James Part 6 - Biting your tongue requires a heart transplant. If we are honest, each of us would love to be able to control our tongue. Christian or not, being able to refrain from a silly comment, entering into verbal arguments, or saying things we know we will later regret would bring more health to our relationships. But is that possible? James uses many images to show how powerful and destructive our words are. He says that "No one can tame the tongue." But is our tongue the problem? Or is there a deeper issue? Discover the remedy to your twisted tongue problem.
James Part 5 - Believing something and claiming something is great. But we all know a belief that isn't lived out isn't real. Saying you believe in something, but not doing something about it is silly and pointless. How different would your life be if you could KNOW "This is what it looks like to have faith in Jesus. This is how I know what I believe is real." James was concered about the Christians he knew. He wanted them to know how to make faith work. Really work.
- Consider: What visible evidence is there that your faith isn’t simply “I’ll pray for you” or “I know that”?
- Reflect: Do you have a more confident conscious or a more tender one? Are you reflecting by focusing on your failures or successes?
- Read: Genesis 22 and Judges 2. Abraham and Rahab each demonstrated visible faith by acting.
- Do: Can you put yourself on a regular schedule of volunteering with some ministry or charity? Tutoring each week? Staffing a soup kitchen each month? Doing a work day once a quarter? Don’t just think about doing these things. Plan something and do it.
- Pray: Thank God that all people are invited to know Him and can have their sins forgiven through Jesus Christ. Ask the Holy Spirit to develop a faith that works in your life.
James Part 4 - Favoritism exists in culture. Everyday people are vicitmized by someone judging their appearances and discriminating against them. James, the younger brother of Jesus, saw the church in his day using the same attitude in their gatherings. They were following the Roman law instead of the Royal law: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Today we discovered that mercy triumphs over judgment. The only way to unfavorite favoritism is to remember mercy!
James Part 3 - There is a desire in each one of us to live free. To do what we were created to do. To fulfill our passions and dreams. Society tells us that the best way live free is to remove restrictions and rules. To write our own code. Unfortunately, that path doesnt lead to freedom, but chaos. God has a different path for us. He says, "To live free, obey me." Today we discovered that the perfect law sets us free. How? Because Jesus, our perfect law keeper, is our substitute.
- Reflect: How do you define religion? Do you think religion is a good thing? How does James define religion in James 1:26-27?
- Write: How have you experienced obedience leading to blessing and freedom in your own life?
- Read: Matthew 7:24-27. Jesus taught on what James wrote about. He told the crowds that a wise person will hear and do what the law says. Is your foundation a rock or sand?
- Do: James said genuine religion is controlling your speech, caring for those in need, and following God’s standards, not cultures. Practice genuine religion today. Speak kindly to someone. Provide for them. Live differently so others will want to know God’s love!
- Pray: Pray about “soul corruption” this week. Ask God to show you ways you might be getting “corrupted” by the world.
James Part 2 - In any area of temptation, the tempting is coming from in us. Could you agree that we are all tempted? And that our normal response to temptation is to blame what/who is around us? Could you imagine how amazing it would be if we could say this powerful word "NO!" to temptation when it comes. How free would you be? How different would you be? James, the younger brother of Jesus, believed it was possible, and he wrote about it! He makes a case that the reason why we give in to temptation is because we forget: How BAD we are; How GOOD God is!
James Part 1 - Everyone of us has trouble. We all experience pain, trials, and heartache. The trouble with trouble is that it's usually unexpected. While we can't develop action plans specific to our trouble, we believe we can address one thing that is usually the same, our response! In the book of James, we discover a new point of view on how to think about our troubles and how we can consider responding with joy during these times.
We can easily convince ourselves that because we are really bad, we can't know God. Or, because we are really good, we don't need God. Jesus told a story to demonstrate that all people need the Father to graciously act to bring us into a close relationship with Him. The only way we are brought close to God, is by Jesus losing everything. He is the older brother that we all need.
- Reflect: Do you identify more with the younger son, or the older son in Jesus’ story?
- Write: Evaluate your daily rhythms. Write down your tasks. Why do you do what you do? We don’t just repent of our wrong actions, but also the reasons why we do good things, if the motive is to gain gifts from God.
- Read: Luke 15:11-32. One son was really, really bad. The other was really, really good. Both needed the father’s grace to bring them in.
- Do: Genuine love is costly. It cost Jesus everything in order for you to know God. This week, give up something for someone else. Show them real love.
- Pray: Adore God for sending Jesus to this world to bring you into His kingdom. Admit that it is easy to look at other people and label them as younger sons, in order to feel better about yourself. Aspire to live humbly, thankful for the saving grace of God.
The night before Jesus was crucified, he prayed for everyone who would ever believe in him. His prayer was that all believers would be united together. The purpose, He said, was "So that the world would believe in Him." The proof of Jesus' love is seen in Christian unity. The only way that we are united together, is because Jesus has given us his glory!
Brand New Part 5. All of us are searching for hope. The problem is, everything around us has an expiration date. The hope of the Gospel is this: "There's more for me, beyond what I see." God in his great mercy has made a new birth available to all people. We receive a brand new inheritance that will never expire!
- Reflect: Are you currently satisfied by what you have, or are you longing for something more?
- Write: What are you hoping for? What thing or experience do you need in order to feel satisfied?
- Read: Luke 12:13-21. In this story, Jesus reminds of the reality of expiration dates.
- Do: Encourage someone who is going through a challenging moment. Share with them the good news of an eternal inheritance that is found in Jesus!
- Pray: Adore God for making a brand new inheritance available to you by his great mercy! Admit that the expiring inheritances around you tend to capture your heart way too often. Aspire to remember the hope that you have in Jesus when trials inevitably come.
Brand New Part 4 - Betterness leads to bitterness. Each of us has a tendency to prove why we are better than other people. This will ultimately shrink our circle of friends. Even more dangerous, we could assume that we have somehow earned God's love. Peter needed God to take a sledgehammer to his wall of betterness. He was made brand new!