Study in the book of James
Are you ready for a Verse by verse study in the book of James? Here are the verse by verse teachings from Pastor George all in one place. This makes for a great Bible study. Let’s get started…
The book of James is full of practical wisdom for everyday living. James writes to encourage believers to live consistently with what they have learned in Christ. Genuine faith will manifest itself in righteous acts that come out of a pure heart. He encourages believers to humbly live by godly rather than worldly wisdom and to pray in all situations. This study will take a close look at how our faith is worked out in everyday life by understanding the principles of godly wisdom.
James 1:1-8 – Down in the Valley We Go
Any experienced Christian pilgrim can attest to the fact that a lot more of life is spent in the valley of hardship and difficulty than it is on the spiritual mountaintops. Jesus said in John 16, “I have told you these things, because in this world you will have tribulation.” What things has He told us? The spiritual mountaintop stuff; the things that prepare us for the hard life in the valley.
Today we begin our study in the book of James. The book is a perfect complement to the book of Hebrews, because Hebrews is a book full of mountaintop stuff and James is a book about applying those precepts down in the valley of practicality. James sometimes gets a bad rap as being too harsh or legalistic, but on the contrary, it’s a book about the power the grace of God gives us to live victoriously even in those difficult times.
The Psalmist proclaims in Psalm 119:67-68, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your Word. You are good, and do good, therefore, teach me your statutes.”
In today’s text, James is going to teach us a lesson very similar to the one found in this Psalm. He will show how the devil uses temptation to lead us astray from God and His glorious light and into a cloud of darkness. But God will use the affliction we suffer in that darkness to bring us back to Him. He will do that and give us every perfect gift we need in order live our lives in “the sunny skies “ of His presence, not because we deserve it, but because He is good and does good for those who love Him.
James tells us in our text today “to be swift to hear and slow to speak!” Being a good listener is one of the essential characteristics of Christian character. Why? Because when we listen, it means we care. We stop and listen to God, because we love God. When we listen to other people, we are showing them that we care, because by doing so, we are putting their needs above our own.
Larry King once said, “I never learned anything while I was talking.” Do you want to know God better and receive the wisdom you need from Him? Then be “swift to hear and slow to speak.” Do you want to be in a position where you can truly help others? Then attentively listen to all they have to say. We can only learn from God and attentively listen to others when our mouths are closed.
James Kallam in his book Glad Tidings tells the story of a young book salesman who approached a farmer and told him, “I have a book I can sell you that will tell you how to farm ten times better than you are farming now.” The farmer thought about it for a few seconds and then responded, “Son, I don’t need that book, I already know how to farm 10 times better than I’m farming now!”
A lot of us are like this farmer, we already know how to do many times better than we are doing now. We read the Bible, but as James tells us in today’s text, we are like a man who looks in the mirror and then goes away and forgets what he looks like. We need to stay in the Word and take the Word to heart, if we want to become doers of the Word and not just hearers only!
Robert Murray McCheyne wrote the following encouraging words to Dan Edwards upon the occasion of his ordination as a missionary: “In a great measure according to the purity and perfections of the instrument will be the success! It is not great talents that God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus Christ.”
McCheyne was right. Our success in the great eternal issues of life depend upon our great likeness to Jesus. The question is, “Do we truly have His pedigree?” In today’s text, James will give us a series of tests to find that out.
Any king worth his salt realizes that he is held to a higher standard than the common people. As Christians we are held to a higher standard, too. What’s the higher standard? In the today’s text, James refers to it as the Royal Law. What’s the Royal Law? It’s the law given to us in Leviticus 19:18: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus Himself narrowed down the commandments for His royal children to this same commandment.
So as children of the King, we should be like the King. Being like the King means we should be fulfilling the Royal Law. We’ll learn just how we do that in today’s lesson.
Years ago when we were struggling financially while in seminary, a good friend of mine got word of my plight and came to me and handed me a blank check. He told me he had $10,000 in the account and that I could write the check for any amount I needed up to that amount. I turned his offer down, but was greatly blessed by his token of love. I had known this man for a couple of years. We talked theology all the time, and we pretty much believed the same things. We had prayed together once each week. And so as I got to know him I had little doubt that he was a strong man of God. But after seeing him on many occasions reach out to help others in need, I had no doubt that his faith was a living faith of love.
There are way too many people in Christendom who say that they have faith, but you would never know it by their works. They are the kind of so-called Christians you might call “living thieves.” Their faith is not real, and so they rob God of his due. James will show us in today’s text how to distinguish between a “living thief” and a “living child of God.”
Many of the exhortations James gives us in his book would make great New Year resolutions for 2016. In today’s text, we find one that could perhaps be “the mother” of all New Year resolutions– that we would resolve to control our tongues. The problem with such a resolution is that it seems to be impossible to keep. James says in 3:8 that “No man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” So would it be a waste of time to make such a resolution? No, not if we are born again, because the spring of the heart from which our words comes forth has been changed, so that by the power of the Spirit, we can actually control our tongues.
Happy New Year to everyone and may God give us all the power to be those who are slow to speak and quick to listen. And may all the words that we speak in 2016 be words of kindness and encouragement to others!
Several years ago Dr. Griffith Thomas was asked if he thought the world was becoming more and more Christian. He responded, “No, I don’t think that is true. I think the world is becoming a little churchy, while the church is becoming immensely worldly.” Today, I don’t think we could even say the world is a little churchy, but we sure can say that the church is immensely worldly.
In today’s text, James is going to tell us about the folly of worldliness. He will warn us about the negative impact our worldliness has on our walk with God–especially on our prayer life. He will go so far as to say that “if we are friends of the world, we make ourselves enemies of God!”
Novelist Jack Higgens, the author of bestseller The Eagle Has Landed, was once asked what he would have like to have known as a boy. He responded, “I would have liked to have known that when you get to the top, there is nothing there.”
In today’s text, James will remind us that life is nothing more than a vapor, and even for those who make it to the top, there is often nothing there. Not only that, the world is like “a ticking time bomb,” so we never know when things are going to explode all around us. That’s why James exhorts us to do good while we can, doing the Lord’s work, because none of us can be sure about how many days we have left on this earth to serve Him.
A wise-guy once said, “They say it’s better to be poor and happy than rich and miserable. But couldn’t something be worked out, such as moderately rich and a little bit moody!” Actually, I don’t think any of us would mind being at least a little bit rich.
James begins chapter five of his book with what seems to be an admonition against being rich. He says, “Howl you rich, for your miseries that are coming upon you!” That passage seems to indicate that it might not be such a good idea for a Christian to want to be rich. But what we will learn today is that James was speaking to godless rich people who had gained their riches through fraud and murder and oppression. On the other hand, he will exhort those who aren’t rich to be patient, because in the end every Christian as joint heirs with Jesus will be rich; we just have to wait for God to settle all His accounts.
A.C. Dixon in one of his books had this to say about the power of prayer: “When we rely on organization, we get what organization can do; when we rely on education, we get what education can do; when we rely on eloquence we get what eloquence can do; but when we rely on prayer, we get what God can do!”
I don’t know about you, but what I want and need in my life is what God can do. In today’s text, James will give us some pointers on praying in a way that we can get just that.