Under pressure


12/02/18 Study Questions

Faith in Real Life

James 5:13-20

1.  Some of us really like to hold the TV remote and have a hard time letting go of it.  What are some figurative

     ‘TV remotes’ in your life that help you feel like you’re in control?

2.  James’ main point throughout his letter is that mature believers don’t try to control their lives but trust God’s

     leadership in every circumstance of life.

     a)  Try and find a verse or reference to this main point in each of the 5 chapters.

     b)  Read James 5:13-20.  How do these final comments by James contribute to this same point?

3.  Read James 5:14-15 and 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.  If God doesn't always heal us when we ask, what is James

     trying to teach us in these verses?

     a)  How do you reconcile what James says in these verses and what Jesus said in Luke 18:1-8?

     b)  Discuss: God always hears our prayers and yet we say things like "God hasn't heard or answered my prayer"?  Is it

          possible that we just don't want to come to terms with the fact that God's answer is not the outcome we

          hoped for?

     c) Read James 5:15.  What do you think a “prayer offered in faith” means?

4.  Read James 5:16.  Why is it important to confess our sins to each other and to pray for each other?

     a)  If there’s a sin or struggle in your life that shames you, why are you reluctant to acknowledge it?  What makes

          that particular thing different—harder to accept and confess?

     b)  What keeps you from confession?  Why are you willing to trust God in other areas of your life but not in


     c)  What holds you back from asking for help or prayer from someone else?

5.  Our choices reveal what we believe, not what we know.  What choices are you proud of?  What ones are

     you not so proud of?  Why?

     a)  What were the core beliefs behind these choices?  What do they say about your trust in God's leadership?

6.  What has the letter written by James taught you about the way you are living as a follower of Jesus?

     a)  How open are you to God’s leadership?  What stops you 'letting go of the remote' and surrendering control to

          God in the areas that are not fully surrendered?

    b)  What practical things can you do to learn to live with a constant awareness of God’s presence and

         interaction in your lives, and to trust His leadership?

11/18/18 Study Questions

When Our Wisdom Isn't Wise

James 3:13-4:12

1.  Talk about the things that influence you when you're making decisions.  How do you allow God to influence you?  How do you hear His voice?

2.  Think about control.  Why do we want it?  What happens when you try and keep control of what happens to you/others? 

3.  Why do we trust ourselves more than God sometimes?  Read Proverbs 3:5-6.  What does that look like for you to live this out?

4.  What things do you naturally want?  Talk about ways we can make sure we don't "harbor" envy.  

5.  Think about a decision you are making or a situation you are facing right now that is difficult.  What happens if you use James 3:16 as a filter for determining whether your response is God's will?

6.  Read James 4:4-5.  How do you react to the thought of God being jealous for you?  What should your response be?  

7.  Thankfulness is a powerful tool.  Think of ways you can remind yourself of what God has given you this week.  Finish off with stories about how God has provided for you over the years, and prayers of thankfulness.  

11/11/18 Study Questions

How to Know You're Maturing

James 3:1-12

1.  How have you been hurt by someone's words?  Why did it hurt you?

2.  Read Matthew 12:34-35.  Is this always true?  Do you think Jesus was just making a generalization, or was he teaching a universal truth?

     a) What does the way you speak indicate about the state of your heart?

3.  Read Proverbs 18:21.  Think of a time when someone spoke encouraging words to you.  How did it affect you?

     a) How can we intentionally use our words to speak life into someone?

4.  Read John 13:35.  Discuss how the incivility of our society actually presents us with a great opportunity to bear witness to the reality of God.  What are specific things we could be doing to maximize this opportunity?

5.  Read James 3:7-12.  We easily slip into denial about ourselves but, with Jesus' words from Matthew 12:34-35 in mind, what undeniable truths do these verses in James teach us about ourselves?

6.  Read 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 and Ephesians 4:22-25.  Why is the whole process of sanctification so strongly connected to the way we speak?

     a)  What do you need to do to grow more spiritually mature?

7.  Who are the people in your life that God wants you to speak life-giving words to on a consistent basis?  

10/28/18 Study Questions

How to Practice What You Preach

James 2:14-26

1.  Read James 2:24 and Romans 3:28.  Why are these verses not contradictory - how do they work together?

     a) How would you describe saving faith?

2.  Read James 2:14-17.  How do you recognize people with a 'dead' faith?

     a) James gives an example in these verses of someone with dead faith.  How does your faith compare to this?

     b) What's the worst danger of 'dead' faith?

3.  Read James 2:18-19.  'Demonic' faith is emotional as well as intellectual.  How is it possible to intellectually

     believe in God to the degree you have an emotional reaction, and yet still not be saved?

4.  Read James 2:20-25 and Hebrews 11: 17-19, 31.  What is unique about true saving faith?

     a) How is this seen in Abraham and Rahab?

     a) What does it mean to you that such different people were both heroes of faith?

5.  George Blondin, the first man to walk across the Niagara Falls on a tightrope, asked his manager to get on his

     back, saying: "Look up Harry... You are no longer Colcord, you are Blondin.  Until I clear this place be a part of me, 

     mind, body and soul.  If I sway, sway with me.  Do not attempt to do any balancing yourself.  If you do we will

     both go to our death."  How do these words reflect the message of James 2:14-26?

     a) What things in your life are causing you to try and take control to get a sense of balance or comfort in your life?

     b) What do you need to do to 'sway' with God?

     c) How can we manage the tension between fulfilling our responsibility to prepare and work diligently to ensure

         the best outcome in any given situation, while still surrendering control of the outcome to God? 

10/21/18 Study Questions

How to Avoid Being Religious

James 1:13-2:13

1.  "Challenges chisel, pampering perverts."  Discuss this statement in the light of James 1:2-4

2.  Read James 1:13.  Think about a time in your life when you felt like blaming God for what was happening to you.  

     a)  How did your sinful nature get enticed to respond?

     b)  How would believing that God is in control change the situation?

3.  Read James 1:14-15.  What do we need to understand from these verses if we're to successfully overcome temptation?

     a)  What are the stages of temptation and sin described in these verses?

     b)  How do we see these stages of temptation in the story of Adam & Eve in Genesis 3?

     c)  Are you ever conscious of walking through these same steps yourself?  How can we become more aware of it when we are?

4.  If you had to rate yourself on a scale from 0 - 100% based on how much you live out and put into practice what you believe, where would you put yourself?  

     a) What's the main reason you get less than 100%?

5.  Read James 1:22-25.  How can you apply these verses to yourself this week?

6.  Read James 1:26-27.  Do you think God wants us to be 'religious'?

     a) How does your 'religion' look when it comes to your speech and conversation?

     b) How does your 'religion' look when it comes to the way you care for those in need?

7. Read James 2:5-13.  Evaluate the way you treat people and what motivates you to pursue relationships.  How does knowing you're "going to be judged by the law that gives freedom" influence the way you treat people?

     a)  What effect does God's mercy have on the way you live your life and think about yourself?

8.  What stops you from trusting that God is in control?  How can you move towards greater trust this week?

10/14/18 Study Questions

How to Follow Jesus Under Pressure

James 1:1-12

1. Read James 1:1.  Who was James and who was he writing to?

     a)  Imagine yourself in James’ position as a pastor whose church members had left against your advice.  If you’d written this letter, what are some of the things you’d have probably said that James chose not to say?  And what are the things James did say that you wouldn’t have?

2. Read James 1:2-4.  Why and how can a committed follower of Jesus have joy and endurance in the middle of a tough time?

3. What do these verses specifically say God’s goal for us is?

     a)  What are you deliberately doing to reach this goal?

4. Why is patience and trusting God so essential to our spiritual maturity?

5. Read James 1:9-11.  It appears in these verses that God uses the things of life as a process to wean out the people who do not trust him. How is this process visible in your life?

6. Read James 1:12.  What’s the connection between enduring trials and loving God?

7. What specific things do you need to do this week to endure and persevere in your faith?