The James Code helps believers go from knowing about God to living for God.
Bestselling author of The Joshua Code and The Jesus Code, O.S. Hawkins is back with a new book that is all about putting your faith into action. The James Code is practical, personal and action-packed straight from one of the most popular books of the Bible.
Once readers have devoted themselves to Scripture memory in The Joshua Code, and have equipped themselves to give answers in The Jesus Code, The James Code challenges readers to give feet to their faith. Hawkins gives applicable truth from the book of James emphasizing that an effective Christian life is not about faith and works, but is about faith that works.
As with The Joshua Code and The Jesus Code, all author royalties will go to Mission:Dignity, whose mission supports retired pastors and their spouses living near the poverty level.
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About the Author
O. S. Hawkins is president and chief executive officer of GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. GuideStone serves more than 250,000 individual participants from churches, missionary organizations, colleges and universities, hospitals, and other nonprofit institutions with their financial and benefit service needs. GuideStone Funds is the largest Christian-based mutual fund in the world with assets under management of over 20 billion dollars. Prior to the beginning of his tenure at GuideStone in 1997, Hawkins served as senior pastor of the historic First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas (1993--1997) and as senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (1978--1993) as well as earlier pastorates in Oklahoma.
Hawkins, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, earned the Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. He also earned the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition, he holds the Doctorate of Literature degree from Liberty University (Hon.) as well as several other honorary doctorate degrees.
He has been married to his wife, the former Susan Cavness of Austin, Texas, since 1970. They have two daughters, Wendy and Holly, both of whom are also graduates of TCU. Wendy is married to Brian Hermes and Holly is married to David Shivers. The Hawkins’s also have six grandchildren.
Dr. Hawkins is the author of over 40 books including the best-selling “Code Series” with over two million in print, including The Joshua Code: 52 Scripture Verses every Believer Should Know, The Jesus Code: 52 Scripture Questions Every Believer Should Answer, and The Bible Code: Finding Jesus in Every Book in the Bible.
Follow O. S. Hawkins on Twitter @OSHawkins. For free videos, podcasts, and book downloads, visit www.oshawkins.com.
Read an Excerpt
The James Code
52 Scripture Principles for Putting Your Faith into Action
By O. S. Hawkins
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2015 O. S. Hawkins
All rights reserved.
STRESS: Five Fascinating Facts
James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.
— JAMES 1:1
Stress! Perhaps no other word is used as much to describe the culprit, the scapegoat, the excuse of modern man. Many of the problems in our homes and with our health seem to relate to this stress factor. But stress has been around through the ages.
Note, for instance, that James addressed his epistle "to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad," to those early Christians who had fled Jerusalem. The Greek word James used to describe this is diaspora, from which we get our words dispersed and dispersion. The word picture is of someone scattering seeds.
After the martyrdom of Stephen in Acts 7, the Christians in Jerusalem came under increasing persecution from the Roman Empire. They refused the Romans' demand to confess "Caesar is Lord." Instead, they insisted there was only one Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, the Bible informs us, "They were all scattered ... except the apostles" (Acts 8:1).
James was writing to those believers who had to leave their homes, their jobs, their properties — everything. Talk about stress! Yet God permitted these early believers to experience the scattering and the resulting stress for a purpose. Had these believers stayed in Jerusalem, chances are the gospel would not have spread so completely through the known world. Everywhere these early followers of Jesus were scattered, they shared the good news of Christ's redemptive work, and in just one generation the gospel spread throughout the Roman Empire.
James was writing to people facing "various trials" (James 1:2). He was instructing them — and now instructs us — on how to deal with stress and pressures that come our way. James addressed stress long before the multitudinous volumes of books on modern stress were written. He was writing to people who were experiencing stress and about to crack under pressure. He was writing to those of us who are trying to live out what we say we believe. Consequently, James was extremely practical as he encouraged his readers to live out a faith that works.
As I type these words, I think about those who initially read James's letter almost two thousand years ago. Some of them were wives and mothers at their wits' end. Uprooted from their homes and miles away from what they had always known, they were now trying hard to keep their families together. James was also writing to children trying to deal with new surroundings and uncertain futures, suddenly living in a completely different culture. Also hearing these words were men who had lost their jobs, their land, everything they had spent a lifetime building. These men and women undoubtedly felt as though they were hanging by a thread. They were living under tremendous pressure and great stress.
In our modern world, the moment we hear the word stress, we tense up, clench our fists, and grind our teeth — as if stress were our foe. Yet stress can be our friend. In fact, Dr. Kenneth Cooper has written a book titled Can Stress Heal? The subtitle gets to the heart of the issue: Converting a major health hazard into a surprising health benefit. Stress is often God's way of telling us that our life is out of balance. In fact, James was teaching that stress is a warning signal that can actually be one of life's greatest tools. Learning to effectively deal with high anxiety when it comes knocking at our door can result in longer, happier, and even healthier lives.
We might not know — as the Jews in James's day did — the stress of literally being uprooted from all we have known, nor the stress of crossing oceans in rickety wooden boats to find religious freedom, but those people who lived just a few years before we were born did not know the stresses of our modern world. Exponential change is happening all around us. We all face our own limits, whether they be limits to time, energy, health, or finances, and many of us are perilously close to burnout. Yet, as we keep hoping that the pace of life will eventually level out or slow down, it seems to keep getting faster and more intense.
That's why a great life skill is the ability to cope with stress and pressure. As we look closely at the words of James in the pages that follow, we'll see that he was addressing not just the stress and pressure of a first-century world but of our own fast-paced twenty-first-century experience as well. James's letter is not so much a theological expose, like Romans. It's much more practical, focused on how to live out our faith in a pressure-packed world.
In the initial paragraphs of his letter, James revealed five fascinating facts about stress. First, stress is predictable. Stress happens, and it's not going away. Second, stress is problematic. If we don't learn to deal with stress, it can be detrimental and even destructive to our health, our homes, our happiness, and our hopes. Third, stress is paradoxical. James said to "count it all joy when you fall into various trials" (James 1:2). Now, that is a paradoxical thought if ever there was one! Fourth, stress is purposeful. Some of us go through the furnace of stress and come out like refined gold, better suited and prepared for a life of purpose. Finally, stress can be profitable. God can use stress for our good and His glory.
Those early believers were not the only ones living in a diaspora. In a very real sense, believers today are scattered all around the world, living in exile from our heavenly, eternal home. Thus, behind the hand of James is the hand of God Himself, writing to you and me at a point of personal need.
JUST DO IT! Stress is a fact of life. It's not going away, and we all must deal with it. As you study James, begin to see yourself as the lone recipient of this letter: it's from God, through James, and to you personally. Listen to his seasoned and sage advice and put it into practice. Start thinking of stress as a friend, and not just a foe. Stress is there for a purpose.CHAPTER 2
Stress Is Predictable
James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.
— JAMES 1:1–2
What?!? James was telling us to count it all joy when we "fall into various trials"? Most of us count it joy when we escape the trials of life, not when we fall into them! And notice that James was not saying to count it joy if we fall into trials. He said we are to count it joy when we fall into them. Experiencing stress is not an if it's a when. Stress is predictable: it is inevitable, inescapable, unavoidable. We all experience it. We can't avoid it. Stress happens.
In fact, we can read the Bible from cover to cover, and nowhere will we find the promise that we're immune to stress or sickness, exempt from trials or tribulations. Some, however, teach falsely that if we're living the Spirit-filled life, we'll have only smooth sailing on the sea of God's will. But may I remind you that our Lord Himself warned, "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
Yes, stress is predictable. We can't avoid stress, but it can actually be good for us. Stress can, for instance, be a motivating factor: it can motivate us to make changes in our life or our lifestyle. However, too much stress coupled with not knowing how to deal with it can be detrimental mentally, spiritually, and physically. Stress can contribute to depression, which is real and rampant in our fast-paced society. Among its spiritual implications, stress and life's pressures can lead us, like Elijah of old, to run away from God's plan for us and find our own juniper tree where we sit in defeat and self-pity (1 Kings 19). Physically, stress prompts our body to pump adrenaline into our bloodstream, preparing us to fight or flee. If we do neither, the adrenaline remains in our system until our bodies break it down and slowly absorb it. High stress levels in our bodies over long periods of time can cause high blood pressure, ulcers, heart disease, headaches, and other serious health issues.
Although stress is predictable and can indeed have ramifications, it does not have to be our foe. Stress can be a friend. Consider that God never calls upon us to work harder than He did in the creation event — and He took the seventh day off! Many of our physical challenges are the result of our own bad decisions, and the same is true about mental challenges. Isaiah put it like this: "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You" (Isaiah 26:3). In the New Testament, the apostle Paul had his own prescription for stress: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6–7).
James continued his instruction. We should count it joy when we face what? Trials. There is a difference between a trial and a temptation. Trials come from God to strengthen the Christian's ability to stand; temptations come from the Devil to cause the Christian to stumble. None of us can avoid trials. They are predictable. No matter who we are or how long we have journeyed in the Christian faith, we will face stress. The sooner we realize this fact, the sooner we can learn to deal with it. The tragedy of today's tranquilizer mentality is that it simply prolongs the day when we finally learn to deal with stress.
It is also important to note that James said we should count it joy when we "fall into" trials of various kinds. Interestingly, the Greek word used here is also used to describe the man in Jesus' parable who "went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves" (Luke 10:30). Here was a guy minding his own business. He rounded a corner and — WHAM! — he was suddenly surrounded by unexpected trouble. There was no warning, no time to run away. He "fell into" this trial, and this same thing happens to us at one time or another. We are sailing through life, going around the bend, and — WHAM! — we, too, "fall into various trials." Things are going pretty well, and then we get the doctor's report or the pink slip at the office ... or the roof springs an expensive leak ... or additional income tax is due ... or the health insurance premium skyrockets beyond our ability to pay, or death comes knocking unexpectedly on a loved one's door.
None of us is exempt from falling into various trials. The New Testament writers constantly reminded us that trials are a part of life, and in that sense they are predictable. Peter put it like this:
"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:6–7).
No one ever had more trials come his way than Paul. He said that he served "the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews" (Acts 20:19). And even our Lord knew stress. He wasn't exempt from falling into various trials. In the upper room the evening before the crucifixion, He said to His disciples, "You are those who have continued with Me in My trials" (Luke 22:28).
Jesus knew better than anyone that stressful trials come our way, yet He never appeared to be stressed out. We never find Him wringing His hands or anxiously pacing. Instead we see Jesus get away, alone with His heavenly Father, from time to time. If He needed those times of solace and solitude, how much more do we?
As followers of Christ, we will encounter two basic kinds of trials: trials of correction and trials of perfection. God allows them both. When we are out of His will for our lives, trials of correction often come our way. Just ask Jonah. He got into a major storm of correction and learned his lesson, corrected his way, and was greatly used by God. On the other hand, trials of perfection come to us when are in the will of God, when we are exactly where He told us to be and doing exactly what He told us to do. Ask the disciples who obeyed Christ's command to get in the boat and go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. They were where Jesus told them to be and doing what He told them to do when they "fell into" a storm of massive proportions and feared for their very lives. Jesus came, walked on the water, stilled the disciples' storm, and strengthened their faith.
Yes, stress is predictable: all of us will experience it. None of us is immune to trials. Paul said these stressful situations are "common to man" (1 Corinthians 10:13). Clearly, it's not nearly as essential to try to explain trials philosophically or even theologically as it is for us to simply learn to deal with them. Once we realize stress is predictable — as in unavoidable — we can learn to deal with it, as James will teach us in the following chapters. Trials are when, not if. Stress happens to all of us. It is predictable.
JUST DO IT! So you find yourself bit stressed? Don't be surprised. James just tapped you on the shoulder to remind you that stress can't be avoided. After all, stress is when, not if. Stress can bring emotional, mental, and physical problems as well as spiritual challenges if we do not recognize that stress is predictable and learn to deal with it. The battle is often in the mind, rooted in our surprise that life is hard. If you think you're going to live a stress-free life, you're mistaken. See the stress of life for what it is. God is allowing it. So "count it all joy."
Excerpted from The James Code by O. S. Hawkins. Copyright © 2015 O. S. Hawkins. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsIntroduction: Meet James, 1,
1 STRESS: Five Fascinating Facts (James 1:1), 5,
2 Stress Is Predictable (James 1:1–2), 10,
3 Stress Is Problematic (James 1:2), 16,
4 Stress Is Paradoxical (James 1:2–4), 22,
5 Stress Is Purposeful (James 1:3–8), 27,
6 Stress Is Profitable (James 1:9–12), 33,
7 RELATIVISM: The Religion of Contemporary Culture (James 1:13–17), 38,
8 The Cause of Temptation (James 1:13–14), 43,
9 The Course of Temptation (James 1:15), 49,
10 The Caution About Temptation (James 1:16–17), 55,
11 THE CREDIBILITY CRISIS (James 1:18–27), 61,
12 True Faith Involves Knowing Christ (James 1:18), 66,
13 True Faith Involves Sowing Consistency (James 1:19–25), 72,
14 True Faith Involves Showing Character (James 1:26–27), 77,
15 DISCRIMINATION (James 2:1–9), 82,
16 The False Leg of Prejudice (James 2:1–7), 87,
17 The False Leg of Presumption (James 2:8–13), 93,
18 THE ETHICAL EFFECT (James 2:14–26), 99,
19 A Faith Without Fruit Is a False Faith (James 2:14–17), 104,
20 A Faith Without Fruit Is a Futile Faith (James 2:18–19), 108,
21 A Faith Without Fruit Is a Fatal Faith (James 2:20–26), 112,
22 WORDS AS WELL AS WORKS (James 3:1–12), 118,
23 Controlled Speech Can Be Directed (James 3:1–5), 123,
24 Contentious Speech Can Be Destructive (James 3:5–8), 128,
25 Conflicting Speech Can Be Deceptive (James 3:9–12), 133,
26 WISDOM (James 3:13–18), 138,
27 The Wisdom of the World (James 3:13–16), 143,
28 The Wisdom of the Word (James 3:17–18), 149,
29 WAR AND PEACE (James 4:1–12), 154,
30 War Has Its Symptoms (James 4:1–3), 159,
31 War Has Its Sources (James 4:4–6), 164,
32 War Has Its Solutions (James 4:7-12) –168,
33 ROOTS OF RECESSION: THE ARROGANCE OF OUR AGE (James 4:13–17), 173,
34 Foolish Presumptions (James 4:13, 16), 177,
35 Forgotten Perspectives (James 4:14), 181,
36 Forsaken Priorities (James 4:15-17), 186,
37 YOUR MONEY TALKS ... WHAT DOES IT SAY? (James 5:1-6), 191,
38 How We Get It (James 5:1, 4, 6), 196,
39 How We Guard It (James 5:1–3), 201,
40 How We Give It (James 5:5), 207,
41 APOCALYPSE NOW? (James 5:7–12), 212,
42 Look Up ... Be Calm (James 5:7), 217,
43 Look In ... Be Clean (James 5:8–9), 221,
44 Look Back ... Be Challenged (James 5:10–11), 226,
45 Look Forward ... Be Consistent (James 5:12), 231,
46 IN TOUCH WITH A WORLD OF HURT (James 5:13–18), 236,
47 People Can Hurt (James 5:14–15), 241,
48 Perspective Can Help (James 5:16), 247,
49 Prayers Can Heal (James 5:16–18), 252,
50 IT'S NEVER TOO LATE FOR A NEW BEGINNING (James 5:19–20), 258,
51 The Possibility of Our Falling (James 5:19-20), 264,
52 The Responsibility of Our Calling (James 5:19–20), 269,
What People are Saying About This
'O. S. Hawkins has 'broken the code' to bringing practical and powerful insights into the patterns and principles of Scripture. There's a reason that more than a million of his devotionals have been embraced by those who have discovered this insightful series.' Mike Huckabee, television commentator and former governor of Arkansas
'True devotion to Christ draws us into the Bible and increases our love for the Word of God. That's what makes the Code series so powerful. Deeply biblical, relevant, and faithfulthis series will greatly bless you, your friends, and your church.' R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
'Too many devotionals are long on the thoughts of men and short on the wisdom of God. I endorse the entire Code series of devotionals from my friend O. S. Hawkins because they start with Scripture and keep the focus on the Lord.' Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship
'Whether on the football field or the field of life, you need a playbook. The entire Code series of devotionals is a great resource for my own spiritual growth. I read one of the Code books regularly in my own devotions and enthusiastically recommend them to my family, friends, and fans.' Roger Staubach, Hall of Fame quarterback and real estate developer
'In my forty-five years in ministry, I have never seen a more desperate need for truly biblically wise counsel. Unfortunately, most of the books available are man-centered, which do not even provide temporary help. That is why I am so thankful that Dr. O. S. Hawkins penned the Code series. The questions that are asked in the Bible are the questions everyone is asking, and thank God the Code series gives us truly sustaining and uplifting answers. This book is a must for everyone. Read and reread it, and be eternally blessed.' Dr. Michael Youssef, senior pastor, Church of the Apostles, Atlanta, Georgia