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We are taking a break for the summer until futher notice.

Week 10 - Day 4 & Personal Story

Read James 5:19-20.

1. What situation does James describe and what are we as believers instructed to do about it?

2. How do these last two verses fit with those that just preceded them? In other words, how do they relate?

3. How do these verses compare with what James says here? What do they add to your understanding?
a. Psalm 32:1
b. Prov. 10:12 (This proverb uses opposites to teach a lesson.)
c. Gal. 6:1-2
d. 1 Peter 4:8

What is the “death” here that is avoided because the person repents? If James refers to a person who is part of the congregation but not truly a believer, this may refer to spiritual death. The conversion, then, would be to faith in Jesus. Others read this as physical death and understand it to teach that a believer may experience an early physical death when he/she refuses to turn away from sin. Those who believe that someone can lose eternal life and the relationship that God has given him/her as a gift would interpret this as spiritual death, which comes by turning away from the truth of the gospel. Those of us who understand salvation as an unconditional gift believe that what God gives in grace He doesn’t take away. It is God’s work to keep us in the faith by His grace; thus, we would not see this as spiritual death for a believer. God keeps us by the power of His Spirit, not by our power, much as you hold a child’s hand for safekeeping rather than depending on their holding your hand. (See John 6:37-40; 10:27-30; Rom. 8:29, 38-39.)

Stronger Jeans (optional): Explain your understanding of James 5:19-20 in the context of the entire Bible’s teaching on salvation. Study the references in the above paragraph and any others of which you are aware.

4. Sharing Question: It is very difficult, as I said in the introduction, to go to someone and talk to him/her about her life and how she is defecting from the truth, which includes defecting from obedience to God’s word. Have you ever gone to someone? If so, share the story. Has anyone ever come to you in love to turn you from an error into which you had fallen? Or maybe they didn’t do it in love but with criticism. Share what happened and your feelings about it. If you have never had any of these situations happen in your life, share your feelings about this instruction.

5. Responding to God: Talk to God about someone in your life who needs encouragement to walk with Him or to keep on believing in Him. Listen to His voice. What are you to do about it in light of all we have studied this week?

I am putting Janie’s story here before we leave this topic of prayer. Tomorrow we will review what God has done in our lives through this study.

Janie’s Story
I found out one year ago Christmas the bad news—I had stage two breast cancer. At first I was angry because I get a mammogram every year and now I was stage two! Then I was scared, but I reminded myself of Christ's faithfulness and read His Word about His steadfastness—“I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Heb. 13:5).

I decided not to tell my family or my husband because I didn't want to spoil their Christmas, saying they wouldn't be able to do anything anyway. As for my friends, I kept the bad news from them as well. I didn't really know answers anyway.

After telling a few people, it didn't take long for news to travel—and I was so glad! During the operation, chemotherapy, and radiation, cards and food and visits helped relieve the burden. My family was supportive and so kind. I was overwhelmed by the people who ministered to me.

I could also hear them pray for me aloud when they called, wrote or came over. But I could even feel prayers of believers out there. I know it sounds strange, but I was lifted up spiritually by their prayers even though I couldn't sometime see or hear these warriors. I had a peace that passes all understanding, and a humility that was encouraging, if that can be said.

So my prayer life changed. I focused on God's character, stopped doing all the activities I was in (I had to because physically I couldn't make it). I finally understood what "Be still, and know that I am Lord" (Ps. 46:10) really means. It was wonderful just to BE.

I viewed each day differently, and was grateful for the life which He had given me. I read about Heaven, and was comforted that He was preparing a place for me, even if I came through all of this. One day I would be with Christ and it would be better than anything in this life. I prayed for the unsaved more—how frightening it would be to have no HOPE, no one praying for you, no Comforter in such a time of fear!

This next Christmas was different. I had been through treatment, and got a good report—so far I am doing great. My only fear is that I will forget how rich praying can be and instead get involved in the busyness of life. And I am so grateful for those who prayed for me; they became the arms, legs and mouth of believers who are truly an extension of Christ. I had never experienced that before.

So now I pray for those who are sick differently, too. If the thought enters my mind that one voice won't do much, I remember my experience and KNOW that God will have them some way know that they are being lifted up in prayer. I read the Bible differently in that I can see God's hand and His character more clearly. How gracious and kind God is, how wonderful and caring! It is right before me in His Word so I can always be reminded if the fear starts to creep back in my life. How glad I am that we are believers who minister to each other: "Christ with skin on" as I have come to see it!

4 comments:

jjdsc said...

I've never been approached for correction. However, I do feel that so many well meaning Christians do approach people but not in love and it just becomes really messy with people's feelings getting hurt and sometimes leaving the church.
I personally would like to see that kind of instruction just so that I can learn to do things properly and in love.

Twisting His Arm said...

I love the scripture that states, "The one who turns a sinner back from his wandering path will save that person’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins." Luckily, I have had family members approach me for correction out of love and not judgment. I am so glad they will be blessed for their efforts.

I have never approached anyone regarding their spiritual errors because I think “who am I to say”. Plus, I don't like confrontations. After today's study, I realize that God uses people to correct others (out of love) and I should be open to Him using me, even if I don't think I am worthy enough.

Sohl Gal said...

I have talked in love and in criticism to people about choices in general, though I don't remember a specific time it was about someone's choices.

Most of what I took away was that when I approached them with a critical view of the problem, they responded with, "What do you know about...." When it was a spirit of love, it was a relief that someone finally tried to understand yet still shared the tough news with them.

Carol M said...

toI feel the same way that (twisting his arm) feels about approaching someone about their sin. Who am I that I should do that, and I don't like confrontations. But then I think that if we are urged by the Spirit to say something, than I would think that He has prepared that person's heart to take the instruction, as long as we do it in love.