Devotions

Devotions

Questions to Ponder About James

Grace Covenant read and studied the Book of James together during Lent. Kristen Stieffel, a member of the Christian Education Committee, supplied “Questions to Ponder.”

Chapter One

1:2–4

James exhorts us to “consider it nothing but joy” when we face
difficulties, because this will make us “mature and complete.”

How have the trials you faced made you complete?

1:9-11

What does James mean when he says the rich will wither away?
When have you seen this happen to someone?

 1:12-16

If the source of temptation is “one’s own desire,” then how
does one endure it? What is the difference between a “trial” that should be faced with joy and a “temptation” that should be endured?

1:22–27

 If we extend “orphans and widows” to encompass all who have
suffered loss and who are vulnerable, who would be included,

and how can we care for them?

Chapter Two

2:1–13
Like James, Paul also warns against partiality in the church (Rom. 2:11, Eph. 6:9).  When have you seen partiality shown in the church, whether on the basis of wealth or some other metric. How can we prevent this from occurring in our gatherings?

2:14–19
Paul said “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph. 2:7–11). How can we reconcile this with James’s declaration that “faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead”?

2:21–26
James gives us two examples of works inspired by faith: Abraham and Rahab. Which of these examples is more meaningful to you, and why?

Chapter 3

3:1–4
James cautions that those who teach must take extra care. When have the words of a teacher brought you low? Conversely, when has a teacher lifted you up and inspired you with their words?

3:5–12
In James1:8 he warns us against being double-minded. Here he warns us against being, as it were, double-tongued. Can you think of a time when a fellow Christian hurt you with their words, or when your words hurt someone else?

3:13–18
In James 1:5 he tells us, “(NRSV) If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God…” and here in Chapter 3 he tells us what “wisdom from above” looks like—and its opposite. How can we take what James teaches about wisdom and use it to control our speech?

Extra Credit:
Compare and contrast James’s description of “the wisdom from above” (James 3:17) with the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23).

Chapter 4

4:1–3
James uses aggressive language to describe how we relate to each other when our motives are wrong. How can we use James’s advice to reduce conflicts in our communities?

4:4-5
James draws on Old Testament themes of adultery and jealousy to describe the relationship between people and God. In what ways can our relationship with the world lead us to be unfaithful to God?

4:6–10
While advising us to “draw near to God,” James also says to “lament and mourn.” Why would he say this? Doesn’t God want us to be happy?

4:11–12
There seems to be no end of church leaders being accused of abuse of one kind or another. How can we balance James’s injunction against speaking evil against one another with the need to protect the vulnerable?

4:13–17
James advises against boasting, but does he also mean to advise against planning? If we “do not even know what tomorrow will bring” how can we plan for the future?

Chapter 5

5:1–6
Many Americans who live in poverty are “rich” compared to the poor in developing nations. How then should we respond to James’s lament that “the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord”?

5:7–11
We are reminded of Job’s endurance and are encouraged to be patient. How have your patience and endurance been tried in these last twelve months, and what have you learned about perseverance?

5:13–18
When so many people continue to suffer despite the prayers of their loved ones, it can seem like a pointless exercise. If God isn’t going to heal everyone whom we pray for, then why are we instructed to pray?

Conclusion:
Martin Luther famously referred to the book of James as “an epistle of straw compared to the others.” Having studied this book, explain why you agree or disagree with Luther on this point.

PAstor Karen’s Devotionals

Pastor Karen was our Parish Associate during 2020. She has moved to Texas but these are links to her past devotionals on YouTube:

11/25/20