On Tuesday morning at one of the many small groups that meet through the week, we’ve just finished delving into the book of James.
We’ve been using a method of reading and reflecting on the bible called the Swedish method – and no, it’s not a back massage by a big guy called Sven but a simple way of drawing out of the passage what the Holy Spirit wants to reveal to us.
We read the passage twice, then spend about 15 mins on our own looking into the passage around three questions:
1. A light bulb moment: What shines out from the passage that gets our attention?
2. Is there a question that we’d like to ask the writer of the passage?
3. What is the application for us today and what are we going to do about it?
We then share our reflections, seeking to clarify what we might be hearing and whether it lines up with what God is saying in the passage. We’ve had such a great time exploring the treasures of His word together.
The standout impact of James is this: We will all experience trials; it is inevitable. So how then shall we live? The Jewish Christians James was writing to, who were scattered across what we know today as south-eastern Europe and the Middle East, were doing it tough – persecution, privations, displacement. They had three options: endure, escape or enlist.
Endure by all means but not at the expense of behaving badly – doubting God’s goodness, depending on their own wisdom, oppressing others, lacking insight into how they treated others, reverting to their old ways. AD people living BC lives!
Escape – always an option and even sensible if your life is at risk. But was that the best decision for them? You can always run but staying and finding the sufficiency of Jesus in the moment will always bring the greater blessing.
Enlist the help of the Holy Spirit. James’ opening salvo in Ch 1:5 reads, ‘If any of you lacks wisdom let him ask God (pray) who gives generously to all without finding fault and it will be given to him.’ God gives us his Spirit to be our advocate, guide and helper. He will always be with us, the promised seal of God’s new covenant with us, written by the blood of the Jesus Christ.
The wisdom theme continues throughout the whole book. James’ final words echo the same encouragements in Ch 5:13: ‘Is any of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.’ Remember the Lord in all times and all places.
I’ve loved being with the gals in our small bible study group. We are learning so much at the feet of Jesus. You’re most welcome to join us, Tuesday morning, 9.30am in the multi-purpose room.
May God bless you richly,