for these last few months as I have felt tested in so many ways. Since really accepting God into my life my children have turned from me as well as friends and I have gone through various tests which have allowed me to grow in my faith as I put my trust in God and God alone. It has been difficult at times, but I truly believe him as he tells us in Jeremiah 4:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares The Lord, “plans to prosper and not to harm you, to give you a hope a future.” As I have allowed him, reluctantly at times, I must admit, to work him plans in me I have received his blessings. I do want to say I have come closer to God through your help as well and the GiG! I consider myself a Girlfriend in God as well! I want to thank you for helping people like myself become closer in our faith and knowing our father!

  13. I’m in for the challenge. I loved reading James 1 and many of the verses stood out to me, especially 1:19 -…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. I need to work hard to remember this and apply it to my life. Thank you for having this study and allowing me to participate.

  14. From Italy, I’m in sister!

    I am youth tutor and studied with my class the book of James before my second pregnancy. I took toxoplasmosis and had to face difficult times. The study I did before this experience totally changed my way of acting. I was not afraid, because God is in control! I left everything to Him and I repeated several times a day these verses: “2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” I thought impossible to consider pure joy facing a trial… Now I thanks God for the trial we passed through… During pregnancy it was not possible to know if my baby boy was OK or not but I did not care. I knew God would have given what we could handle, with His help. This gave me a peace and a confidence in God I did not know, so now I am sure God used this trial to increase my faith and I thanks Him so much! By the way, my little prince Luca (Luke) is a healthy and smart 15 months baby boy! Blessings, Sara

    1. So great to hear your story, Sara! Thanks for joining us in James and PRAISE GOD for the blessings of baby Luca! 🙂 15 months is such a fun age. All three of my kiddos are teenagers. 😉 A whole nother kind of fun…

      Blessings from North Carolina!
      Gwen

  15. Wow!! I needed that! The very first thing that popped out to me was testing of your faith. That sure has been happening a lot lately to me ive cried out and asked why and still felt empty and without answers…today God puts the book of James right in front of me and alll my questions feel like they were answered!! All along he was trying to speak to me…and it was all me i wasn’t listening just wanted to do it my way!! It reminds me of something …his power doesn’t rest in your strength it rests in your weakness!! Can’t wait to read James 2:)

    1. I feel the exact same way Jessica! Today I decided to get online and find a devotion to follow. This is the first one I came across, and you are right, it is as if God opened the bible to James for me. Thank you Gwen for having this open devotion available to us; I am really looking forward to reading more of the bible and growing in Christ!

      1. God bless you Morgan, so glad God is working in your life too hes so mighty and awesome I love how he ALWAYS knows what we need and at exactly the right time!! Praying for our growth in Christ:)

  16. Gwen, I love love love the book of James, there are times when I can’t even get past the first verse. James, a bondservant of God, and the Lord Jesus Christ. NKJV. Here is the brother of Jesus, could open his letter with that title or say he was the head of the church of Jerusalem, instead he chooses a very lowly title that of bondservant, and since he was writing to Jews, when they say the title, their minds would have probably gone to Exodus 21 where it talks about the Hebrew slave. The guide lines were you could keep for 6 years, but in the 7th year had to let go free. If the man came in with wife and or children, they went out free with him. If the master provided a wife, she and any children stayed with the master. Or verse 5 states “But if the servant plainly says, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free”. The master then takes the servant before the judge, puts the servant up against the doorpost and drives and awl through his ear, and he shall be a servant FOREVER!! NKJV This is the kind of bondservant I long to be. Thank you for the challenge to read James this week, I am getting a late start but there is no place I had rather be than in His Word!!

  17. I will be having a lifetime trial. It’s taken me almost six years to understand. I have a TBI. So how do I respond when there is gray matter where brain used to be? I cannot control emotions nor terror. Sing. Pray. Count blessings. Reach out to others. Weep to God. No professional. Christian nor professional, knows quite what to do with me. I’m just a complex case they say. It is the wound the world cannot see. So James is good to read for I’m feeling the burden I am to friends and family. Sorrow I cannot travel to be a support to my husband during a family funeral. So I read, Ask for wisdom.” My normal intelligence gone–but God promises to give it to me liberally. How to navigate this life which my ministry to others is done in the quietness of my home. Yes, God is not tempting me, but I’m reminded I am not told a God makes you perservere, it says I am to show effort to stay close to God, be kind to others, let Jesus show in my life, I have a choice…even now. Even in sickness, sorrows, inabilities…to praise God from whom my blessings pour. My reward? A crown to lay at Jesus’ feet!

    1. Yes! Yes! Yes! This is a beautiful testimony and an awesome display of the LORD at work in and through His people. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Keep moving forward in His grace and strength, friend. 🙂

      Gwen

    2. Praying for you Gwen. What a challenging time for you. I often wonder how people get through the many challenges this life brings, without God. He will uphold and comfort you in your times of need. others will be blessed because of your faithful witness to His goodness. Bless you and your family.

      1. Thank you so much for prayers. It’s just as I get to adjust to something something new requires ( that took brain power on how do I say all this??!) but I have to figure how to adjust to this new thing … and its hard on family too. But my injury makes me kind of feel like I’m still me and this is not real. At moments it hits. I haven’t driven for four years but officially I won’t drive again. And I cried. It went so fast. Zipping around to never going where I want when I desire… But just the finality made me cry and then say, at least I had a clean DMV driving record. No moving violations. No tickets. 🙂

  18. I was struggling with James 1:19. I have found many times that I am slow to listen and quick to speak. God was speaking exactly this to me this week. I have been I really working on to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. So blessed to be apart of this study of James

  19. I work with high school students all day and I am trying to count it all joy even when I feel disrespected, unappreciated, or when my students are inattentive. I have to constantly realize I am not doing this for me but for the Lord and I have to continue to do everything with gracious and loving attitude even when I don’t want to. I also pray daily to be slow to speak, quick to hear, and slow to anger.
    These are definitely things I will be working on.

  20. I’m in. Reading James 1:2: Whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it NOTHING but joy…. Wow, I need to work on that. But I’m encouraged that I can ask God for wisdom! What an awesome Father we have!

  21. I was so excited about reading James with you, I started last week! I came across your blog on “Anger” some how. Surely, the Lord directed me there. Anyway, after reading chapter 1 I realized how often I just “read” the words but don’t allow them to really transform me, like it says in Romans 12. Many times I am a hearer of the Word, but not a doer of the Word like it says in James 1:22. I am praying that as I read through James this week, I will be encouraged and see some much needed growth and change in my life.

  22. I’m in for the challenge. I enjoyed reading Chapter 1. My best part is Vs 19 where we are reminded to listen faster and be slow to speak and anger. For me this is one of my weakest point. Its my prayer to ask God for resistance when tempted as Gwen has put it above….am excited as we embark on the book of James….

  23. I’m in for the challenge, and I’m going to tell other people about it! Here in Pennsylvania, we had the first big thunderstorm of the season, and I love thunderstorms, because of God’s power that is displayed. I was thinking about that after the storm passed, and I thought, what would it be like if we had that same attitude of awe at God’s power and control of the situation in life’s storms. Then, I read James 1 and saw it through new eyes. Thank You, Jesus!

    1. I’m a total thunderstorm girl!!! Love them! I actually often sit on the porch as lightening illuminates the sky because it shakes me deep with the reminder of HIS strength. Surely HE is able…

  24. I’m in. James 1:12 has been one of my favorite Scriptures and I share it with friends who are in a particularly tough trial. God is SO good! How comforting are His words!

  25. Im in for the challenge. How does one not doubt, this is hard.
    It hit me on the way home from work that anything good that has come my way is because of Jesus. This is very humbling to see how much he has forgiven me and how much he loves me.
    I agree with LuAnn people make me tired too.

    1. Y’all are so awesome. Surely people make us all tired! ;0) About the doubt… Have you ever heard this? You can’t keep a bird from flying above your head, but you can keep it from building a nest!

      It’s natural to experience waves of doubt, but we can surely keep it from consuming us and taking up residence in our hearts.

      Blessings, Janny!
      gwen

  26. I’m in for the challenge!
    The first two verses alone is something to meditate on…also verses 19 & 22.
    These are great reminders that our faith needs to be Seen through our daily living; our actions be it towards our trials or others.

  27. I’m in for the challenge. How does one not doubt? Not so easy.
    Just hit me on the way home from work I’m no different than the worst, Very humbling to know all the good is because of Jesus. Because he loves us.
    Oh and I’m with LuAnn people make me tired also.

    1. Just replied to another friend with this: Y’all are so awesome. Surely people make us all tired! ;0) About the doubt… Have you ever heard this phrase? “You can’t keep a bird from flying above your head, but you can keep it from building a nest!”

      It’s natural to experience waves of doubt, but we can surely keep it from consuming us and taking up residence in our hearts.

      Because HE love us, indeed!
      Gwen

  28. I’m in for the challenge. Verse 12 is sticking out like a sore thumb to me. Perseverance. I have worked with a very manipulative, not nice woman for ten years. I pray everyday that she will one day encounter Jesus and accept Him as her Savior and it never happens. I share Jesus with her and nothing changes. She lives unto herself and cares nothing for anyone else there. I was feeling defeated, like what’s the point, and I read that scripture and remembered that we are to NOT give up. I really needed this shot in the arm. People make me tired somtimes.

  29. I ‘ m in for the challenge. Love James and what good reminders and admonishments. He promises “great joy” (v2), he gives wisdom, he never tempts us to do wrong (v13), he pours down good and perfect gifts (v17), and we, out of all creation, became his prized possesion (v18). Wow !

  30. I am in for the challenge.
    So many things jump out and challenge me in this chapter. Finding joy in any circumstance, being quick to listen and slow to speak (that one could use some work), and not merely listening to the word, but putting it into practice. I don’t know how many Sunday mornings I hear a great sermon and we sing and worship, and the very next day, I go to work and it is almost like I forget… I haven’t take the time to apply it to my life.
    So thankful for your ministry!

  31. I LOVE the book of James! So practical and he hits us head on. When I feel whiny and full of self pity, I look at James. He always puts me back on my feet and his inspired words give me the courage to be the servant I need to be. My “picked” verse for this chapter (this day…)lol, would be verses 4-8. I think of how many times in my life that I fall into the martyr trap, and when things don’t go my way how I throw the pity party and then make horrible decisions. It seems I persevere, and then get tired of “waiting”, losing faith, and then falling flat on my face. The beautiful thing is that God NEVER gives up on us and if we trust His grace and mercy, we WILL get the opportunity to get it right!

  32. James 1. There is an abundance of treasure in this chapter. I am pondering on the introduction. I James a slave to God and thw master Jesus Christ. Imagine being the Brother of Jesus. Growing up with him. Knowing there was “something different” about him. Then coming to a place of being a “slave” think on this in human terms. For 30 years Jesus was his Brother but in 3 years his “brother” transformed the world for eternity. Wow. Imagine he probably did brother things with Jesus growing up and played games all sorts of human stuff then to wrap your mind around that you played “hide and seek” or whatever wirh the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It blows me away that Jesus was a human child and little boy teenager and young man. Then for three short years changed everything for all eternity. Wow we serve a God that is so incredibly creative. I could probably mull over this one chapter for a month. God is alive and his word is beautiful. Thank you Father Abba for loving us so much that we can just spend hours marveling on your word. Give us more desire to do just that.

  33. I’m in for the challenge! Verse 17 is my reminder that our Father is light to us, unchanging, therefore totally trustworthy, to give us every good thing.

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