I love taking group Bible studies. Years ago, I found Women Living Well and the Good Morning Girls bible study method. I’ve used their highlighting methods in my own study techniques ever since.
The first Good Morning Girls study I took was their study on James. I
nagged and begged asked several friends and family to take the study with me. One of the great things about their studies is that you can do them without ordering the workbook. No expenses! Then our little group just connected once a day via Facebook Messenger to talk through the scripture. It was such a fulfilling time of growing in the word with other women in my life. If you’ve never done a bible study outside of church classes, I highly recommend it!
So, without further ado! I’m sharing with you the lessons my friends and I learned from James.
This Bible teaching from James 1 is written by the brother of Jesus to Jewish believers who are scattered in different areas outside of Jerusalem. They are living among Gentiles and teaching others “the Way”.
Isn’t that just the BEST term!?! In today’s society, the label Christianity comes with so many stereotypes and negative connotations. In James’s time, the following of Jesus’s teachings was known as the Way. Ahhh, I love it!
This teaching from James is on how to live a Christian life in the early established churches and exposing false teachings of the time.
Faith & Endurance
2Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
As always, these highlighted colors aren’t absolute because many can fit into multiple categories. If you feel the verse fits in a different category, highlight it that color.
- Verse 1= people (James introducing himself)
- Verse 2= instruction/teaching
- Verse 3= faith/growth
- Verse 4= growth, teaching
- Verse 5= wisdom, God, blessings, teaching
- Verse 6= faith, teaching, hypocrisy
- Verse 7= teaching
- Verse 8= hypocrisy
Happy in hard times?? Verse 2 seems like an oxymoron. One of the characteristics of a believer or follower of the Way is that they don’t really fit in with the world’s standards. Yep. We’re different. When outsiders see our behavior in hard times, they will notice our reactions don’t make worldly sense and it will be a chance to share about Jesus for His glory.
James is teaching that character is a result of trials. God’s goal is to grow us into mature believers, not keep us from pain. Verse 3 uses the term “steadfastness” in the ESV version. I like its synonym – endurance. That familiar saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” comes to mind. When things are down and you’re struggling through a hard time, try to remind yourself that God is working. Remember James’s teaching and tell yourself that God is molding you and has great plans for it all. Don’t give up! Hold tight to your faith and to hope dear friend.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
James encourages us to know in our hearts without a doubt that God grants prayers for wisdom. Ask God for wisdom and ask knowing, no doubt, He will give it to you. My NLT notes explain 3 characteristics of wisdom. Wisdom is practical. We can apply it to life. Wisdom is divine. It goes beyond common sense (which, again, will draw attention from nonbelievers for the glory of God). Wisdom is Christ-like. 1 Corinthians says that Christ is the wisdom of God.
9Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10and the rich in his humiliation….12Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him. 13Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
- Verse 9= instruction/command
- Verse 10= instruction/command/teaching
- Verse 11= teaching (expanding on verse 10; see esv.org for full scripture)
- Verse 12= wisdom/teaching, God
- Verse 13= instruction/command, God
- Verse 14= temptation
- Verse 15= sin/death
See beyond your social status and class. Look towards eternity. You have Jesus, which is way greater than anything this world has to offer! Riches don’t last forever but what’s in your heart does. That’s what matters to God.
Train your brain to recognize temptation. Temptation is the enticement to do something evil; to do something that the Bible wouldn’t back up. When you recognize temptation, fight it! You can turn and do the opposite of the temptation that is biblical instead. You can confide in a godly friend for accountability.
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
- Verse 16= instruction/command
- Verse 17= blessing, God
- Verse 18= God, power of God (God made us; see esv.org for full scripture)
Hearing & Doing
19Know this, my beloved brothers; let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. 26If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this persons religion is worthless. 27Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
- Verse 19= instruction/command
- Verse 20= sin
- Verse 21= instruction/command, salvation
- Verse 22= instruction/command, hypocrisy
- Verse 23= hypocrisy
- Verse 24= hypocrisy
- Verse 25= teaching, obedience, blessings
- Verse 26= teaching, sin
- Verse 27= teaching, God, teaching
Slooooow to speak. Sloooow to get angry. Verse 19 is talking to each of us personally about anger. Anger in itself isn’t a sin. Christ got angry (see Matthew 21:12-13) about the injustice of the temple being turned into a money hungry market. Be angry over other’s injustice. Selfish anger never helps anyone.
We’ve all experienced that burn that eats away at our patience. We’ve all lost that patience and control of our temper. I seriously had to read verse 20 to my two teen girls and apologize for some misdirected anger just this morning! I love it when God speaks through His word directly to me. He knew I needed that nudge to swallow my pride and apologize.
What does it mean to be “doers of the word”? Obedience. Some think that James is countering Paul’s teachings of being saved by faith rather than works. In actuality they’re talking about two different aspects. Paul teaches that you do not earn your way into heaven by your works. Faith in Christ’s sacrifice is what saves us. James is teaching that yes, the purpose of faith is to bring salvation. The results of faith? A changed life!
Your good deeds don’t save you. Outsiders see your saved heart through your good deeds and the glory goes to God rather than you. Right actions are a natural by-product of faith. The world puts value on money, power, and pleasure. We know better. 😉 We know where the value is. Those things come and go. We focus on more eternal things such as loving, serving people, investing in hearts, etc.
So what’s our takeaway from the first chapter of James’s letter? How do we apply what he’s teaching us to life in today’s society? First, hope. When things are hard and life hurts, take heart and know that God is working in your life. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He loves you! So focus on Him. Cling close to Him. Grow to know His word and let His light shine through you. That’s your second takeaway. Follow. Not long ago Christians were persecuted and physically marked with symbols. Act as if you’re marked on the forehead with His symbol. After all, we are marked by Him, aren’t we? 😉
Next, we’ll go over chapter 2.
Much love friend!
- A Quick Bible Study Through James 2; Teaching About Favoritism & An Active Faith
- James 4; A Warning Against Worldliness & Boasting from the brother of Jesus. A Lesson in Examining Your Heart.
- Wisdom From Above; An Excerpt from James 3
- Pursuing Wisdom; A Bible Study of Proverbs 1
- Wisdom on Wisdom from Proverbs 1:1-7