Welcome to week one of our summer sermon series on James called Faith that Works. This week our conversation will look at the choices available to us when the curve balls of life come our way, and how in each trial—there is an opportunity for spiritual growth.
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 things do you like to do on Memorial day? Do you have any traditions? How do you usually spend the holiday? What does the day mean to you or your family?
Summer can be a refreshing time, yet also a time of scurrying. How can your group work to encourage everyone to find rest and refreshment in the Lord?
Taking next steps toward Christ together.
Read together James 1:1-18. Recap this passage. What’s the main topic? What kinds of trials are the people James is writing to going through?
Choosing Joy Rather Than Bitterness
James tells the people to consider it joy when they go through trials. Who is James writing to? What are some of the things they have gone through or might go through? How do you think the recipients of the letter felt when they read that?
James is writing to people who are going through hard things, yet he tells them to be joyful. What are some of the differences between joy and happiness? Do you think most people seek joy or happiness?
Just like James encouraged others to choose joy, we have to choose it. As Christ followers, how can we be joyful even in an unhappy circumstance?
We have a choice: we can choose to be joyful or we can choose to be bitter. How have you seen people choose one or the other? What is your normal response to a tough situation? How can counting our trials as joy be an opportunity for growth?
What are some simple steps you can take daily to help you choose joy? Do you have any personal examples of things you do that encourage you to take joy in the Lord? How do you desire to grow in maturity and faith when trials come your way?
Choosing to Trust Rather Than Doubt
What kind of wisdom do you think James encourages his readers to ask for in James 1:5? How does James say God responds? When do you feel like God has answered your prayer for wisdom?
UNION Pastor Brad Holmes talked about the three environments of spiritual growth: the Row, Circle and Chair. These are places where we can learn from God and find his wisdom. How can God speak to us in the Row? In the Circle? In the Chair? How has God used your group to provide wisdom for your life?
When difficult circumstances come our way, we can view them as an opportunity to trust God and His character. Do you think people tend to trust or doubt God more in difficult situations?
Why is learning to trust God’s character such an important step when we go through difficult times?
There is a difference between honest doubt and just giving up on God, or blaming Him. What is the difference? How have you experienced one or both of those feelings?
How can trusting God in the day-to-day small challenges help us to trust Him when really big trials come along? How does remembering back on times of God’s faithfulness encourage you to trust in Him?
Choosing to Endure Rather Than Giving Up
James 1:12 promises a crown for those who persevere. What do you think that promise means? How could this promise be an encouragement in times of trouble?
James frames our trials in light of eternity. Why do you think he does this? How should framing our trials in light of eternity make a difference?
Enduring through difficult circumstances not only strengthens our faith but also impacts those around us. How can enduring and being faithful to God, even when we are suffering, make an impact on others? How can the way we navigate trials show Jesus in a positive light? When someone is willing to endure something difficult, what does this speak about their faith?
This week we talked about choosing joy, trust and endurance. Which area do you most desire to grow in right now? 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.
With new summer schedules and routines starting soon, take a moment to talk as a group about a fun way you could serve in your community? Was there something on your heart you wanted to do this past year and never got a chance to? How can you make that a reality this summer?
Download a printable PDF here.