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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

James 1:17 – Receiving from God

James is engaged in a difficult project, which is to compose a letter of encouragement for suffering believers. How can he advise them to remain faithful in difficult times, in circumstances that may get worse before they get better? In such situations, many misconceptions can arise and wrong solutions can be suggested, as was the case with his readers who made wrong deductions about the trials they were enduring. So what does James say to them?

First, he reminds his readers that God gave gifts to them. James has already said that the Lord will give the good gift of wisdom to those who ask him for it (v. 5). Wisdom is a spiritual gift, but it is appropriate for us to recognise that God is the provider of many temporal gifts as well as spiritual ones. The range of temporal gifts is large and we can think of plenty at any time. It is good for us to remember that all the good things that have had, now have, and will have come from God.

Second, he reminds his readers who God is. He refers to God the Father as the Father of lights, which is a description of him as the Creator. So we are asked to think about what Genesis 1 says about God when he made the lights, which is a reference to the heavenly bodies. Think of the great power that brought them all into existence, the vast number of them. Genesis 1 describes them as gifts, that the eternal God gave them as lights to brighten the day and the night. Obviously these are wonderful gifts to have received.

God has not changed his mind regarding having given those gifts to his creatures. They still do what they did at the beginning. Every day and every night God has ensured that his gifts function and give light. The fact is, those great gifts are dependent on God’s power, because if he withdrew his power even for a second they would cease to work. But we can be sure that they will do what they have always done. James is reminding his readers of the great truth of the unchangeableness of God, which is a good topic to think about at any time.

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