Living Faith: Compassionate Endurance

MONDAY:  Read James chapter 5

  • The book of James seeks to show us various actions that demonstrate a living faith.
  • We can learn a lot about the condition of our faith when we examine our relationship with wealth.
  • A strong commitment to both personal and corporate prayer is necessary for a living faith.   

Prayer: Patient and loving God, we praise you for your gift of scripture.  We confess that the letter of James continues to challenge us and that we struggle to engage in a living faith.  We glorify your name that you sent your son, Jesus Christ to redeem us to you.  We glorify your name that you continue to grant us mercy, peace, and grace to live as your children despite our frailties.  We glorify your name that you lovingly walk this path with us.  We glorify your name O God, Amen.  

 

TUESDAY:  Read James 5:1-6, Luke 12: 13-21

  • Throughout scriptures, the authors speak frequently against using wealth to satisfy our own desires instead of using our wealth to help others. 
  • We are encouraged to place our hope, desire, and sense of value into expressing a living faith in God.  We are reminded of the fleeting existence of material things. 

Reflect: The comic book character Spider Man’s Uncle Ben voiced a major theme that runs throughout the super hero’s life.  He said “With great power comes great responsibility.”   The citizens of the United States have greater power and wealth than many citizens living in the rest of the world.  How do you take responsibility for the wealth and power you have been given?  How do you use your wealth and power to care for others around you?  

 

WEDNESDAY:  James 5: 7-11, Revelation 21: 1-4

  • A living faith allows us to be patient with injustice and endure oppression.
  • We have the hope and assurance that the Day of the Lord is coming near.  Jesus will return to make all things right.   

Act: Write down one thing in your life that needs to change in order for you to grow in living your faith.  How will you allow God to help you make this change?

 

THURSDAY:  Read James 5:12, Matthew 5: 33-37

  • When our actions are consistent with our words, there is no need to take an oath to bind us to our commitments.
  • A life lived with integrity demonstrates a living faith. 

Prayer:  Hello Lord.  In Proverbs chapter 10 verse 9 it says “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely; but whoever follows perverse ways will be found out.”  Please help me to live a life of integrity.  Let my “yes” mean “yes” and my “no” mean “no”.  Help me to honor all of my commitments.  In your holy name I pray, Amen. 

 

FRIDAY:  Read James 5: 13-15, Philippians 4: 4-9

  • A living faith is rooted in a life of prayer.
  • We cannot pray for each other if we are unwilling to fellowship with and humble ourselves before each other.   A living faith will ultimately drive us to live in community with other people and not in private isolation.
  • The story of Elijah, the drought, and its fall out can be found in 1 Kings chapters 17, 18, and 19. 

Reflect: How can prayer make a difference in the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ?  How has prayer made a specific difference in your life?

 

SATURDAY:  Read James 5: 19-20, Matthew 18: 15-20

  • James wrote his letter to teach and remind us what a living faith looks like.  To close his letter, he encourages us to continue to share this knowledge with one another in mercy and love.

Act: We have come to the end of the book of James.  What insights have you discovered during this sermon series?  What questions do you continue to have?  Discuss them with a family member, a friend, or another member of New Hope. 

 

Want to learn more about the topics covered in the Letter of James?

Dailyaudiobible.com This is a daily podcast delivered by Brian Hardin.  Brian reads the scriptures out loud to his listeners. The goal is to read the entire bible in one year. Each podcast lasts about 30 minutes followed by additional reflection by Brian and prayer requests recorded by listeners. The podcast can be found both at the above website as well as for free on i-tunes. 

In one of his books, Brian writes "The Bible is about becoming more like Christ. It constantly invites us to submit ourselves in obedience not to make us miserable but to change us from the inside out...May you find life in God's Word, my friend, and may true life find you…Amen."

Living Faith: Live Humbly

MONDAY:  Read James chapter 4

  • We are asked to choose between a life that focuses primarily on self-love or a life that is focused wholly on God’s love.
  • Repentance is the foundation of a life lived in humility.
  • Humility allows us the courage to fight evil, the grace to love one another, and the peace to rest in assurance that we are always welcome to enter into the presence of God. 

Prayer: O Father, give us the humility which realizes its ignorance, admits it mistakes, recognizes its need, welcomes advice, and accepts rebuke.  Help us always to praise rather than to criticize, to sympathize rather than to condemn, to encourage rather than to discourage, to build rather than to destroy, and to think of people at their best rather than at their worst.  This we ask for They Names’ Sake, Amen.  (a prayer by William Barclay).

 

TUESDAY:  Read James 4:1-3, 1 John 5:13-21

  • The conflict between people is a symptom of the conflict that exists within people.  The conflict within people is the conflict that exists between the will of self versus the will of God.   
  • When we pray the will of God, God hears and answers our prayers.

Reflect: C.S. Lewis lived in the early to mid 1900s.  He was a former atheist turned Christian Apologist.  In his novel The Great Divorce he wrote “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”

Do you agree with his assessment?  Why or why not?

 

WEDNESDAY:  James chapter 4: 4-6, Matthew 6: 19-24

  • What we value as treasure is where we also place our hearts.  God wants to be the only treasure we seek.
  • History records humanity’s frequent unfaithfulness towards God.  When God demands our faithfulness, God also empowers us to be faithful through gifts of his grace and mercy. 
  • Humility recognizes that we need God’s grace in order to be faithful towards God. 

Act: Write a list of the top 5 items that consume the vast majority of your time, your efforts, and your resources.   These are your top 5 values (or treasures).    Does a personal relationship with Jesus Christ appear on this list? Does your own name appear on this list?  Why or why not?

 

THURSDAY:  Read James 4:7-10, Isaiah 1:10-20

  • Repentance means to turn around.  God asks us (begs us) to turn away from what cannot help us, what cannot save us, and what cannot love us towards someone who can – God himself. 
  • We cannot repent from our sin, that is “turn away from” our sin, if we do not recognize the sin in our lives.  Pride leads us to either deny our sin or to blame our sin onto someone or something else.  Humility leads us to acknowledge our sin as our own and to seek forgiveness. 

Act:  These 4 short verses in James contain no less than 10 action words.  Circle them.  Which of these actions is God calling you to do this week? 

 

FRIDAY:  Read James 4:11-12, Matthew 18:21-35

  • After confessing our own sin, James reminds us to not speak unkindly, or to cast judgment, towards another person’s sin. 
  • To receive forgiveness from God means we must grant others forgiveness as well. 

Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.  Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom and the glory forever.  Lord, I thank you for the encouragement and discipline the Letter of James has given us to remind us that the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer you taught us, is to be lived out loud through our actions and words.  Amen.

 

SATURDAY:  Read James 4:13-16, Luke 12:22-48

  • Pride tells us we can plan our lives on our own; without God’s wisdom, guidance, or even presence.  Humility remembers that God is sovereign and that we are ultimately dependent upon God for our daily bread. 

Reflect: In what ways has God grown you in humility?  In what ways do you continue to struggle with pride?

 

Want to learn more about the topics covered in the Letter of James?

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis.   This is a fictional story about the citizens of hell taking a bus ride to heaven.  Once in heaven they are given the chance to stay.  The story is a meditation on pride and humility and explores the idea that Hell is a place where the gate is locked from the inside. 

Living Faith: Powerful Words

MONDAY :  Read James chapter 3

  • Words and speech have the power to express great love.  Words and speech also have the uncontrolled power to corrupt and destroy.  The degree of one’s spiritual maturity is frequently revealed in one’s speech.
  • True wisdom is not intellectual, it is behavioral.

Prayer: Amazing God, you continue to teach us your ways through means of love and means of discipline.  We praise you for the loving and challenging words you have given us through the Letter of James.  We glorify your holy name that you have not left us to our own ability to follow your ways, but that you have given us your sanctifying grace to allow us to grow as your disciples.  Please continue to grant us the courage and humility to reach out to you.  In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray, Amen. 

 

TUESDAY:  Read James 3: 1-2, Ephesians 4:11-16

  • A teacher shares knowledge primary by using words.  James is not discouraging individuals from teaching or attempting to prevent people from sharing the faith.  He is reminding everyone of the seriousness of the task.  Even the most gifted teacher will make mistakes and require God’s mercy and forgiveness.
  • God has equipped each of us to help each other walk on our discipleship journey.  The church is a group of people that helps us learn about our beliefs.  In this group of people, we also receive the grace, encouragement, and forgiveness to grow in demonstrating our beliefs through our actions.

Act:  Inform someone this week that God loves them.  Encourage someone this week to continue to grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Show mercy and forgiveness to someone this week to remind ourselves that we all are in need of grace.

 

WEDNESDAY:  James 3:3-12, Matthew 12:33-37

  • James tells us that the tongue (our speech) is powerful but difficult for us to control.  
  • Jesus teaches us that the tongue is controlled by our own hearts.  Our words will reflect what our hearts truly believe.  We are accountable for what we say and what we do.

Reflect: Charles Spurgeon was an English preacher that lived in the mid to late 1800s. Although he preached in a Baptist denomination, he first heard the full gospel of God’s love when he took shelter in a Methodist church during a storm.  Nicknamed the “Prince of Preachers” he once said “He who speaks with an ill tongue of his neighbor has an ill heart.  Let us engage in our Christian career with the full assurance that we will have a great deal to forgive in other people, but there will be a great deal more to be forgiven in ourselves.  Let us count on having to exercise gentleness and needing its exercise from others.”  Do you agree with his statement?  Why or why not?

 

THURSDAY:  Read James 3:13-18, Galatians 5:16-26

  • A person who is growing in God’s wisdom will display actions (yield fruit) that reflect God’s character.  
  • We grow in God’s wisdom when we seek God’s truth through reading God’s Word in scripture, listening to God in prayer, and fellowshipping in love and mercy with one another.

Reflect:  List the “fruits” of worldly wisdom and Godly wisdom that both James and Paul write about.  What are the results or consequences of each?  

 

FRIDAY:  Read James 1:19,26; 2:12, 3:5,6,8; 4:11; and 5:12

  • James considers our speech so integral to having a living faith that he mentions it in every chapter of his letter.

Act: Consider what you have learned so far in studying the letter of James.  List one action you will take this week to move forward on your journey to developing a living faith.  

 

SATURDAY:  Read Matthew 15:1-16

  • Religion and tradition cannot save us nor transform us into the people God created us to be.  Our hearts need the saving grace and mercy that only comes when we seek a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  

Prayer: God of the universe, you have made planets and galaxies.  You have made the night and the day.  You continue your awe inspiring work even now.  Thank you precious Holy Spirit for also continuing to re-create me.  I surrender my words, my mouth, and my heart to your healing.  In Christ’s mercy I pray, Amen.  

 

Want to learn more about the Letter of James?

James: Guidelines for a Happy Christian Life by John MacArthur.  This is an excellent study guide to the Letter of James to use as an individual study or for a small group study.  This book has been used to help write the GPS guides to this sermon series.  It is available at Christian book stores or in on-line book stores.

Living Faith: No Longer the Walking Dead

MONDAY :  Read James chapter 2

  • In God’s Kingdom, there is no such thing as partiality or favoritism.  God looks at the heart and loves all people equally.
  • James insists that belief in Jesus must be more than simple intellectual agreement.  Our belief in Jesus must manifest itself in our daily words and actions as well as guide our global world view.  The Word of God is meaningless if we don’t allow it to influence our whole lives.

Prayer: Holy God of Mercy and Unfailing Love, we confess that we have not embraced you fully into our lives. Open our hearts and show us where we continue to deny you access to ourselves.  Grant us courage to surrender fully to your loving embrace.  Amen.

 

TUESDAY:  Read James 2:1-9, Philippians 2: 1-11

  • The majority of people in the early church were poor.  James is not condemning wealth nor is he exalting poverty.  He is, however, reminding Christians that we are not to show favoritism to the wealthy while dishonoring or dismissing the poor.  We are to regard our brothers and sisters in Christ with mercy, regardless of one’s social or economic status.
  • Growing in humility will help us resist falling into the hurtful habits of partiality and favoritism. 

Reflect: We all need grace, God’s gift of love, to grow in our ability to love our neighbor as ourselves.   How has God grown you in this area?  Where do you continue to seek God’s mercy and forgiveness to move away from the hurtful actions of favoritism and partiality? 

 

WEDNESDAY:  James chapter 2: 9-13, Matthew 22: 34-40

  • James argues that there are no such things as little sins and big sins.  If we break one of God’s commands, we have broken them all.  With this knowledge we realize we are all in need of God’s grace and forgiveness.  No one is in less need of grace than another.
  • The Royal Law is the law that sums up all of God’s commands.  It is the Law given by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – Jesus Christ.

Act: Write down 2 or 3 concrete ways you (and your family or friends) can further demonstrate love to your neighbors and to the poor. 

 

THURSDAY:  Read James chapter 2: 14-20, Matthew 25: 31-46

  • We are saved by God’s grace alone.  Our actions cannot “get us into heaven”; only the gift of God’s unfailing love can do that.  When we receive God’s saving grace, we are asked to grow in God’s love through discipleship.
  • A disciple of Jesus Christ believes in Jesus’ teachings, rests on Jesus’ sacrifice for us, receives the Holy Spirit, and imitates the example Jesus set. 
  • A private faith in God that does not manifest itself in love for God’s creation (including other people), is a self-centered faith.   Jesus teaches that to love and care for other people is to love and care for God himself. 

Reflect: There is an infamous saying that goes like this: “Do as I say and not as I do.”   More than one stressed out adult has been guilty of saying this to a child.  James reminds us that our actions speak volumes louder than our words.  Sharing the gospel of Christ is more effectively done when we demonstrate God’s love to one through our actions in addition to our words. Consider the phrase “Love that isn’t expressed through action is not love at all.”  Do you agree with this sentiment?  Why or why not?   How has God demonstrated His love for others through you?  Ask God for insight on how God will continue to demonstrate more of his love through you.

 

FRIDAY:  Read James chapter 2: 21-24, Genesis 22: 1-19

  • We are made right with God through faith.  We show that we exist in a right relationship with God through our actions.  Abraham demonstrates that faith and action work together.
  • The Greek word for “justified” used by James is edikaiothe.  The word has two meanings.  The first meaning is “to be acquitted or to be declared not guilty”.  This is how Paul uses the word.  Edikaioth also means to be “vindicated”.  This is how James uses the word.  When James speaks of Abraham being justified by his actions, he is stating that God vindicates Abraham’s claim to his salvation before other people through Abraham’s actions. 

Prayer: Gracious God of saving love, we know that it is only through your love and work on the cross that we are brought into a right relationship with you.  We praise you for this gift and glorify your name.  Lord, help us to grow in ability to demonstrate the amazing love you have given us by showing this love to others.  In your holy name we pray, Amen.

 

SATURDAY:  Read James 2: 25-26, Joshua 2: 1-22

  • Rahab’s faith may have been born out of fear and pragmatism, but it guided her actions in concrete ways.  God vindicated Rahab by her actions.  

Act: Write down the ways your faith has guided your actions in the past week.   List one concrete step you can take this next week regarding your faith that will help you out of your comfort zone and into a position where you have no choice but to rely on God.

 

 Want to learn more about the Letter of James?

  • Click here for a series of sermons done on the letter of James by Pastor Ron Edmondson.  Mr. Edmondson is the Senior Pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky.

Living Faith: Introduction to The Letter of James

MONDAY:  Read James chapter 1

  • God desires us to be whole people of faith.  The Letter of James both encourages and challenges us not to confine the living of our faith to a mere part of our lives; expressing itself only in confined or comfortable areas.  Instead, we are to allow our faith to encompass our whole lives; reflecting God in all of our actions and words.
  • The Letter of James is sometimes compared to the Old Testament Book of Proverbs.  The author is direct, does not mince words, and is very concerned about applying faith to daily living.  Please do not approach James as a checklist to be accomplished or a benchmark to gauge the holiness of others.  Instead, view James as a loving coach who encourages and challenges you to actively seek God’s wisdom in your day to day living and then trains you on how to apply the wisdom to specific events. 

Prayer: Holy God of wisdom and grace, the next 5 weeks we will be reading and reflecting on the Letter of James.  Soften our hearts to hear your words of encouragement and instruction.  Strengthen our resolve to love you more openly and to more readily reflect your grace to our community.  In the Living Christ’s Name we pray, Amen. 

 

TUESDAY:  Read James chapter 1:1, Gospel of John 7: 1-5

  • Church tradition states that the author of the letter was James, the brother of Jesus. James was also head of the Christian church in Jerusalem.

Reflect: James grew up with Jesus; yet he did not understand Jesus’ mission or purpose until after the resurrection.  The Gospel of John tells us that he even doubted Jesus’ claims.  Jesus may have been a brother and a teacher, but it took time, understanding, and faith for James to call Jesus LORD.  How do you view Jesus?  What does it mean to call Jesus LORD?

 

WEDNESDAY:  Read James chapter 1: 1-8

  • James reminds us that being a disciple of Jesus Christ is not a lucky charm or guarantee that we will not have troubles in life.  All of God’s creation will encounter troubles; it is part of living in a fallen world.
  • God is generous in his giving of wisdom to all who ask.  We must remember that God is not an advisor but that He is God.  His words are true. 

Act: Write down 2 areas in your life where you desire to seek God’s counsel and wisdom.  Begin to pray your questions and resolve to listen to God’s answers.

 

THURSDAY:  Read James chapter 1: 9-18, 1 Peter 1: 6-9

  • Both poverty and riches bring trials and temptations.  Material wealth does not guarantee a trouble free life. Troubles act as an equalizer to the rich and the poor. 
  • God is not to blame for our trials or temptations.  Until we stop blaming God or others, we cannot grow in our faith.

Prayer: Jesus you are LORD even during times of trouble.  We praise you that these times are used to purify our faith into pure gold and that this brings you much glory in Heaven.  Help us not to seek to blame you or anyone else for these difficulties but rather help us to seek and follow your wisdom.  Amen.  

 

FRIDAY:  Read James chapter 1: 19-27

  • Verse 22: “But don’t just listen to God’s word.  You must do what it says.  Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” 
  • The Greek word for “hearers” is akroates.  It is similar to a person who audits a class.  This person can enjoy the benefits of hearing the instructions but has no accountability for learning or enacting the lessons heard.  James asks us not to audit God’s Word, but reminds us that we are accountable for learning and doing God’s word as well.

Reflect: What examples does James give as indicators of a living faith?  Why do you think he chooses these examples?

 

SATURDAY:  Read the Gospel of Mark 6:14-29

  • Verse 29 “…for Herod respected John; and knowing that he was a good and holy man, he protected him.  Herod was greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him”
  • King Herod called himself a Jew and enjoyed listening to John the Baptist but when it came to acting on the words John spoke, Herod chose not to.

Act: Rank the following behaviors on a scale of 1-5 of how reliable they are in showing a living faith.   (5= mark of genuine living faith, 1 = nothing to do with living faith).  Discuss your rankings with others in your family.  Why did you rank these items the way you did?

__wears Christian t-shirts or jewelry

__has Christian bumper stickers on the car

__gives regularly to the church

__participates in mission or service projects

__sings in the choir or volunteers to help in worship

__ studies God’s word regularly

__attends church faithfully

__prays fervently for the lost

__regularly asks God for wisdom on how to apply God’s word to their lives

 

Want to learn more about the Letter of James?

  • The Come as You Are adult bible study is currently studying the Letter of James.  The group meets in room 105 each Sunday right after worship.  Discussion is led by Clark Stevens.  All are welcome!
  • The New Daily Study Bible: The Letters of James and Peter by William Barclay.  The Daily Study Bible is a book series that can be used for both devotional reading as well as a deeper study of scripture depending on your needs.  Several different volumes from this series are located on the church book shelf.  The book can also be found both new and used in on-line book stores such as amazon.com and christianbooks.com.

Resource: MacArthur, John. (2007). James: Guidelines for a Happy Christian Life. Nashville, USA. Thomas Nelson.