James Lesson 14

A God Honoring Life

James 5:7-20

Opening Question:  Is there anyone studying this lesson that lives by a list of things to do?  Discuss how such a list can help you stay focused and organized.

1.  Much like making and using a to do list will allow you to accomplish more tasks each day, following the truths discussed in this lesson will help you tackle the troubles and trials you will face in your daily walk.  When you are disorganized, you are basically wandering through life, without a purpose or a plan.  But when you fail to study and then incorporate God's moral truths into your life, you are being disobedient to the purpose and plans that the Lord has for your life.

2.  We need to understand that James was likely teaching many of the same people who were witnesses to the life and ministry of Jesus.  Therefore, some would remember His teachings, the crucifixion, and His promise to return to earth again.  As these disciples became serious players in establishing the early church, they taught and lived in the shadow of Christ's visible death and resurrection and His promised return.  James wrote with that in mind, and like the millions of faithful servants of the gospel since that time, he preached and taught the flock what they would be doing in anticipation of His return.  He said this to the early church:

a.  Be patient.  (James 5:7, 8)  A vivid picture of this can be seen in the attitude and questions of children on a long trip who repeatedly ask, "Are we there yet?"

(i)   After the death and resurrection of Jesus, many people became Christians, particularly since there were over 500 eye witnesses of the resurrected Christ.  (It is unclear if the James who saw Jesus after His resurrection, in I Corinthians 15:7, was the author of the Book of James or another James.)  In Acts 1:11, after Jesus had ascended into heaven, two angels admonished the apostles, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."  They were told to get on with the work He had given them and await His return at the appointed time.  

(ii)  To Christians from that day until now, James admonishes us to patiently wait until God fulfills that promise.  Even today, with its cares and trials which challenge us on all sides, James's words still ring true, "Be patient, brethren until the coming of the Lord."

Q1.  What are some cares and trials in life that test us, but will all end when Jesus returns?

b.  Strengthen your hearts (remain firm in the faith).  (James 5:8)  We must be resolute in who we believe in and what we believe, and not allow thials or even persecution to shake our faith.  We need to rely on the Lord's promise that He is coming back!

c.  Avoid complaining.  (James 5:9)  We are most vulnerable to the sin of complaining when we are experiencing difficult times and various trials in our lives.  For example, notice how the Israelites, having recently been freed from captivity, began complaining because they didn't have enough food.  They had become accustomed to being full in Eqypt.  (Exod. 16:2, 4, 8)

Q2.  Have you ever been around someone who complained about everything, to the point that no one wanted to be around them?  Discuss the type of friends they attracted.  How did most people view them?

(i)   In a humorous way, I have heard the following statement about such people, "There are two kinds of people in this world, those who brighten up a room when they walk in and those who brighten it up when they walk out!"  James is telling us to not be the latter.  More importantly, complaining dims the light of opportunity to share the good news with others.

(ii)  When tempted to complain, try praying, or saying nothing, or you could just overlook the action that would normally prompt you to complain.

d.  Follow the example of others.  (James 5:10, 11)  James points to Old Testament men of faith, who endured much suffering with patience, a resolute commitment, and perseverance, all without complaining.  His first example was the prophets of old, who endured significant suffering , yet practiced patience as they spoke the word of the Lord. But the best example of perseverance through suffering was Job.  Note how the Lord rewarded Job's patience by multiplying his blessings.  (Job 42:12, 13)  James reminds us of God's comfort in times of suffering and how our trials are intended for our eventual good.  I am reminded of many Godly servants who have served in the same church for many years, but never complained about their work or their circumstances.

Q3.  Ask the group to think of a person who has served in one location for an extended period, and give and example of how one or more of the above characteristics (a - d) were evident in their lives.

3.  Do not swear or make an oath.  (James 5:12)  Every spoken word of the Christian ought to be true and straightforward.  Since he/she is known as a person of honor, it is not necessary to swear by anything or make an oath.  Although oaths are not entirely condemned, the Bible condemns the human tendency of making false statements.  Perhaps that is why James cautions us to use few words in our responses, i.e. "yes" or "no".

4.  Pray at all times and for specific needs.  (James 5:13-15)  James asks and snswers three questions involving prayer and praise.

a.  Is anyone among you in trouble  or suffering?  (This could be physically, emotionally, financially, or suffering from any source, including persecution.)  The antidote is to pray for God's comfort.

b.  Is anyone in good spirits?  A joyful heart should evoke songs of praise.

c.  Is anyone sick?  For serious illnesses, they should call for the elders to pray for comfort, strength and encouragement.  Prayer and anointing with oil is a Biblical concept.  I have personally witnessed its effectiveness on two occasions.  The elders prayed for an 85 year old man who was in need of a seven way by-pass.  After the elders anointed him and prayed for him, he lived another six years.  Another incident involved a man with emphysema.  After years of suffering, he asked the elders to come and pray for his "perfect healing".  He died two days later.  His wife, though saddened by his death, remarked, "He received his perfect healing."

Q4.  Do you feel that your church needs to pray more often?  If so, what specific types of prayers are needed?

5.  Confess your faults to one another.  James 5:16 teaches that we should confess our faults to other believers.  The mutual sharing of our struggles, and praying for one another's needs brings healing to our souls.  God hears the prayers of righteous ment.  He uses the example of Elijah, who first prayed that it would not rain; and after an extended time, he prayed that God would send rain, which He did.  (James 5:17; I Kings 17 and 18)

6.  Restore the wanderer.  (James 5:19, 20)  It is sad, but true, that professing Christians can wander from the truth of God's word.  It is the responsibility of other believers to call them back into a saving relationship.  The person who rescues a believer who has strayed away, not only saves his brother from eternal damnation, but that person is forgiven a multitude of their sins, through the grace of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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