January 17 Read James 1:1-8
Asking in faith. This is a hard task for the child of God. When we ask a man for something, we usually ask in some confidence that we have a possibility of receiving that which we ask. We must have more confidence than that when we ask God. Why? God is our creator and heavenly Father. All blessings flow from him. He has given to us faith. He has given us perfect faith. We must realize that what we receive from God is good. It may not be the answer that we want, it may not be the time that we want, or it might very well be the opposite of what we want. But it will be good. Of that there is no doubt. Ask in faith and be blessed by our God. Sing Psalter 150.
January 18 Read James 1:9-16
In verse 12 we see our goal while we live on this earth. We flee temptation, but yet we know that in the way of trials we receive that crown which does not fade away. As we know, temptations do not come from God. Temptations are Satan’s way of trying to snatch our crown from us. But yet even these temptations may be a trial. God will lead us through trials as he leads us through all the storms of life. Walk with your eyes fixed on the heavenly crown. It is incomparable to even the richest crown on this earth. Walk in faith and you will receive the reward. Sing Psalter 202.
January 19 Read James 1:16-21
Notice verse 17. What a comfort to know that our God only gives to us good gifts. We cannot decide what good is by our standards. The standard must be our God and the Father of us all. He gives to us good gifts. He also does not change. If he did, we would have no hope in this life. As we go through this life, we can be assured that he will care for us. By that care we can be comforted that all things work together for good to them that love God and are the called according to his purpose. Let this guide us through every situation that comes our way. Sing Psalter 359.
January 20 Read James 1:22-27
There are two verses here that are good to look at. The first is the summary verse that is verse 22. It is not enough for us just to hear the word. We must put it into action in our lives. Now, of course, this is not unto salvation but because of salvation. We do the word out of thankfulness. The second verse is 27. This shows us what we must do. It does not talk about service projects. It talks of little actions that we must do in this life. First of all we help those around us who need our help. James was not telling the Christians to whom he was writing to go around the world to visit orphans and widows. Those were evident around them. The second was to keep from worldliness. This doing is not part of service projects either. This doing is necessary in order to show a true Christian character in our lives. Sing Psalter 407.
January 21 Read James 2:1-7
James continues with a weakness of the church of all ages. We are prejudiced. It may be race, it may be intellect, or as in this case it may be financial concerns. God’s people are one. In heaven there will be no differences. And, so, in this life we must not act prejudiced toward others. Our kingdom is not of this earth. The kingdom to which we look is heavenly. As the Heidelberg Catechism’s explanation of the fourth commandment states, we look to begin living lives as we will do in heaven. Verse four talks about being judges of evil thoughts. We must remember that only God can look upon the heart. As we carry out pure religion, let us live with all men peaceably. Sing Psalter 70.
January 22 Read James 2:8-17
We come to one of the most debated issues in the Reformed church world-faith and works. Martin Luther was afraid of the book of James. He felt that it would lead us back into the way of Rome. But that does not have to be. A correct view of James is easy. James is talking about the way of faith-not justification through works. The way of faith is to live a live of gratitude. This life of gratitude is lived by doing the good works that we have been ordained to by God. As verse 17 states we must do good works if we have faith. The two are inseparable. This is a most comforting truth. It allows us to give all credit to God, but it provides us a way of saying “Thank you.” Let us walk in the good works that God has ordained for us, and let us do them with thanksgiving. Sing Psalter 128.
January 23 Read James 2:18-26
In reading this passage through again I noticed something that I had never noticed before. That 26th verse. Read it again. Works are what shows that faith is living. The faith obviously comes first. But if we do not go through this life, living out of that faith doing the works of faith, we are like a living dead person, a zombie. Let us live out of our faith, doing those works of thankfulness. This also shows what real, good works are. They are those done out of faith according to the law of God as is explained in our catechism. Walk by faith, and in that walk do the works of faith. Sing Psalter 187.
January 24 Read James 3:1-6
James turns to a problem that must have been evident in the church of his day and is evident in the church of our day. This problem is foolish use of the tongue. Even though a person may not be mighty physically or intellectually, he says that he is mighty by the use of the tongue. In doing so, he quite often fails to love his neighbor as he should. Just a small remark in building himself up or cutting down someone can cause a world of hurt, or as James says a forest fire. We must pray with David that God will guard our tongues and keep us from this sin. Words do hurt contrary to the old rhyme “sticks and stones…” Therefore let us watch our tongues and work on making this an important part of our lives. Sing Psalter 203.
January 25 Read James 3:7-12
James shows an incongruity that is accomplished by the human tongue. It seems to say both bad and good at the same time. He points out that there is nothing in nature that does that. But yet we accomplish it daily. We sing God’s praises, read his Word, and pray; and then we turn around and show hatred for our neighbor and God. There are many people who we might point the finger at in this matter. But as James said in the first part of the book, we need to look in the mirror of God’s law squarely at ourselves. Then we must ask God for the forgiveness of such sins. As Psalter 386 says, “Guard our tongues…” Sing Psalter 386.
January 26 Read James 3:13-18
Here we see a discussion of wisdom not unlike that found in Proverbs. We must be careful to which wisdom we attach ourselves. It must be the wisdom that is from above. Reread verse 17. There we see the characteristics of true wisdom. There we see the characteristics of the wisdom we must emulate. When we cleave to true heavenly wisdom, then we will have the fruits of verse 18. A word of caution is in order here. This is not the peace that the world seeks. The world seeks a peace in many areas. Just in the last year we saw the world seeking a peace in the financial world. This is not the peace the child of God must seek. We must seek spiritual peace. We must first of all seek it within ourselves when we obey God and his law. Secondly we must seek that with our neighbors when we show them how God’s law applies in our lives. When we seek this peace we will have peace in this world and in the world to come. Sing Psalter 322.
January 27 Read James 4:1-6
One of the hardest things to accomplish for the child of God is to be humble. We are quick to want things others have, to do things others do, or to be like others. When we are not content and fall into the evil of covetousness, we fall into many problems. On the other hand when we pray for and receive the contentment that God will give us when we are content with the way that he leads, we find true contentment. This is possible because he is gracious and gives grace to his humble people. We need to cultivate the grace of humility in our lives knowing that then we will be blessed by our heavenly Father. Sing Psalter 389.
January 28 Read James 4:7-12
There are several commands in these verses. They are all related. First of all we must submit to God. All things are in his hands and he carries out all things for our good because he loves us. By submitting to God we resist Satan and all of his wiles. God’s commandments are that; they are commandments not guidelines or suggestions. We must obey them, If we do not, we do not resist Satan. By doing these two things we will draw near to God. By drawing near to him we will have the assurance that he loves us and will care for us. None of these things can be done with dirty hands and hearts. Think of Psalter 24, and then read verse 8 again. I will finish this portion tomorrow. Sing Psalter 109.
January 29 Read James 4:7-12
Verses 9-12 give another set of commands to God’s people. By nature these are hard to follow. Who wants to mourn and weep? We would rather have “fun”. Who wants to be humble? By nature we are proud. But yet in order to have peace with God, we must acknowledge our sins. We must humble ourselves before his person. To do this we must watch our attitudes to those around us. Again by nature this is hard for us. We like to say evil things about our neighbors. We like to judge their actions and show how we are better than they are. This we must not do because God is the righteous judge. Because he is the righteous judge, he will judge us. Except for Christ we would be found eternally wanting. Let us humble ourselves before him, and ask for forgiveness for our sins. Sing Psalter 140.
January 30 Read James 4:13-17
Here we have two thoughts that many in today’s world would like to ignore. First of all the idea “if God wills” or as it is in the Latin Deo Volentie or D.V. We like to make plans, and we expect to carry out those plans. But we need to say if the Lord wills we will carry those plans out. We should be happy about this idea because God’s ways are always much better than our ways. Secondly the last verse. God has give to us the ability to know good and evil. Our first earthly father abused this privilege and fell and took us with him. We, too, know what is right, but often rationalize the right away unto what is convenient for us. We have been given a precious gift. Let us use it to honor and glorify God above. Sing Psalter 169.
January 31 Read James 5:1-8
There is a difference of opinion about who these rich are. Are they rich in the church or rich in the world outside of the church? Without going into details, I believe it is the latter. They are talked about here because of verse 7-8. God’s people who are oppressed are called to be patient. We have to wait upon his way for us. We wait because he is coming to receive us unto himself. It is not easy; but it is the way of faith, and it has a glorious end in Christ. We might not be killed by the world around us, but we must still must learn in patience the way that Christ leads us. Sing Psalter 95.
February 1 Read James 5:9-12
James finishes up with a variety of instructions to his readers. First of all we are all called to live in love toward our neighbor. Even though this world preaches love, love, love; this is not a popular idea in this me-first world. Every one wants to look out for number 1 and that is neither the neighbor nor God. In all of this we must cultivate the virtue of patience. When we are patient with the way that God leads us, then we can more easily show love to the brother. God is patient with us; we must be patient with our circumstances. One of the ways we do this is with our speech. Truthfulness is part of patience. When we are not patient toward the neighbor or God, we will say things that are not truthful. We might even take God’s name in vain. Let us pray for patience and in doing so we will show love toward man and God. Sing Psalter 94.
February 2 Read James 5:13-20
This final section in James speaks of a very important subject. Every child of God falls into sin. If that sin is not confessed, a spiritual sickness envelops him. Sometimes he can pray himself and sometimes he cannot. But it is necessary to pray. We must constantly go to our God in prayer. When we do this we will find healing mercies. We also see the truth of caring for our brother spiritually. When we see him walking in sin, we must walk the way of Matthew 18 with him; in order that he is saved from his sin. This is not easy but it is what we must do if we love our brother. Sing Psalter 83.
February 3 Read I Peter 1:1-9
The books of First and Second Peter have much instruction for the child of God. Peter starts out by identifying his audience as elect strangers. Can there be any more beautiful identification? To be elect and to be a stranger in this world should be our goal. To be elect is not our choice of course, but we must live as if we are strangers. Then he goes on and reminds us of the reward of being an elect stranger. We have the glory of heaven awaiting us! We need not fear losing our elect status. We are kept by his power until the day of Christ’s return. As strangers we must endure the trials of faith. These need not lead us to despair; but rather they show forth the glory of him who calls us into his marvelous light. The goal is not on this earth; the goal is in heaven. Let us remember this as we live on this earth. Sing Psalter 323.
February 4 Read I Peter 1:9-12
Our salvation is precious to many. We see that prophets desire the salvation of God’s people. Their work was not for themselves; it was for the people of God who waited for the Christ. Angels, too, desire to see the salvation of God’s people. They eagerly await for the complete church triumphant to join them in singing the grand hallelujah chorus before the throne of God. And today ministers, elders, and parents should eagerly await the salvation of children and young people. For them it is the visible signs of confession of faith as well as a walk that is pleasing to God. The elders as watchmen on the walls of Zion can rejoice as they see young men and young women take their place in the church militant prepared to fight against Satan and await the day of Christ’s return. That is their work, and you are their fruit. Sing Psalter 265.
February 5 Read I Peter 1:13-16
After showing to us the goodness of the salvation that he has prepared for us, God now shows to us what we must do. Notice, salvation comes first, and then our response to the great gift. First of all we are to be sober and wait for the end of our salvation which is heaven. Secondly we are to be obedient to what he has called us. Finally we must be holy. The reason for this holiness is simple. We must be holy because he is holy. This is not easy to do, but it is necessary for us to show our gratitude for our salvation. Sing Psalter 252.
February 6 Read I Peter 1:17-22
It is to the last verse to which I wish to call your attention. God’s word endures forever. No matter how much we may wish to change its teaching; we must know this. It is a great comfort because it never changes. We do not have to depend on man’s wishywashyness. We must not depend on them even though at times it sounds like the right way. We must believe God’s word, and we must follow God’s word. Anything else will lead us to folly. Sing Psalter 333.
February 7 Read I Peter 2:1-5
Desiring the sincere milk of the Word! What a desire! As we live in this world we must have this desire. Peter does not make an age difference here. He calls all of the saints to put away all kinds of sin and seek after the Word. That is the Word that shows to us the grace of God that has delivered us. Then another figure of speech is used. Christ is a living stone; but we, too, are stones chosen by God to build his church. We are to be active in that church. We are to live active lives offering the sacrifices pleasing to him. We do this in our daily lives. We do this by leading a daily life that is without the sins of verse 1. Live and walk that way knowing that the Lord is gracious. Sing Psalter 318.
February 8 Read I Peter 2:6-10
There are two well-known passages in the above excerpt from I Peter 2. They are very connected. First of all you have the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy of Christ. Christ is our rock; of that, there is no doubt. Because he is our rock, we need not fear what might happen to us. Because he is our rock, we are a chosen generation. He is not a rock for each person in this world. He is a rock for his people saved by grace out of the mercy of God. Because this is true we can do our work each and every day knowing that it is his work. We do that work different from others because we are a peculiar people. We need to show that we are a peculiar people by the way we work. Do all know that we are the people of God? Sing Psalter 71.
February 9 Read I Peter 2:11-17
After instructing us about how we must behave toward God, Peter instructs us about our behavior toward men which is also behavior toward God. We must behave honestly in all of our dealings. First of all, he speaks about those who are not members of the church. Our walk testifies of our salvation that brings glory to God. Then we must obey those in authority over us. It is no different now than it was during Peter’s time. Government does not follow God’s law, but we must obey government to obey God unless it directs us in strict disobedience toward him. He mentions the “cloak of liberty.” Christian liberty is a right; we must not misuse it to break laws, but rather we must use it to glorify and serve God by honoring all men, loving the brotherhood, and honoring the king. When we do this, we will fear God. It may not be easy. It was not easy for the church of Peter’s day; it won’t be easy during the last days; but it is what God wants us to do. Sing Psalter 326.
February 10 Read I Peter 2:18-25
We will take this passage in two parts. First of all we see what our attitude must be toward suffering. The fact that the child of God will suffer at the hands of the world is undeniable. If we walk according to our calling, we will suffer for it. But our suffering must be because of a good walk not because of our sins. Peter is not using this suffering as our way into heaven. He is looking at a very practical part of the Christian life. We suffer because Christ also suffered. We must walk the antithetical walk of the Christian even as Christ did on this earth. When we walk antithetically, we can expect persecution. This is what Christ told us in Matthew 5:10-12. But there is hope for us. We will look at that tomorrow. Sing Psalter 25.
February 11 Read I Peter 2: 18-25
The second part of this passage of Scripture gives to us Christ as our example. This is a theme that is repeated in the New Testament. Probably the passage here as well as in Philippians 2 is the most noteworthy. After showing us what Christ endured; and teaching us that this is the way we must endure afflictions in our lives, Peter then shows us the way in the last verse. Because we like sheep go astray, Christ by his death has brought us back to the fold. Do we need any other incentive? Thanks be to him who has given to us the victory! Psalter 342.
February 12 Read I Peter 3:1-6
In the last chapter Peter speaks of Christian liberty. He connects it to our ability to honor the king, the church, God, and the brothers. Then he relates that Christian liberty to the calling of being a servant and really a slave. Here in this chapter he tells women how they may live a life of liberty. They do it by being in subjection to their husbands even if he is an unbeliever. They live that life of liberty not outwardly by trying to outdo the next woman in outward beauty but inwardly by chastity and a fear of God. Neither of these ideas is received very well in today’s world or even the Church world. Supposedly everyone has “rights.” We need to go back and see what our rights are under the law of liberty of our God. Sing Psalter 360.
February 13 Read I Peter 3:1-7
You may be looking at the verses above and wondering why am I reading the same passage two days in a row. But, if you looked closely, I added the seventh verse. Notice again that it begins with likewise. First, we saw how servants were to live under the law of liberty. Then, we saw how wives were to do so. Now we see that husbands have a calling under that law. Husbands need to know how to live with their wives. They must honor their wife knowing that she, if the husband is married in the faith, is an elect child of God. He must not treat her with contempt, but rather hold her in the highest esteem. The husband who lives this way will be able to pray to our heavenly Father, in confidence. Young men and young women must approach marriage in this fashion looking at the pattern that Peter by the operation of the Holy Spirit has left us. Sing Psalter 360.
February 14 Read I Peter 3:8-22
The possibility of our living out of the law of liberty is found in these verses. That possibility is Christ. Not only is he our supreme example, but he is also ascended into heaven and sits at God’s right hand. This is the right hand of power. There he sits making daily intercession for us. So as we live this life of affliction, we can do it without fear. We can do it in hope. We can do it in the confidence that we will be delivered into a life of joy before that very throne. No matter what station and calling is ours in this life, we all have the same goal. We must glorify God in that station and calling. This often takes much patience. We must wait and see where he leads us. But we can do this because we know that the way in which he leads us is good. Sing Psalter 58.
February 15 Read I Peter 4:1-6
Notice that Peter continues on the theme that Christ lived on this earth as an example for us to follow. Now, of course, that is not the only reason, and Peter states many others as well; but it is one of the reasons. As he walked, so must we walk. One of these examples is how we walk among the world. They may think it strange, maybe ludicrous, that we do not follow their mode of entertainment. They ask and then mock us when we do not make use of the movie, the dance, alcohol, drugs, etc. the way that they do. It is a comfort to know that our Savior was tempted as we are. Because he overcame those temptations, so can we. It is the only possible way. Sometimes an antithetical walk is not easy, but it is possible because of Christ’s sacrifice for us. Sing Psalter 271.
February 16 Read I Peter 4:7-11
Notice how this thought goes. After confessing our faith in Christ, knowing that he is the only way unto salvation, we are called to watch for his return. We do this being sober-minded. We care not for things of this world, but we care for the things of the kingdom. We also do this by praying. Just as our Lord Jesus Christ spent the night before the crucifixion in the garden in prayer, so must we pray. Then we are called to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We are to do this by loving our neighbor. And we are to love him in all things even when he has harmed us. We are to carry out this love so that God may be glorified. This is not just a good suggestion. This is a command from our heavenly Father who loved us so much that he gave his Son for us. Sing Psalter 24.
February 17 Read I Peter 4:12-19
Peter was writing this epistle at the time of the intense persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire. It was hard for these new Christians to walk in the faith. Their very lives were at stake at times. Peter calls them to impeccable conduct. If they were to be persecuted, it was to be for this crime: they glorified God. It is no different for us today. Christians in this country may not have to worry about their lives, but there are persecutions out there. If we are to be persecuted, let it be because in our conduct we glorify our heavenly Father who saved us through his Son. They day will come, however, that we like Christians in other parts of the world will be persecuted even to our death. Let us look to God who will defend and protect us. Let us look to Christ who will deliver us to the throne of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. Sing Psalter 392.
February 18 Read I Peter 5:1-7
Peter ends this epistle with some instructions and admonitions to those to whom he writes. There are many of these on which we could focus. Let’s look at the last one. There is a song titled “Cast Thy Burden upon the Lord”? That is the thought here. We have many cares and concerns in this life. Some of them are cares that afflict us now, and others are cares of the future. Each and every one of them must be cast upon our elder brother, Christ Jesus. His death shows how much he cares for us. If he cared for our salvation so much, how much more, will he not take care of our daily burdens? he calls to us to come unto him when we are heavy-laden. He draws us to him so that he can give to us the blessed rest in heaven. Go to him in prayer, and cast each care upon him because he does care for you. We may never say, “No one cares about us!” Christ cares, and he gives to us rest. Sing Psalter 152.
February 19 Read I Peter 5:8-14
Peter finishes this first epistle with a few more admonitions to the church then and the church of all ages. First of all he calls us to soberness. This is not the soberness of the Quakers or other such groups. This is the soberness of those who live an antithetical life in the joy of Christ. We must be watchful, for Satan desires to take that joy away from us. But we have the confidence that God will give to us the victory even in such suffering and afflictions. He is forever! He will deliver us into life everlasting! Thanks be to God! Sing Psalter 241:1-5.