Check out this quick video overview of James
Each week I will give a 'quick tip' aimed at helping us take our bible study a bit deeper or give us ways to understand it from a new perspective. This weeks quick tip...
Relax. Seriously. Just relax.
Some people get so tensed up about reading the Bible especially with or in a group of people. We worry about wether we are reading it "right." What if I ask a silly questions. What if everyone 'gets it' but me. We don't want to appear bible illiterate, especially to people we sit next to in church every Sunday. But you do yourselves no favors by putting those kind of expectations on yourself. Simply take a deep breath, and read. Let the Holy Spirit do the rest.
Week 1 Reading
James 1 (NIV)
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:
Trials and Temptations
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position.10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.
12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
Listening and Doing
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
- James 1:2 The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family; also in verses 16 and 19; and in 2:1, 5, 14; 3:10, 12; 4:11; 5:7, 9, 10, 12, 19.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
A few questions to get us started
Below are a few questions to help kick start our conversation together. But, as you read, make sure you pay attention to anything that jumps out at you as if it is 'speaking' to you. Pay attention to words or phrases that catch your attention more so than others. Underline them, then think about them. It's possible the Holy Spirit is trying to help you uncover something and give you an insight. Pay attention to these moments.
- What is the one or two things that jumped out at you during your reading?
- Is James just plain crazy when he says "count it all joy when you face trials of many kinds." Who says that!? What is James getting at?
- Chapter 1 has two sections. Verses 2-18 (The testing of your faith) and verses 19-27 (Hearing and doing good). Is there any connections between section one and two?
- Verses 22-25 are pretty important verses in the letter of James. They form a foundation for his letter. What's your take away from these verses. Why are these verses so important for followers of Jesus today?
3 Words for Focus
Observation is the simple process of asking questions and making observations of the text. Asking WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY and HOW can open up a deeper understating of the scripture we are reading. It forces us to pay attention to detail we may overlook.
If observation is an attempt to understand what is happening in the text, then interpretation is an attempt to understands what it all means. What is the author trying to say, what are they trying to communicate, what's the lesson, wisdom, story, truth, principle, etc to be taken from our observation.
This one is pretty simple. How does the passage apply to you and what are you going to do about it? What practical application are you going to make in your life with what you have observed from the text and the meaning you have found in it.
James 2 New International Version (NIV)
2 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,”4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?
8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,”[b] also said, “You shall not murder.”[c] If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Faith and Deeds
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]?21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[e] and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
A few questions to get us started
- Whats the one thing that really jumped out at you from the reading this week?
- Have you ever struggled with partiality? How easy is it for you to be around people who are quite different from you?
- What is the motivation and or fear behind partiality?
- What do you think James means in v.13 when he says "Mercy triumphs over judgement"
- Have you ever believed that you needed to "work" your way into heaven, salvation, or Gods good graces.
- What is James really trying to drive home in v. 14-26
- In v. 26 James says "Faith apart from works is dead." What does James mean by that statement.
Week 3 Quick Tip
Again and again and again...
When you're reading a passage of scripture, read it more than once. In fact I suggested you read it at least three times. Each time read it slower and slower. We tend to read too fast, so we can get through the scripture and just get through our reading. But often when we slow down and really read each word, word by word by word, we catch things we never would have if we had just rushed through the verse. Also, read it out loud. Don't just read it in your head. Let the words actually come out of your mouth so you not only speak them, but you hear them audibly as well.
So read it, again and again and again!
Week 3 Reading
James 3 New International Version (NIV)
Taming the Tongue
3 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
Two Kinds of Wisdom
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving,considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
A few questions to get us started
- What jumped out at you from todays reading? A word a phrase?
- Do you think there is any connection between James discussion on the tongue and then his discussion on wisdom?
- Stick and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me...Was that the biggest lie we've even been told?!?!
- In Genesis we are told that God spoke the world into existence. Does that change the way you see YOUR words?
- What does James mean when he says "Humility that comes from Wisdom"
"When we pray, we speak to God, but when we study the scriptures, God speaks to us."
I want to be as helpful as I can. What are some questions you have about the Bible, bible study, etc. No question is off limits. Let me know in the comment box below.