Wk 1 // Big Jim // An Introduction to James

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ICEBREAKER

  • Do you have a favorite “self-help” or inspirational book or TV show you turn to for practical advice? If so, what is it and what do you like about it?

  • Why do you think self-help books or inspirational TV personalities like Oprah and Dr. Oz are so popular? Why are people drawn to them?

INTRODUCTION

Navigating life in a chaotic, broken world can be a daily challenge. Everything from parenting to time management to physical health throw obstacles our way every day, so it is common to look to the advice of others to help us learn how to function in this world.

For Christians, we know that the best place to turn for advice and direction is the Word of God, and one of the most practical books we can read in all of Scripture is the Book of James. James is known for being extremely practical, yet it contains some of the most profound theological truths of the New Testament.

In this week’s message, Pastor Mike kicked off a new sermon series on James. In this week’s study, we are going to explore some of the background on the book of James in order to better prepare us for the weeks ahead.

SERMON RECAP

Spend a few minutes recapping this week's sermon together. Click here to view the sermon notes.

  • What was one takeaway from this week's sermon for you?

  • Were there any stories, ideas, or points that stuck out?

  • Was there anything that challenged you?

READ

  • Before we begin our study of the Book of James, discuss what, if anything, your group members already know about this letter and James’s relationship with Jesus.

NOTE
This letter was written by James, the brother of Jesus, also called James the Just. James is identified as the brother of Jesus in Matthew 13:55, Mark 6:3, and Galatians 1:19.

Read 1 Corinthians 15:7 and Acts 1:12-14.

  • Why is it important for us to know that the resurrected Jesus appeared to James, the author of this book?

Read Acts 15:12-21.

  • This passage comes from a meeting of apostles and elders who met in Jerusalem to discuss how Gentiles would convert to Christianity. From this passage, what can we conclude about James’s reputation and authority in the early church?

NOTE
Though James was not a follower of Christ during His earthly ministry (John 7:3-5), a post-resurrection appearance convinced James that Jesus is indeed the Messiah (Acts 1:14; 1 Cor. 15:7). James later led the Jerusalem church, exercising great influence there. Iit is hugely important to us to know that James was regarded by his peers as a pillar of the faith.

Read James 1:1.

  • What do we learn from the opening of James’ letter?

  • James’s audience is described as “the 12 scattered tribes.” What does this mean, and what does it set us up to expect?

NOTE
The reference to “12 scattered tribes” (James 1:1) suggests the letter was written to Jewish Christians living in or around Palestine. This gives the letter a more broad audience than many other letters in the New Testament, however it also helps us understand James originally wrote primarily to address Jewish Christians.

APPLICATION

  • Based on today’s overview, what do you hope to learn from our study of the Book of James?

  • Here are some of the major themes we will study in the coming weeks:

    • trials and temptations

    • faith and works

    • wisdom

    • social justice

  • Which are you most curious to learn more about? Which do you think will challenge you the most?

PRAYER

As you close in prayer, pray over the upcoming study through James. Ask God to open His Word to your group in new ways, and ask Him to begin today preparing you for the life-changing truths and convictions that will surface when you dig into His Word.

Brian Otte