By Charles Westbrook
Doers of the Word
Purpose: To explore how right belief and right conduct are joined in vital religion.
Bible Lesson: James 1; James 1:17-27
Key Verse: “Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.” — James 1:22
Some people have abundant knowledge and it does not motivate their behavior. James tells us what God wants us to know and do. God wants us to listen to him and do as he asks. His followers must not only hear God's word, but act on it.
When God's people face trouble, we are being tested on our faith. God can test our faith and see how we react and how we trust him. We cannot build our faith ourselves, but God can help us. Sometimes when our faith is weak, we must go to him and ask him to give us faith and help our faith in him grow.
When our endurance and faith grows, we allow God to help us see how our faith helps us. After we let God work on our faith, he can see that our faith makes our character grow.
If you need a boost, you can ask God to give it to you. But, you must ask him in faith and give it a chance to grow. We can't do it alone; we need to ask God to teach us how to use our faith and endurance.
If you would like to have wisdom, all you need to do is ask him. We need to desire to do what he wants and how to do it. The Bible tells us that when we ask him, we must be ready to receive because he will give it to us. We must be willing to wait on him. A person who doubts is as unsettled as a wave in the sea being tossed in every direction.
A Christian should be glad and ready to see what God will do for him or her. They must be glad because God has humbled them. The hot sun rises and the flowers fade out and will be gone shortly. Wealthy people will soon fade, and all their wealth will be gone.
The Bible teaches us that we are all tempted, but never by God. Temptation comes from our evil desires. Gods wants us to trust him because he takes care of and provides for us. All good things come from God above, who made us and everything on this earth. Evil desires are the action of not trusting in our heavenly father. The evil desires that we have can be our death.
Everything that God has given us will let us have life. But the sinners who are holding onto their sins aren't ready for God's perfect reward of being with him. God is always watching after us because he loves and cares for us.
Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. When you get angry, your evil desires come out and lead to death. Your anger can't please God. Instead it makes him concerned about us.
God wants us to get rid of all evil doings and live for him. We need to accept God's perfect plan and see what he has planned to give us. God has planted his message in our hearts and minds. Those who live for him will be with him one day.
God's message is that he loves us and has plans for those who love Him. Accept His message and be at peace in everything you do.
Let's think about what we do with our lives. Are you ready for God to see your actions? It's like seeing yourself in a mirror. When you walk away your image is gone. God’s plan of salvation is good, and he is ready for us to follow in his steps and live for him. If you look in his perfect law and follow him, you will receive his gift of life.
Are you a doer of life?
Purpose: To realize that the expression of Christian love makes it possible to avoid social and cultural discrimination and to honor all persons.
Bible Lesson: James 2
Key Verse: “Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith?” — James 2:5
This week's scripture examines showing partiality to different people. We show the poor where to stand or tell them to sit on the floor on a footstool. If a person with fine clothing arrives, he sits at the table with fine silver and gold at the best location in the room. In many ways we are doing the same thing in our dealing with the poor.
On many occasions we do carry a grudge about having to see or deal with the poor. We act like we don't care, or we're not interested in trying to help. All of us should ask ourselves what we should do. As Christians, we need to take a stand and help them. Jesus visited the poor and helped them in whatever they needed. Jesus stayed with the poor and taught them. The rich people didn't like it when he did that. They began to talk about what Jesus was doing, and they just didn't understand.
Jesus stayed in poor people's homes. He stayed with them because he saw where they didn't have anything, but they were doing the best they could. The poor worshiped him, and he promised his love and everlasting life.
Hasn't Jesus said the poor will be rich in their faith in him? God watches and loves everyone, but when he sees how the rich act toward the poor, he is often disappointed. Don't get me wrong, I'm just saying that God notices the faith of the poor. It seems that their faith grows more and more. This is why they want to know Jesus Christ. Jesus doesn't look at what a person thinks but what he does. The poor are closer to Jesus Christ than some rich people. Many rich people seem to take whatever they can get their hands on.
In order to fulfill the law of God, you must submit to and keep obeying the entire law. Take the verse that says you shall love your neighbor as yourself. You have sinned when you show partiality. God didn't make us to show partiality against anyone. He wants us to share with each other.
What does it mean to love your neighbor? God wants us to be there for them. We must take our own time to help them. God wants us help those in need and take care of them.
Has God not chosen the poor of this world? God has given the poor everlasting life just as the rich. I believe that God walks with the poor just like he does the rich. But what does he think about his children showing partiality? God does not show partiality because he loves everyone. Sometimes the poor follow God more than rich. The poor may trust God more than the rich. The rich have money and everything they need, but how long do their riches last?
Money brings nothing but partiality. The poor have nothing, and God may judge the rich for ignoring those in need. While the rich count their riches, the poor listen for God's loving kindness.
The rich are often more interested in what they are doing with their money and possessions. Let's look at Romans 10:12 where it says we can ask for riches from God. If we follow him and look toward him, we can count the blessings that he has stored for us in heaven. Jesus has great things for us in heaven and he promised them to us if we seek him.
Ask yourself if you show partiality to any group. Could you be a disciple and help those in need? Remember, God knows what we do; where and how people are in need.
Who knows, someday Jesus may come as a poor person. I wonder how he would be treated.
Purpose: To recognize that God’s wisdom gives us the power to control the tongue and speak true and constructive words.
Bible Lesson: James 3
Key Verse: “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.” — James 3:10
This week we are going to talk about the tongue and how powerful it is. Just one person can say something and it can cause a lot of bad feeling. When the tongue starts talking, people may get hurt. The tongue is like a fire you cannot control.
The Bible warns us about what we say and allowing our tongue to speak for us. The scripture explains that we can train animals to not cause problems. Everything can be trained — but not the tongue. We need to watch we say or do. If we do catch what we're saying, sometimes it is too late.
The Bible tells us that our tongue is evil and deadly. The tongue can cause families to have problems, friends to go in different ways and never speak again. The tongue can even cause problems in our homes, job and, yes, even our churches.
Can you get fresh water from a dirty well? No, you can't. Our tongues can be just like a dirty well.
What do can we do to train our tongues? You can ask God to guide you. Often God helps us, but we go ahead and say harmful things. Many times we say that we're going to do better, but we find we're right back where we started trying to tame our tongues.
We must speak wisely when we talk to people about the Lord. He will give us what we need to say. A wish speaker humbles himself by asking God to be with him.
Anyone can speak wisely while helping spread God's word. Do you remember how Jesus Christ first came to the disciples and they began telling everyone about Jesus? According to the Bible, if we tell others about his love, he provides for us.
By spending time with the poor and shut-ins, we can witness to them. A lot of the times they may have other needs, but most of all they just need someone to be a friend. They need to hear the gospel. You can speak wisely by telling them that God loves them.
God uses wise speakers to witness and pray for each person we meet. Are you a wise speaker for God carrying his word?
People of Godly Behavior
Purpose: To grasp that humility is the path that leads to fellowship with God and reconciliation with others.
Bible Lesson: James 4
Key Verse: “Draw near to God and (God) will draw near to you.” — James 4:8
People seem to like to fight each other, and most of the time they don't know what they are fighting about. Why do people keep fighting? I think that God put people here to work together, get along with each other and give help others. God didn't make his people to fuss and fight. It's disturbing to him when he sees what we are doing. Most of the time, we fight over nothing.
People just like to disagree with each other. If we spent more time learning how to get together, we might not find ourselves fussing with each other. We could have a better relationship with others. All we need to do is live and please God.
In James 4:6 we read, "Therefore, he says, ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” We should take that verse and think about it each time we are tempted by the evil one. The devil knows who God is and he trembles when God's name is brought up. We need to run from the devil and return to God for peace.
The Bible teaches us to turn our backs to the devil and move forward with God. As sinners, we need to cleanse our hearts and our minds. In verse 10 we read, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and he will lift you up."
Do not judge anyone, because you don't know their problems or what they are going through. If we judge anyone, we are in danger of being judged ourselves. Who are we to judge? We can help people, and teach our brothers and sisters in Christ not to judge each other. There is only one judge, and that is the Lord who will be coming back one day to gather His people.
Don't brag about tomorrow because we are here only day by day. At the right time, God will call all Christians to be with him in heaven. He is a forgiving God because Jesus Christ paid the full price for our sins. We must be ready for Jesus to come and gather all Christians. Time is short, and we need his help to stay with him day by day.
Now, go back to James 4:6: "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Don't boast about yourself when you do something. When we do something for God, it is he who rewards us. Think about helping someone who is in need or doesn't have anything. Be a volunteer at a food bank or a home where the people are in need.
Purpose: To rejoice that we can express in prayer that we are sick and sinful and God can make us whole.
Bible Lesson: James 5
Key Verse: “Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise.” — James 5:13
James told wealthy people they would weep and wail because of their love for the riches and wealth. He also told them that all they had would be corroded and rotten; their clothes would be eaten by moths.
“You have workman that you haven't paid, and they are ready and waiting to receive what may be owed to them,” he told them. “You have wealth that you have hidden. You have collected many riches, and you hoarded all of your riches in the last days. You do not like to share your wealth with anyone. Life on earth has not been hard on you because you live in luxury and self-indulgence.”
Also, he said they had fattened themselves in the day of slaughter. “You have killed innocent men because they didn't agree with your life style,” he said.
It's time to be patient, because the Lord will be returning soon. We must be ready for his return to collect His people. Farmers plant crops and wait for spring rains to come. Farmers know that they musts be patient and devoted to their crops. Then the harvest comes. By being patient, they are happy to work and thankful for what they have.
We need to be patient and get ready for the day when the Lord comes. He gives us time to get ready and let him know that we're ready. As the farmer has patience, we must wait on the Lord.
Brothers should get along with each other, pray together and learn from each other. Learn to get alone together and just work towards the coming of our Lord. Scripture tell us to share our trials and be joyful when things are going well. We can share good and happy times.
Some people were ill. The elders of the church laid their hands the sick and give them holy water. They prayed over them and took care of them until they got well. As they took care of the sick, the elders were ministered to as well.
Do not swear anything and watch everything. Let yes, be yes and no mean no. If anyone is sick, let them pray and believe that the person will get well again and for a minister to lay hands on them. Let anyone who gets well be cheerful, and let them sing psalms. Let those who were strong in their faith get up and help people. Let those who were ill shout for joy.
If you have committed sins, they shall be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other; pray for one another. Prayer for each other and help each the people in this. Let them feel free to go one-by-one. Let them talk about their sins, and they will be saved by the Lord.
Elijah was a righteous man, but he didn’t get rain for three years. He prayed, but still didn’t get rain. He prayed again in earnest for rain, and the rain came for all people and their crops.
If anyone turns back to sinful living, he should be prayed for. If he returns to the fold or is brought back by a fellow Christian, he shall be welcomed back. Let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his life will save his soul and another from death.
Westbrook is a member of Pearl United Methodist Church and a frequent contributor to the Advocate.