Consider Yourself Ready? – James 5:7-20 – Sermon Notes

James points out the absurdity of Christians who have faith and Christ and who live by the world.

Consider your perspective

The mature believer isn’t taken by surprise that the Lord hasn’t returned yet. He’ll return at the right time. James says to be patient. What enables the farmer to be patient is his perspective. We mustn’t be expecting a perfect world or a great life now. Grumbling is a sign of not being ready.

Consider your progress

You are trained in perseverance through trials of many kinds. Job continued to trust God. Both he and the prophets could have used their suffering to justify not persevering. God makes your suffering purposeful as you’re being trained in Christian maturity. How Christians talk can be a giveaway of their progress. The ready believer speaks as though Jesus’ coming is near.

Consider your priorities

The mature believer shows their patience by making prayer a priority. Being patient in suffering doesn’t mean we ignore it. Prayer is powerful and effective. It gets results. Persevere in truth. Patience, perseverance, prayer. Jesus knows what it is to wait and to suffer and to pray. His coming is near. On that day we won’t need to be patient any longer.

Consider Yourself Friends with God? – James 4:4-12 – Sermon Notes

James addresses two things that can’t go together.

Consider our fidelity

James is talking about selfish wisdom that’s friendship with the world. It indicates an affectionate attachment. He wants to wake us up. God’s way and the world’s way are in direct opposition. We can’t just carry on. God longs for you.

Consider your position

God sees what we’ve done yet gives us more grace. It’s not about striving upwards. We must submit to God and humble ourselves. The submission he speaks of is an active allegiance to God our King. We must resist pride and instead come near to God. James calls us to deal with our sin both inwardly and outwardly. He knows that sin is in our hearts. Jesus resisted the temptations of the devil. It’s through Jesus that our hearts are purified and our hands are washed clean.

Consider our friends

James wants to show us that being a friend with God makes us a good friend to others. When we judge one another we speak against the law. Let us humble ourselves rather than judge. Do our actions reveal a humble life or a proud life? God longs to be united with you. Only by seeing the seriousness of our unfaithfulness will we see the beauty of God’s grace. It is only by the grace of God that we are lifted up and called his friend.

Faithful Caring – James 5:13-20 – Bible Study Notes

This study features notes from Enduring Word.

Recap the last study. A call to patient endurance in light of the coming judgment.

1. Why do you think James highlights those who are suffering, cheerful and sick? What’s his advice?

James has the same advice for both the suffering and cheerful one – take it all to the Lord.

2. What’s your interpretation of anointing with oil?

Either seeking the best medical attention or an emblem of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power. Anointing the sick with oil is also mentioned in Mark 6:13 and Luke 10:34 mentions the use of oil in a medicinal sense.

3. How can we understand v15? Is James guaranteeing healing for the sick who are prayed for in faith?

The reference to sins being forgiven suggests a spiritual work and healing, not necessarily a physical one. We should pray for others in faith, expecting God will heal them, then leave the matter in God’s hands.

4. Why should we confess sins to each other?

Mutual confession and prayer brings healing, both physically and spiritually. It can free us from heavy burdens.

5. Why is much of our prayer not effective?

It isn’t fervent. It’s offered with a lukewarm attitude that asks God to care about something that we care little about.

6. What’s significant about the example of Elijah? Why do you think James chooses this particular case of answered prayer?

He is a model of earnest prayer that was answered by God. His heart was in line with God’s.

7. What does James remind us of in v19-20? Why does James conclude with this?

The need to confront those who have wandered from the truth. God uses humans to turn sinners back from the errors of their ways. Throughout the letter, James has been confronting those who have wandered from a living faith by demanding they not only hear the word, but do it, because a living faith will have its proof.

8. What can we pray about? What have we seen throughout the letter? What’s stood out?

Patience, loving others, living out the faith.

Consider Yourself in Control? – James 3:1-12 – Sermon Notes

James recognises the sheer power of the tongue. Short sentences can set the whole world on fire. What we say has real weight to it. Censorship doesn’t change hearts. James says if you’re in control of your tongue, you’re in control of your life. For James the tongue is the indicator of whether or not we’re in control of our lives.

Consider the power

The small instruments reveal where the rider or captain wants to go. The tongue reveals the discipline or direction of the heart of the man. It’s the key factor in controlled living. One small piece of flesh contains a world of evil. The tongue isn’t tameable. It’s full of deadly poison. What we say is deeply connected to what is in our hearts.

Consider the source

For James, the greatest evil is both praising and cursing. The highest form is praising God. To curse someone is to devalue God’s image. Would you say things about Jesus that you say about others behind their backs? A cursing tongue is not a praising tongue. What you say reveals what’s truly at the source of your life.

Jesus used his tongue to bear our sins. He was forsaken for us because our tongues deserved to be in that place. He used his tongue to forgive our sins.

Patient Endurance – James 5:7-12 – Bible Study Notes

This study features notes from Enduring Word.

1. How does the opening statement in this passage (“Therefore be patient”) link to the previous section?

James talked about ultimate judgement in his remarks about the ungodly rich and their destiny. Now he calls Christians to patiently endure until the coming of the Lord.

2. How is the waiting of the farmer similar to the waiting and need for endurance in the Christian life?

He waits with hope and expectation, he waits for a long time while working, depending on things out of his power despite changing circumstances.

3. Why do we need to ‘establish our hearts’ or ‘stand firm’?

The soon return of Jesus requires that we have established hearts that are rooted in him and his eternal resolution of all things.

4. Why does James tell us not to grumble (v9)?

Times of hardship can cause us to be less than loving to our Christian brothers and sisters.

5. What’s significant about James’ next statement (v9b)?

Jesus comes as a judge, not only to judge the world, but also to assess the faithfulness of Christians (2 Cor. 5:10). In light of this, we can’t allow hardship to make us unloving towards each other.

6. What does James tell us about Job?

We see his perseverance. He refused to curse God despite his severe suffering. We see the end intended by the Lord, speaking of the purpose of God in allowing the suffering.

7. James tells us that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. How was God compassionate and merciful to Job?

He only allowed suffering for a very good reason. He restricted what Satan could do against Job. He sustained him with his unseen hand. Job was a better man at the end of it.

8. James again echoes Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:34-37). What does this demonstrate?

That there is not enough weight in our own character to confirm our words.

9. What’s the main point of this passage?

A call to patient endurance in light of the coming judgement.

Rich Boasting – James 4:13-5:6 – Bible Study Notes

This study features notes from Enduring Word.

1. Who is James addressing in the first section?

Those obsessed with planning for the future.

2. What is it about life that James asks us to consider?

It’s fragile. We live and move only at the permission of God. James isn’t discouraging us from planning and doing, but from planning and doing without reliance on God.

3. Why is it such a serious thing to talk about our plans?

It’s arrogance that makes us think we can live independently of God. It’s the essence of sin, a proud independence.

4. What are we challenged to do in v17?

To live according to what we know in the Lord.

5. Who is James addressing in 5:1-6?

Rich people. He starts this section with the same phrase as the previous one – ‘Now listen’/’Come now’. The rich are most likely to live independently from God.

6. How important is material wealth to you? How would you live differently if you viewed it as rotten and corroded?

James probably refers to three kinds of wealth – food, clothes and gold and silver. Each comes to nothing.

7. How does James view the behaviour of the rich (v4-6)?

He condemns it. They lived indulgently without regard for others. The cries of the oppressed were heard by the God of might and power and judgment.

8. Do we exploit others in any way? What can we do about it?

We can take advantage of people who we view as worse than ourselves, because we think we’re better than them.

Consider Yourself Merciful? – James 2:1-13 – Sermon Notes

We tend to think of mercy as being kind, loving and forgiving. In this passage it has a more specific meaning – heal sickness, cast out demons, a physical need. We show mercy based on appearance.

Consider who you honour

We discriminate based on appearance. We’ll help rich people in nice clothes but ignore those in torn clothes. It divides the church. If you discriminate against the poor, you’re becoming a judge, like someone who takes bribes. You set up a community where mercy and justice are only for the rich. If you view the poor as less than everyone else, that’s not how God views them. The rich have to humble themselves and ask God for help. The church is honouring the rich and those who blaspheme the name of Jesus. Merciful people don’t discriminate.

Consider where you sit

You don’t sit on the judge’s bench. You’re in the dock. Showing favouritism makes you just as guilty as someone who commits adultery or murder. We don’t understand our true identity or the mercy we’ve received from Jesus. Each of us is a law breaker. We’ve all not shown mercy to someone who needs it. Jesus gave up his glory. He became the poor man in filthy clothes. He was exploited. The gospel is of mercy. We are shown mercy rather than judgement because Jesus, who is the glory, took the punishment we deserve. If you have faith but no works of mercy, you don’t have gospel faith. Our mercy is what defends us in the courtroom of God. Jesus stoops to show incredible mercy to us.

Act and speak as one who’s received mercy, then we can consider ourselves merciful.

Friendly Enemies – James 4:4-12 – Bible Study Notes

This study features notes from Enduring Word.

Recap what we’ve seen in James so far – angry responses to God’s word, favouritism, faith in action, speaking badly.

1. Why does James accuse the people he’s writing to of adultery?

God spoke this way in the OT when his people were attracted to some form of idolatry. James sees their covetousness as idolatry.

2. What does James mean by ‘friendship with the world?’ Do you feel like an enemy of God?

James recognises that we cannot both be friends of this world system in rebellion against God, and friends of God at the same time (Matthew 6:24). Even the desire to be a friend of the world makes you an enemy of God.

3. What’s the encouragement about the Holy Spirit?

The presence of the Holy Spirit has a jealous yearning for our friendship with God. There is no exact quote in the OT. James is probably summarising the truth expressed in several OT passages.

4. James moves to talk about the solution. What’s the contrast (v6)?

The Holy Spirit grants us the grace to serve God as we should. The statement ‘he gives more grace’ is in contrast to the previous verses. At the same time, grace only comes to the humble, and grace and pride are eternal enemies.

5. Why should we submit to God?

In light of this grace, this is the one thing we should do. He created the world, his rule is good, it’s necessary for salvation, and gives us peace with God.

6. What’s significant about the next two responses James gives?

As we resist the devil, we are promised that he will flee from you. The call to draw near to God is an invitation and a promise.

7. What does it look like to draw near to God?

Worship, praise, prayer, communion with God.

8. How does James view repentance?

As we draw near to God we are convicted of our sin and can find cleansing at the cross. We can humble ourselves before him, and he will always lift you up.

9. What’s the result of humbling ourselves and being right with God (v11-12)?

Being right with other people. It will show in the way we talk about them. When we judge, we effective judge the law, which we have no authority to do.

Consider Yourself Religious? – James 1:19-27 – Sermon Notes

What we do with heavenly wisdom will determine whether we consider ourselves religious. James suggests we might be practicing a polluted religion without realising.

Consider the word

James uses the image of a plant or seed. It’s not a command to acknowledge or understand it better but a command to accept and receive it. His listeners could be in danger of not doing this. When God’s word is spoken it is to be given careful and special attention. Are we being hospitable to God’s word? Salvation is more than hearing about God’s grace and truth, it’s about being transformed into God’s grace and truth. It’s not only a past experience of grace, we’re invited into a present experience of grace.

Consider the mirror

To humbly receive the word is to become a doer of the word. Listening and agreeing doesn’t guarantee the acceptance of God’s word. Our calling is to internalise it so much that it dictates what you do. Our actions expose whether or not we humbly accept God’s word. James is calling us to become doers. Receiving God’s word reflects back who we are. We are called to remember who we are.

Consider the orphan

Every single one of us is religious. Some of us are practicing a worthless and polluted religion. The pure religion visits the orphan and widow. Can we consider ourselves religious? We can understand it as a category as all those who are in need. Are we intentionally extending grace and God’s word to them? James is being vague. Pure religion is hard to come by.

The path of deception and the path of blessing are right in front of us. James is calling you to life and blessing.

Consider Yourself Mature? – James 1:1-18 – Sermon Notes

How do you grow and mature? James approaches it through introspection. Does your life match your beliefs? Does the way you live match your doctrine? He thinks the way you respond to trials shows if you’re really trusting in Jesus or not. No matter who you are, you will face trials.

Consider your response

We should consider it pure joy (v2). James is saying make a deliberate choice. Take a different perspective. The trials aren’t pleasurable or joyful themselves but we can consider them joy because of what they produce. Perseverance is doing a job. It’s maturing us and bringing us to the point of not lacking anything. In the end, if we persevere, it will turn us into pure gold. In our culture, this life is all there is. Even though you’re being refined, the trials will make you a mature person.

Both the rich and the poor shouldn’t define their maturity by their possessions. Both will be found mature by the testing of their faith. Often when trials come, you find they make you worse. We blame God. A trial becomes a temptation when you’re dragged away by your evil desires. Every trial is maturing you in Christ or is maturing you in sin.

Consider what you ask for

If you look for strength from within, you’ll never persevere. The resource that you need is wisdom. You need the wisdom that comes from God. James uses the phrase ‘double-minded’. Don’t be divided by your loyalties. Doubting is being double-minded. We need to put our full trust in God’s wisdom otherwise we’ll never be stable. Obey God’s word, listen to wiser friends, and pray.

Consider what you really need

In every trial, we are standing with the God who is our Father, the creator of everything, who doesn’t change like the shifting shadows. What you need is to be born through the word of truth, the gospel. Jesus stood the test. He persevered through the agony, the testing of the cross, in order that he might save us. As a result, all our sin can be forgiven. We can persevere through trials of any kind and consider them pure joy because we know that the testing of our faith makes us mature. The more you persevere out of love for Christ, the more complete you’ll become.