I am in a group on Thursdays that is studying the book of James. Our leaders took the book of James and printed the whole thing on four pages of 8 1/2 by 11 paper. They got rid of all the chapter and verse number that weren't there to begin with. We read it together as a letter not as a book. It was awesome.
Since we've found a million different ways to print the bible. I think someone should take all the books that are really letters and print them that way. It really invites you to sit and read it all in one setting. It helps with the issue of thinking about what is being said in the context of the whole letter.
Since reading this together, I've been thinking about a couple of phrases. The first is the truth that we are asked to patiently endure. We are to value perseverance.
Perseverance and I have love/hate relationship. I've been trained through my athletic and academic experiences to value perseverance. It has been easy for me to value persevering in those circumstances. Since I have always valued the end goal I have therefore been willing to do what it takes to get there. In large part this has been because of coaches, teachers, parents and their faith in me and their words of encouragement to me.
Perseverance as it relates to my walk of faith with God, well not so good some days. I often want something specific or tangible as my end goal. For instance take, trusting God as an example. I can look back ten years and say with confidence I trust God much more now than I did then. But what about six months ago or last week. My spiritual life is not as easily measured as other areas of my life. I am having to learn to be more accepting of that.
I find it easier when I make it a point to spend time with other believers. I need coaches, teachers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles to help me see what I can't easily see. So that I will embrace not just tolerate one more day of patiently enduring.
Thanks for all that you led James to write down in this letter. Thanks for all the believers you have used in my life to encourage me to patiently endure. Thank you for the encouragement you have given me through your Spirit. May we endure with joy. May you use me to encourage others as they patiently endure.