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Introduction to the Epistle of James

October 19, 2018 Leave a comment

gldi-james-coverHow to use this Devotional

Welcome to this devotional on the book of James! This guided study will help you to know the contents, structure, and themes that are part of this important New Testament letter. It is a significant letter due to the fact that it describes faith that works. Whereas Paul the apostle’s emphasis was often upon the grace that saves through faith, James emphasizes what faith actually looks like in the lives of those who have truly believed.

James has been called “Practical James,” because this epistle is so practical in nature. As such, it is the book of Proverbs in the New Testament. James draws heavily upon the ethic taught by the Lord Jesus—making the teachings of Christ plain and down to earth, right where we live.

The translation that is used for the text is taken from the New International Version (NIV). But it is also possible to use other translations like the New American Standard and the New King James Version.

This devotional is intended to give you a complete tour of the book within a 40-day framework, one devotional per day. At the end of every five days, you’ll find summary pages. Use these pages to reflect upon the week. Here are the steps on how to proceed with this study.

Be sure to look at the big picture of James before you get into the specific passages.
Take a moment and actually read through all five chapters in one sitting. This is how the letter was meant to be read! This will help you to frame the book and see the “forest” before you start examining the “trees.”

Take some time to look over the background of James, the arguments, the topics, and the outline of the book. This will help you become familiar with the basic shape of this great
epistle.

As you approach each lesson, begin by reading the portion of the passage that is listed above. Think about the passage and pay attention to some of the key ideas that are mentioned. Look for action verbs and notice repetition, contrasts, and comparisons. Read it again out loud to help you understand the passage. Then take some time to look at the interpretation notes which should aid you in understanding the passage.

Take time to go over the reflection questions and apply them to your own life. Please do this thoughtfully and carefully. Use the text as a mirror to your own heart as you think about the principles first and then how your life should reflect those principles.

Finally, pray over and meditate on the truth, and ask God to help you make it true in your own life. This will be crucial in order for you to internalize the devotional fully for that day!

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James – Friday, March 20

faith-without-works-is-deadJAMES 2:14-19

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

It is clear that professions of faith are useless, if they are not connected to tangible evidence of faith coming from our lives.

Anyone can say “I have faith.” Jesus even said that there will be many in the day of judgment that will claim to have had faith in Him … but they were actually doers of lawlessness (Matthew 7:21-23).

If our profession of faith doesn’t produce outward evidence, then it’s not real and saving faith. It’s just words. The kind of faith that is real and saving faith is faith that produces works. It is not as though our works save us—we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 4:4-5). But when a person truly believes, his faith shows up in the way he lives.

Someone has asked the rhetorical question, “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” That pretty much sums up the heart of James’ argument here.

Daily Devotional Book • James Application Questions

1. What is your profession of faith? What do you say to God, to others, or to yourself about what you believe?

2. How is your profession of faith made manifest by the way you live your life? What evidence is there that you have saving faith?

3. Spend some time asking the Lord to help you live authentically and fruitfully. He is the One that makes it happen.

James – Monday, March 2

March 1, 2009 5 comments

james1JAMES 1:1

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.

This opening salutation acknowledges that James is the author of this epistle. He calls himself a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Greek word he used was doulos, which meant a slave by choice—someone who loved his master and chose to serve him forever, on his master’s terms (see Exodus 21:1-6 for an example).

The doulos loved his master, because his master had first loved him (see 1 John 4:19). In the New Testament sense, the doulos is one whose life has been rescued and touched by the grace of God in Christ.

Daily Devotional Book • James Application Questions

1. In consideration of the concept of a doulos, take a look at Romans 12:1. What is the connection between God’s mercies (toward us) and the presentation of our bodies to God as a living sacrifice?

2. Have you recognized and experienced the love of the Lord Jesus Christ in your own life? If so, how do you know He loves you? If not, what is keeping you from knowing and experiencing God’s love for you?

3. Have you made a commitment to Jesus Christ as your Master? What are a few of the areas of your life that are still not subject to His control?

Background to the Epistle of James (Author)

February 28, 2009 Leave a comment

gldi-james-coverFour men are named James in the New Testament

1. James, the father of Judas (not Iscariot), is mentioned twice (see Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13) as the father of one of the twelve disciples, but is otherwise completely unknown.

2. James, the son of Alphaeus (see Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13), elsewhere called James the Less (Mark 15:40), was one of the twelve disciples. Apart from being listed with the other disciples, this James is completely obscure, and it is doubtful that he is the authoritative figure behind the epistle. Some attempts have been made to identify this James with the Lord’s brother (Gal. 1:19), but this view is difficult to reconcile with the gospel accounts.

3. James, the son of Zebedee and brother of John (see Matt. 4:21; 10:2; 17:1; Mark 3:17; 10:35; 13:3; Luke 9:54; Acts 1:13), was one of Jesus’ intimate disciples, but his martyrdom by A.D. 44 (Acts 12:2) makes it very unlikely that he wrote this epistle.

4. James, the Lord’s brother (see Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3; Gal. 1:19), was one of the “pillars” in the church in Jerusalem (see Acts 12:17; 15:13–21; 21:18; Gal. 2:9, 12). Tradition points to this prominent figure as the author of the epistle, and this best fts the evidence of Scripture.

(Taken and adapted from Talk Thru the Bible by Bruce Wilkinson and Kenneth Boa, Copyright 1983 by Thomas Nelson. Publishers.)

Important topics in James

1. What it means to be a servant of God (1:1)

2. The need for joy in the midst of trials (1:2)

3. How spiritual maturity is produced in our lives (1:2)

4. The way to receive wisdom from God (1:5-7)

5. Maintaining an eternal perspective regarding our station in life (1:9-11)

6. The process of temptation (1:13-15)

7. The character and goodness of God the Father (1:16-18)

8. Be doers of the word, not hearers only (1:22)

9. The defnition of true religion (1:27)

10. Avoiding favoritism (2:1-9)

11. Faith without works is dead (2:14-25)

12. The necessity of controlling the tongue (3:1-12)

13. The nature of heavenly wisdom (3:13-18)

14. Why prayers are sometimes not answered (4:1-3)

15. How to recover from worldliness (4:4-10)

16. The futility of boastful planning (4:13-16)

17. How God views the greedy, unjust rich man (5:1-6)

18. Be patient until the coming of the Lord (5:7-8)

19. Persevere and endure in your present circumstances (5:10-11)

20. Be a person of integrity (5:12)

21. Dealing with life issues: sufering, cheerfulness, sickness (5:13-15)

22. Confess your sins to one another for healing (5:16)

23. The power and availability of fervent prayer (5:16-18)

24. The need to turn sinful brethren back to the truth (5:19-20)

Key verses in James

James 1:2
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds…

James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

James 1:13-15
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

James 1:22
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

James 2:10
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

James 2:17
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

James 2:19
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

James 3:1-2
Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.

James 3:17
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

James 4:2
You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.

James 4:4
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

James 4:7
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will fee from you.

James 4:10
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

James 4:15
Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”9

James 4:17
Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.