James 1 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you now that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt. . .
This whole first chapter of James speaks volumes. It begins by pointing to our attitude in the midst of trials--joy! Wait a minute!!! Yes, joy! And why joy? We must look beyond our circumstances and look to God. He is our joy because in Him we know that we can find the victory we need! And we know that God is working in us as we are facing these trials.
As we continue to look at this chapter, we find the source of these trials. When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Our own evil desires bring us into trials. But we have been given victory in that God has planted His Word in us to overcome any trial. James goes on to say to us, Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. And he further shows us what accepting that word looks like when he tells us, Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
Yes, we are a new creation in Christ. And this new creation life is in us. And when we receive Jesus, we receive the grace to go all the way with Him, to reach heaven. We are fully saved the moment we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. But it is also a progressive work. We receive the power to become the children of God. We are told to renew our minds to the word of God, the life of God. And the more we yield to this new life, the more this life becomes real in us. The very concept of salvation bears in mind that we have readily available the rope with which we can be pulled from the sinking quicksand that would like to devour us, that is opposed to our freedom in Christ. The first step always is to recognize our need, humility. Our dependence on God is at the root of our overcoming. Those of you my age might remember the "Perils of Pauline," tied to the railroad track, "Help! Help!" And then, help is on the way! Mighty Mouse has come to save the day! She is set free! Well, Jesus Christ is greater than Mighty Mouse. Mighty Mouse is a make-believe fictional cartoon. Jesus is the real thing. He is our Savior and Lord.
Recently we saw the horrific death of those aboard a duck boat. They were told they didn't need their life preservers. As they raised the sunken vessel, the life preservers still hung from the roof of the boat. Life is stormy. We need our Life Preserver! Don't do anything without Him! The Word of God is not something to just sit on the coffee table or beside the bed. It is life to us! I need it! I need Him! How about you?