Thanks so much to everyone who came out to the first of our five part class on the Book of James. I am really excited about studying this portion of scripture together and to see how God uses His Word to shape and transform our lives.

Each Thursday morning I will post a new blog with additional thoughts, questions, scriptures, and suggestions for further study. Please do join in on the conversation to share thoughts & questions, and to let the class know how God is working in your heart through His Word. (NOTE: to leave a comment click on the title of the blog (ie. “WEEK #1 – The Book of James”) and scroll to the bottom where it says “Leave a Reply”).

James had the unique experience of being Jesus’ brother. Could you imagine the impact this would have on your life? As we read through the Book of James what becomes crystal clear is that Jesus’ teachings are seen all throughout James’ letter. Spend some time reading through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and identify the teachings of Jesus that can be found in James’ letter.

James speaks very strongly about the need for followers of Jesus to not just be “hearers” of the Word, but to move to being “doers” of the Word. In his commentary on James (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries), Douglas J. Moo says:

“Those who fail to do the word, who are hearers only, are guilty of a dangerous and potentially fatal self delusion. If the gospel, by nature, contains both saving power and summons to obedience, those who relate to only one have not truly embraced the gospel (p. 86).”

Read through James 1 and think about Moo’s quote. Would your life give evidence to you being simply a “hearer” of the Word, or would it say that you are a “doer” of the Word?

One of the most convicting parts of James chapter 1 for me personally is the last two verses (26-27). The line that grabs my heart every time is: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress…”. James doesn’t make this an optional part of the life of a follower of Jesus, this is one of the things that flows out of a life that has been transformed by the Gospel of Jesus. A great book on this subject for further reading is “The Hole in Our Gospel” by Richard Stearns. Here are two great ministries where you can personally get involved in caring for orphans and widows: www.poetice.org (Zambia) and www.projecturge.org (Rochester NY).

NEXT WEEK: don’t miss next Wednesday as we will be studying chapter 2, which contains the most controversial material in the Book of James. Many thought the Book of James shouldn’t be included into the Bible due to what is found in chapter 2. See you next Wednesday Nov. 14 @ 7:00pm.

(Thanks to Brian Soller for creating an incredible graphic for this blog series.)

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15 thoughts on “WEEK #1 – The Book of James

  1. James 1:27 talks about the fatherless and the widows. I read recently that “single-parent families headed by mothers are the most impoverished group in the nation”. And that 41% of newborns are born to single mothers. So it appears that the book of James is extremely relevant to today in America.

  2. I have to admit when I first read this text(1:15) before coming I thought to myself great another text about sin and how I fall short, but later on I read(1:16-18 and 1:27) are pretty clear that God offered a way out the gift of HIS SON’s birth through HIS word of truth, repentance. I also notice I should be slow to open that hole below my nose so fast, like Job’s friends they were fine helping Job until they opened that hole in their face. Romans 3:13-14 confirms that. ” their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.

    1. My favorite verse was also verse 27 about caring for the widows and the fatherless. I work as a high school teacher and see first hand the devastating effects of divorce, broken homes, fatherless homes. These kids are broken, they will do anything to get attention; good or bad. They are so needy and it is so hopeless. In my own strength, my carnal nature, my humanity, I can do nothing. But when I fix my eyes on Jesus and ask Him to use me as His hands, His feet, I am filled with the Holy Spirit and the right words come out. With Christ’s help I can truly listen and minister to the broken. And it becomes so EXCITING to watch God at work in me, I can’t even put it into words. I bet James knew that when the church allowed God to use them, THEY would be encouraged! Right on James!

  3. I am completely in awe of how God has spoken to me just in this first chapter and leading up to this class. I didn’t sign up to take it thinking, oh goodie, I have tons of work to do! But the reality is, I can put my faith into action 85% of the time. But the other 15% far outweighs that.

    1:8 spoke to me loudly – screamed really. When are there times that my wisdom to reason through a situation has NOT come from God, but my own way of thinking? Those are the times when I don’t handle situations well and my words get away from me. Is it because I am kind of committed God, but in those moments I am more committed to myself – being double-minded? That is really something I am reflecting on – and looking in Hebrews 6:19 – I need to focus more on listening for God’s wisdom when I ask for it, Really listening, not filling my head with what I WANT Him to say.

    This morning in Jesus Calling he again spoke to me: “When someone irritates you, don’t let your thoughts linger on that person, but gently nudge your mind back to me.” If I focus on that, maybe I practice filtering my words, because that is often where I trip myself up! I need to look more at myself…

    I am already working on 1:19 – Listen longer – slower to speak…

    Sorry for the long response – us Celebrate Recovery people like to openly examine our faults and talk about them. I am excited that God has begun this new work in me.

    1. I also wasn’t signed up to take this class. But a friend asked me if I would go with her. I am having trouble getting past “consider it pure joy whenever you face trials” I lost my husband 5 years ago, Monday he would of been 55. Life is hard! I have grown closer to the Lord trying to persevere, but there are days that it’s hard. I helped serve a luncheon today of a women who was 56 years old. she died suddenly, Her husband came up to me and said “i guess I just joined your club” I told him I know he has a hole in his heart, I told him I would be down to visit in a couple of months, that’s when everyone has disappeared. I have been praying for wisdom, that someday I will be able to “use this”. As a widow (an ugly name) I find life even more difficult especially if all your friends are married. I pray that this study of James will somehow speak to me and i will know that the Lord had me take this class for a reason.

      1. Hey Dawn, thanks for sharing so honestly. I am so sorry for your loss and the pain that you continue to experience. I do pray that God will use your life and story to touch the lives of others who are hurting. So glad you’re in the class!

    2. Thanks for sharing how God is using His Word to impact your life. I can totally relate to those times when I may “ask” for God’s wisdom, but sadly depend on my own. Never works out great for me.

  4. I was thinking of the widows and orphans today. My thoughts were on what life would have ment to them in James time. I don’t think women were aloud to own property and with few jobs avaliable to them they would have been very poor. Then I was thinking at that time it was common to learn your trade from your father ( even Jesus was a carpenter) so with no parents who would give an orphan a trade, or rather a parh for there life. I was thinking of our youth and our “widows” and it occured to me how much can be done for those around us. There are orphans of spirit and widows from God that we see every day. I guess my prayer would be for the strength and guidance to be more of a help to those around me.

    1. Thanks for your insights Kyle. I totally agree. We are surrounded by opportunity to reach out to those who could use a helping hand. I pray we would be a community of people who would see the opportunities and would jump into action. Thanks for your thoughts.

  5. The verses that really struck me were 1:13-14. I always think of God as controlling every aspect of my life, but it is perhaps more accurate to say that He could control all aspects. That would make some things easier! But because He allows us freedom to make our own mistakes (like any good parent) it is my choices that often lead me wrong. I just wish that I would learn some lessons more quickly, so as not to keep repeating them…

  6. The verse that keeps bouncing around in my mind is James 1:26. That combined with your sermon the weekend before the election have consumed my mind quite a bit. I struggle with seeing/hearing the venom from people who call/consider themselves Christians in regards to the election outcome and how we are called to look/act different as Christians. Then I think to myself, “Who are you to Judge? You’ve had some beauties roll off your tongue……”! At any rate, I feel that the verse has stuck out to me as a reminder to myself to be slow to anger and even slower to open my mouth! There is so much more in what we read last week but for me, that verse had an impact. Looking forward to tonight.

    1. Sue–
      I agree–that verse also challenges me–especially at work. We all get joking around and it is easy to fall short of what were called to be. Or like you mentioned–anything that gets us charged up– I can get caught up in just wanting my voice /opinion heard that I forget it would be better to have something worth hearing first.

      Tracy

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