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Lessons from the Epistle of

By Ken Raggio

James - Servant Of The Lord Jesus Christ

James was the brother of Jesus Christ. He was also one of the twelve apostles. But when he addressed his letter to the twelve tribes, he made no mention of his blood-kinship to Christ or his high position as an apostle. He called himself, "a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ." It is a higher honor to be Jesus' servant than to be His fleshly kin. Take pleasure in being the Lord's servant.

James 1:1 - "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting."

The Trying Of Your Faith Worketh Patience

Paul said, "Tribulation worketh patience." Patience leads to experience, hope, and a shameless relationship with God. People often say, "Don't pray for patience! You will get tribulation!" Well? Do you NOT want patience? Do you prefer impatience, inexperience, hopelessness, and shame? Let patience have its perfect work. Rejoice when tribulation and temptation comes. That is the avenue to spiritual maturity.

James 1:2-4 - "Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."

Ask God For Wisdom

I can think of nothing more deficient or needful in this world than wisdom. The folly of men is wreaking havoc - widespread destruction - on society. Only the man or woman who goes to God in faith can hope to find wisdom to navigate the treacherous tides of modern life. God's wisdom far exceeds the wisdom of man. So don't just ask. Believe that you will have it.

James 1:5 - "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

Doubtful Prayers

Every request we make of God has to be made with genuine expectation that He will grant it. Prayer without faith is little more than a pointless monologue. If you want something from God, believe He will give it, or don't bother asking. God is infinitely capable and abundantly willing to grant our petitions.

James 1:6-7 - "...ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord."

Ask In Faith, Nothing Wavering

Doubtful prayers are wasted prayers. They have no potency. "For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord." If you have doubts, confront them and overcome them. "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief," Mark 9:24. Your flesh says, "It cannot happen." The Spirit of God says, "It can." Believe the Spirit. Double-mindedness will surely fail. "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.

James 1:8 - "A double minded man is unstable in all his ways."

Rejoice When Lowly Are Exalted, Rich Are Humbled

God often works in terms that are exactly the opposite of human understanding; i.e, the way up is down; the way to be exalted is to humble yourself. To become a master, you must become a servant. God uses foolish things to confound the wise, and weak things to confound the strong.

James 1:9-11 - "Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. also shall the rich man fade away in his ways."

Saints Will Wear The Crown Of Life

Paul told Timothy that there is a crown of righteousness laid up for all them that love His appearing, (2 Timothy 4:8). He called it "an incorruptible crown," (1 Corinthians 9:25). "When the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away," (1 Peter 5:4). White robes, and crowns of glory. James called it the crown of LIFE! Hallelujah!

James 1:12 - "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him."

Let No Man Say "I Am Tempted Of God"

God will never entice you to do evil, but He will allow Satan to entice you. You must endure whatever temptations (enticements). When you are tried (approved), you will receive the crown of life, "which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." God allowed Satan to tempt Job, knowing that Job would come forth as pure gold. Never accuse God of making you fail. He is working to purify you.

James 1:13 - "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man."

Lust Conceives Sin And Death

James dissected the process of sin. Lust conceives sin. This is not only true of sexual lust, but of every desire that is contrary to God's will for your life. Desire pulls you like a magnet into the sinful act. Temptation provides the opportunity that your desire was waiting for. Then, the sinful act kills you. It poisons your righteous soul. Stop wanting wrong things!

James 1:14 - "Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."

The Father Of Lights

James admonished the saints to patiently endure temptations and tribulations, seek wisdom, have faith, and resist temptations, saying "Do not err, my beloved brethren." The preacher's greatest commodity is truth. Truth is light, and all light comes from God. His light totally envelopes us. It casts no shadow.

James 1:17-18 - "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."

Be Swift To Hear, Slow To Speak, Slow To Wrath

Some people talk incessantly, but will not listen. If you always talk and never listen, your thoughts will become self-obsessed, shallow and worthless. Listen carefully and attentively to the voice of God. Let His word affect you before you speak or pray. Hearing His voice will temper you, and diffuse inappropriate behavior or conversation, including anxieties, frustration and anger. Stop, look and listen to God.

James 1:19-20 - "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God."

The Engrafted Word Of God

Scientists are now learning to repair damaged and mutated DNA molecules, putting the broken helix back into a normative state. God's word can do that to wrong thinking. We have no idea how much sorrow we have brought upon ourselves by wrong thinking, but the Word of God is the cure. Graft the Word into broken thinking.

James 1:21-22 - "Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."

This Man Shall Be Blessed In His Deed

Go to the library or bookstore, and count all the self-help, motivational, personal development, life-enhancement books. It is impossible to know how many men and women have set down to write their formulas for a better life. One problem. Nobody can guarantee their results. "It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps," Jeremiah 10:23. But if you DO what God's Word says, God PROMISES that you will be blessed.

James 1:22,25 - "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, ...a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed."

Pure Religion Is To Keep Yourself Unspotted

Do your good deeds. We all owe a larger debt than we can pay, so give and do and be all that you can. But when you are through, remember to keep yourself pure from all the phony stuff out there. All your good deeds will not compensate for misrepresenting God with perverted religion or carnal, worldly living. Unspotted living means separated from, untainted by the world. Holy. Consecrated.

James 1:27 - "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."

Poor In This World, Yet Rich Heir Of Promised Kingdom

A beloved evangelist I once knew presented a powerful pantomime depicting a rich lady whose limousine passed a poor ditch-digger by the side of the road. She overheard him singing, "I'm a Child of a King!" so ordered her chauffer to stop while she foolishly ridiculed the poor man for his illogical claim. But He WAS richer than she; born of God by obeying the Gospel. Sing, Child of the King!

James 2:5 - "Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?"

The Rich Man And The Poor Man

Anybody can see that rich men generally get treated better than poor men. James called it, "respect of persons." A man wearing a gold ring and nice clothes is more likely to get preferential treatment than a poor man in ragged clothes. That is completely unjust. You cannot possibly know all the legitimate reasons why a man may have been reduced to poverty, neither can you know what crooked, dishonest tricks a man may have used to get his wealth. Any judgment, good or bad, is uninformed and inaccurate.

James 2:9 - "If ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin."

He Shall Have Judgment Without Mercy

It made no difference how perfectly a man kept the commandments of the law, because if he failed in only ONE point, he was immediately condemned. "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." Every man fails by that standard. Amazingly, God offers MERCY and pardon that we may escape His dreadful judgments by obeying the Gospel. Nevertheless, as a righteous judge, He must and will judge everyone who ignores the Gospel.

James 2:13 - "He shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment."

The Complete Act - Faith + Works

You need the right programming. You need the right beliefs. You need the right thoughts, the right feelings, and the right intentions. But unless and until you ACT, nothing happens. The complete act is the single biggest component of living by faith. God did not simply think about saving us. He actually came down from heaven, robed Himself in flesh, and finished the work. You must ACT on what you believe!

James 2:17;24 - "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. ...Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."

Faith Without Works Is Dead

Faith is not a mere state of mind. If you have faith in God, you must act in full support of what you believe. If you cannot act accordingly, you do not truly believe.

James 2:20-24 - "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? ...Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."

Abraham And Rahab - Both Justified By Works

"Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac?" "Was not Rahab the harlot justified by works when she had received the messengers?" "Faith without works is dead." What is faith, if you won't take your Isaac to the altar? What is faith, if you will not renounce your own, and join the people of God (as Rahab)? Faith is not a state of mind. It is a life lived according to the dictates of the Spirit.

James 2:24 - "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."

Do Not Speak As An Authority While Unqualified

By saying, "be not many masters," Paul intended to discourage some from inappropriately assuming the role of rabbi (teacher). A teacher is held to a higher standard than others. "We shall receive the greater condemnation (more stringent judgment)." A teacher's words are judged more seriously. Words often and easily offend others. Not many acquire the mastery of words. It is an exceptional achievement, attained by the most mature.

James 3:2 - "For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body."

Blessing And Cursing With The Tongue

A bridle can control a horse. A rudder can control a ship. All kind of wild beasts have been controlled by men. But what can control a tongue? Although it is a little member, it can set the world on fire. "The tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men." We must enslave our tongues to the Spirit and Word of God.

James 3:10 - "Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be."

Two Fountains

A Christian has two fountains. His old nature (the carnal mind) will forever flow with bitter, salty water. His new fountain (the Holy Ghost) will forever flow with purity, peace, gentleness and mercy. The greatest challenge of life is to crucify the flesh, mortify the carnal mind, and walk in the Spirit. It is not easy, but it can and must be done.

James 3:11-12 - "Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh."

Wisdom Of The Flesh Versus Wisdom Of The Spirit

"Who is a wise man?" That question can only be answered after you define what true wisdom is. We call men wise who know nothing of the Spirit. We misjudge. Only a man who knows and understands the things of the Spirit of God can possess true wisdom. An ungodly man, no matter how wise, is unwise.

James 3:15,17 - "This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. ...But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy."

You Have Not Because You Ask Not, Or Ask Amiss

When a generation such as ours craves the things that are not of God, but of the world, the flesh, and the devil, prayers fail. You may be praying, but if you are praying for the wrong things, it is the same as not asking. If you ask "amiss" (improperly), you will "receive not." Ask properly!

James 4:2-3 - "Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts."

Praying for the Wrong Thing

We get pretty cranky with God because He doesn't answer prayers like we want Him to. We pray for things, and then complain if we don't get them. God is not likely to give you what you want if it doesn't fit His plans for your life. [If He does, you'll be sorry.] You would do better to thank Him for using His divine discretion and count your blessings.

James 4:3 - "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts."

The World - Hostile Enemy Of God

"Friendship with THE WORLD is enmity [hostility] with God." For example, in many prisons today, riotous gangs rule. Membership in one gang instantly makes one an enemy of the other. Prisoners are often forced into one gang or the other. Now, if you take sides with God, the world is hostile to you. If you are a friend of the world, you are hostile to God.

James 4:4 - "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."

Draw Nigh To God, And He Will Draw Nigh To You

Every Christian faces daily conflicts with the world, the flesh, and the devil. "The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy." Or, "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh," Galatians 5:17. But into this wearisome dilemma, "He giveth more grace. ...God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble."

James 4:7-8 - "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded."

Stop Laughing. Start Weeping.

Stop laughing, and get serious about making prayerful intercession for those who are bound by sin and Satan. Why do we require constant comedy and entertainment? Why must everything be funny? The ancients showed us that it is WEEPING between the porch and the altar that leads to revival. God blesses those who "sigh and cry" for the abominations of the people (Ezekiel 9:4).

James 4:9-10 - "Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up."

Ye Know Not What Shall Be On The Morrow

David said, "Thou art my God. My times are in thy hand." We have no real power over our destiny or our future. Our times are in the hands of God. Don't live for tomorrow. Live for God.

James 4:13-14 - "Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."

Say, "If The Lord Will..."

I hear Christians borrow the world's mantra, "If it is to be, it's up to me!" Wrong! It is NOT up to you. It is up to God. The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord (Psalm 37:23). If you seek truth, righteousness and holiness, God will guide you on a different path than you would have otherwise chosen. Even Jesus said, "Not MY will, but THINE!"

James 4:15-16 - "Ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil."

Prophetic Destiny Is Partly Revealed, Partly Hidden

Divine destiny is an enigma. When great men of God first received the call of God, they received a LIMITED revelation of what they were supposed to be. Moses was sent to Pharaoh. Samuel was sent to Eli. David was anointed to be the King. Peter was sent to the Jews. Paul was sent to the Gentiles. But on a daily basis, they had to seek the will of God.

James 4:15-16 - "Ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil."

Grace Versus Works

For 2,000 years, men have debated "grace" versus "works" in the salvation plan. Some love to accuse others of preaching salvation by works, while others hurl insinuations of "free grace" or "cheap grace." In the end, works cannot save us, but we cannot be saved without them. Faith without works is dead. You can't buy your salvation, but you can't get it free, either. Grace or not, God still wants us to live right.

James 4:17: "To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice."

Weep And Howl, Ye Rich Men

Modern Christianity has taken sides with the wealthy, ignoring every Biblical condemnation of the pursuit of wealth. Vast "ministries" are lucrative success/motivation/prosperity movements with a few scriptures interspersed. It is a perverse gospel. Neither Jesus nor his disciples were wealthy. The love of money is the root of all evil.

James 5:1-2 - "Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you."

The Rich Will Be Judged Calamitously In The Last Days

Rationalizing will not change the truth that God hates your love of money as much as adultery, fornication or any other major sin. If you are obsessed with increasing your wealth, repent before you are destroyed.

James 5:1-3 - "Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days."

God Hears The Cries Of The Oppressed

God hears the cries of those who have been victimized by evil men. He will punish those who defraud and oppress the weak. God promises to avenge the righteous.

James 5:4-6 - "The hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. ...Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, ...Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you. ...Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord."

The Husbandman Waits For Former And Latter Rains

From October until December is a rainy season in Israel that waters the newly planted crops. Rains in March and April usually finish the crops for harvest. God promised a former and latter rain upon the earth. The early rain was the outpouring of Pentecost that established the first-century Church. The latter rain is the outpouring that began around the turn of the 20th Century, and continues to this day.

James 5:7 - "Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain."

The Judge - Standing At The Door

Jesus Christ, the Righteous Judge, is standing at the door, and will soon come to execute judgment on the earth. The righteous dead will be raised, and the living righteous will be raptured.

James 5:8-9,11-12 - "Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. ...and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. ...let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation."

Divine Destiny

In times of tragedy, it is difficult to see beyond the moment. Every stage of Job's trial must have seemed devastating. The loss of his cattle, death of his children, betrayal of his wife, agony of disease, torment of his friends, his humiliating self-defense, and finally facing God's harsh displeasure. But Job came forth as pure gold. God always knew he would.

James 5:11 - "We count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy."

Are You Merry? Sing Psalms!

Moses sang. Miriam sang. The children of Israel sang when God drowned their enemies in the Red Sea. When they needed water in the wilderness, they sang, and God gave them springs of water (Numbers 21:17). Deborah and Barak sang when God defeated their enemies under Sisera. All of his life, David sang and danced before the Lord. David is an unsurpassed source of praise and worship songs. 1 Chronicles 16 records his amazing songs when he brought the Ark to Jerusalem. There is an anointed song for any occasion. Sing it!

James 5:13 - "Is any merry? let him sing psalms."

Afflicted? Pray For Yourself. Sick? Call Church Elders.

An elderly saint I once pastored taught me a lesson about prayer. "Is any among you afflicted? let HIM pray." If you are experiencing affliction (hardship, troubles), pray for yourself. A sick person should call Church elders to pray for him.

James 5:14-15 - "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him."

Pray Over The Sick, Anointing Him With Oil

The original holy anointing oil was applied to the Tabernacle priests and furnishings. Prophets anointed the Kings of Israel. Anointing oil designates the blessing of God upon an individual. Jesus was the "Anointed One" of God, (Messiah, High Priest, and King). Now, by the grace of Jesus Christ, we may be anointed to invoke the blessing of God.

James 5:14-15 - " for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up."

Praying In The Spirit

I was called to pray for a lady who was bedfast for weeks, both legs entirely covered with agonizing shingles. Two sisters attended her day and night. I went in, anointed her with oil, and laid hands on her to pray. I prayed in the Spirit for about twenty minutes. First thing the next morning her sisters called to say, "We have been up all night watching these scabs fall off her legs!" God healed her completely overnight.

James 5:14 - "...pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord."

The Prayer Of Faith

Do you know what the prayer of faith is? It certainly is NOT doubting prayer! When, from your heart of hearts, you genuinely cast your cares upon Him, expecting His intervention, all the healing balm of heaven comes to save and heal. The prayer of faith elicits amazing responses from God. Every time Jesus discerned great faith in someone, a great miracle occurred. Nothing excites Him more. Pray the prayer of faith.

James 5:15 - "The prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him."

Confess Your Faults To Other Believers

Paul said, "CONFESS your faults one to another." The Greek root word had been used variously. "they ...CONFESSED, and showed their deeds," "every tongue shall CONFESS to God," "I will CONFESS to Thee among the Gentiles," "every tongue should CONFESS that Jesus Christ is Lord," "I will CONFESS his name before My Father..." You can confess without publicizing the gory details (providing fodder for gossips, critics and enemies). CONFESS that you have sinned, repent, pray with your friends, and be healed.

James 5:16 - "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed."

Effectual Prayer

Effective prayer produces the intended result. So how does it work? A hammer rarely drives a nail in a single blow. We must strike at the need again and again until prayer works its miracle. The Syrophenician woman asked Jesus to heal her daughter. Because His ministry was to Israel, and she was a Gentile, He refused her request. But she argued with God and won! She impressed Him with her great faith, so He healed her daughter. Strike another blow with prayer!

James 5:16 - "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

A Man Of Like Passions Prayed, And God Answered

"The Prophet of Fire" called a great drought, called down fire on 400 prophets of Baal, then prayed for rain that ended it. Elijah even raised the dead. Nevertheless, every man of passion has the same potential by faith. Pray earnestly. Pray again. Watch God work.

James 5:17-18 - "Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit."

If At First You Don't Succeed, Pray Again

Ahab's kingdom was under severe drought for 42-months, cursed by Elijah the prophet. Then Elijah called for a meeting with 400 of Jezebel's false prophets. He called down fire from heaven, destroying them all. Then he announced that rain would begin again. But the rains did not immediately begin. He prayed seven times, sending his servant out each time to look. The great prophet had to pray again. You seldom drive a nail in one blow. Strike another blow. Pray again!

James 5:18 - "And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit."

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