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.