Men's Workout #60 - September 22, 2018

OPENING SONG AND PRAYER

We started our time together by singing hymn #19 "To God Be the Glory."

MEMORIZATION, RECITATION, & DISCUSSION

James 1

  • We must not merely hear the word, but it must implant into us and we must carry it out in active obedience, aligning our lives day by day to the Word of God. Doers of the Word are those who also intensely consider and wrestle with what the Word says.

  • When there is a problem of desire, we must be wary of where it may lead. If we incubate desires, they may give birth to sin. Instead of letting any desires linger, we must deal with them so as not take any chances with giving birth to sin.

  • God's people exercise mercy and compassion toward those in need.

James 2

  • There is no room for personal favoritism among God's people.

  • We have accountability before the Lord as those who spoke and acted; either it was as according to the law, or not. We pursue obedience of what God wants for His people, which is His law. Specifically in the context of James, we are not to practice favoritism, which would be a violation of the command to love our neighbors as ourselves.

  • Prove your faith by what you do. We don't earn salvation through obedience, but obedience is a key attribute of one who is genuinely saved and is following Christ.

  • What kind of faith saves? There is only one kind of faith that saves, and that faith is perfected and proven by the kinds of works it produces. True faith will always show itself in its works. The works always correspond with saving faith. In other words, saving faith always works.

We ended our time with memorization and recitation of James 3:1-8.

Men's Workout #59 - September 15, 2018

OPENING SONG AND PRAYER

We started our time together by singing hymn #102 "Jesus Is Lord."

MEMORIZATION, RECITATION, & DISCUSSION

James 2:1-7 (4 minutes)

  • Believers must never show discrimination and favoritism. We must not show preference toward someone simply because they are rich. We ought to show consideration toward all men, and aim to not stumble anybody.

James 2:8-13 (5 minutes)

  • Loving your neighbor as yourself is the summary of the law. All men will know we are Christ's disciples when we have love for one another and show mercy to others. We are all held accountable to God and His law.

  • Practical ways to love others:

    • Meet others' needs

    • Greet one another

    • Pray for one another

    • Speak truth to one another

James 2:14-17 (4 minutes)

  • What is true saving faith? The first example James gives has to do with carrying out our faith by practically obeying the law in practically loving others.

  • James talks about the quality of the kind of faith which saves, not that any sort of works produces salvation. The kind of faith that saves always produces corresponding works.

James 2:18-22 (4 minutes)

  • Faith is evidenced by real works in our lives. For example, Abraham acted out in faith and executed what God commanded in (almost) sacrificing Isaac on the altar. True faith and trust in Christ, paired with repeated patterns of obedience, can give us deep assurance that our faith is real and that we are genuinely saved.

James 2:23-26 (4 minutes)

  • If we claim to have true saving faith, then it will also have the corresponding actions of works by necessity. Verse 24 must be taken in context; James is speaking of the kind of faith which saves; he is NOT separating faith from its works.

  • Feelings of sincerity or profession of faith are not enough to save us.

  • Real faith produces a life of obedience to God. Even the demons acknowledged and factually believed Christ to be the Son of God, but they were not saved and did not obey Him. Their kind of faith, being without works, is useless.

  • We can consider saving faith as an active faith. Biblical faith is not passive, but it actually does something. Works are a fruit of real saving faith.

  • Our active faith is not merely an obligation, or worked out of a fear of assuring and proving to ourselves that we are genuinely saved. We ought to be live out our faith as an outworking of joy and worship to God.

  • Active faith produces works; works by themselves do not produce faith.

Men's Workout #58 - September 8, 2018

OPENING SONG AND PRAYER

We started our time together by singing hymn #113 "Join All The Glorious Names."

REVIEW & DISCUSSION

James 1

  • Be a doer of the word and not mere hearers. Keep the Word of Christ in obedience. We should not only receive the words, but put them into effective practice. We must work out these commands and flesh them out in our lives.
  • Deal with sins, and put aside all filthiness and wickedness.
  • Care for the poor and distressed with compassionate mercy, without showing partiality.
  • If we genuinely seek for wisdom and pray to God for it, God will always grant it.

James 2:1-4

  • We can exhibit a natural tendency toward those that our culture deems respectable, and so we might be tempted to give disproportionate attention toward those people. Likewise, we might tend to treat those who are not commonly respected with a lack of attention or love. James tells us that we must not discriminate.
  • Christians must not make sinful distinctions amongst men. Christians must emphasize Christ and our identity in Him, and so we must not discriminate based on any human standing, such as social status or race. Our preferences must not supersede the Word of Christ. We must not emphasize any sort of tribalism in our church as if it gives our church its unique identity.

James 2:5-7

  • James tell us that the poor are the ones who receive the gospel and are saved (Acts 2, 1 Corinthians 1), while the rich are the ones who persecute the Church. "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Mark 10:25). We ought to emulate our Lord, who gave special attention and love toward those who were ostracized and rejected by the world.

Men's Workout #57 - September 1, 2018

OPENING SONG AND PRAYER

We started our time together by singing hymn #17 "O Father, You Are Sovereign."

REVIEW & DISCUSSION

James 1:1-18

  • All things in this life will come to an end. Death is the great equalizer. Believers hope in future glory; in contrast, those who do not hope in Christ will find their lives ending in despair and hopelessness.
  • God is the source of wisdom, and He invites us to ask of Him. "He gives to all generously and without reproach." (verse 5)

James 1:19-24

  • How do we deal with anger? Keep our mouths shut! When we take time to listen and think instead of instinctively reacting with anger, we can defuse potential for sin. Our anger does not achieve God's righteousness; it does not accomplish good or establish justice.
  • God is the one who brings us forth by the word of truth, but we need to receive the word implanted. We have to take the word that is in us and work it out in our lives. We must be doers, not mere hearers. We have to act upon what we have received and what we know. "Bear fruit in keeping with repentance" (Matthew 3:8). We must forsake all sin; and not only that, we must also replace it with the Word, which we then must actively practice in pursuit of righteousness and obedience to God. Galatians 5:13 says that we were called to freedom, but not for an opportunity for the flesh.
  • When we look into the Word of God, it should show us what kind of person we are, and that there is a separation between us and God because of our sin. Therefore, when we receive the Word, we ought not to just store it away as knowledge, but actively practice and apply the Word in our lives in such a way that we repent of sin and actively do what it commands.

James 1:25-27

  • James deals with mercy in verse 27. God wants true worshipers who not only turn away from sin, but pursue after obedience to what God wants, which is to love people, care for people, and show mercy to others ("orphans and widows in their distress").

Men's Workout #56 - August 25, 2018

OPENING HYMN AND PRAYER

We started off by singing hymn #133, "All Glory Be to Christ."

REVIEW & MEMORY VERSE RECITATION 

Last week, we completed going through the book of James, so we spent our time today reviewing and reciting the book together. As we have in the past, we spent a few minutes to review a number of verses, then recited them together in unison, taking some time in between to consider propositions.

We recited James 1:1-4 after 3 minutes of review. Some propositions we considered together:

  • Christians can have joy through trials
  • For the Christian, trials have a purpose
  • Trials are a test of our faith
  • A note on trials: this is not talking about a specific type of trial, but every kind of trial
  • A note on the word "perfect": this is talking about maturity and completeness, not flawlessness.

We recited James 1:1-8 together after another 3 minutes of review. Some propositions we considered:

  • God gives us wisdom when we ask
  • Praying without faith shows instability
  • A note on "wisdom": this is not talking about any kind of wisdom, but specifically biblical wisdom. This was written to Jews who understood what the old testament said about wisdom - the call of wisdom is to seek wisdom, she can be found!

James 1:1-11 - some propositions and notes:

  • Everyone will die - man is finite and temporary
  • The rich man is always in a pursuit - maintaining wealth requires a lot of energy
  • The rich man should often think upon death, because we all fade away
  • You don't control your future - we can recall stories of rich men who have saved up much for retirement, only to pass away early or unexpectedly.

James 1:1-15 - some propositions and notes:

  • God cannot be tempted, it is not possible or feasible
  • Christ in His incarnation was tempted because he has full humanity, but never fell to temptation
  • This temptation is a desire to sin

  • A wise man is always dealing with his desires - as God's people we need to cut this chain reaction of sin. Best place to deal with sin is at it's roots, at inordinate desires (lusts). There is also some value to arrange circumstances, but the primary work is with his own desires

James 1:1-18 - some propositions and notes;

  • God is the creator
  • God is good
  • God is consistent

 

 

Men's Workout #55 - August 18, 2018

OPENING SONG AND PRAYER

We started our time together by singing hymn #54 "My Lord, I Did Not Choose You."

MEMORIZATION & DISCUSSION

James 5:16

  • A link between prayer and forgiveness of sins is community. In our individualized culture, we may not readily see ourselves living in community with others. But as Christians in a church community, we seek to serve and lead one another toward forgiveness through prayer. Praying for one another leads to healing. We live life in community, and so dealing with sins happens in community. James tells us to confess our sins to one another and to pray for one another.
  • Physical sickness may actually be a result of sin. Of course, we understand that not all illness is a result of sin, but in this case, James says that the cause of the illness is a person's sin. Through confession of sins and prayer, physical healing can occur. Sickness that arises out of sin is a context in which we ought to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another.
  • In general, we confess our sins to God. But James deals with a context of a person who is sick as a result of sin; in this case, we ought to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another. However, this communal activity is not the simple end of the matter. We must truly repent of sins and make real change in our lives unto holiness (James repeatedly reminds and commands us to do this throughout his letter). We must deal practically with our sin, pursue righteousness, and grow in holiness. God uses real events as these (trials, sicknesses, etc.) to get our attention and provide opportunities to work out our sanctification through prayer and repentance.
  • "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." Prayer is a real means in which we can tap into God's strength and ability to accomplish things that we could never do on our own. Prayer can only be effective if it is actually prayed! And when we pray, we are confident that God hears us. When God answers our prayers, He accomplishes amazing things.
  • However, God is not a genie who magically answers every prayer that a righteous man might offer. Rather, this righteous man is one who abides in Christ, and he is one in whom the Word of Christ abides. This man is asking for things that please God and align with His will. In this context, the righteous man is praying for healing of a person who is confessing their sin. The prayer is not just for healing, but on a larger scale, it is a prayer asking God for this person's restoration to Him.

James 5:17-18

  • An example of a man who had his prayers answered if found in Elijah. Elijah was not a superhero; he was a normal fellow human being, "a man with a nature like ours." But he was a man who had faith in God. He prayed earnestly, and God heard him. When we pray, God hears us too. However, we ought to pray according to God's will.
  • James is talking about prayer as it relates to care and love for one another. Prayer is not to be approached with a "ask for whatever you want and you'll get it" attitude. We ought to pray for one another in love and in interest for each other's souls.
  • Jesus did not come to earth to save buildings, corporations, governments - He came to save people. Our prayers should be on behalf of people. In doing this, we can be sure that our prayers lifted in the interest of others' salvation, forgiveness, and reconciliation with God are aligned with God's will.
  • Passionate prayer does not automatically mean answered prayer. Although Elijah's prayers were earnest, God is the one who answers prayer whether they are filled with passion or not. God answers prayer that is meaningful, faith-filled, trusting, and of course, actually lifted up for Him to hear.

James 5:19-20

  • A church community looks out for one another. There will be times when people stray or wander from truth, and we must pursue them and turn them back.
  • He who turns a sinner turns him back to the truth. This man who returns to the truth makes a real change in his life and turns away from his sin.

Men's Workout #54 - August 4, 2018

OPENING SONG AND PRAYER

We started our time together by singing hymn #1 "Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above."

MEMORIZATION & DISCUSSION

James 5:12

  • Review: "always be a straight shooter." Go to the Lord and confess honestly to Him, dealing with sin and turning away from it.

James 5:13-14a

  • In every circumstance of life, we must look to God. We have open access to Him and thus ought to seek Him.
  • Suffering:
    • 1 Peter 4:19 - Those who suffer entrust themselves to God.
    • 2 Corinthians 12:8 - When Paul had a thorn in his flesh and endured suffering, he went to the Lord in prayer.
  • Sickness:
    • The situation of being sick in James' day was seen as much more severe than as sickness is today. Modern medicine has helped make more common physical afflictions more tolerable or survivable, but the situation of being sick in James' day was seen as much more severe.
    • However, we can observe a bigger picture here outside of the specific situation of being sick; as a church, we ought to come together, pray for each other, and minister to each other.
    • If we are sick, we are to call on the elders of the church. The imagery here is that one is sick to the point of physical impairment, and thus elders need to physically go to the sick person.
    • The elders are to pray over the sick person. They do not perform magic, but God can do great things. Through prayer, God works healing and good for the sick person.
    • "Anointing with oil." It was known in James' day that olive oil was medicinal. We are to do whatever else is practical that we know to do in order to help ease of help with the sickness. However, the focus is on prayer; the act of anointing (or administering of medicine) is subordinate to the act of prayer. Even Psalm 103 tells us that God is the one who heals all of our illnesses; therefore, we should realize that, ultimately, God is the one who heals us. Even the availability of medicine and its ability to help us feel better is gracious provision from God!

James 5:14b-15

  • Does praying to God actually do something?
    • Of course! When we pray, God hears us.
  • "Raise him up" means to get the sick person "out of bed" and back to full health. This is NOT referring to a resurrection from death.
  • "If he has committed sins." Why does James mention the sick person's committing of sins? (see notes below on v16)

James 5:16-20

  • Verse 16 brings to light that confessing sins and praying for one another brings healing. This shows us that perhaps one purpose of sickness is a sign that God is using to show us that we have sinned or are sinning. In other words, perhaps God is trying to get our attention and cause us to focus on repentance. Therefore, when we confess sin and pray for one another, a result of repentance may also bring a result of healing.
  • Is sickness also used as a form of punishment?
    • God does not punish believers. God loves us! We know that Romans 8:28 tells us that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God. 
    • However, God may use sickness (or other affliction) to train us or discipline us.
  • Sometimes we may think, "what did I do to deserve this?" when some affliction comes our way. We must realize, however, this is a self-exalting view, or a reaction that stems from a certain set of expectations for this life. But even if we are going through situations that are taxing or excruciating that are worthy of empathy and aid, the truth is that none of us are ever in a fair or established position to shake our fist at God for our perceived misfortunes. We are all deserving of judgment and hell for our sins, but by God's mercy we have been offered a sparing from judgement, forgiveness, and reconciliation with God through Christ.

Men's Workout #53 - July 28, 2018

OPENING SONG AND PRAYER

We started our time together by singing hymn #31 "This Is My Father's World."

MEMORIZATION & DISCUSSION

James 5:12

  • "Always be a straight shooter." Always speak the truth.
    • It is more valuable to speak truth in accountability to God, rather than to defend ourselves in self-centered fear or doubt.
    • Be honest in the workplace. Be realistic in projecting work capabilities and schedules.
    • We must keep in mind that we all set an example for our children and other young people about what it looks like to follow Christ.
    • Instead of calculating what we can say to others to form a convincing story or paint ourselves in a favorable light, we should be honest and real with each other.
  • Spinning one lie can result an extended spiderweb of lies to manage and deal with later. In contrast, telling the truth may be harder to do, but it can keep things simple and straightforward.
  • Trust in God and whatever circumstances may follow as a result of telling the truth. We can trust, obey, and praise our sovereign God regardless of any outcome in life.
  • Believers are expected to live in holiness, but we also know that all people are sinners and will never be perfect in this life. Believers should always strive and pursue after God's holiness, but at the same time we should also always be humble to acknowledge and confess our own sinfulness.
  • If we live our lives with compromise for certain sins, then we must analyze for ourselves whether we are really believers. This may be evidence that there is no striving after holiness, which is a characteristic of genuine faith in God and pursuit of holiness. If we live lives of compromise, then we may be subject to the unbeliever's judgment mentioned in James 5:12.
  • We ought to be careful and wise with our words, committing to and promising things that we can actually follow up with. Good intentions can cause us to be unwise or unrealistic with promises and commitments that cannot actually be met, which can result in disappointment, distrust, grief, and damaged relationships.

James 5:13-14

  • Suffering. James tells us that those who suffer must seek God and pray.
    • We can go to God and pour out our hearts before Him. He is our heavenly Father who loves us and hears us. We don't have to be austere in our relationship with Him; we can call to God and express our anxieties, worries, doubts, etc. He is faithful and loving to hear us and help us.
    • We should make prayer to God a way of life, or something to default to.
    • Some ways that people might try to deal with suffering instead of prayer:
      • Escapism. Distraction away from the problem.
      • Seeking for a natural solution. A remedy or fix to get out of the situation.
      • Seeking compassion or pity. Bypass or substitute God by seeking comfort from other people.
      • Complain. Blame others, blame self, blame God for things going wrong.
  • Cheer. James tells us that those who are cheerful must are to sing praises to God.
    • Even in times of prosperity, we should turn to God and give praise and thanks to Him.
    • James literally tells us to sing to God. Communicate praises and thanks back to God in joyful expression. In doing so, we celebrate and rejoice with God, whom we love.
    • Some ways that people deal with good times:
      • Selfishly seek out more.
      • Spend blessings on self.
      • Give credit to ourselves.