Introduction…After surgery and 74 days in rehab for a broken hip joint, I’m back and headed for full recovery! Don’t read this if you’ve never done anything stupid, but I put on an ankle weight and forgot it was on until I decided to leap from my bedroom to the kitchen. For a split second I was airborne. Then I made contact with my hip joint and the ceramic tile flooring and lay sprawled on the floor for a very long time until I could crawl like a worm to my phone, knock it to the floor, and dial “911.” I apologize for missing so many SSNET lessons, but I should be on a roll from here on. Thank you, SSNET.ORG for welcoming me back!
[Thought questions for The Perfecting of Our Faith October 7, 2014]
1. Who does the perfecting? I would turn this computer off and face the wall in despair if I believed that I had to do the work of making myself perfect. I am so far from perfect, and yet by the grace of God, so close to the One who has offered His perfection to cover me. Are you perfect? If not, how do you expect to “make it” to heaven? On the other hand, if it’s that easy—just trust in God—why won’t everybody enjoy an eternity of salvation in Jesus? And just what is this perfection of our faith that intrigues James so much?
2. A book to learn. James is a rather short book, just five brief chapters, and several decades ago I memorized the whole book easily. It has always been a blessing to me when a sermon or devotional talk is based even in part on the stern but hopeful book of James. What startling reason does James give in the second verse of his book to be joyful? Why is it so easy to slump into despair as we struggle in our Christian life? What is the cure for this overwhelming sense of defeat? Why should Seventh-day Adventists be the happiest people in the world? Are we?
3. Learning from our trials. Does our Christian life ever become so satisfying that we don’t have trials? Explain. Can trials be spiritually beneficial? Have you ever been sick or injured to the point that you writhed in agony but yet your heart overflowed with joy? Today we see on the news horrible examples of suffering. Are those people more blessed than we are? If trials can be beneficial, should we pray for more of them? Or should we try to live so that our trials are rare?
4. Wisdom or knowledge. It seems to me that during my 18 or so years of formal education, I always got more credit for knowledge than for wisdom. If you had a choice between listening to a speaker of great knowledge, perhaps on a technical topic, and one known for sage advice or wisdom–which lecture would you choose? Or is that a fair question? Does God impart knowledge as well as wisdom to His believers? What was James’ concept of “practical” wisdom (James 1:19)? Do our Sabbath school members long more for the imparting of wisdom or of knowledge? What do you think James would say about that if he taught your class this Sabbath?
5. Good enough? Have you ever been tempted to think about whether or not you are good enough to be saved? Do you have enough faith? Enough good works? Enough wisdom? Instead of this way of measuring us, how does God evaluate our faith as a means to knowing our spiritual condition? Where does all goodness come from? What if anything does being rich have to do with being good? What does James tell us about being rich?