Daily Devotionals

 
 
 

Our new James series has just begun on June 8.

We hope it touches your life. 

 

Week 4, Saturday, James 5:19-20

 “James”

by, Pastor Sunil Balasundaram

 

Scripture

Go to James 5:19-20

(Please read the passage before, or after, reading the devotion.)

NOTE: This is the last James devotion. Please look for an announcement for the next devotional series in our eNewsletter Connections and watch this space.

 

There are traces of Ezekiel’s call to be a watchman over his people here (Ezekiel 33:7-8). The mature follower of Christ has a serious responsibility for the spiritual welfare of others in the family (“brothers and sisters,” v.19). James is realistic about the possibility that anyone can lose their way; it can happen to me, and it can happen so subtly that I could have drifted far from Christ before I noticed it! That is when others in the church need to manifest their love by having the courage to “bring the sinner back” (v.20). We need to constantly remind each other of God’s grace (=undeserved love) in Jesus Christ that constantly gives us second chances – if we only turn back to Him. It will prevent the fallen believer from totally turning their back to God and choosing a life of self-destruction. And that same grace will once again be sufficient to bring forgiveness for the person’s sin.

 
Prayer

I wonder Lord, do I really care enough for those in my spiritual family? Do I care when one “falls away,” sins, messes up, grieves You, that I have the love and courage to remind them of Your love to turn them back to You? I know that some of this is subjective, that what I see as “sin” may not be what the other accepts as such. But if I am attentive to Your Spirit, and I love the other person, can I not show Your love and concern by my own gentleness, courage and vulnerability? Because the bigger question I can almost hear You ask is: “My child, if you do not care for your own sisters and brothers enough to be My Truth to them, why and how will you show My Love to those who don’t know me, even to those who scorn Me and cause you suffering?” I need you so much Lord Jesus, to make this happen in my life. Amen.

 

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Week 4, Friday, James 5:13

 “James”

by, Pastor Sunil Balasundaram
 
Scripture
 

Go to James 5:13

(Please read the passage before, or after, reading the devotion.)

 

James comes to an essential aspect in the “maturity and wholeness” in the life of a follower of Christ – prayer and praise: communing with God, conversing, listening, asking, being enthralled by the wonderful-ness of Him! Yes, there is suffering: Jeremiah faced opposition, Ezekiel personal grief, Hosea a broken marriage. There are also times of immense goodness and blessing. We can either be bitter because of the former, or become complacent with the latter. James reminds us that when we truly pray and praise, we are looking past the circumstances to a loving and all-powerful God whose relationship and will is central to our lives. In suffering prayer believes that God is still in control and His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). In blessing we praise and rejoice in the Giver of good gifts. [Check out Paul’s similar attitude in Philippians 4:12-13]

 
Prayer
 

How I yearn for that spirit of prayer and praise Lord. I want to make you Jesus, central in my life, so that every circumstance will be an opportunity to turn to you – whether I am hurting, or when I feel the fullness of Your blessing. I want to be able to pray like the Psalmist: “What else do I have in heaven but you? Since I have you, what else could I want on earth? …God…is all I ever need” (Psalm 73:25-26, GNT). Amen.

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Week 4, Thursday, James 5:13

“James”

by, Pastor Sunil Balasundaram
 
 
Scripture

 

Go to James 5:13

 (Please read the passage before, or after, reading the devotion.)

 

James comes to an essential aspect in the “maturity and wholeness” in the life of a follower of Christ – prayer and praise: communing with God, conversing, listening, asking, being enthralled by the wonderful-ness of Him! Yes, there is suffering: Jeremiah faced opposition, Ezekiel personal grief, Hosea a broken marriage. There are also times of immense goodness and blessing. We can either be bitter because of the former, or become complacent with the latter. James reminds us that when we truly pray and praise, we are looking past the circumstances to a loving and all-powerful God whose relationship and will is central to our lives. In suffering prayer believes that God is still in control and His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). In blessing we praise and rejoice in the Giver of good gifts. [Check out Paul’s similar attitude in Philippians 4:12-13]

 
Prayer

How I yearn for that spirit of prayer and praise Lord. I want to make you Jesus, central in my life, so that every circumstance will be an opportunity to turn to you – whether I am hurting, or when I feel the fullness of Your blessing. I want to be able to pray like the Psalmist: “What else do I have in heaven but you? Since I have you, what else could I want on earth? …God…is all I ever need” (Psalm 73:25-26, GNT). Amen.

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Week 4, Wednesday, James 5:7-12

“James”

by, Pastor Sunil Balasundaram
 

Scripture

Go to James 5:7-12

(Please read the passage before, or after, reading the devotion.)

 

Patience is one fruit of the Spirit that needs to be nurtured. It doesn’t happen overnight. This, too, is faith in action. James helps us understand it in two ways: one negatively and the other positively. The lack of patience shows up rather obviously in what we say, and how we say it. Grumbling and swearing come from an impatient spirit that is far from deliberate, is impulsive, and often judgmental. The result is that we end up falling under the judgement of God because of it. Positively, patience sees the second coming of Jesus as a reality. And an integral part of preparing for His coming is “watching and (constructively) waiting” (Luke 19:11-27). This waiting can include suffering, but the result is endurance, and a growth in compassion and mercy – just like Jesus!

 

Prayer

I want to be like You, Lord Jesus. As I wait for You to return and “make all things new,” teach me that an integral part of that waiting is growing that fruit of the Spirit of patience in me. Just as You never let anyone “get under Your skin” and never grumbled about anyone, fill me with Your love so that I too will be patient, and therefore gentle with those in need. May my waiting for Your return be a season of growing in endurance, compassion and mercy. Amen.
 

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Week 4, Tuesday, James 5:1-6

“James”

by, Pastor Sunil Balasundaram
 
Scripture
 

Go to James 5:1-6

(Please read the passage before, or after, reading the devotion.)

 

James can be brutally honest when he writes, but he does so just as Jesus did – in love. He moves to another delicate area where the follower of Christ needs to grow in maturity: in the way we relate to our possessions. He warns us that the more possessions we have, the more does the desire to own more creep into our lives. And it happens in four ways – we are tempted to hoard (vs.2-3), to be unjust and defraud the vulnerable (v.4), to indulge ourselves (v.5), to even betray those without fault only because they did not pander to our desires. Ultimately he is reinforcing what Jesus said: “No one can serve two masters…You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24). Maturity shows in what or who I choose to be my real treasure: what I possess…or the God who loves me and treasures me.

 
Prayer

Lord, it is so easy to be owned by my possessions, instead of it being the other way around. I justify it by calling it being worldly-wise, or financially savvy, or securing my future. But all it does is take my focus off You (the Giver) and direct it on to the possessions You give (the gifts). And without my realizing it I stop being generous, because all I am looking out for is myself. Possessions and wealth can be so blinding – but You warned me, haven’t You Jesus? Forgive me. I once again turn my eyes on You…Amen.

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Week 4, Monday, James 4:13-17

“James”

by, Pastor Sunil Balasundaram
 
 

Scripture

Go to James 4:13-17

(Please read the passage before, or after, reading the devotion.)

James shows me how wisdom and humility are so closely linked. Pride blocks God’s purpose (that His wisdom reveals) from becoming real in our lives. James is not saying that we shouldn’t plan for the future. What he is saying is that when I do all the planning for my future, I am living according to my purposes, and I am in control. And that is not God’s wisdom but an attitude of arrogance, and sinful. Humility reveals that God in His love has a purpose for my future. And when I live for that purpose I am doing the right thing, I am living a life that will not “vanish like a mist,” and I am living depending on God’s resources.

 
Prayer
Gracious God, how silly of me to think I can control my future. But the alternative of “no control” fills me with fear of the unknown. Forgive me for my pride that gives me the false security in my own human resources. And thank You for showing me that there is another alternative – that of faith and wisdom. I believe that You have a purpose for my life in Christ, and that I can depend on You to provide the means to fulfill it. All I need is to be obedient…and humble. Amen.
 

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Week 3, Saturday, James 4:11-12

 “James”

by, Pastor Sunil Balasundaram
 
Scripture
 

Go to James 4:11-12

(Please read the passage before, or after, reading the devotion.)
 

Reminder: There will be NO daily devotion tomorrow, Sunday. Hopefully most of you will join us through our Live Stream Worship and listen to God yourselves. Come with open hearts!

 

Remember what James’ prime concern in his letter is: that the follower of Christ be “mature and complete, lacking nothing” (1:4) by putting faith into action (2:14-26). Small things “derail” this goal. When we say things against our “neighbor” to bring them down rather than build them up, we are really acting superior to them, allowing pride to take control. It doesn’t matter even if what is said is true. If our intent is to bring the other down, we are putting ourselves in a position of being judges over them thereby negating God’s grace for us, breaking Jesus’ “royal law” (2:8), and not humbling ourselves. The question then is: what do we say that builds others up, therefore building ourselves in the process (2 Corinthians 13:10-11)?

 
Prayer
Forgive me Lord, it is so easy to criticize someone else’s failings, forgetting that is my past and present as well. It is so easy to slip from humbling myself to feeling superior to others with failings I don’t have. Remind me Jesus that each time I become a “judge” to others I not only break your “royal law” to love my neighbors as myself, I also end up loving you less. I want to be just like you. So teach me, help me how to only be a “builder of others.” Amen.
 

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Week 3, Friday, James 4:5-10

 “James”

by, Pastor Sunil Balasundaram
 
Scripture
 

Go to James 4:5-10

(Please read the passage before, or after, reading the devotion.)

 

And so we come to the only verse in James that actually uses the word “grace,” which is God’s undeserved, unlimited, unconditional love and favor, shown most completely in the person and work of Jesus Christ. James so desperately wants us to understand that there is really only one thing that we have to do to truly receive and experience the grace that God so generously gives. We need to humble ourselves. Humility is the one thing that God does not give us. Putting ourselves second (or last), considering the “other” better than myself, embracing an attitude of submission to someone more worthy than I – only I can do that; that’s part of God’s love gift of freedom that He has given us humans. It involves surrender, confession, tears, and a turning to God, and a yearning for Him. But the beauty is in the joy that comes after that – when He lifts us into His arms!

 
Prayer

I can call it by other names, O Lord, but I know that it is my pride that prevents me from fully experiencing Your gift of grace. You will never force me to see myself as I really am – broken, messed up, sinful, needy. But, I now recognize that only when I give up my hold on myself, that I can actually see myself through Your eyes – a child of Your love. As I draw nearer to You in humility, the devil flees, but so does my pride, my pain, my past (and all the sin it contained). And so, O Lamb of God, I come…Amen.

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Week 3, Thursday, James 4:1-5

 “James”

by, Pastor Sunil Balasundaram
 
Scripture
 

Go to James 4:1-5

(Please read the passage before, or after, reading the devotion.)

God created me and saved me not only to be His child, but His friend! And He takes our friendship seriously. Maybe that’s why anything that goes against that relationship sours up, because real friendship puts the relationship first, over myself. And, when I become self-oriented, self-centered, as the rest of the world wants and is, I end up acting against God and our friendship. God longs for me to yearn for what His will is, even as He wants what is best for me. Isn’t that what real friendship is?

 

Prayer

Wow! Almighty God, You want me to be Your friend? That’s why You made me, sent Jesus to die for me, gave Your Holy Spirit to be in me? How can I be so senseless to want the trivial things the world entices me with, when I have all of You? Forgive me Loving God. Open all my senses to experience what You have for me, that I may desire You and what You will with my entire being. Amen.
 

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Week 3, Wednesday, James 3:13-18

 “James”

by, Pastor Sunil Balasundaram
 
Scripture
 

Go to James 3:13-18

(Please read the passage before, or after, reading the devotion.)

 

A simple understanding of the word “righteousness” in the Bible is “to live in a right relationship with God.” This happens only by grace, when we trust in what Jesus has done for us on the cross, and depend on what the Holy Spirit does in and through our changed lives. This trusting and depending is at the heart of what James calls wisdom that comes from above. Wisdom is when we allow the Holy Spirit to take all our knowledge (of God and the world), intelligence, experiences, and use them to bring meaning and direction into our lives. It is God’s resource for maturity through adversity (1:2-8), and here it is His prescription for living a “good life” that is full of godly fruit (v.17). Is that the wisdom I desire more than anything else?

 
Prayer

O God of mercy, shield me from the “wisdom” that is not from You: the kind that is self-promoting, divisive, even devilish. I open myself to Your Holy Spirit. Work in me so that not only will I experience the good life You want me to have, Your wisdom through me will bring Your peace, one-ness, wholeness in the lives of all those around me. Amen.

 

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