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About-Him.Com Devotional 10-08-2011

Thoughts on the Book of James

  We are beginning a commentary on the book of James. There are four men named James mentioned in the New Testament. Three of them were followers of Jesus. They are James the son of Zebedee, an apostle - James the son of Alphaeus, also an apostle -  and James the brother of the Lord.  

Most Protestant scholars believe that the author of the book of James was indeed the brother of our Lord and the son of Joseph and Mary. Others in an effort to maintain the perpetual virginity of Mary the mother of Jesus, stress that the word “brother” can also mean a near relative, such as a cousin.  

Paul refers to James, the Lord’s brother, with whom he conferred after his conversion (Ac. 21:18).  Although not on an official list of the twelve  apostles, he certainly functioned as one and was considered the head of the apostolic council at Jerusalem. It was he who officially welcomed the gentiles into the Christian community (Ac. 15:13), and with whom the apostle Paul conferred after his dramatic conversion (Ac. 21:18).  

Some early church writers stated that he was a Nazerite, who had never bathed or shaved and had never had wine or strong drink. He was also known as the man with camel’s knees, due to the long hours that he spent on his knees in intercessory prayer, on behalf of Israel. Because of his reputation for piety, he was called James the Just.  

Even though James did not believe on Jesus until after His resurrection, it is evident that he was a devout follower of the law.  Jesus appeared to him after His resurrection (1 Co. 15:7). It is assumed that he is included among the Lord’s brethren, who were with Mary their mother, awaiting the descent of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:14).  

He addresses his epistle to the Jews who had been scattered abroad during three big dispersions. The Jewish Christians at that time continued to worship in the synagogues and were zealous to keep the law. They were content to be a sect within the Jewish church.  

In his opening salutation, James doesn’t trade on his relationship to the Lord or his rank within the church. He simply considers himself a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.  

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

What higher honor can we have in this life than to be a servant of God? Men today are experts of self promotion to the point of naming their ministries  after themselves. They anoint themselves with the titles of bishop, reverend, priest, prophet and apostle and demand to be served, rather than to serve. These attitudes are contrary to the teaching of Jesus.  

Mark 9:35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, [the same] shall be last of all, and servant of all.  

Mark10:44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.  

Matthew 6:2 Therefore when thou doest [thine] alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

In the Old Testament we read of two unnamed men who fearlessly delivered words of condemnation to men in high places without fear or flinching. One confronted King Jeroboam (1 Kings 13:1) and the other confronted Eli the High Priest of Israel (1 Sam. 2:27-35). Both men would probably have rather been doing something else, but as servants of  God, they fulfilled the task that had been given them and were content to simply be known as a man of God. What higher honor could we have? Men may not know our names and if they do, they will soon forget them. Our God knows our names and He never forgets.  

Hebrews 6:10 For God [is] not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.  

Nobody applauds the unnamed and unnoted Christian who  ministers to the homeless or to the aged in a nursing home. Nobody gets their name in lights by performing jail ministry, but God sees and will give these faithful servants an eternal reward.  

In Matthew 12;16-21 we read of Jesus performing many miracles and asking the multitudes to not advertise the fact. Matthew said that this was fulfillment of the prophesy of Isaiah 52 concerning Jesus as the Servant of the Lord. He would not strive or cry or cause His voice to be heard in the streets. Jesus didn’t have to promote Himself, He was anointed of the Spirit of God  (Isa. 11:2; Lu. 4:18-19) and God does His own promotion and advertising. The key is to be working under God’s anointing and not our own.  

I talked to a man today who assumed his first pastorate at the ripe old age of 65. The church was founded by his grandfather in 1930 and had dwindled down to almost nothing. Most of the  folks who were left were ailing and getting up in age. It seems that one after another of them was in the hospital. He has worked tirelessly to minister to all and has traveled a considerable distance to give a bible study to one family who was unable to get to the church. One problem after another, but the church is growing and being restored. His remark to me today was, ”I am learning that this pasturing thing is all about being a servant.”  

I won’t tell you his name, I’ll just call him a man of God.
Somebody Has Said
Every day you provide your bodies with good to keep them from failing. In the same way your good works should be the daily nourishment of your hearts. Your bodies are fed with food and your spirits with good works. You aren't to deny your soul, which is going to live forever, what you grant to your body, which is going to die. - Anonymous

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Don and Marie Spooner
About Him! Ministries

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