Small Group Questions

Faith That Works When The Pressure’s On: A Faith That  Anchors Me in Storms

Introduction:

You’re going to go through many different kinds of storms in your life — financial storms, health storms, relational storms. All of these storms can create instability and confusion. In this message, we continue our series through the book of James by giving you ways you can anchor your life to the rock of God’s Word during any storm.

Bottom-Line: How can I make my life better instead of worse?  

Something To Talk About: 

Discovering how to survive storms by doing the following steps:   

  1. Clean your spiritual ears; “get rid of all the filth.” “So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives…”(James 1:21) To live in moral filth, to participate in the evil all around us, is normal for humans. It’s how most people continue to live throughout their lives. This is why we speak of “lesser evils,” or say certain decisions are “just business.” It’s why we always want to compare our morals to other people, instead of comparing them to God. Perhaps the reason we don’t realize a somewhat thick layer of grime is building up on us as well. The point James is making is if you let this spiritual ear wax build-up, you will hinder your ability to hear God’s voice because your spiritual ears are clogged with sin and disobedience. If that is the case your life is getting worse, not better. Is there something God wants you to stop that you have not stopped? Ask God’s Spirit to speak to you right now for God to help us to identify and clean out any filth or sin that we have accumulated over the years that is blocking His voice and direction in our lives.  
  2. Accept that God is smarter than you are -“humbly accept the word:” When we clean out the filth, when we opt out of sin, what do we choose instead. It’s interesting that James doesn’t yet give us a concrete list of good things to do here, instead of the bad things we were doing. He writes that we should, in humility, accept the Word planted in us. Throughout the Bible, Christ is often described as “the Word.” James likely refers to Christ, to the message of Christ, when he calls us to accept, with humility, the Word that was planted in us when we believed in Jesus. James doesn’t tell us to stop sinning and just be better people. He tells us to stop sinning and accept—or keep accepting or accept on a deeper level—the message of Christ, with humility. It is Christ’s goodness in us that counts, not our own efforts to be good.  
  3. Listen for God to speak to you through His Word: There are different ways but one of the best ways to hear God is through scripture. The pages of Scripture contain so many amazing stories of how God spoke to His people. Within these stories we see the power of a people focused on following God’s leadership, and the destruction that takes place when people go their own way. God didn’t create us simply to be upright people with well-ordered lives. He didn’t intend the Bible to be just a rule book to guide us while He watched from afar. He wants to have a relationship with us. He wants to speak to us here and now—and He does it through Scripture. Unlike any other book ever written, the Bible “…is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” (Hebrews 4:12). Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Scripture has the power to bring God himself into our lives. May we align our hearts with the principles found in its pages.
  4. Do what God says – “You must do what it says:” James just told us that we need to put off evil and receive God’s Word that is implanted in us. Now he comes back with a positive command: we should be doers of God’s Word. If you are in Christ then God has put His Spirit and His Word inside you, now you need to apply it in every aspect of your life. To do this well we need to really study what the Bible says about us. James is telling us that God’s Word will bring us freedom from sin and victory in temptation. But we have to apply it. He cautions us not to merely listen to the Word. We cannot simply be hearers of the Word — that will not bring lasting change. We need to do the Word. If someone listens but doesn’t apply it then they are deceiving themselves into thinking that they are growing as believers. To believe is to act on what we read or hear. Faith in Christ is not just the map; it’s the actual journey. Merely nodding our heads at the Word is not enough—we need to do what the Word tells us to do. We need to figure out which way God wants us to go, and then actually go that way. 
  5. Experience God’s blessing. “God will bless you for doing”: James explains how believers ought to handle their study of the Word of God. Christians should look intently into the perfect law, the law that gives freedom. When they routinely do that and obey what they see there, they will be blessed in what they do.  

Discussion Questions:

  1. James 1:22 is the central point of the Book of James. Even though this verse is direct and self-explanatory, how would you rephrase it yourself? 
  2. Read Hebrews 4:12-13. What does it mean that the Word is “alive and powerful”? What makes the Bible fundamentally different from every other message we hear? Why do we need it to teach us who we are?
  3. Read Psalm 46:10. Looking through your week, how often do you make space to still yourself and receive the Word of truth?
  4. Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17. What is the Word of truth able to do that nothing else can? If what Paul wrote is true, why should we desperately want to hear from the Word?
  5. Often our areas of disobedience are blind spots. How can we see these areas that we often overlook?
  6. What are some possible reasons some of us walk away from God’s Word unchanged? Is it because we try to solve the problem in our own strength? Is it because we don’t study the Bible sufficiently? Or are we afraid to admit our sin? 
  7. How do we shed “filth and evil”? (See 1 John 1:9)
  8. What is the difference between knowing God’s will and doing it? 
  9. What freedom or blessing does doing God’s will provide? (Romans 8:2,14)  
  10. What are you going to do differently as a result of this message? 

Take one thing home with you:

In James 1:22-25, James uses an interesting analogy. He says that someone who hears the Word but doesn’t do it is like a man who looks at himself in a mirror, but goes away and forgets what he looks like. Let’s let that sink in for a minute. If someone really did that, it would seem crazy. Could you imagine looking at yourself and then walking away and forgetting what you looked like? Probably not. But how many of us will get up in the morning, read God’s Word, process it, and write out how you need to think or act differently, then not do anything differently? This isn’t the way it is supposed to be. When we study the Bible, God actually speaks to us through it. He tells us who we are, what we’re created for, and what needs to change today to get closer to that. What we need to do is apply it.

God is interested in the long haul. He is committed to making us like Jesus and this is going to take the rest of our lives. Our part is to continue to press into His Word, let God show us what needs to change, and then apply it to our lives.