9/04/11 James 1:2-8, 12
Leader: Pastor Biebert
Meeting Time: 8:00 AM & 10:15 AM
LET GOD GIVE YOU A MIND MAKEOVER.
James 1:2-8, 12
James may be the earliest of the New Testament’s letters. James wrote it probably between a.d. 45–48. James is “the Lord’s brother,” not James the apostle (see Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21:18; 1 Cor. 15:7; Galatians 1:19; 2:9). James the apostle, John’s brother, was martyred about a.d. 44 (Acts 12:1–3). Like Jesus’ other brothers, James was no believer at first (John 7:2–5). After Jesus came back to life this brother not only became a believer but also became a key leader in Jerusalem (Acts 15). The Book of James is about Christian living. He summarizes his main topics in chapter 1. Chapters 2-5 circle back around these themes, explaining and expanding them. This section calls on us to actually welcome pain and problems.
How is joy possible when facing trouble (1:2)? Is this getting pleasure from pain?
Most people thank their lucky stars when they escape disaster. The tragedies and crises God allows to interrupt our lives force us to reexamine life. This exposes spiritual weaknesses and leads us to maturity. God helps us look beyond the present and see how suffering can be a blessing in disguise.
What is a mature Christian like (1:4)?
Major headaches and heartaches work for us, not against us. When we first face suffering, we may default to panic mode. Which way should we turn? What should we do next? God wants to help us with the Christian character traits of patience and the ability to keep going when things are tough. In the Bible patience isn’t simply passive acceptance of circumstances. It means not giving up, keeping committed to Christian values and priorities. The only way God can give us patience is by allowing us hard times.
What kind of wisdom can we ask God to give us (1:5)?
Jesus talked about staying on track, no matter what (Luke 8:15; 21:19; Matthew 10:22). Wisdom helps us understand how to use personal disaster and catastrophe for our good and God’s glory. God promises to show us the way to go. The “belief” that verse 6 mentions suggests a willingness to respond and do what God says. God also promises to help us understand how He uses pain and tragedy to bless us. The reason the explanations God offers are never good enough is the blind spot we were born with.
Is it a sin to doubt? Why, or why not (1:6-8)?
The wrong attitude under pressure is to question whether nor not we can trust God and His promises. A mistrustful, suspicious attitude toward God poisons our soul, making Christian joy impossible.
Does 1:7-8 mean that God will ignore our prayers when we waver? What’s the right way to understand this section?
Greek athletic competition organizers put a wreath on an athlete’s head after he won an event.
What is the “crown of life” (1:12)?
God tells us to expect trials. It is not “if you face trials” but “when you face trials (1:2).” The believer who expects his Christian life to be easy is in for a shock. Jesus warned His disciples, “In this world you’ll have trouble” (John 16:33). Paul told his converts that “we have to suffer a lot to get into God’s kingdom” (Acts 14:22). We can’t always expect everything to go our way. “Trials” come in various forms, like financial, physical, spiritual, mental, or social. Some trials come simply because we are human—sickness, accidents, disappointments, even apparent tragedies. Other trials come because we are Christians.
Why does the Bible use the word “trials” (1:2,12) to describe tough times?
Whining and complaining aren’t the right reactions to predicaments. They only make matter worse. Plus, they show we’re not on the same track as God, who allows these things into our lives. It’s wrong to view emergencies as a punishment, curse, or calamity. It’s inconsistent with the promises God makes in the Bible to His children.
What’s the reason “those who love God” (2:12) react this way? What form does their love take?
Does God put us into situations that may compromise our faith to see whether or not we will give in to sin? That empties our life of positives when we experience tragedy. God doesn’t need tests to find out where we stand. He knows already. Whatever bad He gives us is good for Jesus’ sake.
1. When you’ve gone through tough times, what pressures did it bring on your faith?
2. Share a situation where tough times helped you develop as a child of God.
3. How does this section connect to Matthew 14:22-33? What’s the connection to Exodus 14:10-31?