Men's Workout # 32 - January 20, 2018

We opened our workout with a singing of "Take My Life and Let It Be" (#375).
As a group, we spent a few minutes reading the through small portions of James chapter 1, memorizing, reciting, and reflecting as a group.
James 1:1-4

  • Trials are not meaningless; they are opportunities for growth. We should consider them as such, rather than just mere inconveniences.
  • Perfect and complete are pointing to spiritual maturity, which God produces in His people
    • This is why we should consider trials with all joy
  • We find joy in our lives in the midst of trials because of the comfort and truth we receive from God's Word
  • James calls himself a bondservant, or a slave.
    • We are also slaves of God in that we serve Him. He is our Master, and our lives are not our own.
    • We don't live our lives according to our own desires or whims. We live for God's glory, to please and obey Him. 

James 1:5-8

  • When James speaks of wisdom, he is referring to Old Testament wisdom - God's eternal and divine wisdom to know how to live in our lives in the fear of God.
    • One who doubts whether God will dispense this wisdom to live according to His will is completely off base. Proverbs speaks of wisdom as one who calls all who seek after her and receive her (Proverbs 1:20-33). Therefore, those who doubt that God will give this wisdom are double-minded; they may pray for it, but in reality they don't really want it.
      • Those who sincerely seek after God's wisdom will always receive it.
  • Prayer
    • God always hears us when we pray according to His will.
    • When we pray, we should ask with faith ("ask, seek, knock").
    • We should pray according to God's will, not our own self-seeking will ("not my will, but your will be done").
    • Often, we don’t have because we don't ask. In faith, we should pray to God and ask that His will be done in our lives and in others' lives (i.e. pray for spiritual maturity, salvation for others). We can be confident that our prayers that align with His will are heard and that God will answer.
    • God answers our prayers according to His sovereign will, and we are called to pray in faith. At the very least, we can be confident that when we pray according to His will, He hears us.
  • It's not wrong to ask for wisdom for other areas of life (e.g. practical matters of life, like work). God welcomes and invites everyone to seek after God and pray for help.
    • Example: even within the Lord's prayer, Christ prays for both lofty matters and practical matters ("Hallowed be your name" and "Give us this day our daily bread").

James 1:9-12

  • "The rich man will pass away in the midst of his pursuits"
    • We should be reminded that we can't take any of our material blessings with us into eternity.
    • Those in humility should focus not on what they have in this life but what they do have in God's eyes and the glory he will receive in eternity ("the crown of life", verse 12).
    • We should be of the mind that we use whatever God has given us for God's glory.
    • There is a parallel thought found in Luke 12:13-34.
      • Be on guard against every form of greed.
      • Be rich toward God, give to others, and do mercy.
    • Warnings and dangers associated with becoming rich
      • Proverbs 23:4-5
        • Do not wear yourself out in the pursuit of wealth, because it is fleeting.
      • 1 Timothy 6:9
        • It is easy to fall into temptation and become distracted with foolish and harmful desires, resulting in ruin and destruction.

James 1:13-15

  • Spiritual death & the fight against sin
    • The death that James mentions is spiritual death, or hell. This is the outcome of accomplished sin.
    • When sin creeps up in a believer's life, it must be stamped out quickly, and not left to fester or grow.
    • Sin begins with our lusts and desires. In order to head off sin, we must deal with our lusts and desires.
      • It is better to be rid of what we value in life in order to gain eternity.
    • "Make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lust" [Romans 13:14]
      • We must deal with the fleshly opportunities for sin in our lives, but we must also replace the desires in our hearts with better things. Comprehensive dealings with sin means removal of physical opportunities and a renewing of our minds and hearts.
      • We are not necessarily trying to "produce" the right desires from scratch. Rather, we must encourage and nurture the good and true desires that are present in our lives due to the presence of the Holy Spirit and the abiding of God's Word.