On 10/22, we’re kicking off a new sermon series in the book of James titled, “Faith Works”. I’m really looking forward to walking and studying through this short, practical book written by Jesus’ half-brother.
As we work verse by verse through James for the remainder of the year, I want to make sure we are prepared to study and learn what we are going to be reading. I don’t want this series to be something you just listen to, but I want it to be an example on how to study the Bible so you can take the principles from our time in James and use them for other books of the Bible. I also want us all to take the deep, gospel driven application and apply them; to see that “what good is it if we have faith but not works” (James 2:14).
The Word of God is more than enough to accomplish the work of God in the people of God. – Kevin DeYoung
Unfortunately, too many Christians don’t know where to begin when it comes to studying the Bible. We should desire to learn to study God’s Word, learn to work through the challenging portions, learn to examine our hearts as the Holy Spirit uses God’s Word to convict and comfort us. As we study through James, use these five principles each week to prepare for the approaching sermon.
Before you dive into a section of Scripture, stop and pray. Pray that the Holy Spirit will open your heart to what you are reading. Pray for clarity and understanding. Pray for a continual passion for God’s Word. Pray Philippians 3:10 – “that I may know Christ and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death”.
For our time in James, pray you will be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only (James 1:22). For more on this, take the time and read this blog post from Desiring God.
One of the hardest things to do in our technological age is to sit and read. We have become so consumed by watching or listening, that sitting and reading has almost become a lost art. We would serve ourselves well by turning the televisions off, putting down our phones, and quietly sit and read God’s Word.
For our time in James, read through the book over and over again. It takes about 20 minutes to read the book of James in its entirety. If you read the book of James every day for the rest of the year, you would be surprised how familiar you would become with James.
James is a very practical book to dive in and begin a study. There are not many theological discussion within this letter, like we see in Paul’s letters. While Paul was a theologian, James was a counselor. James is a very practical book and is a great place to start if you don’t know how to study the Bible.
Thanks to a ministry partner in Ethiopia, we’ve began using Blank Text Study to help people learn how to study the Bible by answering specific questions. They are using it to disciple new believers in Ethiopia and we’ve adapted it to our culture to help people who have never been taught how to study God’s Word. The questions will help you dig deeper and learn more of the verse, chapter, or paragraph you are reading and studying.
God’s Word is more than a book to read; it was given to us by God to know who he is and to know how to live for his glory (2 Timothy 3:14-17). James helps us see who God is and how to live for his glory.
There are 59 imperatives within the book of James. James is literally saying, “Okay, you say your a Christ follower, then this is what you should be doing, so do it!” Do just let the words of James (or any portion of Scripture) go in one ear and out the other. Apply to your heart what God is saying through this book.
Finally, share what you are learning. Encourage others by sharing what God is teaching you through your study. Whether it is in LifeGroup, via social media, with your spouse, or with a friend, let people know how God is working in your life. I believe James will continue to impress in us to the desire to share the Gospel with the people around us. We’ll see that too many people are basing their salvation on their good works instead of in Jesus. We can take James and show that good works flow out of the finished work of Christ and we can have faith in God because he has been faithful to us.
I pray that our time in the Book of James is an encouragement to you and that you will take this time to learn to study and fall in love with God’s Word.