james read-along: chapter 4

Can we really be almost done with James already?? Holy cow! What will I do with all my free time?? (besides memorizing the last 81 verses of the book and getting ready to go to CAMBODIA!)

Going for a little shorter and sweeter this week. A couple of these verses fit my life so perfectly right now I snickered out loud when I read them.

Starting with verse 6–“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” This has been humbling week so far for me. There was yesterday, and then today just added to the humble hubbub.

And I can’t explain it, but I can just feel God’s grace washing over me in the middle of it all. And unlike salt in a fresh wound, this grace pouring down my body and soul has a cooling, soothing, healing effect as it seeps into my cuts and rips and gaps and makes them whole.

Thank you, Jesus.

Verse 9 (be wretched and mourn and weep) was one of those laugh-out-loud verses, because that’s exactly what I did yesterday without even realizing it was in today’s text. Be wretched? Sure, I can be wretched! (I can’t read/hear the word “wretched” anymore without thinking of the Cosby Show episode where Vanessa and her friends sneak off to Baltimore to see the Wretched in concert–hilarious!)

And The Message version of verse 9 is even better: hit bottom and cry your eyes out. Don’t mind if I do.

Verse 8, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you,” is a huge comfort.

Verses 13-16 (“Tomorrow we’re going to go to such-and-such and do such-and-such and that’s that.”) are good reminders for our five weeks in Cambodia. We’re praying about how much itinerary-making to do and how much to leave up to God. I like the imagery of writing our to-do (go, see) list on a dry-erase board and giving God the tissue (and an extra marker). And I’ll stop right there, because how cheesy.

And last, but not least, verse 17: “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

It’s not enough to obey the “don’t” commands in Scripture. We’ve got to to obey the “do” ones too. And caring for the poor is at the top of Jesus’ Do List.

Discussion Questions:

1. What do you think of verses 2-3 (you do not have because you do not ask, you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly)?

2. Any humbling + grace stories to share?

3. What verse are you clinging to (or cringing at) today?

6 thoughts on “james read-along: chapter 4

  1. Cheryl

    Enjoyed reading James 4 this week as well as everyone’s post.
    One of my devotional readings this week was Proverbs 16 which tied in nicely with vs 13-16. So many times God has held my life in his hands when I was carelessly throwing my life away. THANK YOU GOD!

  2. Candice

    I keep running out of time on Wednesdays, sorry!

    1. Last night our church had a time for all of our missional communities to come together and share what God has been doing in our group. I was asked to tell about praying for a international, non-Christian girl to start meeting with one-on-one and how it happened the very next day. Honestly, I taught myself a lesson. Why don’t I do this more? God never disappoints me when I sincerely ask for things to advance His Kingdom (aka NOT my kingdom). There are so many examples in my life of when He has answered prayers so quickly, but I still feel like I under-utilize his invitation in verses 2-3.

    2. Humbling and grace… Our missional community (our version of a small group only very different at our church) is really exploding in great ways right now. My husband and I lead the group with another awesome girl. Last night when we were getting ready for bed, Alex and I were having to really remind each other that it is by His grace and not our effort that we are seeing so much fruit in our group. Life is going so well, and I had to check my heart… would I be this excited and this joyful if it were not? would I be as convinced that You are the source of all things good? So basically, I am working on staying humble by praising God for this harvest season and not myself. I hope that ramble makes sense.

    3. I’m clinging to the verses about humility for sure. I am slightly cringing at the last section about making our plans, etc. My husband and I recently pretty much locked our life plan down for the next 3ish years. This was done with prayer, petition, and counsel… it is still intimidating though. Although, we both give God free reign to change our plans at the drop of a hat so we’ll see.

    Thanks, Marla! You are so fun. I love having this outlet.

  3. Laura

    1. Those verses are a sobering reminder to check my motives in prayer, for sure. Am I truly seeking His glory or treating Him like a magical wish-granter? There may be things that I’m pursuing Him about that are right and good, but I’m approaching them from a place of selfishness or impure motives. Ugh.

    2. I’ve had to humble myself more in the past year of my life than ever before, in terms of asking for prayer and allowing people who care about me to see into my needs and offer help. I’ve discovered that my sense of self-sufficiency is a huge area of pride in my life, and God has used some rough stuff to show me the beauty of shrugging off that pride and admitting that I need Him – and the people He has placed in my life.

    3. Vs. 17. *sigh*

  4. Rachelle

    I want to share a story of humbling and grace but at the moment God is still writing it. Today I am choosing joy in the midst of some heartache which by the way we knew came with the territory. Finally, I am near the end of my own sufficiency.

    v10, “Then when you realize your worthlessness before the Lord, he will lift you up, encourage and help you”.

  5. Jennifer

    1. I once heard that prayer is more about getting our hearts right before God than it is about asking God for things. That, as we pray, it’s less about what we’re asking Him for and more about focusing on who He is and allowing Him to change our hearts. I struggle with verses about asking and receiving because I really get the truth of James’s words — that I so often ask wrongly! I’m trying to understand it all better, about how prayer works and how God desires to answer prayers. For now, though, I rest in the truth that prayer is more about God moving me than it is about me moving God.

    2. I think I’m still one of the proud that God is humbling. I’m thankful that He’s doing it, and I’m thankful that He’s surrounded me, during this season of life, with many humble people who have great reason to boast but boast only in Christ. I want to learn from their example!

    3. The verse about being a mist that soon vanishes is very humbling to me. I’m reminded of John 3:30 as well — He must increase, but I must decrease.

  6. ellen

    I don’t think you can argue with the Word of God – I don’t have because I don’t ask or I am asking wrongly — Have your kids asked wrongly — all set to bless them with something and the get snippy or whiney mine did and i’m sure I have with God. When life gets out of sink – I gotta back up and see what I missed or how I need to stand.
    vs 17 is a good one — because some sin is the same for everyone but…. some things are individual – if God tells you or me to do or not do something… we need to listen and obey that can affect our receiving also —
    ps – bet you have a whole book to write just about the Cambodia trip —

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