Welcome to week nine of our summer sermon series on James called Faith that Works. This week our conversation will look at how we can all expect difficult times in life and how to use caution to navigate those challenging times.
Building healthy and life-giving relationships.
What has been new or challenging in your life since last time the group met? Spend 20–30 minutes checking in with each other.
Share part of your story
What has been the most fun way you’ve found to beat the heat this summer?
Who is someone going through a difficult time right now that you want the group to lift up in prayer?
Taking next steps toward Christ together.
Read together James 5:7-11. What do you think the original audience thought this letter was telling them? What were they going through and how were they supposed to be responding?
Focus on the End
James’ audience was experiencing various trials in their daily lives. What are some of the things they might’ve been going through? The word picture James used in this passage was farming. What kind of waiting did these people need to practice every year?
Our ability to focus on the hope to come is what aids us in waiting through the difficult times. What was the “end” that James encouraged the believers to look toward? Why do you think it is important to be able to wait well? What are some things that help us wait well?
Talk about a time when you’ve been able to wait well rather than just muscle through a difficult situation. How could this type of reaction change your ability to trust God?
Recognize God’s Goodness
God has shown each of us over and over again that he is good and to be trusted. East Paris Pastor Bob King encouraged us to practice the habit of praying or journaling what we are grateful for each day. How does this daily practice help us recognize God’s goodness in the midst of rough road?
When we are in the midst of suffering, it is hard to remember what God has brought us through before. That’s why sharing our stories in small group is so important—we can encourage each other through sharing. Share a time when God showed his goodness to you by bringing you through a difficult time.
Repair Broken Things
The Bible gives us a giant story of God’s process of caring for humanity from beginning to end. Jesus was always doing the work of restoring, and we have the opportunity to join with him in this work. What were the four phases Pastor King mentioned in his, “History of the World?” What phase are we in now and what does that mean for us as we live day to day?
When we are in the middle of a broken situation, it is often extremely difficult to look past our own suffering to see the needs of those around us. What are some ways we can choose to focus on others and relate to them in their suffering rather than just our own?
Leave the Punishment to Someone Else
As we are navigating rough road, we need to leave the punishment to someone else. How does James 5:7–9 help us remember this warning?
James has a strong warning about grumbling. What do you think it looked like for the readers of James to grumble against each other? When do you tend to want to grumble or punish someone for their treatment of you? How do you usually behave and how can you leave that to God instead?
This week we talked about four caution signs: focusing on the end of our rough road, recognizing God’s goodness, repair opportunities and leaving the punishment to someone else. Which of these tends to be the most difficult to live out when you are in a season of struggle? What’s one step you can take to grow in this area? How can your group encourage you?
INVEST IN OTHERS
Valuing people outside the group and outside the faith.
Discuss how you and your group can better engage the people in your life outside your small group.
Who is someone you know who may be going through a rough road right now? How can our group help them in a practical way?
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