Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bible Study ~ James 5:7-18

James 5:7-18

*Who is it about? Us or God? What did you learn about God in this passage?

*James opens by encouraging the believers to stand firm and wait patiently (vs.7-11) - wait patiently for what? (For Jesus' return when all will be made right; he warns/encourages them about the judgment to come.)

*James makes the shift from swearing, to its opposite: praying (vs.12). He instructs the believers when to pray: in times of trouble, when they're happy, sick, etc. – they should pray in all circumstances.

*James instructs the believers to call upon the elders of the church for prayer. In the previous passages he just finished warning them about their actions towards each other (favoritism, bitter envy, slander, quarrels, etc.). This command to pray together would mean that there would need to be unity and submission in the church body, which would unleash the power of believers praying together (Matthew 18:19-20; John 15:7-17).

*They should pray in the name of the Lord Jesus which is another expression of submission. It is acknowledging God's right to be God, and allowing Him to do what He wants according to His ways, not ours. How do you usually pray? Wanting God to give you what you want? Or asking for what He wants?

*They should pray in faith, not doubting God's good will, and not demanding of God, but accepting what He gives as the answer.

*They should confess their sins, which would be evidence of repaired relationships. “As a first result of their hardships, their relationship with God has been suffering. They are falling into temptation to doubt God (1:6), to blame God (1:13) and to bargain with God (5:12). James is directing them back to God in faith with a reliance on him in prayer.” Is repentance and confession hard for you to do in front of others?

* “A second result of their adversities is that their relationships with each other have been suffering... He points out the oneness we have with each other because of our common need for forgiveness. If we consciously stand together before God as sinners needing grace and wanting righteousness, that stance has compelling application to our relationships. Instead of judging each other, we will be driven to confess to each other. Instead of desiring to place guilt on each other, we will become eager to forgive each other. Instead of moving to criticize, we will move to intercede for each other. ((Explain)) This, too, James learned from Jesus (Mt 5:23-24; 6:12-15; 7:1-5).”

“This is the message of grace. God gives good gifts because he is full of compassion and mercy. Grace is the element in God's character which James wants his readers to know with absolute confidence. The Christian can be patient in suffering and consider trials pure joy because of the assurance that God will give wonderfully good gifts even through the hardships. Fundamental for Christian practice is Christian belief.
*What is the truth about God? Is he this God of grace or not? We are called over and over in James's letter to believe this truth – believe it, believe it, believe it. And then act accordingly. Put belief into practice by being patient in the endurance of suffering.”

Bible Study credit: Terri Stellrecht