Floridians are not used to Winter Storm warnings so with the threat of sleet and snow we cancelled Wednesday night Bible class this week.
Soon we will be looking at James 2:1-13 which starts, “do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality”.
James is a practical book and the topic in these verses coincides well with our goal for 2014 at the Lakeshore church of inviting people to come visit. Each first Sunday is a “Come and See” Sunday.
So here’s the question for discussion here (and we will study it together on Wednesday night): What does James 2:1-13 tell us that we should think about when we invite and welcome visitors into our assemblies?
Sunday in Galatians we talked about chapter 3:10 -“Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them”.
Sadly that is how we Christians sometimes think our relationship with God works: If we do not do everything exactly right we are cursed (condemned).
But Paul is not talking about the gospel in verse 10 – he is talking about what they had under the Law of Moses, without Christ (read over 10-13 carefully). The gospel is different.
Later, 5:1 describes one way as “bondage” and the other (the gospel) as “liberty”.
We should do very our best to do everything we do according to God’s law. But isn’t it comforting to know verse 10 is not describing our relationship with God today?
Wednesday night we studied in James 1 how we should not blame God when we are tempted. The problem is not God, but us. “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” (Satan’s role is not stated in this text).
We made two observations:
1. Sin occurs when “desire has conceived” – that is when we act deliberately to fulfill our desires. Being tempted is not sin. Feeling a desire is not sin. We will be tempted. When we are drawn away by desires we need to choose to get our minds back on the right path before we deliberately fulfill sinful desires.
2. Note also when death (spiritual death) occurs. According to this text it is not when we sin, but “sin when it is full grown brings forth death”.
Question: Do you agree with these observations? If so, how does it affect our attitude toward our relationship with God?
Sunday in our Galatians study we considered Paul’s great statement in which he described his attitude toward his life on earth. He said, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”.
In the context, Paul had just dealt with Peter’s hypocrisy. Sometimes Peter would accept the new Gentile converts and eat with them, other times He would not because he was afraid of what people would say and think about him. Peter was letting his “flesh” get the best of him.
How is Paul’s mindset “I no longer live, Christ lives in me” the perfect attitude that all of us need to have if we want to fulfill the purpose God has for us on earth?
Last night we started a study of the book of James. It is a practical book and the first subject it talks about is TRIALS. “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (1:2). It says we know having our faith tested produces patience and makes us more mature: “perfect, complete, lacking in nothing” (1:4).
Trials are good for us! But trials are unpleasant.
Its not natural to welcome trials into our lives. But without them we would be weaker than we are with them.
I doubt anyone ever prays for trials to come, but clearly we do need them! So how do we balance the desire and prayer for God to protect us and keep us from evil with the need in our lives to experience trials? How might verse 5 be part of the answer?
An angel appears to Joseph and explains to him about Mary’s conception and the child to be born. Mary will
What do we learn about Joseph in this reading?
What are the two names to be given to the Son and what do they mean?
Sunday we considered Paul’s total submission to Jesus: “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). This is an example to all of us concerning how we should let Jesus take over our lives completely. We should do this simply because it is commanded but is made easier when you get to the end of verse 20 and see that Jesus is the one who “loved us and gave Himself for us” (20).
Similar terminology is used teaching about marriage. “Wives submit to your own husbands as to the Lord….” (Ephesians 5:22-24). This is an unpopular, challenging command but its harshness is diminished somewhat when we see the counter command to husbands “love your wives like Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it” (Eph 5:25). That part is what I as a husband need to focus on.
Does knowing someone loves you and is willing to die for you make it easier to be submissive? How does this especially help us submit to Jesus? What can a wife whose husband is not loving and unselfish (and that would include all husbands to an extent) think about to remain obedient to this command?
Six months after appearing to Zacharias, the angel Gabriel makes another appearance, this time in Nazareth to Mary. Gabriel greets Mary with the words, “Rejoice highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” and then tells her that she will give birth to Jesus. Mary visits her relative Elizabeth.
Consider Gabriel’s description of the Son to be born to Mary. What do you think she thought upon hearing this?
Since the Protestant Reformation, those with a protestant heritage have tended to pay little attention to Mary. This is partly a reaction to the veneration of Mary common in Catholicism. These verses may make us a little uncomfortable. What do these verses reveal about her and the honor bestowed upon her?