Life Lessons from James: Practical Wisdom

Life Lessons from James: Practical Wisdom

by Max Lucado

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Overview

Do your Monday actions reflect your Sunday worship? How about your claims to faith? Is your life full of noticeable changes and actions? James, the half-brother of Jesus, wasn't impressed with talk. He knew that a life of faith was all about actions that revealed a difference in a person's life. For him, it was not that works save the Christian, but that they mark the Christian. In his letter, he boldly deals with practical issues of faith not bound by culture or place. He shows the importance of living a genuine life of faith. His message is bare-knuckled as he encourages, challenges, and confronts, offering practical words and admonitions to live out our faith.

The Life Lessons with Max Lucado series brings the Bible to life in twelve lessons filled with intriguing questions, inspirational stories, and poignant reflections to take you deeper into God's Word. Each lesson includes an opening reflection, background information, an excerpt of the text (from the New International and New King James versions), exploration questions, inspirational thoughts from Max, and a closing takeaway for further reflection. The Life Lessons series is ideal for use in both a small-group setting or for individual study.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310086604
Publisher: HarperChristian Resources
Publication date: 11/27/2018
Series: Life Lessons
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 281,023
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Since entering the ministry in 1978, Max Lucado has served churches in Miami, Florida; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and San Antonio, Texas. He currently serves as Teaching Minister of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio. He is America’s bestselling inspirational author with more than 140 million products in print.

Visit his website at Max Lucado.com

Facebook.com/Max Lucado

Instagram.com/Max Lucado

Twitter.com/Max Lucado

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

GROWING THROUGH TRIALS

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

James 1:2–3 NKJV

REFLECTION

The letter of James deals with the "practical" side of faith, which means trusting God even in times difficulties and crises. Think about the way you have responded to a recent problem or struggle in your life. How would you describe your general attitude during this time? What does your response to this situation reveal about your view of God?

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SITUATION

Like many of the early church leaders, James served under the continual threat of trials and violence. Both the Roman authorities and the Jewish religious leaders had reasons to persecute as many Christians as possible. To the Romans, the Christians were troublemakers. To the Jewish leaders, they were blasphemers. James wrote to his fellow believers in part to encourage them to persevere in the midst of all these trials. He reminds them of the benefits they can expect to receive from hardships and the importance of living genuine lives of faith.

OBSERVATION

Read James 1:1–11 from the New International Version or the New King James Version.

New International Version

1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:

Greetings.

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation — since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

New King James Version

1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad:

Greetings.

2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

9 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, 10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. 11 For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.

EXPLORATION

1. How does James encourage his readers to respond to trials?

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2. What does James mean when he says "the testing of your faith produces perseverance" (verse 3)?

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3. How can you gain wisdom to deal with problems?

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4. Why does God want his followers to ask for his help without doubting?

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5. Who does James say should not expect to receive anything from God? Why?

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6. Why does James say those in humble circumstances can be proud of their situation?

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INSPIRATION

When a potter bakes a pot, he checks its solidity by pulling it out of the oven and thumping it. If it "sings," it's ready. If it "thuds," it's placed back in the oven.

The character of a person is also checked by thumping.

Been thumped lately?

Late-night phone calls. Grouchy teacher. Grumpy moms. Burnt meals. Flat tires. You've-got-to-be-kidding deadlines. Those are thumps. Thumps are those irritating inconveniences that trigger the worst in us. They catch us off guard. Flatfooted. They aren't big enough to be crises, but if you get enough of them, watch out! Traffic jams. Long lines. Empty mailboxes. Dirty clothes on the floor ... Thump. Thump. Thump.

How do you respond? Do you sing? Or do you thud?

Jesus said that out of the nature of the heart a man speaks (see Luke 6:45). There's nothing like a good thump to reveal the nature of a heart. The true character of a person is seen not in momentary heroics, but in the thump-packed humdrum of day-today living. ...

Have you felt the divine Potter's thump lately? Why do you think he might be testing you? And if it's been a while since you've been thumped, why do you think that is? (From Shaped by God by Max Lucado.)

REACTION

7. How have some recent "thumps" challenged you to seek God?

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8. How do you usually respond to life's difficulties?

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9. How has your relationship with God changed as you have gone through trials?

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10. Why is it so hard to respond with joy when you are faced with problems?

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11. How have you seen God bring good into your life through trials?

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12. When was a time that God's wisdom helped you get through a problem?

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LIFE LESSONS

Many of us have a contingency plan for if things go wrong. In truth, we need a plan for when things go bad. If we assume life is trouble-free, we will have to deal with constant disappointment. But if we realize life involves a mixture of troubles and blessings, we will have better reason to plan with hardships in mind. Trouble may not be here in the moment, but it's coming. James helps us to see that God even allows trouble for our good. He doesn't want us to worry about why troubles come. He wants us to prepare and trust him when troubles come.

DEVOTION

Father, we come to you just as we are, struggling to cope with the trials of life. We are grateful that you never turn your back on us. You promise to give us the wisdom and strength we need to face each day. Continue to test us until our character shines and brings glory to you.

JOURNALING

How can you grow closer to God through the trials you are facing right now?

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FOR FURTHER READING

To complete the book of James during this twelve-part study, read James 1:1–11. For more Bible passages on growing through trials, see Romans 5:3–5; 2 Corinthians 4:16–18; 6:3–10; 2 Thessalonians 1:3–4; and 1 Peter 1:5–7; 4:12–14.

CHAPTER 2

ENDURING TEMPTATION

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12

REFLECTION

One of the classic hymns of the church is "Count Your Blessings." The song highlights the fact that we often tend to tally our temptations, trials, and complaints rather than our blessings. Take two minutes right now to compile a short list of all the items and people you consider to be God's blessings in your life. In what ways have you received good gifts from God?

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SITUATION

James has encouraged his readers to actually take joy in the many trials they are facing, pointing them to the fact that such struggles leads to the development of perseverance and faith in their lives. He now moves on to another source of encouragement: God's good gifts and blessings. James understands that his readers — ourselves included — will face temptations of all kinds. Our own evil desires will tempt us to sin. But as followers of Jesus, we have plenty of reasons for joyful living, for we can know that God is consistently working for our good.

OBSERVATION

Read James 1:12–18 from the New International Version or the New King James Version.

New International Version

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

13 When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

16 Don't be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

New King James Version

12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

EXPLORATION

1. Why does James say the person who endures under trials is blessed?

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2. How does God reward those who are faithful to him?

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3. Why is it easy to blame God as the source of temptation?

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4. How does James explain the true source of temptations?

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5. What are the results of continually giving in to sin?

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6. How does James say that God rescued you from evil desires?

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INSPIRATION

Victor Hugo introduced us a character known as Jean Valjean in the classic Les Misérables. Valjean enters the pages as a vagabond. A just-released prisoner in midlife, wearing threadbare trousers and a tattered jacket. Nineteen years in a French prison have left him rough and fearless. He's walked for four days in the Alpine chill of nineteenth-century southeastern France, only to find that no inn will take him, no tavern will feed him. Finally he knocks on the door of a bishop's house.

Monseigneur Myriel is seventy-five years old. Like Valjean, he has lost much. The revolution took all the valuables from his family except some silverware, a soup ladle, and two candlesticks. Valjean tells his story and expects the religious man to turn him away. But the bishop is kind. He asks the visitor to sit near a fire. "You did not need to tell me who you were," he explains. "This is not my house — it is the house of Jesus Christ." After some time the bishop takes the ex-convict to the table, where they dine on soup and bread, figs, and cheese with wine, using the bishop's fine silverware.

He shows Valjean to a bedroom. In spite of the comfort, the ex-prisoner can't sleep. In spite of the kindness of the bishop, he can't resist the temptation. He stuffs the silverware into his knapsack. The priest sleeps through the robbery, and Valjean runs into the night.

But he doesn't get far. The policemen catch him and march him back to the bishop's house. Valjean knows what his capture means — prison for the rest of his life. But then something wonderful happens. Before the officer can explain the crime, the bishop steps forward.

"Oh! Here you are! I'm so glad to see you. I can't believe you forgot the candlesticks! They are made of pure silver as well ... please take them with the forks and spoons I gave you."

Valjean is stunned. The bishop dismisses the policemen and then turns and says, "Jean Valjean, my brother, you no longer belong to evil, but to good. I have bought your soul from you. I take it back from evil thoughts and deeds and the Spirit of Hell, and I give it to God."

Valjean has a choice: believe the priest or believe his past. Jean Valjean believes the priest. He becomes the mayor of a small town. He builds a factory and gives jobs to the poor. He takes pity on a dying mother and raises her daughter.

Grace changed him. Let it change you. (From Grace by Max Lucado.)

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Life Lessons from James"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Max Lucado.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

How to Study the Bible v

Introduction to the Book of James ix

Lesson 1 Growing Through Trials (James 1:1-11) 1

Lesson 2 Enduring Temptation (James 1:12-18) 11

Lesson 3 Listening and Doing (James 1:19-27) 23

Lesson 4 Equality in the Church (James 2:1-13) 35

Lesson 5 How Faith Works (James 2:14-26) 47

Lesson 6 Taming the Tongue (James 3:1-12) 59

Lesson 7 Sowing Seeds of Peace (James 3:13-18) 69

Lesson 8 Submitting to God (James 4:1-10) 79

Lesson 9 Speaking Well of Others (James 4:11-17) 89

Lesson 10 Warnings to the Rich (James 5:1-6) 97

Lesson 11 Rewards of Perseverance (James 5:7-11) 105

Lesson 12 Prayers of Faith (James 5:12-20) 115

Leader's Guide for Small Groups 125

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