When I heard that Beth Moore’s newest study was called James: Mercy Triumphs, I couldn’t wait to find a study nearby and sign up!
James is my favorite book of the Bible because it was James who introduced me to his big brother, Jesus.
I grew up going to church. So I knew about Jesus, believed in Jesus, and even prayed to Jesus. But I had never met Jesus, the Person, until James introduced us.
At age 17, I went to summer camp. After one of the morning sessions, the speaker asked us to spend the next 20 minutes reading our Bible alone.
I meandered a bit until I found a path that led me straight uphill. After hiking to the top, I discovered a grassy meadow. There, I knelt at a log to read my Bible.
The extent of my Bible knowledge was pretty basic. I knew there was an Old part and a New part. So I decided to start with the new stuff.
I looked up the Table of Contents and found Matthew. Unfortunately, chapter one begins with a genealogy, which is beyond boring. So I skipped it and moved on to chapter two, which happens to be the story of Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus. Good stuff.
But then I read about Herod, who was so afraid of what the three wise men told him that he had all the boys under the age of two murdered.
Somehow, whenever we have a Christmas pageant in December, we manage to leave that part out, because I had never heard this before.
Naturally, I found it disturbing. Thus, in less than five minutes, I found the Bible to be boring and depressing. I decided to dump Matthew.
I then turned a chunk of pages and ended up in “Gal-uh-tee-ins.”
Well, I didn’t know what a “Gal-uh-tee-in” was (Galatian), so I kept flipping. But then it’s more of the same: Ephesians … Philippians … Colossians. Again, nothing in English — until I came to Timothy. (But I knew a guy once named Timothy, and I didn’t like him very much. So I wasn’t interested in reading anything the first or second Timothy had to say.)
I kept turning pages until I got to James. Finally! Something normal that I recognize!
I began anew — then quickly came across these words:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you suffer…” (James 1:2).
Well, I quit reading right there. I mean, who does that?
This little 20-minute Bible-reading experiment wasn’t going well. I now thought the Bible was boring, depressing, and confusing. Still, I had a problem because I had a good 13 minutes to go, and I was running out of Bible. And I knew at least enough to know that I didn’t want to get all the way to Revelation.
So I decided to give James another chance, except I would skip chapter one. That’s when my eyes fell to James 2:19.
“You believe that there is one God. Good!
Even the demons believe in that — and shudder.”
I may not have known much about the Bible, but I knew about angels and demons. And the thought had never occurred to me that even the demons believe in God!
Then I thought about Herod. He must have believed what the wise men said about a coming Messiah as King or else he wouldn’t have had any reason to kill all those boys.
The demons believed. Herod, to some extent, believed. I believed.
I stopped right there and asked God to show me what it means to live for Him in such a way that it’s more than just believing about Him.
I continued reading the rest of James and kept on praying.
And Jesus met me there. On that mountaintop.
In the beginning, there wasn’t a preacher.
In the beginning, there wasn’t an altar call.
In the beginning, there wasn’t a mentor. Those came later.
In the beginning was the Word.
And the Word was with God.
And the Word was God (John 1:1).
And it was through His Word — through the book of James — that God called me into a relationship with Him.
That day on the mountaintop began my lifelong journey of studying His Word and spending time with Him.
Now, more than 20 years later, it is still a joy and a privilege to study His Word. I am so grateful for the opportunity to sit around a table each week with a group of amazing women to study this now-familiar book, James, through the lens of Beth Moore’s study. It has quickly become my favorite study yet.
Have you met Jesus, personally?
Are you part of a regular Bible study of some kind?
Can I pray for you?
Today, I am thankful . . .
153. for the call to study His Word
154. for the call to live His Word
155. for the call to share His Word
156. for humble beginnings
157. for challenging middles
158. for redeeming ends
159. for open meadows
160. for log altars
161. for mountaintop meetings