Week of June 11th

Day 1

Read James 1
James was the brother of Jesus and he wrote this letter to the Jewish people that had been scattered out through the landscape by wars and many other things.  His goal was to give them some general teachings that would be helpful in their, probably, very different cultures.  So it comes across almost abrasively and to the point.  It is much like sitting down to a cup of coffee to a very direct and to the point friend. 
 It will be our goal to read through this book in these devotions.  It is one of my favorite books of the Bible and I have learned a lot from it.  Straight out of the gate, James starts throwing down some strange thoughts that take a minute or two of thinking to unwind.  So let’s do that now.
How can you have joy in trials?

Why is steadfastness needed in our walk with God and how does that produce in us the picture of completion?

What do you learn from verse 19-21 that are for your life right now?  How do you apply them personally?

 Why not share some of your thoughts on this story with those in the messaging app?

Day 2

Read James 2

If this is a letter that is written across many cultural ideas to people in different settings, it is interesting that James notices this to be a topic needing addressed in all of them.  The gospel doesn’t leave room for a hierarchy that makes some greater than others or gives a better place to those that have more to bring to the table.  James was very clear in the last chapter and continues the thought in this one:  faith has actions.  Faith that sits still and doesn’t show up in any actions is dead and worthless.  The gospel can’t change a person without changing a person.  I recently heard it articulate like this: We are a church that invites everyone to come as you are because of Jesus, but we do not want ANYONE to stay just as you are, because of Jesus.  

How do you see this partiality in churches around you or displayed in our culture?

Now, how do you see this toxic root show up in your own heart or life?

How would you explain the relationship between faith and works as James explains it here?

How do these thoughts make it into your prayers today?

Day 3

Read James 3
You have surely heard me tell the story about this chapter.  It was my very first sermon to preach.  The chapter is longer than the commentary that came from the mixture of my nerves and hours upon hours of study.  I talked that day about cursing and the tongue being used in an angry, hurtful way.  That is partially what this is about, but it is more about the general idea that James wants to get across, that our tongues are like knives.  They are useful and great to have and can be a fantastic tool, but they can also really cause some great harm if we don’t take caution and pay attention to what they are for.  God speaks in the Bible and everything that He says brings life and blessing.  The only other creatures that are given that ability are us humans.  What a responsibility!   What a weapon!  This is a passage mainly about teaching and teachers.  People that use their words to influence or sway others.  That is a category we can all fit into.

How would you say you do with your mouth when it comes to James' perspective here?

What are the ways to consider managing how and why we say things?

What are the reasons we struggle with this so much?

How can this be part of your prayer today?

Day 4

Read James 4

Life can bring us so many things to covet and if you happen to be like me, this is one of those traps I find myself in constantly, but if I am being honest, it doesn’t rest enough on my radar of “things I think I should pay attention to.”  My inability to think of this idea as a sin, or my unwillingness to think about it, sets the stage of constantly living in a place of discontent that leads to wayward pursuits and chases that distract me from God.  James refers to it as a battle with “worldliness”.  The answer?  Submission to God.  If you want to work at understanding what James is saying here, compare this verse to the conversation between Eve and the Serpent in Genesis 3.

How are the Genesis 3 story and this story connected or similar?

What does God giving grace do for the coveting heart?

Go through verses 6-10 and explain what this looks like in a real life situation that you are dealing with right now.

How does this become a part of your prayer today?

Day 5

Read James 5

My gardening has taught me quite a bit this year about God.  When you do something that is just a process built into the universe, there are steps and timelines that teach things, because they are natural…or of nature.  It’s just how things are.  James carries that idea to his point here, be patient in tough times….it’s part of the process.  The harvest, the good fruit is on the way, but there is a process and sometimes it is easy to get caught up in longing for all that we want and miss all the process.  In fact the end is so good because of the patient endurance of the struggle.  The truth of the Bible is that the good things come at the end of the bad.  The bad isn’t the last of it all, but rather the last of it all is good.  The bad become something that we can deal with and walk through simply because we know that the end of it is good. For now?  Just keep praying, with and for each other and walking with each other.  The struggles of today end in the good of tomorrow but are made passable today because of the community.  

What is it in this chapter that you needed to read today?

Why do you think James closes his letter out the way that he does?

How can you use these ideas to encourage someone around you this week?

Why not share your favorite verse from this James study in the messaging app with others following along?

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