Happy October 1 Friends! I love the month of October. It always brings back fond memories of childhood. Growing up in Florida, October was that first month when we finally saw cooler temperatures on a consistent basis. Of course, with global warming, we are getting sporadic bursts of cool weather much further north, and where I grew up in Florida, they barely get two days of nice weather in the fall any more. October also brings the fun of Oktoberfest celebrations, and of course, the adventures of Halloween at the end of the month. And October is traditionally the month college football begins to gain steam, as teams move forward into conference battles. Most importantly, October moves us even closer to December, where us Christian warriors get to celebrate the birth of our King. And for you readers, October 1 brings us to the Epistles of James and Peter, which we begin below.
Above is the newest single released last week from the super talented Shane & Shane. These two, amazing men continue to put out album after album. They have quite the collection: entire albums pulled from Psalms, covers of popular worship songs, covers of Hymns, and beautiful Worship Initiative albums such as their current release. You could easily spend a day, cruising around the mountains of North Georgia, with the windows down, soaking in the fall colors and hearing the crooning words from this dynamic duo.
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. (James 1:2-8)
There is no book in the New Testament where I highlighted nearly every line like I did reading the Book of James. Most of this month will come from this book. It is perhaps my favorite Epistle there is because James makes a different argument about faith than what Paul believed. But let’s start this month off by talking about who James is, and why this letter is so important. In the Gospels, there are two James’ that were part of the original Twelve Disciples: James, son of Zebedee, and James, son of Alphaeus. But the author of this letter is neither of them. This letter comes from James, the half-brother of Jesus. This was the man who had grown up with his big brother being the Son of God.
I have often wondered how that childhood was. Did Jesus always have the healing powers and other miracles He performed as a kid? In Mark 3:21, Mark wrote: “When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’” The toughest followers for Jesus to convince of His true lineage was His own family. In John 7:5, John writes: “Even his brothers did not believe in him.” So how does Jesus’ own brother, who seemed to not believe in Him throughout His physical life, write one of the most important books of the New Testament? Jesus reportedly made a special visit to His brother according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:7: “Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.” If James had not been a believer even then, seeing his resurrected brother had to be the point where James completely believed Jesus was who He said He was. James is also very important because he became the first Bishop of the church in Jerusalem. James was a devout Jewish leader, which can be seen throughout his letter. So here was one of the most important leaders of the Jewish faith in Jerusalem who was pushing the Jews in Jerusalem to become converts to Christianity. Because of that, James would be martyred in his beloved city sometime not long after writing this epistle.
Reading plan: James 1:1-18
Deeper reading plan: Hosea 1
Prayer and meditation: Pray for our country. Pray for love to conquer all. Pray for peace and common sense to infect the minds of Americans. Pray for civility and calm and for Christians to be a beacon of hope and consistency for all those who may face increased anxiety in this coming month. Pray for revival that is permanent and world changing.
Fitness challenge: Day 31-31 reps of the following:
- Hand-release Push-up
- Jumping squat
- Leg lift
Distance run day. 5 miles at a nice comfortable pace.