James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
9 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation,10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away.11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. (ESV)
Remember the hopelessness that God saves us out of
Find our peace from Christ
Text: Ephesians 2:8-16
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. (ESV)
13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem,14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened.15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad.18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him.21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning,23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive.24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther,29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them.30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together,34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. (ESV)
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing,15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you.20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.22 But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.23 I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me,24 and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.
25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need,26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill.27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious.29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men,30 for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me. (ESV)
27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. (ESV)
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (ESV)
As we approach the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the Wittenberg door, Pastor Randy Grossman of Grace BFC in Reading visits us to share about his experience in Europe touring the historical sites of the Protestant Reformation.