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jamesA DOUBLE-EDGED BIBLE STUDY
Th1nk BooksCopyright © 2004 The Navigators
All right reserved.
Chapter OneLesson 1
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 1:5
When a friend writes you a letter, you might read it more than once (especially because he or she actually took the time to write a letter, not an e-mail). You read it first to get the general idea of what your friend is telling you. Maybe he's writing to tell you about new and exciting things in his life. Or maybe you haven't seen her in what seems like forever, and this letter reunites you. Then you might read it again to get the details. What school is he going to? How many years has it been? The second time around, you go over the details of the letter to really take in all your friend wants to tell you.
Like much of the New Testament, the book of James is actually a letter. Reading these letters is similar to reading a letter from a friend. But this letter was written nineteen hundred years before you were born; there are no juicy bits of personal information, and you aren't really that tight with its author. Other than that they're exactly the same. Seriously, it makes sense for us to look at James' letter as if it were written just for us, because it was, in a sense.
If you haven't already, read the introduction on page 7. This will introduce you to the book and show you how it fits with the rest of the Bible. Then read James' letter twice. First try reading a literal translation like the ESV (English Standard Version) or the NASB (New American Standard Bible). Then consider reading a paraphrase like The Message. That way, you will connect with both the literal meanings and the feelings of the text.
1 As you read, write down your first impressions of the book. Consider the following questions, and take notes in the spaces below.
What kinds of themes show up? Do you notice one unifying topic throughout the book?
What is James' tone? Is he friendly, compassionate? Funny, dry?
What words does James repeat? (Repetition often clues us in to an author's focus.)
What kinds of language does James use? (Metaphors and pictures? Stories? Commands?)
2 Now that you have a good feel for James' letter, think up some alternative titles for the book, drawn from what you noticed. Write those here.
3 Try to infer James' purpose(s) for writing this letter. Explain your answer.
4 James wrote, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says" (1:22). There's no question that reading and responding to God's Word will benefit our lives by drawing us nearer to Him-that's really what studying the Bible is all about. Did your overview of James suggest any areas of your life that you want to work on during this study? If so, write them down here (or in a private journal) and also note if you've already made plans to deal with them. This is a time for you to come to God in confession and praise, preparing yourself not only to study His Word, but also to allow your life to be touched by James' letter.
5 After reading James all the way through, what are some questions you would like to have answered as you begin this in-depth study?
For the group: Upon receiving this letter from James, discuss with the group which part affects each of you the most. What sticks out to you, excites you, terrifies you, convicts you, and causes you to praise? Anything!
For further study, read Psalm 119:97-104. How does James' attitude toward God's law compare to the one described in this passage? In light of what you've read, what is your attitude toward God's law?
Memory Verse of the Week
Did a particular verse make you think? Is there a verse you can't get out of your head? Write it down and memorize it. Allow God's Word to permanently brand itself in your head and your heart.
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