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"For the Ladies"

These Lessons were written by my first Wife Sister Norma who passed away January, 2009.

 

December 6, 2006:

It was Saturday morning and already I was not having a very good day.

That is ... in my selfish heart I wasn't!

Maybe I can make this story short. I had just received word, less than 24 hours earlier, that a very dear friend of mine had passed away and my spirit was heavy. She lived in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, and of course I did not get to see her very often. She was a precious person who always lifted me up whenever we talked, mostly by phone. I will miss her dearly.

Furthermore that morning several "little" things had already gone wrong at home. I was about to break out in tears. Hastily I made a remark that hurt the feelings of a family member, not my husband. Why couldn't I keep my comments to myself? I didn't mean to hurt anyone.

 

On Thursday, earlier in the week, my husband was completing a Revival Meeting in Roanoke, Alabama. After the service the ladies of the Church had sent a big beautiful basket with all sorts of goodies and gifts for me! I wish I had time to mention everything in that basket! Among many other items, there was a calendar compiled by a preacher. It, the calendar, was called "The Grace of Encouragement." I do not know specifically who sent that gift, but God knew I liked things like that! I picked it up and my husband had already opened it to the current date, October 14. This is what I read: "It helps me if I remember that God is in charge of my day ... not me!" Those words seemed to jump off the page at me! Following that quotation was this verse of Scripture: "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delighteth in his way." I immediately glanced up at the wall in front of where I was sitting. There hangs a plaque with one of my favorite Scripture verses, Psalm 118:24. "This is the day which the Lord hath made; We will rejoice and be glad in it."

I am so glad that I belong to Him and He can order my steps and He delights when I follow His leading! Every day that we live and breathe here on this earth ... every single one, is a gift from God!

Thank you Lord for this day. Help me to rejoice in it!

                                                                          --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

JULY 16, 2005:

Growth!

I've always heard that anything that's alive will exhibit growth!

Ladies, are you growing in the Lord?

Are you even trying to grow in the Lord?

Are you spending time in the Word regularly?

How is your prayer life?

Do you commune with your Saviour?

Listen to the very last words ever written by Simon Peter, the best known Disciple of our Lord.

"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen."  2nd Peter 3:18

Now that main verb ... "grow" ... is set in the imperative mood, expressing a command!

It basically means "to increase!"

God is not requesting us to grow. 

He expects it! 

He even commands it!

Now this matter of growth is a two-fold thing.

In one sense spiritual growth is out of our hands.  True progress in the Christian life comes from the working power of the Holy Spirit and the engrafting ability of the Word of God.  And I'm not even mentioning the conducive atmosphere of a Bible believing Church where love abounds.

On the other hand ... true spiritual growth only comes when we are willing to cooperate and yield to the Holy Spirit, the Word of God and faithful Church attendance!

This requires our effort too!

Dear Sister in Christ, are YOU taking some time each day ... even if a brief time ... to read your Bible?  To pray ... especially for your family?  To nurture your life in Christ?

The old-timers used to call these activities "spiritual disciplines."

I just call them "time with the Lord!"

It does take time to build a relationship ... even one with Jesus!

Have a "quite time" each day.

Even if it's in the car driving to or from some regular place.

Even if you have to get up 15 minutes earlier in the morning ... to go to bed that much later!

Even if you have to curtail that television habit some!

The Lord loves it when we spend time with Him ... when we worship Him!

Even to the point of saying so!

Listen to Jesus teach the lady at the well of Jacob.   In John 4:23 he said:  "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him."

Notice the words ... "The Father seeketh such to worship Him."

That verb "seeketh" means ... "to desire!"

Build an atmosphere of spiritual growth in your life!

That will please the Lord!

And you will profit thereby!

                                                                               --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

MAY 13, 2005:

Ladies, sometimes I fear that we may just need a moment with Him!  I mean in your mind.  Steal away and reflect over recent days or weeks.  Maybe even to some of the verses we learned as children.  A couple of them come to my mind right now.

Like Psalm 119:11 --- "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."  It is true that the more of God's Word we have within us (hidden there), the less we will sin!  This text alone could keep us out of trouble.

And here is a perfect example from Proverbs 15:1 --- "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger."  Watch your words ... your responses! In the language of today we might say:  "Words spoken too quickly and without thought could push someone else's buttons."  Think before speaking!  Every thought we have does not have to be spoken out loud or expressed!

When we were children didn't we also learn Proverbs 3:5-6?  "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

I have a very dependent relationship with my Saviour!  God's Word tells me I should and it's the only thing that works for me!  Psychology today will tell you NOT to depend so much on anyone else.  You are "your own master."  You can make your own destiny.  This is foolish!  That, ladies, is an example of today's "humanism."

I like the idea of having a God Who loves me and cares about me.  He knows me even better than I know myself.  He created me.

Jeremiah 32:27 says ... "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?"

Another of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 33:3 --- "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." 

Ladies, I believe my life is in good Hands when I place myself under His Control! How about you?

Let go and let God His wonderful Way in your life.

                                                                                 --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

APRIL 21, 2005:

I once heard a preacher give this advice:  "If you're going to live any kind of a victorious Christian life you will need to get some verses from God's Word that you live by on a daily basis."  Sort of like spiritual vitamins!  He suggested that you put them down in writing somewhere, maybe in a notebook.  You should memorize them (the verses) and quote them to yourself each day.

I've never forgotten what he said.  Maybe I have not been as diligent as he suggested, but I have some verses that I call my "victory verses."

Through the years I have attempted to do what that old preacher suggested.

I've scribbled these on scratch pads, written in notebooks and in the margins of my Bible.

Now I want to get down to business and pass this little habit along to someone else.

Therefore I will share with you a few of my personal verses.  The first one comes today, with others to follow soon.

I believe that God's Word has the answers to all our problems and difficulties.  My number one verse on the list would be Psalm 119:165.  "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them."

"Thy law" of course is a term used many times in Scripture which generally means the Bible or God's Word.

"Offend," the verb, means to make one to stumble.  It gives us the idea of falling (tripping) and perhaps not even being able to get back on our feet again.

If you love God's Word (your Bible) you will read it diligently and study it to see what it teaches.  You will believe it.  You will practice its teaching. 

And when you do stumble, you won't fall flat but will be able to get back up and keep on going.

Now you need to memorize this verse ... learning it by heart.  It carries a very important principle of the Christian life in its essence.  Everything will NOT be perfect.  There will be set-backs, trials, tribulations, problems, disappointments and difficulties. You need to have a source of strength to keep you going on the right path.  Psalm 46:1 says --- "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." 

That strength to go on ... to be faithful ... can be found anywhere in the Bible ... but especially in today's "victory verse!"

Satan will try to defeat you any way he can. 

Fight him, as did our Lord, with "It is written ...!"

                                                                               --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

APRIL 5, 2005, TUESDAY:

It will soon be time for what all our Mothers called "Spring Cleaning!"

Box springs and mattresses were moved outside for a few hours,  fluffed (actually beaten) in the fresh air, curtains washed, closets cleared, and so much more!

I can see it going on right now (in my mind)!

I even recall the "wash days" of years gone by!  (Now I guess for the modern housewife every day is wash day!)  I remember seeing ladies wash clothes on Mondays ... outside ... using pots with boiling water ... or old "ringer" washing machines!  But they had clean dresses to wear!

By now you may be wondering:  "What's her point?"

Just this:  all that literal Spring Cleaning has its counterpart in our spiritual lives!

There are times when we need to be "cleansed" from the things of the flesh as well!

Let's talk about that a while.

Way back in Nehemiah 3, where that Man of God is describing the ten Gates of Jerusalem ... nearly all of which had fallen into disrepair ... he mentions the "Dung Gate!"  Nehemiah 3:14 tells us:  "But the dung gate repaired Malchiah the son of Rechab, the ruler of part of Bethhaccerem; he built it, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof."

The Dung Gate is where all the filth and garbage went OUT of the city of Jerusalem, God's City!

It pictures for us the necessity of cleansing ourselves if we are going to please the Lord!

Let's take a little inventory for a minute!

What part of my life mentally needs to be cleaned?  Is it my worried mind?  Or perhaps I harbor thoughts that are not as pure as they should be!  Or is it a grudge over some past confrontation I can't get over?

Whatever ... have a mental housecleaning and turn those things over to Jesus! (That's what Paul said to do with them in 2 Corinthians 10:5.  Bring all those thoughts to the dear Lord!  "Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.")

What part of my emotional life needs to be scrubbed?  Do I fear too much?  Am I angry a lot of the time?  Have I allowed jealousy to creep in?  Go down your own check list ... and start scrubbing away!  What "cleanser" do I use?  "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."  1 John 1:7

Then spiritually what must be freshened up?  Has my love for Jesus grown cool? Or my devotion to Bible study?  Or my fervency for the House of God?  Has my faith, like those window panes at home, grown clouded with all winter's grime and dust? Whatever ... clean it up!  Do some "washing of water by the Word" of God! Ephesians 5:26

And surely no lady must clean herself physically today!  No one reading these lines would be involved in some kind of sensual affair or be allowing herself to "fantasize" lewdly about some man, would they?  Or reading some ungodly novel?  Or wrapped up in some television program that defies everything you believe?

If so ladies, take a bath ... in a spiritual sense! 

Jesus once said to His Disciples:  "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you."  Wow!  John 15:3

Let's open the "Dung Gate" of our lives today ... and begin Spring Cleaning!

                                                                                  --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

The Saturday before Easter, March 26, 2005:

My husband read me a phrase this week that had "struck" him in a wonderful way!

I think he was studying for a Message and he providentially came across these words:  "Random Acts of Kindness!"

"Random Acts of Kindness!"

Actually the Preacher he was reading was talking about prerequisites for Revival!

He was of the opinion that we can forget about any true reviving of our hearts (sent form God) if we continue in our mean bitter unkind and unforgiving ways!

We must repent ... trust God to change us .. and begin being "kind" one to another!

Thereafter Brother Mike went around all week saying often "Random Acts of Kindness!"

As most of you know I've been sick for a while and can't walk.  My husband has to do so much for me.  And he is kind in doing so.

"Random Acts of Kindness!"

That little saying so impressed me that I had to find a corresponding Bible verse.

Well, that was not hard at all!

Ladies, listen to Paul:  "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."  Ephesians 4:32

In this verse are embedded 3 little "truths" about kindness!

First see the "root" of kindness.  It is the awesome fact that Jesus died for us and forgave us our sins!  That is, if you are saved.  (If you're lost, He will save you if you simply meet His conditions!  "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."  John 5:24)

Also notice how that "root" springs from Jesus' forgiveness of us ... to our forgiveness of others!  If we are unforgiving toward someone ... we certainly will not be kind to them!

If I have been forgiven a "ton" of sin (at Calvary) ... I must be willing to forgive someone a "pound" of wrong too (at the grocery store or wherever)!

Next notice the "shoot" of that root!  The "shoot" of kind deeds has to be a "tender heart!"  That Greek noun has within it the word for "bowels or intestines!"  Be tender and compassionate deep down within yourself, down where the Holy Spirit lives!

Then comes the "fruit" of kindness!  That word Greek for kindness, "chrestos," means sweet, pleasant, incapable of sharpness and not harsh!  And this "fruit" in all likelihood will indeed go around practicing "random acts of kindness!"

And that's where our discussion started today!

Be kind to each other ... because of Jesus and because of Calvary!

Random Acts of Kindness:

Their ROOT ... The Cross of Calvary

Their SHOOT ... A tender heart, filled with the kind Holy Spirit!

Their FRUIT ... Sweetness and pleasantness with their matching deeds of love!

There we have it.

Go practice one now!  (A random act of kindness!) 

Amen!

                                                                               --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

MARCH 5, 2005:

Ladies, Solomon tells us in the Book of Proverbs that an evil man IS what he thinks!

Here's the exact verse:  "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he."  Proverbs 23:7

If I think dark and gloomy thoughts ... I will become dark and gloomy!

If I think bright victorious thoughts about my Savior ... I will be bright and victorious!

Helen Keller, the blind poet, said:  "Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows!"

I once read where a Preacher said:  "Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it!"

Now I know I am probably running the risk of being accused of bringing "psychology" into this discussion, but that's not the case!

So far I've given Scripture for everything I've said.

Here's some more.

What one thinks in his or her heart affects all of life.  Jesus says that!  "A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things."  Matthew 12:35

The the Lord immediately adds:  "For out of the (evil) heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:  these are the things which defile a man."

Maybe Mark has worded our Lord's intent better yet.  "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man."  Mark 7:21-23

Then as usual, Paul eloquently caps the whole situation by writing:  "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."  Philippians 4:8

Let me share a pointer or two:

*  Be very careful what thoughts you let settle in your mind!  Reject those who are unapproved according to Paul's Philippians 4 list!

*  Meditate on what Christ Jesus has accomplished for us ... and is yet doing today at the right Hand of God The Father!

*  Curtail your complaining and murmuring!  "Do all things without murmurings and disputings."    That's Paul again!  Philippians 2:14

*  Be cautious regarding the close friends you have!  Those with constantly negative attitudes and gossiping tongues are NOT good for you!  Listen to what (who else?) Paul says in 1st Corinthians 5:11 --- "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat."  Don't even eat with "railers!"  Those who hurt others with their tongues!

*  Paul even went so far as to encourage us to "bring every thought" at sword-point captive to Jesus!   Wow!  "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ!" 

Right thinking will lead to right living!

Ladies, I guarantee that!

                                                                        --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

FEBRUARY 15, 2005:

A verse spoke to my heart just this morning!

It's located in Ephesians. 

"Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is."  Ephesians 5:17

The adjective "unwise" is in Greek (my husband says) "aphron."  The "a" means no or not and the "phron" part means one's mind or thinking!  Putting it together we get "without reason!"  Senseless!  Without intelligence!  Or more plainly ... stupid!

We Christians are not to be thoughtless!  We are to live Biblically reasoned lives.

But, as you can see, Paul quickly adds to this thought.

"Understanding what the will of the Lord is.

To "understand" is to (in Greek = "suniemi") "bring together" one's thoughts and reasonings.

That is:  to consider and conclude something based upon Scripture.

According to this short (but powerful) verse, we are to know God's will for our lives ... and do it ... thereby becoming wise in the Lord's sight!

The Will of the Lord!

But, ladies, what IS God's Will for us?

The answer to that question can of course vary some in each individual.

But, generally speaking, here's God's Will for us all:

*  To live godly lives!  "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication.  That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour."  1st Thessalonians 4:4-5

*  To love and obey our husbands, being sweetly submissive in heart attitude!  "Teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands ... and obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."  Titus 2:4-5

*  To love and train our precious children (if we have any and if they're still at home)!  "Teach the young women to love their children!"  Titus 2:4 again!

*  To be "keepers at home!"  Titus 2:5  (Caring for our homes, providing the right godly atmosphere for all who live there ... that they might grow in the Lord!

*  To _________________________________________.  Now that you have the "gist" of it ... add to your own list.

Just remember that the more you discern and do God's Will ... the more understanding and wisdom you acquire!

Think of that!

Just regular daily chores like washing dishes or sweeping the floors ... doing the will of God!

Wonderful!

I shall never look at them the same again!

                                                                                 --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

FEBRUARY 2, 2005:

Ladies, I came across this verse and the Lord used it to speak to my heart.

"As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."  1st Peter 4:10

I am sure the Bible Scholars would tell us that the "gift" mentioned here is some spiritual gift with which God has endowed us when we were saved.

Every Christian has some such "gift" for sure.

The best list of them I think is in Romans 12. 

Every believer is skilled (by virtue of the indwelling and empowering Holy Spirit) at something he or she can do for the cause of Christ!

Maybe your gift is teaching!

Or encouraging others!

Or perhaps you fall into that "category" of folks who say, "Sister Norma, I just don't know WHAT I can do well for my Lord!"

Well, there is something I assure you!

I once knew a lady who was just the greatest cook in the whole church!

But how could one use THAT in Christian service?

She cooked and served a delicious meal for every Evangelist that ever came! (Inviting his family and the Pastor and his family and her own family too of course!) My, what her family learned sitting around that table with the men of God!  How they all benefited from her cooking "gift!"

Another lady I knew was best at sewing.  She made skirts and dresses for most of the little girls at church!  (What a way to teach modesty too!)  It literally became her "ministry" to do these things!  (This is Biblical!  Reminds you of Dorcas, doesn't it? Acts 9:39 tells us: "Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.")

And if I had time I'd tell you about a lady who ALWAYS fixed a meal and took it to the family who came home from the hospital (surgery or whatever) ... just to lift that "mealtime" burden from their shoulders!

And the lady who went to elderly shut-ins and read to them the Bible and prayed with them for a while every week or two!  (Especially those whose eyesight had grown dim!)

And the lady who had a "card sending" ministry.  She encouraged folks near and far with sweet words and an appropriate Scripture verse!

And the lady whose church had plenty of Sunday School teachers so didn't need her ... who creatively started a little Bible Club with children from the neighborhood, telling them about Jesus every week!

Or the lady who started her own Bible Class with a few like-minded sisters in Christ.  She did it in her home.  She allowed no gossip ... just in-depth Bible exposition!

Do not tell me that each of us is not so gifted by the Lord in some area.

Find out what yours is!  (If you really don't know, ask the Lord to show you!  He will!)

And then start using it!

Don't you want to hear some day:  "His Lord said unto him (her, too) ... Well done, thou good and faithful servant!"  Matthew 25:21

Since we've all received a gift ... let's use it for His Glory!

Helping others for Jesus' sake!

                                                                             --- Norma Jean Bagwell

 

 

JANUARY 21, 2005:

Ladies, I came across this quote the other day. Perhaps it is worth sharing.

"I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure ... which is:  Try to please everyone."

How often do we Christian women put undue stress on ourselves by doing just what that quote says ... trying to please everyone!

Don't you agree?

Please the Husband ... and the children ... and the relatives ... and the church folks and ... before you know it, you're a bundle of nerves!

Now, it is a legitimate desire for a lady to want to please her husband.  (And the Apostle Paul says the man should want to please his wife too!  "He that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife."  1st Corinthians 7:32)

But ... you can't please everybody!

In fact, based upon the Scriptures I'm about to share with you ... our highest priority in the "pleasing" department should be the Lord!

Listen.

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."  2nd Timothy 2:15  (This is pleasing God!  The verb "study" literally means do your best, be diligent!)

"But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts."  1st Thessalonians 2:4 (Paul wanted to please the Lord!)

"And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight."  1st John 3:22  (Pleasing God is an aid to getting our prayers answered!)

"That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God."  Colossians 1:10  (Our very life, our "walk," should be geared toward pleasing God!)

"For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."  Galatians 1:10  (Pleasing men here seems to be the very opposite of pleasing God!)

"By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God."   Hebrews 11:5  (What a testimony!  He pleased God!)

And Jesus, the Ideal of Perfection, sets the right example for "pleasing" our great God!  "And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him."  John 8:29  (Always!)

Ladies, you can't please everyone.  It's not even our job to please them all!

(In reality, if we live for the Lord, we will displease a good many of them!)

But we surely do need to please that dear husband (who represents Christ as Bridegroom) ... and our Lord!

That's a pressure reliever!

Jesus said of Himself one day:  "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

What peace that thought brings!

                                                                          --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

 

JANUARY 11, 2005:

I've been thinking lately about singing!

When my health was better I often sang at Church.

I loved it.

But with this sickness ... and the wheelchair and confinement to home ... my songs have been much more private.

No!  I've not lost my joy.  It's just taken on a new dimension.

Then ... a few days ago I had a delightful insight (from the Lord I sense)!

I can no longer sing in front of the church family ... but I can sing for my family!

I can sing for those who want to hear ... and are willing to make the effort!

But, Sister Norma, with all your problems, why sing?

Maybe you had just better pray!

(Well, I do that too of course.  But I can't lose my song!)

Nehemiah tells us why!

Listen to him:  "For this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength."  Nehemiah 8:10

Did you see that?

The JOY of the Lord is our STRENGTH!

Although at time I am physically weak, I can experience day after day the strength of the Lord!  And the Joy He gives me (which produces song) is one great sources of that strength!

The Hebrew noun for "strength" ("maoz") means a fortified place, or that which is stout!  (It is found a total of 36 times in the Bible.)

The first time it's used in the Bible (Judges 6:26) it is translated in the King James Bible as "ROCK!"

Ladies, I want to stay strong for my Lord!

I shall not lose my joy! 

It can happen!  It did to David.  Why else would he have prayed as he did in Psalm 51?  "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit."

Therefore ... I have determined to sing, sing, sing!

Nearly every day our youngest little Grandson (Aaron Elijah Bagwell) asks Nana to sing with him!

My Husband and I bought him a little recorder/amplifier machine for Christmas and he gets it out often and SINGS about Jesus!

My song will be different that it was back in all those "church special" years.

In fact, it will be a "new song!"

(A term used 9 times in the Bible!)

Psalm 33:3 --- "Sing unto Him a new song."

Psalm 40:3 --- "And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God."

Psalm 98:1 --- "O sing unto the LORD a new song; for He hath done marvellous things."

Even in the future expect it. 

Revelation 5:9 says:  "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy Blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation."

I think I shall even make a tape!

Oh dear Lord, thank you for a song!

I want to live the truth of Psalm 9:2 --- "I will be glad and rejoice in Thee: I will sing praise to Thy Name, O Thou most High."

Pray for me please.

                                                                                            --- Norma Jean Bagwell

 

 

 

DECEMBER 11, 2004, SATURDAY MORNING:

Ladies, I've been thinking about a verse of Scripture this morning.

It's found in Psalm 107:2 and says:  "Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy."

I've never seen a Christmas Season in which there has been such a concerted effort to snuff Jesus and the Virgin Birth and the Nativity and the Truth out of the public mind!

As my husband drove past our local elementary school yesterday, he saw an announcement on their roadside lighted sign.  It read, "Winter Program," and then simply gave the date.

You know as well as I do that once that event was called the CHRISTMAS Program!  But things have changed.

Changed in a bad sense!

I've personally decided to use these days to speak out for my Lord more than ever! If the world can ignore Him ... then I can focus on Him!

If the public schools can demote Him ... I can exalt Him!

If the so-called libertarians can mock Him ... I can praise Him!

If the atheists can gag Him ... I can speak of Him everywhere I go!

I have been redeemed and I'm going to say so!

Our verse again:  "Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy."

Let's work Him into our conversations!

And mention Him every opportunity we have!

After all, He's done so much for us!

We can even decorate our homes in such a way to magnify His Name and concentrate on His Birth!  (A Virgin Birth I might add!)

May you this Christmas:  "Be ready always to give an answer to every man (or woman) that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." 1 Peter 3:15

Let me know what you think! 

In fact, share your witnessing ideas with me!  I would love to hear them!

(There's a quick way to e-mail me at the top of this Page.)

                                                                                     --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

 

NOVEMBER 25, 2004 (THANKSGIVING DAY)

Ladies, you have much to do today!

In fact, you may not even be reading this on the day it was written.

I well know that with all the cleaning and cooking and entertaining you've done ... exhaustion has probably hit you by now!

So ... I thought I would share a verse with you that just might help some.

Jesus said it.

He was talking to His Disciples.

It's in Mark 6:31.

"And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat."

Things were very busy!  (Sound familiar!)

Everyone needed something!

These dear men didn't even have time to eat!

But Jesus ... our lovely Wise Jesus ... knew what to do!

Look at the part of that verse that says:  "Come ye yourselves apart ... and rest a while!"

Ladies, no wonder we have so much sickness!

Stress is killing us!

Of course I understand ... the work has to be done!

BUT ... I would encourage you to sometime today or tonight ... do just what Jesus said here.

Come apart!

Get alone!

Be by yourself ... even if it's just for a short time ... and rest!

Take a nap!

Go for a walk!

Thank God for 10 blessings of this year!

Read a chapter in the Psalms!

Do some praying as you circle the block!

And I'll guarantee you that the "pause" will infuse strength and new vigor into your very being!

WHY?

Because that is God's way of doing things!

He created (the earth and all that's in it) for 6 days ... then He rested!

If He gave us that example ... I'd suggest we follow it!

Remember what Jesus promised about "rest."  It's in Matthew 11:28.

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

Amen!

Try it sometime soon!

(Any any of you men who have read with us today ... go give your wife a "break." Watch the kids for an hour.  Do the chores for her today.  Lighten her load.  Let her relax some too!  And be sure to tell her you enjoyed the turkey and dressing!)

                                                                         --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

NOVEMBER 16, 2004:

Ladies, my heart is sad today.

Today is the "due date" for our third grandchild to be born.

But we sadly learned earlier this week that he died in the womb.

We do not question God's power or His goodness ... even in this situation ... but our hearts are exceedingly sorrowful.

I watch our other two grandchildren ... both are boys (as this third one would have been) ... and I think of the great privilege we all have teaching and influencing our little ones (whether children or grandchildren or little relatives or a Sunday School class of small folks).

I am reminded of a verse of Scripture here.

Paul wrote to the young Preacher named Timothy and said:  "I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also."  2 Timothy 1:5

Look at that!

The faith Timothy's Mother had ... and the faith his Grandmother had ... impacted him years later!

Ladies, today or tonight sometime go hug that little one you love!

And for Jesus' sake live for God in front of him or her every single day!

Your doing so will never get your name in the Bible ... but it will get you a good mention at the Judgment Seat of Christ where we Believers will all stand some day. We shall there receive rewards for the deeds done in our earthly lives ... whether good or bad!  See 2 Corinthians 5:10.

And ... be sure of this ... living faithfully and impacting those little ones for the glory of God will be a GOOD thing when that Day comes!        

                                                                              --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

 

NOVEMBER 7, 2004:

Let's study something one of the great ladies of Scripture did.  Apparently this was a regular activity with her.

Mary, a Jewish virgin, was the earthly mother of Jesus!

One of her "habits" is particularly commendable.

"But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart."  Luke 2:19

Our verse is centered in the "Incarnation and Virgin Birth" context of Luke.  Therefore much had recently happened in Mary's young life.

She let none of them "slip" from memory either!

Mary had learned the godly art of "meditating" on the Word of God!

Let's examine a few words in our verse for today.

She "kept" all these things (the angel's visit, the ensuing events including that trip to Bethlehem, the Birth itself, the shepherds' arrival and report and so much more)! What does that mean?

The verb "kept" translates a Greek word ("suntereo") meaning to "protect" or to "preserve" or to "guard."  The verb is set in the "imperfect" form ... telling us that she thought on these things completely in the past ... but that those thoughts continued impressing and impacting her right up to the very moment this Scripture verse was written!

Mary "treasured" these happenings in her life ... as precious "gifts" from God!

The accompanying verb "pondered" is equally interesting too.

"Sumballo" means to "throw together." ("ballo," the root of our very word "ball" and "sun" meaning "with") or to "collect" these thoughts (in her mind)!  However this verb (unlike "kept") is a present participle ... she had been doing this "pondering" constantly ever since the angel came!

To me these words perfectly picture the fine Bible art of "meditating" on the things of God!

Mary was a "meditator!"

She harbored these words and events in her mind so the devil couldn't "steal" them! Oh that we would so value the priceless Word of God and His doings in our lives!

The she collected these acts of God (and Words of God) in such a way as to mix them constantly in her mind!

This is spiritual mind control!  She determined what she would not forget!  And she equally determined what she would remember!  And she determined she would mentally dwell on them daily!

No wonder she was such a godly lady!

She's not a lady to be worshipped ... but none-the-less a mature believer in Christ Jesus the Lord!  She even called Jesus her "Saviour!"  (Luke 1:47)

Folks, she today leaves us an example!

Let us also meditate in God's Word ... then spend some time in  contemplation on such things as how He saved you ... answers your prayers, fills you with His Holy Spirit ... intercedes for you daily ... and is coming again some glorious day to "catch" you away into the heavens!

An old Puritan said that Meditation is like the bee and the flower.  There is no sweetness in the bee! It's all in the flower!  There's nothing so special about the act of meditating.  Even the heathen do that (but in a tremendously different way)!  The "power" and "sweetness" is in the Word of God which we need (like the bee) to penetrate and gather its delicious taste, thereby imparting strength to us minute by minute!

Ladies, get you a verse today and "keep" and "ponder" it!

                                                                                    --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

OCTOBER 20, 2004:

Ladies, I once heard a preacher say this.  He was teaching the men that their main duty in the home is to love their wives.

He said, "Nowhere does the Bible tell the wives to love their husbands!  They are only told to obey them!  It's the man's job to LOVE the wife!"

Now while there is a lot of truth in his line of thought, he missed it on one point.

The Bible DOES tell us ladies to love our husbands!

Where?

In the Book of Titus.

Let me show you.

Paul has been talking to the older ladies in the church.

He tells them they are to be teachers to the younger women!

Teaching them what, Paul?

Among other things ... "That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."  Titus 2:4-5.

Notice the capitalized words in the foregoing verse!

Ladies ... love your husbands!

The verb here (in Greek ... "philandros") means to love ("phileo") their men (implying of course their husbands ... in Greek "aner" = the male of the species).

It is not the word "agapao," meaning God's love ... but the verb "phileo," meaning to be fond of and even to love as a friend! 

It implies progressive constant love too ... faithfulness to one's mate!

Yes, the Bible says we are to obey our husbands too.  And respect them.

BUT none of that is as meaningful without love as its foundation!

I think it's a lifelong goal ... learning more and more to love him with all the skill God gives us!

Love can grow.  In fact, remind me to tell you sometime (from the Song of Solomon) how the love of the Shulamite for her Bridegroom grows all the way through those 8 great chapters!  You can actually see it happening!

Ladies, let's today again ask the Lord to build our love for our mates!

If we do ... he will answer!

After all, we are only praying His Will.  That's for sure!

For He has commanded it in His Word!

                                                                         --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

OCTOBER 11, 2004 (MONDAY)

We all have felt like it at some point in our Christian lives!

Like quitting!

When discouragement overtakes us and we nearly say: "That's it!  I am through!"

Such times even came to the great Heroes of the Faith whose lives are recorded in Scripture!

Jeremiah went through such a low period!

As did Elijah ... and Job ... and even John the Baptist!

In fact, the ONLY person in all the Bible of Whom we can be sure discouragement never touched was Jesus!

Isaiah 42:4 promises us that:  "He (Jesus the Messiah) shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for His law."

Jesus was never (and never will be) discouraged ... even for one second!

Therefore it is not unusual that Paul would uphold the Saviour as an Example to us all!

He does so in Hebrews.

"For consider him (Jesus) that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin."  Hebrews 12:3-4

The verb "consider" means to logically ponder Jesus!  Let your thoughts dwell upon Him! The verb is an imperative too!  It is issuing a command!

The secondary verb "endured" means to stay under the LOAD without complaining or quitting!  (Just keep on going no matter how difficult things get!)

The noun "contradiction" means a speaking against someone!  Folks talked against Jesus, cursing Him and calling Him names and lying about Him daily!

YET HE DID NOT QUIT!

The verb for being "worried" means to faint!

And the verb for "faint" (in Greek = "ekluo") literally means to "unloose" something. (To come all apart!)

Paul reminds us when we grow tired and weary ... Jesus patiently withstood so much ... for us to be saved!  Remember Him!

And, when you do ... how can you even think of quitting?

Jesus even shed His precious Blood for us!

"Have we yet shed blood?"  Paul asks!

When compared to our Lord ... none of us has suffered much at all!

Shame on me for even thinking of quitting!

And ... what a Saviour we have!

Listen to Paul one more time:  "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."  Galatians 6:9

Ladies, I am not saying that I am strong! 

No! No! No!

I am saying that Jesus is!

In fact ... He is Almighty!

And He is our Strength!

Psalm 71:16 tells us this:  "I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only."

Amen!

                                                                             --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

OCTOBER 3, 2004 (SUNDAY)

I believe in the Virgin Birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!

No man played a role in His birth.  He was sent from God!

But, oh, the lady who bore our Saviour, the Virgin Mary, was a beautiful example of godly womanhood!

Listen to one of her comments in the great Psalm of Praise she uttered in Luke 1.  (This has traditionally been called the "Magnificat.")

Luke 1:46 --- "And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord."

Did you hear that?

"MY SOUL DOTH MAGNIFY THE LORD!"

Usually the "soul" (in Greek the word is "psuche" and gives us such words as psyche, psychology and psychosomatic) signifies one's mind, will and emotions!

Mary is saying that her mind (her thoughts) and her will (her decisions) and her emotions (her feelings) are all dedicated to magnifying the Lord!

This is total dedication!

The verb for "magnify" is "megaluno" ("mega" means big) and has the idea of enlarging, extolling, praising or showing as great!

She plans to uplift her Saviour!

The "tense" implication of this verb "magnify" suggests on-going continual habitual action!  She plans to praise Him all her life!

And "Lord" means One having power or authority!  "Kurios" in Greek describes the one to whom ownership is ascribed!  We are His!

Ladies, today (and again tomorrow) let us prepare our souls to magnify our great God too!

That sure beats complaining!  Or gossiping!  Or anything else we could do really!

In case you've "lost" the thought already, here's our verse again.  ""MY SOUL DOTH MAGNIFY THE LORD!"

Praise His Good Name!

                                                                             --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

SEPTEMBER 21, 2004 (TUESDAY)

Her name as we remember it:  Queen Elizabeth I of England. 

Any longer we know little about her.  (Especially in our day when educated rebels are re-writing history.)

But she was a godly lady.

After you have read and pondered one of her prayers (which I am about to share with you), thanksgiving and worship will swell up within your very being!

Just think!  In times past this old world has had political leaders and monarchs who were godly in their hearts!

We Americans had better beware!

We need more godly leaders.

Excuse me when I interrupt her prayer.  (The remarks parenthesized and highlighted in red are mine!)

She prays:

"When I survey the evils of this world, in which we Thy servants live (a Queen calling herself a servant of God), and behold the doings of the wicked, the hate of enemies, the dangers and crafty machinations of the impious, and by which we are continually endangered, yet even more when I remember my own life, how many errors and faults have beset me from my youth (what humility), I am afraid (the fear of the Lord), I am ashamed and full of despondency.  But as soon as I reflect again on Thy mighty hand, the greatness and the continuity of Thy assistance to me, I resume again my power of reasoning and become more elevated in my hopes (trust in the Lord).  For this reason, coming to Thee now with humble heart, I thank thee (a grateful spirit) ... for all the blessings which Thou hast granted to me, Thou Who, having preserved me from such great dangers (her "secret" service) and exalted me to the royal throne of this kingdom (England), hast not ceased to guard me upon it.

"... Wherefore, confiding in Thy unspeakable goodness, I approach and pray Thee my Master, my Deliverer, King of the universe (good knowledge of the Names of God): sanctify me (a leader who wants to be holy) in soul and in body (no immoral palace activities here), in mind and in heart, and renew me wholly.  And be to me a Helper and Protector, ruling in peace my life and my people, Thou Who alone are blessed everywhere now and for endless ages.  Amen."

Dear Sisters in Christ, God has allowed some great Christian ladies to live and die before our times. Many of them left great examples of godliness too!

May we follow them ... just as they followed Jesus!

This prayer today has challenged my heart!

                                                                               --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

SEPTEMBER 13, 2004 (MONDAY)

Ladies, we have all heard of the godly Wife and Mother Susanna Wesley.

The other day I came across some of her devotional writings.  I want to share a paragraph of them with you here today.

This is just a sample of her prayer life.

She apparently prayed these words (or something like them) one evening before going to bed.

Listen.

(Now remember that we are reading old English prose. It is much like the language of the precious King James Bible.)

Susanna Wesley prays ...

"I give Thee praise, O God, for a well-spent day.  But I am yet unsatisfied, because I do not enjoy enough of Thee.  I would have my soul more closely united to Thee by faith and love.  I would love Thee above all things.  Thou, Who hast made me, knowest my desires, my expectations.  My joys all center in Thee and it is Thou Thyself That I desire.  It is Thy favor, Thine acceptance, the communications of Thy grace that I earnestly wish for more than anything in the world.  I rejoice in Thine essential glory and blessedness.  I rejoice in my relation to Thee, Who are my Father, my Lord and my God.  I rejoice that Thou hast power over me and that I desire to live in subjection to Thee.  I thank Thee that Thou hast brought me so far.  I will beware of despising Thy mercy for the time which is to come, and will give Thee the glory of Thy free grace. Amen."

This is a lot different than the praying we hear today, isn't it?

What godly living that prayer represents!

No contemporary book of "how to pray" ever covers this!

Yet this lady raised some of the most godly children of history!

Maybe we had better read it again!

                                                                           --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

SEPTEMBER 3, 2004 (FRIDAY AFTERNOON)

Ladies, my Husband has been using some "quotes" from a few of the old godly Puritans of years long gone.

I thought you might enjoy hearing something from a Puritan's wife.

These folks were extremely godly and very serious in living their Christian lives.

Anne Bradstreet was a dedicated lady.  She is known as America's first English poet.  She was perhaps not the greatest writer ever ... but her poems have endured.

"Anne Bradstreet was born in 1612 and raised in a prosperous, educated home. After marrying Simon Bradstreet, she sailed to New England on the Arbella, exchanging a life of relative comfort and culture for the wilderness of Cambridge. It would appear that she was converted in the midst of her new hardships of building a home, storing food, enduring sickness, and raising eight children. Her poetry is a combination of Sixteenth Century culture, her new-found faith in Jesus Christ, and her struggle for the survival of her family. She went to be with the Lord in 1672."

Here are some samples of her writing:

"Worthy art Thou, O Lord, of praise,
But ah! It's not in me.
My sinking heart I pray Thee raise
So shall I give it Thee.

My feeble spirit Thou didst revive,
My doubting Thou didst chide,
And though as dead mad'st me alive,
I here a while might abide.

Why should I live but to Thy praise?
My life is hid with Thee.
O Lord, no longer be my days
Than I may fruitful be."

I think she loved the Lord!

"What God is like to Him I serve?
What Saviour like to mine?
O never let me from Thee swerve,
For truly I am Thine.

My thankful mouth shall speak Thy praise,
My tongue shall talk of Thee;
On high my heart O do Thou raise
For what Thou'st done for me."

Here's another taste:

"My soul, rejoice thou in thy God,
Boast of Him all the day,
Walk in His law, and kiss His rod
Cleave close to Him alway

Then shall I know what Thou hast done
For me, unworthy me,
And praise Thee shall ev'n as I ought
For wonders that I see.

Base world, I trample on thy face,
Thy glory I despise,
No gain I find in ought below,
For God hath made me wise.

Come Jesus quickly, Blessed Lord.
Thy face when shall I see?
O let me count each hour a day
'Till I dissolved be."

And here is one of her quick "prose" quotes:

"That house which is not often swept makes the cleanly inhabitant soon hate it; and that heart which is not continually purifying itself is no fit temple for the Spirit of God."
 

It encourages me to know that we believing ladies walk in a long tradition of godly women throughout our nation's history.

May our God be praised!

                                                                --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

AUGUST 7, 2004

In my last article I said that sometimes fear was a good thing!

Well, fear is a natural emotion for us to experience in our flesh.

That's why I so like that verse in Jeremiah 32:27 where the Lord tells us that He is the God of all flesh!

Most people have a fear of the unknown.  I had it when I was a child.  I feared the dark.  (Come to think of it, I'm still afraid of the dark!)  When I travel with my husband we sleep in many strange places (motels, etc.). I must have a light on somewhere ... all night long!

Back now to my North Carolina story.  (If it's been too long for you, read last month's lesson again.  It appears just below this installment!) 

We found a wheel-chair to get me to the car so I could go home.  My knee was not able to support my walking.

The next problem:  The knee was so swelled I could not bend it to get into the car. God again gave me strength!  With some help, I lifted my leg and got right into my seat!

I chose a verse to use for my trip home.  Psalm 71:16 --- "I will go in the strength of the Lord God."  I wrote it out on a paper napkin and carried it in my purse that Saturday.  The Lord and that verse got me home!  God has been so good to me!

All these events happened on the 4th of July weekend.  Every hospital supply or medical equipment place was closed.  We badly needed to rent a wheelchair!  (They were all closed Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday!)

Enter another problem!

My husband was supposed to start a revival meeting Monday evening in Bessemer, Alabama, and I was planning to go with him.  Since he had planned to rent me a wheelchair, all doors were (literally) closed!  He decided to drive to the meeting ... preach ... then drive home Monday night after preaching (205 miles each way)!  By Tuesday morning the medical rental places would be open, Lord willing.  That was our plan but it was not God's plan!  "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."  So says Proverbs 3:5-6!

When my husband got to the church the Pastor gave him a wheelchair to bring back to get me!  Jeremiah 33:3 --- "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not."  That night our Lord surely showed us some things we didn't know!

In this whole experience God has had many lessons for me to learn.  My downfall is that I want to see them all at once!  (You know ... number one, two, three, etc.!) God's does not often work that way! 

Please pray for me.  My knee is still not completely healed. 

But until then ... I will lean on this verse.  Isaiah 26:4 --- "Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength."

What more could I need?

                                                                  --- Norma Jean Bagwell

 

 

July 11, 2004 (Sunday)

For some time now I have been praying and seeking the mind of the Lord over what to put on the Ladies' Page.

It seemed like God was leading me just to write about some verses of Scripture that had been in my own personal life a blessing.  While I was pondering that thought it happened! 

What happened?

A perfect opportunity for me to put my faith to work and dig out of my memory bank some verses for help and strength.

I was in North Carolina last week with Brother Bagwell. In the motel room I twisted my knee and I was unable to stand on my feet or even walk for several days.  I cannot describe the pain I felt that first night.

I was so afraid.  But fear can be a good thing.  In Psalm 119:71 we are told:  "It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes." 

When I am hurting or in distress I can really listen tot God!  That's when He has my full attention.  I imagine someone else is like that too!

That night I began praying that God would flood my mind with verses on peace and fear and strength.  He did just that and more!  Jeremiah 33:3 says:  "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." 

Also Jeremiah 32:27 declares:  "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?"  I had to answer:  "No, there isn't, Lord!"

I felt like God was saying to me:  "Keep focused on Me and I will get you through this!"  Don't try to lean on your own understanding!  "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)  Also I remembered Isaiah 26:3 --- "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee."

After we made it through the first 48 hours we had another problem!  How would we get me to the car so we could go home?  That's when some Christian friends in North Carolina came into the picture along with the help of the tremendous staff at that motel (Holiday Inn Express) in Conover, North Carolina.  They found us a wheelchair to get me from the room to our car.

My story is going to be too long to fit into one article ... so it will be continued next time!

                                                                     --- Norma Jean Bagwell

 

 

 

JUNE 7, 2004 (MONDAY)

Today notice with me a study from James chapter 5.  We focus on a part of verse 17.

"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."   (James 5:17)

Much of James' last chapter is based upon the grand theme of prayer.

This verse is perhaps the epitome of it all.

The particular noun here used for prayer is "deesis" and means a petition or a request.  (Its root verb, deomai, means "to beg!  Even that root is from "deo" ... to bind!)

This is not the Greek word for general prayer ... but for prayer that asks something of God!

Neither is it the word for thanksgiving ... but (again) for requesting something from the Lord.

It's permissible to "ask" when you pray!  Jesus said so.  "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."  Matthew 7:7 And He continues in John 16:24 --- "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full."

Even James has encouraged us to ask in prayer.  See James 4:2 where he says:  "Yet ye have not, because ye ask not." 

But ... here in our James verse what kind of praying does he have in mind? 

"Effectual fervent" praying!

That expression (2 words in English) translates one verbal adjective (a participle) in Greek, "energoumene."  The word combines the Greek word for work, "ergon," and their prefix (a preposition) "en," which means within.  (Active, efficient, working within!)  Real Holy Spirit motivated prayer gets to "working within" the very prayer warrior himself or herself.  And it accomplishes great things through the power of God!

The word "righteous" (in Greek = dikaios") means correct in a legal and moral sense. It pictures those who walk in a "straight" way.  Wicked men, hypocritical deceivers, do not see their prayers answered!  Righteous men (and women) do!

Then the verb "availeth" must be analyzed.  It is in Greek "ischuo" and is one of the "key" words for strength or power!  It means to be strong (often even in a physical sense)!  In the King James Bible it is translated as "can do" and "avail" and "prevail." It is a present indicative active verb ... the action is ongoing, continual, habitual! Answered prayer just keeps on working and working and working!

To what extent does prayer avail?

"Much!"  In Greek it's "polos" and means many or much or abundantly or largely or in plenty! 

Ladies, today we should all practice the truth of our verse here!

Pray!

I promise you ... God will keep His Word!

                                                                       --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

MAY 24, 2004 (MONDAY)

The 4th chapter of James is amazing!

It details the wars and battles that men (and women) fight.

Let me show you what I mean.

Verse 1 gives us one kind of battle we fight. "From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?"  James 4:1

That little preposition "among" is the Greek word "en." It means "inside" one's own self.  I believe the Bible is right!  Our fightings and bickerings come first of all from within ourselves!  WE are at war!  I honestly think some folks "can't stand" themselves!  I guarantee you this:  "Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom."  Proverbs 13:10  That pride manifests itself in such hateful warrings!

Then verse 4 describes another direction in which we "war."  We often fight against God Himself!  "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?"  James 1:4  "Enmity" is the Greek word for "hatred!"  Warfare!  In today's rebellious age men (and women) are openly writing books by the droves attacking Almighty God! 

Next verse 11 teaches us something about our "wars."  Look:  "Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge."  James 4:11   Here is warfare with our brethren!  Too often the Christian attacks or gossips or criticizes or slanders his or her brother or sister in Christ!

All these kinds of factions are wrong.

BUT let me tell you one war we SHOULD be fighting.

The WAR with the devil.  The WAR with the world!  The constant WAR with our own flesh.  Paul says it best:  "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."  Ephesians 6:12

That's also what Paul means when he says: "Fight the good fight of faith!" 1st Timothy 6:12

Ladies, we are just as much in the battle as are the men!  In fact I sometimes wonder if the devil in these days is not perhaps fighting us women MORE than he's attacking the men. 

Only God can help us sort through this warfare thing and get it right.  (And He will do so through the enlightening power of His dear Word!  Passages exactly like James 4!)

Another good thing about it is this:  we know that the victory is already won!  In 1st Corinthians 15:57 Paul says:  "But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."  We're on the winning side!

Praise the name of the Lord!

                                                                           --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

MAY 13, 2004 (THURSDAY)

Ladies, it's time for James chapter 3!

As you well know, this is the Bible's classic sermon on the "tongue!"

("Classic" is a Latin word that means "best" or "first class!")

Our chapter only has 18 verses ... but they are "power packed!"

I have noticed that James describes our tongues by using  9 different "word pictures!"

Let me show you what I mean.

You may want to make a list of these ... memorizing them for future reference!

The tongue is like a "bit" in a big strong horse's mouth!  That little "bit" can guide and direct that big old horse any direction the rider decides!  So can the tongue give direction to our lives.  It can literally steer a day toward praise ... or grumbling!  It is the "bit" that points our "moods" (our very "attitudes") in whatever direction we go!

Secondly the tongue is like a "rudder" on a large ocean-going vessel!  Here the idea is not "direction" as much as overcoming opposing winds and following a determined course!  One's tongue can become so influential in life that it guides you ... even when other things would get you detracted!  Profanity can become such a habit ... that even on good days the filth still flows!  (Gossip or slander, other "sins" of the tongue, can also take over and successfully oppose God's good breezes of blessing!)

Thirdly the tongue is called a little "member" of one's body!  One's "leg" can give him or her trouble!  So can one's gall bladder or heart.  They are all members of the body too.  BUT perhaps the tongue leads the pack!  We often hear of "eye" trouble ... but seldom of "tongue" trouble!  It's common for folks to get their "hearing" checked ... but "tongue" checks are rare indeed!

Fourthly the tongue is like a fire!  Fires burn!  Fires spread!  Fires have some source!  The tongue burns fiercely ... and spreads its destruction rapidly ... and has a source too, Hell itself!

Fifthly, the tongue is a "world" of iniquity!  Let me explain.  There is a "world" of sin!  (San Francisco!  Las Vegas!  New York!  Atlanta!)  There is a world of science! (Georgia Tech, NASA, MIT, The Creation Research Society)  There is a world of Christianity!  (The Bible, Church, the Holy Spirit)  And the tongue also has a world of its very own!  (Jealousy, Slander, Gossip, Lying, Exaggeration) 

Sixthly, it is a pollutant!  It "defileth" the whole body!  It spots and stains everything it touches with its filth!  The picture is that of a "slop" jar (a portable clay pot that has served as one's commode during the night) that is spilled on someone's freshly cleaned white robe (toga)!  A sinful wicked tongue spreads pollution everywhere!

Seventhly, the tongue is an untamed beast!  (Birds can be tamed!  So can snakes, sea creatures, lions and tigers too!)  But no man can tame the tongue!  Watch it carefully!  It can attack when you least expect!  Keep it caged!  Don't trust it!  And please don't turn your back on it!

Eighthly, the tongue is a poison!  ("A deadly poison" says James!)  Deadly translates two Greek words that mean bearing or bringing death.  Many have died through history due to wagging tongues!  Paul uses the same word as "poison" here for the venom of a cobra snake in Romans 3!

Lastly the tongue is an inconsistent performer!  It can do strange things.  In the same conversation ... it can bless and curse!  (Do wells send forth both sweet water and bitter?  No!  Do fig trees bear olives?  No!  Then tongues should not bless God on Sundays and curse God on Fridays!)  Is your tongue that unpredictable? 

BUT even after all that bad news ... James does not leave us hopeless!  He gives us the answer to the "tongue" issue!

Who CAN tame the tongue?

God the Holy Spirit can!

He is often in Scripture either called Wisdom or compared to Wisdom!

James uses the Wisdom motif here. 

Watch.

Verse 13:  "Who is a wise man?"

Verse 15:  "Earthly wisdom is devilish and filled with confusion, envy and strife! (That's exactly the tongue he has been describing!)

Verse 17:  "BUT the Wisdom that is from above is ... first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy."  He is describing the Holy Spirit ladies!

He is the Solution to the tongue problem!

How about that!

The solution to the tongue (pictured by all sorts of wild beasts) is the precious Holy Spirit (pictured by a little white pure dove)!

And the Dove tames the beasts!

Glory to God!

                                                                       --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

 

April 29, 2004 (Thursday)

I have been reviewing a portion of James chapter two. In it the subject of "faith" is discussed.

James mentions 3 kinds of faith there I believe.

He first presents a DEAD faith!

In verses 14-17 James describes a faith that "talks" but has no "walk" to match it!  Here is his conclusion: "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone."  James 2:17

James is always a practical preacher.  He expects true faith to be accompanied by good works as well.  (James emphasizes faith as man would view it.  Paul emphasizes faith as God sees it!)

Then in verse 19 he talks about another kind of faith.

It is called the faith of devils.

Even Satan believes God ... but rejected His great plan of redemption through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

This faith possessed by the devils causes them to tremble!  "Phrisso," the Greek verb for tremble, means to shutter, to be struck with extreme fear or to be horrified!  It is only used this once in all the Bible!  (There is a Hebrew word for tremble that is used 28 times in the Old Testament.)

James 2:19 --- "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble."

Here's trembling faith ... and it does not save!

Thus far James has shown us DEAD faith and DEVILISH faith.

Next comes real faith!  Read about it in verses 20-26 of James 2.  James uses two examples of real faith, Abraham and Rahab.  Both "proved" their faith with accompanying good works.  (They just couldn't help it!  True faith "works!")

One writer calls this kind DYNAMIC faith!

Here's one way James puts it in 2:23 --- "And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God."

Even this hard preacher here just said that believing faith is saving faith!  It is!

There you have it!

James illustrates with dead faith, devilish faith and dynamic faith!

Which kind do YOU have?

                                                                      --- Norma Jean Bagwell

 

 

 

March 26, 2004 (Friday)

Before we leave chapter one let us take a closer look at a few more of its verses.

"Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."  James 1:13-15

There is a difference between testings from God to make us better or more mature and temptations from Satan to make us weak and to make us fall.

Verse 13 tells us that God cannot be tempted.  Luke chapter 4 gives us the account where Satan tried to tempt Jesus.  (By the way ... the devil failed!)  Verse 13 also tells us that God never tempts anyone to sin.  But He does allow us to be tried.  This is good for us.  I found a place in 1 Peter 1 (verses 6 and 7) where we again are encouraged to rejoice because the trial of our faith is more precious than gold.  It won't seem like gold at first, but when we turn our eyes upon Jesus and ask God to give us a joyful spirit we will see more clearly God's purposes in those very trials!

Back in the Book of Genesis the Bible tells us that God tested Abraham.  In chapter 22 God had asked him to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice upon the altar. Sometimes God will test us to check our obedience to Him!  I am happy to announce that Abraham passed his test and God provided a ram caught in the bushes (trees) just in the nick of time. 

In James 1:14 we see that man cannot trust his own desires.  The Scripture says that every man will be tempted and enticed to sin sooner or later.  Sin will draw you in deeper and deeper if you yield to it.  Sin brings forth death when it is finished.  I am so glad for the truth of Romans 6:23.  "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Praise God for His precious Son Jesus Who freely gave His life on Calvary's Cross that a wretched sinner like me could be saved!  It was a gift.  I did not deserve it!  I didn't earn it.  I never could.  John 3:16 tells us how much God loved us.  He gave His only Son for our sins! 

Do you know Him today?  Don't turn Him (Jesus) away!  Trust Jesus to save you. It's as easy as ABC.

ADMIT you are a sinner!

BELIEVE that Jesus died for you!

CONFESS that Jesus is God's Son and ask Him to save you soul!

Lord willing, next time we shall look at James 1:19 and (if space allows) James 1:22-25.

I sure do enjoy this Bible study time with you ladies!

Someone e-mail me (just "click" on my name at the top of this page) and let me know you're along on the journey through James!  I would love to hear from you.

                                                                       --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

March 14, 2004 (Sunday)

I once heard a wise old Preacher say that the Epistle of James was "The Proverbs of the New Testament!"

My husband and I know of a Preacher who has discovered 65 different types of men (and a few women) in the Book of Proverbs.  You know ... people like the lazy man (the sluggard), the wicked man, the scorner, the prostitute and the liar among others.

I thought early this morning how it would be interesting to see if James (again, the New Testament's "Proverbs") did the same thing.

It does!

Here is an example of what I have gleaned.

These are all found in the first chapter of James!

1.  The "tried" man is in verse 2.

2.  The "patient" man is in verse 3.

3. The "mature" man is in verse 4.

4. The "wise" man is located in verse 5.

5.  The "faithful" man is in verse 6.

6. The "double minded" man is in verse 8.

7. The man "of low degree" is in verse 9.

8. The "rich" man is found in verse 10.

9.  The "enduring" man is in verse 12.

10.  The "tempted" man is found in verse 13.

11. The "hearing" man is in verse 19.

12.  The "wrathful" man is in verse 20.

13. The "doing" man is in verse 22.

14.  The "forgetful" man is discussed in verses 22-24.

15.  The man whom God calls "blessed" is highlighted in verse 25.

16.  The "religious" man is in verse 26.

17.  Finally, the "unspotted" man is in verse 27.

Now that ought to be enough Bible study material to keep us all busy for a while!

Remember, God is still doing what He began long ago.  Let's let Ezekiel explain.  In Ezekiel 22:30 God says --- "And I sought for a man among them." 

What kind of a man (or woman) are you?

                                                         --- Norma Jean Bagwell

 

 

 

February 8, 2004 (Sunday)

Whenever we are going through trials and difficulties in our lives we should stop and pray! I'm sure we will all agree with this statement but WHAT should we pray? Should we pray for grace and strength to bear the burdens? Do we pray "God please take this away as soon as possible"? Or do we ask God to "teach us something in all of this"? All of these may be acceptable prayers, but let's see what James tells us we should do. In James 1:5-8 we read:

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways."

James tells us that we need to ask for wisdom. He also says that God will give wisdom to all men liberally without rebuke or scolding them. Proverbs 2:6 says: "For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding."

That may sound easy, but I fear that it is not. Why is this so necessary? Can't we just by-pass this prayer for wisdom?

If you read the first two chapters in Proverbs you will see how important it is that we listen to wisdom and what will happen to us if we turn our heads away. Proverbs 23:4 says: "... Cease from thine own wisdom." It is essential that we do not try to figure out our own solutions to our difficulties. We need to heed the advice found in Proverbs 3:5-7. "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil."

Our insights cannot compare to God's wisdom (which can be found in God's Word). Proverbs 4:7 says: "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding."

How could we possible function as mature Christians without godly wisdom? James is our New Testament source of wisdom while Proverbs seems to be the Old Testament authority on the subject.

In Proverbs 16:16 we are told that "Wisdom is better than gold!" It sounds like it is quite valuable for a person to be wise! In Proverbs 2:2 we are commanded to "Incline thine ear unto wisdom and apply thine heart to understanding!" Here the phrase "incline thine ear" pictures a "pricking up of the ears!" (Ears pointed for greater sharpness in hearing ... like the deer do when danger approaches!) One is expecting to hear something! It means to be alert and listening (for wisdom)! The verb "apply" means to "stretch" as when wanting to reach for something urgently! Many times I fear that we don't see God's wisdom in a matter because we are not looking and listening in the right place (God's Word) for it.

God is anxious for us to ask Him for help. He has stored up wisdom just for us. Look at Proverbs 2:7. "He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous. He is a Buckler to them that walk uprightly." The word "righteous" and the phrase "walk uprightly" both refer to mature Christians who are walking with God daily and trying to live in a godly manner for Him. A buckler is a small shield carried for defense.

Have you ever made this statement: "I never meant for things to turn out like this"? I sure have! I find that in looking back I usually see a place where I failed to stop and ask God for wisdom. Don't forget that God's strength is always made perfect in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

                                                                                     --- Norma Bagwell

If you would be interested in more information about wisdom (or if you just desire to be wise in heart) please see my husband's articles on the "Pearls from Proverbs" Page here on the web-site.

 

 

January 21, 2004 ( Wednesday)

How do you normally regard trials that you encounter?  Now let's read James 1:2-4.  "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."

Those verses are very sobering when we consider that it's a given for trials to come into our lives.  Everybody has them.  James tells us they are necessary to make us grow.  Look carefully and he will give us a secret that will keep us from being victims but instead we will be victors.  We can turn our trials into triumphs. 

II Corinthians 4:18 will tell us how the eye of faith can look at trials. It says: "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."  In fact in verse 2 the word divers means various or all different kinds of trials.

Also in here in James 1:2 we see  that "when we fall" actually means "to encounter" or "to come across".

Be aware of this: trials come from God to make us stronger while temptations come from the Devil to make us weaker.  In everything we face as Christians we can be assured that God knows all about our problems and He loves us.  His intentions are always to make us better not bitter.

Actually in these verses James is giving us 4 of his famous commands: (1) Count in vs. 2  (2) Know in vs. 3  (3) Let in vs. 4 and (4) Ask in vs. 5-8.

The word count is a financial term and it means to evaluate. When we face trials in life we must evaluate them in the light of God's word and what He is doing in our lives. This is the only way a dedicated Christian can "count it all joy" when they have trials. God's own son, Jesus experienced the same situation in Heb. 12:2 where it says "...for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross...".  So when trials come we should immediately give thanks to God and take on a joyful attitude. Remember, it's in the mind, not the emotions that we do this.

There are some things we need to know and understand. Firstly, faith is always tested. God tested Abraham and the Old Testament saints.

Secondly in verse 3 the word trying is translated approval. Trials work for the believer, not against him. Look at Romans 8:28 "and we know that all things work together for good...".

Thirdly trials will help us mature. We will learn patience when we learn to wait on the Lord to see what He is trying to do in us. Endurance cannot be attained by reading a book, listening to a sermon, or even praying.

God cannot work in our lives unless we let Him. We need to look again at verse 4 and also at verses 9-11. Another thing is that God always builds character first (before He calls to service). Before Abraham got his son (Isaac), God spent 25 years working on Him. Joseph had to go through 13 years of testing before God put him on the thrown of Egypt. God spent 80 years preparing Moses for 40 years of service. Our Lord spent 3 years training the disciples and building their character. God must have our consent and a surrendered will to work in us.

The next command from James is to ask and it is found in Chapter One verse 5-8. We will discuss this next time. Read the verse and see what we need from God!

                                                                           --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

 

January 15, 2004 (Thursday)

Spiritual maturity is one of the greatest needs in our churches today and James addresses this problem all the way through the book.  The word "perfect" (which means mature or complete) is used several times.  (See 1:4, 17, and 25.  Also see 2:22 and 3:2.)  The word does not mean "sinless" but rather one who is balanced and grown-up.

When you see some of the problems James deals with, it will become obvious that he's dealing with immature Christians.  ("Childish" characteristics are herein described!)  Note some of them with me today:

 

1.  Impatience in difficulties!  (James 1:1-4)

2. Talking about but not living the truth!  (James 2:14f)    The "f" means the verses "following" as well.

3.  No control of the tongue!  (James 3:1f) 

4.  Fighting and coveting!  (James 4:1f)

5. Collecting material "toys!"  (James 5:1f)

God needs grown men and women to carry on His work and sometimes all that can be found are little children who cannot get along with each other.

Some things we might need to know as we study this book:

Firstly, the book is written to Christians.  We must be sure of our own salvation before we try to apply these principles of maturity.

Secondly, we must be willing to obey!  We need not be like the man who after looking in the mirror walked away and did nothing.  (James 1:22-24)  God's Word is like a divine mirror to the child of God.  We need to be "doers of the Word and not hearers only."  (James 1:22)  The Lord is not obligated to teach us unless we are willing to obey.

Thirdly, we might need to be prepared for extra trials and testings IF we are serious about spiritual growth.   A wise man once said, "The real examinations in Bible Study come in the school of life, not in the classroom!"

A fourth thing to remember is that we can measure our spiritual growth by the Word of God and the Son of God.  (Ephesians 4:13)  We should never measure ourselves by other Christians.  2 Corinthians 10:12 says --- "But they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."

Now let us look at verse 2.  It says, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations."  You are probably saying right now, "How am I supposed to count it all joy ...?"  You must remember that counting trials as joy has to do with the mind and not the emotions.  No matter what your emotions "feel" (devastated, discouraged, etc.) and no matter what your body feels (pain, exhaustion, etc.) your mind must do it!  And without the Lord and faith, your mind cannot do it!  You and I must look at every trial with the EYE OF FAITH because the eye of faith can see the HAND OF GOD in all of life!

If you know what the end result is going to be, it will be easier to do this!  One can indeed take that trail and "count it all joy." 

Verse three will tell us that.   "Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience."  (James 1:3)  They EYE OF FAITH can see around the corner and there is patience!  What a lesson to learn.  It isn't going to be easy!

                                                                             --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

January 11, 2004 (Sunday)

Today I thought it would be wise to get an overview of the Epistle of James.  That always helps me as I study verse-by-verse.

I have found a neat little survey of the book in the writings of  a preacher my husband loves. 

Remember that I am borrowing this material.  It is not original with me.

James discusses the "mature" Christian in full detail. This whole Epistle is designed to help us all grow in the Lord!

Try to memorize these chapter headings if you can.

Chapter one says the the mature Christian is patient in testing!  Chapter two says the growing believer practices the truth.   Chapter three says that there is a level of godliness that has power over the tongue.  Chapter four declares that the grown-up Christian is a peacemaker, not a troublemaker.  And chapter five reveals the spiritual child of God is prayerful in troubles!  (When you see the repetition of sounds like this ... it is a form of outlining called "alliteration."  It is primarily designed to aid our memories!)

In our last lesson we saw that James is literally the "half-brother" of our Lord Jesus. Yet do see that in verse 1 he refused to "pull rank" and call himself a literal BROTHER ... but opts for the humbling term "servant."  James is truly a lowly believer.  The Greek word there for "servant" (doulos) means "slave."  (Complete obedience and unshakable loyalty are expected from these slaves.)

The whole epistle is Jewish in flavor.  It is written to believers who are Jewish in race but saved by the grace of God as well.  Notice the salutation "to the twelve tribes scattered abroad."  (Jews of the "disapora."  That means they are living outside of their land, the Holy Land.)

The opening word "greeting" is a little Greek term "chairo," which means "be well" or "be cheerful!"  In fact the word (from its "root") is derived from the New Testament word for GRACE!  James says to them:  "Grace!"

Lastly let me mention that James uses the full Name of our Master in his opening verse!  (Lord Jesus Christ)  "Lord" means that He is the Sovereign!  "Jesus" means that He is the Saviour!  And "Christ" means that He (without measure) is Sanctified! Also look at the fact that God AND Jesus are linked by a co-ordinating conjunction! That means that to James (and throughout the whole Word of God) God and Jesus are equal (co-equal and co-eternal)!

Next lesson we'll go further.

I believe we are going to enjoy this study together!

                                                                                       --- Norma Bagwell

 

 

JANUARY 5, 2004 (MONDAY)

"James, a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting."  (James 1:1)

James is a small book of 108 verses.  It is often called the New Testament book of Wisdom.  Of course the writer of the book is James.  This was a popular name at that time and it comes from the Old Testament name "Jacob."   

This James is the half-brother of Jesus Christ our Lord.  We find in Matthew 13:55-56 and Mark 6:3 that Jesus did have half-bothers and half-sisters. Mary was Jesus' mother, but Joseph was NOT His father.  God was the Father of Jesus through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit.

We know that James must have been a spiritual man because he was the leader of the church at Jerusalem.  He must have been a man of prayer because of the emphasis he gives to prayer in his Epistle. 

James was a Jew who was raised under the traditions of the law of Moses. You can plainly see this in his letter.  The book carries over 50 (fifty!) imperatives.  James does not make gentle suggestions!  He makes commands!  Read through the five chapters.  See how many commands you can find.  That would make an interesting Bible study project.

The Old Testament is directly quoted only five times in the book, but many references (allusions) are made to it.

James wrote the book to Jewish Christians who were living outside the land of Palestine.  The book is dated about AD 48.  He addresses them as "brethren" 19 times in the book.

These Jews which were "scattered abroad" were having all kinds of problems in their personal lives.  Some needed to learn to have more patience.  Others needed to learn to control their tongues.  Still others needed to overcome temptations.  While still others needed to learn how to pray.

One writer seems to think that James was written to help Christians become more mature in their Christian faith.

I have found a Christian writer whose material is very practical for us today. She is also easy to follow and understand.  Later sometime I will give you her name.  She believes that to mature in God's Word we need to develop a strong root system anchored in good Bible study!  Here is her material on roots.    

          1.  Roots are unseen!  (Much Bible study is too!  In the early morning hours or late at night the "midnight oil" is burned while God's little children study the Word!)

           2.  Roots are for "taking in!"  (Ingest all the Word of God you can!  Drink it like water!  Eat it like bread!)

         3.  Roots are for storage!  (The more Bible you learn, the more of a "reservoir" you'll build for daily and future needs!)

           4.  Roots are for support!  (They are largely what keeps that old Oak tree from falling in the fierce wind storms that batter it each spring!  They lend strength to the whole body of the tree!)

Continue to study this epistle of James with me!  (Let us nurture our "root" systems!)  Please e-mail me if you find some interesting material here.  Let me hear from you.  Your comments are always an encouragement to me.

                                                                            --- Norma  Bagwell

 

     

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