James 2:1-13 {Week 5}

 1 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

We all do it.  If we’re honest, if we search our hearts enough, we’ll see ways we show partiality.  We don’t want to believe it about ourselves, but we make judgments about others based on outward appearance, social status, or race.  James 2 is a strong admonition to show no partiality, to love and care for the poor, and to see God’s mercy in our own lives to be able to give it away to others.

Watch this week’s video here:


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/205607704″>Women's Equipping Week 5</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/twcc”>The Well Community Church</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

James 1:19-27 {Week 4}

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.  (James 1:19-27)

The last part of James 1 shows us we are called to 3 three things as Christians: 1) bridling our tongues, 2) caring for widows and orphans, and 3) keeping oneself unstained from the world.  This week, Molly DeFrank walks us through what it means to be doers of the word, not just hearers.  Watch her message below.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/203159507″>Women's Equipping Week 4</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/twcc”>The Well Community Church</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

James 1:13-18 {Week 3}

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (James 1:13-18)

With every trial comes temptation.  When we don’t “consider it all joy when we face trials of various kinds”, we will fall into temptation.  A temptation to follow our own desires, rather than trust God and follow Him.

Watch the video below to discover:

  1. The cycle of temptation
  2. The deception of temptation
  3. The remedy for temptation


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/202113663″>Women’s Equipping Week 3</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/twcc”>The Well Community Church</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

James 1:2-12 {Week 2}

Why does God allow suffering?

That big theological question we’ve all wrestled with.  This week in our study of James, we’ll begin to build a theology of suffering.  We’ll see James tell us in our suffering we’re not to run from our trials, we’re not to try and get out of trials, we’re to “Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds.” (James 1:2)

Douglas Moo says, “The difficulties that inevitably afflict believers have the purpose of deepening commitment to God in Christ.”

Suffering has a different purpose for the Christian.  Suffering produces perseverance and perseverance is the path to spiritual maturity.

Watch this week’s message here:


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/201237637″>Women's Equipping Week 2</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/twcc”>The Well Community Church</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

James: Intro {Week 1}

This semester for our Women’s Equipping Class at The Well we will be studying the book of James.  For 10 weeks, we will study this book verse-by-verse and gather for a teaching time followed by small group discussion.  You can download the workbook here (written by Jen Wilkin) or join the class by signing up here.  Each week, we’ll post the live teaching from women of The Well on my blog.

Before we start studying this book, let’s get to know James just a little bit.

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:  Greetings. (James 1:1)

Watch the intro video below to understand a bit of the background of this letter and answer these 5 questions:

  1. Who wrote the book of James?
  2. When was it written?
  3. To whom was it written?
  4. In what style was it written?
  5. What are the central themes of the letter?


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/200405551″>Women's Equipping Week 1 – 1/20/17</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/twcc”>The Well Community Church</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

One Word: 2017

joy

For the past month, I’ve been up early nearly every morning, quietly reflecting, praying, thinking, reading about this past year and sitting in anticipation for what’s next. I’ve been looking back to remember God’s faithfulness and His closeness through this year. A few of us have made a practice of choosing one word for the year.

My word for 2016 was: with.

I wanted to focus on being with Jesus. I started this year with so much margin, needing time to rest and catch my breath after 2 years of intense ministry and seminary, and my soul craved slow, quiet, time with Jesus.

Immanuel, God with us.

I ended the year after a season of studying, writing, and teaching through Philippians in the midst of infertility treatments, hormone swings, the ups and downs of grief and failed treatments, and this time my soul needed Immanuel, God with us . . . with me.

I made it my aim to keep the main thing, the main thing: being with Jesus.

As the year ends, I’m thinking about what’s next. What will 2017 be about? I have dreams and goals, ideas and plans, of course. But how will I live on purpose this next year? How do I, as Jess Connolly said, “work from rest, instead of rest from work”? I want to stay living close to Jesus, with Him in work and rest, with Him through joy and suffering, with His yoke that is easy, His burden that is light. I want to know His unforced rhythms of grace.

I kept thinking about that word surrender. I want to live surrendered. Seems like after this last season of life, I have nothing left to do but surrender. I started to lean toward that word, making it my aim in 2017 until I realized, I wanted more. I wanted to live surrendered, but I also wanted to live beyond surrender. I wanted the life and life abundant, and I want it now! I know, I’m a greedy little taker.

Because the God I know promises us freedom is found in surrender, yes, but He also promises us abundance, hope, and JOY. We will not be free from suffering this side of heaven, so I wanted to learn how to live with JOY in the midst of suffering.

I studied Philippians for a good portion of 2016, and I found JOY in the midst of suffering. The apostle Paul and Jesus, two men who experienced more suffering on earth than most, and both had JOY. JOY didn’t come after the trial, it didn’t come when circumstances changed or the suffering lifted. It came right there in the midst of suffering. . . because true JOY is found in the presence of Christ.

JOY is found in surrender, in abiding, in delighting, in being with Christ.

I want that. More than anything I want a closeness and a fellowship with Jesus like never before. I want to sit with the Holy Spirit and be comforted and empowered to walk in His strength. I want to know the love of the Father in the deepest way.

I want JOY! And I know where to find it.

As I’ve moved on from Philippians, a study we titled “Joy in All Things”, and moved right into James, guess what I found?

Joy . . . and . . . suffering.

Right there, from the very beginning, another author telling us how to find joy—to consider it all joy, when we’re in trials.

There’s a mingling of suffering and joy, side by side, they dance together. So if we surrender to knowing we won’t escape suffering, than we can also surrender to knowing we’ll find JOY, right there in the midst. Joy in the presence of Jesus.

That’s what I want 2017 to be about.

 

 

 

Surrender & Trust through Infertility

james

We declared 2016 to be the year of the baby. With all of our hopes, prayers, and efforts, we were determined that this would be the year we celebrate an addition to our family. After a two-year break from meds and appointments, we decided it was time to go back to the fertility doctor. We had more tests done, surgery, three rounds of intense hormone treatments, three IUI’s, more waiting, and last week we found out our final treatment of the year failed.

2016 went by and we have no baby.

We were stunned, shocked, confused, sad, frustrated, and stuck. We’re stuck with what’s next for us. Where do we go from here? More doctors? Foster/adopt? IVF? Nothing? Move to a far away land and hide from everything? We aren’t sure. We don’t know what the LORD has for us, for our family, for our lives. The only thing I can come back to is . . .

Surrender

There is really not much more we can do right now than surrender. We have been married over 10 years, actively trying to conceive for 6-7 (I don’t know, I lost count), 3 surgeries, multiple rounds of treatments, lots of waiting, checking the calendar, hoping, dreaming, and nothing. While it’s easy for others to suggest how to “fix” our circumstance by just doing IVF or adopting, there is an entire aspect of grief that we need to work through to get there.

Infertility is complicated. It’s not just that “easy”. Grief through this journey complicates it all. We don’t know what God is doing and what He wants for our lives. We’re not ready to move forward with other decisions to simply get out of this trial or change our circumstance.

And so, we wait.
We’ll wait, we’ll seek, we’ll pray, we’ll hope, we’ll listen, and we’ll trust.

Trusting through this process is so much more than trusting God to give us a baby. We’re trusting that whatever happens, baby or no baby, adopting or not, He is still a Good Good Father. There is much we can’t see this side of heaven and we don’t want to miss what He has planned for our lives by forcing our will and our desires over His.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

This fall was one of the hardest seasons of my life. Leading and teaching through Philippians, having to stand up the morning after a failed treatment to preach the Gospel and proclaim Christ is enough, looking out to hundreds of women’s faces like a mirror to my own and declaring: Jesus is all we need.

Weeks later, to stand up after another failed treatment and teach on contentment. How nothing on this earth, no circumstance, no gift, no relationship, no remodeled kitchen, no Botox treatment, no perfect body, no bank account large enough will bring lasting joy and contentment. Only Jesus.

As hard as that place of obedience and surrender was this past fall, I meant every word.

Only Jesus.
He is all we need.
In Him, we are content.

There is no way to endure suffering, pain, disappointment, confusion, and grief apart from Him.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” Philippians 4:11

As we close this year, with no baby, an empty womb and an emptiness in our arms, I can honestly say I have learned to be content. I’m closing this year with an incredible closeness to the Father. Nearly every morning during advent, He has woken me up early in the morning, long before an alarm just to be with Him.

My word for 2016 was . . . with. All I wanted this year was to be with Jesus. And although we have no baby, the Lord has given me exactly what I asked for, what I longed for, what I wanted and needed most this year:

Immanuel . . . God with us.