Encounter: Slowly read through and meditate on James 1:19-27. Read through in two different translations. The Passion Translation, NIV or The New Living Translation are a good place to start.
I remember as a child coming home from school and hearing the rattling sound of Mom’s pressure cooker as she prepared her tasty cubed steak or a roast for dinner. It was a fascinating contraption I was always a little fearful of so I would keep my distance. Mom taught me that I didn’t have to be afraid because the pressure gauge on top helped to allow just enough steam to escape to ultimately keep the cooker from exploding when the pressure was building due to the high heat. The gauge kept things safe so that the pressure could do its work. I had nothing to fear.
We live in a pressurized environment. Every day we experience what it is to live in a broken world. Whether it’s an argument with a spouse, expectations at work and home, our children getting under our skin, or a major pandemic, pressure can build and if we are not careful, what’s inside can explode and end up causing damage or even wounding those around us.
James reminds us that when things heat up our faith is under pressure and what comes out of us will either show our faith has the power to change us or its just empty religion. We reflect what is within us through our words and actions, there is no stopping it from happening.
But God is again giving us what we need when our faith is under pressure. Jesus says, I’ll be your pressure gauge. James tells us, …we absorb God’s Word, which has been implanted within our nature, for the Word of Life has power to continually deliver us (James 1:21b).” Jesus knows how to regulate the pressure so it can do its work. But we have to remain connected to our gauge.
Through listening, responding and living out the Word of life, God’s presence within us has the power to continually deliver us from situations that could blow up. So be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger and remember who you are, your divine origin (v.24) That's faithful obedience in the same direction.
Faithfully with you,
Reflect: Think about the past couple of weeks. Were there situations when your faith was under pressure? When did you guard your words and actions allowing Jesus to be your pressure gauge and when was it more difficult? Journal your thoughts and reimagine what you could have done to reflect who you are as a daughter or son of God.
Encourage: Is there someone you need to go to and repair any damage that has been done by your words? Write them a letter, give them a call or meet them for coffee and apologize sharing with them your commitment to living out a faithful obedience in the same direction.
Gather: In your life group, triad or with a friend discuss James statement, “True spirituality that is pure in the eyes of our Father God is to make a difference in the lives of the orphans, and widows in their troubles, and to refuse to be corrupted by the world’s values.” Think about what are the world’s values and what are the values that Jesus reflects. Pray for one another that you will be doers of the word and not hearers only so you be expressions of God’s values.