For Your Connect Groups – 9 July 2017

This week we considered James 4:13-5:6.  James isn’t pulling any punches!  We pray the Spirit will use these notes to help you review the text together this week.

Pray Together

  • What are some of the church needs you’re aware of?
  • Who in the church needs your intercession?
  • What are you and your loved ones praying for at the moment?
  • What wider situations can you pray into?

Read Together

James has those two “come now” phrases.  These mean “let’s take a walk.  Let’s you and me talk about this man to man (or woman to woman!)”  Sometimes we need that, don’t we?  As Proverbs says:

Proverbs 27:5–6 (ESV)

    Better is open rebuke than hidden love.

    Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

Again, we pray that your Connect Groups will be a place these “walks” together can happen.

We outlined these two sections thus:

  • 4:13-17 – “the love of the world is thinking that this life is all about me.”
  • 5:1-6 – “the love of the world is thinking that this life is for me.”

Boasting About Tomorrow

Individualism is where we consider the most important thing to be ourselves, and make decisions that are primarily for our benefit.  In the text, James does not condemn working for profit, nor does he condemn planning for success.  What he condemns is making plans without having God front and centre in our thinking.  Every waking moment we have is because God continues to sustain our bodies, therefore all of our planning should be done prayerfully and humbly in submission to God.

Read: Luke 12:16-21 – The Parable of the Rich Fool

This parable is an example of exactly what James is talking about.  The man made a business decision based upon how he could most benefit from his over-abundance.  Rather than seeking to be rich towards God, he sought to bless himself.

  • Are you guilting of making plans without considering your Heavenly Father?
  • Are there any changes you need to make in light of James’ words?
  • How do you think things like home contents insurance, or fully comprehensive car insurance, fit into this?  Do you consider them to be substitutes for trusting God, or sensible, practical and good stewardship?

Remember, Simon gave us practical advice on how we can live this:

  1. Consciously acknowledge your dependence upon God each morning.  How will you remember?  It’s easy: set a reminder!  Use a prayer journal and write that down in advance.
  2. During the day, as Proverbs 3:6 says, seek to acknowledge God in all your ways.  Practising keeping our minds on God during the day is part of the “renewing our minds” in Romans 12:2.  It is a choice to make, and a habit to cultivate!
  3. Consciously recall God’s faithfulness each night, and thank Him for it.

Warning to the Rich

James now speaks to “you rich.”  Again, we must clarify that James is not meaning to condemn the status of being rich.  If he were, then he would be condemning Abraham (Gen 13:2), David (1 Chr 29:28), Hezekiah (2 Chr 32:27), and others.  He would also find himself at odds with Paul, who has specific instructions for the godly rich in 1 Timothy 6:17-21.

What, then?  As we see in our text, James condemns those who evilly profiteer from others (v4-5).  He condemns over-indulgence, which has led to sins of even murder (v6).

Discuss:

  • You don’t need to have 22 Ferraris to be over-indulgent!  We often spend more than we need on, for example, mobile phone contracts, television, even food.  Are you spending more than you need?
  • Speaking of riches, it’s said “you can’t take it with you.”  This is true, but the Scriptures indicate you can send it on ahead!  See Matthew 6:19-21.  Do you truly believe this?  Does your bank statement show this faith in action?  What good is you believing this, if it doesn’t result in action?

Keep Each Other Accountable

Remember, your Connect Group is meant to be a place you can safely share your struggles and know your brothers/sisters who love you will pray for you.

James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Pray for One Another

Share your prayer needs and requests.  Commit to pray for one another, not just now but throughout the week.

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