Grow up. By faith we are reborn into the family of God. Absolutely, agrees James. But God wants more than justified infants; He wants mature daughters and sons. Faith is foundational, but it must be genuine, proven faith that's evident to a watching world. James' exhortation is a challenge to Christians of every age to keep growing up. TH1NK: LifeChange Series God's Word slices away layers of pretense from our lives to show us how we can be more like Christ. Relevant and fast-paced, the TH1NK: LifeChange series is made up of in-depth book studies that help you understand the context and meaning of the Bible so you can apply it to your life.
About the Author
The Navigators is an interdenominational, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people "know Christ and make Him known” as they look to Him and His Word to chart their lives.
Navigators have invested their lives in people for more than seventy-five years, coming alongside them life on life to study the Bible, develop a deepening prayer life, and memorize and apply Scripture, The ultimate goal is to equip Christ followers to fulfill 2 Timothy 2:2—to teach what they have learned to others.
Today, tens of thousands of people worldwide are coming to know and grow in Jesus Christ through the various ministries of The Navigators. Internationally, more than 4,600 Navigator staff of 70 nationalities serve in more than 100 countries.
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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.
Excerpted from james Copyright © 2004 by The Navigators. Excerpted by permission.
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Table of Contents
Introduction to THINK LifeChange 7
Introduction to James 13
Lesson 1 A Letter from a Friend 17
Lesson 2 When It Gets Tough 25
Lesson 3 Tempting, but No Thanks 33
Lesson 4 Real Religion 43
Lesson 5 In-Shape Christianity 51
Lesson 6 Faith and Works, Like Hand in Glove 59
Lesson 7 The Overflow of the Heart 67
Lesson 8 Becoming Wise … on God's Terms 75
Lesson 9 What's Your Motivation? 83
Lesson 10 Opposition to the Proud 91
Lesson 11 While I Wait 99
Lesson 12 Follow Through 109
Study Resources 121