David Olshine has designed James, 1-2 Peter, and 1-3 John for the busy youth worker who either lacks the time or the information to lead a quality Bible study. Without skimping on depth and substance, Olshine has constructed down to earth questions that get kids into the text and so they can hear God’s Word on a practical level. Each consecutive passage of Scripture sets a topic to help students think deeply, talk openly, and apply what they are learning to their lives.
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James, 1-2 Peter, and 1-3 John
By David B. Olshine
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2014 David B. Olshine
All rights reserved.
THE GIFT OF TRIALS
* * *
The Bible is a remarkable book.
Some people have a crazy idea that the Bible isn't practical, that it makes little sense, and has no connection to real life today. Chances are they haven't read the Book of James. The first 18 verses deal with authentic life issues for both teens and adults: Facing hard times, handling temptations, what to do when one lacks wisdom, and how to overcome sin and addictions. Sounds like a reality TV show.
James understood hard times. He refers to them as "trials of many kinds." Trials come in many shapes and sizes. James not only deals with the difficulty they bring but also tells us that there's a benefit to trials. "Consider it a sheer gift, friends" James says (MSG). Trials are gifts that most people don't want, yet James tells us to "consider it pure joy" whenever we face trouble, suffering, and any kind of trial.
James defines a trial as "the testing of your faith" (verse 3). Why does our faith need to be tested? The same reason a teacher gives students an exam, to see if the knowledge is understood and applied. What happens to one's faith when life falls apart, a parent dies, or his or her best friend commits suicide? The testing of faith reveals what we really believe in and who we trust. Hard times show us what's deep inside our souls.
"The testing of your faith produces perseverance." Some versions use the word endurance, which literally means to "stand under." James is saying God's intent is to create resilience in our souls, the ability to "stand under" the worst possible test. He goes on to tell us that "under pressure your faith life is forced into the open and shows its true colors" (verse 4 MSG). What color does the testing of your faith reveal? James tells us the intended outcome: "Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (verse 4).
The testing of our faith has a purpose. Trials are not meant to break us; they are used by God to mold us, to bring us into maturity and depth in our relationship with him. God's intent is our growth—and one of the tools God uses to help us dig deep is the testing of our faith.
James 1:1-18 helps us gain God's perspective on the tests of life and how to face temptations. In this session we learn how trials can be a gift from God.
What is one difficulty you faced as a kid?
What are some ways people react to hard times?
Why do people get irritated over the slightest trouble in life?
Read 1:1-8. What does this text say is the purpose of trials?
Look at 1:9-11. What are some of the warnings listed here about money, wealth, and humility?
Read verses 12-15. What does the writer say about temptations?
In verses 16-18, what is James' message about God's character?
Based on verses 1-8, why couldn't God use some other means to get our attention other than trials?
Look at verses 8-10. Why do you think humility is important?
Verses 11-15 say God does not test us to do evil. What does that mean?
Read verses 16-18. Why does James speak about "every good and perfect gift"—and what does that have to do with the testing of our faith?
How do you overcome and endure temptations and trials?
What does it practically look like to be spiritually mature?
How does our faith produce perseverance? Why does James connect handling trials with endurance? Is endurance the same as perseverance?
What do you need to do in order to handle your own selfish and sinful desires?
Have your group collectively come up with as many trials as possible that both teenagers and adults face and list them on a piece of paper. Then determine as a group on a scale of 1 ("not a big deal") to 10 ("this is the worst trial") which are the most challenging hardships. Then have each student pick two of the trials that they've faced and how they handled them. Then pray as a group for strength and a deepening of one's faith.
QUIET TIME REFLECTIONS
Day 1: James 1:1-3
What word or phrase jumps out to you? Why?
Do you view yourself as a person of faith? Why or why not?
Think about the phrase "when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow" (NLT) and what it means for your life. Is your endurance growing or not?
Day 2: James 1:4-6
How does this passage speak to you?
What advice is given to those who lack wisdom?
Think about which temptations come your way. Where are you most vulnerable? Which temptations are the easiest to overcome? Difficult?
Day 3: James 1:7-9
What insight do you gain from this text?
What do you think about the idea that "doubt" is like the waves of the sea being tossed by the wind?
Think about faith and doubt. Is it okay to doubt? Is it wrong? Can doubt be helpful in developing one's faith? How?
Day 4: James 1:10-12
What's one question you have about this passage?
What does it mean that the poor Christian should be glad and the rich shall be humbled? How does God honor the poor Christian?
Think about how tests of our faith produce great character and endurance. Have you seen evidence of growth? If so, in what ways?
Day 5: James 1:13-14
What can you learn from this text?
Why does James say that God does not tempt us to do evil? What does that mean?
Think about some ways you face temptation. Have you ever blamed God for the test? Why or why not?
Day 6: James 1:15-18
What is God saying to you from these verses?
How often do you thank God for the good gifts he's given you?
Think about what it means to live "through the word of truth."
Day 7: James 1:1-18
Read through the entire passage. Write down the one verse that spoke to you the most this week. Commit the verse to memory for an extra challenge!
Excerpted from James, 1-2 Peter, and 1-3 John by David B. Olshine. Copyright © 2014 David B. Olshine. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of ContentsTABLE OF CONTENTS
Section 1: The Book of James
1. The Gift of Trials James 1:1-18
2. Orphans and Widows James 1:19- 26
3. Does God play favorites? James 2:1-13
4. Faith and Works James 2:14-24
5. Words will never hurt you? James 3:1-12
6. Two Types of Wisdom James 3:13-17
7. The Cause of Conflicts James 4: 1-12
8. God’s Will and the Future James 4:13-17
9. Handling Money James 5:1-12
10. Human like Elijah James 5:13-20
Section 2: The Letters of First and Second Peter
11. A living hope 1 Peter 1:1-12
12. What is Holiness? 1 Peter 1:13-2:1-10
13. Jesus our Example 1 Peter 2:11- 3:1-12
14. Good Suffering 1 Peter 3:13- 4:1-6
15. Fiery Ordeals 1 Peter 4:7-19
16. The Flock of God 1 Peter 5:1-14
17. What is a Calling? 2 Peter 1:1-11
18. Power of the Bible 2 Peter 1:12-20
19. False Teachers 2 Peter 2:1-22
20. The Day of the Lord 2 Peter 3:1-18
Section 3: The Letters of 1, 2, 3 John
21. The Word Lived in the Neighborhood 1 John 1:1-10
22. Called to Love 1 John 2:1-11
23. Loving the World? 1 John 2:12-28
24. Love of the Father 1 John 3:1-10
25. Love and Hatred 1 John 3:11-24
26. Test the Spirits 1 John 4:1-21
27. What is Faith? 1 John 5:1-12
28. Eternal Life 1 John 5:13-21
29. Grace, Mercy and Peace 2 John
30. Closing Thoughts 3 John