This was my favorite of Paige’s messages in James, for it so touched my heart, and was so relevant to my life, and to my relationship with my local church family. James was Jesus’ half-brother, yet James himself knows what matters most is not his biological family but his family of God. While we are joined with the “invisible Church” that is made up of every tribe and nation, the part most visible to us is our local church.
So often I hear people say they can love God without going to church. Paige said: “The bedrock assumption of the New Testament is that if you are a believer you will be active in a local church.” She says “don’t taste, hop, or just attend!” And I would say, since Covid, don’t be content with just watching a video of your church service.
How James exhorts us to care for one another and truly love one another in our local church. Here are a couple of pictures from my little home church, “The Orchard,” under the umbrella of the E. Free Church. We do genuinely love one another and find joy in our fellowship. People are faithful in coming and participating. Do we ever disagree, have friction, or get hurt? Yes, actually, often! So I must take these exhortations to heart to glorify God in my local church and love each member as Jesus loves that person!
Do you remember when people told Jesus his mother and brothers were waiting to talk to him? His response was:
It isn’t that Jesus didn’t love his biological family, but a deeper bond than the biological blood is the blood of Christ. That family shares the same Spirit, the same purpose, the same joy, and the same eternal home. Paige gives a little “sermon” up front on the importance of being joined and loyal to a local church — and then launches into how James tells us to love one another in our local church. Paige mentioned growing up with the Gaithers, and her little sermon made me think of this old Gaither song:
As a personal aside comment, I’ve been reading the new biography of Tim Keller and realize what a huge impact he has had on so many preachers and teachers, including Paige. One of the hallmark’s of his sermons according to Collin Hansen is “Logic, when fired with captivating illustrations, changes hearts.” This week Paige makes such a logical and biblical case for being actively engaged in a local church and caring for one another. She also has great logic in explaining what praying for the sick really means and helps address the abuse the misinterpretation of these verses has caused. All the while with illustrations that move it to our hearts. May God use it in our hearts.
Thursday: Father (Beginning Relationships Accomplished)
Watch up to when she reads James 5:13-20.
What stands out to you from her introduction and why?
Watch up to “Family”
2. How has James demonstrated that his most important identity is not his biological family, esteemed as it is, but his spiritual family? (Look at James 1)
3. Are you born again? Are you part of God’s family? If so, how do you know?
4. J. I. Packer said, “If you want to judge a person’s relationship, find out what it means to him that God is his father. What does this mean to you?
Friday: Family (Relationships Accomplished)
Watch until she says “End of Sermon back to Bible study.”
5. Have you ever heard someone say that they are a believer but don’t need to be part of a church? What evidence does Paige give that this is not the teaching of James or the Bible?
6. How does James 5:13-16 demonstrate we must be truly plugged in: not visiting, not church hunting, not watching our church online, but actively participating? Does that describe you?
7. Paige says it is hard for her to believe that God loves me as much as He loves Jesus, and hard for her to believe that He loves you as much as He loves me. When we get overly critical of one another, Jesus says, “You are talking about my Bride.” How could you personally take this to heart and pray for your heart in your local body?
Saturday: Prayer: Suffering, Satisfaction, Sickness (Beginning Relationships Applied)
Watch until after she quotes Tim Keller and goes on to “sin.”
8. Prayer is the relationship of God practiced and evidence of a Godward heart. She gave an illustration of running to her dad in fourth grade. What happened and how could you help you to go to your Father more than you do?
9. Read James 5:13.
A. Suffering is better translated “in trouble” whether minor or major. Do you do this all through the day?
B. Why should we praise Him all through the day? Do you do this and what helps you?
C. What was her point with her talkative daughter?
10. Read James 5:14-16.
A. What is the word for sick and what should this person do?
B. She made a point that this doesn’t mean he shouldn’t call for doctors and said the N. T. elevates medicine. Give an example if you can. Why is this important?
C. She said this is normal stuff — not calling for faith healers. Why important?
D. What does she think is the significance of the oil?
E. She hits hard on those who believe “the prayer of faith” means that if we have enough faith God will do what we ask him to do. She says that is spiritual abuse. Instead, we are bringing the person to God and asking for help — but letting Him be God. She quotes Chappel, Motyer, and Keller. My favorite was Keller: “God will give us what we ask or give us what we would have asked if we knew everything He knew.” Comments?
F. She says “pray in faith,” in the context of James is “pray in need.” Comments?
GOD HUNT SUNDAY
11. It doesn’t have to be big — just share several of the ways God met you this week. It’s a way of practicing James 5:13b. What made you happy in Him this week?
Monday: Sin and Strength
Watch until she goes into Pursuit.
12. Review James 5:16. What is our GREATEST need? This isn’t just when we are sick — but a pattern in our lives. Do you do this? Why is it hard but important? Do we pray for one another’s hearts?
13. What example does James give of Elijah in verses 17-18 and why is this important? What does righteous mean? 14. Paige said “The prayer of a righteous man availeth much but the prayer of a Perfect Person availeth perfectly. What point was she making? (She gave an example of her dad wrapping a thread around a baseball bat.)
Tuesday: Restoration and Rescue (Pursuit)
Watch to the end.
15. Read James 5:19-20
A. What does it say?
B. Paul Tripp says we have to go deep with our brothers and sisters for we cannot minister to what we do not know. Break through the casual. What believer in your local church could you trust enough to be honest with and ask for prayer for your heart? Will you do it?
C. She said we don’t know it when we start to wander. What are some of the subtle ways you have begun “wandering?”
D. She went to a friend’s workplace and confronted her, saying she would set herself on fire if she would just come back with her. Point? How does this speak to you?
16. What else did she discuss that you would like to talk about?
17. What is your take-a-way and why?
Read Jude ahead of time for next week.