This Week: James 4:1-6 Date: April 3, 2016 Series: Shoe Leather Theology: Study of James
This Week’s Resources:
- The Compass Bible Study (pdf)
- Study Notes (pdf)
- Lighthouse Discussion Guide (pdf)
- Lighthouse Leader Study Guide (pdf)
- Word Search Answer Key (pdf)
- FFC Faithlife Community
Overview of this Lesson
This week we continue our teaching series on James. We start a four-part miniseries we are calling “Winning the War Within.” The focus of this week’s lesson is the source of conflict within our lives.
Have you ever wondered why Christians fight? It doesn’t matter what environment we find ourselves–within the home, at work, in school, or the church. Put two or more people in a room together and eventually you will have a fight.
This is what James addresses in James 4:1-6. As has been his theme throughout this short epistle, James points to quarrels and fights as evidence of a worldly faith, not a faith that comes from God. Conflict exists when two people both strive to get their own way.
Not wanting to leave us hanging, James provides the cure for conflict. It is humility. True humility, however, is not easy to come by. Our natural instinct is to fight for our own pleasures and self-promotion. True humility comes from God’s grace.
As you lead this week’s lesson, focus your prayer and your preparation on helping the people in your Lighthouse live humble lives devoted to godly unity. This is definitely counter culture, but by God’s grace (greater grace as James puts it), we can be an example of Christlike unity to our friends, family, and co-workers.
NOTE: be sure to read the appendix at the end of this lesson guide so you can be in-the-loop on our 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting that starts next week. If you haven’t signed up yet to be a part, you can go to http://firstfamily.church/40-days/. Please encourage everyone in your Lighthouse ot be a part of this 40-day prayer focus.
Memory Verse for This Week
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” –James 4:6
Core Virtue: Peace
Peace (Philippians 4:6-7): I am free from anxiety because things are right between God, myself and others.
- Looking back at your notes from this week’s sermon, was there anything that particularly caught your attention, challenged or confused you?
- If you were given three wishes that would without a doubt come true, what would you wish for?
- From your experience what things do family and friends often fight about?
This Week’s Take Home Truth
“The war with pride is seen externally, birthed internally, but won divinely.”
Read the Text (James 4:1-6)
In describing the effect of worldliness on the prayer life, James showed that his friends resorted to scheming, quarreling, and striving in order to obtain their wishes. They failed to receive what they truly needed because they did not ask. Whenever they did ask, they failed to receive because their request was tinged with self-will (4:1–3). James’s description of God in 4:5 demonstrated that God tolerated no rivals and wanted complete commitment from His followers. God could make heavy demands on His followers, but He could also provide the grace to meet those demands (4:6). [Dockery] Read James 4:1-6.
In this section, feel free to develop your own questions to help guide your group’s discussion. Below are some suggestions.
- As a group, develop a working definition of lust.
- What is the result of our lustful desires?
- Why is it so difficult to control our lustful desires?
- How does God help us control our sinful, lustful desires?
- How do sinful, lustful desires infect our prayer life?
- How can we be sure we are praying in a right manner?
- What is the key that unlocks God’s grace and brings real peace to our life and to our relationships?
- What can you do this week to draw near to God?
These questions are given to prompt both reflection and learning on a personal level, and should likely be completed individually and apart from your regular group time.
- What sins of action and attitude do you need to confess to God today?
- In what situations do you need to resist the devil this week?
- What can you do this week to help you bring more humility into your life?
Becoming A House of Prayer 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting: A Quick Guide
April 6-May 15, 2016
Prayer and fasting joined together become a powerful, singular discipline by which we show God a contrite spirit and a deep desire for him above all else. This April 6-May 15, First Family Church is calling its members and attenders to do both – pray and fast. Our request? That God would ‘move our hearts and move our hands.”
Why this request? Since our 40 DPF concludes with this year’s Vision Offering on May 15, we are asking our entire church to spend the 40 days prior to this annual offering praying and fasting for God to “move our hearts and hands” so that we are sacrificial and generous for his purposes. After all, with a need to replenish our savings, a number of FFCers in the missions pipeline, as well as a stated goal of trying to double our mobilization budget by the beginning of 2018 (from approximately $100,000 to $200,000 annually), it is imperative we have God’s passion in mind as we approach this special day of giving. This is our desire—that God will move our hearts and our hands so that we think and give as he would have us.
WHEN WILL WE START?
We will launch our 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting on Wednesday, April 6, 2016.
HOW WILL WE START EACH DAY?
If you are part of FFC’s database, you will receive a jump-start prayer in your email inbox each day of this initiative. This is designed to be a morning reminder to pray each day during the 40 DPF. This jump-start prayer will be a simple sentence or two to help you focus on God’s work in us and through us.
WHEN WILL WE END?
The last day of this 40 day emphasis is Sunday, May 15, 2016, and we will conclude the special prayer emphasis with a season of extended prayer in all of our services.
DOES EVERYONE HAVE TO FAST, TOO?
No. Anyone who wishes to can, however. We are “officially” asking that at least one FFCer fast each day, and you can sign up for that opportunity here. Simply use the form below to indicate your willingness. You’ll receive an email afterwards indicating which day (i.e., day 1, day 12, day 32, etc.) we have assigned to you, as well as the date of that day. If you prefer to specify your day and date, you can do so on the sign-up form.
WHAT ARE THE REASONS WE WOULD FAST?
There are multiple reasons for fasting:
- It is a principle taught by Jesus and modeled by the early church. Jesus said in Matthew 6:16, “When you fast…” He did not say “if” you fast. Additionally, we see examples of fasting for direction in the early church. In Acts 13, the church at Antioch was led to fast and pray. “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off” (13:2–3).
- We want to draw closer to Jesus and his power over sin. Jesus intriguingly said one time that there was a type of enemy only overcome through prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29). This text seems to indicate that fasting brings us into a closer relationship with Jesus and his power in certain types of spiritual warfare than perhaps is normally experienced.
- We want to stir ourselves and the body of Christ towards repentance. Nehemiah fasted and prayed after he heard of the demise of the city of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:3–4).
HOW DO WE FAST?
Here are 4 general fasts, depending on one’s preferences and physical ability.
- Fasting from a meal. This can be done daily or weekly, and in this fast you forego a specific meal in order to focus on God and his work in your life through prayer.
- Fasting for a day. This can be done weekly or monthly, and, as in #1, is usually accompanied by undistracted time with God focusing on his work in your life through prayer.
- Fasting for multiple days. Please make sure you do this only after making sure you are physically able and spiritually ready. Check with your doctor regarding any medication you are taking or medical situations you have going on to ensure that abstaining from food and/or liquid will not adversely affect your health.
- Fasting from aspects of our normal diet. Sometimes referred to as the Daniel fast, this fast is centered around abstaining from specific types of food or ingredients, such as caffeine, bread, etc. Some people take this concept and apply it to other non-food elements of life as well, like electronics, recreation, or even hobbies. While Scripture doesn’t condemn this, neither does it actually give us any textual evidence for a fast that doesn’t involve some type of food or drink.
We remind you that fasting isn’t just abstaining from food for physical reasons, but rather for spiritual reasons – to use that same time for seeking God in prayer. So as you decide how you will fast and pray, be alert to the need to focus on God and his work in your life.
Remember, fasting isn’t something done to gain attention from others (Matthew 6), but rather to focus our attention on God. So while you are fasting, try and carry on as you normally do except during the times you are getting away to focus on God in an undistracted manner.
Please join the elders, deacons, and staff in praying and fasting as God leads you during these 40 days. And may God, in ways we have never seen, move our hearts and our hands for his passion for the nations.
Go to http://firstfamily.church/40-days/ to sign up to be a part of 40 Days of Prayer & Fasting.