James, lesson 6

James, lesson 6

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we come before You today with expectant, soft, obedient, and teachable hearts. We open our hearts and minds to receive the ministry of Your Word. Speak to each one of us through the Holy Spirit based on our unique and special situations, in Jesus; name, Amen.

James 5:1-20, sins of the rich, patience and perseverance, the prayer of faith, love covers a multitude of sins

VV 1-3, 1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you!2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days.

James warned the rich on impending judgment because of arrogance, pride, corruption, exploitation, oppressing the poor, and flaunting luxurious lifestyles. Miseries will overtake them, their riches would be corrupted, their garment would be damaged, their gold and silver will be corroded,

VV 4-6, 4 Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabbath. 5 You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.

James rebuked the rich for ripping off their workers through withholding or underpayment of wages, flaunting luxury lifestyles, exploiting and oppressing the poor and marginalized.

VV 7-8, 7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. 8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

We should have patience and perseverance as we anticipates the second coming of the Lord. We should be as patient as a farmer in the field, as tough as a soldier in a war, and as disciplined as an athlete in a race, 2 Timothy 2:3-7.

2 Timothy 2:3-6, “You, therefore, must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops”.

VV 9-10, 9 Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! 10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.

We should not to grumble against each other because God is watching, observing, and judging us. We should emulate the prophets of the Old Testament in their patience, suffering, and perseverance.

VV 11-12, 11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord, that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment.

James quoted the endurance, perseverance, and faithfulness of Job from the book of Job. God is compassionate and merciful. We should not swear an oath by heaven or earth. We should be straightforward in our answers with a yes or a no. We should not twist and turn or give ambiguous replies.

VV 14-15, 13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

We should pray in difficult times and sing spiritual songs in good times. We should call upon the elders of the church to pray, lay hands, and anoint us with oil if we are sick. The prayer of faith of a righteous man will heal the sick.

VV 16-18, 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

We should confess our sins to each other and pray for each other. The prayer of a righteous man is effective and powerful. Elijah was an ordinary man just like anyone of us but his prayer was effective and powerful. When he prayed for drought, the drought came and when he prayed for rain, the rain came, 1 Kings:17-18.

1 Kings 18:45, “Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel”.

VV 19-20, 19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

We should watch out for backsliders and restore them back to the faith. Anyone who restores a backslider back to the faith will save a soul from eternal death. Love covers a multitude of sins, 1 Peter 4:8.

1 Peter 4:8, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins”.

Application:

We should be patient and persevere as we anticipate Christ’s second coming. We should not grumble against each other. We should pray in the face of adversity and sing spiritual songs in the face of joy. We should call upon the elders of the church to pray, lay hands, and anoint us with oil if we are sick. We should watch out for backsliders and restore them back to the faith.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, help us to be patient, humble, and meek. Help us to be as tough as a soldier going to war, as disciplined as an athlete running a race, and as hard-working as a farmer toiling the ground. Help us to wait faithfully and expectantly for Your imminent return, in Jesus; name, Amen.

James, lesson 5

James, Lesson 5

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we praise You and thank You. We give You all power, glory, praise, and honor. We acknowledged that Your name is above all name. We pray for wisdom, understanding, and insight to receive Your Word, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

James 4:1-17, pray and submit to God’s will, do not boast about tomorrow

VV 1-2, 1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.

Wars, strive, conflicts, fights, and disagreements among people come from personal desires for power, lust, anger, pride, and covetousness.

VV 3-6, 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? 6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

We prayed but did not receive answers because we did not pray according to God’s will. God is a jealous God who demands absolute loyalty. If we are friends with the world, we are enemies with God. Peter quoted Proverbs 3:34.

Proverbs 3: 34, “Surely He scorns the scornful, but gives grace to the humble”.

1 Peter 5:5, Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

VV 7-10, 7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

We should submit by drawing near to God and resists the devil. We should be clear minded and vigilant at all times because the devil is ready to pounce on us like a roaring lion, 1 Peter 5:8. We are sinners with unclean hands and unclean hearts. We should purify their hands and hearts, mourn, weep, and humble ourselves before God.

1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour”

VV 11-12, 11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?

We should not bad mouth our brothers in the faith, or judge them by the law. We should obey the law and not judge others by the law.

VV 13-16, 13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

We should not boast about tomorrow because we do not know what will happen to us tomorrow. Life is fragile, unpredictable, and transient, like the grass and flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow. Life is like a vapor that appears for a short while and disappears. We should commit all our plans to God and acknowledge that only He knows what is best for us. Boasting is pride, arrogance, and evil. There is no place for boasting in the kingdom of God. Omitting to do good is a sin.

Application:

God will not answer our prayers if we do not pray according to His will and if we do not draw near to Him in submission and humility. God will answer our prayers if we have a living relationship with Him. We should never boast about tomorrow because life is uncertain, fragile, transient, and unpredictable. We should commit all plans to God and not boast about them.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, help us submit to You and draw near to You in faith and humility. We pray to abide in You and Your word to abide in us. We acknowledged that we are sinners saved by grace. We pray for cleansing by the blood of Christ. Help us to humble ourselves in Your sight. We pray for uplifting of spirits and countenance, in Jesus’ name.

James, Lesson 4

James, Lesson 4

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we pray for Godly and heavenly wisdom from You. We pray that You will help us to control our tongue to pronounce blessing, encouragement, and life to others. Help us be humble and conduct our lives worthy of Your calling, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

James 3: 1-18, the untameable tongue, heavenly wisdom, and earthly wisdom

VV 1-5, 1 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in words, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!

The judgment for a teacher of God’s words is very much stricter than teachers of other trades. Correct theology and doctrines are matters of life and death. Teaching false doctrines leads innocent people to hell. Teaching false doctrines and incorrect theology are serious offences. The tongue is a very small member of the body, yet it is the most difficult part to control. The tongue had a tendency to boast, brag, gossip, and get out of control.

VV 6-12, 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water
and fresh.

The tongue is like a forest fire that can spread rapidly and uncontrollably. Mankind is able to tame every kind of wild beast but is unable to tame the tongue. The tongue has the ability to bless and curse, to bring life and destroy life, to encourage and discourage, to uplift and tear down. We should use our tongue wisely to bless, give life, encourage, and build up.

VV 13-1i, 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Godly and heavenly wisdom results in good conduct and humility. Demonic, earthly, and sensual wisdom results in bitterness, envy, self-seeking, boasting, and lying. Godly and heavenly wisdom is pure, peace-loving, gentle, submissive, merciful, fruitful, impartial, genuine, and devoid of hypocrisy. Godly and heavenly wisdom produces the fruit of the Holy Spirits, Galatians 5:22-23.

Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law”.

Application:

The judgment on a teacher of God’s word is very strict. Teaching false doctrines is a serious offense. We must control our tongue and use it wisely to bless, build up, encourage, and give life. We should pray for Godly, heavenly wisdom, and the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, help us to conduct ourselves above board with wisdom, humility, kindness, and meekness. We pray for Godly and heavenly wisdom which is pure, peace-loving, gentle, merciful, bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit that only You can give to us, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

James, Lesson 3

James, Lesson 3

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for ministering to us by of Your Word of eternal life. We pray for receptive hearts, seeing eyes, listening ears, clear minds, and obedient spirits to receive Your Word. May the thoughts and meditations of our hearts be acceptable to You, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

James 2:1-26, the sin of favoritism, the sin of faith without work

VV 1-2, 1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. 2 For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, 3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” 4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

We should not to show favoritism. We should not give special attention to a rich man who wears fine clothing and expensive jewelry while despising a poor man who dressed shabbily to church.

VV 5-7, 5 Listen, my beloved brethren, has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? 7 Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?

Poor people were generally richer in faith, trust and love God more than rich people. Rich people tend to trust in their wealth rather than in God. Generally, it is the rich people who oppress and dragged poor people to the courts, blaspheming the God who called them.

VV 8-13, 8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

We should love our neighbor as ourselves according to the 10 commandments, Leviticus 19:17. Showing favoritism is a sin because favoritism violates the commandment to love our neighbor. The law must be obeyed in its entirety. To break one law of the commandments is to break every laws of the commandments.

Leviticus 19:18, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself, I am the Lord”.

VV 14-17, 14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Justification is by grace through faith in Christ but doing good work is the response of God’s love to save us. If someone has faith but refused to do good works to assist the needy and the marginalized their faith is dead.

VV 18-20, 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe, and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

Good work is the demonstration of genuine faith. Faith without works is dead. We are not the only people who believe in God. Even the demons believe in God and trembled on hearing His name.

VV 21-23, 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works, faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.

Abraham’s faith was accompanied by work. Abraham’s justification was through faith and his faith was genuine because he was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac.

VV 24- 26, 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. 25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

James did not advocate salvation by work righteousness. Good work is our response to justification by grace through faith in Christ. Genuine and living faith results in good work. James alluded to Joshua 2 regarding the faith of Rahab, the prostitute who protected the two spies.

Joshua 2:15-16, Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall; she dwelt on the wall. And she said to them, “Get to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you. Hide there three days, until the pursuers have returned. Afterward, you may go your way.”

Application:

There is no place for favoritism, discrimination, and racism in the kingdom of God. Justification is by grace through faith in Christ but we respond to justification by doing good works out of gratitude to the saving grace of God. Faith without work is dead. Refusing to do good works to assist the needy and the marginalized is a sin.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for justification by faith. Help us to love our neighbor. Help us not to practice favoritism, discrimination, and racism. Help us demonstrate genuine faith by doing good works to help the poor and the marginalized, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

James, Lesson 2

Lesson 2

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, We come before You in submission and obedience, to listen to Your Word. We permit You to convict, correct, teach, train, and transform us into Your image, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

James 1: 1-27, salutation, trials, and temptations, be a doer and not a hearer of the Word

V 1, James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, Greetings.

In his opening salutation, James identified himself as the author. He spelled out his credentials, a slave of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. He identified his recipient as those belonging to the twelve tribes of Israel scattered abroad. These were the messianic Christian Jews of the diaspora. Messianic Jews are Christian Jews who believed Jesus as their Messiah. These diasporic Jews were dispersed out of Jerusalem due to persecution by the hostile unbelieving Jews after the martyrdom of Stephen, Acts 8:1.

Acts 8:1, “Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.

VV 2-8, 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.

We should rejoice in the face of trials because trials are tests of faith. Faith produces patience, patience produces good works, and good works produce wisdom. If we lacked wisdom, we should pray for wisdom in faith. Greek for double-minded is “dipsychos”, which means wavering between two opinions. Anyone who did not pray with faith is unstable, double-minded, and should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

VV 9-11, 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.

James exalted the poverty-stricken Christians by glorifying them and admonished the rich Christians for their pride. People are as transient as the grass and flowers of the field that is here today and perishes tomorrow. Even rich people will perish through death. Everyone will be on a level playing field at death.

VV 12-15, 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.

We should endure and overcome temptations to receive the crown of life. God sent trials to strengthen our faith. Satan sent temptations to lure and entice us into sin and death. God sent us trials but satan sent us temptations. Greek for temptation and testing is the same word “peirasmos’. We should look at the context of the sentence to determine which word is appropriate.

VV 16-18, 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.

Every perfect gift comes from God, the Father of lights. He gave us new life by the incorruptible seed of His word through the power of the Holy Spirit.

VV 19-20, 19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

We should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. The anger of man is incompatible with the righteousness of God.

VV 21-25, 21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

We should avoid immorality, wickedness, and hold firmly to the saving word of God with meekness. We should obey God’s words after listening to them. Someone who listened to God’s word and did not do what it says is like a person who looked at his face in the mirror, moved away, and immediately forgets what his face looked like.

VV 26-27, 26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

We should control our tongue. Anyone who cannot control his tongue is a deceiver and his religion is useless. Greek for pure is “katharos”, which means purified by fire. We should practice pure religion by visiting orphans, widows and keeping ourselves morally pure.

Application:

We should rejoice when we face trials because trials are God’s tests of faith. We should always be humble because life is so transient, fragile, unpredictable, and uncertain. God will reward us if we endure and overcome trials as Christians. We should be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger, avoid immorality, wickedness, and believe in God’s words with meekness.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, help us to lay aside all filthiness and wickedness to and receive Your living Word with meekness. Help us control our tongue and speaks words of blessing, kindness, encouragement, and life to others. Help us be doers of Your word, and not hearers of Your Word, in Jesus’ name, Amen.