May 18, 2016
How awesome is James' letter?! It's just too real.
One of the songs I've had on repeat for the last week is Blessings by Chance the Rapper. His new album is surprisingly God-oriented, with a lot of praise-dance inducing gospel choir backing tracks. Unfortunately, the album's latest single takes a little too much for granted. The hook matter-of-factly declares: "When the praises go up, the blessings come down." (Though if I'm having to argue about a mainstream rapper's theology, that's not a bad place for hip hop to be.)
Today James gives us a stern reminder, straight from the mouth of God, exactly against the temptation to take God's blessings for granted; we are nothing without Him. Not only is it selfish and offensive to live our lives presumptuously, taking our blessings for granted and buying into the Prosperity Gospel, but it's also downright ineffective. "You are a puff of smoke, that appears briefly, then disappears...You should say, 'If the Lord wills it, we should do this or that.'"
The Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples during Pentecost, giving them a boldness and confidence that they'd never experienced before. That James' letter was selected for the daily readings in the following week reminds us that with great Inspiration comes great responsibility.
I wholeheartedly agree with Jair's recommendation that we pray for the gift of Joy, for in it God speaks to us with the heart of a lover and father. It's a language that has been tainted by human expectations and imperfections, and we need to re-learn Joy as a divine language that affirms us.
I also suggest that we pray for Wisdom. Solomon was offered any gift by God, and it pleased the Lord that he chose Wisdom. Wisdom makes sure we start our requests with, "If the Lord wills it..." and that's a good place to start.
Praised be Jesus Christ, our very sovereign King.