A Deeper Look at James – Session One


lookatjamesHaving read the Biblical text and the handout, please respond to any or all of the questions listed below. In order to encourage dialogue with others, please refer to the question number in your response.

Think about when you have been in great shape physically. How does this compare and contrast to being in good shape spiritually?

Read James 1:1-18.

No pain. No gain. Or so the saying goes. Athletes remind themselves of this to get their best possible performance and sometimes they have to go through grueling training. Without it, there is no improvement. James suggests it is the same for Christians.

  1. How are temptations different from trials (vv 2-16)?
  2. Martin Luther, when speaking of temptation, famously said, “You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can stop them from nesting in your hair”. James also makes a distinction between evil desire and sin. The first leads to the second, but the two are not the same. Think about the evil desires and sins you wrestle with. How would you explain the difference between the two?
  3. When you have been tempted by a desire to gossip or shade the truth or lust or get angry, what have you found helpful in keeping that desire from giving birth to sin?
  4. What good habits have you seen shape your character or the character of others?
  5. As was said in part three, God wants character that is not “blown and tossed by the wind” but one that is stable and unchanging like that of God our Father (1: 6, 17). How can we develop a more stable faith, the kind James describes?
  6. It can seem strange that we should consider trials and tests a cause for joy. After working through this first part of James, how might you begin to explain why we can, in fact, see trials with joy?
  7. One of the best ways to appreciate God’s dependability is to recall the different ways he has shown his faithfulness in the past. How have you seen God’s reliability— his “good and perfect gifts,” his unchanging character— at work?

 

Le Peau, Andrew T.; Le Peau, Phyllis J. (2013-05-01). A Deeper Look at James: Faith That Works (LifeGuide® In Depth Series) (Kindle Locations 384-391). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

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  1. #1 by julessuman on November 27, 2014 - 8:59 am

    4. The habit that I have seen shape people (namely Brian and myself) is the daily habit of digging into God’s word. I know that it has made my foundation more solid as I have faced trials and troubles. Being so rooted in the word has allowed me to feel the presence of God even when life has gotten tough and I doubted the things around me.

    5. In order to develop a more stable faith, we have to endure all things that life throws at us. Our roots have to grow deep down into Jesus and become anchored in him. The deeper our roots grow into God, the stronger our foundation is when we are blown by the fierce winds of trials and temptations. Growing those roots will require study of the word, prayer, and a strong sense of community with other believers. As our roots develop in God our faith becomes what holds us steady.

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  2. #2 by Brian Suman on November 27, 2014 - 9:08 am

    2. Martin Luther, when speaking of temptation, famously said, “You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can stop them from nesting in your hair”. James also makes a distinction between evil desire and sin. The first leads to the second, but the two are not the same. Think about the evil desires and sins you wrestle with. How would you explain the difference between the two?

    Being someone who has wrestled with addiction, it wasn’t until I read this chapter and heard a message spoken about the difference that it helped me make the distinction between the two. We will always wrestle with evil desires of our flesh but we must not let them take captivity in our minds. We need to lift those thoughts up to God as they happen and allow Him to replace them and help us focus on the pure and holy. If we do not deal with the thoughts as they happen, we can risk that they will begin to take root and direct our heart leaving us vulnerable to temptation which ultimately leads to sin. Thoughts will happen but actions on them can be prevented.

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  3. #3 by Brian Suman on November 27, 2014 - 9:13 am

    4. What good habits have you seen shape your character or the character of others?

    I completely agree with Jules’ comment about digging into God’s Word. It has shaped me more in the last couple of years than anything ever before. It not only has deepened my knowledge but it has been pivotal in my relationship with God. The more I learn, the closer I feel. The closer I feel, the more I yearn to be obedient and draw tight to the hope and promise that God proclaims for us.

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