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Good gifts come down from the Father

September 1, 2022

Daily Scripture

James 1:16-18

16 Don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all. 18 He chose to give us birth by his true word, and here is the result: we are like the first crop from the harvest of everything he created.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

“The Israelites offered the first parts of their harvest (called “firstfruits”) to God (Leviticus 23:9-14); first implies that many more will follow.” * In today’s passage, James picked up on that idea and said all Christ-followers are the “first crop” from God’s harvest. He echoed Jesus’ teaching (cf. John 3:2-7), saying the reason we are that “crop” is that God gave us “birth by his true word.”

  • In yesterday’s reading, James insisted that God does not tempt anyone to do evil. Today’s reading expanded that thought. “Rather than sending testing to break people (vv. 12–16), God sends good gifts, including creation or rebirth (v. 18).” ** James wanted his readers to see that what we believe about God is vital to being able to follow God’s ways. How easy or hard do you find it to trust that “every good gift, every perfect gift, comes.…down from the Father”?
  • When James urged his readers not to “be misled,” he wasn’t being abstract or hypothetical. We know there were rabbis in his day (like people before and after) who used the belief that God is Creator to say everything in our world came from God, and therefore everything (like every human impulse) is good. What makes that idea dangerously misleading? How have you learned to let God’s eternal principle of love, not your own feelings, define what’s good?

Lord God, thank you for the good gifts you pour into my life, into our world. Help me clearly distinguish your good gifts from the hurtful things that try to draw me away from you. Amen.

GPS Insights

Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory serves on the Resurrection staff as Human Resources Lead Director. Janelle finds that her heart is constantly wrestling with the truth that she needs a Savior, and the times when she's at her very best are when she's just too tired to put up a fight.

(Janelle first published this insightful blog in February, 2016. It’s still good!)

I don’t get recreational skydiving. Why would anyone go 12,000 feet in the air just to get back to the ground? I’m already on the ground. I’ve already reached the goal. I win.

I love Jerry Seinfeld’s take on skydiving:

…Skydiving was definitely the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Let me ask you this question about skydiving: what is the point of the helmet in skydiving? I mean, can you kinda make it? You jump out of that plane and that chute doesn’t open, the helmet is now wearing you for protection. Later on the helmet’s talking with the other helmets going “It’s a good thing he was there or I would have hit the ground directly!”

Hilarious! It may make you feel safer, and it probably provides some protection when you land, but in no way is that helmet going to save your life without the parachute.

It’s kind of like life. Let’s face it, life is wonderful and great, but it is also unstable at best, and often downright treacherous. We are regularly faced with difficult and scary situations-–serious health issues, broken relationships, loved ones facing challenges, financial struggles, acts of violence, temptations, natural disasters, community crisis, the list goes on and on.

We do our best to protect ourselves in these situations. We strap on our helmets of diet and exercise, more insurance, counseling, self-protection, whatever it may be. They give us a sense of control and make us feel safe. These are all great and important, but I think it’s also important to step back and realize that these are helmets. What’s really going to save us in these situations (notice the word in, not necessarily from) is much, much bigger.

Putting our trust solely in our helmets when we’re plummeting towards the ground is not only ridiculous, it can be deadly. We have to realize that God is our parachute keeping us from completely crashing down to our demise. He’s the one guiding us, holding us, comforting us, and walking with us through the shadows. He is our Savior.

If (or, more precisely, when) you find yourself falling in life, by all means wear your helmet. Just don’t count on it as your only protection. You’ve got a much better and greater protector in God, and he’s ready and able to be your parachute.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Patrick J. Hartin, study note on James 1:18 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 455NT.

** Comment on James 1:17 in NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook . Zondervan. Kindle Edition.