James: Faith Meets Reality

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“Life stinks!” So read a small sign dangling in the rear window of a passing car—a pricey sporty BMW. Most of us assume a person able to afford a car like that would have life pretty good. But a nice car doesn’t equal a nice life. The BMW’s owner apparently recognized something still missing in his quest for happiness.

What are we to think when life is hard, when the things we expect to bring us joy don’t, when troubles pile on top of troubles? James surprises us by suggesting that joy is possible even in the middle of trials—and that the resulting wisdom and strength of character will leave us strong, wanting for nothing. 

James is an action book (54 Greek imperatives—commands—in its 108 verses!) that shows us what practical faith looks like. Do you want to know how faith should affect your real, gritty, hazard-laden life? There’s a lot to learn from James’ five chapters.

Welcome to Faith Meets Reality, our brand-new “Wednesdays in the Word” study on the Bible book of James! Every Wednesday morning, you’ll find a new post right here that will carry you week-by-week through James’ letter. (Or subscribe to this blog by entering your email address at right, and get each week’s post delivered straight to your inbox. I don’t share or sell email addresses—promise!)

You may choose to just read each week’s post. Or, if you want to delve deeper, you’ll find

• two suggested verses to memorize each week
• a couple of scriptures you can read in the coming week to enhance your understanding of James
• and one or two activities to help you frame each week’s teaching in real-life settings.

If you want even more, here are seven suggestions for getting the most out of this study.
1) Read each week’s post with your Bible in hand. And before you open the cover of your Bible, pray. Pray for the ability to concentrate. Pray for understanding. Pray for God to speak clearly to you with “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
2) Each week throughout this study, read the book of James. You can read one chapter each day for five days (which will take three or four minutes). Or, better yet, read all five chapters in one sitting (which will take about fifteen to twenty minutes)—the best way to get the progression of the book’s content.
3) Use the simple One-One-One™ study method. Read one chapter. Try to sum up that chapter in one sentence. Then underline one key word in your sentence about which you can think and pray all day. When you reread a chapter, write a new sentence without referring to your previous one; you’ll be amazed how God brings fresh insights each time you do this!
4) As you read each chapter, jot down the main topics James addresses. Then try to form a logical chain of thought from one topic to the next. Though this can be a challenge when a topic seems to come out of nowhere, it will help you see the book’s flow.
5) Read one short passage of James per day and spend time praying about how that passage particularly applies to you right now. Write down insights that come to mind. Then write a short prayer of response to God, committing to obey what you’re learning.
6) Spend a few minutes memorizing the week’s suggested verses—or other verses you find meaningful. Memorization is the deepest and most enduring form of study.
7) Get a notebook and, a few verses at a time, hand-copy the book of James. There are only 108 verses in the entire book, so it’s very do-able. I guarantee you will notice details that would have escaped your attention otherwise. (Before I teach any Bible book, I usually make several hand-copies from different versions and one from the Greek. I notice new things every single time.)

For this week, get prepared by reading through James. Then get ready—next Wednesday, we dive in!

© Diane McLoud 2015

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