The Book of James ~ A Bible Study for Families
The Message Translation, By Allison T. Cain
Before you begin: I have written this study using The Message translation to make it easier for children to comprehend. However, as you go along please read the text from your favorite and more traditional translation (we like the NIV and ESV). You can break this up by chapter or by verses. Do whatever is best for you and your family. I pray the lessons in the book of James will be absorbed in all of our hearts as we study it together.
I, James, am a slave of God and the Master Jesus, writing to the twelve tribes scattered to Kingdom Come: Hello!
Chapter 1 – Faith Under Pressure
2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
James 1:1 shows us that James is writing a letter. Who is he writing to?
Where are they located?
Why do you think he wrote them a letter instead of going to see them in person?
James has great advice for the twelve tribes that we can learn from today. When you are under pressure to learn something new, speak in front of people, or have stressful things going on your life how do you feel?
However, James says we should feel great and consider it like a present. Why?
5-8 If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.
In verse 5 James tells what we should do if we need help. What is the verb he uses?
How are we supposed to pray?
9-11 When down-and-outers get a break, cheer! And when the arrogant rich are brought down to size, cheer! Prosperity is as short-lived as a wildflower, so don’t ever count on it. You know that as soon as the sun rises, pouring down its scorching heat, the flower withers. Its petals wilt and, before you know it, that beautiful face is a barren stem. Well, that’s a picture of the “prosperous life.” At the very moment everyone is looking on in admiration, it fades away to nothing.
According to verse 9, when should we cheer?
When is someone down-and-out?
Why do you think James instructs us to cheer for the arrogant rich when they lose?
Talk about why James compares wealth and prosperity to a wildflower. Who are we supposed to cling to and count on above all else?
12 Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.
If you hang in there through your challenges, what is the reward?
13-15 Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.
Does God to mean or evil things to us? Or is it our actions and decisions that cause bad things to happen to us?
Have you ever made a bad decision and gotten in trouble for it? Do you think God made you make that terrible decision or did you make it on your own?
16-18 So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.
In verses 16-18, what two adjectives does James use to describe the gifts out of Heaven?
He calls God the Father of Light. Look up Genesis 1:3. Who created light? Do you think that is why James calls Him the Father of Light?
Act on What You Hear
19-21 Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.
When James says “post this at all intersections”, what do you think he means by that?
Where should anger be kept?
Where are we supposed to put evil and bad habits?
What does James compare God to in verse 21?
How or why do you think God is the gardener of your heart and life?
22-24 Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.
When James says don’t fool yourself (v.22) into thinking you are a good listener, what do you think he means?
Do you feel like you are a good listener and follow directions well? Why or why not?
Why do you usually look in the mirror? Do you remember what you see after you walk away?
In the same way, after reading God’s word (the Bible) do you walk away and forget it or do you remember what He told us to do and not do?
What are some things you could do to help you remember God’s laws when you at school, playing with friends or out and about with family?
25 But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.
What kind of life does God offer us (v. 25)?
Compare and contrast the differences between a scatterbrain and a person of action.
Which one do you think others think you are?
What two adjectives does James use to describe what a person of action will have? Define them and discuss their meaning.
26-27 Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.
When you “set yourself up” you are pretending. Do you think it makes God happy when we stay we are religious but do not act like we are religious?
James says this kind of religion is only hot air. Does that mean the religion is real or fake?
What two things does James tells us show we are really a Christian/religious?
Can you think of any other ways?
++++++++++++++++ Coming next week . . . . . . James – Chapter 2 +++++++++++++++++++++