Saturday, January 28, 2017

James: Week 5: DOING AND BEING

WEEK FIVE: DOING AND BEING

DAY ONE: SEEING OURSELVES RIGHTLY
JAMES 1:22-25

James 1:22 is one of the verses I memorized as a child. “Be you doers of the word, and not hearers only...” In Junior Sunday School opening assembly on Sunday mornings, Dr. Herring often led us in the song, “Out of James 1:22 comes a song for Juniors true, Be ye doers of the word...” by B.B. McKinney (the link is a YouTube performance). You can see the words on page 2 of this link: Be Ye Doers of the Word. (They’re worth reading.)

That verse is ingrained in me. Be a doer.

The problem is that doing is easier than being. We can fake our way through doing. There’s no faking being, despite how hard we try. That’s why the “Doing and Being” section is near the end of this study. If we get the trials, temptations, sin, wisdom, repentance, and humility parts right first, we’ll have the doing part right, too.

This week, we’ll do my favorite kind of study. Verse by verse word studies.

James 1:22

The word translated as “prove yourselves” is ginomai, and is most commonly translated as “become”.
1) Poiētēs is the word translated as “doer” in all four of today’s focus verses. Follow the link to Outline of Biblical Usage II A to find a clarification of its use.

2) Now follow the link to learn more about the word translated as “deluding”. What did you learn?
I haven’t included links to the others words in this verse because they mean exactly what they say. James is very clear. When we hear the Word of God, we have a choice to make. Will we simply listen to the words? Will we put them into action?
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If all we do is listen to God’s Word, we not only deceive ourselves into thinking we’ve done enough. We also cheat ourselves of the joy that would come with complete obedience.
3) Let’s expand this a little with some hard truth. If we take every Bible study our church offers and are present every time the door is open, but do not put what we learn into action, what good have we done? How does God see that kind of “hearing”?
James 1:23-24

4)  Let’s dig into these two verses, then we’ll pull them together with what we learn. Follow the links to the following words and make notes on what you learn:
  1. a) who looks: b) natural:
    c)
    face:
    d)
    mirror:
    e) what kind of person:

    5)  Put what you’ve learned together. Describe the word picture James paints of the one who
  2. listens to the word but doesn’t put it into practice.

    6)  Compare the truth of these two verses with God’s instruction to Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:7.
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James 1:25'

7)  We’ll handle this verse in the same manner. Dig into the following words, then we’ll pull it together. As you dig, look for comparisons and contrasts to the preceding verses.
  1. a) looks intently:

    b) perfect:

    c) law:

    d)
    law of liberty

    e) abides by it

    f) blessed:

    8)  How is the “looking intently” described in James 1:25 different from that described in the preceding verses?

  2. 9)  What does James mean by “perfect law” and “law of liberty”?


  3. 10)  Compare the concept of the “law of liberty” with Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:23-24?
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          11) Use what you’ve learned to paint a word picture of the person described in James 1:25.

PRAYER PAUSE:

It’s time to take another hard look at our lives. If you’re like me, you’ve attended church for years. Participated in numerous Bible studies. Memorized verses. Claimed Bible promises.

The question then, is not how much truth we know, but what have we done with it?

As I’ve looked at these verses, one thing has resounded in my mind. The early disciples took what they’d learned in three years with Jesus and applied it to take the gospel literally around the world.
We have these truths we’re studying because of their efforts.

I have had many more than three years of teaching, but I haven’t use what I’ve learned to make the kind of impact they made. Why not? The biggest difference in them and me is that they were sold out from the start. They literally laid everything down for Christ and He blessed their sacrifice in ways too big to fully comprehend.

Today, take a close look at your life. Intense. Intentional. Look at your study. At the truth you know. At how you’ve used what you’ve learned.

Ask yourself these questions: 

Am I a hearer only?
In what ways have I used the truth I’ve learned to impact the world for Christ?
How can I make a bigger difference for Christ with the truth I already know?
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What have I left undone?
DAY TWO: PURE AND UNDEFILED RELIGION
Today, we’ll look at what James 1:27 says about “pure and undefiled religion.” I’ve read these words dozens of times. Every time, I’m convicted that I could’ve done better. I should’ve done better.
We’ll dig into the words in the same way we did yesterday, then draw a lesson from what we’ve learned.
  1. 1)  First, let’s clarify “pure and undefiled religion.” Follow the links to the following words and make notes on what you learn:

    a) Pure:

    b)
    undefiled:

     c) religion:

  2. 2)  There’s an important truth hidden in those few words. God regards “pure and undefiled religion” as something vastly different from a set of rules to obey. How does He view religion?

  3. 3)  According to James, our actions are more than a checklist to complete. When we use what we’ve learned to serve others, how does God see it? (refer to the meaning of “religion” above)

  4. 4)  To what two actions does James distill his description of “pure and undefiled religion”?
page97image10664       a) 

            b)
  1. 5)  The word translated as “visit” does not mean to simply stop by and say hi. What is involved in this kind of visit?

  2. 6)  The word translated as “orphan” does not mean merely a child without any parents. Follow the link to find the expanded meaning and make note of it here.

  3. 7)  How does the expanded definition of both “visit” and “orphan” broaden our field of service and our responsibility?

  4. 8)  The word translated as “in their distress” implies a situation that might not be as inviting as we would hope. Follow the link and make notes on the distress and its severity.

  5. 9)  The next phrase we need to examine is “and keep oneself unstained by the world.” We’ll examine a few of the words, then put it all together.

    a) keep:

    b)
    unstained:

    c)
    world: (see #6 in Thayer’s Lexicon)
If we are to keep ourselves unstained by the world (as described in Thayer’s), it must follow that we will have contact with “the world,” but not allow that contact to change us into conformity with the world’s standards. In this context, the world does not mean “things” of the world. Instead, it means the people of the world.

10) Which people are included in “the world”?

11) In what way might contact with the people of the world cause “stain” in our lives?

12) How might we “keep” ourselves from stain yet still have contact with the lost people around us?

PRAYER PAUSE:

James, in a way, throws down a gauntlet and issues a challenge in this passage. People in distress need help. If we are to serve Christ in the way He intended, we can’t shy away from the need simply because it’s hard or overwhelming. We are to wade into the situation, see what’s needed, and do what we can to help.

His admonition to keep ourselves unstained by the “world” suggests that the help we give will extend beyond the limits of the body of Christ. It will extend to lost people in the world, as well.

James is not making a suggestion when he describes this “pure and undefiled religion.” He’s painting a word-picture of the Christian life. No one is exempt from putting what they’ve learned into action. We are all called to serve, and that service is to extend past the boundaries of our families and the walls of our churches.

It’s time for some soul-searching. Let’s invite the Holy Spirit to shine the light of God into our hearts as we ask these questions:
  1. 1)  How readily do I recognize those in need? How thoroughly do I “see” their need?

  2. 2)  How am I serving those in need?

  3. 3)  In what ways do I serve the fatherless?

    4)  In what ways do I serve the widow?

    5)  In what ways do I serve the lost people around me? How do I demonstrate Christ by my actions?
  1. 6)  If I’m not serving, what changes do I need to make?

  2. 7)  What actions can I take to be a more effective doer? (Be specific)

  3. 8)  How can I keep my heart pure while, at the same time, ministering to those who are lost?

  4. 9)  Write a prayer of confession and repentance for any failures of doing, serving, or keeping.

DAYS THREE AND FOUR: FAITH AND WORKS

JAMES 2:14-20

“Faith without works is dead.” James doesn’t pull any punches. If our faith doesn’t propel us to action, it’s not faith at all. When we follow Jesus as disciples, we are more than classroom students. 

We’re interns in the field.

We can’t do what Jesus did without doing.

It’s that simple. It’s that hard.

1) Let’s begin our study today by reading through our focus passage, then reading it again, aloud. Make notes on anything that stands out to you.

We’ll dig into the words in the same way we've done this week, then draw a truth from what we’ve learned. This is a long lesson, and filled with foundational truths. We’re taking two days on this passage, rather than rushing through.

2) We’ll dig through the Greek in James 2:14, then draw a lesson from it. Follow the links to the following words and make notes on what you learn:

a) use is it:

b)
say: I’m giving you this one. It’s in the lower 1/4 of Thayer’s and it means more than
to simply speak a few words. It means “insist upon”. 

c) he has:

d)
faith:

e)
works:

f) can:
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g) save:

James asks a hard question. Is faith that doesn’t result in action a saving faith? Let’s ponder the

answer to that as we continue to study this passage. 

3) Now move to James 2:15-16
a) without clothing

b) in need:

c)
daily:

d)
go:

e) in peace:

f)
be warmed

g) be filled

h) necessary:

Here’s another hard question from James. If we encounter someone who doesn’t have adequate clothing or enough food to get them through the day, yet we brush them off and fail to give them what is necessary, what good is that? How can faith in Christ respond to needs in that manner? Ponder that, too.

4) We’ve come to one of the most difficult truths in James. If faith doesn’t result in works, it’s not simply of no use, it’s dead. Since there’s a tendency to skip over these hard words, let’s dig into this truth so we can own it for ourselves.

a) dead: (See Thayer’s toward the end of the entry) 
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b) by itself:

Nekros is the word translated as dead. It’s used in verse 17 to indicate the kind of faith that is “destitute, without force or power.” James uses the same word in verse 26, but we’ll soon see that he uses in a different way that’s hard. This is one of those verses that is sharper than a two- edged sword. It divides bone from marrow. Let it soak in, because we will soon be to the “dividing line”, and it might be a hard place for some of us.

5) James 2:18 presses a very important point. If faith is demonstrated by our works, how can we demonstrate our faith without works? The same words translated as faith and works are used in this verse, but follow the link to find the deeper meaning of the word translated as “show” and record it here.

I don’t want to belabor a point, but this is a critical piece of information. This is how the Christian life looks: faith results in works. Period. If we don’t have works, how can we “prove” our faith? We can’t. It’s that simple. It’s that hard.

6)  James 2:18-19 are hard words. Believing that God exists is not enough. Satan believes God exists. The demons believe God exists. Salvation does not depend upon the belief that God exists. It’s a good starting point, but salvation requires surrender to the Son of God. Read Romans 10:9 and write this verse here.

7)  What is the difference between acknowledging Jesus exists and confessing Him as Lord?

8)  Which leads to salvation?

9)  The last verse for today, James 2:20, is filled wth hard truth. 

a) recognize

b) foolish:
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c) worthless:

If all we believe is that God exists, and do not confess that Jesus is Lord by the way we live our lives, we are foolish. This verse is a call to a decision. Are we willing to recognize that we might have it wrong?


If all we have is pew-sitting faith, we don’t have enough Jesus. 

The Lordship of Christ will not leave us unchanged. It will not leave us sitting on the sidelines. It will not leave us comfortable and untouched by the need of the world.

PRAYER PAUSE:

Today is the day to look at your faith and ask yourself how viable it is. 

Does your faith result in works or not?

If so, what works?

If not, why not?

If your faith is judged by the standard James presents, (and it is) how “real” is it?

We’ll take it a step further tomorrow, but, for today, ponder what you’ve learned and, if works are lacking, consider what this means for your eternity.
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DAY FIVE: RECOGNIZING DEAD

JAMES 2:21-26

We’re at a hard patch of Scripture, my friends. Some of us may not find ourselves in quite the position we thought.

Before we get started with today’s Scripture, let’s remember some important facts. Jesus’ little brother knew Him better than almost anyone on earth. He looked up to Him. Wanted to be like Him. That’s what little brothers do.

It took James a while to reconcile the public Jesus with the private big brother. When he did, James understood better than most what it took to follow Him.

What he’s written is truth. There’s no debating it. Even if we don’t like what he’s said.

1) Let’s begin, as we did yesterday, by reading our focus Scripture through, then reading it again, aloud. Make notes on anything that speaks to you.

We’ll dig into the words in the same way we've done this week, then draw a lesson from what we’ve learned. The same words, translated as faith and works, are used in this section of Scripture, so we will not explore them again.

2) In this passage, James gives examples of two people who were justified by works. Let’s look at their stories, then at the teaching about faith and works.

a) Abraham: Read the account of Abraham’s work of faith in Genesis 22:1-18. How was his faith evident in his actions?

b) Rahab the Harlot: Read the account of Rahab’s work of faith in Joshua 2:1-21. How was her faith evident in her actions?


3)  Genesis 15:6 tells us, “Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” The proof of his faith was the action of offering up Issac on the altar. It should be evident, James suggests, that faith was working with his works. Follow the link to see how the two worked together.

4)  How might faith be “perfected” as a result of works. (Follow the link)

5)  James 2:26 is a verse that is foundational for the Christian life. Let’s dig into the words in this verse.

a) body 

b) spirit 

c) dead 

d) faith 

e) works

f) dead

Just as the body, without Spirit (or breath) is literally dead, so the kind of faith that produces neither godly change in us nor works is also literally dead. Good works don’t save us, but they are the evidence of our salvation.

I have a concern that those with a “pew-sitter faith” may misunderstand this passage. Those with an immature, baby faith may not have grown to the point of works, just as an infant may not have reached the stage of walking alone. It is, however, the normal and expected progression of a disciple of Christ that their faith will result in, and be evidenced by, their works, and that they will progress fairly quickly.

PRAYER PAUSE:
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We can’t earn our way to heaven. The Pharisees had plenty of works, but they lacked the faith that led to salvation. If we’re counting on works to save us, we’re not only sadly mistaken, but also in jeopardy of an eternity in hell.

Works without faith cannot save us.

On the other hand, saving faith will produce works. It’s that simple. No matter how many tears we shed when we first professed faith in Christ, nor how dramatic our supposed salvation, if we don’t live the Christian life, something is wrong. If this is the case, a serious faith/works assessment is in order.

Is my faith perfected as a result of my works?

If not, what does this mean?

What do I need to do about it?

DAY SIX: DOING RIGHT

JAMES 4:17

Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. James 4:17 nasb
The right thing to do. The word translated as “right thing” is kalos. It’s the beautiful action, because of the purity of heart behind it, the honorable deed.4 The “right thing” may not always be obvious, but it usually is. When we know what we should do, but decide not to do it, we’ve sinned.

Rather than look at the “thou shalt nots,” today, we’re looking at the “thou shalt’s.” What are those “right things” that we should do?

1)  Exodus 20:12

2)  Psalm 100:1-5

3)  Isaiah 58:6-7,9-10

4)  Micah 6:8

5)  Malachi 3:10

6)  Matthew 5:16

7)  Matthew 5:44

8)  Matthew 6:6

9)  Matthew 6:14

10) Matthew 11:28-29 

11) Matthew 28:19-20

12) John 13:34

13) 1 Corinthians 6:18

14) James 5:19-20

There are many more “right things” that we can and should do, but they can all be summed up in Matthew 22:37-39. Love God. Love others. Read these verses aloud, then write them here.

It’s not always the “commandment” that trips us up. Sometimes, it’s the still small voice that directs us with a gentle whisper to do a particular action. Especially when that action is outside our comfort zone. When we allow indecision, hesitation, or fear to stop us from doing what the Holy Spirit has directed, we have sinned.

Doing what God says not to do is sin, but not doing what He says to do is sin, too.

PRAYER PAUSE:

Take a close look at how well you’re “doing what’s right.” Ask God to help you assess your life in regard to Matthew 22:37-39. How do you show by your actions that you love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength?

How do you show by your actions that you love your neighbor as yourself?

Now is the time to make a decision. Will you “do” what God expects or not? This is a question that has eternal consequences, so take some time on this.

If not, what will be your consequences?


DAY SEVEN: SINNERS AND SAINTS

JAMES 5:1-8

This passage specifically addresses the actions of the rich, but these words apply to all of us. Matthew Henry suggests that James’ words were written to admonish unbelievers in their treatment of believers and to encourage Christians to persevere.5

1) Read though the focus passage once, then read it aloud. Write down anything that speaks to you.


James uses an interesting technique here (rarely used by ministers today). He first addresses sinners, then addresses the saints.

Sinners:
2) James tells the rich (presumed to be the unsaved) that they have built up a multitude of sins including hoarding riches (rather than using their wealth to help with acts of charity), cheating their hired workers, living extravagantly, and condemning and putting to death the righteous. What consequences have they encountered for each of those sins?

a) hoarding riches:


b) cheating their workers: 

c) living extravagantly: 

d) killing the righteous:

Saints:

3) James specifically addresses the saints who have suffered at the hands of the wealthy. What encouragement does he offer? 

What admonitions does he offer?

a) See James 5:4 

b) See James 5:7 

c) See James 5:8
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4)  In James 5:7-8, the word translated as “patient” is used three times. Follow the link to learn what’s involved in this kind of patience.

5)  The saints are admonished to “strengthen your hearts”. Follow the link to find out more.

6)  What is the basis for the strength and patience of the saints?

PRAYER PAUSE:

Most of us in the United States view the “wealthy” as those with billion-dollar estates. According to an article published in The Economist, if you have more than $2,200 in assets (combination of money and stuff) you are wealthier than more than 50% of the world’s people.6 Follow the link to access the article. You may find that, in comparison to most of the world’s population, you are extravagantly wealthy.

Friends, we are the wealthy, whether we realize it or not. We fall into the group of “rich” to which James was speaking, whether we “feel” rich, or not.

With that in mind, we need to assess how we manage our riches.

Do we live extravagantly? (Not in comparison to American standards but according to God’s standards)

Do we hoard our resources rather than invest in acts of charity?

How do we tip our servers when eating out? Do we “scrimp” on a fair wage for them?
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There is obviously a place for the wealthy in the economy of God. Boaz’ wealth was an important part of God’s provision for Ruth and Naomi. Jesus was laid in the borrowed tomb of a wealthy man. The question is not whether or not we have wealth, but how we use it. Do we use our wealth to expand the kingdom of God or not?

In what ways have I used the resources God has entrusted to me for His kingdom?

What changes do I need to make?

We are the wealthy, but we are also among the “brethren”, for whom patience is encouraged. Do we live with eternity, and the second coming of Christ, in our minds?

How prepared am I for the second coming of Christ? 

#James #Biblestudy