Thirty Days in James 1, Day 18: Illustrations

Every trial we face in life is not only an opportunity to move forward; it’s also an opportunity to go backwards. We can either persevere and move forward toward maturity when we fall into trials, or we can move away from God, away from growth, and away from blessing, as we give in to despair or bitterness.

Verse 12, with its promised crown of life for those who love God, acts as a hinge between verses 2-11 and verses 13-18. The chapter opens with teaching on how we should respond to outward, circumstantial trials. Then it turns to address those temptations that spring from our inward, sinful desires to sin. We will begin to look at those inward desires in Monday’s lesson.

For today, I want to encourage you to take the word pictures that James paints for us — stormy seas, fading flowers, two-souled men, the conception, gestation, and birth of sins, seeing ourselves in a mirror, and more — and turn them into visual pictures that will help you contemplate and remember their meanings.

Don’t worry if you don’t consider yourself artistic; you can do this! Artistic skill is not the point. Our purpose isn’t to decorate our Bibles (or the printed text). It’s to meditate on a passage while we draw, and to have some “visual notes” in our minds that will help us remember the main ideas in the chapter.

Assignment: Pray, thanking God for revealing Himself to you through His Word.

  • Then read all of James 1. This chapter should be getting more and more familiar to you. In fact, you might be surprised to find that you’re actually starting to memorize parts of it as you read it over and over. James, with all its practical wisdom and word pictures, is a great book to memorize. Choose a portion of the chapter, if you don’t want to memorize the entire chapter, and try to memorize one verse each day. Or memorize along with your children if you’re doing the children’s lessons.
  • Reread verses 1-15, this time watching for thoughts and themes that could be illustrated with simple drawings. The first verse I chose to illustrate in this chapter was verse 4. After learning that steadfast or patience has to do with remaining under, I chose to illustrate this verse by showing a lady “remaining under” the weight of a large barbell she’s lifting over her head.
  • We can get photos or drawings to help us out by going to Google Images and searching on woman lifting weights. To find images that are easier to copy, add the word cartoon or drawing to your search. For even simpler examples, add the words stick figure. 
  • Use a fine point pen (or pencil first) to draw your image. Keep it simple! Images like the ones in this post are examples of pictures we can look at for guidance. They needn’t be copied exactly. Stick figures are great! The drawings can be done in the margin of your Bible or printed text, or in your notebook. I like doing them in my Bible because the drawings also help me find verses I am looking for more easily.
  • After doing your drawing, take the time to color it in with colored pencils. This is a good chance to meditate on the verse and how your drawing relates to it.
  • If drawing in your Bible attracts your children’s attention, explain that you are doing this to help in your study, and that they should not interpret your actions as permission to draw in books and the Bible. Then explain what you have drawn and why. Give them paper and drawing materials and let them draw their own pictures, while you move on to illustrate another verse.
  • Choose three or four verses to illustrate and color.

For your chidren:

  • Choose a verse from James 1 to illustrate with your children, as explained in your lesson today. Let them use pencils or markers to do the initial drawing. Then color it with colored pencils or crayons. These can be done in the margin of a print out of James 1 or on a clean sheet of paper.
  • Illustrate several verses, if you have time.


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