longing for our faithfulness

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow (Sun., Nov. 6). This guide will enable your follow-up of the sermon that I’ll preach, God willing, that morning from James 4:4-10. You’ll find these LIFE group discussion guides categorized each week here on my site under the category title LIFE group guides.

Aim

To candidly call us all out of living after this world’s ways and into God’s world and his ways.

Word

“You unfaithful people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? Or do you suppose that scripture is meaningless? Doesn’t God long for our faithfulness in the life he has given to us? But he gives us more grace. This is why it says, God stands against the proud, but favors the humble. Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will run away from you. Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you double-minded. Cry out in sorrow, mourn, and weep! Let your laughter become mourning and your joy become sadness. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:4-10 CEB)

Open

Icebreaker questions are meant to simply get us all talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. Tell us about something you’ve bought, but broken because you used it the wrong way.

2. What is something, funny or serious, that you’ve been pleaded with to do, but still haven’t done?

Dig

These questions are intended to help us grapple directly with the sermon’s primary Scripture text.

1. As you read this text, what OT texts or events come to your mind? What words of Jesus?

2. True grit is required of us to do what’s expected in vs.7-10. Working from what is explicitly said in this passage, where will we find this grit?

3. In light of this Scripture, what role does emotion plays in our repentance?

Reflect

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us through his word.

1. James is not speaking here to people who are yet to believe. James is passionately speaking to those who are already Christians to repent. Which was, or has been, the most difficult for you: to come to Christ or to continue with Christ? Why?

2. It’s all too easy to turn the spotlight that is this Scripture onto others and so, not allow it’s full force be felt in our own life. Why is this so? To what does this give witness?

3. Which of the three questions in vs.4-5 strikes home most deeply with you? Why?

4. What thoughts and emotions well up in you as you consider how God “longs for your faithfulness?” (vs.5)

5. This text starts with the thought of our broken promises to God (vs.4a) and ends on a note regarding God’s great promise to us (vs.10b). Which looms larger to you? Why?

6. Of all the commands given to us in vs.7-10, which would you say is the most difficult for you at this time in life? Why?

7. How can we specifically pray for you now as to your recalling and responding to the seriousness of the promises you’ve made to God?

unfaithful

You unfaithful people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? Or do you suppose that scripture is meaningless? (James 4:4-5a CEB)

Many times I’ve watched …

  • strong, grown men sob, weep, and wail like an inconsolable baby.
  • all hint of faith and hope dry up and blow away from the eyes of a beautiful, mature woman .
  • bitterness and resentment turn a vibrant teenager into a boiling cauldron of anger and rage.
  • emptiness and lostness swallow little children alive.

All because someone they were bonded to in great love thought

  • “What no one else knows can’t hurt them.”
  • “God just wants me to be happy.”
  • “We’re just close friends.”
  • “It’s only this once.”

All because someone was “unfaithful.”

Anyone who has walked down that road can tell you: unfaithfulness is hell. Don’t go there. No way, now how. For your own sake. For the sake of others. Just don’t.

Now when James goes looking for a word and an image to try to convey something of what it’s like for a Christian to try to live with one foot in a relationship with God and the other foot in a relationship with the world, he chose this word: unfaithfulness.

Stepping out on God is a hell of a thing to do. Don’t even go there.

You are unfaithful! Don’t you get it? You can’t be the world’s friend without becoming God’s enemy. You don’t think scripture speaks in vain, do you? (James 4:4-5a DSV)

Holy Father, in Jesus’ name and for his sake, deliver me from any all that would seduce me away from you. Amen.