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J2 Challenge

Are you the kind of person who likes to step up to the plate? Do you like to accept a challenge and see if you can "do it?" Do you enter contests? Do you "play the lottery?" Have you ever tried a "self-improvement" plan or exercise routine? Chances are, at some point, you have done one or more of these things.

I am going to cut to the quick. Most of us live busy lives. We all have challenges. Life is not fair and chances are, more often than not, we find ourselves tired, stressed, worn out and at times, at wits end. Our internal dialog is not always positive. We face seasons that can shake us to our core. The burning flame of our faith can dwindle to a flicker at times and despite our deepest convictions, we do not always spend time tending to our garden ensuring the fruits of our spirit are flourishing even though the Holy Spirit is RIGHT THERE to help. This does not make us bad people; it makes us human.

It does; however, make us weak. When we are weak - physically, emotionally and spiritually - no matter what we think or how we "feel" the simple truth is we are more susceptible to the influence of this world. We are prone to temptations of the flesh and our own desires.

(All of the following scripture is from NIV translation.)


  • Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

  • When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.

  • Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

  • ...judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

  • As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

  • Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

  • But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

  • Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

  • If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

  • Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.

1 John:

  • If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.

  • Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.

  • I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray.

  • See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

  • Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

  • You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

  • Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

  • Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

  • This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

  • He is the true God and eternal life.

  • Dear children, keep away from anything that may take God's place in your hearts.

Those are but small pieces of "nuggets" embedded in these very powerful books. They are very short books. Each book has 5 chapters. Each chapter is very short. What stands out about James is it was written, not to a specific church but to all Christians (at the time) who were scattered throughout the Mediterranean because of persecution. Because of their hostile environments, they were prone to let "intellectual agreement" pass for faith. Sound familiar? James is a powerful book for us believers as it reminds us that genuine faith transforms lives. It reminds us what true faith is and to put our faith into action. It is easy to "say" we have faith but true faith will produce action. John writes his letter to no specific church as it was written as a pastoral letter to several congregations. It was also meant for all believers. In this book, we find key scripture on vital aspects of our faith meant to help us remember truth from error and lead us to confidence in our faith. These truths can bring us certainty when we apply them.

Why do I tell you this? In August, I am taking the "J2 Challenge." I ask you to join me. What is it you ask? Every day, you will read both books. Thats a lot you say. No, no it isn't. Even for a slow reader, it may take 45 minutes. Instead of filling your mind with headlines or a TV show or something else, you will take the time it takes to read these two small books, every day, for a month. You don't have to read them both in the same setting, just as long as, at some point in the day, you read them. You may even read other related scripture. Think about what it will do for your faith but more importantly, your relationship with your Father - being tuned in to the Holy Spirit - and making sure you know who Jesus Christ is - to read this every day.

Every day, this world tries to chip away at you. Refuse to let it. Every day, you encounter brothers and sisters who need to see Christ in you. Do they? Every day, you genuinely long to know you are truly working in and on your garden with the Holy Spirit. Am you? Every day, you are determined to let your light shine before men. Do you? I choose the J2 Challenge for me because I want to refuel my tank. What about you? Will you join me?

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