Thursday, December 20

Do not waver.

Candle Lighter:If you need wisdom...”
Response: “…ask our generous God.

Scripture: James 1:1-8

1 This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I am writing to the “twelve tribes”—Jewish believers scattered abroad.


2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

Reader: The word of the Lord.
Response: Thanks be to God.

Some thoughts:
Admittedly, this devotional is a tough one to write. We’re committed to drawing the material from the daily readings in FPCO’s “Year of the Book” as we read the entire Bible during the course of the year. We began reading the second week of January 2018 so we are coming to the end of the Bible in a couple of weeks. Today’s portion comes from the book of James, whose focus in on Christian ethics. Having said this,

you’ll recall Mary and Joseph had other children after the birth of Jesus. There were four more boys and several girls in their family.  Apparently Joseph had died by this time. I do wonder what it would have been like to have Jesus as an older brother growing up! He never did anything wrong! Think about it! James knew big brother Jesus from the time he was born. Jesus’ siblings did not believe in him as they grew up, even into adulthood. In fact, they thought he “lost it” and wanted him to come home and assume his responsibilities as the oldest son. (read John 7:3-5 and Mark 3:31-35) After the resurrection they came to believe in him. James, the writer of this book that bears his name, became a leader in the church at Jerusalem. He was eventually killed by the Jewish leaders. This book is one of the earliest in the New Testament being written in the late 40’s AD, maybe fifteen years or so after the resurrection. He was writing to Jewish Christians who were already being discriminated against economically and abused for their faith in Christ. One of the many things we could point out, is James’ challenge to believers to be undivided in their loyalty to the Lord. They were not to be double-minded. Like these early Christians, we live in a world which has compromised the truth. Could we be singularly focused these last few days before Christmas on the significance of the birth of the Savior? Can we reflect such without being a wet blanket on the joy of the season? Is there a way to help those around us grasp the wonder of what God has done? God chose to give birth to us by giving birth to his Son. “And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.” (1:18). Let’s commit to tell the great thing God has done beginning with his arrival that night so long ago, the night the cry of a baby pierced the universe and eternity was transformed for all of creation.

Music: “O Magnum Mysterium”    Ola Gjeilo Sofia Vokalensemble, Sergej Bolkhovets, violin       This is as beautiful and awe inspiring as any music you will hear this Christmas! Translation below:

O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.

God of wonder, all too often we are lost in words, words explaining, words describing, words reflecting, words defending, words complaining, words expressing, words, words, words. We’ve lost beauty, lost wonder, lost awe, lost reverence, lost mystery. Thank you for music that expresses your glory, for music that enables us to leave the common place and enter a different world, for music that inspires awe and mystery, for music that expresses reverence, for music that put simply, is beautiful. Thank you, Jesus, that we can enjoy the wonder of sound and music, your invention. We rejoice in the glory of what you’ve made. With this music we offer our praise to you this wondrous season. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Daniel Sharp

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