Have you ever eaten a meal that was so good you didn’t want it to end, even when your stomach was past the point of being satisfied? Maybe you’ve asked for a take away box so you could savor it later and avoid that uncomfortably “beyond full” feeling.
For me, studying Beth Moore’s James: Mercy Triumphs has been a bit like eating my fill of an unforgettable meal and still wanting more. Packed with truth layered on top of truth, the book of James is going to take a while for me to digest. I predicted that studying it would change us, and in my life, it certainly has. As we wrap up our final week of study, let’s savor what we’ve learned. Let’s pack up the truths and take them with us after we answer the final question and write the last verse in our workbooks. Instead of having the study become a fond memory; let’s allow it to transform our lives so that we can be doers of the word, not just hearers.
In the final week of study, Beth Moore describes the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in AD 70. She says: “Yet before a single stone was thrown to the ground, a cornerstone was set in place. Upon it rolled one living stone after another so that, by the time the sanctuary built by human hands was destroyed, another constructed by God’s hand was under way…Look really closely with your minds eye…gaze further and further up that heap until you make it to the stack where the 21st century sets in place. See us? You and me? There we are, two living stones” (p. 204-205). All that we’ve been challenged to put into practice while studying James is making us living stones- a human temple used for God’s glory.
“You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone. The whole building, being put together by Him, grows into a holy sanctuary in the Lord. You also are being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22
As I think back on the last seven weeks of study, there are a few truths I’ll carry with me in my “to go” box:
–Not just hearing the word, but doing what it says: I pray God will continue showing me where and how to apply His word to daily life. Whether it is caring for the needy with compassion or seeking wisdom from heaven, I want to live out the things I’m learning more consistently.
–Taming my tongue: Since studying and writing about James 2, I’ve become more sensitive to the Holy Spirit prompting me to keep my tongue in check. I seem to fail daily, but continue striving to let my words be pleasing to God and positive and encouraging to others. I am much more cognizant about my conversation topics and what things would be better left unsaid.
–Submitting my long and short term plans to God: I spend a significant portion of time planning and thinking about the future. I am working hard to submit this to God daily. In the past few weeks several major disruptions to my schedule have given me a chance to put this into practice immediately. (God certainly has a sense of humor!) I’m learning to see interruptions to my schedule as divine appointments where He is giving me an opportunity to serve or bless someone else.
–Surrendering insecurity: Beth Moore hits me right between the eyes in her Session Five video when she says: “Insecurity is when your own mind turns on you.” I’ve been reminded that insecurity is just another form of self- absorption. When I’m consumed with myself and my perceived flaws and failings, I’m incapable of seeing beyond myself to impact others. My eyes are on myself, not Jesus. This is an ongoing area that needs to be surrendered in my life.
–Rejecting cynicism: In her Session Six video, Beth Moore addresses the perils of Christians who fall into cynicism. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a Bible teacher speak on this subject and it certainly struck a cord in me. The trap of cynicism has ensnared me for much of my life. It is convicting to hear it defined as “carnality that thinks it’s smart and that carries an air of superiority.” The idea that cynicism can be fueled by disappointment with people has also been a reality in my life. This is an area where I need to be on my guard and continually looking to Jesus to renew my mind.
How about you? What will you remember long after you’ve closed the James: Mercy Triumphs workbook and tucked it on your bookshelf? Look back through the lessons and write down the powerful truths you want to remember and apply to your life. What will you carry in your “take away” box as you move forward? Post a comment and let others hear what spoke to you from this powerful book.